How do you know when it’s the right time for sex, especially with a new partner?

Adults can have sex whenever they both decide that they want to have sex, if everyone involved is capable of consenting, and if doing so would be legal.

Providing those two conditions are met, feel free to make your own choices about physical intimacy. But not so fast — at least not at first. The best decision is an educated decision, so there are some things you should know first about yourself and your partner, covering your attitudes, values, beliefs, and approaches to any consequences.

The decision to have sex may seem a little more complicated if it would be your first time with a particular partner — or first time overall. Give the following considerations some thought before taking a relationship to the next level of intimacy or adding sex where there may be no relationship at all.

Sex can even be an impulse decision if you’ve already gone through the process.

What is important to you?

Do you feel that you need to have a emotional connection with a partner before starting any physical intimacy? The first thing to think about is what you value in a relationship and what kind of beliefs you have. Your beliefs may be influenced by your parents, the community you grew up in, or input from other people around you. Everyone’s situation is somewhat different.

The first step is communicating your beliefs and your values surrounding relationships to your partner. You do not have to have the same opinions, but it helps to understand where the other is coming from. This goes a long way towards avoiding any emotional surprises later on.

You might even find that you think you feel one thing, but you find that later on, you change your mind, or you feel that your initial feelings were wrong. It’s good to recognize that as a possibility, regardless of how you feel today.

What type of relationship, if any, is important to you before you have sex? Do you want to act on purely physical arousal? Would you prefer to have an emotional connection before Netflix and chill? Or do you consider yourself a sapiosexual — a word I just recently learned — turned on by intelligence? There’s no right answer; it all comes down to what you like.

And if you don’t know what you like yet, you should feel free to experiment, make mistakes, and figure it out. On that note…

Do you feel pressured?

You shouldn’t let anyone pressure you. The decision to have sex is one you need to have the freedom to come to on your own first, then as a couple. Don’t allow your partner to manipulate you, make you feel guilty, or convince you to do something you’re not ready for. Communicate honestly about your desires, and expect the same from your partner. Trust goes a long way to making sure the sex you do have is enjoyable and fulfilling — and potentially amazing!

Pressure can come from outside the couple, too. Your friends may not be pressuring you outright or on purpose, but you might feel pressure just being within a group of friends who have a different approach to sex than you do. Try to separate your image of yourself from the idea of what you think people expect from you.

You could be pressured into not having sex, too. Keep in mind that as an adult, you have the freedom to say yes. It can be difficult to remember this if you have been receiving opposite messages consistently and repeatedly from people you trust since adolescence. Physical intimacy is not bad, evil, or inappropriate. It can be risky, but it shouldn’t be shameful.

A question I hear often is regarding the number of dates with the same person after which sex is expected. Sex should never be expected. You should wait until you feel you’re ready to be intimate with that particular partner. The number of dates is irrelevant.

How would you handle the consequences?

The Right Time to Have Sex

Starting or continuing a physically intimate relationship can have unintended consequences, so it’s best to think about what you would do personally in the event of each consequence, and then talk about what you would do as a couple.

If the relationship involves a man and a woman, pregnancy is a potential outcome. Have you given any thought to what you would do or how you would feel if you or your partner becomes pregnant as a result of your intimacy? Have you discussed this? And if not, are you taking enough precautions to try to prevent the situation? And then what happens if the preventative measures fail?

How familiar are you with your partner’s sexual history? And beyond history, what about the present? Are you both sleeping with other people as well? Basic information about other sexual partners is helpful to prevent the spread of STIs. Combine this knowledge with safe, protected sex, and you are setting yourself up for healthy sex. Condoms will help protect both against pregnancy and STIs, while birth control via pill, patch, implant, or some other means will only help avoid pregnancy. But there are no guarantees.

And while it may not be as important as these considerations, you might need to think about the well-being of others beyond your potential sex partner. Are either of you in emotional or physical relationships with others? How will your actions affect your other relationships?

Sometimes, the consequences might be nothing more than feeling awkward when seeing your partner under normal circumstances. Sometimes, even people who think they can handle being friends with benefits find that they’re uncomfortable around the other person or even develop a stronger emotional connection when they weren’t planning to. These consequences can be frustrating or they can be great — depending on whether everyone involved continues to share the same attitude and feelings towards the relationship.

The role of sex in a relationship.

Sex can strengthen a good relationship or add excitement outside of a relationship. It doesn’t solve all the problems throughout the world, and in fact, it can also harm others if it’s included in an abusive relationship. Avoid using sex as a bargaining chip or to control your partner’s behavior. But there are no rules other than what the law calls for, including the ability to consent.

Sex is meant to be fun! It’s all about pleasure and enjoying each other. If it doesn’t feel good, change something, don’t be nervous, avoid the pressure, and keep trying.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

If you’re struggling financially, is there ever a good way to ask your parents for help?

The idea of borrowing money from friends or family has always made me feel… gross. In all honesty, I’d rather be broke than deal with the icky feeling of owing someone money.

There’s something about introducing a financial transaction into a personal relationship that almost always ends up in some sort of discomfort — especially when parents are involved. One day, you’re the independent, successful adult you struggled so hard to become; the next, you’re once again that awkward sixteen-year-old begging for gas money.

But sometimes asking your parents for financial help is unavoidable. In fact, about half of college students expect their parents to support them financially for up to two years after graduation.

Plus, they’ve had years to grow their wealth while you’re still getting used to the idea of paying someone for running water.

So whether you’re struggling to find post-college employment and need to move back in for a while, or you’re a few thousand dollars shy of owning your first home, here’s how to navigate the tricky conversation of asking for financial help from Mom and Dad.

Decide if you need a gift or a loan.

Before you even broach the subject, determine exactly what it is you’re asking for. Depending on your mom or dad’s personality, you might be more likely to receive a loan than a handout. If so, figure out exactly how much you need to borrow, how long it will take to repay the loan, and whether or not you will also pay interest.

On the other hand, you might know very well there’s no way you will be able to pay the money back. Instead of making promises you can’t keep, be prepared to state your case as to what, exactly, you need and why your parents should be willing to make the investment. Which brings us to the next step.

Have a solid case to present.

You might technically be an adult, but in your parents’ eyes, you will always be their child. However, this is not a situation in which you want to be viewed as immature or childish. You need to appear prepared, confident, and accountable.

Have an action plan ready to present — write it down, review it several times, and believe in it. Talk to your parents calmly and explain your situation clearly. Be prepared to negotiate. And above all else, don’t get emotional or attempt to manipulate their emotions. It. Will. Backfire.

Don’t compromise your parents’ finances.

How to Ask Your Parents for Money

Some parents are willing to sacrifice everything to help out their kids, no questions asked. Others prefer to send their children through the School of Hard Knocks, even if they have to repeat a few grades.

If your parents are more like the former, be especially sensitive to how your request for financial assistance will impact their well-being. Will Mom have to dip into her 401(k) to cover your student loan debt? Is Dad planning to work a few more years so you can get back on your feet?

Ask yourself if you’re really okay with being the person who jeopardizes your parents’ golden years after they’ve worked so hard — for decades — to reach them. Yeah, didn’t think so.

Should you even do it?

Turning to the Bank of Mom and Dad can be tempting when you’re seriously short on cash. But there’s a host of potential landmines when you ask for money from the people who used to change your diapers.

Consider whether you’re looking to your parents for financial support because it seems easy or because that’s really your only option.

There’s nothing wrong with getting help from Mom and Dad if they’re willing. But it’s almost always best to suck it up and figure it out on your own if you can. After all, they’ve already made the biggest investment in you anyone ever will. They raised you.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Wait a minute. I can afford this now. This is what it’s like when you’re adulting.

A few weeks ago, I finally experienced what it’s like to be the “rich” friend. A group of girlfriends and I, people I’ve just met recently, were talking about going skiing. The trip can cost almost $100, including gas, meals and lift tickets. That’s a hefty amount for me, but something I can afford.

One of the girls in the group said she couldn’t afford to go. The rest of us said we understood, and that’s when it hit me.

“Wait, I’m that friend that can afford things now.”

Things were different a couple years ago. I was trying to pay off my students loans and was putting any extra money toward my debt. I said no to parties, dinners, and cross-country trips. I said no to hobbies, concerts, and movies.

I remember feeling jealous and judgmental of my friends who could travel and not think about how they weren’t putting money in their retirement funds. Or people who gave to charity while deferring their loans. I gave $25 at weddings, lamenting even that amount.

While I was in college, most of my friends and I were on the same level. We spent money with abandon, even though we all claimed to be broke.

I keep thinking back to one of the first episodes of “Friends,” where Rachel, Joey, and Phoebe have to bring up that they can’t afford to go out to eat or buy concert tickets. I’ve never had that difficult conversation with a friend, but I have been the one to suggest hanging out at my place instead of going to the movies.

Starting to Afford Things

Now my husband and I don’t mind picking up the check when friends come in town — we’ve even treated his parents to dinner occasionally. If you want to feel like an adult, try buying dinner for your in-laws. That will make you feel like an adult faster than you can say “health insurance premium.”

I like this feeling. For the first time, my life has options. I just bought tickets to see one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert, speak. When purchasing the tickets, I splurged on the VIP package, which includes a cocktail reception with Gilbert. A year ago, I would’ve bought the cheapest ticket and considered myself lucky.

The good news is that there are always alternatives to pricey forms of entertainment. You can watch a movie at someone’s house instead of going out. You can bake together instead of grabbing dinner. The same way that my friends compromised for me when I was unwilling to spend money, I need to do for other people.

It may mean that they won’t be able to come to ski trips or big concerts, but they’ll be available for drinking wine at home and rewatching a “Harry Potter” movie.

I’ve seen my parents manage friendships while earning differently than other people. It’s not about being ditching the friend who can’t afford to go to the restaurant you want to go to, it’s about being a friend and finding ways to bridge that gap.

The best experiences are the ones when you have the right people.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Divorce doesn’t have to be a drama-filled ordeal, even if you feel like your heart’s been torn apart.

“Sarene had never married — it was illogical to believe two people could remain compatible for a lifetime …” (Robert Jordan, Lord of Chaos, pg. 489).

Even if you know that your person and you will both change over time, the reality is that you don’t get married expecting a divorce.

Unfortunately, sometimes that’s the way things shake out.

Even though I had noticed some incompatibilities between my husband and me over the years, it was a shock to me when he asked for a divorce. I felt hurt and betrayed and a number of other emotions.

But those feelings didn’t stop me from deciding that it was important to learn how to divorce like an adult.

Let it out and let it go.

You don’t have to bottle everything up when you divorce like an adult. I cried every morning for two weeks. One day, I lost it and went on a rage-fueled, profanity-laden tirade at my husband. That was the least adult interaction we had, and he was gracious through it all, letting me get it out and apologizing that his choices put us in this situation. (Our son was nowhere near, which was important.)

After letting it all out that time, I realized that I also had to let go. Let go of the hurt and anger and sadness, and replace it with purpose. It’s not always easy, even months later. Sometimes I feel angry or upset, but I acknowledge those feelings and let them go. And I look around and realize that I have a pretty great life right now.

Being angry doesn’t help anyone, and it holds me back. Plus, it’s not healthy for my son to live with me if I’m negative. Letting go is one of the most important things you can when you are ready to divorce like an adult.

Your kids and friends aren’t bargaining chips.

It’s tempting to bring the kids and friends into the situation. This is a terrible thing to do to the people you love. Your kids need love and support — and they need to see a united front. Even when you are divorced, you still need to coparent. Unless there is actual abuse involved (and you need to do what it takes to protect them), your children will be better off if you both act like grown-ups and are kind to each other.

My ex and I consult on major purchases related to my son. I’m not buying him a laptop until I discuss it with my ex, and we regularly talk about consequences, and school, and other parenting issues. Staying on the same page keeps the kids from playing you off of one another and helps them see that you can handle the situation like healthy adults.

The same is true of your friends. Don’t make them pick sides. And don’t pump them for info about your ex.

Keep calm and communicate.

How to Divorce Like an Adult: Keep Calm and Communicate

Other than The Incident, my ex and I talked calmly throughout the entire process, even doing our research to figure out how to divorce in the most cost-efficient manner.

It helps that we are both reasonable, grown-ass adults who aren’t trying to destroy other people’s lives. We sat down and talked through what would be the best way for us both to get a fresh start. We were calm when talking about the issues, and when one of us started feeling stressed about it, we took a break to regroup.

Dragging it out and trying to “stick it” to the other person doesn’t help anyone. The only people that benefit are the lawyers. We saved money on the divorce by divvying everything up on our own, and acknowledging that we were both working toward the goal of a good start. Do I sometimes wish that my ex’s desire for divorce didn’t come with the current results? Sure. Am I going to try to ruin his life? Nope.

I’ve got better things to do. Like get on with my own life.

Can you remain on good terms?

Learning how to divorce like an adult isn’t just about settling it like grownups and moving on. If you don’t have any of the same friends or you don’t have children together, you may never have to see your former S.O. again. And that’s cool if that’s the way you want it.

But I’ve got a child with my ex, and I have relationships with members of his family because we were married for 13½ years. So he’s part of my life. Permanently.

Actually, we’re pretty good friends. We text and talk regularly. Our relationship is the best it’s been in probably three years. Over Christmas, when I went to collect my son after holiday time with dad, we got together with his parents and had dinner. Like normal families do. We also planned a pretty kick-ass family vacation (just the three of us) to New York in July.

Divorce doesn’t have to be toxic and drama-filled. It doesn’t mean that it will be all unicorns and rainbows, but it also doesn’t have to turn your life into a pit of despair.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Without the right financial values, you’ll be lost with money and you’ll set a poor example. Fix that right now.

When you’re struggling financially, you might have two different ways of dealing with it. You might freak out because you can’t deal. Or you might just stick your head in the sand and ignore your problems because it hurts too much.

That’s what I did when I was dealing with the worst of my money problems. I had to hit rock bottom before turning my life around. That gave me a chance to figure out what my financial values are.

1. Money is not for the sake of money.

With money, you have to be that annoying kid. The one who asks, “Why?” after every sentence. “I want to be a millionaire.” “Why?” “Because I want to be rich.” “Why?” “So I don’t have to be concerned about having enough money.” “Why?” “So I can do the things I’d like to do.” “Why?” “Because I want to travel the world.”

Finally we get to an answer. There’s no point in having a high balance in the bank or a long-term investing strategy if there isn’t a goal other than gathering that money. If your only goal is to retire with a million dollars, you’re totally missing the point. The purpose of money is to do something with it. What do you want to do?

2. Balance financial independence with helping others.

What would you do if you ended up with one million dollars that you didn’t plan on having? How about one billion? What else is there besides “financial independence” (having enough money to do what you want without worrying about earning more from working)?

Don’t forget to look outside yourself and your family. Help others, especially those who don’t have the same types of opportunities as you. You don’t need to be financially independent to start making a better world. Some of the most charitable people are those who are not wealthy. Find the right balance for you between making yourself rich and contributing to a rich experience for the world.

3. Are your assets on display?

If you feel the world is a competition or that you have something to prove, you probably have less of a problem with showing off your success. Grow up in a community where success is hard to find, and you feel this even more. You celebrate your success publicly, because it not only helps validate you, but it gives hope to others.

But this perpetuates the idea that money and wealth somehow make people superior. And the competition isn’t only about wealth. Look around and you’ll see people trying to prove that they have the skills to save more money than anyone else. Money brings out your competitive nature. Whether it’s about earning money, having a wealthy partner, or saving money, you may feel the need to show off.

Showing off tells people you’re not confident with yourself. People don’t need to know about your success. Keep it quiet and do good with your money without fanfare.

4. Wealth isn’t something to idolize.

Wealth Isn't Something to Idolize: 6 Healthy Financial Values to Fix Your Money Attitude

We see popular people living well and we want to be like them, whether it’s the musical artist who’s an “overnight success,” a Kardashian, or just some couple on House Hunters International.

Have you seen all the books and blogs that supposedly teach people how to be rich by thinking like a rich person? As if changing your “mindset” will give you the same opportunities experienced by people who have lived their entire life surrounded by wealth? Yes, you do have to have a positive life philosophy if you want to be able to handle the wealth you build, but you won’t gain anything by just thinking like a rich person. Financially successful people are not better or smarter than the rest of us.

Strive to be a person of strong character, not a person of a huge bank balance.

5. Money isn’t related to human decency.

On that note, we often confuse wealth with living as a good human being, just as often or if not more than we characterize wealthy people as “evil.” These are both wrong! If you are a bad person before becoming wealthy, you will remain a bad person when you become wealthy.

Just like wealth doesn’t lead to decency or indecency, the lack of wealth doesn’t correlate either. Poor people aren’t necessarily lazy. They aren’t necessarily hard workers, either. Everyone has a life full of their own circumstances that often don’t correspond with any stereotype or generalization. Separate someone’s character from their wealth, and don’t make assumptions.

6. Financial success isn’t a reward for hard work.

You do your chores, you collect your allowance. This is supposed to be a life lesson for kids about how the real world works. Except it’s not!

Yes, you do get paid when you show up for your job, but how hard you work often is not related to how much you get paid. I worked for an arts organization after college, and I worked hard. There were times of the year I worked 80 hours a week and the job consumed my life. Didn’t make much money, though.

There are wealthy people who never worked a hard day in their life. Many have, though, so having a great work ethic is still the best approach to build wealth. The problem is that it’s far from a guarantee. Sometimes working hard just doesn’t pay off. A vast amount — the majority — of people throughout the world work hard their entire lives but will never be wealthy.

Financial success requires grit, but also much more.

What are your financial values?

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Always coming up short when you’re out. Never paying their fair share. What do you do when you’re always covering?

We’ve all had that friend. You know the one.

When the dinner bill comes, they severely underestimate their share (let alone account for tax and tip). You spot them $10 here and $20 there, yet they always “forget” to pay you back.

But you let it slide every time. After all, what’s a few bucks among good friends?

That used to be your attitude, anyway. Lately, your desire for a person’s company has a perfect negative correlation to how much of their crap you are required to put up with. You are, in fact, too old for this shit.

So here’s how to deal with that friend who makes you feel more like a bank than their buddy — without killing the relationship.

Be honest.

The great thing about friends (real friends — not the people you pretend to like out of various social obligations) is that you can tell them the truth and they’ll still be your friend. You’re not doing anyone any favors by pretending your pal’s poor money etiquette doesn’t bother you.

So the next time they leave you hanging with the bill, be up front and tell them how much they owe right then and there. Add that you’re pretty strapped for cash as well and can’t afford to cover them. Consistently push back rather than ignore the behavior and eventually, they’ll get it.

And if this honesty does cause a rift in your relationship, it’s probably time to reevaluate whether you two shared a real friendship at all.

Find cheap/free things to do.

A novel idea, right? As much as you’re annoyed by your pal’s perpetual brokeness, they likely feel pressured to keep up with the group financially, too. That’s a tough spot to be in, and as a friend, you should find ways to spend quality time together that don’t force your buddy into yet another awkward situation.

Fortunately, another great thing about friends is that all you really need is each other’s company to have an awesome time.

Check your local weekly for low-cost and free events such as concerts, art exhibits, and movie screenings. Have a picnic at the beach. Go for a hike. Get dressed up, pretend you’re rich, and hop from one open house to the next while eating all their snacks along the way.

Consider it a gift.

That Annoying Broke Friend

When your friend does ask for money, and you feel comfortable parting with the cash, treat it as a gift. Loaning money turns a personal relationship into one of business, which opens the door for guilt and resentment on both sides, especially if the borrower isn’t able to pay up.

It’s your choice whether or not you want to support your friend financially — and it’s perfectly fine if you do. Keep in mind, however, that you can’t expect things to change if you continue to enable the situation.

Friendship is something that only becomes more precious as you grow older; it can be tempting to over-compromise in order to avoid conflict. But true friendship is also built on honesty and desire to make each other happy, so don’t be afraid to share your feelings in a caring but straightforward manner.

And if your own financial goals are jeopardized in order to keep the peace between you and a broke friend, that friendship probably isn’t worth it in the first place.

Like what you’ve read?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!

Life is too short to be unhappy in a toxic relationship.

When making relationship goals, few of us decide we want to be with toxic people. However, there are times that we just sort of end up in these situations.

If you feel like your relationship is bringing you down — and it doesn’t have to just be a romantic relationship — you can get out of it.

As you look at your relationship goals, re-evaluate where you stand and how others influence your life. It might be time to ditch the toxic people in your life. It might even be time for you to realize that you have some of your own toxic behaviors that you should work on.

Listen for our ideas on what you can do now to change toxic behaviors or exit a relationship without making things much worse.

Concepts

  • Hallmarks of a toxic relationship.
  • The difference between toxic behaviors and abuse.
  • The health impacts that being in a toxic relationship can have.
  • Tips for setting relationship goals with your partner to improve everyone’s behavior.
  • How to identify your own toxic behaviors and fix them.

Become a Friend of Adulting

To get Adulting delivered directly to your device, subscribe using iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, or your app of choice.

Join the Friends of Adulting! Please leave an honest review on iTunes. We would really appreciate the feedback!

Resources

Psychology TodayOvercoming toxic relationships
San Diego Union TribuneToxic relationships and poor health
Tiny BuddhaSigns of a toxic relationship

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.


For a limited time you’ll receive our new book, The Best Bank Accounts for Adults, when you sign up!