Does “Home For the Holidays” Mean Yours, Mine or Ours?

I wasn’t sure what the boyfriend was thinking with regard to what we were going to do about celebrating Thanksgiving this year. I have been to some of his family events and was welcomed warmly, yet I wasn’t sure how they were about holidays. Plus, our hometowns are in neighboring states, and I uncertain how things could work logistically.

Navigating the holidays as a couple can make an already stressful time of year even more challenging for a relationship. This may be because it is often the first time family meets your sweetie; is everyone going to get along? But before you even reach that point, you have to make that big decision as couple: At whose place will we be spending the holidays…

Yours, Mine or Ours?

Read my full piece: Navigating the Holidays as a Couple for Singles Warehouse.

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The Kiss Off

It’s been more than four years that we’ve been playing this game. First we finally established a committed relationship that lasted for nearly two years. Eventually I broke up with him, thinking we weren’t moving any farther forward. There would be no next step—no marriage or kids definitely, but not even moving in together, though I spent four to five nights of the week there, and was spending most of our time together remodeling his house. I had met a lot of his friends, but he kept his flashy work life separate from me—to maintain his cool bachelor status. I never met his mom, who literally lived 10-15 minutes away, and once when she made a surprise visit to the house, I was asked to hide in the bedroom.

The year and half we weren’t together, we remained friends…sometimes with benefits. We still had this bond between us. We still enjoyed spending time together in small doses, and whenever I saw him unexpectedly, it made me light up.  When I was terribly sick, he was always there, never ashamed to take me out in public, even with my embarrassing (to me) ailment.

So fast-forward to almost a year after he started the talk about how he felt I had misconceptions about him and what he was all about in the relationship department, we tentatively decided to give it another try. Some things have been great and wonderful and had me thinking this reconciliation was totally worth it. He was more affectionate. When he was home from work and spending time with me, he truly wanted to be spending time with me, not his projects and gadgets.

Other things made me think he had gotten even worse in selfish independence. He’d go for two weeks or more without wanting to see me—and he called me high maintenance for wondering what the scoop was. Was it too much to think that a man I was exclusively dating would look forward to seeing me and put me as a priority?

Apparently, to him, it was too much.

The biggest disappointment, though, was this past week when I was at my sickest and loneliest, he didn’t call. He didn’t text. He had no idea I had to be taken to the ER for a second time. He didn’t know the medical treatment was kicking my ass. He didn’t know my doctor was removing me for my work duties for much longer than I anticipated because my treatment was going to require that much out of me.

It’s not as if I wanted to focus on all this. I knew how to be upbeat and talk about the other good things going on in my life. He always talked about his work too, the projects he was working on, his sick, elderly cat, whatever. It would have been nice to just hear whatever he had to say.

By Friday, I gave in.  “Are you living?”

Later that night, “How doin’?” he asks.

“Is that a rhetorical question, or do you really care to know the answer?”

Next day we text back and forth about how even old friends I haven’t talked to since before high school were reaching out to me…yet he hadn’t. He replied that he was busy with projects, works, etc. “I figured you were doing your own thing,” he said.

What? Doing my own thing like losing some of every meal, collapsing on the floor at least half a dozen times a day, having random moments of unconsciousness? Sure I’ve also tried to at least have a hand in the news publication that it still mine but I can’t officially be writing for and running right now. I’ve been catching up on Netflix and reading.

But yeah, I would welcome a phone call from the guy I was dating.Everybody is busy, not just him, yet they still carve out a minute of their time just to say I’m thinking of you.

So yesterday, after telling him, I finally get it—that he just doesn’t think enough to phone or text to see how I am (whether I am sick or not), I wrote an obvious kiss off. He tried to ignore it today, asking, “how are you feeling?”  I ignored him.

I am done. He can go try to find someone more perfect. He can find his dream girl, Spanish “chick.” I am done with his shit, and I getting off this bus for good this time.

I may not be a high priority to him, but I am one of the highest priorities to myself.

Next blog, remind me to share what happened with my police officer…now, that’s a funny story.

When It Finally Feels Right

Mr. Etiquette was chasing his 10-year-old son around the playground, and I was helping his 9-year-old daughter learn how to swing across the monkey bars. She watched me swing from bar to bar, and then she gradually figured out how to maneuver her peanut body to do it herself. I looked up and saw Mr Etiquette watching us with this smile full of pride. I didn’t want to name this feeling that had come over me ever since the moment the kids walked into the house to find me there with welcoming balloons and a big smile.

It was a Sunday. Together we had climbed the steep stairs to get to the top of Castle Craig, which gave us a lovely view of the misty green surrounding area. Afterward, we made our way down to the playground, and each child wanted to do something with me. Later, the girl needed help pulling herself up the small “rock-climbing” rock. When she got to the top, she asked me to come join her. It’s been years since I’ve done indoor rock-climbing, but my body remembered how to get up there in a hot second. Before I knew it, the boy was climbing up to join us. Mr. Etiquette was watching us, and the kids yelled for him to come up too. Soon we were all at the top of this rock, and I had this strange sense that this felt just right.

After a cook-out with the neighbors from across the street, I couldn’t help thinking how many years it had been since I’d had this feeling of togetherness with a partner. The Bulldog and I would have friends over frequently but it was always pretty casual and usually involved lots of alcohol, pot, and loud music. This night, there were children running around playing together. Mr. E was manning the grill, and I was getting the other supplies ready, doing dishes, and also trying to play hostess.  Mr. E would try to sneak in a tight hug and kiss, and sometimes the kids would catch us and grin.

I spoke with the woman neighbor about her son, who has cerebral palsy. I told her most of the kids I worked with had cerebral palsy, autism, or both. I commented that her son was doing amazingly well at the age of five, running around and interacting with Mr. E’s kids, though I kept in my mind that I noticed how his outbursts and repetitious vocalization made me suspect he also had mild form of autism. I was reminded how I really didn’t want to give up my dream of working with kids with disabilities using expressive arts therapy.

Later, when everything was cleaned up and the neighbors went home, it was time to bring me home. The girl really wanted me to stay overnight again and watch them on Monday. I promised I could do that on the other Mondays if that was okay with everyone else (which it was), but their babysitter was already planning on being there this Monday. It was time to go; the kids looked forward to meeting my dog-like cat, and Mr. Etiquette was eager for my parents to meet the kids. On the drive over, we blasted music, danced like fools, and sang to the cars that drove by us. It was a blast.

My parents were beyond impressed by the kids, who were so sweet and polite. Even though it was late, my folks wanted to spend more time with the kids. The children thought the cat was amusing. They too didn’t want to leave. The boy, who’d been keeping his cool that day (we’d bonded more the previous day, when I’d encouraged him in my best cowboy voice, to unpack before playing, or face the nerf rifle ejecting at his backside) , suddenly was putting on the brakes leaving the house. When he realized that grabbing something to drink meant they wouldn’t have to leave quite yet, he asked for soda and drank it very slowly as did the girl. Then he and Mr. E. found the mini Rubick’s cube. I told him he could take it home and show me he had it figured out when I saw him next, but he insisted on trying to figure out then and there.

When Mr. E finally shooed them to the front door, I thanked the kids for letting me hang out with them this weekend. The boy smiled at me and said, “Thank you for being there the first second we got home. And the second second. And the third second…” he continued as he walked out the door.

“They are beautiful children,” my mom said, clearly won over. “Such nice kids.”

This morning Dad asked if I had talked to my stepchildren yet. I rolled my eyes but grinned, saying, “Not yet. We’ll Skype tonight.”

“You can tell a lot about the parents from the way children behave,” my dad said. He made some remarks about how easy I would have it to just have two older kids and a family right away, how he and mom would be be able to be step-grandparents to older children as well as my brother’s toddler and baby.  He’s been rooting for Mr. Etiquette ever since the first time he came to the house to beg me not to give up on him.

This time I didn’t protest too much. I didn’t tell him how Mr. E and I had talked earlier in the day and talked about how nice and easy it felt to all be together like that, how we felt like a family all together right away. We both said how that was scary, but really nice. He told me how the kids shared even more how much they liked me, which they’d been doing all weekend, and how they wanted me there every weekend for the rest of their visit. He said I had the kid-seal of the approval, the neighbor-seal of approval, all on top of his own feelings. Two and half months of our tumultuous beginning felt like two and half years building something from which to blossom.  “You really accept me, don’t you?” he teased.

I teased back, “That might be so.” And yes, dear readers, I made it official by declaring on Facebook that I was “in a relationship.”

Taking A Leap of Faith

Somehow Mr. Etiquette has slipped back into my life after multiple false starts, arguments and tears. The crazy bitch FDG married her poor fiance this past Friday. Mr. E had put her in her proper place in the past. He finally said the sorry I was waiting for all this time–he’d already countless apologized for being so blind as to give me up to give her another chance, but finally, he gave me the sorry for not telling me there was a FDG in the first place those first blissful three weeks of dating. He cried, full of shame, and I resented having to bully him to get him to admit he went about our relationship the wrong way.

My mother is a paragon of forgiveness. She had much to forgive my father of in their past. I never could understand how she allowed him back into her heart. I never thought I had that kind of strength and grace in me. Maybe I underestimated myself.

Mr. Etiquette started therapy. We worked together to help write him an ad to find him a band. On my own, I came to the conclusion that, despite the V-Man being a better man than I gave him credit for, he still is not the right one for me (I think) for the long haul of life. This is harder for me to admit than I’d wish. I don’t know how much this will change the shape of our friendship.

Mr Etiquette began wooing me again. He wrote me a heartbreaking, touching poem that he read to me over Skype before it came to me in the mail, with a card. After an argument and a proclamation of my need for space, Mr. Etiquette stubbornly came to the house, Lloyd Dobler-style, knocked on the front door in the morning to no answer. He left a beautiful bouquet of flowers, another card and lyrics to songs that touched upon very pertinent issues we had been facing over the last two and half months.

The next day, under the protection of my family, I invited him over, just to see what it would feel like. Those first three weeks of knowing how right we were together had been muddled and tainted by confusion and hurt, it was so hard to know my ass from my elbow anymore. He claimed FDG was in the past. He insisted with confidence that he loved me. Those words made me shake my head, no.

The last man who had clearly told me “I love you” was an overly aggressive man who intimidated me. The last man who had sounded so sure about our future, who had declared with certainty that he wanted me to be his wife and the mother of his children, was arguably bipolar and had taken me on  the emotional roller-coaster of my life. Mr. E. had been so confused not so long ago, how could I believe his leap back to me?

When he came over, he was cautious, downright terrified of me. I watched him interact with my brother and his wife, their children. Eventually, he tentatively reached out for my arm several times. I looked up at him and couldn’t help smiling back at him. This man had more courage than anyone I’d ever come across before.

He stayed through dinner. He watched me wash the dishes. He, my mom, and I were settling down to watch the new “Alice in Wonderland” when I started having one of my really bad seizure-like episodes. I could see the fear and genuine concern on Mr. E’s face. He tried to follow my mom’s lead to comfort me. Then we all had a serious discussion about the recent appointment I had with the specialist in Boston and what were my potential paths ahead. Mr. E asked a lot of questions and said he was on board to help me however he can.

The next day, Mr. E. called, telling me he had done lots of research on my disease and shared what he had discovered. He told me to stop being stubborn and stay on top of things so I never get this bad again. It touched me how he said he was there to support me, whatever course the disease takes over time.

Later that night, he told me he loved me again. I smiled this time. He asked why I was so afraid of that word. He told me his one word definition of love: acceptance. “When I say I love you, I am saying I accept all of you, your intelligence, your strength, your courage, your beautiful heart, your sense of humor, even your stubbornness and toughness.”

Mr. Etiquette told me that from now on, he was going to tell me, “I accept you completely.” One day soon, he said, you are going to want to say it back to me. I must say I like his definition. It has a certain poetic truth to it.

His kids are coming in from Germany on Saturday for five weeks. I am eager to see him as a father because that is a role he cherishes and feels most confident in. We all have our different sides. I hope we each can show each other more of our beautiful sides again, more of that side we showed each other in those first three magical weeks together. Time will tell if that’s a possibility.

Trusting My Instincts

When I first brought home my cat, a beautiful, silver bengal I named Alexei, he was six months old.  Like most cats, when he wasn’t sleeping or bathing, he loved to sit in windows and watch the world. Because we also had a porch at the back of the house whose stairs had been removed, I thought he would jump at the chance to be able to get outside while I would not have to worry about him getting loose.

So not too long after he began his visits out to the porch, he came to the sliding glass doors asking to be let inside. That’s when I noticed he had something in his mouth. As he attempted to cross the threshold, I realized he was holding a black bird in between his teeth. He was hoping to bring the bird in to show him off to his mom so I could tell him what a good boy he was. I quickly praised him while redirecting him back onto the porch, but not before a few black feathers fell to the kitchen floor. Poor bird.

To be quite honest, I was astonished that my little, inexperienced kitten had managed to capture a live bird while he was just playing around on the porch. I tried to envision the scenario: maybe the bird had broken a wing and somehow landed on the railing of the porch and Alexei quickly leaped up and grabbed him. Or maybe the bird was severely dim-witted and was just sitting somewhere on the porch with his back to the house, not realizing that a hunting cat was sneaking up right behind him.  At any case, I concluded it was sheer luck that my cat was able to catch him.

As Alexei grew into a full-size cat, he proved his skills as a mouser in the basement and garage. I learned when he had a certain shifty look in his eyes, I’d better examine his mouth for “gifts” he was looking to bring to his master (er, mistress?) However, when I did finally trust him to take him outside for walks, he proved to be incredibly hopeless as an outdoor hunter.

This was great with me because it meant less carnage of innocent animals. Yet I must admit a part of me felt embarrassed for him as he noisily galloped through leaves trying to “sneak” up on some birds in the woods behind our house. If, for some reason he got out and had to fend for himself in the wild, how would he possibly be able to survive out there? What good were those razor claws and lethal canines if he only practiced using them while “play fighting” with me?

Yesterday, I let him outside for a nice, leisurely walk around the yard.  He was on his best behavior, chewing on grass, staying right by my side, and not trying to go over to the neighbor’s house and claim their front porch. When we got to the side of the house with the driveway and the border of dense trees, suddenly he crouched down on his haunches and bounced on his hind legs before quickly slinking ahead. Prepared for a leaf or something equally embarrassing, imagine my surprise when Alexei came out from behind a large rock with an adult chipmunk in his mouth. He had managed to capture one of the fastest animals in our yard. As my ex, now just friend, The V-Man put it, “He is now a man.”

This blog is about dating, so you may wonder, why am I writing about the hunting skills of my cat? As I was thinking about Alexei’s amazing instincts and how he’s built up his skills in less dramatic fashion, I started thinking about my own progression into the world of a real, adult relationship.

Work with me here. In my first real relationship, my boyfriend and I talked endlessly about everything. He knew about my family dramas, my fears about going to college on the other side of the country, he’d heard every song I’d written, and I’d entrusted him with every story and poem I’d written when I went off to college. I trusted him that completely, I didn’t even give it a second thought. I didn’t know better not to put up walls to protect myself. He would never hurt me.

However, temptations for a different life led me down a different path into different relationships. My next boyfriend of four years, with whom I lived and talked about marriage, and I were close. Yet I was shy about my things. He wanted all of me, all of my time, all of my energy, and I felt hampered from having a social life outside of him, I felt hampered creatively, and he even began invading my personal space by reading journal entries or emails I’d send. I started to close myself off to him. I loved him, but I didn’t trust him completely with all of me.

My relationships went downhill from there. The ability to communicate deteriorated. I, the writer, the communication major, could not express myself verbally in relationships. I feared conflict. I feared hurting someone. I feared rejection. I feared being alone. What’s worse than not being able to fully trust others, I stopped trusting myself. I let things bubble up until I couldn’t take them anymore. I broke up with flabbergasted, unsuspecting guys via letters and emails. I hid behind my written words.

I didn’t trust my own abilities to be able to carry a sustained, loving relationship. I ran after the wrong men, unavailable men–emotionally or physically. I started wondering if I could even recognize a good one if it was standing right in front of me, waiting to be pounced on.

Then, Mr. Etiquette came along. Immediately, words poured out of my mouth. I shared fears, faults, insecurities. I shared strengths, hopes, dreams, my zest for life, my humor, my soul. I didn’t stop to think–wait, should I share this? I didn’t email him or text him when I worried about his own fear moving forward. I talked to him face-to-face with complete honesty, but also acceptance. He said he was amazed by my maturity and insight. He was as open, honest, and receptive communicating with me as I was with him. I feel like I’ve finally met someone who speaks my language again.

It’s not as if I’ve been reading books on how to communicate. I already knew how. It’s not as if I’ve been mentored on how to open up to others; my therapist had been trying unsuccessfully for over a year and half to get me to be as honest and open with the men in my life about how I felt and what I wanted and needed as I was with her and all of my family and friends. I knew how to do it, I just felt like they wouldn’t accept what I was sharing.

Over the years of my life, I’ve accrued so much experience about what works and doesn’t work in relationships, not only by looking at my own relationships, but learning from the struggles of my parents’ early marriage, at my friends’ marriages and relationships, and yes, even analyzing the romances in movies and fiction books. Even when I struggled to implement what I knew into my own ill-fated relationships, or when it took me too long to just pull the cord, deep inside I knew I couldn’t be as hopeless and helpless as I appeared.

Finally, instinct gave me the awareness to stop and realize a worthy partner has suddenly stepped into my line of sight. It is almost as if everything I do, every word I say, every move I make is the right one. Nothing  is pre-calculated, overanalyzed and thus tainted. I go with my gut, with my heart, and I trust myself that what I am giving and receiving is what I deserve. He confirms I deserve all those things I dream of having, but even more importantly, I once again believe it for myself.

Alexei finally learned to trust his instincts and came up with a prize. He was so proud and ecstatic, he didn’t protest at all when I washed him down afterward. Today, he snuggled with me all afternoon despite the humidity that makes him want to wander restlessly. He is content in a way I haven’t seen in a long time.

Maybe there is more to be learned from this odd, little cat of mine. I know I deserve the prize of contentment too.

My Personal Guide To Having Great Sex

Recently, while lying next to each other post-coitus, my man said, “That was amazing—almost unbelievably so!” He marveled over the wonderful chemistry we shared, until he added, “Or maybe it’s just you. Maybe it’s always like this with you.” He tilted his head to the side and looked at me suspiciously, as if he was trying to figure out where I’d picked up my bag of tricks.

Now, I wouldn’t even have given this a second thought if it weren’t for the comments of a former lover. He was commenting on my body filling out even more (of which I was proud after years of looking nearly anorexic) and teased, “so you’re building those (boobs) up, huh?”  I said something along the lines of, “Yeah, I gotta get them ready for making movies.” He replied, “Why do I think you’ve already been making movies?”

It was said all in jest; I was flattered. But I began wondering if, for woman, there came a point where being too good at sex was intimidating to men. I started pondering if I should take a leave of absence from sexual activity for a couple years, get a little rusty, and return back to being average.

A man would never ponder such a thing, would he? It is manly to be experienced in the sack, and a guy is expected to be a killer lover or else fear inadequacy in some way. There is, of course, the double standard with women. Men would like us to be good in bed, but not necessarily from lots of practice. Well, sorry men, we don’t earn your title of Best Giver of Blow Job right out of the gate. It is an art form, culled from years of practice with various techniques to see what works best with which partner.

I’m past the max of 3 lifetime lovers, including my future husband, my naïve little head imagined when I was 21. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to settle down. First serious boyfriend and I were together for 2 ½ years before going across the country to college eventually got in the way. College boyfriend and I were together for four years before illness and distance ended us. I healed and rebounded. The Bulldog and I dated for three years, and there was serious talk of marriage, but he was a bipolar pothead whose temper caused even his best friend to break up with him. I rebounded. The V-Man and I were officially together for 2 years before I realized he was too selfish and immature for us to ever get to marriage. I immediately fell in love with HH afterward. That fizzled, and then followed a series of ill-conceived attempts at relationships with men so wrong for me.

So here I am, 32, with more experience in dating and intimacy than I ever imagined. I’m not exactly ashamed of what I’ve learned about myself, or of men, for that matter. I certainly relish the fact that I am finally so comfortable in my own skin that I am proud to be the woman who is singleinmy30s. It’s nice when a perceptive man can sense and admire that too.

I’ve certainly learned a great deal from all of my experiences; like, what makes a great lover anyway? There are a number of factors that come into play when distinguishing one partner’s lovemaking yawn-worthy and another’s mind-blowing bliss. It’s easier to begin with what isn’t as crucial as we’re sometimes led to believe.

GOOD LOVEMAKING IS NOT…

It’s not all about size

I knew a man who when he whipped off his pants, would literally make one do a double take—as in, did I just stumble onto a set of a porno, by accident? It turns all he was, in the end, was just one big dick—in every sense of the word. And a painful one at that.

I’ve since welcomed a partner who is even more well-endowed. Yet he is both tender and passionate, aiming to please—in and out of the bedroom. Intimacy with him is pretty darn awesome.

However, before him, I was swept off my feet by a man who was average-sized but a rock-star in the bedroom. We were both flexible and acrobatic, and we could position ourselves at wonderful angles, he coaxed me with sexy not nasty talk, and our lovemaking was literally like a tango, flowing electric, sexy move to the next.

(And there was that one lover who was literally the length and width of my pinky; but let’s just forget I ever mentioned him, because I forget about him all the time.)

The harder, the better, right?

Wrong. There is no need to try to break my cervix with every thrust. I love really deep penetration in moderation, but for me, variety is key. Roll with it. Tease me, just like I tease you.  When I can’t take it anymore, drive it home, baby.

Sex does not have to be a marathon to be marvelous

I am not going to lie and say that those several hour love-fests with requisite breaks for recovery before jumping back in don’t have their awesomeness. A man also can impress me with his mind-over-matter control to delay climax until he’s made sure I have come first (not as easy as it sounds), or preferably, at the same time he is (rarest of all for me). However, at some point, women can dry up or get sore, no matter how much lube you use. Case in point: 2009cansuckit’s broken vagina story. I also am a big fan of the wildly passionate, I just can’t hold off any longer, you’re making me so hot, I’ve-got-to-come-now quickies. I totally get off on being wildly irresistible to a man.

Not all creativity is a good thing

In college, my boyfriend came up with the brilliant idea of using the ice cream that we had taken from the cafeteria in the bedroom. Of course, we were in my dorm room, on my top bunk. Ice cream melts a lot faster than you think it does, especially on warm bodies. It was wet and sticky disaster. On a much later night, he redeemed himself by using a bird feather to lightly run over my body, and it felt very sensuous and sexy.

Costumes are a good thing. It’s the adult version of playing dress up. I can’t tell you how many times men who thought they were too tired, stressed or not in the mood came out of their shell completely once I stepped into the new persona with a costume. It’s you, only temporarily transformed into someone unfamiliar yet familiar at the same time. It can make the dresser-upper feel sexy and flirtatious too.

GOOD LOVEMAKING IS…

Communication

Do you realize how many people there are out there who have sex, and plenty of it, but who cannot actually talk about it with their partner face to face? This is sad. How will you find out what your partner specifically likes and loves? Or dislikes and hates? You can’t base it on prior lovers or what you read in Hustler magazine or what you saw on your web porn. Every lover is an individual. Take the time to find out what arouses them—both mentally and physically, if they are more visual or tactile, and how they like to be touched. If you can’t talk to your potential lover about these things, then you probably shouldn’t be sleeping with them in the first place.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

A huge factor to wonderful lovemaking is respecting your partner’s boundaries. If your partner absolutely does not like anal play, which I didn’t with any partner before V-Man, don’t force it, don’t keep trying to cajole her into it; just LET IT GO. And if your partner revealed that she liked it in the past with someone else, it’s no guarantee that she automatically wants to do it with you right away or ever, even.

Likewise, if you’re thinking about bringing a new toy into the bedroom, try to get a feel for how he or she might respond before springing it on them. I’m still remembering the shock I felt when an ex left the room in the middle of sex and whipped out a penis extender (no, I don’t even know what the hell it’s called, but it goes over the actual penis). Truly, he really didn’t need this. I didn’t want it. He saw the look on my face and immediately said, “No, I don’t even know why I brought this out, we don’t need it.”

As for bondage: to me, the average, only slightly naughty girl, there is good bondage and bad bondage. Good bondage is with a partner you trust who lightly ties your wrists together with a scarf that you can easily get out of when you both are ready for full contact since it’s impossible for you to keep your hands from connecting with his body for long. Bad bondage is when the boyfriend who already scares you with his intensity boy scout knots you to the bed with a tie so tight that it’s literally impossible to move, let alone break free. Some like it really rough, some don’t. Find out which your partner is.

Responsiveness

This requires communication, not all of it necessarily verbal. Read each others signals. Look into each others eyes. If one of you slows down, the other should be in the moment, aware enough to realize what’s going on, and be able to meet your rhythm. If you’re with your partner long enough, it’s great if you can read their body for when they want to go faster or slower, deeper or just barely in, and when they’re about to climax. But when in doubt, just ask! As for verbal communication, if your lover says, “Squeeze my nipples,” that’s not so much a suggestion as a request. Honor it if you want to make her happy. Know who you’re in the hay with. Call each other by name. It makes the connection that much more electric.

Balance

If all you want to do is focus on my ass, and you totally neglect the vajajay, then that makes me a sour puss. If you are a cunninglinguist, but you ignore my boobs, I will feel like you feel like they aren’t worthy of your attention. That or you are just too lazy to learn that the proper manipulation of my nips can really contribute to my arousal.

Trust me, they feel great; try it.

Likewise, if I ignore your balls and only focus on your penis, that may leave some of you equally unsatisfied. And there are some men who like getting their nipples brushed or the spine of their back grazed too.

Find out what your partner likes and needs to achieve pleasure. The topic of balance greatly overlaps with the next, which is…

Reciprocity

I LOVE to please a man. I almost take it as a personal insult if a man pushes me away too soon from orally pleasing him to get straight to the booty. Of course, this may just mean he knows he’s a quick shooter, or he may be like a couple of the older partners I’ve had who just haven’t ever gotten off orally. I can usually persuade them to see the benefit of letting me continue (i.e. “That’s the most incredible blow job I’ve ever had!” said by lover at the top of this post).

On the flip side, I also like to be orally pleased. I told this same lover that there are men who absolutely hate to go down on a woman. He looked genuinely puzzled and asked “Why? It’s amazing down there! I love it.” I of course told him he was the kind of man that a woman adores.

If you notice a lack of reciprocity, talk. Yes, I know it’s awkward as ass sometimes, but do it. It may be a hygiene issue. Or it may be something completely unrelated to you. The Bulldog went down on a girl at a college party in the dark, and when he came out of the room, his face was covered in blood because the girl never told him she was having a visitor that day. He was horrified and humiliated, and it’s haunted him ever since. Talking led the way to understanding and a pact that I would be sure to communicate my “red-letter days.”

Also, ladies, don’t always insist the man be on top. Take the initiative sometimes, and drive. It gives his legs and arms a break, and for you, it can be incredibly fun, so fun that you may get carried away, so listen when he begs you to slow down.

Post-coitus cuddle

This is admittedly a more personal-to-me characteristic of a good lover. I actually have found that men are much more cuddly than I am after sex. I’m petite and thin and can easily fit inside the arms and bodies of even the smallest guys. But not all cuddlers are built alike. I feel like a lover and I fit together best when their bodies are responsive to mine even in sleep, when I am comfortable, my neck not all bent out of position, my breath not squeezed out by an overly tight arm, when I can actually relax (again, so rare for me), and possibly even fall asleep in their arms, then I know I’ve found something good.

I’ve found the right fit, in cuddling and in coitus, with men 6 inches taller than me and men over a foot taller than me, some skinny as a rail, some with broad shoulders and round bellies; it’s not so much about size, it’s about how well you and they communicate, emotionally, verbally, and physically.

All of the above are important factors in what distinguished average sex from amazing sex for me. So if you care to, take what you will from what I’ve learned over the years. Play smart and safe, and have fun.

Feel free to comment with your own do’s and don’ts for excellent sex.