Celeste & Danielle Offer Sex and Relationship Coaching for a Passionate, Connected and Fulfilling Life

We were just joking about the 5 Easy Steps, but we do think it’s time to lose the reputation you’ve been trying so hard to protect! So here’s a story by (and about) Celeste that we think will help you find your freedom instead…

When the rumors started

One Monday morning in 8th grade, as I jogged slowly around the block with my fellow students in PE class in the small town where I grew up, one of my classmates jogged up next to me, “So, I heard you gave head to John last night in Nate’s treehouse.” Simultaneously, I felt the wind knocked out of me and my flight response kicked in full-force. I started to run as fast as I could – Looking back now, I know I was trying to run away from this image of me as a girl who would give a blowjob at a party to someone she wasn’t even really dating. Never having been any kind of jock, it was certainly the fastest I’d ever run in PE.

Nevermind that the furthest I had ever gone with a boy was a french kiss and a little touching of my breasts over the shirt. But for the sake of the rumor mill, the fact that I had breasts – really big ones for my young age combined with my flirtatious personality were enough to brand me a slut. When I first heard the news I felt a very strong need to clear up my reputation, to make sure people knew that I had done no such thing. At the same time, I was perhaps lucky to have been born in the early 70’s into a family who had fully embraced being part of the hippie counterculture. It had never been our motto to fit in or be what everyone else thought we should be. My dad was an avid stoner and, by this time, my mom had already begun her career as a Tarot reader.

And I, whether I liked it or not, was going to be seen as a slut. It didn’t take me too long to stop running and to wholeheartedly embrace the slut image. After all, I was really horney. I loved to flirt and feel people’s attraction towards me. Though I didn’t have sex with lots of guys, I started having sex relatively early and had had 5 partners by the end of high school. I also loved to make out at parties and I really, really loved dressing sexy. I liked the attention and I liked showing off my big, beautiful breasts.

Letting the “Good Girl” Go

There was something about losing the reputation of being a “good girl”, (something I still love to be called during sex), that also freed me up from worrying too much about being good in general. We, humans, are complex creatures, and to pretend that all of our motives and actions come from a place of love, generosity, and positive purpose is a lie. What’s more, even when we are coming from a place of love, generosity, and positive purpose, others may still see or experience what we are doing differently. They may even feel harmed by something that we are offering from this place.

The wonderful thing about losing your reputation, early and often, is that you don’t have to be shameful, or guilty, or defensive when you do something from the not-so-full-of-love-and-light part of yourself – from the childish, vindictive, or narcissistic part. And, you don’t have to defend yourself if you are doing something from a place of positive intention and someone else experiences what you’ve done as hurtful. Instead, you can “cop to it”. When you can be honest about not being perfect and you can let go of having to be seen as perfect, you get to be human and you get to be more connected.

So, go ahead and ruin your reputation

Think about it, if you have to defend against, divorce yourself from, or hide from anyone who thinks that something about you isn’t perfect or who is harmed by your best intentions, you will spend a lot of time defending, divorcing yourself, and hiding. If, instead, you step towards people and acknowledge your imperfections and hear their pain.You may even know that they are most certainly gossiping about you behind your back and you can let go of needing that to be different because you can now walk in the world with openness. People may look at you and shake their head disapprovingly saying, “She (or he) is shameless” and you will know that they are right. Turns out being free of shame is not such a bad thing.

 

  • Photo by Raj Bandyopadhyay

“I don’t know who you are, but that strap-on you’re wearing … mmm… just WORKS for you,” I said to her, walking up to her slowly and looking into her eyes. “Oh, thank you,” she replied playfully, “Would you like a kiss?”

We made out for a bit. “Unfortunately, I have to move on,” she pouted her delicious lips and said, pointing to a group of people beckoning to her. Wiggling her shapely ass at me, she asked, “One for the road?” Since she asked nicely, I obliged.

This was such a different play party experience for me

In the past, play parties have been a stressful place. I’ve been the guy who creepily hangs out in a corner looking sad and pathetic because he’s all alone and doesn’t know what to do while everyone else around him is having a great time. I’ve been the guy who has tons of great conversations with women, only to have them fizzle out to a friendly, awkward sputter. I’ve been the guy who’s been rejected many, many times by women who are “only here to watch”, only to watch them 10 minutes later in the throes of passion with another guy.

In short, play parties are like real life – a microcosm of everything that happens in sex, dating, and relationships out there, but at warp speed and on steroids.

Frustrated with the constant rejection and stress that play parties entail, I stopped going to them for over a year. However, as I’ve been working on becoming a sex and relationship coach via the Somatica Training and learning all of the tools that they also teach in their Cockfidence workshop and so my curiosity was aroused. Would I be able to navigate a play party better with all of my new skills? I decided to try it out.

The party was a gorgeous home with a great view, a backyard with a large pool, and hot tub. The centerpiece of the living room was a lovely, bright red set of aerial silks hung from a hook in the ceiling. Several rooms upstairs and downstairs were converted to play spaces. It was a bright, sunny day and everyone was in a good mood.

I arrived a bit early and offered to help with setup. This helped me calm my own nerves down and get to know the hosts and organizers a bit. As more people gathered, I mingled and made friends. I was genuinely interested in who these people were and what drew them here.

Embodiment and being connected to my cock

As I started walking around, I felt a lot more embodied and connected to my desire and my cock. This is part of what Cockfidence is all about. Most of us guys live in our heads. We spend all of our time analyzing and performing, and very little time just being. This might sound a little bit woo-woo and abstract, but it has real consequences. When we meet women, we end up expressing our desire unnaturally and inauthentically. We are constantly thinking about putting on the right performance, trying to be seductive while worrying about doing things right, saying the right line, not being perceived as a creep or a perpetrator, trying to be nice.

News flash: the very effort we put on to not appear creepy is often the very thing that others perceive as creepy in the first place! Creepy is what sometimes happens when there is a disconnect between the different signals we give out. For example, there is a gorgeous woman in front of me that I really, really desire, but in my head, I’m going, “I need to play it cool and nice. Girls don’t like guys who just want sex. I need to show her I’m friendly.” As a result, the vibe I give out is a weird mishmash of desire and shame; creepy some of the time, not sexy all of the time.

During Somatica, we went through many different exercises in connecting with our own body and desire. I learned that being connected to my cock doesn’t mean I have to walk around with a massive hard-on all the time. It means that I can access, and I’m comfortable with my sexual desire. This means that I control better how I reveal it. That desire and the control over the desire is very sexy for women.

Cockfidence is a big mindset shift. being connected and embodied helps me access and express desire better, be more playful, and have an attitude of abundance instead of scarcity. But mindset is not all. A man also needs to have some real skills.

Feather touch: a gateway drug

A couple of years ago, touching a woman felt like an intractable mystery. “It’s too hard!” “You’re tickling me!”. It felt like constant guesswork to figure out what kind of touch a woman wanted. Somatica teaches a number of different sexy touches, and especially the importance of starting with feather touch, or light caressing and escalating from there. During the party, I ran into a really cute redhead. We started talking, and (after asking) I started caressing her arm. Her response? “Well, if you’re going to touch me like THAT, we need to find a better location and I need to take some clothes off!” The light caressing warmed her up and pretty soon, we were in the throes of a really passionate, sexy time.

Feather touch is a superpower. It’s a safe, sensual touch that most women enjoy immensely. It builds trust, and not a lot of men have mastered it. Learn it well, young padawan, and the force will be with you.

To gain Cockfidence you need to you need to learn not only feather touch but holding touch as well as different kinds of sexual attitudes, ranging from very tender and romantic to very passionate and dominant. It helps when a man has all of these tools in his repertoire.

If I did it, so can you…

Play parties can be terrifying if you’re new to them. As a guy, going by yourself can bring up lots and lots of issues: past rejection, shame, fear of being a perpetrator, fear of being creepy. However, it’s also possible with a little bit of work to learn how to have a really fun time, make awesome friends, be playful, and even have some really great sex. Somatica definitely helped me get into the Cockfidence mindset, and I look forward to lots more fun parties in the future.

 

  • Raj is a professional photographer and a student in this year’s Somatica Training. He is planning to start his own practice as a Sex and Relationship Coach when he graduates!

A few weeks ago we posted an article on Layering for Women – how creating a symphony of all-over body sensations combined with different kinds of pussy stimulation can give women longer, stronger orgasms. Layering is the idea that we can add many different layers of sensation and psychological stimulation to a sexual experience to create higher levels of pleasure and more intense orgasms.

Now it’s time for the guys to have a turn! As we always say, when it comes to men’s orgasms, they can range from plain-old-good to Oh-My-God. If you want to give men the orgasms that the hottest dreams and memories are made of, you will need to practice some layering as well. Layering starts bringing your energy to sex – the men we know and work with often complain that their partners wait passively to be pleased instead of coming after them with desire.

Layer #1 – Visual Stimulation

“Honestly, one of the things that gets me most turned on is just seeing my girlfriend naked. I get turned on when she gets out of bed in the morning to go to the bathroom and I get to watch her ass as she walks away, knowing she’ll be back soon.”

Since many men are visually stimulated, one way to start is to give them something wonderful and sexy to look at. What they might want in this area can vary. Some men will really love it if you dress up in something sexy and do an erotic dance for them. Others will be much more interested and aroused watching you pleasure yourself for a while.

Either way, make sure that what you are doing is not a “show,” but something you feel really engaged in and can enjoy for yourself as well. If you are going to dance, dance for your pleasure, moving your body in ways that feel sexy to you and look at your partner with inviting eyes. If you are going to touch your body, touch for your pleasure, warming yourself up even as you warm up your partner with your sexiness.

Remember, women, if he has chosen you, it is because he thinks YOU ARE SEXY, so embrace the sexiness of your body exactly the way it is!

Layer #2 – Going After Them

“Women rarely make the first move on me, but I think it’s really hot and surprising when they do.”

Once you’ve tempted him with your beautiful body and sexual energy, it’s time to go after him with your desire. Kiss him passionately, and then kiss, lick, and bite his neck – you may need to turn him over so you get to the back of his neck and shoulders. Men generally don’t get very much all-over-body touching, so you can caress his body lightly front and back. If you really want him to feel your desire, make sure that you intersperse some good grabbing of his muscles and ass.

Layer #3 – Talking Dirty

“For me, if there’s no talk during sex, I’m like, ‘What’s the point?’”

Men love to hear all different kinds of dirty talk, and this layer really engages their sexual brain. They want to hear everything from how beautiful their cock is to what fantastic lovers they are. You can tell them dirty stories about a threesome where the two of you pick up a third, or tell them in a sexy way exactly what you want them to do to you. Don’t shy away from explicit language – just about any guys will light up when they hear how wet your pussy is for them.

Layer #4 – Don’t Neglect the Cock

“My wife loves my cock, no matter what else she’s doing, it seems like some part of her body is always touching my cock at the same time.”

While most women love a lot of touch before you go to her pussy, men are often ready for cock touch much sooner. The trick is to gently incorporate the cock without losing track of the rest of the body. You might use one of your hands to stroke his chest or back while using the other hand to begin to gently caress his cock and balls. Unfortunately, most penises get one kind of touch, a grab with an up and down motion, yet the penis can enjoy all kinds of layering.

Layer #5 – Focusing on Cock and Balls

“Balls often get neglected, I mean I know they aren’t pretty, but it’s crazy how intense it feels to have them licked, and I always keep them shaved just hoping she will include them.”

To layer sensation on the penis and balls you can use your tongue, your whole mouth, your fingertips or a combination of all of the above. If you are giving a blowjob, definitely let yourself be creative in the beginning, licking slowly, cupping his balls, stroking his thighs as you tease him. You can also suck his cock while moving your tongue side to side across the shaft. This creates an extra layer of sensation on his frenulum – the area of the penis right below the head of his cock. If you can do that while also gently stroking and playing with his balls, you’re there! For an extra bonus layer, get your finger wet and stroke his asshole. If he doesn’t pull away, try putting your finger inside as you go down on him.

Layer #6 – The Inside and Out of Intercourse

“It’s way hotter for me to hear my partner making sounds or touching me back than if they just lie there.”

Adding layers while he’s inside you can also increase the intensity of his orgasm. Your sexy noises and words, grabbing his ass, or using your nails on his back can all intensify sensation. Also, whether he is inside of your pussy or ass, giving his cock some extra squeezes with your PC or anal muscles might just send his orgasm through the roof. Some men like a finger in their ass when they are inside you as well. You can reach down and play with his balls while he is fucking you or stick your tongue deep inside his mouth.

Guys – we hope you enjoy all of the new layers your sweethearts give you once they read this article!

Love,
Celeste & Danielle

Women’s bodies and their paths to arousal can be complex and it can help so much to have an approach that really works. In thinking about women’s orgasms in particular, we realized that what has given us have our strongest, longest orgasms was Layering – using a combination of sensations and psychological arousal techniques can make all the difference.
Think, for a moment, about the kind of sex scenes you see on TV. Two people kiss a few times, one of them grabs for the other person’s buttons or belt, or a skirt is lifted and in 30 seconds something quickly gets shoved into something else. If it’s hetero, it’s a penis in a vagina, vaginas get filled with fingers if the scene is between two women and, much-less-often, we see the hints of a penis going in a a mouth or ass if it’s two men. This is the opposite of layering, and, if a woman is involved, it’s very unlikely to result in her having an orgasm.

In contrast, we’ve compiled a list of layers that can make women scream and leave them wordless at the end of sex. Just a word of caution, before you start your layering: some layers can be distracting so make sure you communicate during or after to see which of the layers added intensity and find out if any detracted. Also, the most basic and do-not-ever-forget rule is that most women must have clitoral stimulation to orgasm. This means there will eventually need to be some clit licking, rubbing, vibrating or stimulating of some kind or another. Here are some activities you can add to clit stimulation that can make all the difference in how hard your sweetheart comes. Below we have included quotes from clients, coaches, and friends so you can see their love of layering!

1. Don’t Miss the Kiss. “Feeling a tongue in my mouth, licking my lips or feeling my lips bitten is an amazing warm up, but people usually stop kissing me when they are inside me. Some of my most intense orgasms have been in the midst of a kiss. Usually, I have to stop kissing eventually because I’m moaning too loudly.” Kissing is one of the most important warm-ups for some women and taking too little time, skipping kissing or doing it poorly can really ruin the mood. Read our article about kissing where we call it “The Gateway Drug to Sex.” Also, keep up the kissing throughout. You can kiss your partner while stroking her clit, fucking her, or even while she is masturbating.

2. Include Every Inch of Her Body. “The other night, I was on my knees and my partner was fucking me from behind and I had my vibrator on my clit. Just as I came, she started slapping my ass really hard and it was like the slapping made the orgasm spread through my whole body.” To warm up her body for the best orgasms, giver her light touch, grab her with passion and spank her. All of this can continue during the build to orgasm and can increase orgasmic intensity while she is coming. Gently stroking her back and hips or stomach and breasts while she comes can be a great layer of enhancement as well.

3. The Nipple-Clit Connection. “For me, it is all about my nipples. It feels like they have a direct connection to my clit. One of my favorite things is when my partner is sucking on my clit and they pinch my nipples really hard. I’ve sometimes even had orgasms from my nipples alone.” While licking her clit, reach up and stroke or pinch her nipples – make sure you find the right amount of pressure, some nipples are very sensitive and can only take the lightest of touch while others need a much harder squeeze than you might imagine. A little pain can light up the nervous system for a deeper, longer orgasm.

4. Get the Clit. “What can I say, I’m a clit girl, always have been and probably always will be. If my clit isn’t included, you can forget about my orgasm.” Clitoral orgasms are the most common and foundational orgasm that women have. You can help her if you can get the move and rhythm right with your fingers, tongue or pelvic bone, but you also might want to let her touch her clit while you enhance the experience with other layers! From now on we want you to think of the clit as the most essential ingredient orgasms. Never underestimate the clit – if you are ready to move towards orgasm, no matter what layers you add, you will almost always want to have clit stimulation be one layer unless your partner tells you otherwise.
Pro-tip – An inordinate number of men give the clit too much direct pressure too fast! Start with very light stroking or licking the clit. If you are licking, start out licking as if it were an ice cream cone, include the lips, clit, everything and don’t give hard, direct pressure right away. If you are using your hands, start light, get a lot of surface area, make sure the clit or your fingers are wet, and use the hood to bring friction instead of directly touching it with your fingers!!!

5. Vibrators. “I always take my vibrator to bed.” Vibrators are an amazing tool for layering, this way the woman can be “driving” the clit touch herself and your mouth, hands, and cock or strap-on are free to bring in the other layers. Even all by themselves, without any other layers, vibrators can greatly enhance and prolong a woman’s orgasm as well as making multiple orgasms more likely. BTW, some women can only come by using a vibrator and there is nothing wrong with this!!!

6. G-Spot. “My G-Spot didn’t come into play in my sex life until I was in my mid-thirties. I had this partner who had done a bunch of reading and he wanted to practice all he had learned. We practiced and practiced and practiced!!! It completely changed my sexual desires. I think my favorite now is having him go down on me while he teases my G-Spot and then slowly goes harder and harder. This gives me enough time to really feel the building of my arousal and desire. Sometimes he squeezes and pinches my ass at the same time, then I really go crazy.” The G-Spot is one of our favorite layering tools. Because the G-Spot and clit send sensations across different parts of our nervous system, the combination orgasm that comes from simultaneous G-Spot and clit stimulation can be much more intense. Sometimes, G-Spot touch can desensitize the clit a bit, so you may need stronger stimulation, such as a vibrator or fast-moving fingers, to get the full explosion. If your partner has never connected with her G-Spot, we can teach you how to help her do that!

7. Words and Shared Fantasies. “One time my partner, who is usually really quiet, was kissing my face and neck and stroking my body and suddenly they just started telling me how they were taking control of my body and how I had no choice but to feel all the pleasure. That they were just going to keep touching and playing with me however they wanted to and there was nothing I could do, I just had to let it all happen. It was next-level, that’s for sure. I had to hold back from touching myself right away. Instead, I felt my arousal building higher and higher and the feeling of being powerless was so exciting, I had to wait until they were ready to touch me, I came about 30 seconds after the clit touch started!” We cannot emphasize enough how much adding some more psychological arousal can help bring women harder, deeper orgasms. Everything from telling your partner how hot she is to saying her name or whispering her favorite fantasy in her ear can be huge orgasm enhancers.

8. Cervix. “I really like deep penetration, and I can feel my orgasm emanating from my cervix, but it doesn’t happen unless I have good, strong vibrations on my clit at the same time. My lover can use their fingers or toys, just needs to be really deep and hard, and then my orgasm can go on and on, sometimes I can even roll into a second orgasm without any break.” While some women have very sensitive cervices (yes, that is the plural of cervix!) that cannot take a lot of pressure, other women enjoy the cervix as another wonderful layer of sensation. You can try using your fingers, or a toy if your fingers aren’t long enough. Try direct pressure or pressure to the “gutters” around the cervix, which affects the cervix by moving it, but may have less of a chance to cause discomfort or cramping.

9. Anal Play. “Sometimes I feel like there is this direct connection between my asshole and my clit. My partner will be licking me and then she starts playing with my ass, just on the outside even, and it brings my clit sensitivity way up. It was really surprising the first time, and I thought I would never want anything touching, and definitely not in, my ass. That certainly isn’t the case anymore. I love it when my partner puts her finger inside me or a butt-plug when I’m touching myself. The best is when she is also sucking on my nipple at the same time. I kind of melt into a puddle after that.” Many folks are wary of anal play and don’t even give some gentle stroking a chance, yet all of the nerve endings, as well as the powerful feeling of anal penetration, can really pack an orgasmic punch!

Just sitting here and writing this and thinking about partners who intuitively knew about layering makes us shiver! Women, don’t waste any time, forward this to your partner right away! Point out the parts that you like best and give any extra detail your partner might need, like the order you want them to go in for the perfect build or which ones you like to have all at the same time! Also, make sure to let them know if there is anything you like on your body that we have left out.

Here’s an example: Hi Sweetheart – Just wanted to forward you this list from Celeste and Danielle. For me, it would be best if you’d start with #1, while giving me #2 all over (only light spanking please). Once we’ve done all of that for no less than 15 minutes (can be more!), I’d love for you to use your teeth for number #3 while you *very lightly* stroke my pussy lips and clit with your fingertips. Don’t be shy, I can take a lot of pressure on my nipples, and I’ll tell you if you hit my edge (oh, please, please, hit my edge!)…

We’ll leave the rest to you!!!
Love,
Celeste & Danielle

In case you didn’t know, there is something we should all be celebrating as soon as possible and that is the beautiful practice of self-pleasure. Yes- May is Masturbation Month (or Maysturbation month as one of our brilliant Facebook followers suggested) and we could not be more excited to revisit this essential act with you all (and with ourselves, of course). For most of us, maturbation was our first sexual experience but instead of giving our relationship with ourselves the time and attention this first love deserves, we often think of it as a functional quick-fix. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but why not see how much pleasure and fun could be had if we gave masturbation a little more love? We have a few ideas of how you can bring some of that spring fever energy back to yourself, which will likely inspire you to spread the love.

1. Take your time
When was the last time you actually set aside some time to do yourself proper? Make a date with yourself that involves a bit of lead up, some extra attention, and maybe a delicious nap afterwards. You may surprise yourself with your own potential for self-induced pleasure when you actually dedicate a solid window of time.

2. Mix it up
Most people have a go-to way that they masturbate. This might involve a trusty vibrator, a favorite porn, a certain position. Often these are habits of efficiency and, although tired and true, this month we challenge you to change them up a bit. It may take a little longer but it will be worth it, we promise.

3. Try it with a buddy
We are huge fans of mutual masturbation. Not only is it super hot to watch, or have specific tasks as a helper (nipple sucking is a solid go to) but watching your partner pleasure themselves can be very informative and can give you all sorts of great ideas for how to please your partner. Also, if you are into role-playing there are many fun ways to create scenarios where you are only “allowed” to touch yourselves.

4. A change of scenery?
Without risking arrest, think of a new location that might add a bit of variation to your routine. Maybe you usually touch yourself on that chair in front of your computer, in the shower, or in bed. Isn’t it time to try the couch, the secluded back porch, or in front of your partner on their work-at-home desk?

5. Buy a new toy
Treat yourself! Afterall, much-beloved sex toy supplier Good Vibrations is the original masterminds (get it, master?) behind Masturbation Month so why not show them, or any other fav local sex shop some love this month and get yourself the gift that keeps on giving. If it has been a while, you will be delighted to see how technology keeps advancing in the sexual pleasure field, from usb charging to remote vibe necklaces the future is at your fingertips, and in your pants.

Most of all, this month is a great time to remember that we all have the capacity to experience amazing amounts of pleasure on our own. We are whole sexual beings and we all deserve to dedicate some time to this part of our lives. It is so silly and shame-based that words about masturbation are used as insults. This Month, and every other one, let’s all commit to being proud wankers, jack-offs, baters, bean-flickers, or pearl-polishers.

Joy is contagious, unfortunately so are anxiety and insecurity. So many people start dates from one extreme or another instead of a place of grounded confidence where they are open to actually enjoying themselves. Romantics may be 20 steps ahead – already so in love with the idea of what could be, while self-described realists may already be bemoaning the fact that they are wasting their time when they could just have a surefire fun night with friends and a pint (of beer, ice-cream, or both). Many folks approach dating as if it is a job interview and are generally caught up on how they will perform. They worry about how the other candidate will measure up or they oscillate and between performance anxiety and competition. We are not saying dating is easy, but there are some ways that a change in approach can really impact the experience, even if the fit is not amazing. Dating with joy is an important skill for people who are in a relationship as well. Many couples have a date night but start to dial it in and make it as much like any other night as possible. This holiday season why don’t we all try these 5 ways to bring a little magic to this artform.

The Pre-Party: Getting ready for a date can be a great way to get grounded and start off with some joy of your own. Do something that is a bit indulgent – take a bubble bath, a longer shower, eat a little something that makes you feel your senses come alive. Listen to your anthem, the one that makes you feel like you can do anything. If you are coupled, think about getting ready on your own. It may feel contrived but it can allow you to look at your partner with fresh eyes if you didn’t just pass them the soap in your getting ready shower. Some people like to take their pre-party a little further, perhaps, all the way. For some a little self-love can be a great way to relieve nerves and get in touch with your desire. Others can get started but might enjoy a date more if they have held out on a big O. Only you can know you body. We encourage you to start dating yourself and remember how fun you are before you even meet up.

A Joyous Plan: Who doesn’t like dinner? For a foodie a surefire joyous plan may be a night at a new food truck park or a great new restaurant. But for those of us that have been on a lot of dates it can feel like a movie montage where the person across from you swaps out but your experience remains the same. As an alternative, try something a bit less stationary and more dynamic. This is a great season for it. Go ice-skating, caroling, go on a hunt for the best-decorated houses in your area. Do a car picnic and watch the sunset or go to indoor mini-golf. See a comedy show and just enjoy yourself (and have a window into their sense of humor without all the pressure). Make a plan that you are excited about.

Stories are Everything: If you are dating someone new take the time to really hear their stories and appreciate how unique they are. Also, when you are telling your own stories, try and be as honest about yourself as possible instead of editing. Be confident that you are fascinating because we all are when we share our unique perspectives. If you are in an LTR try asking your partner to tell you some stories you may not know. Perhaps about a childhood crush or an accomplishment they never got to brag about.

Having Fun Doesn’t Mean You’re Leading Anyone On: Some people feel like they need to be overly “realistic” and make the date an unpleasant one if they feel there will not be a follow-up. We want to give you permission to enjoy yourself without worrying about the future. You might end up surprising yourself, making a new friend, or just having a good story. You can always end by saying, “I had a great time with you, and am not totally feeling the chemistry, but I’m glad we met.”

Strong Finish: Now we don’t necessarily expect the date to end in a night of mind-blowing sex until the morning. If it does, great! You’re welcome ;). But there are many outcomes that can still feel great and leave you with a feeling of hope and joy. This season is a chance to be a little kinder, more open, and share your unique self with the world. Even if your after-party is solo, we are sure you can think of some ways to make it joyous! At the end of date night remember all of the wonderful things you enjoy – about yourself, your date, where you live, what you ate, etc. Gratitude is contagious as well.

While inelegant, heavy-handed, and simplistic at times, the overall message of the movie Don Jon is a good one. Written, directed by, and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, this film takes us on a tour of sex and relationships in modern times. In the beginning we see Levitt’s main character, Don Jon, watching porn constantly, sleeping with a new woman every night, and complaining that real sex never measures up to the porno standard. He then enters into a relationship with Barbara Sugarman, played by Scarlett Johansson, who plays by the old fashioned rules dictated by female “porn,” aka romance movies. She holds off on sex and begins grooming him to be the perfect financial provider. Once they do have sex, Don Jon slinks off to masturbate immediately afterward, and continues to rely on internet porn to achieve his sexual highs.

The message Gordon-Levitt beats into us like a dead horse is simply Porn is Men’s Porn, Romance Movies are Women’s Porn and neither one shows any form of real connection or intimacy. Eventually Barbara discovers Don Jon’s porn history on his browser and leaves him for being a “pervert.”

Enter Esther – a recently widowed “cougar” played by Julianne Moore with whom Don Jon eventually begins an honest sexual and intimate relationship. The fact that Moore is a widow points to the way that the romantic fantasy of finding someone and living happily ever after without a hitch is also always a lie, because eventually one person dies and one way or another we all lose.

While this might seem sad, we believe that the message of the movie is actually quite hopeful. The relationship between Don Jon and Esther is not dictated by the trajectory of meet-date-cohabitate-marry-breed-die. They are exploring their connection in the moment and Don Jon begins to experience the vulnerability, depth, and freedom, as well as the arousal that comes from the authentic erotic connection available in this relationship. We found the message in Don Jon to be infinitely more hopeful than either porn or rom coms – it offers us a glimpse into what’s possible if we stay true to ourselves and our relationships in the present moment.

Don Jon points us to a vision of sex and relationships that aren’t based on the rom com’s promise of forever happiness or porn’s perfectly uninterrupted, faked orgasm trajectory of male arousal to ejaculation. Sure, once in a while it’s fine to go ahead and get our porn or romance fix as long as we realize that they are fantasies, not reality. In reality, there are no guarantees of happily every after or hot sex forever, there are just two (or more) people experiencing the ups and downs of life, and the joys and frustrations of the places we meet and the places we miss each other. When we can do this with love, honesty, and room for disappointment, so much more is possible.