Saturday, June 23, 2007

Surprisingly results in new sex study

The National Center for Health Statistics released survey results on Friday, detailing specifics on sexual activity among U.S. adults. Interesting stuff.

Our thoughts?

Deirdre: What jumped out at me: That the CDC thinks this survey might be more accurate than others because the respondents didn't have to do face-to-face interviews. Even though there's no one there to judge -- people take the survey in a room by themselves -- I think people might still lie. If someone is ashamed of what they've done, they may not be willing to admit it, even anonymously. That would mean admitting it to themselves as well.
Alisha: The results seem skewed to me, including this: "The questions about numbers of sexual partners specified heterosexual relationships, and thus the survey did not measure the extent of gay or lesbian sexual partnerships." How could you omit so many people?
Deirdre: It's kind of like, why do the survey if you're not gonna measure all types of sexual relationships?
Alisha: Especially knowing how many people are involved in homosexual and bisexual relationships, and the number of folks who are on the "down low."
Deirdre: Exactly. Another surprise for me was the survey estimated about 96 percent of U.S. adults have had sex. For some reason, I expected the number to be lower. But it's great that so many of us are getting busy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In this case, 'Age' does matter

Sigh. It looks like I've added another reality dating show to my summer TV viewing. But two is my limit, I swear!

It's NBC's "Age of Love," which premiered last night. You've got to admit, the premise is intriguing. Australian tennis pro Mark Philippoussis, 30, says he's ready to settle down and is looking for the right woman. (Which -- c'mon, he used to date Paris Hilton and his last girlfriend was 20. 20!) Imagine his surprise when seven lovely ladies introduce themselves to him, and their age range is 39 to 48. Then, just as he's getting used to the fact he'll be dating women who have kids near his age, seven more chicks are thrown in, all in their 20s. Who will he pick, a "cougar" or a "kitten"? Watch Mark's confusion! See the ladies' claws come out!

NBC calls "Age of Love" "the ultimate social experiment," which makes me laugh out loud, but I'm fascinated nonetheless. When Mark first took a seat among the older women, he looked terrified and intimidated. Dude was clearly out of his comfort zone. None of the women looked their age. All seven were beautiful, pictures of health and vitality with their glossy hair, sparkling eyes and trim figures. (The 48-year-old had a body many 18-year-olds would kill for.) They were all accomplished and confident and looking for someone to share their lives. Sure, there was some talk about the idea of older women dating younger men, but one chick summed it up perfectly: "If older men can do it, why can't I do it, too?" Amen, sister!

Since I'm 37, obviously I'm gonna lean toward the Forties (the older chicks) as opposed to the Twenties (the younger ones). But even the show's editing seems tilted their way. The Twenties are shown in their already trashed apartment, clad in bikinis and twirling hula hoops around their taut middles while the Forties are calmly reading and doing laundry and settled in with needlepoint. (The show is based in a snazzy high rise, where the Forties, Twenties and Mark have separate apartments.) While the Forties make comments such as "I can do anything a 20-year-old can do" and "let's celebrate our individual yumminess," the Twenties snark about "what's a synonym for old?" "why would anyone want someone with crow's feet and saggy boobs?" and how "desperate" the older women must be to come on the show. (Um, since the silicone-enhanced bottle blonde who said that is also on the show, what does that make her?)

I think most people would agree with the adage, "you're only as old as you feel." If Mark Philippoussis is willing to focus on the chemistry and compatibility he feels and not their ages, it'll be an interesting show indeed.

BTW: Mark had to eliminate an older woman last night, and he didn't get rid of the 48-year-old who has a son his age (as I expected), or the twice-divorced 40-year-old (my second choice). He sent home a 46-year-old who looks 36 because he was already feeling the kiss-of-death "friend" vibe.

Monday, June 18, 2007

This show is a good 'Match' for singles

I caught a couple episodes of an interesting show over the weekend. If you're dating, it wouldn't hurt to give it a look.

The show is A&E's "Confessions of a Matchmaker," (Saturday nights at 10) and it's about a professional matchmaker named Patti Novak (above) who lives and works in Buffalo, N.Y.

There are many things I love about this 30-minute show. For one, it's in Buffalo, not L.A. or New York City, where the people always seem larger than life on TV. Buffalo is just a regular ol' city -- albeit one with brutal winters, which is when this show was taped.

Another is Patti herself. She's a straight-talker who's not afraid to tell people what their biggest obstacles are to finding love. Her job is really more therapist than anything, because the problem is usually people's low self-esteem, and how it manifests itself in their dating lives. Patti's blunt. She cusses. She refuses to take crap from clients. She told one guy, a 41-year-old virgin, that he is "way gay." (And he totally is. You should've seen him flirting with the dude she set him up with ... after she'd sent him out with a sexy divorcee and nothing clicked.) She told another client -- a 22-year-old who looked 35 because of all her tanning -- that she was gonna look like a hag at 50 with that tanning and heavy makeup. And she told yet another client, who was 100 pounds overweight (he used food as a crutch after a bad breakup), that his table manners were disgusting. Watching him eat really did turn my stomach.

The reason I say singles could get something out of this is because you'll see plenty of examples of what not to do on dates. In two episodes these "don'ts" were reinforced:

-- Don't spill your entire relationship history on the first date.
-- Don't quiz your date about his/her sex drive the first time you meet them for dinner.
-- No checking your makeup at the table.
-- For chrissakes, don't chew with your mouth open.
-- No calling your best friend on your cell and having them come check out your date ... and then join you for shots.
-- Don't drink so many shots that you get sloshed.
-- Don't get bad hair extensions (OK, that wasn't an obvious one, but the tanning fanatic really had a jacked-up weave).

I think the big message Patti is trying to get across is that if you want love, sometimes -- OK, most of the time -- if you have a problem sustaining successful relationships, the problem is you. But the good news is once you're aware of that fact, you can fix it ... and end up with the perfect match.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What would your painting look like?

"I've caught this magical landscape and it's the enchantment of it that I'm so keen to render. Of course lots of people will protest that it's quite unreal, but that's just too bad." –Claude Monet

I found myself in a unique predicament five weeks ago.

“So what do you want me to paint for you?” asked one of my best girlfriends, Stephanie Galeotti. I finished touring her newly-built home in Savannah, Ga., and had commented on the abstract art she had painted and hanging in almost every room.

I stammered for a few minutes, hoping to contemplate a little longer because this wasn’t an everyday type of inquiry. Then, in an instant, the ideas flowed like a dam had been removed from a reservoir.

“How about a painting with a barn, rolling green hills, sunflowers and lots of blue and yellow colors? And off in the sky, almost as if the barn were dreaming, you add a cityscape sitting in the clouds?” I asked of Stephanie.

The idea behind the painting? It’s city girl meets country boy. Merlot mixes with Budweiser. Alisha meets Richard. You get the idea. I’m from Raleigh, and though it’s not quite metro New York, it is a big city in comparison to Lawndale, N.C., where Richard grew up. I don’t think there's a single stoplight in the Lawndale city limits.

Plus, I wanted something that represented the marriage to my best friend, and what better way to meld our different backgrounds together than to show a barn and a city? It's our own little version of "Green Acres."

In less than a week’s time, Stephanie finished our painting (pictured above). When I first saw it, I was so thrilled. She had captured, in the coolest of abstract ways, the true essence of Richard and me. We finally got to hang it in our kitchen this past weekend.

This whole experience got me thinking. What if a talented artist, much like my friend, were to offer a painting for you and your significant other? What symbols would you suggest, how would you illustrate your relationship, what colors should be used?

It’d be awesome if readers could post their own illustrations. Since that's an unlikely option with, how about sharing your ideas for your own "relationship painting"?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Is it OK to lie in a relationship?

Alisha: So, after you've been dating someone for awhile, when is it fine to start fudging the truth -- or is it ever a good idea?
Deirdre: I don't think it's ever OK, but sometimes it's a necessary evil.
Alisha: Totally agree. I know one such instance is the, "Honey, do I look fat in these jeans?" I'm sure some men, OK, maybe most men, lie when responding to their significant other.
Deirdre: Whenever I ask my man a question like that, I ask because I value his opinion and I really want to know. I say if you don't want to know the answer, don't ask the question. It's not fair to force people to lie to make you feel better.
Alisha: So if your man said, "Yes, you look bad" in four different pairs of pants, do you honestly think he's gonna say it a fifth time? My husband refuses to answer the question period, no matter how many times or ways I ask.
Deirdre: That's because society has trained men that it's a question that'll get them into trouble.
Alisha: But that's where a lot of "lying" comes from, these "trouble area" questions. I think some folks would rather just chalk it up to a white lie rather than sleep on the couch for the week. I bet it happens more than we think.
Deirdre: If I had my way, I would never lie in my relationships. But sometimes ... you have to do it to avoid hurt feelings. Those are the little lies we might tell our mates. But BIG lies -- no way. Like, leaving out first husbands, or babies given up for adoption, or sexually transmitted diseases -- you gotta come clean on stuff like that.
Alisha: It depends on the severity of the issue. STDs - um, yeah, no hiding that. I could see where a woman might never tell her husband she gave up a baby for adoption. That's part of her past, not his, and if she sees it having no direct impact on their relationship, then why give up something that private?
Deirdre: I believe the things we do now make us who we are later. That might be part of her past, but it's still part of the person she is now. It's important for her partner to know that about her. We're talking about babies, but let's take one step back and talk sexual partners. I'm sure plenty shave off (or add) the number of people they've slept with. I tell the truth, and I want to know the truth, even if I might not like it. How do you feel about it?
Alisha: You should be as honest as possible. When it's something that directly affects your partner, then there should be nothing but the truth.
Deirdre: What bothers me is I know men and women who lie so much in relationships, they don't even realize they're doing it anymore, y'know? They say everything is fine when it's not. They say they are happy when they're not. They do things they don't want to do, but say they want to. All so they can keep a partner. What they don't realize is that every time they don't tell the truth, they lose a little of themselves.
Alisha: That's because those people don't put themselves first. They allow their partner to define who they are, and that's a shame. Be honest with yourself and with others.

What do you think, readers? Is lying acceptable in your relationship?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Embrace National Women’s Confidence Day

Did you know today is National Women’s Confidence Day? I had no idea, and only found out about it because I heard a radio DJ declare it a few days ago.

Last year, rapper and actress Queen Latifah, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and the YWCA teamed up to launch the first National Women’s Confidence Day, to be celebrated the first Wednesday in June. Their goal is to acknowledge and increase confidence among women in their professional and personal lives.

I think it’s a great starting point. Women should take time to reflect on their successes, family, joys in life, careers and relationships. My hope, though, is that women do not pause for reflection on just one day a year. Celebrations of confidence should be spread out because heaven knows we all need constant little reminders that life is gonna turn out A-OK. I think this is where I cue up Gloria Gaynor.

So to honor this day, (and really every day) where women should hold their head up high, here are five ideas to encourage confidence building:

1. Call, e-mail, or heck, even text message, that guy you’ve been crushing on for weeks. Who knows? You might have a date for Friday night.

2. Jot down a short list of things you have accomplished recently. Here’s mine as an example: * Spent quality time with my sick grandma. * Finally started cleaning out the second bedroom. * Mailed out birthday cards so they got there on time.

3. Go out and buy a really flattering outfit or some sexy lingerie.

4. Dust off all of your photographs at home, on your desk or in your wallet. Take a long look at those who love you for just being you.

5. Take your arms, hold them out in front of you, cross them, fold them back toward you and give yourself the biggest hug and pat on the back you can give. You deserve it!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Once your mom's child, always a child?

I was at an art event last night and who should walk in but my accountant. Since I usually only visit her around tax time, it was a treat, because I really like my accountant.

So when I saw her last night, we immediately got glasses of wine and settled in to talk. Turns out she's going on a family vacation out West soon -- the San Diego area, then up to Las Vegas. And not only is she going with her adult son and his family, but she's bringing her parents along.

Would I attempt such a trip? Hell, no! But she's really looking forward to it, especially the time she'll spend with her mom and dad.

My accountant is at least a decade older than me (I don't dare guess past that, because she's one of those ageless women who look 40 until they're 65), so I was surprised when she said her parents were the only people who could still tell her what to do. What? Don't we ever get past that point in our lives? And when I complained that my mom sometimes treats me as if I were still 12, she nodded ruefully in understanding.

"Don't they ever see us as adults?" I asked. This is a sticking point with me, because my mom often refers to me as "little girl," when I'm much taller and almost 40.

But my accountant, a daughter and a mother herself, just said no, our parents never do.

Well, as long as my mom doesn't impose curfews or choose outfits for me or wipe smudges off my face with a licked bit of napkin, I guess I'll be OK.