Being a single mom doesn’t have to be depressing. Here’s how to love it.

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Show Notes

Emma Johnson, author of The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children and blogger-owner of http://wealthsinglemommy.com/ joins Harlan and Miranda today to share tips about living a great life while being the single parent of children.

We talk about dating, money, and how you can feel empowered and love being a single mom without hating men. We also look at taking charge of your finances and rebuilding your life on your own terms.

Emma Johnson is the author of THE KICKASS SINGLE MOM: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children, creator of the immensely popular blog, WealthySingleMommy.com, and host of the podcast, “Like a Mother,” where she explores issues facing professional moms like herself. She is a writer, journalist, entrepreneur, former small-town Midwesterner, and current New Yorker. Since launching her blog four years ago, she has become the leading voice of single motherhood in the popular media and has been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Day, and NPR, among others.

Book: https://adulting.tv/a/014313115X
Twitter: @JohnsonEmma
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=646747051
Website: http://www.wealthysinglemommy.com

Listen to the audio podcast above.

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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Take your romance skills to the next level.

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Romance is important to a lot of people. But what happens when you’re not romantic at all?

Harlan and Miranda are both firmly in the non-romantic camp — and it’s caused problems in their relationships.

If you want to light a spark and help your partner feel appreciated, you need to figure out how to put a little romance into your relationship. Join Miranda and Harlan on a journey of learning as they explore ways they can be more romantic. And maybe you’ll learn something, too!

Concepts

  • What is romance? It means different things to different people.
  • A discussion of the five love languages.
  • How to focus on your partner’s style of love.
  • Romance isn’t the only thing in a strong relationship.
  • Tips for building a lasting relationship, even without an excess of romance.
  • What constitutes quality time together?
  • Ideas for sparking romance in your relationship.

We encourage you and your partner to take the free love language quiz this week as the first DO NOW. Other DO NOWs include using the information about your partner’s love language to do one thing for them this week and planning a date with your partner — one that’s out of the ordinary.

This week’s listener question addresses what you can do if your partner isn’t into romance or flirty fun the same way you are.

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Resources

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Single parenthood can be plenty of fun. Have the best dating life ever.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Are you trying to date while raising a family? It can get a little tricky. Single mom Sarah Bettencourt joins Harlan and Miranda to talk about dating as a single parent. We go over the pitfalls of learning to adjust, finding interesting people to spend time with, and how to integrate children with potential mates.

Also, the cost of dating as a single parent is financial as well as emotional. How do you find the “ROI” of your first dates? We dive into figuring out how to make it work for you.

Sarah is the co-founder of Travel Foodie Mom, The Blonde Spot, and podcast host for Monday Morning Mimosas and Nerd Biscuit (coming soon). She believes life is better when you can embrace and she does just that.

Watch the video above or listen to the audio using the player below.

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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Are you in a sort-of relationship without wanting to commit? Not sure what to call it? You, my friend, are in a situationship.

There is no doubt that I love the single life.

But sometimes I find myself spending time with one person enough that things start moving into “boyfriend-like” territory. But I don’t actually want a boyfriend. And I certainly don’t want anyone moving in.

What are you supposed to do with that?

Luckily, a friend of mine came to the rescue.

This perfectly describes some of my recent interactions. It’s that weird place where you are kinda seeing each other. You’re more than dating, but one or both of you are unwilling to totally commit. It’s beyond friends with benefits, but you’re not going to take it to the next level. At least for now.

So, are you in a situationship? Let’s take a look at some of the indications that you are involved in this type of pseudo-relationship:

You don’t want to label it.

The first sign that you’re in a situationship is that you don’t want to label it. When people ask if you’re dating, you say things like, “Sort of.” You don’t want to call your … person … a boyfriend or girlfriend.

If you do come up with a label, it’s sorta lame. I sometimes refer to the subject of my situationship my “not-boyfriend.” The idea is to avoid actually committing full-on, leaving room for other dating experiences, should they come up.

You aren’t actually dating anyone else.

Have you reverted to the easiest situation? Is it easier to just hang with your not-girlfriend than go on a date with someone new?

A hallmark of a situationship is that you claim to be “free” to go out with other people, but you don’t actually do it very often. You’re basically exclusive, but you don’t feel a level of commitment that comes with true exclusivity.

If a better opportunity presented itself, you would totally bounce.

You aren’t going on dates anyway.

Forget dating other people. You aren’t even going on dates in your situationship. Instead, you hang around the house, much like a long-time couple. You might even sleep over at each other’s places sometimes. Netflix and chill is basically the order of the day and you rarely make an effort to go on a real date.

You still fly solo at events.

Family function? You go by yourself. Holiday party? Ditto.

While you might bring your situationship buddy along to some things, you’re still not “there” yet in terms of making them a permanent fixture in your life and bringing them along to all the events.

When making vacation plans, you’re not really interested in ensuring that you have company; you’re perfectly happy alone. While you don’t mind traveling with them, you’re not interested in doing it all the time.

Your friends and family might not be aware there’s someone.

By the way, do the people who know you best have any idea that there’s a Thing happening? Maybe your closest friends and family members know that “something” is going on, but they haven’t actually met your situationship person.

Or, maybe they have met the person, but only on occasion. You certainly aren’t arranging double dates with your brother and sister-in-law or planning fun couples hikes with your BFF and their squeeze over the weekend. Sometimes there’s a casual “this is so-and-so” when you do bring them along to something. You don’t make plans to do things with the couples.

Instead, you mostly try to keep your worlds from colliding. You don’t want your situationship to be part of the rest of your life. Or, at least, you’re trying to put it off as long as humanly possible.

Your Facebook status remains resolutely single.

You’re not even willing to elevate the status to “it’s complicated,” although for some people in a situationship that is an option.

You do have pictures of yourself with your situationship person, but they are relatively innocuous. They show you having fun, but they aren’t that much different from the pictures you take with your friends. You certainly don’t post all the pictures you might have of the two of you together.

Maybe you refer to yourself as “mostly single” (as I do), or you find some other way to subtly clue people into the fact that you are kinda sorta maybe seeing someone in a way that looks similar to a relationship, but you really aren’t doing the relationship thing.

Your future plans don’t take the other person into account.

Sure, sometimes you talk about the future or daydream about things you’ll do together. But, really, your future plans don’t really account for the other person. You make plans that could have room for the other person, but it’s not really your primary concern.

You just aren’t making long-term future plans together. When you think of your future, it’s attractive to you whether or not your buddy has a place in it.

Is a situationship a bad thing?

A lot of what I read about situationships seem to imply that they are bad things. However, I’m not sure it’s an awful thing to be involved in a situationship.

When you’re looking for a degree of stable companionship with someone you enjoy, but you don’t want to move in together or get married or do whatever it is that committed couples do today, a situationship can be just the thing.

The biggest risk is that you are content with the situation, while the other person starts developing stronger feelings and different expectations. What happens when the other person starts thinking about a future together and wants to level up to a real relationship? At that point, you need a Come to Jesus and figure out what’s next. That next might even be taking the plunge and committing.

If one of you is not happy with the situationship, but the other is just fine living in this pseudo-relationship indefinitely, it’s time to end it. The other person needs a chance to develop a relationship along the lines of what they want.

However, if you’re both cool with the situationship, there’s no point in messing up something you both enjoy. It doesn’t matter what those around you say. Figure out what’s working for you, and then go for it.

Are you in a situationship? How’s it working out for you? Let us know what you think about this new relationship category in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Do you think sex has become a chore? It doesn’t have to be that way. Spice up your love life by learning how to have sex your way.

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Bez Stone joins Harlan and Miranda to challenge long-standing misconceptions about women’s bodies and teaches a revolutionary method of sexual fulfillment that works for women. Basically, everything you learned about sex is wrong, wrong, wrong.

We talk about what you can do to learn how to enjoy your body and sex more, based on your personal preferences. It gets a little awkward in places, but, hey, it’s all part of the process.

A Stanford-educated writer and certified Sex Coach, Bez is an emerging authority in women’s sex and sexuality. She is sought after nationally by couples, women, and groups, and has helped thousands of people reclaim sexual connection.

Please visit her website, www.bezstone.com, for more information and to watch her TEDx talk on Feminine Orgasm. You can also follow her on Instagram (www.instagram.com/bez.stone) or find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/bez.r.stone)

Watch the video, recorded live, above, or listen to just the audio using the player below. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast!

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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Not excited about a long-term relationship with your partner? Up your breakup game.

Some people love falling in love and being with just one person.

Then, there are the people who love to “hit it and quit it.”

We don’t think much about another category. This third category of dating is evident when you’re just not as excited about the person you’re with. You’ve been clear about it and they just don’t seem to be getting the message.

You’re just not that into them.

And you certainly don’t want a long-term relationship.

The fun beginning.

In the beginning, it was great to have someone to do something with.

After all, normally you’re at home with the cat or the dog. On the one time you ventured outside of your home, you ended up meeting someone.

They seemed really nice until you went out to eat dinner and you were appalled by their table manners and how they treated the wait staff. At this point, you’re kind of turned off. But, you continue to hang out anyway, even though you’re just not that into them.

Trust me, this is a recipe for disaster.

If you’re not sure about how all of this will play out check out the following movie: He’s Just Not That Into You. It’s basically the Cliff Notes of what to look out for when you’re confused by what your boo is doing.

You’re a pretty nice person (you think) so you decide to cool it off because they aren’t the one for you. But, they just don’t seem to be getting the message.

What to do?

Be honest.

There’s nothing worse than being strung along in a one-sided relationship.

As kindly as possible tell them the truth. It’s not you, it’s me.

List all of the reason why you’re just not the right person for them or why you’re just not in the place to date them. Maybe you’re just not ready for a long-term relationship.

When you have this conversation, don’t leave the door open for confusion. Be clear that there is no possibility for you to be together in the future. Ever.

The real story.

We’re all adults here.

So the next one is all about asserting your awesome sexual self.

Maybe it has been a long time since you had sex. Your temporary partner fits your booty call requirements but not your long-term bae needs. Be clear that you just wanted to “hit it and quit it” and that nothing was going to happen beyond that.

Don’t be cruel, though. You may be the best that they’ve ever had, so understand why your persistent lover may be unwilling to get the hint, especially if they have been hoping for a long-term relationship.

Don’t be mean about saying you’re not the one for them, but do be firm about the fact that you are moving on and that you won’t be moving on with them.

Don’t be stupid.

It’s at this point when the dumper sometimes makes some ill-thought out mistakes.

One of the worst mistakes is taking back the annoying previous lover because you just got tired of them bugging you (which was probably what they were hoping for).

Don’t do this. It just creates an endless cycle of crazy that you are a willing participant in. You said you don’t want a long-term relationship with this person, so don’t encourage them.

Don’t accept any gifts your old bae wants to give you. It’s confusing to them and inconsistent with the message that you’re moving on.

Things to keep in mind as you press forward.

When it’s time to communicate with the persistent person who just doesn’t want to let you go, take a look at the entire situation.

Are they acting crazy? If that’s the case you need to keep your safety in mind and let your friends and family know that you’re becoming concerned about the situation.

Trust your gut. Do you feel like your safety is threatened because they just can’t let you go or they don’t seem to be responding to the message that you’re communicating? Get law enforcement involved if you feel like your safety is at risk.

Finally, if you’re not dealing with someone who is crazy but just not picking up on your message, don’t be mean. Ghosting? Not cool. The slow-fade? Not so cool either.

Just balls it up, meet for coffee, and get it done.

Move on.

Finally, don’t feel guilty about moving on.

We have all been on both sides of the dating coin. It’s a natural part of the dating process. Sometimes the person is just not right for you and that’s ok. Like the Bachelor, there is always another person out there waiting in the wings to find you.

Create that space by letting go of relationships that just aren’t working. That way you will be able to welcome the amazing new person in your life.

That might be the right person for you.

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Can’t find a date? You’re probably not looking hard enough. Stop being so picky, say yes a little more, and see what’s out there. It’s just a date.

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As you get older, looking for a date becomes more and more challenging.

Once you get done with school, you’re left with your co-workers (usually a bad idea) or hitting up the bar (those beer goggles could lead you astray).

People are actually meeting their S.O.s with the help of friends and family, though. And, really, there are a surprising number of places to find someone to date — even if you think there’s a serious drought in your hometown.

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We’ll get to the bottom of what it takes to get a date, no matter where you are. Let’s start scouting out those options.

Concepts

  • Are setups really that bad?
  • Some of the places to try when looking for a date.
  • Pros and cons of different places to find dates.
  • Could online dating be the solution to your dating problems?
  • Why you consider saying yes more.
  • Do you know why you’re looking for a date?
  • How to figure out whether or not someone would make a good date.
  • Does it matter if you really hit it off, as long as you are at least trying?
  • Ideas for dating when you want to stay single.
  • Why you can’t be TOO picky when looking for a date.
  • How to let your friends know you’re looking.

Use our “Do Nows” to shake things up in your dating life. Figure out how to try something different in your approach and maybe even take a second look at someone you rejected. We’ll even talk about what to do AFTER the date. Is that date worth a second try?

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Resources

How most people meet their S.O.s
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Long-distance relationships suck. Or do they? You might be surprised to find out how great they can be.

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Does distance really make the heart grow fonder?

Or does it just ruin things in the long run?

Interestingly, there is some evidence that long-distance relationships can work — and thrive. But that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Long-distance love has its own unique challenges. If you can overcome those challenges, your relationship might actually be healthier.

Concepts

  • What is a long distance relationship? Is it just about mileage, or is it also about time?
  • The impact of quality time spent vs. just being together.
  • Are you underestimating the importance of meeting your physical needs in the relationship?
  • How does distance impact your emotional connection and well-being?
  • Confronting the reality of jealousy in long-distance relationships.
  • Advantages of long-distance relationships.
  • How can you turn this long-distance love into a way for you to become a stronger person?
  • Tips for being happy in a long-distance relationship.
  • The idea that a long-distance relationship can be a way to commit without REALLY having to commit
  • How to establish ground rules in long-distance relationships.
  • Is being over-connected actually bad for your relationship?

This week’s “do-nows” offer some ideas for keeping the flame alive with your long-distance love. Figure out what matters to you in the relationship, and make choices based on what is likely to work best for you.

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Resources

Love and work on a timetable
Starting a long-distance relationship
New York MagazineCould long-distance relationships be healthy?
Long-distance relationships can work
TimeHow Skype is sabotaging your long distance relationship
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The dream of FWB is alive and well. But does this no-strings-attached thing really work? It can, but not without a few ground rules.

Is a “friends with benefits” arrangement really possible? Can you really pull it off? I kind of tried it earlier this year, and it went OK.

But here’s the thing: while we might dream of the friends with benefits situation, I’m not entirely sure how sustainable it is over time.

Bring sexual benefits into a friendship.

According to the latest Singles in America survey from Match.com, 46% of Americans have had a “friends with benefits” relationship. This represents something of a leveling off of a trend that had been on the rise. In 2012, the number jumped from 20% to 47%, and since then, it’s been relatively stable.

It can be fun to bring these types of benefits into a friendship, especially if you’ve been experiencing something of a drought, but haven’t found someone you want to commit to. Looking for “the one” is time-consuming and sometimes difficult. A friend with benefits can be one way to meet your physical desires without a long-term commitment or the rigors of a full-on romantic relationship.

In some cases, you might discover that you and your friend plus plus are actually turning into soulmates. That can be an interesting and beneficial development that can lead to a long-term romantic or life partnership.

Of course, there are downsides to the friends with benefits model. First of all, there is the chance that one of you will decide that they want to be more than friends with a side dish of sex. The other person might not return those feelings and that can be very painful for everyone involved.

It can even ruin the friendship. It’s unfortunate because most of us don’t decide to become friends with benefits intending for the friendship to end.

Does a friends-with-benefits arrangement ever end well?

I’m still friends with every ex I’ve ever had, including the guy that asked me for a divorce. I think that’s a pretty good track record. We were able to move from romantically involved to being friends.

Does that translate well in a friends with benefits situation?

I guess it depends on who you are, and who your friend is, and the way you interact with each other. But eventually, that relationship is likely to end. At least the benefits part. Here are some of the reasons that the benefits might disappear:

  • One of you finds someone else: At some point, one of you might end up finding a romantic partner. Unless you are all about the open relationship (and your new partner agrees), it might be time to cut the benefits out of your friends with benefits relationships.
  • The sex just sort of peters out: You might also reach the point where the sex peters out. Maybe you just don’t do the benefits thing that much because the friend things become uppermost.
  • One of you starts to do develop romantic feelings: One of the realities of sex is that it can lead to a deeper connection and feelings of love. Even though different parts of the brain are involved with sexual desire and love, there is overlap, according to a study from Concordia University. Once that happens, you might want to stop the benefits if you aren’t interested in leveling up your relationship.

This last possibility is very interesting, mainly because of the way habits form in the brain. Science Daily wrote an article about the Concordia study, quoting one of the authors, James G. Pfaus:

Love and sexual desire activate different areas of the striatum. The area activated by sexual desire is usually activated by things that are inherently pleasurable, such as sex or food. The area activated by love is involved in the process of conditioning by which things paired with reward or pleasure are given inherent value. That is, as feelings of sexual desire develop into love, they are processed in a different place in the striatum.

Somewhat surprisingly, this area of the striatum is also the part of the brain that associated with drug addiction. Pfaus explains there is good reason for this. “Love is actually a habit that is formed from sexual desire as desire is rewarded. It works the same way in the brain as when people become addicted to drugs.”

What you think of as casual sex over time can become something else if done enough. This is why friends with benefits can end up being more complicated than a couple of hook-ups or a one-night stand.

Can you maintain your friendship?

Ultimately, if maintaining the friendship is important to both of you, it will work out in the end. But it might require a little extra effort on your part.

Even though I don’t often fall into gender stereotypes, I might in a friends-with-benefits situation. According to an article on Psychology Today, women are more likely to focus on the friendship part while men are more focused on the benefits part. This is probably part of why I don’t have much of a problem moving forward. To me, the connection between us is important and vital, and that friendship matters more than anything else we might have done (or contemplated doing).

Hey, I’m not a man, so I’d love to hear a male perspective on this. Leave a comment or join the conversation in our #Adulting community on Facebook.)

At any rate, I did have someone I’ve known for a long time tell me, after our hook-up experience, that our friendship is strong enough to deal with this. And we’ve actually been in touch more often via personal messages since the *ahem* incident. Of course, it probably helps that he lives on a different continent.

Proximity probably has a lot to do with maintaining a friendship after a friends with benefits. In fact, before you embark on this type of adventure, it makes sense to carefully consider how often you will see your buddy, and how close you live to each other. Seeing each other all the time after the benefits fizzle out probably doesn’t help the cause.

Follow these rules in your FWB situation.

Setting some ground rules can help you be better friends with benefits. And by “better,” I mean getting through it without losing your friend when you lose the benefits. Here are some ideas for ground rules to follow:

  1. Communicate like adults: Seriously. Talk about your goals for this relationship. Be open about what you like and what you don’t. Ima repeat that. Be open. This only works if you’re both honest. And if you feel yourself developing romantic feelings, mention it ASAP. Say you want to pull back to avoid hurting the friendship and see if your sex buddy agrees. If s/he doesn’t, that’s still a sign that you need to change things up.
  2. Don’t act like a couple: Don’t see each other Every. Single. Day. Don’t act like a couple. Remind yourself that you’re not dating. Unless you want to become a “real” couple, you need to make sure you’re not acting like it. This includes bringing your sex buddy around to family and friend events that s/he normally wouldn’t be at.
  3. Remember that you’re non-exclusive: You can’t get upset when your buddy goes out with someone else. The whole point is that you’re non-exclusive. If someone starts getting jealous, it’s probably time to ax the benefits and see if you can salvage the friendship. And, it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: PROTECTION. Make sure you’re properly protected because who knows what else is going on there with your sex buddy.
  4. Keep it off social media: For reals. It’s a Very Bad Idea to share things about your friends with benefits relationship on social media. Going through a breakup on social media is hard enough. Leave the “it’s complicated” status update and other info off. You and your sex buddy should be careful about who knows what’s going on.
  5. Don’t worry about sleeping over: One of the great things about FWB is that you don’t have to sleep over. Or cuddle. Or do any of those things that build emotional intimacy beyond sex. Establish ground rules and don’t expect anything that goes past that. Be careful, though, that you don’t get too attached to the situation. Otherwise, you might be really devastated when it’s over.

The whole point of FWB is to satisfy something that’s missing without making things overly complicated. It’s a fine line to walk, and not everyone can.

Have you been successful with FWB? What worked for you?

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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.

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