An escape from reality: the anatomy of a summer romance

Summer romances are tricky things. You get caught up in the whirlwind of the moment and the feeling of the freedom. So much of what fuels the summer mind is the prospect of living in the moment, saying yes to things you normally wouldn’t have and hoping what you felt in that exact moment is a feeling that will last forever, like that one Grease song.

Of course, all summer romances differ slightly in their contexts and conceptions, but one thing can be said of all summer loves: they are wonderful and spectacular things. But once August comes, the feelings dwindle, and that moment and the sheer freedom get lost in the routine of normal life.

Why are summer romances so different from ones at any other time of the year? What makes your feelings during hazy summer nights and hot summer days so unique? As college students, summer provides us with the escape from the monotony and predictability of school life. After our last final, a weight is lifted from our shoulders, and we feel the freedom of the absence of routine and the constant demand of schoolwork — at least for the next three months.

You can’t go through your entire break wanting to have a summer romance or fling. Those things just happen. Forcefully trying to create some kind of connection with another person usually turns out disastrous for both. Summer romances are different because they happen by chance. They catch you in your most carefree state, caught up in the haze of the season.

But if you’re looking for opportunities to encounter a possible summer fling, your best bet would probably be at a party. Parties are the best places to meet people. Everyone is carefree and having fun, so this is the easiest place to make a connection.

Say you’re at a bonfire on a hot summer night, chilling with a few of your friends and the friends of those friends. You end up sitting by an engaging and interesting stranger. So, of course, you make small talk. Small talk turns into talking about your interests, and that, in turn, shifts into talking about what you have in common. Thus, a connection is made.

This connection, fueled by the lightness of the season and the extra time you have from not being in school, sparks the flame that is the beginning of a fling. The extra time means you are able to easily balance a romance with the rest of your life because you aren’t too busy. Summer romances are wrapped up in themselves, and you forget come August, your responsibilities return.

This is the downfall of the fling. For most, routine will eventually catch up with you. At the start of the new semester, you’ll both go back to your busy schedules and expectations, and what you based your summer romance around will slowly fade to a memory of that free, passionate feeling until the hazy heat of the next summer rolls around once again.

Take a time-out to diffuse relationship tensions

Some people inevitably have beef.

Take Sammi and Ronnie from “Jersey Shore,” their volatile relationship and consequently his tirade on her beloved designer shades and their shared bedroom. If that wasn’t heated enough, take Charlie Sheen and the never-ending saga of Charlie and Alan Harper in “Two and a Half Men.”

Every duo, relationship or group is bound to have some tumultuous times, but the bottom line is, you don’t have to perpetuate it.

Take a breather, man. Contemplate a few of these tips.

Monitor your physiology, suggests “Sexual Fluidity” author Lisa Diamond. She argues that couples often get so involved and consumed in an argument and forget to breathe. If you feel your heart racing and your palms palpitating, take a series of deep breaths. If your eyes are ablaze, close them and just take a moment to yourself. Such a small behavior seems petty, but it can make a profound difference in the outcome of your spar.

When things begin to become heated, take a half-hour break from your beau and revisit the issue afterward. Studies shows this is ample amount of time to clear your head and provide clarity to the situation at hand. Revisit the conversation after the time apart.

Never, and I mean never, go to bed mad. Hash out everything before your head hits the pillow and you will wake up feeling much better. Engage in some residual angry sex while you’re at it and follow it up with some mushy gushy pillow talk. For
an extra hot-headed morning, start a steamy shower for two and take turns with the loofah and pleasure. Rinse and repeat.

Sometimes when you are on your toes in defense, the last thing on your mind is humor. However, adding a funny anecdote to interrupt the conversation can easily defuse the tension. Find something funny in your situation. If you can’t find anything
funny, trip and fall. I mean that. Inciting laughter will jump start endorphins in your brain, which will give both partners a time to compartmentalize what is really going on. The seconds spent laughing will remind you that, yes, you do love and enjoy each other, otherwise you would not be so heated, right?

Avoid accusatory statements beginning with “you” or “you never” and replace them with “I feel” statements. When combined with a calm and soft voice, this is a surefire way to diffuse an argument before it fuses into something hotter.

For an added bonus, enforce positive body language; stand with your shoulders and knees facing them and
avoid sighing or rolling your eyes.

An argument is not the time to kitchen sink, or simultaneously bombard your partner with problems. It is the time to reevaluate each other’s feelings and consider how your behavior affects those around you — which is sometimes the most difficult
thing to realize in the moment.

When engaged in an argument, it is almost always easier to play the blame game and point the finger away from yourself, but refrain. Assigning blame leads to more conflict. More conflict leads to less satisfaction and sex… and wait, does anyone want
that?

Empathize with your partner. Sure, leaving the toilet seat up is annoying, but take the time to consider why you partner might behave in this way. Have they been stressed or distracted? Take extraneous changes in environment into consideration, because you are, after all, on their team.

Intimate partners are inclined to be the closest bond in your life, so take a few moments and realize at the heart of this argument, you are fighting for a better understanding of each other.

Friends with benefits: worth the hassle?

Friends with benefits are like condoms: convenient to have around, but easily broken and are later thrown away.
It is more acceptable to partake in nonromantic and noncommittal relationships than ever before, according to Peggy Giordano, a sociology professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, who studies the sexual behavioral patterns of
young adults.

In a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior journal, 66 percent of
participants revealed they have engaged in a FWB relationship. The study revealed that the
main advantage of these unconventional unions is the lack of commitment (59.7 percent)
and having intercourse (55.6 percent).

When the romance is sans the wine and dining, the expectations for fidelity is forgone.
This is where conflict breeds. Approximately half of the students admitted to having bouts
of uncertainty while FWB, however nearly three-fourths said ground rules and
expectations were never discussed. Of the related stresses, 65.3 percent reported anxiety
over developing feelings and 28.2 percent worried they would ruin the preexisting
friendship.

By exercising total honesty and straightforwardness, these issues could work in
your favor and help you and your partner maintain the friendship that came to be FWB. Be
honest about any other sexual partners you have and anyone you are seeing, as
these can be points of contention. Be up front about your expectations and make ground
rules if needed.

An advantage of having a trusted sexual partner is the ability to explore your
sexuality, fantasies and desires, without being judged or left with the empty feeling after a
one-night stand.

Take comfort and guilty pleasure in knowing your lover so well. Not only
will conversations about contraception, fidelity and needs come easier, but they’re more
likely to understand and cater to your needs and wants.

This type of honesty and open conversation will strengthen your relationship and friendship in the long run.
Try new things and incite your frisky side. Have your partner tie you up in some light bondage with inexpensive nylon rope or a silky tie. Try the police officer role-play you have been dying to do. Buy a whip or paddle and show your good friend who really is boss.

Do the deed in some unexpected places.

Being FWB is about seizing the moment and taking control of your cravings. Explore new boundaries together within the confines of your relationship; after all, many would argue you have the best of both worlds — dessert without the extra hassles.

Turn up the heat as the temperature drops

The blustery months of winter do not have to be the blunder to your relationship. Try out these hot tips to add spice and sizzle to your love life and you are guaranteed to ignite the flame.

If you find yourself in Kansas City or St. Louis and feeling limber, check out a Bikram yoga studio, and prepare to work up a serious sweat alongside your sweets.

Not only is this yoga hot for couples that love an adrenaline rush, but it is literally just that — blazing hot. Studios are heated to a little over 100 degrees and adjust to 40 percent humidity to accompany a set series of 26 poses and breathing exercises, typically lasting 90 minutes. Not only will this modified yoga reduce stress and tension, but it will also increase your lung capacity.

What big lungs you have there.

The better to scream your name with.

Cozy up to dinner, movie and a drink outside the comfort of your home. AMC Mainstreet 6 in Kansas City and Chesterfield Galaxy 14 Cinema in St. Louis combine fine dining with mainstream cinema for an unforgettable night. Not a movie worth
seeing out? Do not fret, studies show it is scientifically proven people develop feelings more quickly if they share a mutual dislike — so enjoy that B-list movie and all of the happy and hot feelings later.

Amp up the spicy and put it where your mouth is. Divulge in an ethnic restaurant for a zesty, authentic taste that is sure to not only heat up your taste buds, but also your libido. Try Kojaba Bar on Business Loop 70, a Korean Japanese BBQ or
Thai restaurant Bangkok Gardens on Cherry for that extra kick.

Want a hot thrill that will get your heart pumping? Take a four-hour mini road trip to Branson, Mo., and enjoy a scary 90-minute tour into the hair-raising spiritual realm of the Midwest.

Craving the excitement, but not the gas mileage?

Lexington boasts about the scariest sights in the whole state, and includes wine tastings and a live re-enactment. Plus, it’s only an hour and a half away.

The adrenaline surge from the scare will warm your body in low temperatures.

Heat up a lusty lay on a day in. Brew a pot of hot tea, pour yourself a cup and leave it on your bedside. When foreplay starts to sear and your tea isn’t steaming, take a gulp. Blow the heat from your mouth on erogenous areas of thin skin, such as inner thighs, nipples, neck and ears (and do not forget to whisper something just as hot into their ear!). Warm sensations bring blood to the skin’s surface, which will not only heat up the action, but also your body temperature.

Strip down ever so slowly. According to a study by the Journal Perception, men find women sexier in the winter, when they generally see less skin and are left with more to the imagination. To add to the heat, invest in a self-warming lubricant
or massage oil (try KY Touch Massage Warming 2-in-1) and warm up your partner’s muscles. Pay close attention to the back of the neck, scalp and soles of the feet, all areas on the body where warmth escapes the fastest.

Adding hot stones to the mix can add a heightened relaxation to the mix, as well as the opening of meridians or energy pathways in the body. Hot stone massages facilitate deep muscle and tissue relaxation, release of toxins, relief of pain,
calming the psyche and improving and directing circulation to a much hotter area.

Typically basalt stones are used for their unique ability to retain heat for long periods of time and are relatively inexpensive. Simply place the stones in a crock-pot on a low setting for 30 minutes, rub massage oil on them and work out the tension
and strain.

Denying responsiblity sends relationships into a nosedive

All of you lying, cheating, dead-beating, two-timing double dealers are off the hook, if you follow the conceptions of psychologist and marital therapy researcher John Gottman, who argues infidelity is the symptom of a failing relationship, and not the cause of the initial issues.

Not only would country singers Patty Loveless and Carrie Underwood beg to differ, but psychologists, researchers and anyone
with a sense of self-actualization would argue this theory takes the responsibility of the behavior from the cheater and dumps it onto the cheated on.

Researchers Melissa Tafoya and Brian Spitzberg compiled 47 differing investigations of over 58,000 partners (most married and from the U.S.) in 2007, and concluded 21 percent of women and 32 percent of men admit they have had an affair.

Even though most participants agreed they do not have sexual intercourse with these extra partners after they seal
the knot, one out of five admitted to breaking that marital sanctimony. That’s a lot of infidelity to write off as being solely the symptom, instead of addressing the behavior, why it happens and establishing what type of people are more likely to
behave in this way.

Chronic cheaters are characterized by their fearful attachment style, which denotes being anxiety-ridden of rejection, developing a mistrust of others and suspicion of their partners’ loyalty. In fact, those who perpetrate infidelity are more
likely to perceive wrongdoings and disloyalty in their partners than partners who are monogamous and loyal (the “I’m doing it, so they must be, too” mentality).

Partners who cheat as habit are likely to be outgoing, attention seeking and flirtatious or manipulative and insatiable. Men are more likely to cheat, as they traditionally hold more positive attitudes toward casual sexual activity (more open sociosexual orientation) and often seek sexual variety, whereas women seek extra emotional connection and validation. This is not to say all men are dogs and women are chaste, it is just to say these are the statistics demonstrating sex differences.

Gottman fails to identify that even though infidelity can be a reaction to a failing relationship or marriage, participating in sex outside of a relationship is commonly the reason for aforementioned problems to even surface. According to nationally-recognized family therapist Gary Newman, the reason men cheat on their wives and partners is not to seek a prettier, younger, more sexually charged or a fit partner.

In fact, 92 percent of men that Newman polled who are currently engaging in infidelity stray to fulfill an emotional void. These voids are most often feelings of disconnect from their partner or feeling under-appreciated or not admired.

Not addressing these voids and emotional inadequacies within relationships is folly and even more irresponsible than not taking responsibility for infidelity and its consequences. Psychologists like Gottman should be teaching clients to become more self-aware and take action for their misdoings, and not validate attribution to the faulty relationship that lead up to that lusty night outside of the relationship. Take accountability for your negative contributions to your relationship and, over time, your partner is more likely to begin seeing your positive contributions once again.

Infidelity is not the end all always, but denial is.

Bring yoga into the bedroom

Try out a yoga class. According to a study by the University of British Columbia, male and female partners who actively take yoga classes and embrace the Zen lifestyle have more satisfying sex lives.

Not only will the downward-facing dog be a lusty addition to the romp, but poses like it induce a sense of mindfulness and concentration. This contentiousness or centered state of mind will help increase your chances of climaxing.

Doing yoga will help you relax and give you the ability to be harmonious and able to concentrate on simply making whoopee, instead of worrying about other menacing facets of life. Even changing the pattern of your breathing during intercourse to a more Zen-esque notion can bring big change. Try taking deep, fast and even forceful breaths through your nose during foreplay to accentuate a breath of desire you have not witnessed yet. If your partner is not too concerned with it sounding like you are mutually hyperventilating, incorporate their breathing for a tantric climax together. This is the first building block to incorporating Kama Sutra type practices into your romps.

To increase your flexibility, try sitting down on the floor with your feet together. Press your hands on your ankles and allow your knees to relax to the floor while you lean forward. This will open, stretch and strengthen your pelvic muscles for a wider range motion and control during positions such as missionary.

Simple exercises such as this will allow you and your partner to breathe, sweat and move together in tandem bliss. Embrace this mutual exploration. Sexual satisfaction comes from trying new things and inciting new desire.

The Rec Center offers yoga classes 16 times a week at various times throughout the day for men and women. The classes last for 50 minutes and often include poses such as the Fab Five. Traditionally, Fab Five uses Pilates poses to help build lean muscle, stamina, flexibility and greater toning of the muscles.

The price of independence

Women’s magazines and best-selling authors alike will be fast to suggest many places to snag a man ready to wine and dine you. But I am here to tell you, for some women, the location could not matter less. I am one of those women. I might not have went so far as to have relocated to Boston, which 53.6 percent of the men are unmarried according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But I have positioned myself (sans friends) in all of the hot spots and I still lack my flock of eligible and egalitarian men.

I could have thrown my hands up by now. In fact, if it not for my friends reminding me that it truly is not me, I would have. Looking back at my faulty and seemingly failed relationships of the past, I see that I am not attracting the right kind of guy and not frequently enough attracting any sort of guy. Why? My friends answer, “Because you are intimidating.”

I have zero intentions of warding off men. I display positive and approachable body language. I do not monger with fifteen of my closest (and prettiest) friends and even will initiate conversation when I see a stare settle my way. What is it I’m doing wrong?

After asking a pool of my male friends, I was unanimously told I possess an aura of confidence that includes an unyielding mouth to tell it like it is. Some described it as off-putting at first. But one friend told me I simply exude a strong sense of independence, security in my skin and strength as a woman. Another flat out confessed it is because a guy can tell early on that I am intelligent and not an easy lay. Is my strength and confidence the reason why men do not approach me?

Is a strong and successful woman off-putting to a strong man? Maybe so. Consider celebrity and mega-mogul, Martha Stewart, who ended her 28-year marriage at the height of her professional success. Or consider Oprah Winfrey, who has been with her beau Stedman Graham for 14 years, with no marital bliss avail. What exactly is going on here?

Although I cannot compare my successes to that of Stewart’s or Winfrey’s, I can draw my own conclusion here. If being too strong or too independent and exuding confidence is what keeps the men at bay, I would rather keep it to myself and do things my own way. Man or no man, I will still be here for number one. I know my worth, and maybe they know that too and stay away.

Noob to lube? Read up

One minute you are white water rafting in the seas of lust and the next, you hit Sahara desert status. You and your partner are head deep in hot, sweat-induced euphoria and want to seal the deal, what do you grab? If it is not lust by the reigns, you will (hopefully) grab some type of personal lubricant. However, with a market full of different flavors, sensations, compositions, brands and objectives, who really knows what bottle of water works you can turn to?

Easy. No, you’re not easy, but the decision can be just as.

First, pick a composition. Personal lubrication is made from water, oil, silicone or petroleum-based products.

Oil and petroleum-based lubricants can cause latex condoms to deteriorate before due time, or even worse, during your mattress sesh. These types of lube are long-lasting and perfect for shower sex. Oil-based lubes can also double for great massage oils. For feisty foreplay, try a new one from KY’s Yours and Mine Kissable Sensations.

Silicone-based lubricants can often feel sticky to the touch, be difficult to wash off your skin and stain your sheets. It will, however, leave your body feeling extra smooth and is an option for the long-term riders. Try Wet Platinum, which boasts of being the highest-grade silicone, non-drying and moisturizing. If you or your partner is into dressing in latex or leather, this silicone solution will even buff and polish these fabrics.

If you want a composition that will slide you into home base every time without irritation, stained sheets or stickiness, always opt for a water-based solution. Remember if your slippery solution is not water soluble, washing away the excess and lingering bacteria can be more difficult. Steer clear of any water-based solutions that contain glycerin, a sweet-tasting lipid found in some lubes, as these sugars can cause a yeast infection. Try Astroglide Natural, which is infused with xylitol (a naturally occurring sugar derived from corn that increases white blood cell count to fight bacteria), aloe vera, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and chamomile. This formula is glycerin, alcohol and fragrance free and will feel as natural as the birds and bees.

The cardinal rules of threesomes

They always say three is a crowd, but it is also a party. One could assume the same could only apply for the ménage à trois, right?

Although a tantalizing threesome in bed tops many men’s fantasies, the communication culminating to the romp is key. Communication before this tremendous trifecta is important for all parties involved, even if there is not an established couple involved. Laying down the rules, or the do’s and don’t, can prevent this session from going limp or feelings of jealousy, insecurity or guilt from erecting. Trusting your partners is key. Let them know your limits and desired outcomes. For some couples, it is common to feel uncomfortable allowing someone else to kiss, orally pleasure or penetrate their partner. If this is the case, everyone must respect the rules for success. Once communication is established, the lovers involved can better navigate through the sea of lust without sinking ship.

It is easy to concentrate most of your time on the most desired partner (or significant other), but this is a mistake to avoid. Your partners want to please each other just as much as they want to please you, so be generous. Set aside romantic feelings and keep your hands, mouth and whatever available/willing orifices busy at all times. The addition will change the dynamics of sex, so it’s key to look at this love pile as a cycle that comes full circle.

As lovers, we are inclined to want to pay as much attention to whomever we are currently laying, but stay focused on pleasing both partners at once. If you are busy receiving, make sure you are actively giving in some form. The extra stimulation could lead to early results.

Drinking your way into bravery is not suggested. Not only will you be overwhelmed with the extra two legs, arms and other erotic areas, but quality intercourse does not happen after ten shots of Jose Cuervo. Have a few drinks to loosen up, but keep it minimal, you do not want this potentially exciting experience to end without your inhibitions in tact. Also, nothing is less salacious than holding someone’s hair on the bathroom floor after a failed group ride.

Stay open-minded to the experience. This might seem obvious to someone who is experimental or curious enough to conquer this endeavor, though, allowing yourself to enjoy sensations you might not have enjoyed before will broaden your sexual identity.