Guys to Avoid on Social Media

Not to generalize, but every bad man on the Internet falls into these categories.

By Monica Torres

Not to generalize, but every bad man on the Internet falls into these categories.

The Perfomawoke Ally

He’s a feminist because his Twitter bio tells you so. He’s a feminist because his second profile picture shows him at the Women’s March. Cites Ta-Nehisi Coates. Tells you he’s not like other guys. So feminist that he likes to challenge your lived experience as a woman in debates because “well, actually.” Sooooooo feminist he’ll never stop telling you about it.

The Guy So Boring You Swipe Left on the Third Word of His Bio

Loves travel, friends and family! Booze and finding cool restaurants! Stuff and things. Is holding a puppy in his profile picture. In every photo, he is wearing the same shirt.

The Man Who Is a Boy

Describes his independence as having a Netflix subscription. Relates too much to Drake. You can’t decide if it’s going to be worse when you find out he voted for Jill Stein or if he didn’t vote at all. Invites you to sleep on his hard mattress on the floor. Plans always fall through.

The Guy Who’s Too Hot

He’s a human stock image who does fake jobs like “consulting” and “architecture.” You don’t trust his abs to be real and you suspect he’s a bot planted by graduate psychologists conducting an experiment on narcissism. Or a narc.

The Modern Romancer

Messages “Hey sexy” once. Never follows up.

The Bro

Keeps it 100, you feel? Patriots all the way, babyy. Football emoji. When you mention that you follow sports too, he’ll challenge you to name coaches, count championships, remember stats, you name it—because there’s nothing that gets girls going than having their knowledge questioned.

The Guy Married to His Kettlebells

Always hungry and will never stop talking about his latest diet. Wants to take you bouldering. Can’t understand why people can’t eat healthy like him. It’s all about willpower, you know? Sends you links to Paleo recipes. 

The Capitalist Who Sees People as Dollar Signs

His bio has his credit score and Uber rating. His first DM will ask you what you do. Flirts on LinkedIn.

The Guy Too Good at Giving You Space

He’s so respectful of your time and space, maybe a little too respectful? Hello?? Is this man a citizen of Earth? Your messages go seen as read.

The Nice Guy

Says he’s funny and kind and thoughtful and caring in his profile. Will not be funny and thoughtful and caring when you reject him. He bought you a drink —why aren’t you more grateful?

The Guys Who Probably Likely Voted for Trump

Looks normal enough but so do most Nazis. Yikes, is the frog emoji in his bio a Pepe reference? Cannot name a woman author he reads. Has a favorite “Leftist.” Thinks you need to hear both sides. Is sorry you’re sorry.

Let’s Have a Realistic Sex Talk

A fictional “birds and bees” talk from an extremely honest parent.

By Gabrielle Sierra

Hello daughter,

Yep, it is me, your parent. Here I am, perched on the side of your bed. You look angry and mildly uncomfortable and I totally understand. It is because you know what is coming.

Don’t be disappointed in yourself, you put up a valiant effort to avoid me all week, knowing this conversation was bound to happen. But I got you good. Because I when I knocked I said I had your laundry and you still refuse to do your own laundry so you had no choice. A lesson learned for the future, perhaps?

Anyway, here we are, me holding your laundry hostage, and you staring out of your window wondering how easily you could toss yourself through it. (Not easily, your sister tried the whole defenestration thing years ago and I am lightning quick, so don’t bother.)

It is time we had THE TALK. You know the one, the talk about sex. S-E-X.

“Now, when two people love one another very much they have probably already had a lot of sex.”

I know you like to whine and complain that you already know all about this stuff, that your friends talk about it or you read it in a magazine or had a class at school. But I just wanted to make sure you had the truth down pat from an expert. A sexpert if you will. Get it?! Why are you covering your face with your hands?

Now, when two people love one another very much they have probably already had a lot of sex. With each other and with other people. Sometimes in groups or in a public bathroom or in a car while waiting for their kid’s indoor soccer game to end. This also goes for most people getting married, unless it is against their beliefs or religion. Personally, I had a ton of sex before I met the love of my life, Mitch. Yes, I know your father’s name is Bill. I meant to say Bill.

Anyway, you can wait until you are in college to have sex if you want to, but I would get it over with on the earlier side. Mid-way through high school is a good time, but, of course, you do what makes you comfortable.

Pick someone you trust or like or even love for your first time just so you can be open and honest about how awkward it is. Avoid cars or couches or waterbeds; the first time is hard enough without worrying about space issues or making waves or deflating cushions. Spoiler alert: men will orgasm, women won’t.

“Sex is great, but it isn’t always pretty.”

There is really no way to know if there will be any blood, but it won’t be a river, so don’t really worry about that. Why do you look grossed out? Sex is great, but it isn’t always pretty, my child.

Once you get through your first time you will feel better. The pressure will be off, and hopefully you will have a funny story to tell. Don’t worry, you will most likely have a lot more sex with a lot of people and have a lot more stories. And anyway, funny sex stories are the best ones to tell at parties.

College is a good time to experiment, and, as a woman, you will learn how to use sex as a weapon. This will be fun.

Sometimes someone may seem like a great person before sex and then be a jerk after. This does not reflect poorly on you, in fact it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them.

Anyone who ever calls you a slut or a tease isn’t a human you should care about. Also if you give me their name and address I can go egg their house.

No always means no. And never, ever, even for one second, be afraid to be honest about this.

“Foreplay is important.”

Casual sex is great and you should have it as often as you want. Be honest about your level of interest and commitment. Use protection and don’t be shy about discussing your sexual past. This isn’t something to be ashamed of, so if anyone ever gives you a hard time about it just tell them to fuck off. Or just give me their address and… well you know.

Foreplay is important. Why are you rolling your eyes? Also you should get some sort of vibrator, you can order one on Amazon. You could also just go to a sex shop in the city but why pay up when we have Prime?

If someone tells you you are “really good” at something sexual, it means they just want you to do it again. Avoid sex when you are really full or have to pee. Sometimes quickies are not that quick and someone will be late for work. Oral stimulation doesn’t always work for everyone, but sometimes it is the only thing that works for someone. Learn what works for you and be honest about it. Pets will watch you have sex, they just do. Don’t worry about it.

Well, I guess that is it. I hope you learned from this and that you will someday crawl out from under your desk and thank me for sharing my wisdom. Don’t forget we love you no matter who you choose to love, and anyone who doesn’t isn’t worth a moment of your anger or sadness.

And remember that the most important thing in the whole world is to love yourself for who you are.

Here are your clean clothes. Alright, I’m going I’m going.

Oh! I forgot to mention it, but most people you meet already have HPV.

See you at dinner.

The Highs and Lows of Open Relationships

Non-monogamous relationships may feel natural for some, but adding additional partners can often make things more complex.

By Sara Afzal

Whether we’re meeting people in real life, or swiping left and right on our screens, it’s clear that when it comes to modern dating, our options are endless. With so many choices, and so many ways to select them, it’s tempting to reject the confines of monogamy to explore an open relationship, which usually includes one primary partner and other casual partners. Three people involved in open relationships told me about their experiences and how they navigate the often tricky landscape of dating multiple people.

*All names have been changed.

Annabel: The Somewhat Reluctant Newbie Non-Monogamist

Annabel, 32, who is heterosexual, had never considered being in an open relationship until she met Liam, 35, in the spring of 2016. They hit it off on their first Tinder date, but he had some news at the end of it: “I’m in an open relationship.” Annabel said she felt a pang of disappointment.

Liam and his girlfriend, who he had been with for nine years, had transitioned into an open relationship in the fall of 2015. They lived together, which made non-monogamy a little more complicated. Liam told Annabel that he had agreed to certain rules that his girlfriend insisted on. For instance, he and his girlfriend did not discuss the details of their casual dating. Liam also had a curfew of 12 a.m. when he went out on dates and would have to call his girlfriend at 11 p.m. to check in. Annabel felt uncomfortable when these calls took place, but he would step away so she wouldn’t overhear the conversation.

Annabel and Liam continued dating in this manner for five months, at which time he broke up with his live-in girlfriend. Annabel then assumed the role of primary partner, and the two have been together for a year.

Annabel says she prefers monogamy, especially since they are in love with each other. “I feel like we are moving forward. We talk about it and we are moving towards monogamy. One of the reasons we are not monogamous is that he just got out of this big nine year relationship so he is scared to throw it all in and go straight to monogamy. So it’s kind of this final stage,” she said.

While they have a “don’t ask, don’t tell policy,” it doesn’t always hold up. Recently, Annabel told me she was staying over at Liam’s place when she found a note from a woman that he had hooked up with, thanking him for helping her with some problems she was having. When Annabel asked about it, he described the woman as “neurotic, only 26, and nothing to worry about.”

“I was really hurt afterwards. I had to go run off to work right after that. I had tears in my eyes, and I was all choked up the whole day,” Annabel said. But the terms of their open arrangement doesn’t give her much leeway to expect him not to leave the clues of others behind. “There’s nothing to talk about. I know that it’s better to deal with it on my own rather than hash it out again with him.”

After this happened, Annabel said Liam was extra attentive about seeing her and told her he was worried he was going to lose her. Usually, Annabel says she strives to not discuss others with him, but discovering the note had opened up feelings of anxiety and jealousy for both of them.

“Neither of us like hearing about the person being with someone else.  So to spare feelings, we don’t talk about it.”

Neither of us like hearing about the person being with someone else.  So to spare feelings, we don’t talk about it. Positive consequences of that are mystery and autonomy because we’re not divulging our every action to the other. It keeps things fresh and interesting and keeps away the temptation of using this as a tool to manipulate or make the other person jealous. Ultimately, I still hate the image of him being intimate with someone else. I get jealous and possessive,” Annabel said.

Annabel prefers to be honest when she feels jealousy. “He assures me that no one is a threat to me, that our relationship is ‘untouchable,’” she said. “However, I also have a tendency to pull away when I get hurt by him being with someone. I create space and do my own thing for a bit, maybe go on a date.” Behaving this way also makes Liam want to spend more time with her, she said. “This helps me reset, gain perspective, remember my power and individuality, and then I come back to him when I’m happy again.”

Annabel and Liam’s open relationship rules include always using condoms and limiting their interactions with others to certain days. “We try to keep our sleepovers to weekends and leave the weekday nights free for what-have-you…so as to create clear boundaries and eliminate any overlap,” Annabel said.

Annabel doesn’t see her open relationship with Liam as a permanent status. She said she has asked for reassurance from him that at some point they will try to be monogamous. He told her that “no one else compares to what we have,” but that he is not ready for full monogamy. For now, she says she is working on living in the moment as she explores the new terrain of being in an open relationship.

“I love that it allows space for a more exploratory, exciting, fun relationship to grow and develop naturally, and I think more deeply, without the pressure of monogamy,” Annabel said. “It creates a healthy boundary and urges you to take it slow and retain your independence.”

Rory: The Open Relationship Pro Who’s All About Group Sex

Rory, 31, is in an open relationship with Emma, 24. They met on Tinder six months ago. Rory and Emma both identify as bisexual and queer. Rory describes being queer as an alternative to living a straight lifestyle by having sex with no hegemonic gender roles. The couple chooses to openly discuss the details of their sexual encounters with others. They also actively participate in group sex together.

“The experience of talking about sex with others is really hot. I get off knowing that my partner is having enjoyable fun sex,” Rory said. “There are certain instances where not talking about it is really important though,” he said, adding that the timing of the conversation is key and if your partner is receptive to hashing out issues that arise.

What he finds most important for successful open relationships is communicating openly and talking about how communication is working—or not working.

When Rory and Emma go out with other people, they still find a way to include each other, sending updates throughout the night. Rory said he likes giving his partner reassurance and affection in these moments of pursuing others; he will tell her he loves her and misses her. He said generally the vibe is, “I’m horny and thinking of you, but we’re not together and that could mean I’m just masturbating or I’m going out tonight with the possibility of hooking up with someone.”

With an active work and sex life, Rory and Emma share a Google calendar so they can plan ahead and share when they are seeing others. “The more people that you are seeing, the more time you have to spend on scheduling. You just have to be really good at that,” Rory said.

Right now, he and Emma are more interested in swinging together. They recently had a four-way with another couple. “I like playing with lots of people at once, watching and being watched. I can’t do these things when in a monogamous relationship.”

“I like playing with lots of people at once, watching and being watched. I can’t do these things when in a monogamous relationship.”

Rory said he and Emma have unprotected sex, but usually use condoms with other people, especially in group sex scenarios. To find partners they rely on Tinder and also Feeld, which is geared towards couples seeking more partners or singles seeking a couple. Rory calls it the “DTF app.”

According to Rory, “non-monogamy is an easy and safe way to explore sexual fantasies. I have learned a lot through group sex about what I like to do and what kinds of things I like to seek out in terms of my queer sexuality.”

Jodi: The Open Relationship Dabbler

Jodi, 30, was in a heterosexual open relationship with Kyle, 33, for five months. They knew each other from work, but didn’t end up going out until they matched on Feeld. Jodi said she wanted to try the app to expand her sexual horizons, so once her and Kyle matched they talked about being non-monogamous. Kyle had a primary partner, Lisa, with whom he has a son.

When Kyle and Jodi first started dating, Lisa was accepting of the arrangement.  They sexted every night and went on dates about once or twice a week. It didn’t bother Jodi that Kyle had a child, she said, it just meant they had to work harder in scheduling dates. She wasn’t interested in dating other people, mostly due to lack of time, she said.

After two months, Jodi and Lisa met to make sure they were all on the same page about the arrangement. “I never felt threatened by her,” Jodi said. “She supported us being together and I knew he cared a lot about me. So jealousy wasn’t an issue with her.”

Jealousy came into play when Kyle and Lisa began thinking of having a threesome with another woman, who was in an open marriage. “I wasn’t thrilled about this, but he wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Jodi said. “He told me ahead of time. But the feelings of jealousy weren’t getting in the way of our relationship, so I dealt with it on my own and let it go. I would have an internal dialogue where I asked myself “why does this bother you?” I would remind myself that there was no need to feel threatened by this. He wasn’t seeking this experience because he wasn’t satisfied with his relationship with me.”

Kyle didn’t want to hear the specifics about Jodi’s sexual experiences outside of their relationship, but since Jodi asked he shared the details about his relationship with Lisa.

Early in the relationship, Jodi was only interested in dating Kyle. “I was busy and didn’t have much of a desire to see other people until about three months in, when I told him I was planning on going on a few dates with other men. I wasn’t asking permission, but checking in to make sure he was comfortable with this. He was,” Jodi said.

After dating for 5 months, Jodi began to feel emotionally disconnected from Kyle. She broke up with him, and shortly after, ended up moving across the country. Kyle suggested being in a long-distance open relationship. “I wanted to at first, but then our relationship started going downhill so I broke things off right before I left,” Jodi said. “He wasn’t providing enough emotional support, and he wasn’t super accessible. He never wanted to talk on the phone and rarely checked in with me about my feelings. Considering how infrequently we saw each other, this made me feel like we weren’t even in a relationship.”

“If there are any reservations or if one of you wants it more than the other, you’re going to run into problems.”

Jodi said she would be interested in pursuing open relationships in the future. “I could see myself being in an open marriage if my future partner was into it and the circumstances were right. Communication is obviously key. And so is trust. I think you need to both be equally invested. If there are any reservations or if one of you wants it more than the other, you’re going to run into problems,” Jodi said.

 

A Reluctant Lady in Waiting

I’m a 30-year-old woman who isn’t looking for love. This is not quite a response to, but inspired by, Becca Rothfeld’s essay “Ladies in Waiting.”

By Saira Khan

Not quite a response to, but inspired by, Becca Rothfeld’s essay “Ladies in Waiting.”

 

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 11.54.39 PM.png

I’m a thirty-year-old heterosexual woman and I am not looking for love. When it comes to dating, my style is now firmly casual. A serial monogamist for most of my adult life, two years ago I decided to stop wasting time in relationships with men I saw no future with. Since then, I’ve met some remarkable and kind men, none of whom I wanted to date long-term.

Because I am a woman, some consider this unconventional. “What do you mean you don’t want to be in a relationship with him? He likes you!” is an exclamation I’ve heard many times, indicating the man’s willingness is all that’s required. The equivalences that follow include “You date like a man!” and the requisite “Sex and the City” reference, “You’re such a Samantha.”

To be fair, I’m not complaining.

I don’t like holding hands, I don’t like sharing my bed, I don’t like cuddling. I get my emotional fulfillment from my female friendships. For most of the last two years, I’ve been the one who makes first contact, I haven’t anguished over text messages and surely haven’t waited for someone to ask me out. In her essay “Ladies in Waiting,” Becca Rothfeld examines why women have traditionally been the ones who wait and why they often find themselves in a “state of involuntary idleness.” It is precisely this historical norm that I believed I had broken free from.

I was wrong.

***

One thing I have overlooked, and that you, the reader, may have missed as well, is that I hadn’t met anyone in nearly two years who I truly liked. So naturally I didn’t care if they were in my life or not. On the rare occasion when a text went unanswered, I was unmoved. Then last year I met a man who I will call Kyle, and all of my seemingly unconventional feminist wisdom was lost. It seemed that, when it came to someone I liked, I fell victim to the same “lady in waiting” trope I thought I was immune to, proving Rothfeld’s point that waiting is perpetuated by women who self-police. As someone who is candid about her feelings (or lack thereof), it was jarring to fall into a pit of self-doubt and, yes, constant waiting.

“The lover waits, speaks, entreats, but the beloved is constitutionally silent.” – Becca Rothfeld

The Day After Text

The day after text, as we’ve been told, is of crucial importance. It’s a ritual that serves as an acknowledgement of a potential future—and, in a heterosexual relationship, it is never supposed to come from the woman. This is a dating convention that I have, and gladly will, continue to ignore.

I first met Kyle in October, over drinks at a nearby bar. I knew I liked him when I didn’t give him my standard “I’m not looking for commitment” spiel, used previously to temper any misplaced expectations. A few hours later, after we drunkenly parted ways, we continued our conversation, through texts, into the next morning. Achievement unlocked.

Waiting is the Rule

I saw Kyle again about two weeks later. It was after this second date that I walked away feeling things I hadn’t felt in years. I was nervous. I cared about what he thought of me and, more frighteningly, how he felt about me. Three weeks later, after Thanksgiving, we went on our third date. By then, I found that in his presence I would stumble on my words and the pitch of my voice would falter. The more I liked him the more I retreated into the habits from my pre-enlightenment days; sometimes, I’d wait methodically to answer texts so as to not seem too eager, and allow him to reach out for our next date. I was no longer the pursuer. I waited.

Rothfeld notes that the concept of feminine waiting is ingrained in us by well-meaning female friends whose advice is always the same: wait, wait, wait. Indeed, even the most well-intentioned counsel I have received falls into the same pattern.

When Kyle would go a week without initiating contact, I’d swear he was “ghosting” on me; that it was the last I’d heard from him and the connection had been in my head. Just as I’d get to the point of writing him off, his name would flash across my phone’s screen. A constant battle raged in my head: was he a fuckboi or just really busy? I didn’t know but I sure as hell was happy that he messaged. “Romantic waiting is, like certain shades of pain, delicate enough to hint teasingly at future gratification but never disagreeable enough to preclude it,” Rothfeld writes. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

The funny thing is, neither of Kyle or I text much. When we first matched on Tinder, this was our conversation:

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 8.47.37 PM.pngAlthough I was, and still am, seeing other people, I found myself in despair in the weeks I didn’t hear from him. Had he lost interest? We were dating casually but in person it felt like more. We did all the things I thought I hated doing. I obsessed over the details: We held hands, slept in the same bed, often broke bread together, and talked, and talked, and talked. Surely I wasn’t crazy in thinking he felt something more? Right? RIGHT?

When hesitating to reach out to Kyle, I was, like Rothfeld, trying to prove my affection, my true feelings, through “mute endurance,” that is, wait him out. Or was I trying to prolong the inevitable demise of our relationship under this shroud of constant waiting? “Waiting, which renders everything provisional, which suspends progress or conclusion of any kind, is worse than clarity,” Rothfeld writes. While being in a constant state of will he? or won’t he? is excruciating in its own right, was I buying myself time and hoping he’d like me more through the act of self-policing?

Jolted Out of the Self

Indeed, if love is feminine and waiting is a sign of that femininity, as Rothfeld observes, then I  subconsciously began acting traditionally feminine in order to gain affection. “The alternative to dejected waiting, then, is patience, the art of elective waiting: a capitulation that women author, a passivity over which we assert ownership and which we might come to more comfortably inhabit,” Rothfeld writes. Even I can admit that I quickly went from being compared to Samantha to comparing myself to Carrie, inviting friends over to analyze a voicemail from Big for some hidden meaning that, likely, wasn’t there. In other words: I was losing my damn mind.

What made me feel even crazier was thinking I was crazy: What if this is all in my head? How much of what we agonize over is a narrative that we have constructed? Has our constant need for communication turned into a constant need of validation– in this case a validation of my feelings? Is my new found state of waiting a manifestation of my own insecurities about liking someone after so long? Have we, women, self-policed ourselves into this modern romantic norm? And what would happen if we stopped? I decided to find out.

In working on this story, I went back to the beginning of my communication with Kyle and noticed something: although there are moments when we went days without texting, there were times when I was the one who trailed off, leaving him waiting. These casual exchanges, to me, felt like the natural end of a conversation, but could easily have been perceived by him as me making him wait. Had I done to him what I thought he was doing to me?

With this new lens and impassioned clarity, I did the unthinkable: I texted Kyle the afternoon he was leaving town for a few weeks.

“at the risk of sounding trite, i think i’m gonna miss you while you’re gone. hope your trip is phenomenal. see you when you’re back.”

His response? He thanked me for missing him.

Welp. Han Solo would be proud, and I am a lady in waiting once more.


“I mustn’t. I mustn’t do this. Suppose he’s a little late calling me up—that’s nothing to get hysterical about. Maybe he isn’t going to call—maybe he’s coming straight up here without telephoning. He’ll be cross if he sees I have been crying. They don’t like you to cry. He doesn’t cry. I wish to God I could make him cry. I wish I could make him cry and tread the floor and feel his heart heavy and big and festering in him. I wish I could hurt him like hell.” -Dorothy Parker, “A Telephone Call,” in The Portable Dorothy Parker.