Thought Catalog

So Please, Be Gentle With Your Body

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 08:00 PM PST

Rachel Baran
Rachel Baran

To the girl looking at her reflection with an unhappy frown.

Please stop doing that. You know exactly what I am talking about.

That you, who is looking at your body in the mirror right now, telling yourself that you are not good enough, that you will never be good enough. Maybe you think your nose is too long, or your skin is awful or your hair just not straight enough. Maybe you are standing there right now, magazine cover in hand, wondering what you can do to make yourself look like the model on the cover – even though some part of you knows that even the model doesn’t look like that in real life. But no, you’re already thinking of how you can eat less without anyone noticing, or go whole days without feeling hungry. You already can’t sleep on your sides because your bones digging into your sides. You don’t have an eating disorder yet. But you’re getting there fast. Or maybe you do and are in denial. I know I was.

Here’s the thing. We all do this to ourselves. Scrutinize, judge, misunderstand our bodies on such a superficial, skin deep level, that we forget this: On a grander scale, our bodies are collections of the strangest and most fascinating things.

For instance, did you know that you are made of seven octillion atoms? That’s enough enough to create a small universe inside you. And your bones…they are four times stronger than concrete because they are made from the marrow of the stars themselves. Your eyes are the most incredible camera lens man will ever know, and your brain works ninety nine percent faster than the most powerful supercomputer on this planet.

Are you aware that not a single fibre in your body comes from the same star? It took billions of pieces of stardust, some that are thirteen billion years old to come together to make your body. And the chance of that happening is so little, so minute that you are a living, breathing impossibility.

The connected neurons of your brain, are a direct reflection of the universe. Did you know this? That the structure of your brain is modeled on the structure of the universe – a beautiful representation of your brain.

Your body is this incredible cosmic vessel afloat in the darkness, constantly changing to accommodate the evolution of a nebula to a star. And even though you do not feel at home inside your skin yet, your body has always been your home – a place that has sheltered you and loved you no matter what it has gone through.

So please, be gentle with your body. It loves you more than anyone or anything in this world. It fixes every cut, every wound, every broken bone, and fights off so many illnesses, sometimes without you even knowing about it. Even when you punish it, it is still there for you, struggling to keep you alive, keep you breathing. Your body is an ocean full of love. So please, be kind to it. It's doing the very best it can. TC mark

15 Men Share The Difference Between A Girl Who’s Just A Hookup And A Girl Who’s Girlfriend Material

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 07:30 PM PST

Twenty20 / saritawalsh
Twenty20 / saritawalsh

1. “A girl who is just a hookup doesn’t give a shit about you. She’s either more into herself than you, or she is just in it for the sex. A girl who makes a perfect girlfriend is someone who cares about you, who does things for you just because she wants to make you happy.” —Graham, 24


2. “Your girlfriend is someone you love to do things with. You want to take her everywhere and anywhere because it’s better when you’re with her. The girl who’s just a hookup, you don’t really care whether she’s there or not.” —Brendan, 24


3. “Sometimes it has less to do with the girl, and more with timing. When I was 23 and 24, hell no I didn’t want a girlfriend. I just wanted to hook up with girls; it didn’t matter how great they were, at that point in my life I just didn’t want to date anyone.” —Jason, 26


4. “A girl who washes my underwear is a girlfriend, a girl who takes off my underwear is a hookup.” —Carl, 25


5. “The girls I hookup with are the ones who I can tell are changing their personality to be what they think I like, and a girl I date is authentically herself no matter what.” —Morgan, 27


6. “I hookup with the girl who I think would never date me. The one who looks so good you feel like she’s too good. The girl I date is more of my equal.” —Pat, 25


7. “This is easy, a hookup is the girl I can’t stand for more than a few hours at a time. A girlfriend is the girl I can’t stand to be away from for more than one night.” —Charlie, 26


8. “Usually if she has sex with me the night we first meet, she’s just a hookup. Unless she’s like Jennifer Lopez hot, then maybe I’ll try dating her, if she’ll have me.” —Mike, 23


9. “I date a girl with quirks, I don’t even take the time to get to know the quirks of a hookup.” —Matthew, 24


10. “My girlfriend is someone who makes me laugh, and can put a smile on my face even if I’m having the shittiest day. A hookup doesn’t have to make me laugh, or smile, she just makes me horny.” —Vince, 25


11. “A hookup is all about physical attraction. The girls I hook up with are either the girls who I’m like holy hell I need to have sex with her right now, or just when I’m super horny and need sex, but a girlfriend is totally different. Any girl I date, hence a girlfriend, is much more of a gradual process. I take the time to get to know her because I find her interesting, and sure I’ll be physically attracted to her, but our real connection is gradual because we take the time to learn about each other. She’s not just some chick I want to bang, she’s a person I want to get to know.” —Lucas, 25


12. “The title says it all, your girlfriend is your friend…who you also have sex with, but you enjoy spending time with her. You don’t necessarily enjoy spending time with your hookup, you just enjoy having sex with them.” —Eddie, 25


13. “You can have an actual conversation with your girlfriend, meaningful conversations, things that actually matter to you. With your hookup you talk about the weather and traffic, it’s like the news you don’t care about.” —Kevin, 23


14. “Your girlfriend is the family mini van that does so much for you, and has so much purpose, but doesn’t necessarily have the speed or the lux, and your hookup is the lambo that you ride in once just for the experience.” —Cory, 25


15. “A girlfriend is the one who makes you feel like you’ve got a crush, like when you first start dating and you get really nervous and excited to see her, she gives you that feeling months into the relationship. A hookup is someone who you’re not nervous or excited to see, but just sort of see.” —Justin, 24 TC mark

13 People Reveal Their Strategy For Dealing With Family Over The Holidays

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 07:08 PM PST

Twenty20, pkhodukin
Twenty20, pkhodukin

1. "Years ago, I figured out the trick to going home for a holiday meal without stepping on any land mines: Lie your face off. Tell everyone they look great and that it sounds like they're killing it at work or school or getting pregnant or whatever they're up to. People want to believe their lives are awesome, so you might as well feed them the BS they crave."

— Stacey, 26


2. "I'm rich—successful hedge fund rich—and I'm not afraid to use my hard earned cash to my advantage. If we’re close, you’re getting a ridiculously expensive present from me on every special occasion, so you’re gonna to be nice to me. Is it crass to buy your loved ones off? Sure. But it’s also the natural order of things."

— Brett, 38


3. "One word: Xanax."

— Maggie, 30


4. "If I want to suppress the itch to leap across the table and rip everyone’s hair out, I have to take on a different persona for the night. So I do. I pretend to be the person they want me to be instead of who I am and everything goes relatively smoothly."

— Lake, 27


5. “You're going to think I'm really fucked up for this, but I've been known to crush up, like, a really minimal, harmless but effective dose of an opiate and sprinkle it in my mom's cocktail glass. She's wound really tight by nature, and if she doesn't relax, no one else can. I've been doing it for about three Thanksgivings now and they've been the most enjoyable yet."

— Andrew, 31


6. "Two years ago I moved across the country so I wouldn’t even be expected to show up. It was the best decision of my life."

— Ramona, 26


7. "By now I know there are certain topics I have to avoid altogether if I want everyone in my family to remain civil. My parents are really conservative and I disagree with them on everything, so I have to keep it light. Movies and books and gossip are safe, for the most part. Politics, religion, and marriage equality—not so much. I lost the will to defend my views a long ass time ago."

— Tyler, 32


8. "I get everyone wasted. I'm always refilling everyone's wine glasses because, somewhat ironically, the drunker my family members get, the less likely they are to act like complete idiots."

— Kurt, 27


9. “Since graduating law school, I’ve relied on strategically planned ‘business trips’ to get excuse myself from Thanksgiving every other year or so. Family reunions are shockingly more tolerable when they’re not annual.”

— Vanessa, 30


10. "My approach is to make myself useful. I help out in the kitchen and I set the table and I clear everyone's plates. My siblings have always called me a goody two shoes but the truth is, I’d rather do chores than interact with them for more than an hour or so at a time."

— Carolyn, 28


11. "I never tell my parents that I’m unhappy in my relationship or my job, or that I’m having money problems. If I keep the serious shit locked in the vault, they don’t ask too many questions about stuff and we can all go on pretending that we enjoy each other’s company. It’s really that simple."

— Reed, 29


12. "At this point my two siblings have families of their own, so there are always lots of kids running around during holiday celebrations. My strategy is to spend most of my time hanging out with the little people. They keep me entertained, and spare me from the adult weirdness."

— Jean Paul, 34


13. "Any time someone says something borderline offensive, I pause to collect myself and respond as calmly as possible. I never let them—and by them I mean my older sister and mother—know they've managed to rattle me. That's how I manage."

— Paulina, 23 TC mark

5 Reasons Why Rewarding Ourselves Make Us Less Likely To Form A Good Habit

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 06:30 PM PST

Twenty20 / _kiajimmy
Twenty20 / _kiajimmy

Of the 21 strategies that I identify, that we can use to make or break our habits, the Strategy of Reward was one of the most difficult for me to understand.

In large part, because the lesson is: be very wary of using rewards to master habits!

Why? It sounds so sensible to reward yourself for sticking to a good habit. But it turns out that rewards are very, very tricky to use well.


1. One common form of reward is the attainment of a goal, and that reward marks a finish line — and a finish line marks a stopping point.

The more dramatic the goal, the more decisive the end — and the more effort required to start over. By providing a specific goal, a temporary motivation, and requiring a new "start" once reached, hitting a finish line may interfere with habit-formation. Running the marathon, quitting sugar for Lent, doing a 30-day yoga challenge — once the goal has been met, and we feel the reward of hitting that finish line, the behavior tends to end.

Once we stop, we must start over, and starting over is harder than starting.

Also, once we decide that we've achieved success, we tend to stop moving forward.

2. A reward requires a decision.

("Do I deserve this reward?")
Habits are freeing and energizing because they get us out of the draining, difficult business of using decision-making and self-control. We don't reward ourselves for brushing our teeth, so we don't have to ask, "Have I brushed long enough to deserve my reward?" We just do it.

When we have to decide whether we've earned a reward, we're forced to employ our decision-making; we're not on automatic behavior. And every time we make a decision, we have the opportunity to make the wrong choice. So many loopholes to choose from! One for every occasion.

3. It permits an opt-out.

"If I forgo the reward, I don't have to do this activity."

4. It teaches us that we'd do this activity only if a reward is offered.

A reward provides extrinsic motivation, which tells us that we don't feel intrinsic motivation. We're not practicing guitar because we want to practice guitar, but because we promised ourselves a beer every time we practice. Along those lines…

5. A reward makes us associate a behavior with suffering or imposition.

Why else would we need the reward? One person exercises in order to earn points at work to get swag. Another person exercises without that reason. Who, do you suppose, is more likely to be exercising, a year from now?

Furthermore, we often choose perverse rewards. A friend told me, "After I've lost this ten pounds, I'm going to reward myself with a big piece of chocolate cake."

The one kind of reward that does work? A reward that takes you deeper into the habit. Doing lots of yoga? Splurge on a new yoga mat. Bringing lunch to work every day? Buy that expensive set of great knives.  One company had a smart policy: any employee who exercised at least 75 times in one year in the company gym was rewarded with…the next year's gym membership free. The reward for exercise was more exercise.

For these reasons, rewarding an activity may make us less likely, not more likely, to form a habit.

How about you? Have you noticed this in yourself? TC mark

This post originally appeared at

23 Hilarious Times Canada Totally Crushed It On Tumblr

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 05:30 PM PST

Flickr / Jason Dean
Flickr / Jason Dean


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18 Things Only Comedy Nerds Understand

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 05:00 PM PST


1. Your life is so inundated with comedy that you barely ever outwardly laugh at stuff. When something’s really funny, you just nod your head in appreciation and say “That’s funny.”

2. When someone brings up a funny tv show, you always get overly excited and way too specific. Like if someone says, “I like 30 Rock,” you can’t contain yourself from saying, “Me too! How hilarious is episode 19 of season 3 when Liz is wearing a Snuggie and singing to the cheese that she’s eating and then Jack comes in her apartment and makes fun of her for singing ‘Night Cheese’?”

3. There are even episodes of multiple tv shows where you can recite practically every line.

4. If you actually perform comedy in some form, there’s always that one guy at the party who says, “Oh, you’re a comedian? TELL US A JOKE.”

5. You’re always surprised at what non-comedy nerds think is funny. Nothing is more amusing to you than watching a (recent) Adam Sandler movie with your friend and watching them laugh hysterically.

6. Everyone’s a binger when it comes to Netflix, but sometimes you take it to the extreme. You finished Master of None in one evening.

7. For you, watching a comedy or a standup special is less about wanting to laugh and more about wanting to understand the deconstruction of every single joke, beat, tagline, etc. You just can’t help yourself.

8. …to the point where your friends hate watching anything with you because you want to analyze every single joke and excitedly talk about it.

9. You cried more during Michael’s final episode of The Office than you did at any Oscar-winning drama, ever.

10. You love when your friends try to share belated comedy news with you. “Hey, did you hear Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have a movie coming out in December??” Yes, you found out 12 months ago. Because you have spidey senses… but for funny shit.

11. Nothing excites you more than when your favorite comedians do guest spots on each other’s shows or podcasts. You pretty much giggle like a young child.

12. You watch the same YouTube clips of standup bits or opening monologues for award shows over, and over, and over.

13. The SNL 40th Anniversary Special was your Super Bowl. And then you spent hours discussing it afterwards with your other nerd friends and whether or not you thought it was good.

14. You spend the first couple minutes of every tv show waiting to see who wrote it.

15. When someone tries to tell a joke from a standup special and they fuck up the delivery, your whole body practically explodes.

16. You know the most random facts about comedians because a decent amount of your time is spent perusing Wikipedia’s black hole of celebrity bios and how your favorite performers/writers got to where they are now.

17. You’ve accepted that there will never be a universal agreement on who the current best late-night host is, and that bringing it up will only lead to an hours-long argument that never has a solid conclusion.

18. …but the one thing you can say is that we need a WOMAN up in there. Talkin’ to you, Schumer. TC mark

How Pornography is Changing Millennial Men (Hint, The Sex Is Worse, Much Worse)

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 04:30 PM PST

via twenty20/928CLIQ

Technically, I live in Los Angeles County. They make a lot of movies here. They make a lot of pornography here, too, though that is changing. A law passed in 2012, Measure B (technically the County of Los Angeles Safer Sex In the Adult Film Industry Act), requires male pornographic actors to wear condoms. It also requires adult film productions to obtain health permits before shooting. Violations of this ordinance will result in civil fines and criminal charges.

Porn is a big money maker, or at least it was until the internet made its product freely available, and what we've gained in health we've lost in production revenue. Film LA estimates that porn permits in the county have declined 95 percent since Measure B took effect, and most studios are moving their business to Las Vegas.

I live in LA county, but I'm often in Orange County. The parties are different, more laid back, and the beer is cheaper. While sitting on the back of a couch with a friend of a friend, I found myself sucked into that black hole of the house party wherein the subject gradually shifts from good-humored superficiality to stark, surprising seriousness.

The girl asked me what I thought about porn.

I shrugged and said it was out there, that I had seen plenty of it in college where clips were shared and discussed and even bookmarked by roommates, but that since college it rarely came up in conversation and, since moving in with my girlfriend, rarely came up on my screen. I laughed. She didn't laugh. Rather, she smiled and took me deeper into her embattled psyche.

She described for me the awkward conversations and situations she'd found herself in with men she'd dated in the past few years, their misunderstanding of what she wanted in bed, their condescending attitudes to condoms, their ignorance of foreplay, their roughness – the things they said to her, the way they treated her. I was a few shades short of puzzled until I realized she was genuinely, acutely upset. All it had taken was a few cans of PBR and suddenly I was in a confessional with a girl who loved sex and hated what it had become.

I'm on the farther end of the Millennial spectrum, twenty-eight, and while free porn was available while I was losing my virginity, it was never a factor during those halcyon years. First of all, I lived at home with two siblings and a conservative single mother and limited computer access. Second of all, I tried to spend as little time at home and as much time riding in cars with girls as possible. I was committed to physical and emotional exploration in the real world. But I seem to be one of the last survivors of a twilight sexual ethic.

Pornography: Everywhere, All the Time

Browsing through Reddit, surfing down a video comments section, and perusing the general offerings of internet web series, one gets the sense that pornography has jumped from smutty sub-culture to generally acceptable pastime – at least among young males. And that's bled over into the real world. It's not only in your dorm room, it's in your American Apparel ads.

The internet is both a blessing and a curse to our generation. On the one hand, we have an instant connection to everything: information and people alike. There is more free entertainment and oddness than one person can possibly browse in their lifetime, and that is part of its dark charm. But that darkness is vast, and browsers can easily lose themselves in a sea of links.

It is easier to communicate via text, it is easier to keep in touch online and it has always been easier and will always be easier to passively consume rather than actively pursue.

The internet is a second world in itself, one which delivers at the click of a button. The stress and disappointments of life cannot compete with it. That may sound excessively dire, but the convenience of this second world has altered men both socially and sexually.

Japan: Losing Human Sexual Contact

In 2008, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare conducted a survey on male-female relations. They found that 17.5 percent of men between the ages of 16-19 had "no interest in sex or have an aversion to it," with 11.8 percent of 20-24-year-olds reporting the same. Arguably, these are the ages when men are at their absolute randiest. One young man said that the problem was not that he lacked a sex drive but that "having sex with someone is 'just too much of a bother.'"

Virtual sex is much more convenient, and virtual women, pillows stamped with the images of anime characters and sexual Real Dolls, have become popular enough that there is an entire subculture of men dedicated to them – not only in Japan but in America as well.

Dr. Kunio Kitamura, an obstetrician and gynecologist, has treated young men who complain of erectile dysfunction, a condition that typically affects males over the age of 50. Kitamura reports that the sex they watch online has left them "with a bad taste in their mouth for human sexual contact," but their frequent masturbation has "satisf[ied] all their sexual needs." They have been absorbed into the second world, with very physical consequences.

The Retreating Male Libido

Naomi Wolf, writing in New York Magazine, recalls the warning of Andrea Dworkin, a prominent anti-porn activist in the 1980s. Dworkin feared that easy access to pornography would turn men into monsters. But Wolf has discovered just the opposite.

"[Pornography] is not making men into raving beasts. On the contrary: The onslaught of porn is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as 'porn-worthy.' Far from having to fend off porn-crazed young men, young women are worrying that as mere flesh and blood, they can scarcely get, let alone hold, their attention."

What women are experiencing is pornography's gradual "mission creep," a Pavlovian buzz (the male, onanistic orgasm) that lowers the value of real, willing but imperfect sexual partners in favor of "an endless stream of ever-more-transgressive images of cybersex slaves."

Is it really so bad as that?

Pornography Becomes Addictive

Physical addiction creates chemical changes in the body. Adrenaline, testosterone, epinephrine, these are triggered when a person achieves a high from drugs or alcohol. The same chemicals are triggered during a sexual high. The same reward pathways light up, the same relief is received and, over time, the same stimulus is not enough to satisfy it. The more you put in, the more your body can tolerate.

The Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine studied 20,000 men who had begun watching pornography in their early teens. What they found was that by their middle twenties, some of these men had developed "sexual anorexia." Sex itself gradually became stripped of enjoyment, their lust secondary to the compulsiveness of the masturbatory act. Moreover, the types of pornography they searched for became more hardcore over time. They built up an "immunity" to what they saw.

Rewiring the Brain

Doctor William Struthers of the University of Illinois at Chicago found that men who "fall deeper into the mental habit of fixating on [pornographic images]" create neural pathways that "set the course for the next time an erotic image is viewed. Over time these neural paths become wider as they are repeatedly traveled with each exposure to pornography. They become the automatic pathway through which interactions with woman are routed."

In this way, the act of viewing pornography objectifies women into a step in the process of achieving the addictive rush (i.e. orgasm). "Porn," writes Struthers, "turns sex into masturbation." In these cases, when real sexual relationships occur, there is no reciprocative intimacy, only a compulsive, self-serving need. A point-and-click routine.

The Italian study posits that, apart from the sheer taboo of it, pornography may be used by young men to "counteract feelings of inadequacy or emotional torment they may have experienced." But while it may initially be used as an escape, Struthers further claims that it has lasting psychological and physiological effects. Men who are addicted to porn became "controlling, highly introverted, have high anxiety, low self-esteem, depression" and experience disassociation from real life.

Turning Sex into a Product

In Pornified, Pamela Paul relates similar findings of psychologists at Texas A&M: "Pornography gives men the false impression that sex and pleasure are entirely divorced from relationships."

This is further explored by Robert Weiss, founding director of the Sexual Recovery Institute. He writes,

"If a young man’s sexual experiences have exclusively involved using online porn as his primary vehicle to learn about sex and relationships, this young man may well struggle to develop the required skill-set to maintain healthy romantic and sexual partnerships…. In porn, there’s little talking, less seduction, no romancing and minimal – if any – tenderness displayed. Usually there is little kissing or foreplay. There is, however, an ever-changing stream of highly-arousing objectified body parts and sexual images."

All of this, according to Texas A&M, combines to turn sex into "a product to consume," something to be obtained (often for free), used and discarded.

"The Internet Is for Porn?"

A popular myth about the internet is that it is anywhere from one-third to 80 percent pornography. In 2011, Forbes dispelled the myth by consulting neuroscientist Ogi Ogas who, along with his colleague Sai Gaddam, amassed the largest collection of online pornography statistics in the world. According to them, a mere four percent of the internet is actually porn.

That four percent, however, gets a lot of mileage. In 2013, Paint Bottle put together an infographic on porn usage, discovering that porn sites received 450 million visitors per month, which is more than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.

In this article, I've briefly touched on the physical and psychological effects of pornography on young males of the Millennial generation, also known as Generation Y. It is my contention that this generation's issue with pornography is the same issue it confronts at every entertainment venue: Overexposure.

Outfitted with a mobile arsenal of internet-enabled gadgets, Millennials are exposed to more news, entertainment and titillation than at any point in recorded history. The internet is so bound up into the fabric of day-to-day life that not participating in that abyssal sea of data must be an active choice. But it's easy to forget what one's options are when one has infinite options.

Pornography is an extension of the internet; it does not exist by itself. And accessing pornography requires virtually no effort. There are no tolls, no restrictions and an endlessly updating stream of new content. Like the internet itself, it is a messy, perpetually gushing fountain, pun absolutely intended.

The question that needs to be asked is not whether porn is good or bad for an individual but how much choice young men have in what they are now being exposed to. The internet is teaching entirely new and passive methods of socialization, entirely passively, and all that is required to learn from it is sitting down and staring at a computer screen for hours on end.

The Twin Dangers of Addiction and Enculturation

Human beings are naturally curious, and we're most curious about those things that excite us. It's not surprising at all to believe the internet is mostly pornography, because sex is the most basic of the many addictions the internet enables. The danger of its porn is not only that it provides a stimulus without effort but also that that stimulus comes pre-packaged with a misogynistic philosophy.

The best example of this comes from Adam Savage (of Myth Busters fame) in an episode of The Moth. While trying to teach his son about sex in the age of digital pornography, he explains to his audience that he finally realized this disturbing truth:

The internet hates women. And I recognize there’s probably those out there who think that’s an incredibly broad brush to paint the internet with, but let me put it this way: If you could look in someone’s brain the way you search the internet, and the internet was a dude, that dude has a problem with women."

How Pornography Is Changing Millennial Women

I do not have anything approaching the time and resources to definitively say whether or not the internet hates women, nor to conclude with any certainty that internet pornography is destroying young men's brains. What I can definitely say, however, is that the availability of internet porn has changed us – how we view sex, how we pursue sex, how we have sex. And whenever I hear this notion dismissed, I think back on that party in Orange County, those few cans of PBR, and that friend of a friend sitting on the back of a couch. She really enjoyed sex, but she hadn't felt comfortable having sex with a man in a very long time.

As Naomi Wolf wrote,

"When I came of age in the seventies, it was still pretty cool to be able to offer a young man the actual presence of a naked, willing young woman. There were more young men who wanted to be with naked women than there were naked women on the market. If there was nothing actively alarming about you, you could get a pretty enthusiastic response by just showing up. Your boyfriend may have seen Playboy, but hey, you could move, you were warm, you were real. Thirty years ago, simple lovemaking was considered erotic in the pornography that entered mainstream consciousness: When Behind the Green Door [a 1972 pornographic film] first opened, clumsy, earnest, missionary-position intercourse was still considered to be a huge turn-on."

I'm sure to some readers that all sounds quite boring. TC mark

The Sexiest Words A Man Can Say To A Woman

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 04:00 PM PST

Leo Hidalgo
Leo Hidalgo

"I love you." (nope)

"You look beautiful." (nope)

"Let's go shopping!" (depends how you say it, but still, no)

"How's your mother?" (no, this will just make her suspicious of you)

Those are all nice to say, and many women want to hear them from their partner; they like to feel cherished. But none of those by themselves will necessarily have her soften all warm-putty-like into your hairy masculine arms.

The three sexiest words I'm referring to speak to primal forces within both men and women. An archetypal trip wire, these eight letters strung together can trigger a man's spine to straighten and make a woman swoon.

I wish I could say I figured this one out by myself, but a lady friend had to point this out. Once she did, I looked back to my own intimate relationships and saw overwhelming evidence for her case everywhere.

We were having coffee when she started telling me about her new boyfriend. He was refined and kind, loving and intelligent. He was a creative artist, and an accomplished one at that. She felt him a good man and she was happy. Then she told me about the first morning they woke up together, and that's when she really lit up during our conversation.

She has a dog. Normally the dog gets her up early to go pee outside when she's still in comatose denial of an outside world. On this particular morning, when the dog woke her up as usual, her new beau opened his eyes, looked at her and with nary a hesitation, issued the most magical three-word spell she could recall ever hearing from a man. She said these words slid from his masculine mouth smooth as a river stone and strong as steel (that's my interpretation of what she said). She swooned. She relaxed. Under his sudden spell she felt herself completely protected and cherished by this man's love.

"I got this."

That's what he said.

"I'm going to take on this uncomfortable mission-oriented task because that's how I can best offer my masculine gift right now while honoring your delicious gift of feminine energy to my life. I will demonstrate my deep commitment to your care by ensuring you can stay warm under the covers and linger in this moment of blissful embodied reverie."

“Women are equal to men, in terms of inherent human worth and value.”

He actually only said the first three words. That whole second paragraph is my rough translation as I believe my friend heard it.

But first he said it. And then he actually did it.

She was so impressed you'd think he bought her the Eiffel Tower. All he did was walk her dog.

We live in an age when women are empowered to care for themselves like never before.

I grew up mostly thinking women were supposed to "I got this" for themselves. My two moms held strong while my two dads struggled to just hold on. It was my two moms whose strength and character were always saying, "I got this," while my dads were unconsciously saying, "thank God you got this!"

I've always had so many messages coming at me that women are my equals in every way. That's a good thing from a certain perspective. Women are equal to men, in terms of inherent human worth and value. They should have every legal right that any man has.

However, my understanding of sex equality completely overlooked certain ways my more feminine female partners and I were genuinely different. We yearned differently, meaning we experienced the world in rather different ways, even wanting different things from each other. For example, just holding a woman and making love with her is often a different experience for me than it is for my partners.

I don't embrace a woman to feel safe in her arms. When I embrace her I feel strong in my body, masterful even, as though I'm living my purpose by wrapping her up safe and protected within my steady arms. My female partners, in contrast, have often expressed that's what they love most about being in my embrace: the experience of feeling safe, physically and emotionally, that they can relax in knowing they're protected in that one moment from the tiresome chaos of the world. It's as if we both journeyed from very different worlds to secretly rendezvous in this one moment of exquisite embrace.

I invite you to see through to the deeper rhythms I'm exploring, beyond the details of who has what body parts.

Failing too often to account for such differences, I have struggled in most of my intimate relationships with women. Clearly a contributing factor has been my inability to step up in all kinds of situations and say to my partners—often even to myself—"I got this."

Before I wade too deep into controversial waters, let me clarify that what I'm exploring is less about man-woman and more about masculine-feminine. Any foray into masculine-feminine dynamics risks offending those who hear those terms being used synonymously. I don't mean to do that. What I'm pointing at holds for all couples—hetero, gay, or otherwise—in which one partner carries more masculine energy and the other carries more feminine. Sometimes those energies can switch back and forth between partners. I invite you to see through to the deeper rhythms I'm exploring, beyond the details of who has what body parts.

I simply want to convey that when I look back through my life, I see far too often that I left my feminine partners to fend for themselves in ways large and small. From making them decide where we should eat to running away when they were stressed emotionally and I hadn't the capacity to love them through it, I failed too often to step up and say, "I got this."

Which just means I consistently failed to convey, "Baby, I invite you to relax and trust that all will be well because I have the strength, the discipline, the fortitude and the vision—and at the very least the unwavering perseverance—to hold us through this moment of discomfort and steward us safely to new ground where we will experience a brighter moment of ease together."

Ok, so that's a bit poetic when we're talking about walking the dog or deciding where to eat. And sometimes our partners will genuinely want to bear their own burdens, or bear them equally alongside us, or even bear ours for us. I'm painting in broad strokes here.

There's something deeply compelling about the idea of being with a woman who can fully take care of herself, and who enjoys allowing me take care of her anyway.

I don't want a partner who expects me to run around all day telling her "I got this" so she can stay in bed all day.

I invite you to say to yourself a few times: "I got this."

How does that feel in your body?

Do you feel your chest rise a bit, your breathing deepen, your backbone straighten? Do you come alive and start looking around the room for some challenge to take on?

Or do you prefer imagining someone say it to you? Does the thought of your partner whispering it to you all sexy-like make your body soften and your heartbeat quicken? Does it set your yearning alight?

Truth is, I've always wanted a woman who can take care of herself. Which seems healthy to me, actually. Any mature adult should be able to take care of themselves in the modern world. I don't want a partner who expects me to run around all day telling her "I got this" so she can stay in bed all day. That would just be exhausting for me and eventually frustrating for her. I'm not Superman. She's not helpless.

Still, there's something deeply compelling about the idea of being with a woman who can fully take care of herself, and who enjoys allowing me to take care of her anyway.

"I got this." TC mark

12 Reasons Why Chicago Girls Are The Best Kind Of Girls To Date

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 03:30 PM PST


1. We have values that we hold close to our heart.

A true Chicago girl comes from a strong family that instilled values into her that she holds dear. We know what we want and what means the most to us, and we can be pretty stubborn about it. It’s hard to change our minds on things that are deeply rooted within us. Despite being city girls, we are still have those Midwestern values in our hearts.

2. We are probably more passionate about sports than you think.

Even if we don’t know the most about our championship hockey team, we still have a variety of teams to choose from that have proven time and time again that Chicago is the place for sports. We keep up to date with what is happening in sports because we come from a city of champions. Don’t be offended if we say we can’t trust you because you’re a Packers fan.

3. We like to eat and aren’t ashamed of it. 

One of my friends recently said that it was hard not to be a few pounds overweight in this city because there is so much Damn. Good. Food. Whether you are looking for a Michelin star restaurant, a sloppy Italian beef sandwich, or a gargantuan slice of pizza – we know where to find it. And a true Chicago girl will eat just about anything you put in front of her. Don’t expect us to order a salad, unless it’s the Chopped Salad from Portillo’s (with a small fries and a Chocolate Cake Shake).

4. We are probably really, really funny. 

Chicago is the mecca for comedy. People actually MOVE here to get training from one of our many schools of improv and comedy. Don’t be surprised if a girl you meet is just funny in nature or perhaps on a stage later that week performing with her improv team or a new stand up set. Chicago girls are here to let loose and laugh a little.

5. We like a good drink. 

Some of the best bartenders and craft beers reign from Chicago. We have our signature drink that we automatically go for at any regular bar, but wouldn’t mind a night out at Revolution Brewery or Three Dots and a Dash… depending on our mood. And don’t you dare pronounce 312 as “three twelve” or any other variation other than what it’s meant to be. Make that mistake, and we will gladly order you a shot of Malort.

6. We will probably have a small apartment. 

Chicago is not known to be too cost friendly for renters to live in. More or less, the better the neighborhood, the higher the rent. But that’s okay, nothing is more cozy than snuggling up in a studio with a lakeside view.

7. We are goal-oriented women on a mission for success.

Chicago is home to hundreds of established businesses and start-ups. We are bound to be a part of one of them. For a young generation of women, our career is a door to a better life than generations of women had before us. In a city full of skyscrapers, the only direction is “up” for some of us that are climbing the ladder.

8. We like to walk.

Who wouldn't want to in this city? Whether you are walking along the lake path or through some of our most darling neighborhoods, there is always something to see. Plus, depending on the neighborhood you live in – walking to just any about anything or anywhere is possible. If not, it's nowhere a quick ride on the Red Line can't take you to.

9. We won’t mind doing touristy stuff with you.

There are so many tourist places to check out in the city, and we would gladly come along so we could take "Bean" selfies or check out one of the best art museums in the country. To us, tourists are here to love our city even on the days where we don’t. Sometimes it’s fun to relive those middle school trips to the Museum of Science of Industry, and we’ll love to play tour guide for you. Just please don't ask us to come to Navy Pier with you.

10. We are brave. 

We aren’t proud of the violence. While we are brave, people are getting held up all over the city for something as simple as an iPhone. We don’t want to become a victim, so we love it when you walk us home or call us an Uber. And while we love our home and will defend it to the death, we know when it’s best to take precaution. We know that there needs to be a lot of change to happen for the violence to stop. In the meantime, we will have a watchful eye and that pepper spray in our purse.

11. We are busy little ladies.

There is always something happening in this wonderful city. A festival here, a concert there. A party this weekend, a class on this day. With all of these things going on in our life, it can be hard to get on our schedule. You need to know that if you make the cut, it’s because we WANT to see you. Don’t waste our time, and we won’t waste yours.

12. We are super friendly.

Even if the cold weather gives us permanent “resting bitch face,” we are some of the friendliest girls around. As long as you’re not street harassing us, we are pretty happy to start up a conversation with a stranger. Chicago girls are just as friendly, kind, and warm as the rest of the Midwest, with just a little more boldness mixed in. TC mark

9 Honest Lessons To Live By If You Want To Lead A Fully Satisfying Life

Posted: 22 Nov 2015 02:00 PM PST

Twenty20 / petrushovska
Twenty20 / petrushovska

1. Be brave and take risks (also cold call people if necessary)

There are two things I live by: I don't regret taking risks and I don't believe in obstacles. If you really, really want something, you will go to any length to get it. Practically, when it comes to getting opportunities, cold calling people is not a bad idea. I did it once. My friend heard my story and did it too and we both got what we asked for. It was a great experience for me and it reminds me that I will never know if I never try.

Because seriously, what's there to lose? I know there isn't, at least in my case. I'm young, I'm full of energy, I'm capable. If I take a chance, the worst thing that could happen is that I don't get what I ask for. But if I don't ask in the first place, I never get. Plus, I like the sense of control I have over what happens to me as I don't just sit around and wait for it to come. I actively look for chances to take, which has always ended up with enriching experiences, wisdom and character.

2. Don't worry about not knowing what you want; Focus instead on what you can do right now.

As soon as I turned 20, I started to go crazy about finding out what I really want to do with my life because I felt like I'm supposed to know now and I'm running out of time. This is silly. I don't need to know now and I have plenty of time ahead to explore things and decide what's good for me and what's not. In fact, that's the whole purpose of being a twenty-something. Or thirty-something, forty-something for that matter. It's a discovery process that continues throughout our lifetime.

For the time being, it's best to focus on your available resources and make decisions to maximize the potential of your current situation instead of obsessing about what you don't know or what might go wrong. The thing is, no matter where you might end up later, you must start from somewhere and this is that place. If you've made decisions to the best of your knowledge and circumstances, there's nothing to look back and think twice about.

3. There are people who are able to help you get to where you want to be but 'where do you want to be' is the question only you can answer.

I've learned that successful people are the people who know where they want to be and are persistent about getting there. If I don't know where I want to be, even if I get somewhere, I won't have a sense of success and no one can help me succeed. The mistake I made was to seek mentors while having the wrong expectations of what they have to offer. I expected them to know and tell me what I should do with my life while in reality no one but myself can give me such an answer.

However, it's not to say you shouldn't reach out and ask for guidance from more experienced people when you have yet to know where you want to be. It's okay to not know now. Regardless, connecting with people and having an idea of different life choices and where they lead to is beneficial for you. The reason is that people's specific life goals might be different from yours but lessons from mistakes and decision making skills are all transferable.

4. Do more, think less.

Thinking is good but over-thinking isn't. It's a waste of time and energy, which at 21 is pretty much all you have. Unfortunately, it's also what you will never have more of. The older you get, the less time and energy there is. So, now is always the best time to go out there and do things. As long as you take action, eventually your life will get somewhere and fall into its place.

It's true that reflection is necessary for growth and worrying can prevent you from potential danger but at the same time, they can hold you back and cloud your mind with anxiety and negativity. Sometimes it's good to switch off your inner voice and just do. Personally for me, going outdoors is a good one. It refreshes my mind and helps ward off my anxiety.

5. You don't have to explain your lifestyle choices to anyone which include what you do with your own body.

The other day, I dyed my hair from brown to blond and blond to dark brown in a day and immediately, I had many questions asked about why I did what I did with a judgemental tone, insisting that I should keep it a certain way. My first response was to come up with millions of reasons to rationalize my actions but then I was like, wait a minute, I don't have to.

How about I just want to do it because it's my own hair? The same goes for my body, or anything regarding personal lifestyle choices. It is simply none of anyone's business and likewise, I don't mind what people do with their body either.

6. The best thing that has ever happened to you is being able to be yourself.

I think it's wonderful how nowadays individuality is valued so much. There's no better time in history to be completely true to yourself and express that trueness to the world. For me, it's also when I'm at my best. I realize that most of my achievements have come from me being myself and communicating that uniqueness, that me, to other people.

I have a voice and I raise it. I have a mind and I share it. I have a way of seeing the world and I show that this is what makes me different. I believe that being me is being enough. Being me is bringing to the table something no one else can. If I'm not being myself, I will not be able to find things that truly fulfil me and people who have the same values as I do. Plus, when I stay true to myself, I have this sense of rightness and it feels amazing.

7. What you think people think of you is more about what you think of yourself.

Throughout my teenager years till now, I have always struggling with social anxiety. I would over-analyse everything and it took a toll on my well-being. However, as soon as I realized that no one has actually said or shown anything to my face but it's mostly in my head, I've learned to cope with this by blocking out thoughts that have no factual basis or are not going to cause a real problem.

The long-term solution I have is to talk to myself in a kinder way each day and understand not everything is about me so that when something goes wrong, I won't automatically assume it's me that's wrong. I also try to take things at face value and stop making it a mission to please everyone. I figure all that energy is better spent improving myself and responding to people who take a genuine interest in me.

8. Do not let anyone or anything define who you are.

I have said this many times and I will say it again: You're not just your body or your job or your relationships or anything you own. You're so much more than that. You should never let anything or anyone define who you are. You're the one who tells your own story. You are what you want to be.

If your friends or your partner try to either box you in a role or change you into someone else to suit them, they are not good friends or good partner. Good friends and good partner won't make you feel like you're not good enough or there's something that needs to be fixed about you. And surely they won't constantly add stress and negativity into your life.

If there's anything I could tell my younger self, that would definitely be to stand up for myself and embrace all what I'm — even the flaws, the imperfections. At the end of the day, they are what make me whole and give me that sense of me. I don't want to be perfect or have a perfect life. I want to experience life and be me.

And especially for those who want to go into financial services…

9. If you want to go into financial services, apply as soon as possible.

In my first year of university, I thought it was still too early to think about my careers so even though I did apply here and there, I didn't even bother to put in any real effort. It just didn't feel urgent to me at the time and I was still too carried away with the new freedom at university. But I really wish I had done something because it's such a huge advantage to have early experiences and familiarise myself with the industry and its people.

It's probably true in any kind of jobs that no matter how much you've researched the firm and memorized textbook definitions, you won't get the same kind of confidence as when you actually step in the office, get your hand on actual work and talk to people. It shows in the way you present yourself and know what you're talking about.

Plus, the recruitment process becomes ridiculously more complicated as your study progresses whereas applying for first year programmes only require you to hand in your CV and go through at most one round of interview. The real benefit is that it could fast track you onto a summer placement and eventually a job offer with no further assessment.

That being said, if you haven't done anything much yet, don't be disheartened. I'm a Psychology major with no financial background or experience (in and prior to my first year) but I still managed to score two internship offers by the end of my second year. I believe being keen and willing to put in hard work is the key to success. If you really want it, take action. TC mark

This post originally appeared at The Tingly Mind.