This has been a great year for BlogHer Love & Sex!
Our wonderful BlogHers provided amazing relationship advice, shared cautionary tales, and bravely opened up their souls to readers. I've enjoyed "meeting" you, reading your work, and sharing it with the world. I decided to pull from some of our favorite posts of 2013, and help readers get things started off right.
As we reset our calendars, it’s time to think about focusing on what we can do better in our relationships and sex lives this year--and what we should probably leave behind.
Image: r0bz Cordioli via Flickr
Embrace Being Single
Image: house number forty-four via Shutterstuck
Grace Wynter says it is perfectly fine to be single.
While I believe that as humans, we all need human connections, I don’t think that everyone should be in a committed relationship. Some people just aren’t emotionally equipped for it. Others have no desire for such a relationship. To each his own. I, myself, am not against committed, monogamous relationships. Quite the opposite, in fact. I think that marriage is a wonderful institution. The idea of building a life with someone and loving them (and being loved) unconditionally is heart-warming and comforting. Who knows, I may even get married one day. However, I refuse to believe that my life is any less rich and eventful than anyone else because I’m on life’s journey by myself. I will continue to explore the world, to learn new hobbies, to develop new skills, to surround myself with things that make me happy and to love those in my life to the fullest.
Don’t Let Friendships Interfere With Your Relationships
Stephanie Marie cautioned against crossing boundaries with your friends and advised you keep things between you and your partner.
Image: Emily Rachel Hildebrand via Flickr
Your partner should be the only person that you share secrets with. Relationships require full transparency and if you're not willing to give that, you probably shouldn't be in a committed relationship. We should view our relationship as an investment, and taking a wholehearted approach to protect yours will be one of the best things you can ever do. If you have someone willing to go above and beyond for you, consider yourself blessed!
Dr. Tina Tessina tells us to avoid dysfunction in our relationships.
Image: Mae Smith via Flickr
Through focusing on solving issues and problems together, through honest and open communication, you can learn to achieve a balance. That is, you can work together to make sure both of you get your needs and wants met, and you can both care equally about your mutual satisfaction, health and happiness. Any other definition of love tends to degenerate into dysfunction and codependency, and will become toxic to you and your lover. Finding out if solutions are mutually satisfactory is easy-- you ask each other how it feels and whether it’s working. Beginning your relationship with this idea in mind, or renewing an existing relationship on this basis, is much easier and more pleasant than you may believe.
You Love Who You Love
Nora P was tired of having to explain why she was dating a woman.
Image: Dominic Alves via Flickr
As a woman who came out as bisexual (and that is still being debated since I don't think the label fits me well) pretty late in life, I hate having to answer people's questions about my sexuality and how and when this "happened." Sometimes I don't even have answers to some questions, like "Did I always know?" or "Was I just a lesbian in the closet all this time?". I have no idea.
You Can Work It Out
Katie knows it is possible to work through the rough times, and offered some words of encouragement.
Image: Katie Brown via Marriage Confessions
In order to get out of a rough patch, you have to speak to each other. Without fighting. And you have to agree. Without holding resentment. And, in my experience, being in a rough patch by definition means I don’t really want to get along with my husband, much less AGREE with him on anything. So, the working through it part is often much harder than the going through it part.
Bring Your Own Condoms and Have Fun
Mistress Raven does NOT want you to get caught out there! She insists you should always be prepared for any situation.
Image: Hey Paul Studios via Flickr
Let's get real. As much time as is put into the pre-dating grooming ought to go into perfecting the now-that-we-are-done-with-the-date-let's-get-it-on dialogue. Look at it as an elevator pitch but for your life, your health, your sexual happiness. Condense what you need to say in 3 minutes or less. Be direct. Be honest. Be light. Get answers, make your decision as to whether to go the distance, and be sure to have at least twenty condoms with you, on your person. Also a tube of lube.
Who Needs Another Food Processor?
Sarah Eyre thinks we need to think just a bit more outside of the wedding "box."
Image: kudumomo via Flickr
My favorite gifts all center around two basic ideas: experiences and sentiments. The experience gifts are all things that couples can enjoy together. They've just gotten married- spending time together is key, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy, especially in today’s world. There are also the sentimental gifts, of course. These can be a little trickier, but when done right, they’re perfection. Thinking outside the box with your gifts can be a little scary, but it’s definitely worthwhile. You'll feel great gifting the happy couple with a present that genuinely reflects how you feel about them- and your hopes for their shared future!
Divorce lawyer, Jennifer Brandt, wants you to have as smooth as divorce as possible. She offered some great advice, including this tidbit:
Image: Mark via Flickr
Consult with, and hire an attorney. Advise that your spouse hire an attorney as well. Ask friends and family for recommendations or research attorneys in your area online. Make sure that you are comfortable with your attorney and can openly communicate with her or him. While cost is a factor, it should not be the sole basis in making your determination as to the attorney you ultimately hire.
Challenge "Tradition"-- Others Are
Renée J. Ross says the living together before marriage could help your relationship. Hey, you're not the only one considering it!
Image: Tela Chhe via Flickr
Is living together before marriage, or not marrying at all, the ideal situation? I think it depends on the couple and reasons for cohabitation. Some people are not interested in marriage at all but can live together in a committed relationship for a lifetime. Other people are firmly rooted in not living together, for reasons varying from religious ideals to personal morals. The decision to co-habitate is a personal decision -- one that increasing numbers of women are making today.
No One Knows You Better Than You Do
Liz Henry say you need to focus more on turning yourself on, instead of waiting for someone else.
Touching yourself is a great way to get turned on. If I had to pick a favorite time to get to know myself, I would pick the morning because that's when I’m usually alone. If the only door in your house that has a lock is the bathroom, start there. You can take five minutes (it often doesn't even take that long) before you get into the bath or consider having a removable shower head installed. Hand-held shower heads are a girl’s best friend.