India: Future of romance in #MeToo era


Future of romance in #MeToo era

 

Man-woman interactions have never been easy. But now every exchange seems officiated. Words are closely evaluated, by both men (before) and women (after).

By Hemant Morparia\Mumbi Mirror 

I have to start with a disclaimer here: the concept of romantic love is alien to me. The title of this piece presupposes that romance had a past. A casual peek into history tell us that ‘romantic love’ was, in fact, invented by wandering 12th century troubadours in France (where else?). It was a clever, fiendish ploy that depended on mutual self-deception, in order to, well, get some… um, you know, (unsuitable word alert) ‘action’.

I have, in my life, not seen any couple that continues to be in thrall of romantic love for any significantly meaningful length of time. Any talk of romance brings to my mind a cartoon by Mick Stevens published in the New Yorker (see, only cartoonists quote other cartoonists by name. All others just quote the publication). The cartoon shows a couple on a boat ride in an amusement park’s ‘tunnel of love’. You can see the tunnel’s exit: the boat with the couple is about to land into cesspool of effluents, garbage and other stranded couples. Cartoonists get it right pretty often, I’d say.

Actually, I have to make a correction —I have known just one couple which continues to be madly in love, and with an intensity that increases on a daily basis. Let me introduce Exhibit A. On my way to the gym each evening, for the past few years, I have been seeing a couple, a male and a female. They are rag pickers who live in abject poverty on the footpath, with no roof over their head. When they interact with each other, however, I see their mutual, fixed gaze; the world is dead to them in that moment. When the man is away, I see the woman stand for long, gazing in the direction of his expected arrival. On my way back, at night, they are asleep in each other’s arms. The relationship is not one founded on something transnational or conditional. It couldn’t possibly be. In this primal and feral state, they have nothing, and they have everything. They have love.

Cut to the present. Man-woman interactions have never been easy. They are equally a playground as they are a minefield. All men have had, at some point or other in their lives, some unsavory thoughts about women. Some men, drunk on power or fame, have quite brazenly acted them out. Women are speaking out now and it’s about time too. Women are looking askance in the direction of all men. The regular, non guilty men are the ones who are clueless in this crossfire, and the angry women aren’t helping. Every exchange between the sexes now seems officiated. Words, spoken or written, get carefully evaluated and weighed, by both men (before) and women (after). What is said and what is meant or implied in this climate of distrust are considered exclusive. A minor slip could result in the ‘Gotcha!’ moment. For example, can a man say, ‘Are you the new, hot yoga teacher?’, with zero risk today? Even punctuation marks need careful attention. A comma can break a sentence, but what of a missing one? That could break bones. Try ‘I love cooking my girlfriend and my pets’. Outrage is guaranteed from humorless Twitterati and the Shouting Heads In TV Studios (SHITS) will be shouting for your head on a platter! Out of instincts of self-preservation then, male-female interactions are fast simulating the way porcupines make love (‘very, very carefully’) and without the porcupiny tenderness.
It seems that every woman is angry today (I carefully chose the word ‘angry’ here instead of ‘mad’) and every man a bit confused and unsure. I drew a cartoon recently in which the song line ‘Tumko mujh se pyaar hai? Na na na na na na na’, from the cult film Aradhana, ends with the director yelling “Cut – end of song. NO means NO!”. When I posted it on social media, several women felt hurt and objected to it. Someone even summarised Aradhana as a misogynistic film which devalued womanhood (!) and promoted patriarchy (!!). It would be all very funny if it was not so sad. If both sexes continue the present downward trajectory of interactions, which are now getting to be without nuance, leeway or spontaneity, then I am afraid, there will be little to hold us together. As it is very little does.

I believe that the human male and the human female are two entirely different species. There may be more in common between a male human and a male chimp than a human male and a human female. In due course, men will eventually go their own way. So will women. As they retreat to Hisland and Herland, there will be little meaning to life and its activities. We will cease to do, build, create, compose, communicate, play or laugh, the very basis of all civilization. There will be no motivation to do all that. We shall, each gender separately that is, return to a state of chaos, anomie and primal poverty. From those feral, dystopic lands, one day, a single man and a single woman, both having nothing, will lock gaze. Their eyes will light up as they see a faint but distinct possibility of having everything.

Even love.
Post script: here is an exercise for you: what is the right way to punctuate ‘woman without her man is nothing’? (Both possible answers taken together only are correct.)

Giving Gyan

 

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These Worst First Date Stories Are So Damn Awkward


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By: Korin Miller/Mens Health

Uh, can we not talk about your ex the whole time?

“I can’t wait to go on another first date!” said pretty much no one, ever.

While first dates give you a great chance to get to know someone new, trying to cram the basics of your life into a few hours while getting the 411 on someone else can be stressful as hell.

Of course, some first dates turn into meaningful relationships (it helps when you follow the 5 best first date tips). But it sure can feels like you have to go through some real, uh, winners before that happens. Just remember you’re not alone in this seemingly endless struggle to find an eligible human.

For some reassurance, people on Reddit are spilling details about their absolute worst first dates ever and we are so here for it. Read on, and rest assured.

 

The Relationship Interview That Masqueraded as a First Date

When @KatetheGreat22 went on a first date, she probably wasn’t expecting the crappy experience that unfolded. Instead of actually acting like a normal person, her date treated her like she was applying for a job…as his girlfriend.

Literally we sat across from each other at a table at a coffee shop. He did not order a drink, and he fired questions at me like it was a job interview. Then he ended the date after a half hour. But he texted me later wanting to see me again. I guess I made it to the second round of interviewing?

The Girl Who Just Wanted to Freeload

Sure, there are some things you want to know about your potential partner upfront, but one girl made it very clear to @LikeAstonEdMonkey that she was just looking for someone to take care of her. Just a tip: Asking about someone’s credit score on a date is a really, really bad idea.

We met online and she was cute and charming online so I asked her out. Over dinner, I remember being asked what my job was, if I ever had been arrested, how was my credit, and how many “partners” I had in my life. She was angry that I didnt want to go out with her again and I ended up having to block her number. I know she found out that I made really good money and she was basically a gold digger looking to get married.

He looked hot and fresh on Growlr 

You can never be totally sure online.    His online pictures looked crisp and hot.  But what made him stand out to @Urbanbear916  was his intellect, he had more to say than most online.  They learned they had a lot in common, from vintage cars to Reality TV.

We talked online for about three weeks before agreeing to meet for coffee.     A man in a dingy blue shirt entered Starbucks and asked for a cup of water his body odor was strong I assumed he was one of the unfortunate homeless who lived downtown.   When he turned around it was HIM, everything about him was dirty, his clothes needed washing and his nails was filthy.  Under the dingy was a handsome man.  He wanted to talk, I wanted to escape, his odor was so sharp it burned.  We still talk and he wants to go out, but I can’t bring myself to tell him he stinks. 

 

The Guy Who Read Way Too Much Into Things

People can get so nervous on dates that they talk a lot, but asking the other person questions and actually interacting with them is what makes this whole thing a “date.” Apparently, @AmyLovesTheOrioles’ date didn’t get the memo.

The guy spent the entire time talking about himself and his accomplishments and never asked me a single question about myself. We finished our meal and I said that I had to go home. When I got home, he texted to see if I wanted to go out again. I declined. He then continued to text me long strings of insults because I didn’t love him. After the first [painful] date.

The Guy Who Was So Not Ready to Be Dating Again

Getting back out there after a breakup is tough. But it’s probably a good idea to make sure you’re over your last relationship before you try to start a new one. Apparently @MyCatsRock’s date wasn’t quite there yet.

He got drunk and cried about his ex gf that dumped him for some douche.

 

The Guy Who Thought ‘Date’ Meant ‘Free Advice’

Showing someone you’re interested in their career is important. Blatantly trying to use them for free labor — on a date — is pretty much the worst idea ever.

 I went on a date with a guy & in the middle of dinner, he asks me “you’re an accountant, right?” i say that i am. he pulls out a folder & says “this is my tax return from last year. would you mind taking a look at it? i want to know if the guy i paid prepared it properly.

The Guy Who Set the Bar Too High

When you make first date plans, it’s generally expected that you’ll stick with them — or at least clue your date in if things change. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen with @Chop117.

Told me we were going to go to this restaurant I really had been wanting to go to in our town. He said he would pay for the meal. The foodie in me was pretty excited to try this place I had never been to before. When we walked right past it I start questioning where this date was going. So we ended up at McDonalds. He ordered himself some food and promptly asked me if I wanted something, which of course I denied. Que the next 45 minutes of almost silence except for him chowing down on French fries.

The Recovering Alcoholic Who Seemed to Have a Test

Addiction is scary, and recovery is tough. But @OhSoEasy made it pretty clear that she would not have ordered a beer if she had known that her date was a recovering alcoholic. Instead, the date ended up being super awkward.

We met at a sit down Chinese restaurant. I ordered a beer. He pulled out a medallion he wore around his neck that was given to him from Alcoholics Anonymous. He told me he was in recovery. It was awkward after that and I couldn’t drink the beer in front of him. I never saw him again after that.

 

Before I Do: Why History Matters


His or Her Past, may have a major impact on your future as a couple

Sex and the Heart has ruined many relationships because they often distract from reality.    

The heart wants one thing and one thing only, love.   The heart is hopeful, it tells the brain to overlook what it sees because love concurs all.

The euphoric feeling after sex has led to many spontaneous marriages, where virtual strangers have married.

But what do you really know about this person?  Of course, the feeling with this person is unlike any you’ve experienced.  And you have bared your souls, but what do you really know about this person other than they make your heart pound?

Were going to exlore some topics you should consider before moving in or saying I do.

Image result for wait a year or two before marrying

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Money

1 Us Bank Note

It’s not as sexy as infidelity, but most people divorce over (control) MO-NAY!

You’ve moved away from home, your making a living and you buy what you want, when you want it!    No one can tell you want to do or buy your-your own person.  Now your married or living with someone and now you have to compromise, have limits to how you spend your hard earned mo-nay.  Its a challenge for most relationships.

If you enjoyed his spontaneity while your where dating.  Trips to Las Vegas or Paris, gifts just because…. the best seats and restaurants.  Your view of him may dim after marrying him when he can’t pay the mortgage.

If your partner likes the finer things in life…..clothes, jewelry and cars, this unlikely to change after I do.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as long as the two of you are on the same economic page(A meeting of the minds) before you move in together or marry.

Asking to see their portfolio may be a wee bit invasive 

Image result for signs signs read the signs

1.Does he or she buy clothes, jewelry, parts for the car every weeks.  The priority is things. For some of these people, the future is the future, they believe they work hard and should have things to make them happy.  The downside, these people rarely have substantial savings.  So if saving for a home, retirement or for a rainy day is important to you. This may not be your life mate. 

  1. Have they moved a lot, say four or five times in the last three years in the same area This is often an indication of instability.  If there are flaws in the home, neighborhood  this person moves.  It also may mean he/she has difficulty paying his rent. 

3. Do they spend a lot of time online showing you things they are interested in purchasing? See #1

  1. Are they are over 30 living with family members?  A lot of us fall on hard times.  However,there are a few who are repeat offenders.(approach with caution)  If you see a future with this person. Wait until he or she lands completely on their feet (3 or 4 years) AND WHAT EVER YOU DO? DO NOT OFFER FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE!
  2. Is your potential mate always running short of money, or juggling money! Warning!    Eventually they may ask you for financial assistance OR you may want to help.  Dont!!!

DO NOT:  Co sign for anything, add them to your phone plan, open joint accounts/merge accounts.  Issue Credit cards Offer to rescue them and should they ask you for financial assistence within the first six months!  RUN FAST! RUN FAR!      

There is a reason they have bad credit, a reason they came to you instead of a friend or family member they have known much longer.(What do those people know, that you don’t?) 

Turn down your heart.  You may want to help -but take a moment.  If your partner is having financial problems now. When you marry or move in, you inherit their financial problems and those problems are often much greater than you anticipated.  In the long term, this may affect your credit and limit your abilty to purchase a home or buy a car.?                                        __________________

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“Our friendships is often a reflection as to who we are as person”  

Long term relationships often indicate stability.  How does he or she interact with his friends? Is there joy or ongoing conflicts? (Not to be confused with disagreements)  Is he or she short tempered with his friends?

Image result for signs signs read the signs

  1. Anytime he or she talks about their friends or family its nearly always negative.  She or he may be projecting or have a negative view of the world.
  2. They never talk about their friends. Not a good sign, has she or he burned their bridges? Wanted by the police?  Ask questions! 
  3. After a year, you have never met more than one of his or her friends.  See#2
  4. Has a trail of severed friendships. Impatience, anger.  He/she hasn’t attacked you yet? Give it time!  Run! 
  5. Rude to their friends.  If she or he will eventually be rude to yours See#4

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Are you in sync with your partner? This is the conversation that most couples avoid.  Sometimes out of fear and other well, love will fix it.   The truth is, love isn’t enough. Its very complicated as it has many moving parts.  Are you on the same page politically?  For most marriages this isn’t a deal breaker but for a special few, it could be.

Deal breakers! (Disccusions you MUST have before the committment)

Children?   If children is very important to you.  You need to know if your potential life partner is on the same page.  DON’T ASSUME,ask?   Don’t make a deal with the devil hoping that he or she might eventually change their minds. If he or she has children, do you like them?  What is your relationship with them?  Will they live with you?  The reality is they will be a part of your lives.  If your partner children do not like or respond to you.  The relationship will suffer.

Religion?  Similar to the issue of children.   Can your coupling survive a different Religion?  If there are children.  What religion?  This could affect relationships with in the families. 

Family?  Is your partner a caretaker? Elderly or disable family members who require his time?  Will they live with you?   

( A week after their honeymoon, her husbands friend and two siblings moved in with them?)

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The heart says, if I love hard enough.    If I believe.   Love will find a way to make it better.  If this is you.  I suggest you talk to a few divorced individuals before making a commitment.    Relationships take time and requires ongoing maintenance.

Early on in the relationship its not uncommon to feel as if we are overthinking  relationships, but there are important signs we cant afford to overlook.  The first time your hit.   If their drinking and recreational use of alcohol and drugs make you uncomfortable.   The second time they disrespect you.  The first time they asked you for assistance.  Do they value you?

There are no guarantees in life, but trust what you see and hear.

 History matters.

CityFella

 

Are You Datable or Are You a Fling?


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Photo/Google

Our sex and relationships writer breaks it down

 

By:  Megan Drillinger/ Men’s Health

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make relationships out of booty calls. Because all great relationships are built on a foundation of phenomenal sex and the occasional inside joke, right? (RIGHT?!) I mean, if you’re making me orgasm multiple times a week, why wouldn’t I want to keep you around long term and try to build a solid, lasting relationship with openness, honesty, and commitment. I can totally tell you’d be good at that while your head is between my legs…

Or so I though. Turns out, as I’m coming upon the crest of 30, just because he’s hot and his junk gets hard, doesn’t actually make him “boyfriend material.” Go figure. This may be the biggest lesson I’ve learned in my 20s. So what then does make a man a potential Mr. Right, versus a potential Mr. Right Now? And which of these two men do you want to be?

Click on the Link below for the rest of the story

http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/datable-or-fling-what-women-think/slide/1

dating: THE CHECK


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There was a time when the lines were clearly drawn, roles defined.   When it came to dating, it was the man who paid.  It was the man who decided where the couple was going to dine.

 This was pre Phil Donahue, and Murphy Brown.

After Donahue, there were some feminists who believed the man wasn’t obligated to pay and that equal rights meant just that, equal.   Separate checks leveled the playing field between men and women as some men believed dinner, obligated women.   On the other side, were the traditionalist, the man pays the man made the decisions. A women role was supportive as it was for their mothers and grandmothers.

It was a very confusing time, especially for men.   In the eighties, you never knew who who was paying until the check arrived. Was she a feminist or traditionalist?  Most men struggled with the notion of a women paying.  For some men, a women picking up the check was demoralizing.    For many years, my former wife would slip the money to me, my fragile ego wouldn’t allow her to pay in public.

The world has changed since Murphy Brown went off the air in 1998.  The internet and social media looms large in this new age.  However what hasn’t change  is who picks up the check on a date, especially the first date?

As in the eighties, there seemed to be more traditionalist then feminists who believed the man should always pick up the check.  It didn’t matter who earned more,the man paid.

There are some traditionalists in the gay community who believes the person who initiates the date pays.  There are many young gay men and women online who have never experienced dating. Preferring to wait to be asked out.

Susan Johnson Taylor’s “The Etiquette of Paying for Dates Today” ( For US News Magazine)  Who should pick up the check on a first date?  In a 2014 poll, three quarters of respondents men and women, said men should pay for the first date.

Many men want to treat and provide.  Some women expect to pay, while others feel diminished or less special if they aren’t treated to the date.  Its a conundrum.

Much of this is generational.  Younger daters are more equitable, sharing the cost more or talking about who is paying for what’ says psychotherapist Tina Tessina.  ” Older daters are more traditional , with the man paying more often, although even older women are likely to offer to pay then traditionally”

Those in the gay dating scenes don’t struggle as much with these concerns.  “Since there is less gender-enforced  expectation for one or the other to pay, gay and lesbian daters tend to share the responsibility by either splitting the check or by both at least offering to pay”. says Trish McMermott, dating adviser at LGBT online dating site OneGoodLove.com

Keep early dates low-key. Suggesting low-cost activities such as outdoor concerts or festivals for a first date relieves financial pressure, especially on guys who might be concerned about making less than their date or may not have the means for a lavish night on the town. “Some of the best first dates are the most simple, low-cost activities,” say Brenden Dilley, a Phoenix-based life coach. “If a man or woman suggests one of these, don’t take it as the other person being cheap or not taking you seriously – perhaps they just want an opportunity to spend more quality time with you and decide if there is a match.”

 Offering to pay shows good manners.  Instead of the “fake purse or wallet  grab,”  the other party  should ask, “May I help?” Now the ball is in the other person’s court. “He can say, ‘Oh no, I got this,'”  “Or, ‘Yeah, please get the tip. It’s $15.’ Or, ‘Your half is $30.'”

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CityFella

My first dates take place at a coffee house.  It can be a long evening once you’ve learned your not a match. Especially, before they’ve served the salad.    I order a small coffee, with an option for a second cup or dessert if there is a connection.  Half the time I pay for the coffee.    Thank you’s is crucial afterward, or in a text or preferably a voice call .  Even when the date isn’t successful, I call my date and thank them.

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After the first date (from Match.com) If you’re not comfortable with forking out, sensible dating advice would be to suggest that you pay half each once the first date is out of the way. If things are going well and you are both enjoying each other’s company, you may even find that your date pays for some elements of the date (such as entry tickets to a show or exhibition) whilst you pay for the drinks or food.

After the fourth or fifth date, you should be comfortable enough to take it in turns to pay for each date. Don’t worry about being the first to bring it up; he or she will be flattered that you’re keen to plan for future dates with her. Setting the tone for a happy, well balanced relationship early on is sound advice for successful dating.

Finally, if you’re still not sure about who should pay, here’s some final advice to prevent any potential dating faux-pas:

• In the initial stages of dating, try not to splash the cash too much as you’ll look too eager to impress and might give a false impression of your day to day lifestyle and what you can afford. Remember that charm and charisma go a long way and are far more important than the size of your bank balance.

• To avoid awkwardness, choose dates which don’t cost too much until you have an idea of each other’s financial limitations.

• Don’t talk too much about money in the initial dating stages. Our advice is to be subtle about this topic so you don’t come across as money obsessed!

• Remember on most outting your date will be looking for a genuine connection rather than at how much you earn. If money becomes a genuine problem on a date you should think about moving on to greener dating pastures.

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 Final Words From CityFella
If you waiting to be asked out, stop.   A cup of coffee is a cup of coffee.  Having a cup of coffee with a potential friend or partner beats being alone in front of a computer.  Take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.  If your not a match its not a failure, you were simply not a match.  The success is leaving your comfort zone.
A sign of the times.  Many individuals have become prisoners of their PC’s, they have become fearful of the real world fearing rejection.  The reality is most people still meet people the old fashion way via social gatherings and referrals. The internet is a good source and just one place to meet people.
Its very difficult for some to convert online relationships into actual dates.  Here are a few tips.   If your looking to date, remove all sex from the conversation.  Get a feel if he or she are actually wants to meet.  If there a lot of hesitation or questions about after the date,there is more than a 80% they will flake.    Listen to their interest, are they looking forward to meeting you?
Once you’ve established a meeting time and location. Call a few days before the date to confirm.  Remember to listen..  Call  the day of.  Tell them your on your way and tell them your looking forward to meeting them,  and once again listen.    Bring a book, or your smartphone.   When they arrive, put down your book and turn off your smartphone and give an upbeat summary of who you are.  Full disclosure is overrated and overwhelming on the first date.    Carefully, listen to your date. DO NOT ASK WHY THEIR SINGLE AND ABOUT PAST RELATIONSHIPS.  Keep it light and breezy.
If your date flakes…..Stay, don’t leave, you didn’t fail. Order a dessert, look around.  The next date just may be in that Starbucks.  Read your book or turn on your smartphone.  Look around, enjoy your victory.  Don’t call the flake, no need to tell him or her off, its not worth your time because they weren’t worthy of you.    If you see someone who catches your eye and they are near.  Rave about your dessert, ask them if they’ve tried it.  If you not comfortable on this visit, you may the next.   On this day ,congratulate yourself, you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone.

 

Real Men Explain Why They REFUSE To Date Fat Women


By: Rebecca Jane Stokes/Your Tango.com

They didn’t hold anything back.

I am a fat woman.

I am friends with other fat women..

None of us have a hard time getting dates, finding love, or sex, whatever it is we happen to be looking for.

But while that’s true, all of the fat women in my life have at least one story of me explaining to them that they could never date because of her fatness.

It’s never easy to be rejected for any reason, but fat women get used to it in their interactions with men sadly because it seems to be more socially acceptable to express disgust with fat than it is express other complaints about a person’s physical appearance.

In our culture, people are taught, unfortunately, that being fat is bad.

It isn’t bad at all. A fat person is just as worthy of love, respect, and kindness as any other person.

I’ve always wanted to know what goes on inside the heads of men who refuse to date a woman just because she is fat.

On the one hand, as a sex writer, I understand that people are attracted to different things, so I wanted to keep an open mind.

That said, it’s hard to be objective when someone is explaining why you don’t  give them an erections. 

With that in mind, I asked a group of anonymous men who refuse to date fat women to try and explain their feelings to me.

I knew that there was science to support the fact that men love a woman with a tummy, but I wanted to hear from the other side.

And, just to be clear, the views of these men are not my views — or necessarily the views of YourTango.

Now that we got that way-too-technical disclaimer out of the way…

Here’s what they had to say:

Why don’t you date fat women?

  • “Fat is subjective. Thick is not fat. Much like how women do not want to date a man shorter than them, men don’t want to date women who weigh more than them.”
  • “I grew up fat, and work extremely hard to maintain a healthy weight. I know firsthand how being fat wreaks havoc on your self-esteem and social presence. I would also be concerned about having a partner putting herself at risk for a variety of weight-related complications, especially in the long-term.”
  • “Folds of fat just aren’t attractive.”
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  • “Save for instances of diagnosable (and often treatable) problems with metabolism, a fat body is often a sign of disregard for one’s health. Mind and body are not two separate entities; they are linked. You can’t abuse your body and expect your mind to fire on all cylinders. A fat body can (but does not always) imply laziness, short-sightedness, and a kind of disregard for one’s holistic well-being.”
  • “A woman who is fat clearly just doesn’t care about herself.”
  • “Being fat can become a serious health problem.”
  • “I’m skinny and dating a fat woman would look weird.”
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  • “Fat women can’t do as much as skinny women, and I’m pretty active.”
  • “Living a healthy style is important to me. Fat women don’t lead healthy lives.”
  • “Chubby can be cute. But fat is ugly.”
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  • “I’ve broken up with women who let themselves go. It’s my job to earn the money and it’s her job to look good for me and for herself.”
  • “I can’t stand lazy people. If she can’t be bothered to exercise for thirty minutes, that to me is a sign of true laziness.”

I agree that you’re attracted to what you’re attracted to, but I don’t think that gives you a right to be rude.

Online dating is rough enough without some guy responding to a message by saying “hit the gym and then we’ll talk” (totally true, totally happened to me.)

These answers reinforced what I already knew to be true:

We have to change the way we treat fat women. 

End of story.

Sex in the cornfields: The agony and ecstasy of dating at a strict Christian college


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We knew next to nothing about sex, except that it was a sin outside of marriage. So we kept our pleasures secret

By: Dan Rousseau/Salon.com

The Indiana corn weaves like a maze of chastity. My girlfriend, Becca, and I are driving in my black Subaru Forester, hunting for a solitary space. I am a sophomore in college and am studying the Bible in hopes of entering the ministry. My left hand dictates the steering wheel, while my right hand is clasped to Becca’s manicured fingers. A double-looped, olive scarf and a single chestnut braid contrast her blue eyes, dilated juniper berries that have been expertly framed.

Our relationship began in high school. Although her allure lay somewhere beyond my league, she, the graceful cheerleading captain, and I, the mop-headed metal drummer, found an immediate Eros — one that remains clothed and censored by burgeoning, Christian morals.

Now, we drive as college mates, best friends and eager lovers. There is necking and driving, reckless passion born of young frontal lobes. Our relationship needs a hidden roadside without an audience, where we won’t make love but will dream of doing so. And in the process, press upon ingrained religious and physical boundaries.

It is early October, and the dry cornstalk still stands. Time-worn, dirt roads are masked by seven-foot plants. We would like the vegetation to hide us while we enjoy the back seat, but it only masks the oncoming traffic: Farmers in ancient pick-ups appear out of nowhere, flash their headlights and roll down their windows. “You kids OK?”

I am wary of authoritative eyes in the harvest and the lips that call nakedness shame. My staunch, self-induced morality whispers, “Sex is reserved for the shadows.”

I am reminded of a juvenile angst.

It was a midnight high wire act: arms out for balance, white socks moved heel to toe. Wide pupils were focused on the stair railing to my right, and fretful ears were fixed on the copper hinges on my parent’s bedroom door. The maple floorboards were bubbled, and my twelve-year-old stride activated a creak. It echoed. I froze, then wrenched my neck to the head of the hall and listened for movement. The air sat still. My pastor father and stay-at-home mother remained asleep.

I considered my sixth grade English class and Poe’s light-footed night stalker. But I was not on a murderous search for The Tell Tale Heart — I was a libido-driven, fuzz-stached pre-teen in search of late-night cable boobs.

My family had just moved to the Chicago suburbs from North Carolina. This was my seventh house. Preacher’s families are often blown about the country, tossing God’s Word to the common-people, and receiving a free month of HBO with each new city.

I crept down the stairs, back hunched, knees bent — attempting to lower my center of gravity. Our yellow lab, Caleb, named from the Hebrew for “dog,” met me at the ground floor. His tail swayed in anticipation of play; dull claws scratched at linoleum. I pinched his muzzle with my right hand. “Not now,” I whispered. The dog’s brow tilted backward. He let out a muted whimper, promising silence. In sympathy, I let him follow me to the beige-carpeted living room, a companion in the carnal exploration.

The television’s cathode tubes hid behind a forty-inch square of black, bowed glass and rested on a two-foot, red oak cabinet. For months, the TV had prodded my budding hormones. I wasted days by flipping through channels, looking for skin. I would spend a half-hour viewing “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” trying to will the gold-plated bra off of Teela: the long-legged, red-haired Captain of the Royal Guard. I would change the channel to “The Cosby Show” and feel palpable tension between myself and Denise Huxtable, portrayed by the tempting Lisa Bonet. The dreadlocked renegade sported extra-large, cable knit sweaters, leaving everything but her high cheekbones to the imagination.

Conjectured pictures moved in my head: The bare chest of Eve from my Illustrated Children’s Bible was plastered over Teela’s sultry hips — all of this capped by a Huxtable smile. Using the thin, grey remote, I powered the television, expecting to find my fantasy girl gyrating on late-night, premium-cable porn.

The erotic light of channel 501 swallowed the space, and my thumb pressed mute. A pale, blonde female security guard sat alone in a surveillance room: naked. She monitored a video feed of a masked, shirtless burglar. I had seen protruding abdominals like his before on the glistening, blue body of Captain Planet. I stared, bewildered as the woman massaged her tight, left nipple and caressed her inner thigh with petite, red-tipped fingers. She bit at her lower lip with the same euphoric agony as a kid lusting after a Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card — “1989 Upper Deck, oh baby!”

I was uncertain as to what the woman was doing or trying to do. But the longer I looked, the warmer I felt. My senses clouded, chest trembled and muscles clenched. My left hand was urged to the fly of my baseball-print pajama pants. A sudden wetness was accompanied by dream-like ecstasy, then a return to perspective with my pulse’s decrescendo.

I powered off the television. There was blackness. I could feel Caleb’s warm pant against my left hip. The dog’s eyes shone green and inserted regret. The experience was unknown and therefore was sin.

Becca winces and my perspective is pulled back to the present car-ride, “You’re crushing my hand.” I apologize and blame a pent-up libido. She leans her shoulders toward the passenger window and fixates on the moonlit fields. “You only care about the physical stuff.” My fingers move to her denim-covered knee, a safer spot to prove a gentle agape.

I speak to her backlit silhouette, “I’m sorry. It’s this place. This school. They make it impossible.”

Taylor University’s 40-foot brick bell tower rises like a stalk from the Indiana corn. The bell tower is split into two columns which meet at a head: a symbol of the integration of faith and learning. The 2,000 students are deeply committed, evangelical Christians. The community is tight and secluded; the campus sits in the middle of a 4,000-resident farm town. In this place, which boasts of conservative roots, there is vocal guilt attached to sex: “Should it actually feel good?”

The wing where I live houses 60 men. Our pleasures are secret. I’ve only seen alcohol here once, have never heard porn through the concrete walls but have a hunch the guy two doors down smoked pot when he went home last weekend. Sin is obsessed upon.

We have a masturbation jar. Each time you get your rocks off, you must stuff a dollar in the jar. God is watching. The jar fills fast. I don’t think they do this at state colleges. A buddy of mine says its alright in God’s eyes to masturbate to inanimate objects, “Just don’t lust after girls.” He’s never kissed one.

Taylor’s academic reputation is strong, but so are its rules. In the 1960s, a handbook was constructed of promoted, Godly conduct, and of restricted behaviors that might lead to sin. The University officials who penned the work named it after Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, “Life Together.” Bonhoeffer, a radiant theologian, was hanged by the Nazis for planning an assassination of Adolf Hitler and reportedly died a virgin. He showed no regret in missing out on sex, claiming to have lived a full life — although a sexual summary is an unfair judge of the honest man.

Upon signing the Life Together Covenant, students agree to refrain from the following behaviors: dancing, lying, profanity, drinking, smoking, premarital sex, involvement with pornography, homosexual relationships and immodest dress, among others. Refusal to sign the covenant may result in expulsion. While consensus might agree that abstinence, or moderation, from some of the aforementioned actions could promote physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, there is a loss of critical thought in the removal of a student’s free choice to act on, or refrain from, “sin.”

Like an authoritative parent, the University’s sexual mistrust is layered. Dorms are categorized by gender. Men and women are allowed in one another’s rooms twice a week, for four hours. Resident Assistants troll the hallways during visiting hours, like nurses in a psych ward, making sure all lights are on and all doors are open. There is plenty of flirting, but no way to act on it.

Raging hormones are repressed to the backs of minds, where they are interpreted as guilt.

The young women are told that having sex is as painful as labor, while the men place the vagina on an ivory pedestal, of sorts: “I’m going to rail her on our wedding night.” In a community so focused on not having sex, there is much lost in the beautiful intricacies of learning to appreciate the soul and body of a loving partner.

Each fall, the school devotes a week to sexual education. The week’s festivities are referred to as “Sex in the Cornfields.” Men and women fill separate auditoriums where speakers romanticize celibacy before marriage, and outline, via animated PowerPoint slides, ways to reduce and quit masturbation. The term “sex” is thrown around as a ubiquitous catch-all for promiscuous sin, but is never defined. Thus, the sexually illiterate evangelical students develop operational definitions of sex based on their childhood and teenage experiences.

In an effort to define sex, I call upon my own late night, cable-enhanced sixth-grade exploration.

Elementary school sex education videos taught me how to hide a random erection: “Here’s a cool tip, carry your books in front of your penis.” These same tapes showed cartoon testes, with bug-eyed sperm swirling about, chomping at the bit to reach the woman’s high-cheeked, Maybellined egg.

I was twelve and, for two years, had been waiting for a chance to examine real semen, to watch my sperm bounce like guppies. The opportunity had finally arisen. There I stood, dog at my side, holding a fresh, albeit fast-cooling, sample in my pants.

I moved to the kitchen, and trod a wide gate to keep the sperm in place. This was a sleuth mission — the Pink Panther theme song crept from the corners of my subconscious. My parent’s bedroom lay above. The white pantry door was ajar, so it opened with a breath of a push. I scanned past the canned soup, most of it split pea, then found the plastic sandwich bags sitting atop a wire shelf. My hand plucked a bag from the cobalt, cardboard box. This was followed by a soft close of the door. The brass knob’s click was consumed by the darkness.

My sly legs moved to the staircase. I exhorted a whisper at the rustling dog: “Caleb, stay. You’re too loud.” He obeyed and watched me climb toward manhood. I avoided the middle of each step, where the bare wood was likely to groan.

The second-floor hall was as I left it: serene. Although I figured the Holy Ghost and his judging eyes were planted in a dim corner. I slid into my room and flipped the snow-white light switch on. Not wanting to waste precious time, I turned the plastic bag inside out, as I was accustomed to doing when picking Caleb’s poop from the neighbor’s lawn, and reached into the front of my pants. I pulled out a hoard of creamed, buried treasure. With surgical efficiency, I flipped and sealed the bag.

Several thousand loose baseball cards, stacked in eighteen-inch piles atop my honey-cedar desk, were swept to make room for the semen sample. I then rummaged my closet, whose cramped, carpeted floor ramped above the staircase. My hands dug through die-cast cars, a stiff catcher’s mitt, once-lost math worksheets and a battery powered X-wing starfighter; liquid freeze pops, American Girl doll glasses, stale tightie whities and a “Check yes if you like me” note. Then the all-powerful semen-deducing tool emerged: a Wendy’s-brand, Peter Pan magnifying glass.

My eye almost touched the glass, turning it into a monocle of sorts. As the first person to examine my semen, all observations were noted as discoveries. The initial revelation pertained to color. I’d been under the impression that semen was bleach white, but it was more of a linen with a hint of French vanilla. I wondered if my blonde hair affected my semen color. The second detection was of odor. The viscous sample smelled of must — not unlike mildewed baseball pants; I considered a washed uniform to be bad luck. I thereupon became statuesque, with pupils focused on a centimeter-wide portion of the specimen. My eyes were fishing for sperm. In held breath and wishful thought — I swore I saw one move.

A roadside clearing jogs my mind back to the meandering path beside Taylor University. I turn onto a rocky, dim road and ask Becca if she can see any houses. Her vision is better than mine, “I think there’s a house way up there, but it could be a silo. Nothing to worry about. Just pull off here.” I slow the car. Weeds whip beneath the tires. I cut the engine; I turn the lights off. We coincide a sigh and sit for a moment, listening to the wind against the windows. I turn and lean to kiss her, but my seatbelt impedes my progress. She unlocks the belt, then climbs from her chair.

We lay in the backseat, stuck to faux leather, our desires enhanced by the full moon. I am focused on her eyes — not the world outside. She reaches for my jeans.

Suppressed longing escapes.

Fog rises.

A heavy thud hits the passenger side window.

“Oh, shit.”

I force my body off of Becca, hitting my head on the glass moon-roof. She groans, “Your knee is in my crotch.” I look to the window, ready to appease an angry farmer. But all I see is a cud-chewing, flared-nosed, voyeuristic cow — sent by God to protect my virginity. We laugh, re-assume the upright position, turn the car back on and meander beneath the moon.

Dan Rousseau is a Philadelphia-based writer and MA candidate in Writing Studies at Saint Joseph’s University. He holds a degree in psychology from Taylor University in Upland, IN, and has worked in behavioral psychology through the Institute for Behavior Change.