Thought Catalog

18 Men Explain Exactly How Sex Is Different With Someone You Love

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 09:57 AM PDT

via twenty20/NickBulanovv
via twenty20/NickBulanovv

1. “For me, having sex with someone you love feels like you’ve ‘found’ something. There’s a real sense of discovering something that was missing before, a completeness that you don’t get from random hookups or even with long term lovers that you’re not in love with.”

—Luke, 27


2. “It is different. It’s so different that I actually think it might be the best way to tell whether you’re in love with someone or just in lust with them.”

—Oliver, 26


3. “The thing I noticed the most about having sex with someone I loved for the first time was that there was real humor and happiness involved. Like, we joked and smiled the whole way through. The sex was super satisfying of course but I remember afterward saying ‘that was fun’ and actually feeling joy instead of worrying about how I’d performed, etc. That was a real shock for me.”

—Nathan, 22


4. “Technically, I’ve had better sex with women that I wasn’t in love with than I have with women I have been in love with but at the same time I generally enjoyed it less. I’m still kind of getting my head around that.”

—Jonathon, 23


5. “People are always talking about how sex with someone you love is better but I don’t really see how that can be true. Sex is sex, either you have chemistry and know how to do it or you don’t. I don’t know how love could magically grant anyone mystic sex powers that suddenly make it better.”

—Ian, 24


6. “I’ve wondered about this a lot and at the risk of trying to explain something that probably has to be experienced to be understood I think that when you love someone you’re just more likely to trust them and when you have mutual trust you have better sex that’s mostly stress free.”

—Leo, 27


7. “This is really something men don’t talk about when it’s just ‘the guys’. I think that we’re told by society that A) Sex is dirty and awesome and that B) If you’re in love then you should never say so. Sex with someone you love can be actually transcendental and by that I mean you transcend your ‘self’ and become emotionally intwined with the person with whom you’re sharing that love. It’s a miracle if you ask me and we’d all be better off if we admitted how wonderful it is to feel that way.”

—Marc, 33


8. “The first time I had sex with someone I was in love with it scared me. It was just such an intensity of feeling that I immediately kind of freaked out and literally started shaking. The way I grew up and having the parents I had really explains this. There wasn’t much affection in the house. We were always emotionally on our guard. There wasn’t any trust. It took me some time to figure out what I was feeling and love making sort of ended up as a kind of reparative therapy for me. We’ve been married five years now and I feel like meeting her rescued me from what might have been a very sad and loveless life.”

—Jack, 28


9. “The first thing I noticed the first time I was with someone I was in love with and that was in love with me was that she seemed to really be into my pleasure in this really free way. I’d never come across that before.”

—Charlie, 25


10. “There’s definitely an isolation I’ve always felt during and after hookups, even when I really liked the person, that’s definitely showed me the meaning of ‘la petite mort’ (the little death). When I’ve had sex with someone I really loved I never felt that.”

—Tyler, 26


11. “For the most part, I’ve always enjoyed sex with someone new because you get to find out all about this new person and what they like and don’t like. There’s a lot of excitement in it but it’s definitely different from sex with someone you’re in love with. The best way I can describe is that it’s like you’re doing something with someone else instead of doing something to them.”

—Julian, 29


12. “It’s 100% possible to still have bad sex with someone you’re in love with. What I’ve found in my own life though is that bad sex with someone you love is still way better than good sex with someone you don’t love. For one thing, you don’t feel the need to leave right afterward.”

—David, 28


13. “They’re different, yeah, but as long as you’re not expecting love where there isn’t any then I think both can have their place. Where a lot of people go wrong and, I think, especially girls, is that they expect to feel love during hookups when that’s not what hookups are about. Making love is about being with someone you love, hookups are about sex or alleviating loneliness.”

—Jake, 30


14. “Sex is better with someone you love for the exact reason that literally everything is better with someone you love.”

—Tom, 22


15. “One thing I notice about casual sex is just how little effort people really put into it. If for no other reason, sex with someone you love is better because both of you are trying.”

—Jeremiah, 26


16. “Sex with someone you love is really different than sex with someone you’ve just met or haven’t known very long. There’s nothing like the adrenaline that comes with the sort of rowdy, casual sex you have with someone you just met at a club but there’s also nothing like sex that’s deeply intimate and that can be just as rowdy. The difference is that the former doesn’t have any meaning to it. The latter does.”

—Mark, 26


17. “The sex is different, yes. Is it better? It can be and when it is better it’s a lot better and when it’s bad it’s just okay. However, some of the best sex I ever had was with people I wasn’t in love with.”

—Evan, 24


18. “Sex with someone you love doesn’t have any of the ‘locked inside your head’ self consciousness that hookups have, in my experience.”

—Anthony, 23 TC mark

14 Men Reveal How They Resist Even The Slightest Urge To Cheat On Their Girlfriends

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 01:33 PM PDT

Twenty20, kirillvasilevphotography
Twenty20, kirillvasilevphotography

1. “This is what I do any time I find myself in a tempting situation. I think about all the amazing women in my life: my mom, my grandma, my sister, and some of my best female friends. I don't want to disappoint the women I respect, and I know they wouldn’t approve of me cheating, so I don't do anything stupid.”

— Wallace, 28


2. “I consider anyone who cheats a total loser who lacks self control. All those people caught in that Ashley Madison hack? Losers. I’m no caveman, so when I feel attracted to a woman who’s not my girlfriend, I suppress whatever dirty thoughts surface by reminding myself that I’m better than that. Then I get on with my day.”

— Zane, 33


3. “I think the problem with guys who cheat is that they have no imagination. If you can fantasize, you don't need to act on all the horny urges running through your mind. You can envision yourself getting humped by the cute hippie chick seated across from you on the subway instead of bumping uglies in real life. That’s how I manage.”

— Hussain, 26


4. “All I have to do is remember the expression on my girlfriend's face the first and only time she caught me cheating. She was so fucking crushed, it killed me. And then she managed to forgive me. I don't want to do that to her ever again. She deserves so much better.”

— Simon, 32


5. “I was a serial cheater for a long time. So when I pledged fidelity to my girlfriend of three years, I had to go cold turkey. No strip clubs. No Porn. No nights out with the boys. It's working so far. Been eight and a half months. Some people can't handle a taste without bingeing, and I'm one of them. You really have to know yourself, I think.”

— Carl, 29


6. “My fiancée and I had a daughter last year and ever since, I've never even considered cheating for more than a millisecond. I realize that having a little girl shouldn't be required to stop a man from cheating, but that's honestly how I handle the idea of infidelity. Cheating on a woman is a horrible thing to do. I don't want any man who dates my daughter to cheat on her, so I don't cheat, either. I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”

— Sanjay, 28


7. “Whenever I'm out without my girlfriend and I meet a hot girl, I let myself flirt a little. I definitely hit on other women and I even play single sometimes, which isn't the greatest thing, maybe, but I know when to stop. I know when to pull out, you could say, before I get myself into any trouble. So far my record is totally clean in my current relationship, and I think it’s because I give myself the bandwidth to engage in some ego boosting banter, but without ever going too far. ”

— Kevin, 30


8. “I cheated on my girlfriend a few times over the course of our first five years together. I'm not proud of it, but I never got caught and I don't think I'm a bad guy. Last month I had this epiphany, though, and I decided to cut that shit out altogether. So what did I do? I proposed. I believe in the sanctity of marriage and I think being a husband will help me walk a straighter path. My parents have been together for forty years and I look to them as an example to live by.”

— Sam, 31


9. “I haven't been physical with another woman since the day my long-term girlfriend and I agreed to be exclusive. But I do have a work spouse and we have the kind of relationship that might be construed as inappropriately intimate to outsiders. The thing is, that secondary relationship keeps me sane. I get the satisfaction of flirting with another woman without getting naked with her. Truthfully, if my girlfriend had a work spouse of her own, I wouldn’t mind. Whatever helps us both get by.”

— Ted, 25


10. “I only sleep with other women when I absolutely have to. I know what it sounds like, but hear me out. My girlfriend travels a lot—like, six months at a time. She has a big job and I support her career. But it’s tough to be alone for long stretches, and she understands that. She’s the one who suggested I explore other sexual, non-emotional relationships while she’s away. When my girlfriend's around, it’s easy not to stray. When she’s gone, I take a few dips outside the main pond, but only because she gave me permission to explicitly.”

— Kyle, 27


11. “When it comes to sex, my girlfriend is kind of like the overachieving Tracy Flick character from that movie Election. She's crazy dedicated to keeping me satisfied sexually. I don't think a day's gone by in the last six months that I didn't get a blowjob or get laid. I don't even have to think about cheating because she works so damn hard to meet my needs. Did we end up together for that reason? Possibly. But I’d like to think I could commit to someone no matter how sexual she was, as long as we were in love.”

— Ty, 25


12. “Cam girls pretty much saved my relationship. I'm a really sexual guy, but I'm in love with a woman who doesn't like sex that much. She never wants to do it, and I’ve tried everything to get her in the mood without any success. I love my girlfriend, and I don't want to be unfaithful, but abstinence definitely doesn’t work for me. So I get what I need by interacting with pros across screens. I watch strangers strip and masturbate, mostly, and my girlfriend knows about it. It's an expensive habit, but way cheaper—not to mention safer and more respectable—than hiring a hooker.”

— Peter, 27


13. “Six months into dating, I caught my girlfriend making out with another guy. It felt so shitty to watch that go down, but it also made me realize just how strongly I felt about her. I confronted her about the whole thing the next day and suggested we either promise not to do that to each other ever again, or break up. She balled and apologized and we hugged it out. It’s been four years now. I’m a man of my word, and I don’t want to make the woman I love feel like crap, so I’m good.”

— Len, 23


14. “I need sex daily. That's a fact. I found myself an equally horny chick to stop myself from being the guy who's always stepping out on his girl. We have sex constantly. Genius move on my part, I’d say.”

— Jared, 24 TC mark

I Went To A Spanking Party In NYC And Got My Ass Smacked By A Bunch Of Strangers

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 11:15 AM PDT

Shutterstock / Life is Life
Shutterstock / Life is Life

My typical Sunday usually involves a host of errands, a Netflix marathon, and the occasional brunch. My plans for last Sunday? Paying to get my ass smacked by a complete stranger.

SCONY (Spanking Club Of New York) has dedicated its time and efforts to hosting private, old-fashioned spanking parties for the past two decades. Run by a sweet-looking older woman who goes by “Ms. Margaret,” the club meets once every month in Manhattan’s East Village, where private rooms are set up for some good, clean, ass-smacking fun.

There are some rules to abide by: No floggers or cat-o-nine-tails (which are whips), and safe words (yellow for slow down, red for stop) are listed as absolute must-follows. Refreshments are served and you’re encouraged to bring a snack to share, as well as your alcoholic beverage of choice.

Upon discovering that spanking parties are actually a thing that happen in my hood, I decided that I absolutely needed to see this for myself. I asked my friend Andrea to come along (actually, she volunteered) and we signed up for a Sunday funday of ass-spanking.

After knocking back a few drinks at a nearby bar for some liquid confidence, we walked over to the address listed on the site and pushed open the nondescript door. We were immediately met with the resounding sound of asses being smacked.

There was a front table, which had three name tag selections: blue if you were a bottom (meaning you wanted to get your booty slapped), red if you were a top (meaning you wanted to smack some money makers), and white if you wanted to do both.

We were greeted by Tom, the husband of Ms. Margaret, and were asked to fill out name tags (we both chose white). We paid the $25 entry fee (a steep $50 if you’re a man).

After signing in, a group of older men approached us but their efforts were quickly thwarted by Ms. Margaret, who swooped in like a mama cat protecting her newborn kittens, and pulled us aside to give us a much-needed newbie schpiel.

“The two of you are going to get hounded,” she told us, “so I’m going to pair you up with someone who’s been here a while.”

Enter Kristi, a wholesome-looking 30-something who likes to get her caboose whacked on the regular.

Kristi and Ms. Margaret made it clear to us that we didn’t have to do anything we didn’t feel comfortable with during our first time out, and told us that if anyone here did or said something to us that was off-putting, we should flag one of them down right away.

She also noted that the women here “run this sh*t,” meaning we do the picking and choosing of who we’re going to “play” with (that’s what they called it), not the other way around.

After the much needed pre-spank pep talk, we walked out behind Ms. Margaret and Kristi, through a sea of potential spankers that ranged from normal looking 20-somethings to men and women who probably have grandkids. Wide-eyed, we took a seat at a table that was placed in between two private, curtained off “play” areas.

Andrea and I made small talk with Kristi and were then joined a by young, clean-cut guy named Nick. Nick told us about the spanking convention he’d just gone to down in Texas, and how he’d been at it this for a year now, having found this place after he got out of a particularly bad breakup.

As the conversation continued, I saw an old man and woman emerge from one of the private rooms, laughing.

“Why thank you, sir,” the old woman said, fixing her hair from the ordeal. “This is the most fun I’ve had in quite some time.”

“My pleasure, my darling,” he told her, and then kissed her hand.

As I was watching this all go down, I realized that Andrea was making a beeline for the table that had a small selection of alcohol, which seemed like a smart idea given what we were both about to go through with.

We discussed how the heck we were supposed to go from making casual chit-chat with these strangers to actually getting our badonkadonks beat. We decided to take the middle school approach and tell Kristi to tell Nick that we’d both really like for him to spank us.

Nick graciously obliged, and the three of us headed into one of the private spanking rooms, which were bare except for two wooden chairs.

“I’m going to spank you first,” Nick told Andrea. “Then you, and then both of you at the same time.”

We agreed. Nick instructed Andrea to turn around and hold onto the back of one of the chairs. Then he took his hand and smacked her left butt cheek really, really hard.

Nick continued to go at it while Andrea and I tried not to laugh at how bizarre this whole thing was. Andrea had an easier time keeping the giggles to a minimum since she was mostly saying, “Ow!”

Finally, she told Nick that she’d had enough and it was my turn.

After watching Andrea go first, I thought I knew what I was in for. But when I went to stand over the chair the way that she had, Nick shook his head. He sat down on one of the chairs, then took me over his lap like a child, and proceeded to spank my tail-feather.

It hurt. Really, really bad.

I tried to be tough and take it for as long as I could. But around spank eight or nine, I had to ask him to stop.

Then, it was Nick’s turn.

Nick was technically a top but he gave in and let us spank him. We each gave a solid effort to leave our mark on his butt cheeks, but he didn’t give us any indication that we were doing any damage.

We did a grand finale that involved both of us playing his butt like a set of bongos, which I’m pretty sure he wasn’t into. But he was a great sport.

After achieving our goal of experiencing all that the spanking club had to offer, we made a very prompt exit, stopping to kiss Ms. Margaret goodbye, thanking her for the hospitality.

What struck me the most about this whole experience was how normal everyone in attendance was. The seasoned regulars we came in counter with are the same people you’d expect to run into at your office water cooler, or feeding quarters into the dryer at the laundromat, or in line behind you at the grocery store.

This has made me think differently about all of my acquaintances, about how little you really know about a person when it comes to what makes them tick, what they’re into, and what gets them off.

Andrea and I probably won’t be attending another spanking party any time soon. But if you’re interested in dipping your toe into the world of NYC spanking parties, I’d definitely recommend paying Ms. Margaret a visit. TC mark


The Fight For Mental Health And Happiness During The Time Of ‘Black Lives Matter’

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 02:25 PM PDT

Flickr / The All-Nite Images
Flickr / The All-Nite Images

Social justice movements are both overwhelmingly public and private. We see these strangers in the headlines, all people we have not met and will never have the chance to meet; our only introduction to them is their name being immortalized in a hashtag and a campaign to fight for justice.

It is only in death that we can see them thrive on a large-scale, because our society smothers this effort from the marginalized people who continue to survive.

It's selfish, but so often when I see a new name being hashtagged or buzzed about for being the latest victim of radicalized hatred, they are not the first faces that flash into my mind. Instead, that first face is that of another more familiar person – myself.


Major activist movements like that of Black Lives Matter achieve great work by giving voice to the struggle of the marginalized. If you ask any Black person living today, we will say of course to the question of whether or not we deserve to be here.

We have bled, cried, fought for, and celebrated the life of the soil that refuses to return any of these sentiments. To be Black, especially Black in America, is a nuanced tug of war between fighting for acceptance, and acknowledging that you may never really receive it.

Explaining it like that is one of the only ways that I can explain how complicated it is to discuss the issues surrounding fatigue and mental health in activism. Because while we are ready to go out and fight for what we believe in, we should also be equally as prepared to unpack the heavy armor we wear, and acknowledge the pain that lurks underneath.

But what no one told me was that even being revolutionary, activism was incredibly tiring on the soul.

The difficulty of this conversation is not our fault. But rather, it is because of the complexities that weave around it. There is a historical submission of the acknowledgment of Black pain and how it affects us – we see it in the troupes and stereotypes that continue to swirl and shape our perceptions of Black individuals. The Strong Black Woman, the Silent Black Man, and the loud erasure of any other Black identity.

To allow for these emotions to surface, or to acknowledge that Black individuals can be fatigued and disheartened like everyone else, would mean to acknowledge our humanity. And to be human means to be imperfect.

I've had my own experiences with activism – not on a large-scale like more visible activists, of course, but on a smaller scale of organizing marches and walks and the kind of grassroots paper shuffling that still warms me with a sense of purpose.

When I attended my first major rally in undergrad, I was mesmerized and electrified at the power of individuals coming together for a cause. But what no one told me was that even being revolutionary, activism was incredibly tiring on the soul.


To be Black in America is to be in a complicated relationship with one's own oppressor. And even with my own uncertainty around where I fit in this world that is hyperaware of injustice and efforts to change it, there is still the shame and stigma surrounding the admission of my own humanity.

To be Black in America is to be in a complicated relationship with one's own oppressor.

I want to be able to share my fatigue and distress safely and in the same ways that I celebrate my victories and triumphs. My happiness and my sadness are equally valid parts of myself, and together make up the experience that is being myself and being a Black woman.

As we move forward, I hope that we can continue to make great strides with conquering the oppression in our own lives as well as around us. Feeling tired, or needing to take a break, or having mental health issues are not signs of weakness. If anything, they are powerful reminders of our best assets – throughout it all, we remain human. And our complex and layered humanity, coupled with our individualized experiences, are our best weapons against oppression.

Well, that, and using our voices for good. TC mark

14 Little Things Every Guy Does When He’s Really Into The Girl He’s Dating

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 08:00 AM PDT

Leo Hidalgo
Leo Hidalgo

1. Texts her throughout the day. You just met your boo and you have a good feeling, like, a really good feeling. You can't stop thinking about her. You'll text her while you're in class, you'll text her while you're in a meeting, you'll text her while you're crossing the road. BEEP BEEP!

2. Loses sleep. By the time you get home, take a shower, and browse the internet for a bit, it's time for bed. So, you'll head to your room, switch off the lights, jump under the covers and call her. Because when you're into someone, you don't get to sleep for 8 hours (unless you skip class or call in sick for work)

3. Taps her ass. When she's walking by, just for the heck of it.

4. Plays around. You're going on the road to grab some dinner, and you ask "Babes, would you like anything?" and she responds "No, I just had something to eat." But when you get back home, and begin to devour your meal she uninvitingly takes a bite. And, then, she looks at you with that sheepish smirk on her face. So, you pretend to be pissed.

5. Texts "I miss you.” And wait for her to respond, "I miss you too."

6. Texts "I love you.” She'll respond "I love you too.” And if you're the really mushy type, you may take it one step further and say "I love you more.” Damn, that sounds sappy.

7. Cuddles her. At 5:00 am, when you're half asleep, you'll roll over to her side of the bed, put your arms around her and pull her close. And for her, that's the best feeling ever. Every girl will agree.

8. Cleans up. He’ll help out, willingly. And even learn to put the toilet seat down. The toilet thing might take up to 10 years, but it’s a good sign when it happens.

9. Slow dances. You're in the club, dancing to rap music (or as the older folks say "grinding on each other") because apparently what we do these days is not exactly dancing. Towards the end of the night, when the DJ switches up the music and plays a song like "All of Me,” you'll turn your girl around, put your arms around her waist, and look into her eyes. And actually dance!

10. Hugs her. You're watching a movie and you want to get comfortable. So you'll stretch out your legs (on a foot rest), inch closer, and wrap your arms around her. She'll then shuffle in your arms and rest her head on your shoulder.

11. Really listens. After making love, she may want to talk a little. She'll fold her hands and rest them on your chest, using it as a cushion for her chin. And while she asks you all kinds of questions, because women always got stuff on their minds. You'll stroke her hair and gently rub her arms.

12. Teases her. When she does something silly, he’ll teas her right back. Because it's kind of cute when she gets worked up over minor stuff.

13. Looks out for her. You're up late doing work, but you've had enough, so you close your laptop and head to your room. And there she is lying across the bed, sprawled out. Clearly, women can't sleep in a straight line (it's impossible for them). But more importantly, you don't want her to get chilly nor be eaten alive by mosquitos, so you cover her with the sheet.

14. Watches her sleep. You finally get into bed, take a second to gaze at her, smile contentedly and then you're off to sleep. TC mark

This Couple Drank Whiskey, Wine, And Vodka, And Made The Best Drunken Wedding Video Ever

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 02:07 PM PDT

Meet Justin and Jill. They’re getting married!

YouTube / Justin Willman
YouTube / Justin Willman

This adorable couple deserves more than a congratulations because they just came up with the best pre-wedding idea ever!

YouTube / Justin Willman
YouTube / Justin Willman

DRUNK HISTORY! In anticipation for the overwhelming amount of people about to ask the couple how they met, Justin and Jill decided to get absolutely wasted and make a video of it!

YouTube / Justin Willman
YouTube / Justin Willman

It was the New Year of 2012 and Justin was performing one of his magic acts on stage. His eccentric wardrobe caught Jill’s eye. Notice the bow tie.

YouTube / Justin Willman
YouTube / Justin Willman

Apparently, Jill caught Justin’s attention too. She was the cute photographer in the audience

YouTube / Justin Willman
YouTube / Justin Willman

But that is just the beginning! The couple’s drinks keep coming as they continue to tell their epic tale.

YouTube / Justin Willman
YouTube / Justin Willman

One bottle of whiskey, two bottles of wine, and half a bottle of vodka later…

YouTube / Justin Willman
YouTube / Justin Willman

The couple impressively completes their drunk history of how they met. Watch the complete video to see their drunken happily ever after! TC mark

What Steve Jobs’ Morning Routine Taught Me About Focus

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 08:10 AM PDT

Nothing in life motivated Steve Jobs more than death.

Every morning, he'd stare in the mirror and ask himself this question:

"If today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I'm about to do today?"

If too many days went by with the answer being "no," he made changes in his life. He did this until he hit a consistent yes, which drove him to countless innovations and a company worth $702 billion.

Inspired by his success and focus, six months ago I began asking myself the same question:

Photo provided by
Photo provided by Scott Tousley

Every morning as I leave my bedroom, I see this handwritten note hanging on my wall. It's my greatest motivator. It gives me energy. It challenges me to live today as if I’m dying tomorrow.

I challenge you to do the same: implement Steve Jobs’ question into your morning routine.

Right now, grab a piece of paper and write this down:

"If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do today?"

Now put it in your pocket.

When you go home tonight, tape it on your bathroom mirror. Or on your bedroom door. Or next to your toothbrush. When you see it tomorrow morning, take 15 seconds to reflect:

  • Are you being the best friend/parent/spouse/sibling you can be today?
  • Are you completely present and aware during all face-to-face interactions today?
  • Do you love your job? If not, what are you doing to change that today?
  • Are you having as much fun as you could possibly have today?

I’ve discovered this mindset engrains a laser-focus mentally, akin to the late Steve Jobs. It subconsciously eliminates insignificant problems and prioritizes important ones.

Adopt this early-morning habit and your day automatically begins with purpose and drive.

Treat today like it’s your last, and you will never feel more alive. TC mark

Here’s All The Cool Photos You Need To See From Apple’s Keynote Event

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 01:32 PM PDT

Becoming A Parent Is One Of The Scariest Things A Person Can Go Through: Here’s What Not To Say About It

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 04:00 AM PDT

Christian Cabarrocas

Social media can be an amazing tool for first-time parents. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and their ilk give housebound caregivers the chance to connect with other people without having to leave their bedroom. They make it easier to find others who are currently in or have been in similar situations. They provide a platform where people can ask for advice, pose specific questions (often of the is-this-normal variety), share milestones and pictures and funny anecdotes, or just flat-out vent about how hard parenting is. Because let's be real: parenting is fucking hard.

I've noticed an unfortunate trend in how some people reply to these social media posts, though – some people (most often people WHO ARE PARENTS) are condescending, dismissive and even sometimes unintentionally (I hope) hurtful in their responses. I've experienced this myself, and lately I've been noticing that a few of my friends with new babies have been enduring this same unfortunate phenomenon. What I've noticed the most is people saying things like, "Oh, you think it's bad now? Wait until she's a toddler!" or "Wait until you have two!" or "It's fine if you can't breastfeed, you can just give formula!" or worst of all, "Just relax, this is supposed to be a happy time!"

First of all: telling someone to relax very often results in THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF THAT HAPPENING. Also? If a parent thinks that what they're going through is bad? It's probably bad! And how is it at all a good idea to respond to someone talking about how difficult things and how much they are struggling with the assurance that things will only get worse? WHY WOULD YOU EVEN SAY THAT? Is that intended to be some kind of warning, like, get out now while you still can? Finally, things like breastfeeding or co-sleeping or having a natural childbirth may not feel like a big deal to some people, but to others they can matter a whole fuck of a lot. I know that when Theo was a baby, breastfeeding him was literally the only thing I felt like I was doing right as a parent. If I'd had to stop, or had been unable to do it, I would have been devastated, and hearing someone downplay or otherwise invalidate how I felt would have made me feel even worse.

So with all of that in mind, I thought that it might be smart to put together a handy-dandy guide for talking to new parents. So let's get started!

A few things to keep in mind with regards to new babies…

1. Remember that the transition from non-parenthood to parenthood is one of the scariest, most stressful, and most physically gruelling things a person can go through. If you're a woman who has recently experienced pregnancy, your body is suddenly totally unfamiliar and your hormones are all fucking over the place. If you're breastfeeding, you suddenly have a baby attached to your nipple every few hours, which, let me tell you, is not a sensation that's necessarily easy to get used to. Even if you haven't given birth and are not breastfeeding, just the very fact of having a new baby is physically draining. Like, there's a reason that sleep deprivation is a form of torture, you know? On top of all that, your entire way of living has completely changed. Everything suddenly revolves around this tiny, helpless little being, and all of the familiar road-markers of your old life have suddenly disappeared. Worst of all, you're often expected to map out your new life on your own, without much in the way of practical help. There is no real way to prepare for the type of culture shock you will experience when becoming a new parent.

2. Keep in mind that newborns are often terrible. Terrible! Not on purpose, of course, and this doesn't apply to all babies, but the fact remains that infants are frequently some of the most unpleasant people. First of all, they seem to hate you. They scream all the time, and when they're not screaming, they're staring at you balefully. They never smile – not even when you are devoting all of your time and energy to taking care of them. They just take and take and take from you and never, ever give back. If they were a grownup friend, you would dump them in a hot second. You can't dump your kid, though – I mean, you can, but it's generally frowned upon. And of course you love your baby and you rationally recognize that soon the baby will start smiling and gurgling and generally being much more pleasant, but neither of those facts mitigate how terrible it feels to be screamed for ten consecutive hours a day. And when you add on the fact that new parents often struggle with things like feeding and getting their child to sleep and whatnot, it becomes pretty clear that the early days of parenthood are not always the magical snuggly bonding time that we tend to get all starry-eyed and wistful over.

3. Remind yourself that all kids are different. Just because your newborn was an angel who slept twenty three hours a day and was a champion breastfeeder does not mean that every baby will be like that. Just because your child was more difficult as a toddler than as an infant does not mean that that will hold true for everyone. For example, I find Theo much easier and more fun as a toddler than he was as an infant. Like, when he is upset, he can now actually tell me what's wrong! We've also been lucky in the fact that Theo is quite verbal, which helps cut down on tantrums and meltdowns. An added bonus of his verbal skills is that we can now have real conversations about real things instead of my having to produce an endless monologue that goes something like, "Do you see the sky? The sky is blue. Blue is such a pretty colour! Your eyes are blue! My eyes are brown! Do you see the doggie over there? The doggie says woof woof! What a nice doggie! I like doggies! Do you like doggies?"

But not every kid is like Theo. Not every kid is this verbal at the age of two and a half, and lots of other children his age are much more prone to tantrums. This is a (relatively easier) age for us, but it isn't for everyone. All kids are different.

A few DOs and DON'Ts for how to talk to the new parents in your life…

1. DO offer advice, especially if the parent asks for it. Bonus points if this advice is based on your own personal experience

2. DON'T expect that parent to follow your advice. They might, they might not. You are offering that advice because you are friends with that person and care for them, and the future of your relationship should not hinge on whether or not they do what you advised.

3. DO try to be helpful if/when you visit your friend – bring food, offer to clean or tidy, ask if the parents would like you to take the baby out for a walk so that they can shower/eat/have some time together. Feel free to offer specific services or else just plain ask the parents what would be the most helpful for them. Remember that these visits should be more about making things easier for the new parents rather than giving you the chance to cuddle a tiny baby.

4. DON'T tell horror stories, either about your own early parenting days or those of people you know. These types of stories usually aren't helpful, and can actually be pretty scary.

5. DO listen and make sympathetic noises.

6. DON'T invalidate their feelings. Seriously. Don't tell them that they're overreacting or being silly. Don't make remarks about how the human race could never have survived if every parent was this hung up on the small stuff. Just don't.

7. That being said, DO remind them that babies grow and change very quickly, that this stage will soon be over and that things will get better.

8. DON'T tell them that you understand their struggle because you have a new puppy and puppies are actually more difficult and time-consuming than babies. Seriously. I wish that this point wasn't based on a true story, but alas.

9. DO keep an eye out for symptoms of postpartum depression.

10. DON'T tell the parents that they should be enjoying themselves more than they are, or that this is supposed to be the "happiest time in their lives." Probably it is a super happy time for them, but it's likely also incredibly stressful and worrisome.

A final note…

Remember that your friends' experiences as new parents are not about you. This is not your chance to re-hash everything about your own parenting. This is not your chance to show off your knowledge and expertise. What you should be doing now is supporting your friends as much as possible, in the same way that others hopefully supported (or will support) you as a new parent. Your words and behaviour towards your friends should be with their welfare in mind, rather than how you can make yourself look better or smarter. In short, be the kind of person that you would want to have around when things get tough.

And maybe you could even offer to change a diaper or two. Maybe. TC mark

Books I Read In August (That You Should Read Too)

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 09:33 PM PDT


1. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson


This YA novel follows Emily, a shy high school girl as she attempts to traverse her summer vacation without Sloane, her best friend. Sloane disappeared within days of summer beginning (don’t worry, it wasn’t a Gone Girl-type disappearance, but more of a her-house-is-empty-did-she-go-on-vacation-without-telling-me type of disappearance). The only thing Sloane left behind? A summer to-do list for Emily. The story’s really about Emily learning who she is outside of her friendship with Sloane, and slowly uncovering a confidence within herself that she didn’t know existed.

I probably would have been better off reading this book at the beginning of summer rather than at the tail-end of it, but whatareyagonnado. This is a really quick and fun read that’s perfect for reading while off on a relaxing vacation. I honestly could not put it down, simply because each time I read a chapter I found myself in a much better mood than I had been in before picking it up. It’s light, it’s hilarious, and it’s unexpectedly heartwarming.

2. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas


In this high fantasy novel, a legendary assassin is forced to compete in a competition against some of the realm’s most brutal killers and thieves in order to win their freedom. The assassin? An eighteen-year-old woman who’s been trained since childhood to be a fierce and effective killer. Throughout the competition, the assassin, Celaena, begins seeing signs that something evil is lurking in the castle and killing her other competitors. While still training and competing in the King’s competition, Celaena must now find the source of this evil before it kills her too.

I’ll admit: I’m a huge sucker for a high fantasy novel with a kick-ass female character leading the way, so this book was pretty much written just for me. There’s action, romance, friendship, suspense, and just the right amount of creepy to keep you turning pages. Oh, and the sequel. LEMME TELL YOU ABOUT THE SEQUEL.

3. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas


Okay yes, this is the sequel to Throne of Glass, so I can’t really tell you what this book is about without spoiling its predecessor. Let’s just say that some stuff happens as a result of things that happened in the first book, and it’s REALLY GOOD.

I rarely enjoy the sequels as much as I like a good first book. BUT. This book is so much better than the one before it. Maas takes the world building in this series to an entirely new level with this book, and I was actually left speechless by the end of it. The relatively short novel moves at a breakneck pace, and it’s thrilling, emotional, and will leave you lunging for the next book in the series as soon as you’re done.

4. Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty


Ever wonder what Sherlock Holmes was like in high school? Or what James Moriarty was like in high school? Or what would have happened if the two of them had gone to the same high school and been friends and maybe even had a little romance? WELL YOU’RE IN LUCK. That’s exactly what this book is about. Sherlock challenges Moriarty, a girl he just met at school, to try and solve a local murder.

If I’m being honest, I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. I tend to find the whole Here’s an adaptation of classic literature with a twist: IT’S SET IN HIGH SCHOOL trope to be overused and often not done well. However. This novel isn’t really a retelling, but Moriarty’s origin story. When we first meet her, she’s a likable person with a keen sense of right and wrong, who over the course of the story begins slowly morphing into the less-than-noble character in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works. While it’s the first in a trilogy, I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the books to see her full transformation.

Book I Didn’t Read THIS Month, But You Should Still Read In General

5. Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy


Set in Wessex, Thomas Hardy’s fictional county in England, Bathsheba Everdene is an independent woman who inherits a farm. Instead of selling it or hiring someone to oversee it, Bathsheba decides to run it herself, despite the many people who don’t think she’ll succeed. Throughout the novel, she deals with both being a woman while doing a “man’s job” and juggles romance in many forms.

I read this book in high school, and oh man, it’s just lovely. While everyone is busy talking about all the classic romance novels à la Jane Austen, this book is just chilling on the bookshelves, completely underrated and a little bit forgotten. Not only is the romance in it just as good as anything you’ll see in Austen’s works, but there’s less of the courtship politics and more action and… murder. Did I not mention that there’s murder in this? So yeah, that’s also pretty cool. TC mark