Planting The Flag

pink toothbrush

It’s like any other morning that she has stayed over.  We have been doing this for a little over a month and a half.  “Dating,” or “seeing one another” I guess you would call it.  We have not made anything “official,” haven’t had “the talk.”  It’s pretty nice actually.  No labels.  No drama.  No fuss.  We simply spend time together and enjoy each other’s company.  If only it were always this easy.

On any given morning we wake up, roll around under the sheets, push it until the last possible moment, phone alarms blaring, then spring out of bed… her to her car so she can get home and get ready for work, and me to the coffee machine in my place so I can begin my day as well.  I give her a gentle hug and a kiss, she smiles, tells me to have a nice day, and she heads out the door.

If only it were always this easy.

I check e-mails as the coffee is brewing, take some vitamins, down a protein shake.  A little Facebook.  Online news.  Twitter.  The usual morning routine.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  I head to the bathroom, and as I round the corner, I see it, plain as day.

Why does it have to be this hard???

Hanging smugly, almost triumphantly over my sink, is her toothbrush.

It stares at me.  Challenges me.  Stuns me.

She has planted the first flag.  The invasion has begun.  Shit has gotten real… real fast.

I do what any man in my situation would do.  I FUCKING PANIC.  Not because I don’t see myself with her.  Not because I don’t want to be with her.  But because this toothbrush brings us to an entirely new level.  A level to which I had not yet agreed.  The toothbrush itself is inherently symbolic of the very thing that has allowed our time together to be uncomplicated… the toothbrush is in and of itself, a label… a statement of  her intentions.

In my mind, I am confident it won’t be long before I am surrounded by candles and oils and scents I don’t understand, colors I cannot pronounce, and plants I did not know existed.  I will lose all privileges in deciding housing appearance (“decorating”), I will have more “show” towels (you know, the kind that look good, but can’t soak up a single droplet of water?!) than I know what to do with, I will have more throw rugs and more pillows than any human being could ever need.  And when I only have 1/16th of the closet space I once had, I will look around, accept my defeat, and think back to the day, not so long ago, that the toothbrush was firmly planted on the side of my sink.

This toothbrush, that I stare back at now, signals the beginning of the invasion.

“Come on, man.  She accidentally forgot the toothbrush.  Calm down,”  you might say?!  Oh… really.  When, in the history of time, I ask you, has a woman ever done something “accidentally?”  We need to give women more credit than that.  They are creatures of great ability, with impeccable planning skills, and powers of persuasion (sometimes manipulation) that no man can resist.  Even when a woman tells you she doesn’t know why she did something, in the end there is always some kind of purpose behind it.  Even the accidents are on purpose!  And how can we, as men, defend against it?  Well, if we really truly like the woman and have developed feelings for her, the answer is… we cannot.

And that’s the point.  She didn’t leave her toothbrush behind on day one, or week one, or even month one.  That would be a true accident.  She has brushed her teeth every single night she has stayed at my place over the past month and a half , and without fail has taken the toothbrush with her every time she has left.

But now, here it sits.  And why?

Because I caught the most dangerous STD known to man… I caught feelings for her.  I like her.  I like being with her.  I want to keep spending time with her.  And she can sense it.  She knows.  And she also knows I am male… so she knows I have a deep seated, intrinsic, carnal fear of commitment.  So she knows I will shy away from commitment any chance I get.

And with this knowledge, she plants her flag, not only announcing the impending invasion, but even more importantly, announcing our connection.  It is an unspoken gesture.  She has gambled, and she has gambled correctly, that I won’t say a word about the toothbrush.  After all, that would lead to an actual discussion of “what this is,” a Q&A with questions like “what are we doing,” and  “are we girlfriend and boyfriend?”

And yet, in not saying a word about the toothbrush, I silently submit to a connection beyond just hooking up, dating, and/or booty calls.

This is my dilemma.  I either quietly accept the toothbrush and silently admit that this is in fact becoming something more serious between us, or I confront the situation head on, mention the toothbrush, and get into the ever-dreaded conversation about the state of affairs and labels.

I, as most men would, choose the quiet route.  Why?  It is a way to let her know that I accept things are moving forward, but allows me the “out” in the future to still be able to say “we never talked about this… we never decided on a  label.”

It’s a guys silent relationship parachute.  At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.  That’s how we can sleep at night and not be in constant fear of the commitment we just entered into.  Is it a delusion?  Yes, most definitely.  Because, let’s be honest, if shit does hit the fan and things go sideways, the “we never put a label on this” defense isn’t going to cut it anyway.  Actions will always trump words.  And inaction (failing to confront the toothbrush head one) ultimately serves as an action (conceding to an agreement that the relationship is more than just casual).

But I digress.  The fact of the matter is, I like her.  She is very high quality, we get along great, and I want to spend more time with her.  But, I cannot articulate that to her as simply as I just wrote it in the previous line.  Absolutely not!  Why?  Because I am a commitment-phobe, like the majority of the male population.

So, as the toothbrush continues to sit defiantly on the edge of my sink, I think to myself, “why does it have to be this hard?”  And in the midst of my panic, I find a glimmer of happiness, and I start grinning.

Why?

Because this toothbrush, this flag of defiance, this signal of the ensuing invasion, means she is into me just as much as I am her.

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Manscaping

Fellas, in this day and age, manscaping is a must.  In the same way you likely don’t like your woman to rock 70s style body hair (although there are some dudes out there into questionable stuff these days), your woman likely doesn’t want you to be Tarzan, King of the Jungle (in your pants).  In the same way you shave your face or trim your beard/mustache, it is en vogue to do the same with your chest, back, happy trail, and nether region.

Now, just how much manscaping is necessary is open for debate.  From trimming to total removal and everywhere in between, men are faced with the dilemma of just how much is right.  In a lot of ways, it comes back to personal style, and feedback from the ladies. But in my experience, I have yet to meet a woman who is completely stoked on the idea of a twig and berries combo that is completely bald.  The nuclear option,  or scorched earth as it is also known, is a dangerous policy for manscaping.  Men are men.  They come with hair.  A pretty good amount of it, actually.  And pretty much everywhere.  It can either be a hinderance, or you can accept it and play into it and take your manly refinement up a notch by managing the hair you’ve got.  There are lots of man specific grooming devices out there, made specifically to meet the needs of any man looking to trade in his Chewbacca status.

My suggestion is, however you decide to manscape, make sure the length of your body hair does not exceed anything that you think would end up in her having to stop, reach into her mouth, and fish out that rogue hair (if you get what I am driving at?!)

And lastly, if for no other reason, a well manscaped member is good for the illusion of at least one extra inch.  Fact.  So, bring your game up a notch, if not for yourself, for the lady that has to deal with your unkempt self!

Condoms Are Emotional Barriers

Condoms are GREAT! They serve as a physical barrier to potential exposure and contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as a physical dam that would prevent any of your fearless swimmers from setting forth on their journey in hopes ultimately diving headlong into the egg.  At the same time, I also humbly suggest that condoms serve as an emotional barrier.  After all, taking that big step with your significant other and deciding not to use condoms represents a very high level of trust.  And trust is inherently bred from an extremely strong emotional connection to your partner.

So, every time a buddy of mine tells me he had a one night stand and decided not to use a condom, my mind is blown.  Seriously?!  You just met this chick, don’t know her from Eve, and you are gonna throw it in there raw dog?!  I understand how my buddy got there (ending up bare back with a woman they barely know) in so far as for guys there is a massive difference in feel between condom or not.  When I ask a dude why he had adownloadcondom-less one-nighter, generally the response is,  “It just feels so good without a condom, bro.”  Yeah, I know it does.  But you know what else feels so good?  Living STD free without a bunch of unplanned little kids running around calling you daddy.

I really don’t trust any woman who comes home with me on night one (I see the irony, and potential hypocrisy in that statement).  But seriously… if a woman comes home with me on night one, you can safely assume it isn’t her first time doing this sort of thing (despite her protesting, “I never do this kind of thing”.  Um, yeah, sure you don’t).  Furthermore, I really don’t trust a woman who comes home with me night one and says she wants to do the dirty without a condom (and yes, that has and does happen).  Yeah, that’s not for me.  And it shouldn’t be for my buddies.

Condoms provide peace of mind.  The only time that that peace of mind can exist sans condom is when you trust the woman you are with.  If I have sex with you without a condom, I am making a statement that says, I trust you with my sexual health and with my family planning.  After all, there is no pill for men, and that fancy form of contraception known as “pulling out” isn’t always fail proof.

This is all to say that I really see a connection between condoms and emotion.  Now, this isn’t to say that couples who continue to use condoms throughout their relationship do not have a strong emotional bond.  For them, it’s just the chosen form of contraception (especially if a woman doesn’t want to be on the pill).  But, this is to say, when a condom is taken out of the equation, a certain emotional barrier is removed along with the physical, and a statement of trust is issued.

For those of you who aren’t like my “horny health gambling let’s just go raw dog on night one with a completely random woman” buddies, do you feel there is an emotional component to the removal of condoms from the equation in your intimate relationships?

The Time-Traveling Sext-Selfie

Little tip from the pros:

Ladies (and dudes bold enough to send the ever-controversial dick pic), when sexting, don’t be lazy.

When sending a naughty pic, please be sure to send a sexy selfie that you took at either that exact moment in time, or send one taken within an acceptable range of time that you have been seeing/dating/sleeping with the recipient.  Let me explain. For those that don’t know, in this day and age, photos are geo tagged and time stamped. So, when the recipient syncs their phone, and the photos upload into iPhoto for example (which can be categorized by date), you best have it all lined up. After all, there’s nothing better than that, “Oooooooh, look at that topless selfie you sent me, taken…. 8 months ago (and we’ve only been seeing each other a month)… In a completely different city (likely Vegas)… Surely intended for some other dude you were banging at the time (most likely that son of a bitch ex-boyfriend you won’t shut up about).”

Nothing softens a dick faster than seeing a pic you realize some other dude enjoyed a lifetime ago.  So, again, either send current selfies to the dude you are currently with, or learn how to turn off the geo tagging and time stamping for your photos.

This goes for the fellas too… But honestly, does anyone truly want pictures of our junk?

Where’s Waldo And Other Fun Online Dating Games

Here are some dos and don’ts… Well, mostly don’ts for the photos you use on your online dating profile.

Ladies: Seven simple suggestions for pictures not to post on your online dating profile:

1) Where’s Waldo – If most or all of your photos are of you in a group of girls, it’s really not working for us dudes. It is very difficult for the (often lazy male) to have to go back and forth through the photos to see which one you are by eliminating the other women that aren’t in every single group shot. Yes, we get that you have friends. We are not interested in your friends, unless that’s what you are offering. But I am pretty sure a five-some would just be logistical nightmare.

2) Blurry – Why the blurry photos? What are you trying to hide? Guys are instantly put off when the leading photo, or any photo for that matter, on a dating profile is blurry. This speaks to so many things (and none of them good).

3) Pictures with an animal that’s not a dog – Lions and tigers and bears and llamas and cheetahs and… the list goes on. Okay, so you have access to exotic animals because you went on some trip to a third world country that puts you in a cage with the animal for photo purposes. Really doesn’t do it for me. Oh, and I say pictures other than with a dog because I can’t stand cats. Terrible little devilish animals.

4) Selfies – For the same reasons you ladies don’t like dudes posting selfies. It smacks of, “what do you do with all your free time? There are no photos of you doing anything other than standing in front of a mirror? And you don’t know anyone else that could take a picture of you? Hm.

5) Hiking – This might as well be the official single girl pastime. Rarely do I ever come across a woman on a dating site who doesn’t include at least one picture of herself hiking (which she also consequently lists as one of her passions or hobbies). Really? Hiking? I mean, it’s better than sitting around eating potato chips on the couch, but there are so many other things to be doing with your time. Is hiking really all that fun?! Is it really hiking you’re doing anyway? Or is it waking up at 10am, hungover on a Sunday, and trudging a few miles up an easy trail to a lookout point with your other single hungover girlfriends?

6) Pics with friends as hot, or hotter than you – If you can’t see the inherent dangers in this one, then let me explain. You are trying to attract potential suitors to you. Thus, it is disadvantageous to post photos of you juxtaposed with a woman or women of equal or greater physical attractiveness. If you post photos with the potential of distracting men from focusing their attention on you, then the likelihood is it will happen. Men are simple. Their thoughts will be something along the lines of, “wait… who is THAT? Does she have a profile on here?” (as he points to the woman next to you).

7) Pics of you with a child/children (that are not yours) – If you are a mom, then by all means, post photos with your children. It’s great to lay those cards on the table early so everyone knows the deal. Some men will date a woman with children. Some will not. It’s not a good idea to confuse the situation by withholding that info from the start. If, on the other hand you are not a mother, pics of you with your nieces and nephews are just plain confusing. Potential suitors will pass you by if they think the children are yours, and they don’t want to date a women with children from another relationship. In the end, I can’t help but think that women sometimes forget their audience on dating websites. You are posting pics to attract potential suitors. You are not posting pics for your female friends, your family, or your coworkers to enjoy. The focus should be on posting pics that attract men to you, and withholding pics that have the potential to confuse men. And trust me when I say, men are easily confused.

Gentlemen: Your goals are very simple. Do not post any pictures that make you look like: 1) a “douche bag,” (EVERY woman’s favorite term) 2) a “mama’s boy” (and dare I say “grandma’s boy”…. Yeah, you know who you are posting pics of you and Grams), 3) a “baby daddy” (if you AREN’T actually the father of the child), or 4) a “sugar daddy” (you in front of your BMW, or with bottles of Dom, wads of cash, or in front of some private jet that likely isn’t yours but you scored a once in a lifetime trip because of some rich family friend comes off as, for lack of a better term, tacky. No, you are not a baller. Sorry bro). The point is, if you think a shirtless picture of you next to grandma in her sweater, in front of a private jet, just getting out of a limo, and popping a bottle of Dom is what is necessary to attract a woman…. You clearly don’t back yourself. News flash…. In this day and age where women are self sufficient, career minded equals to men… They care less about your dollars and much more about whether you are going to treat them well. Crazy, I know, right?! A woman wants to be treated like a lady? She wants to be respected, and be with a man she sees as, well, a MAN?! Holy hell, this shit is groundbreaking, I know. One last thing. Under no circumstances, as a self respecting male, do you take a Selfie. Shirtless or otherwise, absolutely no selfies. Are there any other etiquette suggestions for the ladies and/or gentlemen that I may have overlooked?

Photo Sexting And Today’s Dating

We have established the usefulness of emojis and hashtags, but have yet to tackle the topic of photo sexting. Let’s be honest, likely one of the main reasons you even considered using emojis and hashtags in your sexts in the first place was to flirt and establish a rapport that would possibly grant you naughty pics containing full frontal nudity… or posterior nudity, or both (depending on what you’re in to, and depending on what she wants you to see). But, again, likely the reason you emasculated yourself with emojis and likely the reason spent time creating #funnycuteplayfulnaughtydirty hashtags in the first place was in the hopes of scoring the dirtiest of selfies.  Again, grown ass men using little yellow cartoons to express thoughts and feeling could only come out of some sort of end game. Am I right?

And as things have progressed, now it seems that sexting goes both ways.  Thus, the advent of the ever-controversial dick pic.  In today’s dating world of playground rules “you show me yours, and I will show you mine,” sometimes you have to give to receive, and sometimes you are expected to give upon receipt. Either way, you’d be lying to yourself as you read this that you’ve never sent a dick pic, or at the very least taken one (or hundreds… Lighting and angles are everything) to have as your stock go-to pic in times of need.  Whether or not you’ve sent one and whether or not you’ve even taken one, you’ve thought about it.

So where do you fit in to this discussion?  How experienced are you in the world of photo sexting?  I have a buddy of mine who does quite well with the ladies, and yet claims he has never been sent a nude photo.  This strikes me as odd.  Any other guys out there in this boat?  And ladies, I also know a number of women who have claimed never to have sent a dirty pic, and yet on the opposite end of the spectrum, I know a number of women who send dirty pics with alarming frequency.  Ladies and Gentlemen, where do you fall on the scale of innocent to naughty texting?  And if you do send them, what’s the criteria (who gets them, when, how naughty, face included or not, etc)?

Emojis In Technology Courtship

Trains, planes, automobiles, and an entire host of other inanimate objects, animals, and winky faces. Despite having real trouble figuring out where I might use some of the more obscure emojis, I use the living fuck out of certain select group, when speaking to a certain select audience (read this as, girls I want to bed/girls I am currently bedding /girls I want to bed again). The three below are my go-tos. Why? Because these little yellow facial expression enable and empower me to say whatever the fuck I want, no matter how suggestive, dirty, blunt, or just downright offensive it is… and to get away with it. It’s like a little yellow button that says “oh yeah, I said that… but I didn’t say that… but I really did say that messed up, dirty, filthy thing… But it’s okay because I winked.” I branch out from time to time, but with just these three favorite winky faces I can say, or not say, whatever I want… And make it acceptable.  Here is how I use them.

e405 1)       for anything said that is lightly/playfully suggestive in manner.

 

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2)       I can’t believe you/I just said that!

 

 

 

download (1)3)      yes, I said that downright filthy thing/I’m horny/that nude photo you just sexted me is amazing (they never really are amazing, it’s a bathroom mirror after all, but the key to getting more is to set a tone that encourages more… The whole, you attract more bees with honey thing)

One piece of advice. Always let the female take the lead. Do not wink until winked upon. In fact, do not wink for as long as you possibly can. Only start winking when you are completely sure an emoji is the thing necessary to push things on to the next level. Let’s be honest… You are a full grown man and you are using little yellow cartoon faced symbols to convey your words, your thoughts, your intentions. No matter what stage in your texting back and forth that you employ an emoji, it will always give off and air of juvenile/childlike demeanor. If you haven’t yet established with your female texting partner just how much of a grown man you truly are before employing an emoji, then be ready to be viewed as juvenile or childish, possibly creepy. If, on the other hand, you have achieved your man card in her eyes, the emoji instead becomes a playful gesture. Know the timing, know the difference. Don’t lead with the emoji. Play the emoji card at the right time.

#Hashtags In Technology Courtship

Yes, hashtags can have a place in texts between you and your female counterpart. How, you might ask? #wellletmetellyou. Hashtags are like the vanity license plates of the interwebs. Yes, in rare circumstances, they make sense to the general population and might even be relatable. Yet, for the most part, they only mean something to the author and maybe a select few others. So, what better place to use hashtags then in a sexually charged conversation with a woman? When it comes to hashtags, it’s a war of escalation. Start slowly with hashtags like #hot, #booty, #sexy, or #fit. Then work on putting hashtags together, like #hotbooty or #sexybooty. Eventually, after playing the game back and forth (if she is any fun at all, she will pick up on what you are doing and join in)… escalate to longer hashtags, until you arrive at something like the following:

#iwanttopressupagainstyourhotsexycurvybooty. It’s like German. Just put a whole bunch of words together to get your idea across. And if you have worked up your back and forth hashtags to a point that leads to one like the previous example, I’d say you are pretty much set for a great time.  Hashtags. Useless on Facebook, somewhat useless on Twitter and Instagram, and yet very very useful in playful sexting. Who would have thought?!

How Did I Get Here?

“Is that all you got, you retard?!”

The man-child whose full body weight is against my chest is yelling like the ape that he is.

I am on my back. I am on the ground. I am 9, maybe 10 years old. I am getting the living shit kicked out of me. The bully is the most massive of fifth graders (12 years old, going on 20). I’m pretty sure he was sporting a mustache at the time of this beating. At any rate, blood is pouring from my nose, my eye is already starting to swell, and through it all I am serenely calm, almost lifeless underneath the raining blows from this early maturing monster of an elementary school man boy.

Fight back… Say something… These concepts come to mind in this moment. And yet, they float right into and out of focus like little fluffy clouds. Passing by as fleeting options. As if I ever thought they were options to begin with. Let me explain.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t fight back. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. It was instead the strange acceptance in my mind, that perhaps I deserved it. Maybe this is what my life was meant to be. Maybe this was my role. Maybe my job was to be the one who took the beating in life.  It wasn’t the first time, it would not be the last. This was, by definition, the life of a young introvert.

I was teased relentlessly as a child. Elementary school was, by far and away, the very worst years of my life.  I am the oldest sibling in my family, so I didn’t have any role models to forge a path for me, to help me learn the ropes.  Instead, I ventured forth in the cutthroat world of grade school using only my wits, and my terrible sense of style to guide me.  And guide me into pummeling after pummeling it did.

The first year of middle school was a good one. I slowly gained some confidence, and the teasing ceased. It would seem that between grade school and middle school I had gone from standing out (for my looks and introversion) to completely invisible. And I loved every minute of it. To not be noticed was for anything was exactly what I had hoped for.  That is, until I started to like girls. Then I wanted to be noticed… but wasn’t.  Funny thing is, the instant I started to notice girls just happened to coincide with puberty, which just happened to gift me the most acne riddled face any young boy could hope for.  I felt the shame of my appearance. It was unspoken. No one mentioned the zits all over my face. But I knew they saw them. How could they not?

“You look fine! No one will notice. It’s not that bad. I only noticed because you pointed it out.”

My mother might as well have been a parrot with those lines. I have heard it thousands of times in my life. From my mother. From others. And not then, not now, not ever will I trust someone who tries to comfort me when I don’t like my appearance (be it for the occasional mid thirties exercising guy workout/stress breakout, or a cracked lip from too much sun exposure, or a bad sunburn from too much time outdoors). I know they are only trying to help. They are only trying to pacify me. Rationally, I know that. But, because I also know that I could stand in front of them with a huge booger hanging from my nose and they would say I’ve never looked better or more put together, that I will never trust what they say. It’s the vicious vanity cycle. If I have to ask if my face looks bad, you know what? It does! It’s the same thing when a girl asks if her butt looks big. Of course it does! If it didn’t, she wouldn’t ask. But, men are smart enough to lie the same as the women I ask to comment on my breakouts. And nothing good ever comes of it, does it?

Memories

I am alone.

I am in my room. I am throwing a tantrum. And I am so very terrified of my incarceration.  I am three, maybe four years old and this of all things is my earliest and most vivid memory of childhood.

My parents are doing the best they can. I am the oldest child. I am locked in my room on the advice of the family pediatrician. In his infinite wisdom, he has counseled my parents to reverse the door lock on my room (so it locked from the outside) and to put me in that room on “time out” whenever I act out.

I acted out a lot as a child.  Thus, I found myself alone a lot. After a while, even at the very early age of three or four, I associated any expression of emotion (other than happiness) with a dreaded “time out.” So, even from that early age, I did what I do best, and overachieved and overcompensated in the form of suppressing and bottling up any and all emotions that could be seen as negative. I went even further to make sure I bottled up the ones that could be mistaken for weakness or sadness or even simple discontent.

It was safer not to be emotional.

This series of events… This connection between emotional outbursts and isolation paved the way for me to become the ultra-rational being I am today.  To this day I can rationalize it all. I can rationalize all the feelings away. I can rationalize all disappointment, heartache, sadness, and despair away. I can place them in boxes, compartmentalize, store in dark corners of my mind. Some say to feel is to live.  If that’s the case, I may well have died in that room when I was three.

Alright, enough with the dramatics.

The point is, my parents did what they thought was best. They really did. And they did an amazing job raising me.  After all, the theory of locking me in the room for bad behavior came on the heels of a CT scan to make sure I didn’t have “brain damage,” which would have been causing my extreme tantrum riddled behavioral issues. Imagine being three years old and being outside an office building. All you remember is grass and trees and the serenity of the setting, in the midst of your mother trying to explain to you that you were about to go through a test to have your head examined to figure out the root cause for why you were so abnormal.  Turned out the CT scan showed “normal.”  There were no excuses for the way I was, so my behavior had to be “corrected.” And corrected it was.