There's nothing like entering your late twenties in a longterm relationship, surrounded by bridal parties and first dances on Insta-Stories, to make you realize most people still regard marriage as the metric that defines your success as a couple. And since our office gained a few more diamonds this year (we're averaging nearly one engagement per month this year; love is in the air!), the idea of marriage and relationships has been top-of-mind for all of us. And while I'm flattered anytime I receive a DM asking when Jonah and I are going to get hitched, I'm also surprised at how often I'm asked it! So let's clear the air: Jonah and I want to marry each other. Speaking for myself, I'm unbelievably excited to someday be legally bound to him and celebrate that milestone with friends and family. But I've never considered a wedding to be an accomplishment (read why Emily Post said you should never say "Congratulations" to a bride-to-be), or something that will validate my partnership—so what's the rush? I recently had a conversation with a divorced friend about what she wishes she had considered before getting married, and she said, "We didn't have any conversations about why we wanted to get married—it was just the next 'step' after moving in." I've had lots of conversations with Jonah, with friends and family, and married couples about the why. We already live together, are fully committed to each other, and don't have any strong religious affiliations, so isn't marriage kind of obsolete, for us at least? I don't have the answer for you—but I do have a starter kit to get you thinking about love, relationships, sex, and that spark. Here's what I'm loving in this special 'Sex and Love Edition' of The List:
Trigger warning: This article talks about sex, in a healthy and inclusive way, but still there's lots of sex chat. If you find sex to be triggering for you, you may want to skip this edition. And while this article is safe for work, in that there are no graphic images, some of the links below contain very benign sexual content that *could* be considered NSFW so keep that in mind as you click through!
We've all evolved since the days of hiding paperback romance novels. Thanks in part to Fifty Shades of Grey's timing with Kindle reader advances and the casting of Penn Badgley in You, it's now socially acceptable (if a tiny bit embarrassing) to announce a crush on Christian Grey or Joe Goldberg. Dipsea, a new sexy audio app with "stories that set the mood and spark your imagination" is the next evolution of the paperback, for women who have probably never cracked the spine of a book graced by a half-naked man. The approachable Millennial branding makes it feel like you're in The Wing's or Headspace's app, not browsing through categories with labels like "Hot & Heavy" or “Date Night Pregame." It includes guided sessions, as well as stories to listen to solo, or with a partner—all with an approachable edge, that allows you to use your imagination to fill in the blanks and have a memorable ending, I mean, evening.
P.S., I learned about Dipsea from my friend Leigh's brilliant, sex-positive newsletter, Wayward Women. Subscribe here!
My advance copy of Three Women (coming out July 2019) has been making the rounds in my friend group because, as soon as I read it, I needed someone to talk about it with. Lisa Taddeo's book documents the true stories of three women's sex lives and fantasies, over the course of ten years. There's an under-age woman who sleeps with her high school teacher, a suburban homemaker whose husband refuses to kiss her, and a restaurant owner whose husband likes to watch her have sex with other men (read an excerpt here). The three stories couldn't be more different at surface-level, but they also beautifully intertwine though Taddeo's storytelling, as the women openly share their deepest insecurities and dreams. Come summer, it'll be all anyone's talking about—preorder it now so you get it by the release date! (Until then Miriam Toews' novel Women Talking beautifully captures women's voices, as they seek to liberate themselves from an impossibly difficult situation.)
If you can't be a fly on the wall of a stranger's home, the next best thing is New York Magazine's recent collection of essays on the subject of marriage. The essays jump around between ruminations on marriage in pop-culture, photographs, and first-hand accounts of fights, kids, and secrets. It's a beautiful, 360º account of what marriage really looks like, without an Instagram filter.
Last week, I asked on Instagram if you had any questions about sex and dating. Thousands of you responded with everything from frustrations about hookup culture, how to be more open about a decision to be celibate, how to warn a friend her new boyfriend is less-than-ideal, vibrators. But close to three-quarters of the questions were variations on the same topic:
- "How often do couples in longterm relationships have sex?"
- "I'm currently struggling with lack of libido. Anyone else?"
- "How do I maintain the heat in my longterm relationship?"
Considering the number of questions that came in, I briefly considering polling everyone before turning to my own friends. After speaking with queer women, women with children, single women, women in both longterm and brand-new relationships I learned: Everyone feels like they aren't having enough sex, and everyone defines "enough" completely differently. Some friends defined "enough" as matching their partner's libido, others defined it as "once a month," while another complained that she and her boyfriend can't find time to have sex "everyday." There is no right answer to what "enough" is, but Americans are having less sex than ever before, especially those below thirty: "The portion of Americans 18 to 29 reporting no sex in the past year more than doubled between 2008 and 2018, to 23 percent." Part of this is due to the fact that many Millennials still live at home with their parents, but the article also points out that a lot of this is due to screen time—there's more to watch than there ever was—and everyone's exhausted from their over-packed schedules. Here are a three ways to get out of a sexual rut in a longterm relationship, should you want to:
- Schedule sex the same way you would any other plans. This doesn't mean it can't also happen spontaneously, but it will set aside time to do it!
- Create a bedroom that's intended for two things only: sex and sleep (banning screens isn't a bad idea!)
- Have more sex (the more you have it, the more you want it! If you're in need of a refresh, consider scheduling sex three nights in a row—it'll help get you back into a regular groove, if you will.)
The last time I read a Cosmopolitan, it was to laugh at "101 Positions to Get to O." (Really? One-hundred, and one? And don't even get me started on the articles on how to "Blow his mind." Just, no.) At the time, Joanna Coles was still at the helm, and though empowering and iconic, wasn't churning out anything that felt inspiring to me personally. The magazine is almost unrecognizable since Jessica Pels took over last October. Yes, it still suggested I try something called "The Bounce House" that looked uncomfortable for everyone involved, but it was also full of interesting long-form pieces and advice I wanted to dog-ear, not chuck. I, for one, just renewed my subscription.
Should we talk about sex? Do you want more open articles discussing it (and more of the questions you asked over Instagram)? Does it feel completely off-brand and a bit awkward here? Let me know in the comments or in the Facebook group here.
P.S., If you live in L.A.... Next week, Hammer Museum is hosting a free screening of the documentary, Ask Dr. Ruth, about the famous sex therapist (and Holocaust survivor), Dr. Ruth. Tickets are available here. And Stacks House is opening Wednesday. Similar to Museum of Ice Cream meets Finance 101, with themed rooms that address tips for budgeting, tackling debt, and achieving financial security (and are Instagram-friendly, of course).