Love is like Cocaine: The Remarkable, Terrifying Neuroscience of Romance – Part 3

Yes, you really are addicted to love.

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Taking the Drug Away

“You are perfect in every way, just not for me,” “I need to find myself and I just can’t do that with you,” “I need to learn to love myself before I can love you,” “I think you feel more than I do and I don’t want to hurt you.”

We know what these are. Breakup lines, the lines of the visible breakups, the lines that put an end to something that once was. The reason a breakup can be so hard to handle, especially for the person who wanted the relationship to continue, is not that the breakup erases the past. It doesn’t. The past is as real as it ever was. When Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) leave each other in Casablanca, Rick tells Ilsa to focus on the time they fell in love, adding “We’ll always have Paris.” A breakup leaves the past intact but erases the future. It pokes a knitting needle through your expectations for the future. It doesn’t ruin what was. It ruins what was going to come. It shatters the hopes and dreams you had about the future. The losses that hurt most are those that abruptly deprive you of the future experiences you depended on. Those losses make you a different person with a different future and with too many empty spaces to fill with experiences less wonderful than those you had hoped for. A breakup is also a major rejection of you as a person, a demonic destruction of your self-esteem and your self-worth that leaves you raw, open, exposed. As Dennis Quaid once put it, “when you break up, your whole identity is shattered. It’s like death” (Food for the Soul, p. 147).

Breakups often lead to a psychological state that resembles withdrawal from an addiction. They literally take away the crack you were on. So now you experience withdrawal symptoms, making it painfully clear to you just how addicted you were to wonderboy or wondergirl. When you are addicted, you satisfy at least some of the following conditions:

  1. You need more and more of the activity or drug for you to achieve the desired effect (tolerance).
  2. You experience withdrawal symptoms when you do not engage in the addictive activity or drug.
  3. You engage in the activity or take the drug more frequently and for a longer period of time than initially intended.
  4. You have a persistent desire to quit or control the activity or drug.
  5. You spend a great deal of time ensuring that the activity or drug access can be continued.
  6. You give up or reduce important social, occupational or recreational activities because of the addiction.
  7. You continue the activity or drug despite knowledge of its physical or psychological consequences.

The severity of your addiction can be seen as a function of how many of these criteria you satisfy.

Addiction is different from obsession in the clinical sense. The main difference is that in cases of obsession, the “drug” consists of recurrent or persistent thoughts or images. In cases of obsession, the obsessive person seeks to control or avoid the thoughts or images by suppressing them or neutralizing them with other less uncomfortable thoughts or with convenient distractors. But the relief is only temporary. What we commonly call “love obsession” typically has both elements of obsession and addiction to a particular person.

A love-obsessed person is in a state of denial, believing that she is still in a relationship, or that she can convince the other person to return to or continue the liaison. The occasional increase in the brain’s levels of dopamine and norepinephrine infuses the tormented and obsessed individual with sufficient energy and motivation to refuse to relinquish. But the “energy high” doesn’t continue. It occurs in intervals. This is because an obsessed individual has widely fluctuating neurotransmitter levels, which makes her go from action-driven to bedridden.

This is the respect in which love obsession differs from drug addiction: when a cocaine addict no longer has access to the drug, his neurotransmitter levels remain low until he recovers or gives in. In love obsession, the neurotransmitters are on a roller coaster ride that makes the obsessed person hang onto the past with ferocious energ y, even when it is blatantly obvious to everyone else that there is nothing to hang onto.

Love obsession following unrequited or unfulfilled love differs from addictions to, or obsessions with, sex and being in love. In the 1979 article “Androg yny and the Art of Loving,” American psychologist Adria Schwartz describes a case of a young man addicted to the chase of women.

A man in his mid-twenties entered therapy after a series of unsuccessful relationships with women. Virtually his entire psychic life was spent in compulsive attempts to meet and seduce women. Occasional successes were followed by brief unfulfilling liaisons which he inevitably ended in explosive fits of frustrated rage, or boredom. Recurrent dreams occurred where he found himself running after a woman, catching up to her only to find some physical barrier between them. Women were “pieces of meat.” He found himself excited by the prospect of imminent sexual conquest, but he often ejaculated prematurely and was physically and emotionally anesthetized to the experience of intercourse.

Addiction to “the chase” is similar to addiction to being in love with someone (or other). People with an addiction to being in love have trouble staying in relationships. When the initial feelings of love turn into a calmer state, they get withdrawal symptoms and end the liaison. The “drug” they need is the cocktail of chemicals that floods the body during the initial stormy phases of a relationship. In the online Your Tango article “Am I Addicted to Love and Sex?” Sara Davidson, the author of “Loose Change” and “Leap,” describes her love addiction as an addiction to being in love with someone who is in love with her. The relationship that made her realize that she was a love addict was with a man she “didn’t even like.” She describes her relationship as follows:

Okay, I know, this sounds like an addiction, but I didn’t recognize it until an affair I had last year with a man I call Billy, The Bad. Billy pursued me and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He wore cowboy boots, wrote decent poetry and drove a hybrid Lexus. “I have a tux and a tractor,” he wrote in his online profile. “I can work with my head or my hands.” He said he loved me and took it back, said it again and denied it again. When he turned on the love it was bliss, and when he withdrew it was hell. When he told me again that he loved me the pain went away, only to return with greater intensity the next time he reneged. I cut things off when I couldn’t stand it anymore. I mean, I realized I was crying over a man I didn’t even like! Something deeper, more primitive was clearly going on, and I turned to books and even a 12-step program for help.

In the Psychology Today online article “Can Love Be an Addiction?” Lori Jean Glass, program director of Five Sisters Ranch, reveals that she once was diagnosed with an addiction to being in love. Unlike Davidson, Glass describes her addiction as more than just being addicted to the feeling of being in love. For her, the addiction involved being completely absorbed in someone else’s life and the feeling that someone else needed her and admired her. Someone, anyone; it didn’t matter who it was as long as it was a warm body capable of overflowing her brain with love chemicals. Glass also describes her insanely intense relationship as jumping : “I went from relationship to relationship. The idea of intimacy was foreign. God forbid, I let anyone see inside my wounded spirit. Often, I had several relationships on the back burner, just in case. Keeping the intrigue alive and active was important.”

 

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Love is like Cocaine: The Remarkable, Terrifying Neuroscience of Romance – Part 2

Yes, you really are addicted to love.

Beliefs and Brain Chemistry

When the systems of neurotransmitters in our brain destabilize during the early phases of a romantic relationship, our moods become unsteady too. And so does our ability to think rationally and make wise decisions. When you become truly infatuated with a person, you might make decisions you wouldn’t dream of making in a sane state of mind. Nothing really matters compared to the object of your infatuation. In extreme cases, we might max out credit cards, leave our families, move across oceans, abdicate a throne, rob banks, or even commit murder for the sake of love.

When there is a substantial imbalance in your brain chemistry, your preferences and reasoning abilities change and so do your beliefs. Research has shown that when you mess with your brain chemistry, you are more likely to have spiritual experiences, see things that are not there, and form beliefs that are not grounded in evidence.

In the 1960s, researchers experimented with the psychedelic drug psylocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, to see if it could induce spiritual experiences in healthy volunteers. The first of these experiments took place on Good Friday in 1962. Harvard researchers administered psilocybin to ten students in the basement of Marsh Chapel at Boston University. The religious setting and the drug together gave rise to religious experiences in all study participants.

(The experiments came to a halt when the US government prohibited them in the early 1970s.)

Psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), and mescaline, affect the dopamine system, the serotonin system, and the adrenergic system. Their effects on the adrenergic systems, which normally cause an increase in the blood concentration of adrenaline, can cause panic attacks and extreme anxiety. The drugs’ effects on the dopamine system are responsible for thoughtless decision making and irrational actions during a “trip,” such as self-mutilation or suicide. The psychedelic effects of the drugs are largely due to their affinity for the 5-HT2A receptor. This receptor is a serotonin receptor. When a psychedelic drug in the serotonin family binds to it, the drug functions just like serotonin.

In normal amounts, the feel-good chemical serotonin yields a sense of relaxation and relief. In large amounts, however, serotonin and serotonin agonists like LSD, DMT (dimethyltryptamine), and the magic mushroom ingredient psilocybin have psychedelic effects. In large amounts, these chemicals trigger the brain’s main excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, which makes parts of the brain go into an over-excited state.

The effects of excessive amounts of serotonin can be so powerful that our critical sense is turned off. A famous, mind-boggling case illustrating this is the Dr. Fox study. In the 1970s an actor was trained to deliver a brilliant talk on mathematical game theory while saying basically nothing of substance. The actor, who bore the name Dr. Myron L. Fox, had taken a scholarly article on game theory and stripped it of its content. The talk was rife with hedging, invented words, contradictory assertions, and references to his alleged earlier articles and books. Surprisingly, his delivery so impressed the audience that nobody noticed that he didn’t really say anything. At the end of the talk the audience, which consisted primarily of experts, bombarded Fox with questions, which he answered proficiently without providing any substantial content. After the lecture, the audience was given the opportunity to evaluate the performance. Everyone was very positive, they thought the lecture had been interesting, and some noted that Dr. Fox had presented the material clearly and precisely and offered lots of illustrative examples. And these folks were academic experts on the topic of mathematical game theory! Speaking of being fooled by what you hear!

This effect of delivery on audience evaluation has come to be known as “The Dr. Fox effect.” The Dr. Fox effect can be explained by noting that a large surge in “feel good” chemicals will turn off our critical sense. Funny, charming, and persuasive people signal to our brains that everything is as it should be. Their smooth behavior boosts our serotonin levels, which turn off our critical sense and increase our feeling of satisfaction—so much so that our initial beliefs are never subjected to scrutiny in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula, regions of the brain involved in reflecting critically on new information.

The effects of psychedelic drugs, such as LSD, DMT, and psilocybin, are extreme. Because these drugs cause the brain to enter an over-excited state, they can have seizure-like effects. They furthermore can give rise to hallucinations, illusory color experiences, a feeling of floating , a feeling of one’s identity disintegrating , a feeling of becoming one with the universe, and illusions of time and distance. Thoughts can become uncontrollable, rambling , and obscure, and edged in acid, old memories may blend with new experiences.

While our serotonin levels tend to be low when we fall in love or are beset by a mindless love obsession, there are also states of love that resemble LSD trips. When your passion is unrequited or when you are away from your new love, your serotonin levels drop. But if you unexpectedly bump into him or her or realize that his or her love is not unrequited after all, your brain may release a surge of serotonin, dopamine, and adrenaline, making your mind a bit like the LSD mind. In this state, you may be more likely to see things that are not there, have experiences that are mixed with old memories, and act in irrational ways.

Dopamine by itself can cause people to form beliefs that are not grounded in evidence. People whose blood levels of dopamine are higher than normal are more likely to attach meaning to sheer coincidences and find meaningful patterns in arbitrary scrambled images.

Peter Brugger, a neurologist from the University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland, examined twenty people who claimed to believe in paranormal events and twenty who claimed they didn’t. When the participants were asked to tell which faces were real and which were scrambled among a series of briefly flashed images, people who believed in paranormal events were more likely than skeptical participants to pick out a scrambled face as real. The results were the same when the participants were tested using words instead of faces. After the initial trials, the researchers administered L-dopa, which has the same effects as dopamine, to both groups of participants. After taking this drug, skeptics made many more mistakes when looking for real words or faces than before taking the drug.

The results of the study suggest that dopamine can make you see things that aren’t there and form beliefs without solid evidential backing. These results may explain the tendency of people in love to idealize their partners and attach meaning to every little move he or she makes. When in love, your dopamine levels are high when you think of your lover. This makes your brain a less reliable instrument for forming solid beliefs or making wise decisions.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – The Best Band You Never Heard – Solace

I love this band!

 

 

Solace is a heavy metal band hailing from the Jersey ShoreUnited States.

Formed in 1996 by the remaining members of Atlantic Records artist Godspeed, Solace is most well known in the stoner rock genre, but as guitarist and founding member Tommy Southard has said “We’re not a stoner band, we’re a rock ‘n’ roll band—a hard rock band, a metal band.”[1] This idea was reaffirmed by iTunes.com in 2010 when they voted the band’s third studio album A.D. “2010 Metal Album of the Year”.[2] However, their live performances at Stoner Rock festivals such as America’s Emissions from the Monolith and Europe’s Roadburn Festival, have rooted them just as deeply in that genre.

 

Godspeed years[edit]

In 1994, east coast rockers Godspeed went to Electric Lady Studios to record their Atlantic Records debut album Ride. Featuring future Solace members Tommy Southard and Rob Hultz, Godspeed’s major label run included a cover of “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” for Nativity in Black: A Tribute to Black Sabbath with Iron Maiden‘s Bruce Dickinson, tours of the United States and Europe with Black SabbathDioCathedral, and Sugartooth, as well as a music video for their single “Houston Street” featured on MTV‘s Headbanger’s Ball and Beavis and Butt-head.

The birth of Solace[edit]

Godspeed dissolved after just one album, but following stints as lead guitarist for both Sugartooth and Slap Rocket, Southard reformed the band in 1996 with Hultz and former Glueneck singer Jason, naming the revamped outfit Solace. After a 1997 demo, Solace released their self-titled 7″ debut in 1998, followed by 1999’s Distanced from Reality EP, a split with fellow New Jerseyans Solarized.

Soon afterwards, the band released its debut LP, 2000’s Further. A cover by metal art veteran Wes Benscoter (Slayer‘s Divine Intervention) hinted at darkness within the album, which was quickly considered a departure from the stoner rock pigeon-hole the band had already been put into.

13 and beyond[edit]

In 2003, the band released the follow-up to Further, its second full-length album 13. Artist, fan, and friend of Solace Paul Vismara created the album’s cover. Considered by some to be musically superior to its predecessor,[3] 13 helped Solace further define themselves as more than simply stoner rock, assisted by the vocals and guitar work of doom metal legend Scott Weinrich (also known as Wino, formerly of The ObsessedSaint Vitus, and Spirit Caravan) on the track “Common Cause”.

Soon after the release of 13, the song “Indolence” was used on the soundtrack of the popular video game Tony Hawk’s Underground. 2003 also saw the band tweak their line-up with former Lethal Aggression drummer Kenny Lund and the addition of second guitarist Justin Daniels. With this new line-up, they entered the studio once again in 2004 to record Black Market/Hammerhead, a split EP with Albany, New York‘s Greatdayforup.

Solace’s half of this split EP was re-released on vinyl in 2006. In April of that year, Solace headed to Europe for Holland’s Roadburn Festival. Upon their return, they strengthened their resolve further toward a new release. The band went into the studio to finish their third album A.D. in time for their Summer 2007 European tour with British doomsters Orange Goblin, only to realize that their creation was simply too vast for a single album. Four tracks were selected for release as The Black Black, which was completed and pressed to coincide with the European tour.

On the heels of that successful tour, they were signed to independent label Small Stone Records, after which they were asked by friends Orange Goblin to play their annual Christmas show in London. Solace’s set was capped by band friend and fellow New Jerseyan Ed Mundell of Monster Magnet joining them onstage for their infamous cover of Pentagram‘s Forever My Queen.

2008 saw an interesting turn of events for Solace – drummer Kenny Lund took his leave to follow business pursuits and other projects. This, while being a seemingly negative turn of events, had in actuality quite a positive effect – it opened the door for Solace’s original drummer[4] Keith Ackerman to rejoin the band. Guitarist Daniels has stated: “This is the band’s most dynamic lineup to date”.[5]

The band used this momentum to continue their upswing throughout 2009, completing their third studio LP A.D.. The long-awaited album was released to critical acclaim in Spring 2010 and received such honors as “Album of the Year” at The Obelisk,[6] and was voted by iTunes “Best Metal Album of 2010”.[7] The band finished out the year touring Europe with Orange Goblin and once again playing their annual Christmas show.

Bad luck[edit]

From early in their career, Solace has been faced with almost mysterious problems. The band had an estimated 8 different drummers between 1996 and 2003[8] and suffered through supposed splits with vocalist Jason. Even seemingly random accidents—one resulting in the destruction of the original master tapes to their second album 13—vexed the band.[9]

This curse seemed to be lifted at least somewhat in 2003, but returned only a year later when drummer Kenny Lund was diagnosed with cancer. All of the band’s plans were halted, including a new recording contract with independent label Century Media. This setback did not stop them from returning to the studio once Lund recovered in 2005 to begin work on tracks for A.D. Later that year, the band faced yet another hurdle—this time in the form of undisclosed personal problems and were forced to cancel a coast-to-coast US tour.

Solace continued sporadic work on A.D. up to its critically acclaimed release in 2010, only to announce in June 2011 via their official Facebook page that they were “closed for business” and that they “may or may not re-open”.[10] However, as soon as 2012, the band cited they were active again.

Solace today[edit]

2015:, Solace reorganized and solidified their lineup once again, most shockingly with the official replacement of reclusive and eccentric vocalist Jason by Justin Goins of The Brimstones. Solace entered the recording studio for the first time in over 5 years with this new lineup, recording a cover of Black Sabbath‘s Electric Funeral for Deadline Music’s Sweet Leaf: A Tribute to Black Sabbath. Shortly thereafter, they released a cassette single featuring this cover as well as a new original song, Bird of Ill Omen, which was described as having “characteristic intensity, volume, and unbridled rhythmic force”.[11]

2018: has seen Solace back in the studio working on their first full-length album since 2010’s A.D., tentatively titled Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits.[12]

2019: Solace has finished the recording of the new record and has changed the title from Broken Bodies & Suffering Spirits.[12] to The Brink. They are currently waiting for studio time to finish the mixing of the record and the album will be released later this year on Blues Funeral Recordings. The Brink was released in December of 2019, featuring healthy doses of Heavy 70’s Riff Rock, NWOBHM Riffing, Drunken Sea Shanties, and plenty of Weighty DOOM.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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How To Keep Your Breakup From Making You Literally Sick

One from a female reader!

The first time I ever smoked a cigarette was the night my fiancé broke up with me over the phone. After he told me he didn’t love me anymore and that I could keep my engagement ring, I hung up, went into the kitchen, and grabbed a cigarette from an open pack that belonged to my dad. I didn’t think twice — I just needed to burn something.

The end of that relationship was so sudden and unexpected that I didn’t know how to process it. So, I smoked cigarettes and started drinking alcohol excessively. Hanging out in bars and getting wasted had never appealed to me, but I had just turned 21, so I figured, why not? For a few brief hours every Friday and Saturday night, three or four Long Island iced teas could help me forget how devastated I felt the rest of the week.

“Breakups are painful — literally,” says Rosie Shrout, a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University who studies the intersection between health and romantic relationships. “Just like any other stressful experience, breakups can cause a psychological and physiological stress response, meaning our bodies produce stress hormones that wear and tear on our mental and physical health.”

Too often, we turn to behaviors that affect our physical health — such as binge drinking, smoking, using drugs, or exercising too much — to help cope with the aftermath of a relationship ending. We may view these behaviors as a way to get back at our ex, or we may turn to them because our inhibitions are lowered or our self-esteem has been damaged, Shrout says.

That was Penny’s* experience. The 31-year-old says she started drinking heavily, getting high, and hooking up with people who didn’t make her happy after she discovered her boyfriend had cheated on her. “Drinking and getting high numbed me, and sleeping around gave me validation,” she says.

Shrout says that while these types of responses are not uncommon, they’re also not great coping strategies. You might feel better in the moment, but these behaviors “don’t treat the emotional distress from the breakup and can even contribute to long-term health problems.”

Research shows that romantic relationships play a role in a person’s overall health — and not always for the better. One study found that people who said their closest relationships (including those involving an S.O.) were filled with conflict had a 34% higher risk of developing heart problems, even after adjusting for things like age and overall health. Another study found that people who were married and unhappy had higher blood pressure than those who were single. Researchers have also found that women who’ve dealt with multiple breakups have worse mental health than women who’ve managed to avoid heartache by staying single or sticking with their very first romantic partner.

But let’s be real: The chances of that happening in 2019 are pretty slim. We will all likely experience a bad breakup at some point. Knowing that, here are a few ways to stay healthy during those tough times.

Unfollow your ex.

To preserve your well-being, Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in Georgia, recommends disconnecting from your former partner on social media — at least for now. “A lot of times when we’re trying to stay connected with the ex, we’re trying to answer questions that social media will not give us the full answers to,” she says. “We’re trying to see if they’re hurting as much as we’re hurting or if there’s somebody new that they’re dating.”

This can create more emotional distress than forcing yourself to let go. And, as Bradford explains, that distress can manifest in physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, random pain or tension. Thanks, but no thanks.

Stay active.

Working out might be the last thing you want to do after getting dumped, but exercise has been proven to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and increase self-esteem. “It doesn’t have to be full-blown Orange Theory every day,” Bradford says. Even a walk around campus or a few yoga poses while you binge on “Stranger Things” can be beneficial. The endorphins you get from exercise can help stabilize your mood — and yes, that’s true even when you’re convinced you’d rather spend the next six hours with your face in a tub of popcorn.

Get nutrition.

It’s not uncommon to lose your appetite post-breakup, especially if you’re really sad. The stress of a broken heart can unleash a swell of hormones and put your body in survival mode. As a result, the urge to eat becomes secondary — even a plate of authentic savory tacos from your favorite Mexican restaurant can look unappetizing. (The horror!) If that’s the case, Bradford recommends a smoothie or meal replacement shake. “Sometimes it can feel really hard to eat,” she says. “I typically will recommend people drink because that’s a little easier.”

Find a voice box.

Showing up to a party without your ex will likely raise questions, especially if you’ve been joined at the hip since day one. If it hurts too much to talk about the breakup, ask someone you trust to give people the heads up on why you’re riding solo. “When you are telling the story over and over again, sometimes you get stuck there,” Bradford says. “You can’t move on to the healing place if you are stuck in the reporting place.” Ask a friend to simply tell it like it is so everyone can move on: “Yes, they broke up, and no she doesn’t want to talk about it. How was your week?”

Allow yourself to feel all the feelings.

Everyone deals with painful events differently. Avoidance, however, is not an effective coping mechanism. “Those feelings don’t go away because we’re distracting ourselves,” says Bradford. “[It’s important to] really allow yourself to sit in the depth of those feelings, even though it sounds really miserable. There is no way for them to go away unless you actually allow yourself to experience them and then come to realize you can come out on the other side of this.”

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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5 Tips For Better Post-Sex Hygiene

Post-sex clean ups help prevent infections and STIs. Here are five tips that can help you stay healthy.

There are two kinds of people: those who don’t stress out about cleaning up after sex and those who do. According to experts, the correct approach is a healthy mix of these two behaviors.

Clean up varies depending on a lot of factors. Whether your partner was male or female, if there was a partner in the first place, whether you used a sex toy, etc. — no matter the variables you should at least do the bare minimum of clean up after each encounter to prevent infections..

Here are five simple tips that can help your private parts stay healthy.

Empty your bladder

The main thing you should do after having sex is to empty your bladder. This is very important for women since their urethra and bladder are located closely together and penetrative sex facilitates the entrance of bacteria. No matter if your partner is very clean, is wearing a condom or using a sex toy, any addition into the vagina alters its ecosystem and makes it more likely to develop infections.

Keep your cleaning simple

Forget about douches, perfumes and special soaps. Don’t do that. Plenty of studies and doctors have said that applying these products is bad for you, especially if you have a vagina and decide to alter its delicately balanced interior world. Douches and extreme soaps get rid of the healthy bacteria in your vagina, creating more possibilities for infections and irritation.

After you have sex, clean the outside area of your penis or vagina with warm water and, if you want, some mild soap. You don’t have to jump out of bed the minute you’re done, just clean yourself up at some point early on. Who wants to sleep or put on clothes when feeling all sticky anyway?

sex relationship
Photo by HOP DESIGN via Unsplash.

Have a glass of water

You’re going to want to pee after having sex in order to get rid of some bacteria, so drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.

Wear loose fitting clothes

Bacteria thrives in hot tight places, so don’t hop inside your tightest jeans after having sex. Wear underwear and pants that fit you loosely, allowing air in, or don’t wear anything at all.

CBD Is Changing Sexual Health And Wellness
Photo by KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

Clean your sex toys

Bacteria and all sorts of viruses can stick to your sex toys after you’re done using them. Be careful and clean your toys after each use, reading through their instructions. Sex toys are some of the easiest objects to ruin by cleaning them up incorrectly or by using the wrong kind of lubricant.

 

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What It’s Really Like to Be Sober Curious: When an Alcohol “Break” Becomes Permanent

In the spring of 2018, 42-year-old Kim Banks found herself in a lonely place. Struggles with anxiety and depression interfered with life as a wife, mother of 5-year-old twin boys, and her work in public relations. Despite self-improvements like daily exercise, healthy eating, and good sleep habits, Banks wasn’t happy.

“I was feeling lots of anxiety and depression, along with irritability, even though I was trying to do all the right things,” she says.

In the back of her mind, Banks describes a nagging thought, “Give up the alcohol.”

“I was in a constant, daily argument with myself,” she says. At the root of was the question: “Should I drink tonight?”

Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
Photo credit: Instagram/@kimbanks_reset
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Banks ended each workday with a few glasses of wine. On weekend nights out with her husband, she describes “going a little hard,” and leaving a wave of bad feelings for the next day.

“I knew I needed to eliminate alcohol, but it was the last thing I wanted to eliminate,” she says. “I really enjoyed wine, and I definitely bought into the idea alcohol enhances experiences,” she continues. “Tell me to give anything else up but the wine.”

Initially, Banks describes a curiosity around “taking a 30-day-break” from alcohol. She researched online for information about what impact alcohol has on the body. “I mainly searched for success stories from people who gave up drinking for 30 days or more,” she explains.

Her online searches turned up first-hand accounts of people like herself, who hadn’t suffered major life-altering consequences from drinking, but saw their drinking as problematic all the same. Others identified as “alcoholic” but blended traditional 12-step recovery with other support among fellow “sober curious” followers.

Banks made the decision to go alcohol-free. “I was thinking, ‘This isn’t making me happy anymore, but it’s ingrained in my daily habits,'” she says.

How Giving Up Alcohol Became a Wellness Trend

Ruby Warrington’s 2018 book Sober Curious is something of a guidebook for this less-threatening, label-free, booze-less trend. The book describes Warrington’s “gray-area problem drinking.” Uncomfortable with the label “alcoholic,” she developed a following of like-minded non-drinkers via her book, podcasts, and social media. Banks is one of many who either gave up drinking altogether or drink more mindfully.

Sober coach Rae Dylan lives in New York City and sees the trend up close. Cities like New York City and Chicago are seeing a rise of sober-free bars and events. Instagram and Facebook pages devoted to alcohol-free living boast followers in the tens of thousands.

“I see it as part of what’s happening all around us,” says Dylan, who works with recovering addicts and alcoholics requiring protection from the press, nutritional guidance, mental health issues, medication, and detox. “People are more interested in a healthy lifestyle and part of not-drinking is part of this healthy culture which recognizes it’s not healthy the way Americans drink,” she adds.

In particular, the idea of not drinking in what some consider awkward social situations, like a bar atmosphere, is encouraging, Dylan believes. “It’s a good thing; the movement gives younger people, who may feel pressure to drink or do drugs, another outlet,” she says.

“Instead of feeling pressure to drink,” Dylan continues, “the focus comes off labels like ‘alcoholic’ and, instead, people focus on having a cool virgin mojito with maybe organic cane juice.”

Finding Like-Minded Non-Drinkers

Banks admits her first steps into a sober lifestyle weren’t easy. Friends and family didn’t object, but they had difficulty supporting what they couldn’t understand.

“I was surrounded with casual drinkers who didn’t understand why someone would choose to give up alcohol without being an alcoholic,” she says. “I wasn’t a rock-bottom alcoholic, so it wasn’t a black-or-white issue for me.”

Instead, the issue, like Warrington describes, was more of a gray area. “I was tired, my skin was breaking out and I had tried everything else,” she continues. “I knew in my heart what I needed to cut.”

Finding support from other non-drinkers meant turning to the internet and social media. At first, Banks was unaware she was part of the sober curious movement. Her first steps going wine-free centered on setting up an Instagram page to record an initial 30-day break from alcohol. “I would post things like, ‘This is my second day without alcohol!’”

Today, Banks has nearly 6,500 Instagram followers celebrating her alcohol-free experiences. She credits this early support with her sober lifestyle today. “There were so many supportive people on Instagram,” Banks says. “I felt like I had these online pen pals who really got what I was going through.”

She describes the connections as uplifting without shame. Followers celebrate her victories and help her navigate rough days. Plus, she knows she has 24-hour access to a community of support. If she and her husband go out for the evening, she’s only an Instagram away from others who are also abstaining from drinks on a weekend night.

Trend vs. Lifestyle

Living in Greenville, SC, Banks doesn’t have the luxury of countless, trendy sober bars to visit. But, time away from drinking has made it easier and less appealing to go backward. She says she focuses on the reality of drinking versus the fantasy.

During a recent family vacation, Banks said the idea of having a drink sounded tempting. She reminded herself, however, of the reality behind the “one drink,” which included, for her, likely more than one drink, a bad night’s sleep and heavy anxiety in the morning. “In the beginning it was so hard, but now I’ve had so many experiences under my belt, and I feel more confident,” she explains.

“I think through the drink,” she explains. “I admit to myself I have the urge, but I know the ‘idea’ is way better than any glass of wine.”

The days of pushing through moments of temptation are fewer and further between. If she needs support, she knows her Instagram followers are always nearby, along with other sober curious friends she’s made on the journey.

Her friends and family are still casual drinkers, but Banks has been abstaining from alcohol for the past year and a half, and has no intention of going back to her evening wine. “I love waking up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning without a hangover,” she says.

Enjoying sober experiences has left Banks feeling healthier, more focused, and more present for her husband and children. In addition, her family’s finances have improved without the steady purchase of wine. She says her husband is proud of her accomplishment, and her children are enjoying a more active family life with hiking and trips.

“There are so many physical and emotional benefits from intentionally taking a break from alcohol,” says Banks. “It opens a whole new world. I’m a better friend, wife, and mom,” she adds. For now, she remains alcohol-free, one day at a time.

 

 

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5 Things Mentally Strong People Do; Things You Need To Do To Cope With The COVID-19 Pandemic

The global lockdown caused by COVID-19 may seem like a forced vacation to some people. But for many in isolation, the restrictions, fear and uncertainty can make it seem like torture. According to Psychology Today’s report, the stress that people are experiencing during the coronavirus pandemic may lead to negative feelings that will result in anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

(Photo : Pixabay)

How Can You Cope With The Pandemic? Here Are The Things Mentally Strong People Do!

This collective trauma may feel bleak, but it isn’t the first crisis faced by the world. According to the report, research investigations in various crises, such as 9/11, were conducted to show how individuals are coping with the events in both maladaptive and adaptive ways.

Researchers have studied the behavior of mentally strong people, how they think and act through adverse experiences. Here are some suggestions, based on evidence, that may help people not only manage the pandemic, but also decrease the long-term mental effects it may have.

5 things mentally strong people do to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic

1. They accept their feelings as normal.

According to the American Psychological Association, mentally strong people tend to accept their feelings as a normal thing since the pandemic is a time for both personal trauma and collective trauma.

They understand that feelings such as anxiety, fear, anger, and hopelessness are normal because there is too much information to be processed at once during the pandemic.

2. They limit news and media exposure.

The research stated that there are two main predictors of how well a person will cope with a pandemic or crisis. The first is how they feel vulnerable with their own lives before the pandemic even started. The second one is how much news information they consume during the pandemic.

This may lead to PTSD or various trauma. Being exposed to the media 24 hours a day can activate an individual’s “fight or flight” response, which may lead to traumatic stress. Mentally strong people avoid consuming too much media, choose responsible and reliable media or print outlets, and limit their exposure to distressful images or content.

3. They limit social media exposure.

This is also linked to limiting news and media since mentally strong people know that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are unofficial news channels and deliver news based on the people’s preferences and behaviors.

Mentally healthy people tend to avoid using social media platforms for news sources. Or, if they can, consume it carefully and judiciously.

4. They meditate.

Different studies have long revealed that long-term meditators can recover from a traumatic experience or a stressful event better.

The benefits of meditation include reduced stress, less anxiety, decreased depression, increased attention span, and an overall improved emotional well-being.

5. They focus on facts.

According to Marsha Linehan, the Ph.D. creator of Dialectical behaviors Therapy (DBT), people have three states of mind; rational mind, emotional mind, and wise mind.

Being emotional is a natural thing during the pandemic. However, choosing to use the rational mind by listing facts and logical information can decrease unnecessary negative thoughts. Mentally strong people tend to think and discern before accepting any information from any source.

 

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Lockdown Might Lead to a Drop in STI Rates, But It Could Also Spark an Increase in STI Stigma

Fear of coronavirus infection could spark renewed fear of sexually transmitted infections

Bad news: Pandemic lockdowns are putting hookups on hold all over the world. Better news: Pressing pause on hookups might also halt the spread of sexually transmitted infections and give more people a chance to get tested before potentially passing on an infection to a new partner. Worse news: Global panic surrounding the viral coronavirus pandemic could prove as contagious as the virus itself, possibly sparking a regressive resurgence of STI shame and stigma.

Going back to the silver lining for a moment, doctors in the U.K. posit that lockdown conditions could greatly improve the nation’s sexual health, with Dr. John McSorley calling this period of relative sexlessness a “game changer” and urging people to get tested before lockdowns end and everyone returns to their regularly scheduled sleeping around.

“If we could test and treat everybody for their infections now, that would be a game-changer going forward as people slowly move towards normality,” McSorley, a sexual health doctor and president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, told BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Justin Harbottle, of sexual health testing organization SH:24, echoed McSorley, calling this period of pandemic-imposed abstinence a “once-in-a-lifetime event” for the future of sexual health. “Even at the start of the HIV epidemic, I don’t think you had such a clean-cut period where collectively – as a population – people stopped having sex with new partners,” said Harbottle.

Unfortunately, one thing we definitely did have during the HIV epidemic was plenty of shame, stigma and moral panic surrounding sex, sexually transmitted infections, and the people who contracted (or were presumed likely to contract) them. And as STI anti-stigma activists have pointed out, our current panic surrounding the coronavirus pandemic could cause those attitudes to crop up again.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

Now that we’re all talking about how important it is to get rapid COVID-19 testing to slow down the pandemic…

| ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ ̄ |
| When were |
| you last |
| tested for |
| STIs? |
| _______|
(\__/) ||
(•ㅅ•) ||
/ づ

ella dawson

@brosandprose

I’m worried that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to lead to even more ignorant, knee-jerk fear of common viruses like herpes and HPV, and a strengthening of STI stigma in general. People are scared of infection right now and that attitude will ripple.

“I’m worried that the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic is going to lead to even more ignorant, knee-jerk fear of common viruses like herpes and HPV, and a strengthening of STI stigma in general,” writer Ella Dawson wrote in a tweet last month. “People are scared of infection right now and that attitude will ripple.”

More recently, Dawson has noted other similarities between flawed responses to the pandemic and misconceptions surrounding sexual health. “The people who are pushing to re-open society because they think the COVID-19 pandemic is exaggerated are the same people who think I’m an immoral disease vector because I have herpes,” Dawson wrote in a Twitter thread Monday. “Some people think they’re not at risk of COVID-19 because they’re too good for it, they’re the exception. They ascribe morality and inherent worth to whether or not they’re at risk of contracting a virus,” she continued, comparing the coronavirus response to an all too common line of thought that casts STIs as a kind of punishment for sexual wrongdoing or inherent moral failure.

“‘I don’t need to wear a mask, I’m not at risk of COVID-19’ is the new ‘I don’t need to wear a condom, the girls I have sex with aren’t dirty sluts,’” Dawson concluded.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

Replying to @brosandprose

It makes sense, honestly. Some people think they’re not at risk of COVID-19 because they’re too good for it, they’re the exception. They ascribe morality and inherent worth to whether or not they’re at risk of contracting a virus.

Guess what, Karen! Viruses don’t discriminate.

ella dawson

@brosandprose

“I don’t need to wear a mask, I’m not at risk of COVID-19” is the new “I don’t need to wear a condom, the girls I have sex with aren’t dirty sluts.”

None of this is to say that the doctors urging people to take this time to prioritize their sexual health are promoting stigma. People should absolutely get tested before hooking up with any new partners post-lockdown (though that’s always the case, lockdown or no lockdown). But as discussions of STIs inevitably get pulled into the coronavirus conversation, it’s important to avoid transposing fears about coronavirus onto other infections, especially those with a history of stigma.

Illness of any kind is never a punishment for wrongdoing, nor is it a reflection of someone’s worth or standing, moral or otherwise.

 

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Out of Work Strippers Launch Boober Eats, the Topless Meal Delivery Service

With so many people staying home and avoiding the nightmare that is the supermarket at the moment, meal delivery services like Deliveroo and Uber Eats are exploding in popularity. But a new player is threatening to take a stranglehold on the market, and frankly, we aren’t complaining. Dancers at the Lucky Devil Lounge in Portland, Oregon have launched a new meal delivery service that combines the convenience of fast-food with the pizazz of a strip club. That’s right, Boober Eats might just be good old-fashioned American ingenuity at it’s thriftiest.

Out of Work Strippers Launch Boober Eats, the Topless Meal ...

 

According to reports, once you order a meal online (generally pub grub and wings), Lucky Devil Lounge will get cooking immediately, dispatching two nearly-topless women in pasties to hand-out the goods. It all started as a joke on social media for Lucky Devil Lounge owner Shon Boulden, but after receiving hundreds of positive messages about the idea on St. Patrick’s Day, he decided to give it a shot.

“It’s crazy,” Boulden told the Oregonian. “We mutated our one business into a totally different style of business. All the calls, people are just giddy and fun. Sometimes it’s a surprise for someone, sometimes it’s a birthday, sometimes it’s people that are really stoned.”

While Boober Eats is a hilarious way to get in on the growing food delivery arena, Boulder’s initiative is actually doing a lot of good. About 25 of the original 80 Lucky Devil Lounge dancers are running Boober Eats deliveries after the club essentially shut down for patrons. What’s more, the strip club’s bouncers are also back to work, operating as drivers and security guards for the nearly topless delivery girls. If there’s one thing to be learned from the Boober Eats tale, it’s that amid a tireless tirade of negativity and despair, there are good stories everywhere.

God bless America.

Portland Gentlemen's Club Launches 'Boober Eats' Food Delivery Service

 

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15 Bumble Bio Ideas To Use During The Coronavirus That’ll Rack Up Matches

No pressure or anything, but what you write in your bio could mean the difference between a right or left swipe. IRL, you can catch someone’s attention with a flirty smile across a packed bar, a witty joke deployed via DM slide, or bold moves on the dance floor. On dating apps, however, you have a limited number of words (and photos) to make that crucial first impression. Dating apps are more crowded than ever these days, so check out these Bumble bio ideas to use during the coronavirus pandemic.

Odds are, you’re spending more time than ever swiping away now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended social distancing. The key to attracting quality matches, of course, is to put your best foot forward — and a clever bio is a great way to show off your personality and sense of humor.

A warning: Now is not the time to test out your edgiest jokes. Kindness and respect are always welcome on dating apps — so please, steer clear of offensive jokes that make light of people who are sick, out of work, or on the front lines.

This is easier than you might think. Need some inspiration? The following bios are ready to use — all you have to do is hit copy and paste. Whether you’re searching for your soulmate or just a pen pal to casually flirt with, these bios are bound to rack up the matches.

Shutterstock

1. Seeking someone that looks at me the way I look at the last roll of toilet paper RN.

2. Now accepting Venmo payments for our next virtual date: [insert handle here].

3. Current hobbies include: mindlessly looking inside my fridge every 20 minutes, panic-scrolling Twitter, maybe chatting with you?

4. Pros: looks decent in a face mask. Cons: spotty WiFi signal.

5. Using this sitch to work on fulfilling my dream of becoming a TikTok sensation. HBU?

6. Please remember to practice safe sext (washing your hands for at least 20 seconds).

7. Signature scent: Purell.

8. Current theme song: “All By Myself.”

9. I’m just a human, standing 6 feet away from another human, asking them not to move any closer.

10. Looking for my Prince Charmin.

11. Tell me your go-to quarantine snack and we’ll go from there.

12. FYI, I make a mean quarantini.

13. Apparently, what you stock up on says a lot about you. For me, it’s coffee and wine.

14. Major points if you can send me the perfect coronavirus-meets-Tiger King meme.

15. There’s a 50/50 chance I’ll be wearing PJs on the bottom during our next virtual date. Just trying to kick things off on a note of pure honesty.

 

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