Disclaimer: This is a happiness blog, but that does not mean every post is a happy one. Sometimes, to claim the life we want, and build a stable foundation, we need to make difficult decisions and do things that are counter-intuitive, because well, part of growing up is coming to terms with reality and reality can be a little bitter.
When I started my research on friendship I found lots of sound advice, fun bonding activities, and personality-matching trends. I did NOT, however, expect to find such a disconnect between how we treat friendships in our early twenties, mid-twenties, and late twenties. Understandably, amid all of our growth and change, we add new friends but no one likes to talk about the other end of that. The part where you lose friends that you thought were life-long.
Listen, friendship is complicated, maybe even (more…)
Ahh!!! Love & Sex Month is coming to a close and I was a bit overwhelmed by all that I want to share with you, so in lieu of my typical posts, I am sharing with you some important truths that I’ve found in my research. Enjoy!
“Dating in my 20s was like musical chairs. Everybody was running around and having fun, but then sometime around 30 it was like the music turned off and everybody started sitting down. I didn’t want to be the only one left standing up, so sometimes I think I married my husband because he was the closest chair to me at 30.” – Anonymous client of Dr. Meg Jay
“Good and committed sex draws on two conflicting needs: our need for security and our need for surprise.” – Esther Perel, TED Talk
I apologize in advance for all the puns but I can’t help myself. Today’s experiment might sound silly but it is SO important.
Before doing some (very unusual and not surprisingly, FUN) research, I felt very mixed about the relationship between sex education and happiness. I was pretty certain most of my happiness in the bedroom did not come from a book or a website, but rather from *ahem* hands-on research.
I mean, our ancestors certainly didn’t need a Tantric Sex Anthology to help them sort out how to put a P in a V.
The time when breakfast tastes like rainbows and every joke your partner makes is comparable to Amy Schumer stand-up.
The time when your partner asks if you’re comfortable snuggling and even though you are about to chew your dead arm off, you respond: “Yeah, babe. So comfy.”
The time when you shirk responsibilities, ignore phone calls, and neglect your friends and family to have a sex marathon and stay up late saying, “No, you hang up!”
This rose-tinted phase is so awesome you may feel like you’re on drugs while in it and feel like a train has hit you when you come down from it. It’s completely normal and fabulous and awful at the same time when you’re in it, but when you see someone else in it, it can also seem delusional.
Since I know most of us will go through at LEAST one honeymoon phase in our lifetime, and not all of them will evolve into forever, let’s lay some ground rules to safeguard our lives from the turmoil that can result from an intense “honeymoon phase”:
SEEING THROUGH ROSE-TINTED GLASSES
Heed Your Advisors. If your most trusted advisor (Ie. Your mom or your best friend) still has an eyebrow raised after a few times of meeting your partner. There is probably a major flaw that is invisible to you, thanks to your “Honeymoon Phase” blinders. Even though it may burst your glorious bubble, better to look under the proverbial mask of your partner now than later. That’s a mixed metaphor, but you get it. If your bestie tells you your guy comes across as a player, you might want to open your eyes to the possibility that they aren’t just lying because they want you to be single forever. They might just see something you can’t.
Don’t Ignore Red Flags.The sweet honeymoon phase is that time when most people ignore the little red flags going up about their partner. It’s more than OKAY to be easy going about flaws, in fact, it’s something you should try to harness even after the honeymoon phase has passed. That being said, make sure you set some “non-negotiables”. Mine are the following:
I will never date a smoker or drug user.
I will not date a liar.
I will not date someone who is disrespectful.
I will not date someone who let’s me compromise my priorities for them.
It is common to let some of your core values slip when you are under the influence of the Honeymoon Phase. Is it so bad that he told me he was 28 and he’s really 35? But he apologized! And he’s so cute! And he noticed that time I got my hair cut, which was so huge. …….. YES, if your core values are not to date a liar and they blatantly lie to you off the bat, it’s probably a RED FLAG.
KEEPING YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
Go to Work/Class/Appointments. (Self-explanatory.)
Don’t Flake On Your Friends & Family. I couldn’t completely leave this out because everyone does it but don’t make me explain why it’s a no-no. Just try not to do it.
GROW & LEARN 👌 BUT DON’T CHANGE WHO YOU ARE ☝
Be honest & unapologetically you. It is easy to fudge some details when you are first getting to know someone. You are cozy in your love suite, so why rock the boat and tell them you actually hate animals, when they tell you that they plan on taking over their family’s farm? Ummm… because eventually, you are going to look like a big liar, and that is not something you can bounce back from. Maybe he will be cool with it, and offer to help you see a different side of the farm life [insert sexy overalls and hay scene] or maybe he will say that his Paw and Maw come first, in which case, you’re still you and you didn’t waste either of your precious twenties misleading each other.
Use the burst of energy to be a sponge for new good habits. The honeymoon phase is one of those magical times where you are able to grow and change more rapidly than normal. Use the energy that your new found “puppy love” gives you to pick up good habits from your partner. Is your new squeeze an adventure seeker? You’ll find that suddenly you are more willing to go outside your comfort zone with someone holding your hand, and that is a BEAUTIFUL thing. Is your new partner a gym rat? I know you swore off all forms of exercise, but maybe now you’re open to the idea of a short sunrise run. I said short, let’s not get crazy and sign up for a marathon on your first date. (Or do. Might be fun.) The point is, that there is nothing more empowering than a new partner, so take advantage and be a sponge for GROWTH!
KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT THE PHASE
Graduation to Mature Love. The honeymoon phase will eventually end. That’s why it’s called a phase. But this is an essential process that will result in one of three situations:
A.You will see each other more clearly and flaws will come to light. You will feel a desire for your partner to change (and become more like you). One person will feel trapped and another abandoned and you will part ways not necessarily because of a bad match but because you FAIL TO PROPERLY COMMUNICATE YOUR FEELINGS.
B.Situation A, + you will communicate and realize that although you enjoyed each other’s company and care for one another, you are not a good long-term match.
C.Situation A, + you will communicate and realize that you have to respect each other’s personal goals, space, and needs. You agree to be more open-minded and work through the flaws because even with all the lights on, your relationship is still beautiful and worth it. CONGRATS! YOU HAVE GRADUATED TO MATURE LOVE!
My honeymoon phase with my husband was AMAZING. We literally laid in bed staring at each other. (Gross! I thought those things only happened in the movies!) When I told him I had previous plans to drive cross-country for 2 weeks with 2 male friends from college, he said, “That’s awesome!” He was PERFECT with my family, and appeared sexy in literally everything he wore.
But, I am not particularly proud of anything I accomplished in my life while in this phase. I didn’t start any new creative projects or make a point to meet new people or learn. We were both completely consumed and I am SO glad to have balance back because:
HONEYMOON HAPPINESS IS UNSUSTAINABLE.
Share your honeymoon phase experiences (good and bad) in the comments below!
I love starting out with a fact. So here is one: you are not getting any younger! What??? That’s harsh! I thought this blog was supposed to make me happy! Well, yes, but the kind of happiness I want you to find is not going to come from simply READING this blog. You have to take action!
Inspiration and motivation is only worth the action that it incites. That’s why I stress the importance of EXPERIMENTING as a means of exploring happiness.
In fact, I am about to drop $250 on today’s Love & Sex Month experiment even though it kind of terrifies me, and here is why:
Back to my first point – you are not getting any younger.
Since starting my happiness journey, I have become very intentional about what I do with my time. I was discussing this “carpe diem” mentality with my girlfriends on a three-way phone call (yeah, we’re bringing those back) when the conversation shifted to the theme of the blog, which at the time was “Body Month”.
My friend Alissandra said that she couldn’t agree more and that when it came to her body, she knew she also wasn’t getting any younger. She is a very confident girl but admitted that she wonders about how sexy she will feel when she is 80 and her body is not the same as it once was. If I had to guess, I’d still say that she will probably have a pretty healthy sex life for a senior citizen, but she brought up a good point.
“I feel sexy at this age, and I want to remember how I look now before all of the stretch marks and wrinkles. A friend of mine had a Boudoir Photoshoot done and was thrilled with the results, so I decided to do it as a gift for my boyfriend…. but more so for me!”
Whaaaattt!!!??? 😯 I had never heard of anyone I know actually doing this and was FASCINATED by the idea, albeit a bit nervous. Come to find out, my other friend on the call had ALSO had a Boudoir photo shoot taken! I felt a little bit prude that I was the only one on the call that was uneasy at the thought of posing in a sexy way in front of a stranger, but as a woman of research I knew I needed ALL the facts before I could make my judgment.
A Summary of Alissandra’s Advice for Your Boudoir Experiment
Better Safe Than Sorry!
“My two biggest concerns were that A: The pictures would somehow get out or posted on social media and that B: My boyfriend would have an adverse reaction to it and be upset that I did it.”
To avoid these things happening, she suggested the following:
Research your photographer! Make sure he/she has a portfolio that is legitimate, with reviews or references. Ali was referred to her photographer through a friend.
Consider a contract.All professional photographers should have a contract that outlines what exactly will be provided and how the shoot will run. This is to protect your interests and the photographers. **This is where you tell the photographer whether or not you want your photos appearing in their portfolio.**
Know your partner. If these photos are for anyone other than yourself, make sure that you trust this person exclusively, and that in the case of a split, your photos wouldn’t be compromised. Also, consider whether or not your partner would feel uneasy at the thought of you being photographed in this way. Some people may want a female photographer.
Getting Prepped, Feeling Sexy & Looking the Part
“I had to drink half a bottle of wine before I was remotely comfortable doing it. [laughs] So, my advice is… have a glass of wine, or two… or three.”
Keep it Fun! Lots of photographers provide wine, but some don’t allow it. This is a fair question to ask beforehand. Photo shoots are meant to feel like a party. You should feel your most comfortable, so bring your own music and props!
Research Inspiration. Depending on your style and your partner’s turn-ons, your shoot style will vary from classic to raunchy. Go online and pull inspiration. Search #boudoirphotography on Instagram or even search Victoria’s Secret. Send your favorites to the photographer so they can best capture your style. If the pictures aren’t a surprise, you should see what kind of photos your partner likes and send those as well.
Hair, Make-up & Wardrobe. When you look your best, you will feel your best and it will reflect in your confidence and in the final product. Cherie Steinberg of the “Boudoir Café” advises investing in professional hair and makeup. She also suggests you “…ditch the old stuff and play with the element of surprise and fantasy with bras, panties, garters, etc. your [partner] hasn’t seen before.”
“I am SO glad I did it and would actually like to do it AGAIN! My boyfriend LOVED them too. Also, in the pictures I’m curvy and myself, not at my thinnest or anything. And that’s one of the things I love about them. It’s me. And I don’t look at them and think ‘Ugh. I have to get back in shape.’ I look at them and think, ‘This is me and I’m beautiful and curvy and sexy.’ I’m so happy I have them forever.”
The “big picture” point is this – feeling sexy is about more than just having sex and being hot. It’s about looking at yourself in the mirror and feeling confident and proud in your own skin. I wholeheartedly believe in the power of visuals and I think that having these pictures of yourself that you can admire for the rest of your life is a priceless tool that will help empower you….and simultaneously give a little boost of passion to your relationship! Share any tips or questions you have about boudoir photography in the comments below!