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British singles spend more than £168 million looking for love online

Nearly 30% of all relationships are formed online in 2012

The Brits have crossed a milestone in the online dating sector, according to the annual study published by industry experts “LeadingDatingSites.co.uk”. In 2011, people from the UK spent more than £9.6 million more than in the previous year on online dating. The industry is also a hit in Europe: nearly a third of people who meet each other for love now do so online.

The British online dating market grew a full 6% on the previous year – in 2011, turnover stood at £168.5 million. This huge increase is due largely to aggressive advertising on the part of leading online dating sites. “Premium-priced quality platforms which have well-honed audiences and good customer service are the ones who get ahead in all sectors”, says Danielle Baker from LeadingDatingSites, summarizing the survey. “Single customers are willing to pay more for better service”.

Online dating is a booming industry around the world, and European singles have caught on, becoming the sector’s largest audience. In 2012, nearly thirty percent of all relationships in the EU are formed online, and the British are holding the fort. Every month, around 6.2 million users log on to dating sites, and a further 2.7 million take part in ‘casual dating’, looking for erotic encounters. At the same time, Britain hosts about 50 online dating sites which have now crossed the 100,000 member mark.

Less pricey, but somewhat more superficial sites for 18-30 year olds have become available to those looking for casual dates and a distraction from the Facebook environment. They are also available as Smartphone Apps and offer features such as location-based real-time search functions for spontaneous encounters.

Download the study as a PDF
http://www.leadingdatingsites.co.uk/press/online-dating-market-2011-2012-uk.pdf

Online Dating UK infographic available here as a JPG
http://www.leadingdatingsites.co.uk/press/infographic-online-dating-2012-uk.jpg

Full press release as PDF download
http://www.leadingdatingsites.co.uk/press/pr-online-dating-market-2011-2012-uk.pdf

About www.leadingdatingsites.co.uk

“UK’s Leading Dating Sites” is an independent observer of the British online dating industry. Those looking for love online will find results pointing them to leading singles’ portals and tips for online flirting. “LeadingDatingSites.co.uk“ is part of the German Metaflake network, which operates from Cologne in 12 different countries.
Dating For Love – Guide To The Best Dating Sites On The Internet, Cupid At Work

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Is Your Relationship Low-Key Or On the Down Low?

I had the pleasure of being a guest on the R & B Podcast hosted by Lincoln Anthony Blades of the popular This Is Your Conscience blog. We had a really interesting laid back conversation (as always) chopping it up about everything from event planning to my thoughts on threesomes (your cue to check it out).  In the midst of our spirited conversation we touched on the topic of low-key relationships. The podcast was recorded on Saturday and the topic reverberated in my head for the entire weekend. This was after an exciting whirlwind of cocktails, fresh fruits and other distractions.

I learned during our dialogue that keeping relationships low-key is typically a male preference. Low key for the purpose of our discussion today is simply a preference for intimate encounters with minimal to no social media attention operating on a need to know basis. Down low refers to this classic R Kelly Isley Brothers track.

At this stage in my life and for a good portion of my dating life I’ve always preferred the Beyonce and Jay-Z approach, dropping little hints here and there, teasing, but never really getting into the raw dog details of my romantic relationships at any one time. They really had the media twitching for a good minute didn’t they?!

Is Your Relationship Low-Key Or On the Down Low?

I have stories, every day I work hard to create them believe me, but I respect any one I chose to date and carefully select what to share and what to keep under wraps.

9 times out of ten women are uncomfortable with low-key relationship because they feel as though a man is trying to hide them from the world. The fear is that they may end up in that side chick role, heading for a “just bag the face” demotion. I understand the concern and admittedly I’ve been in relationships that were not really relationships because of this factor *sigh* however this assumption is usually far-fetched especially if the man has not said, “I’m not looking for a relationship” or, “we just chillin”.

My reason for wanting a low-key relationship is so that he and I can build a foundation based upon respect and intimacy on our own terms before we ever publicly announce the relationship. The minute a relationship goes “viral” is the minute the strength of it will be tested and generally speaking men seem to understand this more than women *kanye shrugs*

Get your weight up before the Facebook relationship status change, before the parental introductions, before talks of the titles and rings. Who are we? What do we stand for? What will we NOT stand for? Do we respect each other?

It’s up to us (yes that includes you!) to take initiative at maintaining intimacy and therefore a balanced level of privacy in our love lives. Especially in world where people are murdered and abused over Facebook beef- Really though?! That’s enough of my two cents, what is your take on low-key relationships? Are you more comfortable with the red carpet approach or would you rather keep the good news to yourself?

P.S It’s also important to understand the difference between low key and down low. Skipping out of town and hiding from your partner’s spouse or significant other in crusty motels in seedy parts of town is not low key it means you’re on the side-If that’s what tickles your fancy by all means happy hiding.

‘Battle of The Sexes’ 

Dating For Love – Guide To The Best Dating Sites On The Internet, Cupid At Work

20 Things Women Wish Men Knew About Sex

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You Can Win Without It

“It’s not what wins a woman over.” – Carmen.

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Listen Up!

“That I actually know what I want, so don’t be scared to listen to me.” – Victoria

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We’re Not All the Same

“Every woman is different. What pleases one woman might not necessarily please another. The key is being in tune with your woman and her particular needs and desires.” – Lela

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We’re Ovens Not Microwaves

“We are not always ready when they are ready. We just have sex because they want us to have sex.” – Melissa

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We Get So Emotional

“Sex is an emotional act for women and is not just meant to fill a physical need.” – Precious

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It Can Make Us Feel Safe

“Intimacy with the one you love provides you a safe place to be vulnerable.” – Tina

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Don’t Want It Too Much

“Their obsession with it is a turn-off.” – Trei

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Sex and Love Aren’t the Same

“Having sex with a woman is not the way to her heart but making love to her will go a long way. There is a difference you know!” – Toya

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There Has to Be More to It

“It’s a part of the relationship, NOT the relationship.” – Chevelle

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Foreplay Matters

“How to be passionate and to learn that foreplay takes place all day long; a phone call to say something sexy, a sexually charged email. Start setting the mood early in the day.” – Therea

No Condom, No Complaining

“Not using protection forfeits your right to complain about the consequences.” – Ayana

Stimulate My Mind Too

“That you got to mentally satisfy before you get between the thighs!” – Janet

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Taking Off All My Clothes Is A Big Deal

“That ripping my clothes off as soon as we’re alone is not always as sexy as men think. Being naked makes a woman feel vulnerable and if he’s too pushy, it doesn’t make her feel comfortable at all.” – Candace

Our Heads Are In the Game

“It’s more mental than physical for women.” – Krystal

The Clitoris Is the Queen

“How to find the clitoris! Learn what it is, where it is and give it some attention.” – Phylicia

Be A Friend First

“Companionship is so much better.” – Dawn

Make Every Moment Count

“Truly cherishing the before, the act and after of love making.” – Matasha

We Like Orgasms Too

“We want [to have] an orgasm every time just like they want one every time!” – Amber

Can’t We Just Cuddle?

“We don’t always want sex just because we want to cuddle.” – Ethel

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Touch Me, Tease Me

“Take time to caress and love each part as if it was the last time you’ll experience love making.” – Lynn

20 Things Women Wish Men Knew About Sex

Dating For Love – Guide To The Best Dating Sites On The Internet, Cupid At Work

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FROM A MALE PERSPECTIVE: SHOULD YOU KEEP PHOTOS OF YOUR EX?

By Anthony Jerrod

Mutual breakups are as rare as natural black diamonds of Brazil. In most cases, one person is the frigid heartbreaker, while the other warmly laments over the broken union and the good times.  Certainly, there are individuals who have no problems with leaving the worn baggage of their previous relationships behind and upgrading to someone who will really love, cherish, encourage, respect and potentially walk down the aisle with them.

Conversely, there are some people who simply don’t want to let go of their ex-lover and would welcome the opportunity to remain friends, although there would likely be more pain and shattered promises that fill the earthly canvas like glass.  It is not atypical for such individuals to keep memories of their past lover around their homes, on their smartphones and social media pages and even nostalgically ponder what they once had.  Now, there are many things that you can do at the same damn time, but being in love with your new admirer while holding on to the unnecessary chains of your previous relationship can lead to disaster.

Is it okay to keep photographs of your ex-boyfriend when your love is under new management?  If you ask me, absolutely not!  Throw them away!

Several proponents have concurred that there is nothing wrong with retaining snapshots of ex-boyfriends. They believe that it is all about trust, and their new “boo” shouldn’t feel jealous or threatened if he is confident. And also, who has time to go through old photo albums (online and old-school) to weed out photos of past flames? Those are fair opinions.

Look, there aren’t too many men who would be cool with flipping through your iPhone or Droid and discovering that you have stored pictures, especially naked or half-naked photos of your ex-boyfriend.  If your new man is really putting everything that he can into the relationship–emotionally, spiritually, financially, and mentally–and you still have electronic and hard copy images of your last “boo” hanging around your home, there is a really good chance that he would be hurt. Although certain men would not admit that they would be insecure or torn inside by things of this nature, they just might be.

Let’s be real, how would you feel if the tables were turned?  Would you be fine with finding the “dime” that he used to date in his cellular phone?  Would you maintain your cool if you found explicit photos of his beautiful ex-lover in his bedroom, especially one from a past long-term relationship?

If you are really over your ex-boyfriend, do you need to see a picture of him every day or on a consistent basis, especially when you are in a new, serious relationship? And if you don’t look at them, do you need them at all? To cover all grounds, there are certain situations where photos may include shared children, which would be acceptable to most gentlemen to keep in the children’s room. And group photos with friends or family just might be fair game too. But if this is not the case, then it is essential to achieve closure on intimate relationships of the past to ensure that your new path is full of blessings and favor.  If you don’t want to throw away photos of your ex, it would be nice to store them in a box in an attic that you can look at 20 years from now when it shouldn’t matter to you or your future husband.  But at second thought, why would you and your spouse ever want to look at them?

FROM A MALE PERSPECTIVE: SHOULD YOU KEEP PHOTOS OF YOUR EX?

Dating For Love – Guide To The Best Dating Sites On The Internet, Cupid At Work

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ME & YOU, YOUR MAMA AND YOUR COUSIN TOO: DO I REALLY HAVE TO LIKE HIS FAMILY?

By Toya Sharee

Parents don’t like me. Let me be more specific with it: Mothers and sisters don’t seem to like me. When I started dating during my teens I had some less than favorable “meet the parents” moments.  There was the boyfriend I was in love with in 9th grade whose Haitian mother always sounded like she was in the middle of a domestic revolution whenever she answered the phone.  That summer, a paid internship painting over graffiti placed me with a guy who started off as a good friend who eventually grew into more.  When we started dating, his family’s issues came bubbling to the surface and I figured out that the problem was more about his mother’s personal substance abuse issues than any imagined conflict with me.  Then there was the first “mature” relationship I really had with a young man from the suburbs.  When I first met his mother and sister, the look they gave me would have you think he brought the entire ‘hood with him, and in their eyes he probably had. I was from Philly (didn’t matter what part of Philly, it was just bad enough that is was Philly for them) so of course they assumed I was trying to trap their college-educated son, make him my baby’s daddy and probably be the reason he would fall victim to inner-city violence in a tragic First 48-style love triangle.

So after that point in my life, I’d given up on trying to be anyone’s daughter-in-law of the year. I am not a demure doll with a painted expression that agrees with everything my man’s family says because I don’t want to rock the boat, but at the same time I don’t think I’m one who brings drama and ruckus just because I can.  In my experience with dealing with mothers and their sons or sisters and their brothers, it hasn’t seemed to matter what kind of person I am.  All that matters is that I’m another woman in their loved one’s life and I have to be assigned some test to be granted membership in their circle of trust. In my experiences, the thing I never understood was why they had to be so nasty about it. There’s a difference between wanting the best for your son or brother and just wanting to be difficult.

I sympathize with the fact that it can be a hard transition for mothers and sisters who are accustomed to being the only women in a young man’s life and then suddenly feeling like their role of mama bear is threatened. The good news is, I am not looking for a son or a brother. I am looking for a boyfriend. All I’m asking is for mothers and sisters to lighten up and not make assumptions about a woman whom you know nothing about. Remember, you once were in my shoes too.  There comes a time when a woman has to let a man be a man and make his own decisions, and that doesn’t mean that he’s being disrespectful.  If you trust that you’ve, in fact, raised him right, then you should know that you can trust his judgment and respect his choices.

So ladies, do you have to like your man’s family?  Not necessarily, but I have to warn you that your love life will be a whole lot easier if you do, especially if you’ve met the man you want to start a family with.  There’s a certain discomfort that accompanies having to leave your kids with someone who obviously can’t stand you.  So while you may not want to take his mom to church, it is important that you respect her, even if she isn’t acting very respectable.  All implied insults and subliminal contempt will only place the man you have in common in the middle and when folks are fighting and fussing, that’s not a fun place to be.

Admittedly, some couples create their own problems. It’s all about creating boundaries, so you can’t call your mother-in-law complaining that her son is trifling and selfish but tell her to mind her business when she offers a slice of bitter advice that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  You can’t run home to your folks whenever you have a disagreement and then wonder why your mother is meddling in your personal affairs. It’s important for couples in a serious commitment to learn how to solve problems without back-up.  You can’t call everyone crying about how your man dogs you and then wonder why your cousins want to lay hands on him at the cookout, although you’ve decided you’re back in love again.  You don’t have to fake a perfect relationship, but you can’t invite family into thebedroom so you can broadcast your partner’s flaws and not expect them to receive some backlash. If brother tells mama and his sister how allegedly crazy you are, don’t be surprised if they want to get crazy with you in return.

You can’t choose your in-laws, but you can choose how you handle your interactions with them. Since I’ve gotten older I try not to over-analyze making a good first impression with a man’s family.  All I can do is be respectful and trust that if I’m with a man who I genuinely love, then we’ve already got something in common and sometimes that’s enough. When two families are forced to join together it can take time for everyone to adjust to different personalities, values and lifestyles.  It’s not your job to make anyone like you if they can’t accept you as you are.  Try to maintain perspective; there’s only one person you have to sleep next to every night…and it isn’t his mama.

ME & YOU, YOUR MAMA AND YOUR COUSIN TOO: DO I REALLY HAVE TO LIKE HIS FAMILY?


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How Do We Recommit To Monogamy After An Affair?

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After your partner comes clean about an affair, is it really possible to have a monogamous relationship? In this video, therapist, relationship coach and YourTango Expert Dr. Tammy Nelsonexplains what it takes for couples to recommit to monogamy after an affairI Caught My Man Looking At Porn. Is He Cheating? VIDEO

“Your understanding of monogamy really has come to an end,” she says. Therefore, before you can truly move on, you must grieve the loss of your former commitment, which your partner broke when he cheated. Thankfully, says Dr. Tammy, it is possible to rebuild your relationship.

After grieving, sit down with your partner and discuss the new terms of your relationship. What exactly are you promising to one another? This way, says Dr. Tammy, you will both be on the same page moving forward.

Exclusive: Tichina Arnold On Her Past Love Mistakes and Preparing to Remarry

By Charli Penn

Actress Tichina Arnold’s resume is beyond impressive. After winning us over in the 90s as Pam on the hit sitcom Martin, she went on to land one memorable TV role after another.

These days, she calls the set of TV Land’s Happily Divorced home. On the show, she plays star Fran Drescher’s best friend Judi Mann, and their both 40-something woman still single and looking for love. In her real life, Arnold’s found true love. Once a divorced single mom, she tells us, she used to think she couldn’t love again. Then she met her fiancé Rico Hines, an assistant NCAA basketball coach and everything changed. They fell in love, he popped the question, and now they’re planning a dreamy Hawaiian wedding.

We caught up with the Queens native and asked her to open about her romantic past and how it has shaped her present day relationship. She even revealed some juicy wedding details. (You’ll never guess which R&B diva will serenade the happy couple.) Here’s what she had to say.

ESSENCE.COM: Has anything that you’ve gone through in your personal life helped to inspire your work with your character Judi?

TICHINA ARNOLD: Yes, and I think they’re writing it more and more into the script. It’s really me being up there in age, you know? Fran kind of jokes more about it on the show. She’ll go, “Ah Judi, you know we’re not gonna get any action!” So, it’s that sort of thing. We’re those two women in our 40s who are still dating, and we’re not with men. Which, you know, is half the population. We’re still looking for love. I’m finding that I’m incorporating that experience. I’m not single anymore, but I find that things do change with age, and I’m starting to see all of that in the script.

ESSENCE: What have you learned from past relationships that has prepared you for the one you have today?

ARNOLD: To not be so bossy. You know, when you’re single, you’re very independent. Very independent women raised me. We didn’t have a lot of male figures as the head of our household, so I got, and took on, a lot of that strong spirit from the matriarchs in my family. It allows you to get on through life a lot easier, but the downside is that you don’t have that experience of watching a male figure interact with women in the home. When you come from an all-female household, when you’re in a relationship, you get into situations you don’t really know how to handle, which I didn’t. A long time ago, when I was married, in the beginning it was bliss. I eloped after one month, and I married for security. I thought, I finally met a man who loves God and comes from a great family. I’m working, I love God, and I’m out here in California by myself, and I’ve met this great man. So, I said yes. And we eloped. The first three months were great, but then after the third month: Whoa. It got physical and it was just not a good situation.

ESSENCE: What went wrong?

ARNOLD: I’m a go-getter, and I move like lightning. I’m used to operating in my own space on my own time. But when you’re married, that dynamic completely changes. So there I was sharing a house, sharing a car, and sharing the money. Sharing everything. That was an adjustment. So one day I made plans for us to travel, because I love to travel. He came home and I told him, “Hey babe, we’re going to go to Mexico!” He’s staring at me, and I go, “What’s wrong? What’s the problem?” He says to me, “Babe, you never even asked me if I wanted to go.” That was wow. That type of sharing is important. I call myself taking control of a situation, but sometimes you really have to learn to humble yourself, and to submit yourself. I’m not really good with submission, so that’s the part of marriage and relationships that I’ve found very hard to deal with.

Most times, when you marry, you don’t know who you are, and there’s no way you can have a successful relationship that way. If you don’t know who you are, how the hell are you going to give to somebody else? I think every person deserves two marriages, because you may not get the first one right. You really never knew. That’s why divorce is so big. We all want it to last, but that’ not always the reality of it. But when I met Rico, I knew what to say to him, and I knew what I wanted out of the relationship. And, when he said he was able to fulfill that, I trusted him. With relationships, it’s all a matter of building trust. Before him, I didn’t trust relationships anymore. I wasn’t willing to put my trust in another person.

ESSENCE.COM: How did you get through those types of experiences?

ARNOLD: My worst experience with relationships was actually dealing with my daughter’s father. I dated him for two years and my attraction to him was just so strong. I didn’t get pregnant with her until after we broke up. But while we were together, it was at the worst point in my life. Financially I was messed up. I wasn’t settled at home. My life was in chaos. Complete chaos. Anything that could go wrong went wrong. He called me one day and was like, “I don’t want this relationship anymore.” That was it for me.

It took me two years to really get through that, because that was kind of the nail in the coffin. I was really depressed – and I’m never depressed – but that was truly a rough moment in time. So I thought to myself, how am I going to get out of this? How do I get through this? But, I got through it. You know, you get through it. You get passed it. You just gotta learn from it. I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to make the same mistakes twice. Now, when it comes to relationships, I know what to look for. Having a daughter, I have no room to see a man that’s not going to provide something beneficial to my daughter and me. I know what it feels like to hit that rock bottom where you have nothing else to give anybody. I had nothing back then. I couldn’t help myself. But getting through that really taught me so much about relationships. You need different things at different points in your life. What I needed back in the 90s is not the same thing I need in 2012.

ESSENCE: Congrats on your engagement! Tell us about the wedding plans.

ARNOLD: Most of his friends are in the basketball world. All of the people who he loves and who are close to him are in the basketball world, so they’re not off-season until August. So initially I said, let’s do a nice private small destination wedding in Hawaii or something. But then I thought to myself, Tichina, there you go again, taking control. So I asked him, but he really was serious about Hawii. So I planned this big island thing. Then the wedding started turned into something really huge. I started to want a concert theme and I thought about having people like Fantasia perform. Then I started getting the numbers, and I said, oh no. So we’re back to an intimate affair in Hawaii with about 30 people, and we’ll call it a day. I blew through a lot of money, and I don’t want to do that again.

Anita Baker is one of Rico’s favorite singers, and I walked into the Four Seasons one day and she was standing there. She came up to me and said, “Girl, I love you. My sons love you. Can I please take a picture with you?” I couldn’t believe it. It made me feel like a star. We became friends and talked on the phone. I told her, “My fiancé loves you and he has listened to Anita Baker music all his life.” She sang happy birthday to him once, and when I told her we got engaged, she said, “I’m singing at your wedding!” So, I just have to call her. I would love to fly her to Hawaii and just have her sing. We’ll see.

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Girl Talk: Love After Cancer

By Lindsey Claire

I was on the way to the hospital when he called to arrange our first date. Sobbing, I pressed “Ignore” and tried to steady my breathing. I wondered if I would live to take him up on his offer for coffee — I’d blurted out “I only drink tea,” and now, I wished I had said something better, something nicer. I hoped I would have the chance to apologize.

A few days earlier, a guy in my film production workshop at college had rushed up to me after class and asked to speak to me alone. Having said maybe five sentences to him in my entire life, I couldn’t imagine what he wanted to talk about, but I waited anyway. He offered coffee, I countered with tea, he smiled sheepishly and said he didn’t drink coffee either, and I gave him my number. He departed just as fast as he had appeared, leaving me surprised and giddy.

To be honest, I’m not a romantic. I don’t believe in soul mates or love at first sight. Romantic comedies, unless they star Hugh Grant, make me weak in the knees for all the wrong reasons. Phrases like “we were made for each other” and “it was meant to be” sound an awful lot like rationalizing to me, and I don’t subscribe to that, either. But I do believe strongly in love.

I’m talking about real love, not the love that’s the creation of a thousand screenwriters and studio executives. A love that’s like spider silk — simple but layered; strong but flexible — and once it’s caught you it’s almost impossible to break free. To some extent, everyone dreams of finding themselves ensnared in this web, but I only dreamed that I would live long enough to try.

At 10, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer usually found in children under five. It was treated with five rounds of chemotherapy, two bone marrow transplants, radiation treatments, and a fourteen-hour surgery that dragged on so long a priest was called to give me Last Rites. My hair fell out in wisps, then clumps. I dropped twenty pounds as the chemicals sapped my strength. At ten, I was just becoming aware of my appearance, and I felt decidedly ugly and unwanted.

Not surprisingly, I had trouble relating to my classmates when I finally returned to school. Everything that they were interested in, including boys, seemed inconsequential and shallow. I tried hard to have crushes on guys in middle school, but it was mostly to try and fit in. I would have loved for a guy to like me, but with a quarter of an inch of hair, no boobs to speak of, and the ongoing side effects of cancer — including chronic pain and bad skin — I was lucky to even have friends.

In high school, I had two long-term relationships. The first lasted six months and the second, a year. Both were emotionally manipulative. I desperately wanted them to understand what I had been through; how it had shaped my body and continued to shape my life, but they were unable (or unwilling). One actually fetishized my condition. He fancied himself a tortured soul and liked to trace with his fingers the foot-long scar on my back as it curved around my rib cage and ended at my navel. His touch was invasive and unwanted; it reminded me of all the doctors that had touched me without my permission, even though their intentions had been well-meaning.

To be clear, neither of these guys physically abused me. Discovering and growing into your sexuality is always hard, but my body was — and to an extent still is — a minefield of physical and emotional trigger points, which only made it harder.

When I got to college, I gave dating the — well, the old college try. But at a university that’s seventy-percent women, it wasn’t easy. Most of the men had what my friends and I called “Golden Cock Syndrome” — guys who wouldn’t normally get any female attention were suddenly in high demand. I had a few flings, but I still desperately wanted a relationship. At first, I was honest about this and honest about who I was. When I felt comfortable, I revealed that I was a cancer survivor. Some accepted this revelation with the proper gravity, but others grew cold towards me, like I was contagious. Some were even nasty. Eventually, to protect myself, I just stopped telling people.

During this phase of self-protective silence, I started sleeping with an environmental science major who was also a drug dealer on campus, the type you can only find at predominantly upper-middle class white colleges: a hippy with a habit and rich parents. I had no idea he sold drugs when I first had sex with him, but even after I found out, I didn’t stop. I would steal away to his room, tortured but unable to turn back because there was no happiness in our relationship, just need.

One night, the condom broke. He pulled away to put on a new one and nervously asked, “You’re on the pill though, right?” I was torn between laughing and crying. I use birth control, but not to prevent pregnancy. Radiation treatment destroyed my endocrine and reproductive system. I can’t create the hormones myself, so I use birth control as a substitute. This also means I can’t conceive. All of this flashed through my mind as I lay there on the extra long twin bed in the bluish dawn, unable to tell him any of it. Eventually, I think I mumbled a “yes.” I broke it off with him after that.

I entered my junior year completely uninterested in dating. I was focused on staying healthy and seeking therapy to deal with the repercussions of cancer. I took classes I was passionate about, including film production. Unlike most seminars at my college, this one was mostly men. Eli, with his six-foot-four, lanky frame, shocked-straight blond hair, and clear blue eyes, stood out. He could have been a Viking in a former life. To me, he looked more like a model. He wasn’t ruggedly handsome; rather, he had a kind of masculine beauty that was striking. But he was shy, and never really spoke in class. I actually thought he was gay until that day when he pulled me away from my friends, and we agreed to meet for tea.

The following week, classes were on a short break, so I went home for a CT scan, the last in a long line of tests, to try and find an answer to a mystery pain that had dogged me for years. The morning afterwards, an unknown number popped up on my cell phone. It was my oncologist.

It was noisy where he was. I could hear muffled announcements for a final boarding call in the background.

“I want you to listen to me very carefully. I have some bad news,” he said. My breath caught in my throat.

“Okay,” I managed. It seems cliché to say that all sound except for my pumping heart died away, but it’s true. Everything else was white noise and the doctor’s voice became painfully loud.

“Your scan reveals what looks like a tumor on your liver and nodes in your lungs. You need to set up an appointment with your surgeon. Can you repeat that to me?”

Mom and Dad got out of work to accompany me to the hospital that afternoon. Eli called on the drive in. I did a lot of crying. In the exam room, my surgeon hugged me and said the tumor was benign and my lungs were fine. We all did some more crying. Then, he revealed that even though it wasn’t cancerous, the tumor needed to come out. At that moment, surgery didn’t faze me. After spending five hours convinced I was dying, all I cared about was that I was going to wake up tomorrow, that I could meet Eli for tea.

We spent several hours in the coffee shop near campus. The next week, I went to his annual Halloween party where he booked a film screening room and showed horror movies. He was still so painfully shy that I couldn’t tell if I had any feelings for him — the real him — but I wanted to give him a chance.

The knowledge that I had another tumor and needed another major surgery only complicated things. By day, I was nervous and distracted — a single smell or sound could instantly transport me back to when I was ten years old and trapped in a hospital bed. Every night I had nightmares dripping in blood. Should I tell Eli? We had only been on two dates. It wasn’t fair for me to burden him with this. It could overwhelm him, sending him running like so many others. At the same time, I was a mess, and maybe if he knew why I was so preoccupied, he would understand. I struggled with this decision. In the end, I chose option C: I would tell him I couldn’t see him right now.

The night of the Halloween dance, I went over to his room to break the news. Dressed as Wendy from Peter Pan, I smoothed my blue dress underneath me and sat down on his bed. He wasn’t in costume. Starting out calm and collected, I began to explain why I couldn’t see anyone right now, but image of scalpels, IV machines, and bleached hospital hallways kept floating to the top of my mind. I broke down into tears. He wrapped his arms around me and didn’t say a word as I told him everything. He said a few words of comfort, but it was his actions that really spoke to me. He wasn’t going anywhere.

Seven months later, when I woke up from anesthesia, he was holding my hand. Over three years later, he’s been with me during doctor appointments, bouts of debilitating nerve pain, cross country road trips and conversations where we laugh so hard we cry. He’s sleeping next to me as I write this. Like spider silk, he’s strong but flexible; simple but layered; supportive and beautiful. He’s caught me in his web, and I’m not going anywhere.

This post was originally published on Nerve.com. If you’re looking for some companionship of your own, check out Nerve Dating.

Dating For Love

Girl Talk: Love After Cancer

Heidi Klum on Split with Seal: He Can Say What He Wants

By Lesley Messer

The last few months haven’t been easy for Heidi Klum, who split from Seal, her husband of seven years, in January. But she’s trying her best to keep her head up.

“I feel like I’m in the eye of a tornado,” she tells Elle in its April issue. “Sometimes I think a curve ball just comes at you. Instead of something straight that you can catch, it hits you in the head from the side that you didn’t expect.”

Klum, 38, understands that the couple’s separation seemed sudden – but she tells the magazine that things in her marriage with the singer, 49, weren’t always what they seemed.

“People don’t need to know who did what,” she says. “I don’t want to talk positive or negatively about the ups and downs that we had. Every couple goes through things. Unfortunately, we’re in the public, so the highs are out there. But I don’t think it’s necessary for – especially for our children – to have the lows being printed in magazines and talked about.”

PHOTOS: Heidi Klum & Seal’s Sexy, Silly Romance

Still, her ex hasn’t always shared that view, and though he’s been vocal about their split, Klum acknowledges that there’s nothing she can do to change his approach.

“He’s going to be 50 next year. He’s a grown man,” she says. “I can’t tell him what to do and what not to do. It’s hard.”

To cope, she’s been spending as much time as possible at home, focusing on the couple’s four children.

“I’m a lioness,” says Klum. “I have four cubs. I’m a mom. I want to take care of my kids and protect them. I don’t want to talk about them, or him, or me.”

She’s also been avoiding reading the stories about her relationship – though when asked about the rumor that her success contributed to their split, she answered simply: “I’m a strong person. But I’m also a soft person. I can hurt. I’m not a robot. I’m not made of stone.”

Heidi Klum on Split with Seal: He Can Say What He Wants

“All Music Blog News”

“Dating For Love”

Juicy Jincey’s Guide to Online Dating: Finding Love or Just a One-Night Stand

Founder and Chief Sexy Officer, Juicy Pink Box
 
 

Before I got married I was a big old slut.
I dated and slept with lots of different women, and I conquered with every slick move possible. I tried every possible combination of dating strategies known to humankind. Therefore, I can tell you tricks that work, and which maneuvers will keep you dateless or create awkward moments.
Whether you want to fall in love and get married — which I did — or simply acquire some nice booty action, this guide is for you. It’s tailored to lesbians, but we can think of it as a guide for “the lesbian inside all of us.” This guide covers only online dating. Some other time I will cover the topics of meeting people elsewhere. Until then, read on and discover the magic of online dating.
Internet Dating:
Dating sites offer limitless potential for relationships and casual sex. Don’t be an idiot and say, “Oh, Internet dating is just not for me.” In an increasingly digital world, meeting lovers online is becoming commonplace. Here are some tips for success:
    • Do not use a dorky screen name. Sure, you may love Harry Potter, but your potential dates do not need to know that upfront. Also, don’t use a name that is geographically specific like “NYCplayer12.” In addition to making you look like a douche, it limits anyone who is not from the area from contacting you.
 
    • Take your time to fill out your profile and answer honestly. Don’t say you are skinny if you are fat. Try to give people a feel for your true personality.
 
 
    • If you absolutely cannot write yourself a good profile, ask a friend to do it for you. My wife asked her friend, a shallow gay male, to write her profile. I loved what she said. Obviously I must be shallow. Oh, well.
 
 
    • Don’t get upset if some hottie that you “wink” at doesn’t write you back. Internet dating is a numbers game, so don’t fixate on one person. Contact lots of people. Keep the interactions going.
 
 
    • Unless you live far, far away from each other, don’t carry on endless conversations over email. Some websites make you communicate in their system for a certain number of exchanges until you can give out your phone number… that’s fine, and it’s a safety measure. However, try to talk to people on the phone as soon as possible. I can’t tell you how many hours I wasted emailing girls back only to find that the dates never materialized.
 
 
  • Once you talk to people on the phone, you can pretty much tell if you will get along when you meet face-to-face. If the person has nothing to say on the phone and has a totally flat personality, just move on.
 
Meeting People from the Internet in Real Life:
The goal of Internet dating is dating — not chatting or emailing, but dating, which means physically meeting someone.
    • For your first date with someone in real life, keep it simple. Do not plan some elaborate date like rock climbing or playing skeet ball or whatever. Tell the person you want to go for a drink. Not dinner. Never dinner, for god’s sake — not until you know if you like them! No lunches, either! No meals, period. I have made the mistake of having to sit through horrible dinners with awful bitches. I don’t want to make you suffer the same way. If you like the person, you can always stay for more drinks or go for dinner after you finish your drink.
 
    • However, if you’re just out for a one-night stand, then, by all means, make dinner plans. Romance the shit out of that girl. Listen to her talk; ask her about herself. Share commonalities. Nothing makes a girl hornier than “clicking” with someone. See the section below for more tips.
 
 
    • Don’t go for coffee unless you don’t drink alcohol. Coffee dates are boring, and they end up being more like interviews than actual dates, where the female juices start flowing.
 
 
    • If you like each other, you can always plan a sexier, cooler experience for your second date.
 
 
    • The “don’t sleep together on the first date” rule doesn’t really apply for lesbians, but that said, don’t have crazy, kinky sex unless you met on some website specifically catering to that desire. Save some surprises for later.
 
 
    • Assume that everyone you are dating is dating other people at the same time. Don’t get your panties in a wad if you find out that they have a date the night after yours. You could be scheduling multiple dates yourself — in fact, you should be.
 
 
    • If you are not attracted to someone after the first date, then don’t go on a second date. It probably won’t get better, so don’t waste your time.
 
 
    • To break it off, just don’t return phone calls. No need to email the person with reasons why it didn’t work out. The only exception to this is if you make a second date and then decide you don’t like them. In that case, just tell them you started dating someone else more seriously. People do not need to know why you don’t like them.
 
 
  • I will cover more about how to date in another column, but this info should get you off to a good start with looking for a relationship online.
 
How to Get Laid from Internet Dating:
    • If the goal of your dating experience is tapping ass, let the person know that you’re not up for anything serious. It’s rude and wrong to lead someone on. However, if the person does not believe you when you say you are not emotionally available, it’s not your fault. You warned them!
 
    • If you sense that you have a Fatal Attraction situation on your hands, end the date. Listen to your instincts. If the person is super clingy, it is not worth it to sleep with them. You will have a hot mess to clean up afterward, and it can be really difficult to get rid of stalker types.
 
 
    • A good way to end a date is by asking for the check. And paying it. Don’t make the other person pay if you decide you want to cut out early.
 
 
    • Before you bring anyone home to close the deal, make sure your house is clean. If you have roommates, clean all common areas yourself. Vacuum, spray some odor eliminator. Clean the hair out of the shower! I am 1,000-percent nosy, and I always snoop around in the bathroom. If there is a bunch of hair in your drain, it’s gross, and it really decreases your chances of getting nookie.
 
 
    • Have some wine and sparkling water available at home for your date. It makes you seem like a smooth player even if you are not. I know this to be true, because it’s a move my wife used on our first date. When girls think that you have mad game, it will make them suspicious — but in a good way.
 
 
    • Make out. Make out. Make out. Don’t go straight for the boobs.
 
 
    • Also, don’t kick her out at the end of the night unless she wants to go. However, sleeping over does not mean that you have to go to breakfast together. Tell her you have a meeting, get dressed and leave the house together.
 
 
    • Don’t plan on going out again with your one-night stand unless the two of you decide together that you will be each other’s booty call. Even then, that shit’s messy. Dating is dating, and sex is sex. I recommend keeping it that way.
 
 
  • However, if after the first date you discover that you actually really like the person, then change your strategy and your mindset over, and think of the person as someone you would like to date.
 
Dating can be rough on your self-esteem, but keep an open mind and an open heart. After all, sometimes fairy tales come true. Mine did.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jincey-lumpkin/juicy-jinceys-guide-to-on_b_1108681.html

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