Thought Catalog


Everything I Know About Men, I Learned From Growing Up With Boys

Posted: 27 Aug 2015 07:43 PM PDT

StockSnap / Zak Suhar
StockSnap / Zak Suhar

Men aren’t from Mars (and women aren’t from Venus) but it sure does feel that way every so often. The amount of times I have begun a sentence with, “Men are…” is too many to count. And the flimsy generalizations that likely followed that statement, are probably also too many to count.

To many a heterosexual woman like myself, men, in general (and yes, there I go again), are a paradox. They’re easily the cause of many women’s problems. From the macro societal issues that we face in a world of sexism, to being that girl crying in a bathroom, slightly drunk and frustrated because he just doesn’t get it, does he? And even if you’ve never been that girl – you’ve probably been the girl who’s had to comfort that girl, while telling her, “Men are…” The word “stupid” comes to mind. (Sorry guys?)

To me, however, men are more than just the reasons for societal problems or alcohol-induced tears. They are more than just the generalizations I may make in analyzing gendered socializations or personal frustrations. Men are the brothers I grew up with –  then boys – and that dad that raised me, who were all the first men I ever loved. And from them, I would learn most of everything I would come to know about men.

beetlejuice

I am the fourth child of my parents, the first daughter, coming after three boys. And the space between my sister and I is ten years. So in many ways, I was very much a guy’s girl growing up, right from the home.

To say that I was a tomboy would probably not be entirely accurate. I might have despised the dresses my mum would force me to wear every Sunday at church, but I forced her to take me to ballet lessons too. I didn’t pursue that very long, I preferred being outdoors playing sports.

Oh, as a little girl, I was loved. I was loved by these boys dearly.

Both my parents encouraged and supported whatever I pursued as a child as much as they could. I do sometimes look back and wish I had been easier for my mother though. “It’s not good for a girl to be so messy,” my mother would say. To which I plainly (and snootily) responded, “I am way too much of a genius to worry about things as trivial as cleaning.” Even as a child, I had a knack for verbal retorts. My mother would say I get my mouth from my father.

To my father, for much of my childhood, I could do no wrong. I was his little girl, and for a time, his only little girl. My brothers would tell you that I got away with murder. Being the only girl and the youngest for almost ten years, this is true. But looking back, it wasn’t only my dad who would let me get away with murder –  it was my three brothers too. Oh, as a little girl, I was loved. I was loved by these boys dearly.

beetlejuice

My oldest brother, eight years older than me, is very much an oldest brother. Responsible, very independent, and probably the most stubborn of all of us. My second oldest brother, seven years older than me, is the quiet and kind soul. He is an artist and I would say, the gentleman of gentlemen. My third brother, five years older than me, is as likeable and charming as he is arrogant. Even in full-grown adulthood, my third brother and I continue to fight like we’re little kids.

From boys to men, I’ve watched from near and afar – and a lot from afar because of our age differences – how my brothers grew up; how they are growing up. In front of my eyes, the boys who would have to sometimes drag their kid sister with them, became men. Men that I love, that I worry about, that I wish the best for, that I wonder if I am a good sister to; these boys became men. And from them, I have learned at least a little about men.

I have learned that men are seldom ever as strong as their performance and presentation might suggest.

I’ve learned that men cannot be pigeonholed into neat generalizations – as easy as these generalizations are to construct. From just growing up with three boys, who were all raised in the same family, and yet all turned out so differently, I have learned that who a man is, is the culmination of the chance of biology and environment, the matter of experiences encountered, and the endeavor of choice.

I have learned that men are seldom ever as strong as their performance and presentation might suggest. I have learned that their weaknesses – especially those they are most aware of – terrify them more than anything else. I have learned that contrary to what they might even say – they too are complicated beings; never universal in their desires or their dreams.

I have learned that men struggle with their masculinity – their performance of manhood in whatever sociocultural context they find themselves in. I have learned that telling them to be a man is one of the most hurtful and dangerous things you can say – those words cut right down to their formation of self.

But perhaps most importantly, and I have had to think of my brothers and who they are to remember this often – that men love differently. That is to say, the way a man loves and shows his love is different from one man to the next.

beetlejuice

My brothers did not prepare me for a world where boys and men would leave me empty-handed when I offered my heart. They couldn’t even if they tried. My brothers did ensure that I thought of my heart as precious. And that if it ever got broken, even just a little bit, I would be fine because I was already loved.

My brothers did not prepare me for a world where sometimes I am entirely afraid of men. Men walking behind me at late hours of the night, or the uncalled-for stares and statements of men who don’t see me, they just see a woman’s body. My brothers did ensure that I would never define myself by my fears or my relationships to men, by fear.

These boys who taught me about men, who teach me about men, and who by being good men themselves, will always give me hope for mankind.

My brothers did not prepare me for a world where I would both struggle for the attention of men, as well as loathe it. Living in a tight space between wanting to be the subject of a man’s desire, but never an object. My brothers did ensure that I would never want to engage with any man who does not show me respect as a human being. Because although I am that little girl who my brothers loved dearly, I am the woman they also now respect.

From these boys who became men – my brothers – I will forever be indebted. For their sacrifices and their lessons. Although the biggest joy in my life is still being an older sister to a now not-so-little girl, I cannot deny the pleasure it is of also being a little sister to these boys. These boys who taught me about men, who teach me about men, and who by being good men themselves, will always give me hope for mankind. TC mark

The Difference In Being Left, And Leaving The One You Love

Posted: 27 Aug 2015 11:14 AM PDT

Twenty20 / charityhestead
Twenty20 / charityhestead

When you're left by the one you love, you wonder what you did wrong. You wonder what made them stop loving you, and you wonder if you could've done anything to change it.

When you're the one leaving, you hear the thoughts they leave unspoken. You feel like you know exactly what they're thinking and you wish you could stop them from ruminating on these distorted beliefs. You know they’re trying to piece together the spaces you left open, but not even you know how to fill in the gaps. You didn't realize leaving would be so difficult.

When you're left by the one you love, your hurt manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes the hurt comes out as anger, as spiteful words you use to hurt them back. Sometimes the hurt doesn't come out at all, and lives in deep denial. Sometimes the hurt numbs you to anything else so that hurt is the only feeling.

When you're the one leaving, hurt causes a different type of pain. You don’t feel the force of the initial impact, but you see and feel the bruises that form and remain long after. You feel like the hurt you’re feeling is unfair to be felt, but you’re hurting because of the hurt you caused in someone else.

When you're left by the one you love, you hope time will heal the pain. You count the days, weeks and months that go by and ask yourself if it's actually getting any better. You think it's time that's lessening the impact, but really it's just living.

When you’re the one leaving, time is insignificant. You don’t feel it passing or standing still, you just sort of know it’s happening. You don’t stay up at night thinking about tomorrow, you just take it day by day.

When you’re left by the one you love, you’re reminded of them at every corner. They’re waiting for you in the restaurant you ate at on your birthday, in the park where you had your first date, they’re everywhere. And even when you try to avoid these places, in fear of the memories they’ll bring up, there’s no running or hiding that will make them go away. Even in your own apartment, you sit on the couch you both had to build together.

When you’re the one leaving, the memories still follow you around, but the avoiding is less of an undertaking. You don’t feel the excessive need to run or hide because that restaurant doesn’t scare you, and neither does the park. They make you remember, but you don’t mind the memories, you actually enjoy them.

Being left and leaving are two different things, but it doesn’t make either one any less difficult. TC mark

7 Harsh Truths That Will Make You A More Powerful Person

Posted: 27 Aug 2015 09:51 AM PDT

brandonreinhardt
brandonreinhardt

1. Nobody is actually too busy to respond to you.

That guy or girl isn't too busy to answer your text. That employer isn't too busy to answer your email. If you're not hearing back from someone, it's because they have deliberately chosen not to answer you. And the sooner you stop making excuses for the people who don't make you a priority, the sooner you can move on to the people and situations that do.

2. Everyone has his or her own best interests at heart.

No matter how genuine, kindhearted or caring a particular person is, they're always going to be more aware of their own needs than they are of yours. Even the most attentive lover may not realize they're pushing your buttons if you never tell them they're doing so. Even the most honest employer may not be aware that they're working you into the ground if you just keep accepting more work.

Unfortunately, other people are going to be aware that they're stretching your limits, but will nonetheless push you unless and until they encounter resistance. Most people are going to take as much from you as you let them get away with – which means it's up to you to define and uphold your own boundaries. The most powerful people aren't afraid to say 'No,' to what they don't want to do – because they know that nobody's going to stick up for them if they don't stick up for themselves.

3. You are never going to please everybody.

If you actually listened to what every single person wanted from you, you'd end up a lifeless, shapeless, emotionless blob. And then someone would come along and tell you to be more interesting.

The truth is, it's impossible to please everybody. There will always be someone who's offended by the most traditional life path or bored by the most radical one. You're going to be criticized no matter what you do, so you might as well do what you love. Because if there's anyone whose judgment you should listen to, it's your own.

4. The world owes you absolutely nothing.

You may be the coolest, kindest, smartest, most interesting person in the world, but if you're not putting any of those traits to work, you're entitled to absolutely nothing in exchange for possessing them.

Truly powerful people know that there are two basic choices: You can spend your entire life feeling sorry for yourself because you deserve more than you're getting, or you can go out into the world and actually claim what's yours. Guess which choice the more successful people tend to opt for?

5. The prize for arguing on behalf of your restrictions is getting to keep them.

You can spend your entire life loudly declaring to others that you don't have the time, money, energy or resources to accomplish the things you actually want. And all of what you claim may be true – but the harsh truth is, every single person on the planet has at least one damn good excuse for not pursuing the life they want.

The difference between the people who get what they want out of life and those who don't is that the people who get what they want ignore their excuses. They find a way around their limitations, instead of just bitching about them, and that is the very reason why they succeed.

6. Your actions define you, not your thoughts.

You can sit indoors all day conceptualizing a better world, but until you get out there and start implementing change, you're not actually making a difference. Good intention is a wonderful thing but unless it's coupled with action, it counts for nothing. At the end of the day, your character is determined by what you do, not by what you think about.

7. Nobody is coming to save you from your life.

We all want to believe that the person of our dreams, the job opportunity of a lifetime or the surprise that we never expected is waiting around the corner for us. When we're unhappy with where we are, we irrationally hope that a drastic change in circumstance will come along and save us from our misery.

But the truth of the matter is, life doesn't work that way. Nobody's heading your way on a white horse and if you want to see change in your life, you have to create it from the ground up.

This is what the most powerful people know. When times get tough, the strongest people strap on their own armor, mount that white horse and come to their own rescue. Because they know that if anyone is going to save their day, it's going to have to be them. TC mark

13 Women Explain Exactly Why They Love Their Female Best Friend So Much

Posted: 27 Aug 2015 10:46 AM PDT

Twenty20.com tiffanythere
Twenty20.com tiffanythere

1.

“I love her because she’s cried with me when I’m sad, cheered me when I’m happy, given me advice when I’m clueless, lent me money when I was broke, fed me when I was hungry, and let me sleep in her bed during a snowstorm in the dead of winter when it was impossible to get back home. I can depend on her in ways I’ve never been able to depend on boyfriends or family, and for that reason I’ll love her for the rest of my life.”

—Jessica, 20

beetlejuice

2.

“I love my bestie until the end of time and to the far ends of the planet because she’s witnessed every disgusting bodily function of mine and still loves me. She’s held my head and hair while I was puking from drinking too much. She’s had to grab my bloody tampon from her dog’s mouth after the dog snatched it from her bathroom wastebasket. We’ve held deep conversations about life while I was sitting on the toilet pooping. We hold fart contests. She doesn’t care if we hang out while my hair is in a bun and I’m wearing sweat pants. I’ve never felt comfortable doing any of these things around a boy, but with her I don’t even think twice about it.”

—Ashley, 23

beetlejuice

3.

“We have our own secret language that no one else understands. We’ve been through so many good and bad times together that we’ve developed code words and obscure references that fly right over everyone else’s head. We even have cute nicknames for one another and a whole bunch of silly little musical jingles about people and things in our life. She feels like my identical twin, and I feel pain when there’s any kind of distance between us, whether it’s physical or emotional distance. Goddamn, do I love that girl.”

—Jenn, 27

beetlejuice

4.

“She is the only person that knows every one of my deepest, darkest secrets. She knows all of my fears and insecurities. She knows when I don’t feel good, even when I say that I’m OK. I’ve opened myself up to her in ways I’d never do with a guy, because I know she’d never use any of it against me. Plus, she always shares her Nutella with me.”

—Amanda, 19

beetlejuice

5.

“The last text message I get every night and the first text every morning is from her. If a guy is hurting my feelings or mistreating me, she goes full-ass Mama Wolverine on him. I feel safer in this world just knowing she exists.”

—Sarah, 24

beetlejuice

6.

“It’s simple—she always has my back. I came from a broken home and have had a string of horrible relationships with guys, and the main problem was that none of them were ever there for me when I really needed them. But I know if I got arrested she’d come in her pajamas in the middle of the night to bail me out. If I got terminally ill, she’d be the one at my hospital bedside holding my hand. If you ever find someone like that, hold onto them with all your strength, because they’re rare.”

—Stephanie, 26

beetlejuice

7.

“Ever since middle school, she has been the most important person in my life. She’s more important than my family, my bosses, my teachers, and DEFINITELY any of my asshole loser boyfriends. If one day I should get married and have kids, she’ll be more important than my husband and equal to my kids.”

—Nicole, 30

beetlejuice

8.

“I know this sounds crazy, but we know one another well enough that we can pretty much hear each other’s thoughts. We have bonded to the point where we can sit on the couch eating ice cream and pretzels for two hours without saying a word to each other, but it still feels like a full two-hour conversation. I’ve never been that way with anyone else.”

—Heather, 22

beetlejuice

9.

“Because we’re soul mates. We wear each other’s clothes, use each other’s makeup, eat each other’s food, laugh at each other’s jokes, and share life’s highs and lows without ever being mean to each other. I don’t believe in God, but God bless her, anyway.”

—Liz, 28

beetlejuice

10.

“This is going to sound hella shallow, but we bonded over our mutual hatred for certain people that we both know. It’s that whole “an enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing times a thousand. We endlessly stalk and make fun of the people we hate together, and the jokes we make about them and the pranks we pull on them make me laugh so hard, my stomach still hurts in the morning. I couldn’t have picked a better partner in crime than her.”

—Megan, 22

beetlejuice

11.

“She’s the only person I know who accepts me entirely without judgment. I’ve done some shady things in the past, and she knows all about them but still doesn’t condemn me for them. I have weird musical tastes, weird fashion sense, and definitely weird taste in guys, but even if she disagrees, I never for a moment got the sense that she looked down on me about any of it.”

—Melissa, 24

beetlejuice

12.

“If I’m crying over a douchey boy, she’s knocking on my apartment door in a half-hour with a pizza. If my car gets a flat tire in the middle of the night, she’s there ASAP with some guy she’s been seeing to fix it all. If I’m too sober, she gets me drunk. If I’m too drunk, she sobers me up. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend. In fact, I didn’t—she just magically showed up one day in my life. Sometimes I suspect she might be my guardian angel.”

—Christina, 24

beetlejuice

13.

“She’s the only person I can depend on to be brutally honest with about anything. If I look like shit, she’ll tell me. If I made a stupid decision, she’ll tell me. If the guy I’m seeing is a loser asshole, she’ll tell me. Best of all, I know she doesn’t do any of this to be mean—it’s because she loves me.”

—Rachel, 20 TC mark

14 Horrible Relationships You Can’t Help But Stay In

Posted: 26 Aug 2015 11:36 AM PDT

Twenty20 / NickBulanovv
Twenty20 / NickBulanovv

In my former dating life, I made a lot of mistakes. The desire to be desired can sometimes numb the mind beyond all sanity checks. Unfortunately, you may not know that you're in a bad relationship until you're not in it anymore. Or you may be too afraid to do something about it. Either way, it's important to recognize if you accidentally find yourself involved in one of the following:

1. The "Safety" relationship.

You've been together a long time. It seems that there is nothing you don't know about the other person. You're incredible friends. A great team. It's predictable. Dependable. Like your favorite wool sweater on a cold winter afternoon. You love knowing that you have a date to all of your friends' weddings, that you have someone to hang out with on major holidays and who will dependably get you a present on your birthday. The only problem is that you have absolutely no attraction to this person. The thought of touching him makes you flinch and you're just going through the motions with each empty kiss. Still, the thought of leaving this safety net has you staying put. "What if there's nobody better," you often secretly think.

2. The "He'll commit eventually" relationship.

You've been hanging out for weeks or even months. You feel sparks and a connection every time you're together. You're fairly confident that he's into you, but when you're brave enough to have "the talk," he indicates that he's not quite "there" yet. He gives you the, "I know it's not fair to you because you're AMAZING," speech and understands if you want to/borderline encourages you to see other people. You rationalize that with some time and more exposure to your AWESOMENESS, he'll come around.

3. The "Dreamer / stoner / love the music" relationship.

This guy loves taking you to music events, smoking a joint with you and feeling the vibes with good tunes around. He gives off a low maintenance, carpe diem energy that attracts you to him along with the smell of incense in his car. He doesn't seem interested in or capable of planning anything concrete – other than a hiking trip later that afternoon or a walk to his favorite 24 hour burrito shop. If you've got dreadlocks, no desire to accomplish anything and no interest in talking, this may be a perfect match for you, temporarily. This person may have a great heart, but getting them to definitely commit to a monogamous relationship will be next to impossible.

4. The "Friend with benefits" relationship.

You're between actual relationships and you're lonely. Everyone around you is paired up, it seems. It's late. You want company. You see no problem with leaning on a friend with benefits to keep you occupied on a semi-regular basis. Only one of you will eventually develop feelings for the other and grow to resent their friend when the feeling isn't mutual. Disappointment will ensue. The friendship will be sacrificed. (Or VERY rarely, you'll end up getting married.)

5. The "It's fine for now" relationship.

You know you're not happy in the relationship, but you also know that being single is hard work. You'll just stay in this relationship until you find something better or the timing is better for breaking up. Nobody wants to spend the holidays alone. Nobody wants to go to their best friend's wedding on his own. Only problem is that you're missing out on the potential relationships that could work when you're staying in a relationship you know will not work long term.

6. The "Adrenaline" relationship.

This person makes your heart skip a beat when you see him. He'll take you rock climbing. He'll plan a last minute trip to the Bahamas to go scuba diving for the weekend. He's thinking of doing a triathlon in Zimbabwe and thinks you should come along. He's regularly training for double marathons. He's getting chased by bulls in Spain. He's been heli-skiing, heli-hiking, and feels his best after a day of bungee jumping. He's serious about jumping out of a plane with you. You feel alive when you're with him but aren't sure you'll stay alive if you keep dating him.

7. The "I can fix him" relationship.

He's got a gambling problem. A drinking problem. Money problems. Anger issues from a previous relationship. Mommy issues. Daddy issues. You take pity on him and hope that things can change. You know someone who knows someone that was able to overcome this obstacle in their relationship. You can do it too. It doesn't matter that it's bringing you down. That you've become a semi-punching bag. You're a positive person and this person is worth saving. Only you can't remember the last time it felt worth it.

8. The "I don't want to die alone" relationship.

You grasp, like musical chairs, desperately to the guy who is willing to commit. Your fear of going back into the dating pool makes you feel sick to your stomach. You worry that you'll never find anyone else who knows you so well. Who you feel comfortable with. Who you'll have inside jokes with. You picture your funeral and the unborn children who won't be there, the husband you'll never have who won't be attending. It will be a neighbor who finds your body, you think. This is the only motivating force keeping you together.

9. The "I love his family" relationship.

You text non-stop with his mother all day. His father is constantly emailing you funny anecdotes and news articles. His siblings have become your besties. You love weekends at his family's house, dinners featuring his mom's amazing cooking and often think about planning vacations together. Your biggest disappointment is when his family goes home and you realize that you have to actually spend time with your significant other.

10. The "It's fate how we met" relationship.

Your dog and his dog fell in love at doggy day care. They refused to be separated at the end of each day. Finally, the owner of your doggy daycare played Cupid and set you guys up. You still haven't run out of people to tell this adorable story to. It's amazing. Fateful. Perfect. But after some adequate time together, you realize that you have absolutely nothing in common with this person other than telling people how you met. Even your dogs are over each other.

11. The "He promises it will never happen again" relationship.

He cheated once but it was when your relationship was in the early stages. Or things weren't going so great between you. Surely you can forgive him. He's assured you it was a one-time thing and why would you throw away a perfectly good relationship that you can enjoy every day for something that happened one time? You're constantly checking his credit card receipts, trying to read his emails and secretly check his text messages on a daily basis.

12. The "One who got away" relationship.

This is the relationship that's going on inside your head and has been for quite some time. You can't get your mind off of what could be, could have been or should have been with a former love interest. You imagine what your lives would be like together, what your house would look like, what your kids would look like – only you never quite made it happen. You find yourself going back to these thoughts when you're between relationships or measuring up your current love interest. The one who got away seems perfect because he's not there to prove you wrong.

13. The "Virtual" relationship.

You've met someone great online, but haven't actually progressed to live human contact. You've been texting, emailing, and sending each other selfies for weeks. You may have talked on the phone. You are anxious to meet this person, but there's always a reason why it can't happen. Why plans get canceled, delayed, and rebooked.

14. The "He 's got someone else, but I'll win him over" relationship.

This guy has shown major interest in you. Wooing you. Charming you. Taking you out for dinner. Holding your hand. Asking about your grandmother. It seems like the perfect relationship. Before things get intimate, he admits that there is another person in his life, a semi romantic interest that he's "seeing," but not seriously. It's more that he feels bad breaking up with her because she needs him. He's a good guy and won't disappoint her just yet. Eventually, he of course plans to break up with her and only be with you. TC mark

21 Bisexuals Describe The Difference Between Dating Women and Men

Posted: 26 Aug 2015 03:19 PM PDT

 anniejanssen
anniejanssen
Found on AskReddit.

1. Maybe not surprisingly, but men are much better at giving blowjobs.

beetlejuice

2. Female/35 here. One thing is obvious: it’s much easier to reach orgasm with someone who has the same type of genitals as you, but whether that’s a good thing, again, depends on the person.

beetlejuice

3. Girls make their own lubricant. When having sex with guys, you always had to have lube.

beetlejuice

4. The way girls kiss is staggeringly different from the way men kiss. I prefer to date men in terms of sexual compatibility, but Christ, are women better kissers. Women are softer and more responsive to physical cues, whereas men tend to be like, “This is what I’ve done before and no one ever said it sucked, so I’ll keep doing it!” I am female, if that means anything to you.

beetlejuice

5. One thing I noticed is that guys always want to sleep after sex, even if just for a little while. With girls you can like cuddle for a bit then go do whatever if it’s the daytime. Also getting confused whose clothes is whose tends to not happen with people of the opposite gender.

beetlejuice

6. I’m a lesbian and I see this happen a fair amount—downside is the “U-Haul lesbian” scenario where things move way too quickly, way too fast. I have had so many friends make these plans for the future within a month or so of dating, move in with each other after 6 weeks, etc., only to break up very shortly afterwards. The relationships between women seem pretty intense sometimes; it’s like we instantly have to nest!

beetlejuice

7. I’m a guy, and so far all I’ve done is a few dates with guys, and a lot more with women…women seem to care more about me being bisexual than guys do. Guys treat me just the same, but women say it makes me more attractive.

beetlejuice

8. Lesbian for 15 years, Bisexual for the last year. Generally speaking:

Dating women:

Soft kisses, soft hugs, soft everything.

Sex is more of a leisurely stroll through a park.

Way easier to fall in love. The intimacy is intense when you’re both speaking the same emotional language.

Oddly enough, it’s harder to have that first connection because women can be really passive and not show they’re interested.

PMSx2 is just as fun as it sounds.

More defensive, less cooperative.

Dating men:

Hard kisses, hard hugs, hard everything.

Sex is more of a roller coaster.

Figuring out what a guy wants emotionally when even he doesn’t want to admit/knows is nearly impossible without sabotaging the whole thing by seeming too "needy."

Figuring out what a guy wants physically is wonderfully easy.

Less defensive, more cooperative.

beetlejuice

9. Okay, so I’m 21 years old, gay, and in a serious relationship with another man. Throughout my entire life I thought I was straight or at the very most bisexual….I’ve dated women and many men….I think for me, I wasn’t really attracted to the femininity of women, but more to the masculinity of men….The best part about men is the body hair! I just love running my fingers through chest hair! It drives me crazy!

beetlejuice

10. Female bisexual here!

One huge thing I notice is that during sex men watch me and with women I watch them. When I’m intimate with a man I can feel myself being studied. My face, my sounds, my movements. I like it, it’s like someone’s saving an image for later. When I’m intimate with a woman I do that with them. I memorize her breathing, I watch her face and I’m just in awe of her completely in her own world.

beetlejuice

11. Women open up about serious things more quickly than men (with the exception of my current boyfriend). It’s really refreshing because while there can be nervousness about talking about deep things, it’s generally met more warmly. There is nothing more beautiful than a woman orgasming. It’s like angels singing.

beetlejuice

12. Men are better cuddlers, hands-down. Women are better kissers. In my experience, men are more dramatic in relationships. Women will talk issues out. Men will bottle it up and act like dicks until it’s forced out. Women don’t get weird when I insist on paying or going Dutch. Women care a lot more about having shaved nether bits. Men, not so much. Sex is passionate on both ends, but in different ways. Men have this whole “I need you now’ thing going on, where women are much slower and use that time to tell you how much they love you. Neither is better or worse. Just different.

beetlejuice

13. Having sex with a boy, at least to me, feels a little less romantic than being with a girl. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and sometimes my SO whips out the strap-on, but it’s never been on the same level for me.

beetlejuice

14. Bi female who is a fairly “butch” person; Women love that butch shit, guys are fairly repelled by it and try to tone me down a lot.

Guys are terrible kissers.

Women have stinky vaginas.

Guys don’t know how to finger for shit.

Women are usually cold fish and don’t take a lot of initiative in bed.

Guys are usually super-aggressive in bed and don’t really care about female pleasure.

Neither sex knows how to give oral to a female well.

beetlejuice

15. Girls are crazy. Seriously, I tried to seriously date women for a few years and could not deal with the need for constant validation, attention, and compliments. Couldn’t deal. Not being able to date a woman made me realize that perhaps I wasn’t bisexual, just slutty.

beetlejuice

16. Dated a girl for 2 years and then dated a guy for 2 and married him. Guys are way more fun to tease. Every little touch near their dick or on it gets great reactions. Teasing women is harder. You can’t just start near the vagina. There’s a whole ritual of little touches everywhere else first. Though girl kisses are soft and sweet. Also just soft in general. I feel more protected in a male embrace than a female one.

beetlejuice

17. Male bisexual here….Sex is greatly different. I get a lot more blowjobs and rimjobs with men. Less “penetration sex.” Anal sex has to be planned and well prepared. With women, sex would be a lot more spontaneous.

beetlejuice

18. Male here; in my experience women don’t put anywhere near as much effort into giving foreplay, and they expect to receive a lot more. I know why this is, but put some effort in!

beetlejuice

19. Men may have a mess around them, but know where everything is in that mess. Women will keep an environment that is clean and tidy, but lose small things like keys or purses.

beetlejuice

20. Men are harder. No, seriously. Women tend to be soft and squishy, and men tend to have less give. You could never tell just by looking, I mean they both seem to have the same amount of fat. But it’s a huge and consistent difference. Definitely caught me off-guard.

beetlejuice

21. Let me tell you what didn’t surprise me. Everyone is crazy. No gender is crazier than the other. There are crazy bitches and crazy dickheads on both sides. TC mark

How To Make My Ultimate Fantasy Football Draft Buffalo Chicken Dip

Posted: 27 Aug 2015 10:29 AM PDT

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Ingredients

1 12oz canned shredded chicken
1 8oz package cream cheese (leave out of fridge for at least 15 minutes to soften)
1/2 cup Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
1/2 cup Ott’s Original Wing Sauce
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
A pinch of parsley

1. Drain chicken and put it in a skillet on medium heat.

You’ll need to break up the chicken with a spatula; it’s already shredded, but you want it finely shredded (no chunks) and evenly dispersed in the skillet so as to heat all the way through.

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2. Add wing sauce and coat chicken thoroughly.

Others have you add sauce and chicken at the same time but I’ve found this method works better and you’re less likely to burn the sauce. Stir the sauce throughout your shredded chicken until fully coated.

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3. Add cream cheese.

This sounds easier than it is. Even with softened cream cheese, you’ll need to break this up too. I find the best way to do it is to use your spatula to cut the cream cheese brick into four or five pieces and move them each to a separate part of the skillet. This makes them melt faster and keeps your dip consistent. Stir until the cream cheese has melted into the mixture.

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4. Add ranch dressing.

Your dip should be pretty gooey at this point so just stir until the ranch is mixed thoroughly.

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5. Add shredded cheddar cheese.

Same deal. Evenly disperse, stir until cheese is melted. All ingredients should be warmed all the way through and well-blended.

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6. Turn off heat, pour into serving dish, and garnish with parsley.

You can also add a little extra cheddar on top if you want an extra kick or if you plan to reheat at your destination. Serve with tortilla chips, veggies, crackers, or anything you want to put this delicious delicacy on.

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Ta-da! You’ve now made the Ultimate Fantasy Football Draft Buffalo Chicken Dip. You are a god among your friends. People will sing songs of your dip throughout the ages.

How A Slow Reveal And Seemingly Minor Details Can Make Your Novel So Much Better

Posted: 26 Aug 2015 12:26 PM PDT

In this series, I'm reading Celeste Ng's blockbuster debut novel Everything I Never Told You and discussing literary techniques I notice in each chapter. Obviously, this post contains spoilers for both EINTY and Star Wars: Episode IV, as well as minor spoilers for the prequels. For past installments: part 1: Characterization (which includes a link to an online excerpt of the novel's first chapter), part 2: The Graceful Flashback, and part 3: Tension and Subplots.

This is the last double-header post, but I wanted to discuss chapters five and six together. I'm assuming that many readers are also aspiring writers, so I'm going to discuss the power of small details and the "Polaroid" method for revealing a character. Since Everything I Never Told You is twelve chapters long, we've officially reached the halfway point, and things in the novel's plot are definitely heating up. Here's one way Ng maintains the novel's intensity:

1. Capture the Power of Small Details by Adding a "Paperclip"

I could probably write an entire post about details, since they're so tricky for literary writers (and writers in general). After all, if someone said, "Hey, you should read this book. It's full of good descriptions and details," that's usually not as compelling as, "I instantly fell in love with the characters and stayed up all night because I couldn't wait to see what happened to them." I've read a number of Important Works of Literature where the author spends an entire chapter describing the aroma of a samovar and the glint of light off a velveteen chaise lounge in a dimly lit study, and those kinds of detail make me cringe:

partly because they're self-indulgent and pompous, and partly because details like that tend to impede the story's forward momentum.

Elmore Leonard has this great quote: when asked about how he wrote novels that were so gripping, he replied, "I leave out all the parts readers skip." One can only read so many details about motes of dust swirling onto an oaken desk in a dimly lit study before his or her eyes glaze over.

At the same time, including the right details is important: after all, they're the best (and only) way to bring people and places to life on the page. I've always thought that was the main purpose of details, but today, this serendipitous Raymond Chandler quote popped up on my phone:

Chandler comes up with such a vivid and specific detail, seemingly off the top of his head, that we're just as surprised as the paper clip man when his killer walks through the door. So, details can enhance the plot by serving as an author's sleight-of-hand trick. More importantly, details can make the reader care about the victim: I can still picture the expression on his face (as well as his frustration at this weirdly specific task) long after I've finished that paragraph.

Also, to back up my earlier point about carefully choosing which details to include, notice how Chandler omits unnecessary information about the time period, the weather, and even the killer's motivation—instead, he carefully describes something that resonates emotionally with the reader, and he does it in less than 140 words.

Here are some "paperclips" that stuck out in chapters five and six of EINTY. I think for something to count as a "paperclip," it needs to pass a simple test:

  • Is it small?
  • Does it appear briefly?
  • Does it have more than one function? (Chandler's paperclip helps characterize a man and also distracts the reader until his killer walks through the door.)

Here's a good example. This is a scene that happens after Marilyn has left her family. See if you can spot the paperclip:

"How is Marilyn?" Mrs. Allen asked. "She's been away quite a while, hasn't she? I do hope everything is all right." Her eyes were excited and bright, as if—Nath thought—she might get a present.

"We're holding down the fort," James said.

"How long will she be away?"

James glanced down at the children and hesitated. "Indefinitely," he said. Beside him, Nath kicked Mrs. Allen's gate with the toe of his sneaker. "Don't do that, Nath. You're leaving a scuff."

Mrs. Allen peered down at them, but the children, in unison, looked away. Her lips were too thin, her teeth too white. Under the heel of Lydia's shoe, a wad of bubble gum stuck her to the concrete like glue. Even if she were allowed, she thought, she could not run away.

"You two be good now, and your mother will be home soon, isn't that right?" Mrs. Allen said. She shifted her thin-lipped smile to James, who didn't meet her eye. "Our groceries must be melting," James said […]"It's nice seeing you, Vivian." He tucked the paper sack under his arm and took each of the children by a hand and turned away, and the gum under Lydia's shoe stretched and snapped, leaving a long, dried-out worm on the sidewalk" (129).

I love the subtlety in this scene: Ng never says that Mrs. Allen is thirsty for gossip, but Nath can sense it even if he doesn't quite understand, and a smart reader can figure out her intentions.

However, the "paperclip" is that wad of gum on Lydia's shoe. It's a great paperclip because it's one of those weird details that sticks out in a traumatic moment.

It's also a subtle reminder that Marilyn's disappearance has trapped the whole Lee family in an unpleasant situation, indefinitely. The gum passes all three parts of the test: it's small, both in size and in importance to the plot.

It appears briefly. In terms of function, the gum emphasizes the family's emotional turmoil and when it snaps, the tension in the scene also snaps and then dissipates, which is another small-but-useful function.

It's worth noting that a "paperclip" doesn't need to be a tangible, physical object.

Here's an edited passage from chapter 5:

When he heard the station's late-night sign-off, he would slip the scraps of Marilyn's note into the envelope and tuck it back into his shirt pocket. Then he tiptoed into the living room, where the children lay curled up together on the floor by the sofa. James carried first Lydia, then Nath, to bed. Then—because, without Marilyn, the bed felt too empty, like a barren plateau—he returned to the living room, swaddling himself in an old crocheted afghan on the sofa until he finally fell asleep. In the morning, it all began again.

Now, here's the actual passage:

When he heard the station's late-night sign-off and the national anthem begin to play, he would slip the scraps of Marilyn's note into the envelope and tuck it back into his shirt pocket. Then he tiptoed into the living room, where the children lay curled up together on the floor by the sofa, illuminated by the test pattern on the television. The Indian at the top of the screen glared as James carried first Lydia, then Nath, to bed. Then—because, without Marilyn, the bed felt too empty, like a barren plateau—he returned to the living room, swaddling himself in an old crocheted afghan on the sofa and studying the circles on the screen until the signal cut off. In the morning, it all began again (127).

Like Chandler's paperclip, the Indian head has no effect on the plot. It only appears in this one paragraph. Unlike the gum in the previous example, it doesn't heighten emotion, but it is useful because it's an authentic detail that reminds the reader of the time period. The fact that the Indian is glaring also enhances the moody, late-night atmosphere while helping to show how dazed James is.

The last example I'd give is also from chapter six, when Nath meets Jack. Remember how Jack offers Nath candy when he tries to comfort him? (It's a long passage, but it's on page 131 if you're reading along.)

The Swedish fish are small, only appear for five minutes at most, and there's some kind of magic in the combination of sensory detail (especially taste, which isn't appealed to often in this book) and the intense freakout that Jack's comments causes. Also, the Swedish fish give Jack and Nath, former enemies, a reason to interact in the first place.

You can try it yourself: read that scene without the Swedish fish and the interaction feels functional and plot-driven, like the author decided this interaction was necessary and conveniently made the conversation/confrontation happen.

2. Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture…to Reveal an Important Character. Or, What do Hannah and R2D2 Have in Common?

Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain
Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain

I'll admit: when I started reading this book, I didn't understand why Hannah was in it. In the first chapter, she's one of five characters the reader has to keep track of, and she kind of easily fades into the background during all the drama. The second chapter is a flashback to before Hannah was born, and in the third chapter, she appears just often enough during the funeral to remind you that she exists.

In chapter four, another flashback chapter, Hannah doesn't exist yet. However, in chapter five, Hannah gets a lot of screen time and her quiet, observant presence is a nice contrast to her family, who are alternately furious, grieving, and horny. Also, for the first time, one of her decisions matters—when she prevents Nath from fighting with Jack, we get the sense that the plot has been changed a little.

By the end of chapter five, I still wasn't sold on Hannah. She still didn't seem to be doing anything valuable and could probably be replaced with an even minor-er character. However, then chapter six came along and I realized that her mere existence created a major plot point—Hannah is the reason Marilyn returns to James, Lydia, and Nath, after all.

I'm not sure why I didn't see it coming: maybe it was because Ng included so many other plot and character-related details to distract me. At any rate, I was impressed by the way the author slowly revealed Hannah (kind of like a Polaroid photo slowly developing throughout the novel's first half), and Ng used pacing well to keep Hannah visible but mostly waiting in the wings until she was needed.

I've been thinking about minor characters a lot, and two "minor" characters instantly came to mind: R2D2 and C3PO. I know my life won't be worth much after I write this, but I've never been particularly fond of either droid. I grew up watching the movies, and I think the droids' charm wore off by the 70th time I finished the trilogy. Also, my view is probably tainted by the prequels, where R2D2 is basically a Swiss army knife and has abilities that are oddly absent in the original trilogy. Or, R2D2 had an impressive array of combat and flight abilities in the prequels and opted not to use them in episodes IV-VI for some reason, which means he's basically an asshole.

Another reason I didn't like either droid is because, having not seen the movies in about a decade, I thought George Lucas just kind of stuck them in the films to provide comic relief, which makes them the storytelling equivalent of a spare tire that has to be lugged around.

It's functional but clunky and often annoying.

That said, I rewatched Episode IV and realized that without R2D2 playing Princess Leia's message, the entire trilogy doesn't happen. (Actually, if C3PO doesn't convince Owen to purchase R2D2, the entire trilogy doesn't happen.) Later in the movie, R2D2 becomes more and more useful, as the whole point is to get him (and the Death Star blueprints) to the rebels. Etcetera.

Anyway, while I'm guessing that Hannah doesn't help anyone destroy a Death Star, I'm curious to see if she plays a larger role in the novel now that her main plot purpose seems to have been revealed.

Here's an exercise for you. Unlike the last two weeks, it's not a writing prompt. However, I think the first step to creating great Chandler-esque "paperclips" in your own novel is to learn how to identify them in others' work. Can you name the paperclips in chapter five of EINTY? I counted three…feel free to add your findings to the comments section. TC mark

11 Complicated Things That Happen When Your Friends And Family Don’t Get Along With Your Significant Other

Posted: 27 Aug 2015 08:51 AM PDT

Twenty20 / sussialfredsson
Twenty20 / sussialfredsson

1. Family dinners are super awkward.

You know your family doesn't approve of your SO and when they fail to pretend like they do, it just makes everything super weird and uncomfortable. When your tattoo artist boyfriend reaches for the mashed potatoes and your mother asks him about the inked on dragon tail peaking out from under his sleeve, you know she's not genuinely curious about what it means or why he got it. This is when you wish life had a fast forward button.

2. Anything your SO says, will be used against them.

Not to get all Miranda rights on you, but whatever comes out of your SO’s mouth, your friends and family are most likely going to remember word for word, particularly because they don’t like him or her. When your girlfriend says she hates spinach, and your best friend makes some grandiose spinach salad 2 weeks later, she definitely remembered your girlfriend’s least favorite food.

“Oh my god, I am so sorry I completely forgot you HATE spinach! I can go make you something else! What do you want?! I have anything!” And then your girlfriend continues to grimace with each forkful of spinach she puts to her mouth simply because she doesn’t want to be rude. Also anything they say about their childhood or long term memories will be questioned. “I thought you said you grew up in Missouri?” Well, that was after she moved there from Texas, Mother.

3. Alcohol is the enemy when you’re all together.

Alcohol makes everyones’ inhibitions fly free. When your SO downs four very dry martinis within the first 30 minutes of being at your parents’ home they are definitely more likely to release their honest opinions. “So, who made the decision on the rooster wallpaper in the kitchen? Bet you regret that one, huh?” You wish you could put your foot in their mouth for them.

4. When you go to parties/gatherings without your SO, they are the topic of discussion.

Your friends and family love to talk about your SO when they aren’t there to defend themselves. They only get you alone every so often, so they jump at the chance to let you know how they feel. They won’t say anything terribly harsh, but their attempt to keep their disapproval subtle is below average.

5. You notice less of your family attends events when your SO comes along.

When your sister asks if your SO is coming to your mom’s birthday dinner, and your dad tells you she wasn’t feeling well when you arrive to the restaurant with your SO in hand, you know she’s faking sick. Your family backs out of plans when they realize you’re not planning on showing up alone.

6. Your SO secretly loves it when a conflict rises between you and your friends or family.

You see that smile hiding behind their fake concerned sad eyes. When you have a disagreement with your BFF over something that has nothing to do with your SO, your venting is like music to their ears. They even chime in from time to time. “I can’t believe she just left me hanging like that!” “Well, you know her sweety, that’s how she always is.” You roll your eyes.

7. Your friends and family constantly ask you how your SO is doing.

They don’t ask you because they want to know, or because they care. They ask you because it is their way of saying, “Have you two broken up yet? And if not, when will that be happening?”

8. When you walk into a room your friends and/or family suddenly stop talking.

Don’t worry, they aren’t gossiping about you, just about your boyfriend or girlfriend.

9. Gifts and cards are passive aggressive insults they fire back at one another.

When your BFF shops for your SO’s birthday card it will definitely be in the “humor” section. She’ll be sure to pick out something that serves as a snarky dig. “Happy Birthday! It’s your day to be the Princess you’ve always wanted to be!” A perfect card for your 28 year-old MALE boyfriend who works at the perfume counter in JCPenney.

10. Your friends would never third wheel with you and your SO.

There has never been a time when only one friend comes to hangout with you (when you’re with your SO). Your BFF couldn’t possibly survive one on one time with your boyfriend or girlfriend. What if you get up to go to the bathroom? What will they be left to talk about? They make sure to avoid this situation at all costs. Your BFF also likes to bring someone as a ridiculous form of back up. Just in case the tension rises, they have someone else to stick up for them because they know you’ll do your best to remain neutral.

11. You’re constantly hearing, ‘We’re just looking out for your best interests.’

Your friends and family continuously reassure you that they have your best interests in mind. They consistently tell you that they don’t just simply “not like” your SO, they fear that you’re going to be hurt by them, that they’re not right for you, and that you deserve much better. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide, they just make things a bit more complicated along the way. TC mark

Share Your College Photos And Stories On Thought Catalog

Posted: 27 Aug 2015 09:23 AM PDT

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Next Tuesday (Sept. 1) all the writers on Thought Catalog’s homepage will be talking about college. We’ll be reminiscing about our college friends and boyfriends/girlfriends and waxing poetic about adderall addictions of days gone by.

You can join us by sharing your favorite “college” photos. Tell us a funny or poignant story, about how a roommate may have changed your life (for better or worse), and think back to the days of eating Ramen noodles in a cramped dorm room with no air conditioning. It can be a friend selfie or an evocative shot—all we ask is that it’s interesting.

Tweet or Instagram your photos, and include the hashtag #tc_college and a sentence or two about why you think this picture encapsulates your college experience in the caption.

We'll go through and find our favorite photo submissions and embed them in a Thought Catalog compilation for College Theme Day!

All college stories are relevant. TC mark