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. Read More...

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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.


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.


  • 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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How most people meet their S.O.s
Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart

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Dating can be exhausting, especially if you aren’t ready. Don’t jump back into the pool out of desperation. Read More...

“You’ll find someone else.”

How many times have you heard that when a relationship comes to an end?

All sorts of well-meaning people expressed the conviction that I could easily find someone to replace my ex-husband after he asked for the divorce.

I didn’t feel like I was ready to date, though. It took several months for me to feel ready to accept an invitation to go out or to sign up for a dating website.

Dating’s not that easy.

Figuring out if you’re ready to date isn’t as easy as your mom wants you to believe. (“Can’t you just find a nice man?”)

Sometimes letting your friends set you up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Plus, what happens when you’ve been out of the game for a while? The hardest thing for me was trying to decide if I was ready brave the world of online dating. Internet dating was barely a thing when I got married.

Even if you don’t go the online route and decide to stick to IRL dating options, you can easily feel overwhelmed, depending on how long you’ve been out of the dating pool. Flirting, pickup lines, deciding who pays – all of these things change over time.

Before you can feel ready to date, you need to get the lay of the land.

Are you ready to be you?

Over the last year, I’ve learned the value of owning my shit. Getting to know the single me was a big part of getting ready to date again. If you aren’t sure who you are, you might not be ready to start dating again.

I’m much more straightforward now than I was when I was younger. As a 20-something trying to find someone to marry, there were times I didn’t fully express myself. After all, I lived in a culture that didn’t particularly value female outspokenness or independence.

Today, even though I know my opinions and lifestyle disqualify me from being “dateable” to a large portion of the single population where I live, I make it a point to be me. It’s exhausting to try to meet others’ expectations of what I “should” be just to get a date.

It’s easier to just be me and not fuss too much if someone doesn’t like who that is.

The nice thing about knowing who are and being comfortable with you is that you don’t feel like you have to always be going on dates. If you love yourself, and you’re comfortable alone, you don’t need to date out of desperation. You can date when you’re ready – and you can say no to those that don’t interest you.

Why do you want to date?

Part of knowing you’re ready to date is understanding the reasons behind your desire to get out there.

When first decided I was ready to date, it was because I thought it would be good to meet interesting people and build new connections. It took me a while to decide I wanted to dip my toe in those waters, but once I felt ready, I went in with purpose.

My interest in dating right now has nothing to do with finding a life partner. And, because I own most of my shit now, I’m upfront about that. I know exactly why I date:

  • Get to know new people
  • Build connections
  • Enjoy new experiences

I’m not even opposed to the idea of building a relationship with someone I meet through dating. However, I’m not interested in a long-term relationship right now. That could change, and perhaps someone I meet will prompt that change.

Before you get ready to date, you need to know your goals.

It’s ok if you are dating in the hopes of finding someone to share your life with. In fact, that’s why most people decide to start dating. They hope to find a soulmate. Or at least someone to share part of the journey with.

If you have kids, you need to know whether or not you hope to find someone willing to help you raise them. I have a relatively independent 14-year-old, and my ex and I coparent well. I don’t really feel the need to bring someone else into the mix to help with kid things.

We all have our own reasons for dating, and you need to know your own objectives before you get started.

Are you emotionally ready to date?

Even if you know your goals, think you’re ready for the “rules,” and you know yourself, you need to make sure you are ready, emotionally, to get back into the dating pool.

Dating can take an emotional toll on you. Even if you aren’t looking for something serious, you are still investing time and energy into someone. It might only be for an evening, or through a series of texts, but it’s still emotional energy expended. And, if you get close enough to go on more dates and get to know each other better, the emotional energy needed increases.

You have to be ready for the emotional aspects of dating. Gauge your own emotional readiness before you begin.

Are you able to come in without dragging all of your baggage? We all have baggage. But is yours under control? Are you able to separate what happened in the past from the possibilities of the present and the future?

After I went on a couple of dates initially, I realized I wasn’t really ready after all. I felt too busy and not ready to make the time. I dialed back my efforts and took a little more time to get right with myself and my schedule.

If you get out there and realize that maybe the time isn’t right after all, there’s nothing wrong with deactivating your dating account and telling your friends you don’t want to be set up.

There’s no one way to figure out if you’re ready to date again. The best you can do is figure out where you stand, what you want out of the situation, and make sure you’re ready to give it your best shot.

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Long-distance relationships suck. Or do they? You might be surprised to find out how great they can be. Read More...

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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.


  • 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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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
Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart

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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. Read More...

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, 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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It’s the end of an era. Now you have to decide how to respond on social media. Read More...

Breaking up used to be so much simpler.

While the heartbreak never changes, the fallout of a nasty separation didn’t used to be so toxic. When relationships fell apart, it was entirely possible to move on without frequent reminders of what you once had.

Those days are loooooooooooong gone.

With the relatively recent rise of social media as a primary form of communication, the private has become public. Breakups are now events witnessed by everyone in your news feed, and any semblance of a dignified separation can be shattered by a single insensitive comment on Instagram.

So how can you move on without embarrassing yourself or your ex on the internet? How do you navigate the waters of breakup etiquette in this new digital landscape?

Avoid vaguebooking.

It’s tempting to spill your guts on social media after you’ve been dumped. Usually, that takes the form of an indirect, passive-aggressive message about loss, love, and life. But don’t think vagueness is fooling anyone. All your friends know who those Taylor Swift lyrics are referring to.

It will make you look desperate and pathetic if you publicize you broken heart all over the internet. Solution? Buy a journal and write in it every time you’re tempted to go public with those feelings.

Journal therapy can decrease anxiety, depression, and grief, so it can likely help you mend. Schedule a daily time to write down your thoughts, or keep a notebook around you when you’re tempted to write a melodramatic novel on Facebook.

Don’t delete your photos.

If you’ve spent enough time with someone, you likely have proof of your relationship all over Facebook. You may be tempted to remove all that evidence — especially if you’re angry about being dumped.

Don’t do that.

At some point, when you feel less bitter, you may want to look at those photos and even remember them fondly. No one stays a jilted lover forever, and you may be grateful for your past relationships when you see where they’ve led you.

Plus, deleting photos shows you’re not prepared to handle the breakup in a mature way. If you’ve tagged other people besides your ex in the photos, they may be bummed to find out their memories are gone too.

Abstain from social media altogether.

How to Handle Breakup on Social Media

Spending time on social media is not the answer any time you’re feeling emotional. Studies indicate that social media use can cause people to crave attention and seek it in unhealthy ways.

Try detaching from your phone and temporarily deleting your social apps. Seeing happy couples on Instagram might fuel jealousy. Finding out your ex has already moved on through Facebook is even worse.

You don’t have to give up your phone. You can use apps like Duolingo to brush up on your Spanish or Headspace to practice meditating. New habits will help you move on, and focusing on personal improvement can help you come out the other side a better person.

If you’re having trouble staying away, use extensions such as StayFocusd or Simple Blocker to limit how much time you can spend on social media. Other apps like BreakFree Cell Phone Addiction will send an alert when you’ve been on your phone too long.

Ignore your ex.

Everyone loves to Facebook and Instagram stalk, and there’s no better subject than a recent ex. When you start stalking, it can be impossible to stop. If your ex is active on social, you’ll likely find photos of them having fun, enjoying their new single status or, even worse, dating someone else.

I used to spend hours looking up ex-boyfriends on social after getting dumped. Trust me: I wish I could take back that time. I would have found out when they’d moved on anyway, and I could have been doing something healthy or productive instead.

Looking up your ex on social is an exercise in masochism. It won’t help you move on.

Looking up your ex on social is an exercise in masochism. It won't help you move on.Click To Tweet

Delete personal comments off your page.

Everyone has a nosy aunt who loves to comment on any and every event in their life. It may not even occur to her that when she posts, “Sorry to hear you and Adam broke up!” everyone — including Adam — can see it.

If you see comments like that, delete them and message that individual privately. They may not realize what they’re doing and assume it’s like sending you a personal email. Be polite, but firmly explain why it’s not appropriate to make those statements on a public forum.

We’re all trying to navigate the new media landscape the best we can, but it can be hard for some people to discern what’s appropriate and what’s not. Setting clear boundaries for what you allow for discussion publicly makes it easier for everyone involved.

If you’ve broken up with someone recently, how did you deal with it on social media?

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The bad news about finding The One? Probably doesn’t exist. The good news about soulmates? You probably have more than you think. Read More...

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Are you hoping that finding “the one” will complete your life?

We’ve got bad news and good news about that. The bad news is that there probably isn’t a “perfect” partner for you. The good news is that you might be able to make it work with any number of your fellow humans.

Everything we are conditioned to believe about “true love” is likely wrong. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good partner for your life. It takes a bit of work, and you have to be willing to grow and change, but you can create a soulmate. At least that’s what science thinks.


  • Finding a soulmate vs. becoming soulmates.
  • “Made for each other” can actually kill your relationship.
  • How to work with a potential partner to improve your relationship over time.
  • Can you really rely on one person to furnish ALL of your emotional needs?
  • A look at research that indicates that polygamy might be part of our DNA, like monogamy is.
  • Is polyamory a real thing?
  • Could arranged marriages be better than finding the one?
  • The importance of self-reflection before you go out and try to find the one.
  • The importance of honesty and authenticity when looking for a partner. Be yourself.

Listen for our “do-nows” for specific actions you can take to approach your next relationship. We’ll also answer a listener question about finding the one who makes everything easy.

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Psychology TodaySoulmates may not look like you expect
LiveScienceAre humans naturally polygamous?
Academia“Made for each other” could ruin your relationship
Daily MailAn arranged marriage might work better
Hosted byHarlan Landes and Miranda Marquit
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart

Like what you’ve heard?

Join other #adults who receive free weekly updates.

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Even though I received my share of horrifying messages, overall I enjoyed my experience on OK Cupid. Check it out to see if it might work for you. Read More...

Early this year, I decided it was time for me to dip my toe into the world of dating. My divorce had been final for a few months, and I figured it was time to meet new and interesting people — even though I’m 90% certain at this point that marriage isn’t in the cards for me again.

After some thought, and after asking a few friends, I decided to start with OK Cupid. (Never fear. Over the next few months, I’ll try other dating sites and write about them, too.) I actually really enjoyed my OKC experience, even though there were some weird moments.

Belle of the ball.

This was my first whack at online dating. Online dating barely existed when I got married, and we met the old fashioned way: at college. One of the very first things I learned is that if you want to feel like the belle of the ball, sign up for an online dating site as a woman. Almost immediately, I got a flood of messages. It was pretty easy to weed many of them out, though.

A message I actually received
A message I actually received!

I ignored messages that started with some variation of, “Hi beautiful” and discovered that if I checked my account just before bed, late at night, things sometimes got really weird.

But I also found that there are men willing to take a few minutes to actually get a feel for who you are before they message you, if you’re careful about your profile. I was true to myself in my profile, and even though I got my share of degrading and awful messages, I also discovered that there are plenty of men strong enough to deal with an opinionated, independent woman.

My very real OK Cupid profile 1/2
My very real OK Cupid profile 1/2
My very real OK Cupid profile 2/2
My very real OK Cupid profile 2/2

(Fun fact: I actually did attend space camp.)

In the end, I went out on dates with two people I met on OKC, and had extensive text and phone conversations with two others. Also, in a fun twist, a good friend of mine was on the site and he messaged me just for shits and giggles. It was also weird to see a couple people I actually know, but don’t really know on there. Just passed them by because awkward.

It’s any experience you want.

The thing I liked most about my OK Cupid experience is the fact that I could choose how to proceed. The site allows for different gender and sexual expressions. You can also be clear about what type of experience you are looking for, from nothing but sex to monogamous marriage and everything in between. In fact, the most interesting person I met on OKC was in an open relationship. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about his experience over drinks and appetizers.

OK Cupid also has a questions feature that allows you to answer questions, and then indicate which answers you’d accept from a potential match, plus how important that answer is to you.

How would you answer this question?
How would you answer this question?

The idea is that you end up with better matches the more questions you answer. Most of the people who contacted me with thoughtful messages, and those I ended up devoting actual time to, were pretty well matched. I think a combination of using the profile, plus the questions I answered dealing with religion, politics, personal habits, sex, and family, helped narrow things down. I am a political and ideological minority in my area, so I think OK Cupid did a pretty good job of narrowing it down.

Here's a match who's also partly my enemy.
Here’s a match who’s also partly my enemy.
He's a good match for me.
He’s a good match for me.

I also like how OKC makes it a point to let you know if there are things you really don’t agree on, with the enemy rating. There are a number of other features as well, such as a swiping feature, similar to Tinder, that allows you to quickly make decisions about people in a gallery at the top of the page.

I like some of the other features as well. You can choose to go “incognito” so that others can’t see your profile unless you either like or message them. Turning on this mode dramatically reduced the number of messages I received, which was nice, and it also reduced the number of horrifying, misogynistic, and sexually aggressive messages I received.

A newer feature is one that allows you to gauge the chances that someone will respond to your message. This seems like a cool feature that can provide you with insight into whether or not sending a message is worth your while. After all, you don’t want to wind up wasting your time.

What are the chances the match will respond?
What are the chances the match will respond?

It’s also possible to pay to boost your profile, allowing you to get in front of more people, if that’s your thing. OKC will also tell you when it’s “rush hour” so you can hop on and see a flurry of activity. If you really want to stay on top of everything, download the app. It can get addicting, though, and I didn’t want it to take over my life, so I promptly deleted the app once I downloaded it. But it was easy to use for the short period of time I did use it.

For the most part, OK Cupid seems to make dating fun. You can sign up to have indications of new matches, new messages, and even see when people are checking you out — right now! It depends on which plan you sign up for, and how much you are willing to pay to find true love (or have a little fun). I was appalled at some of the messages I received, but overall the experience was positive.

How much will OK Cupid cost me?

Like many dating sites, OKC is free initially, but if you want access to certain features, you end up needing to pay. Also, there are features, like “Boost,” that are done on a per-charge basis. For a couple bucks, you’ll be shown to more people in a short period of time.

When you pay for A-List Basic, you can see who likes you, read message receipts, and browse profiles invisibly. Paying can also get rid of the ads and allow you to change your username without any trouble. Plus, you can store more messages (if that sort of thing matters to you). If you are willing to pay even MORE, you can get A-List Premium and get an automatic daily boost and see all public answers to questions before you make your own answers. There’s also message priority, which moves you to the top of your potential matches’ inboxes.

You save more by committing to three or six-month packages. I chose a package that gave me a lower price, and paid a little less than $50 for six months of being on the A-List. (And now, since I’m writing about it, it’s a tax deduction!) The price quoted to me is different now: $19.95 per month or $9.95 per month for six months. To upgrade to Premium, it starts at $34.90 per month, or you can save by getting the six-month package for $24.90 per month. You can set it up through PayPal, which makes things easy and convenient.

With OK Cupid, you pay for everything at once. It’s easy to cancel, but you end up getting the rest of the months on your package if you don’t catch it before renewal. So I get to be A-List for a couple more months, even though I don’t really care at this point.

Overall, OKC was a decent value for what I paid. However, I’m not sure I’d pay for more than six months, although it depends on what your goals are. I’ll probably keep the profile but have it downgraded to the free version.

Have you tried OKC? What did you think?

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Just because you’re thirsty, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to jump into dating at the end of a long-term relationship. Read More...

A week after my now-ex-husband asked for a divorce, a man approached me on a platform in Philly just as a train arrived. “I noticed your eyes,” he said. “Do you mind if I sit with you on the train?”

The train doors opened. I smiled and shrugged. He sat down next to me. We enjoyed a pleasant conversation. He asked for my number, and if he could see me again. A voice in my mind urged me onward, “He’s cute! He thinks you’re attractive! Say yes and show [redacted] that you have plenty of other options too!

I realized that I wanted to say yes because I wanted to get back at someone — and that’s a surefire way to crash and burn. Instead, I took a deep breath, briefly explained that my husband had asked for a divorce only days before and that I didn’t think I was in a good place.

He pulled out a piece of scrap paper and a pen, scribbled his number, and handed it to me as he slipped out the door. “He’s an idiot. If you change your mind, give me a call.”

Still, I knew I wasn’t ready to get back out there. After I thought about it a little, I decided it was a good idea to swear off dating at the end of a long relationship.

1. You’re not the same.

Any relationship changes you. But a long relationship? It transforms you into a different person over time. You might be fundamentally the same at the core, but you are still different. By the time my ex asked for a divorce, 13½ years after we said “yes” to our covenants at age 22, I was almost a completely different person.

Time changes you. Experiences change you. Having children changes you. Being with someone for more than a decade changes you. Hell, just being with someone for a year changes you. You aren’t the same person anymore, and you need to rediscover the new you before you start dating again.

Charging into dating or starting a new relationship before you’ve gotten to know the new you is dangerous. Swear off dating until you have a chance to figure out who the new you is. I’ve always enjoyed alone time, but I took it to a new level in the months following my divorce. I wanted to know who I was — and if I even liked her.

2. You need time to grieve.

Divorce is one of those things that involves the stages of grief. Even if you weren’t married, and even if your relationship was two or three years instead of more than 10, you might still need to allow yourself space to grieve. You don’t get that if you launch into dating and a new relationship immediately.

For the most part, I’m over the divorce. I’m healthy. I’m happy. I enjoy being single. (Maybe I enjoy being single too much.) But there are still days that I feel sad about what could have, should have, might have been. But at the beginning, there was a lot of sadness, loneliness, and anger. I was in no state to be a good partner in a relationship, and certainly not ready to explore dating.

It made sense to swear off dating while I grappled with my new feelings, allowed them to hold sway, and then heal (mostly) up. I will never be the same. I will never approach another relationship the same way. But allowing myself that space means that I am more likely to be open and honest when the time comes.

In fact, getting through those emotions, and allowing that space without the pressures, obligations, and distractions of dating and potential new relationships allowed me to be more honest with those around me.

3. You need to figure out what you want.

Swear Off Dating After a Long-Term Relationship Ends

Because you are a different person, you want different things. After the end of a long-term relationship, you might have a better idea of what makes you tick. Or you might not have any idea at all.

I know I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Did I want to get married again? Maybe just date around for a little while? The things I admire in a partner are different from the things I admired in a partner a few years ago.

Take time to reflect on what you liked and didn’t like about your long-term relationship. What would you do differently? What could you have done better? And what traits matter most to you in a partner? What traits do you want to develop so you are a better partner?

I decided to swear off dating until I had a better handle on things. It took several months. Then I dipped a toe in by using an online dating service. But once I broke my wrist, then left for the summer, that whole thing fizzled. But I made some amazing connections over the summer, met interesting people, and learned a few things about myself.

Now I’m trying to decide whether I want to bother with dating and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to move in with anyone ever again. But who knows? That could all change.

It’s not just about you and a partner, either. It’s also about what you want your life to look like going forward. I’ve got a son I need to usher through high school and a newfound freedom that I love. Do I want to change things up with by tossing someone else in the mix? Plus, if you don’t know what you want out of life, how do you know if that person you are dating actually fits into the picture?

Figuring out what you want is an ongoing process, and time changes you, even when you’re not in a relationship. But before you start dating again, it’s a good idea to at least think about a few things, and generally establish an outline of where you stand.

You don’t want your dating experiences or next relationship to suffer because you haven’t taken the time to get reacquainted with yourself or figure out what you want from life. Swear off dating, even if it’s only for a month or two, to give yourself time.

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

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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