In the past several years, the dating scene has changed considerably. People are busier, careers sometimes move to the top of our priority list, and dating has had to evolve as a result.
Online dating has transformed the way adults can meet their next date, expanding your options far beyond who you can meet at the local watering hole. Pick-up lines have been replaced with profiles, and the online dating scene has opened up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to relationships and dating.
Online dating is a more organized, thorough approach to meeting someone. People who sign on to online dating sites usually provide basic information about themselves, such as their name, age and where they live. Pictures and personal tastes, such as favorite types of music and movies, as well as general interests can also usually be added to a user profile.
Some dating websites also allow users to indicate the type of person they are looking for, and in some cases matches can be made for you. Part of the process is deciding which type of online dating site you prefer and which one(s) use a method that works for you.
Some of the most popular online dating sites include:
eHarmony - eHarmony has a compatibility matching system that uses 29 personality variables to determine who you are most suited to. It will only allow you to contact people that the matching system determines you may be highly compatible with.
Match.com - With 15 years of experience, Match.com is ranked as one of the largest dating sites in the world.
Okcupid - This is a free dating site that allows you to contact anyone you like on the system. They can also provide matches for you and also allow users to create and complete fun quizzes to help you meet like-minded singles.
Lavalife - Some users will find a bit of versatility with this site, where members can select from a variety of options that include dating, but allow for other choices such as: relationships, intimate encounters, and so on.
Chemistry.com - Uses research from world-renowned biological anthropologist, Dr. Helen Fisher, to make predictions about who best matches your chemistry profile.
Advantages to Online Dating
There are a number of advantages to online dating. One of them is that with millions of people participating, you practically have the pick of the litter. Online dating has also become an increasingly popular way of meeting others without resorting to bars or trying to pick someone up in a book store, which means online daters can look for their next date from the comfort of their living room.
Many online dating services also offer special features that will get you that much closer to meeting someone special. With profiles, pre-screening, personality tests, and other functions, you stand a pretty good chance at finding the perfect date or future mate - depending on the service you choose.
Another advantage to online dating is the sense of control it offers. When you set up a profile, you can choose how much information to share. You are also able to specify the type of person you want to meet. Since there is no requirement that you meet anyone in person, you get to decide if you want to give someone your phone number or meet up at a physical location. You can take your time interacting with and getting to know someone online before you make the decision to actually go on a date.
Honesty is an issue that you will have to consider. You are never guaranteed that someone you meet online is being honest. Yet the same can be said for meeting someone face-to-face. Most online communications involve a great deal of frankness. In these discussions you can get right to the point.
This may eliminate many of the emotional risks that are otherwise involved in dating. Plus, if you decide you are no longer interested in communicating with someone, it's much easier to stop responding to them online than awkwardly leave a restaurant or have to wait for a horrible date to end.
There is also a lot of flexibility with online dating. Whenever you want, you can log on and chat, check profiles, or see who has contacted you. No matter what time of the day it is, or what day of the week, the world of online dating is at your fingertips.
Disadvantages to Online Dating
Naturally, there are some disadvantages to online dating. Just as having an opportunity to be really honest can be an advantage; there is the potential that what someone says online is not entirely-or even partially-true.
It is impossible to know if a profile or photo is completely truthful, so there is always some risk involved that the person who shows up to your first date is very different than the person you thought you met online.
You also have no guarantees of what will happen once you meet face-to-face. Online it might seem like you are a perfect fit. However, once you meet in person, if the chemistry isn't there or there are some things about the other person that were never disclosed (physically or otherwise), your date might not end up being the right fit. All the time spent nurturing and building a virtual relationship could come up empty-handed once you actually meet the person.
Another disadvantage is distance - especially if you meet someone who lives far away. While the Internet is great at bringing us closer together, trying to date someone across the country can be extremely difficult, especially with someone you may have never even met in person. Unless, of course, you are ready and willing to possibly begin your life somewhere new.
Finally, there is a cost to joining many online dating services. Most charge some type of fee, such as a monthly membership; however, other sites may charge extra fees for features like messaging, contacting another member or setting up a more advanced profile. It's important to find out what the fees are going to be ahead of time and get a good feel for the online dating service. You don't want to pay for months of service only to find out after a week that this site is just not for you.
There are advantages and disadvantages to online dating, so weigh them carefully before you jump in with both feet. Having a clear understanding of what you are getting into will make the experience more successful. Be realistic about your expectations and what you hope to gain from it. Spending time researching the different online dating services will also help you find the best fit.
In addition to the popular online dating services listed in this article, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others designed for almost everyone. Some online dating services are set up based on specific hobbies, lifestyles, interests, and relationship types. By doing a little research you can find an online dating site (or several) that offer exactly what you are looking for in a dating service-and a mate!
Life is busy and sometimes it's hard to find the time to get out there and meet someone, particularly if you are sick and tired of the single's bar scene. If you are looking for true love or just a friend, then online dating could be just the answer for you.
Sex can be fun, but it should also be safe. Without trying to sound too much like a high school Sex-Ed class, when it comes to safe sex, abstinence is the only real guarantee you have for being 100% safe. There are however, a lot of helpful safe sex tips you can use to keep yourself, and your partner, as safe as possible when sex is part of your relationship.
Safe Sex Tip - Limit Your Sexual Partners
Every time you have sex with someone, you are exposing yourself to certain risks. By limiting your sexual partners you are reducing the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD). This can mean only being sexually active with one person at a time in a monogamous relationship, or just taking some extra time getting to know someone before deciding to go to bed together.
The fewer partners you have, the fewer risks there are. So before you decide to have sex with someone, make sure it's really worth it.
Safe Sex Tip - Discussing Your Sexual History
It might not sound very romantic, but discussing sexual history with your partner is important. Ideally, this would take place before you decide to have sex. If your partner refuses to discuss their sexual history, you might want to reconsider engaging in any sexual activity that could put your health and life at risk.
Hopefully, your partner respects you enough to be honest about their sexual past. Likewise, it's also your responsibility to be honest about your sexual history and tell your partner any information about prior STDs or related issues you have experienced
Don't be afraid to ask (and answer) questions such as:
- How many people have you had sex with?
- Have you ever had an STD? If so, what was it and how was it cured?
- If you have an STD that is incurable, what steps do I need to take to protect myself?
- Have you ever had unprotected sex?
Hopefully your partner is willing to answer these questions truthfully. If your partner answers these questions in any way that concerns you, you might want to reconsider having sex or ask them if you can both go for STD tests together. If your partner agrees but you both don't want to wait for the results, use a condom until you receive the results from your tests.
Safe Sex Tip - Using Protection and Safe Sex Supplies
By using protection, you can still have sex while feeling assured you are doing your best to protect yourself and your partner. While nothing is 100%, barriers, such as condoms, provide you the best possible protection from acquiring an STD during intercourse.
Condoms can be made from different materials, so it is important to know which material works best. Condoms made from animal skin will not protect you from spreading or acquiring sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms that are made from latex or polyurethane are the only ones that can stop STD viruses from passing through.
If you use a condom, it is also important that you use it properly. An improperly fitted condom can be torn, making it ineffective in preventing STDs or an unwanted pregnancy. When purchasing condoms, be sure to check the package to ensure it's not ripped or torn as well as checking the condom's expiration date.
Another type of barrier you might wish to consider is one that is used for oral sex, usually called a dental dam. A dental dam is a square or rectangular piece of latex you or your partner can put over your mouth when engaging in oral sex. This will prevent fluids from passing between you and your partner.
Another form of protection that women should use is a water-based lubricant. Products such as K-Y Jelly will help prevent the tearing of skin during sexual intercourse, which can also help prevent you from acquiring an STD. When there is a lack of lubrication, the delicate tissue inside the vagina or anus is at risk of being torn. Even small tears during sexual intercourse can allow an STD to enter your bloodstream.
Women should also avoid douching. This process can cause the organisms in the vaginal area to become unbalanced, increasing the risk of contracting an STD.
You can also protect yourself by avoiding sexual contact if you or your partner are showing symptoms of an infection or are being treated for an STD. If either of you has herpes, then sexual intercourse should be avoided whenever a blister is present or if you feel like an outbreak is coming on. STDs like herpes can be spread even without any physical symptoms, so if you or your partner has genital herpes, you'll need to use a condom every time you have sex.
Protecting yourself means you need to be prepared ahead of time. By keeping safe sex supplies like condoms, dental dams, and lube on-hand, you will always be ready for an intimate encounter.
Risks of Having Unprotected Sex
There are many risks to having unprotected sex. Remember, it is much easier to prevent a sexually transmitted disease than it is to treat one. Infections can often be permanent or difficult to treat. Some sexually transmitted diseases can even be fatal, especially if they go untreated. STDs not only carry health risks but emotional ones as well.
Acquiring an STD is often accompanied by feelings of guilt or shame. The same is true if your partner acquires an STD. Negative feelings are bound to happen and could really damage your self-esteem and your relationship. It's important to remember that you should always take care of yourself by engaging in safe sex whenever possible. In the event that you do acquire an STD, seek treatment immediately and understand that just because you've been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease does not mean you are a "bad" or less-worthy person.
Types of Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Some STDs are caused by bacteria and can be treated with antibiotic medicines.
- Syphilis (produces an ulcer on the genitals and if untreated can lead to further serious health problems)
- Chlamydia (can damage a woman's reproductive organs, leading to infertility if left untreated)
- Gonorrhea (bacteria from this disease can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes and anus)
If these diseases are left untreated, you can develop further complications. Females in particular can develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) which could also lead to infertility.
Other STDs are caused by viruses. These can lead to more life-threatening ailments. They include:
- Genital warts (which in women can develop into cervical cancer)
- Hepatitis B or C (may eventually result in liver failure and eventually, the need of a liver transplant)
- Herpes (non-curable with breakouts occurring throughout your lifetime)
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV (non-curable and can lead to AIDS, which can be fatal)
Besides acquiring an STD, women are also at risk of becoming pregnant if they have unprotected sex. If you are not ready to have a baby, you can avoid the many problems that will result from an unwanted pregnancy-including making difficult decisions, and living with the results-by always using a condom. It's important to note that birth control pills, shots, rings, etc. will not prevent the spread of STDs, so you'll need to use a condom every time you have sex, even if you are currently on birth control.
Some people think that by practicing safe sex you are taking away the thrill and excitement-and spontaneity-of having sex in the first place. What's important to remember is that safe sex is just as fun as unprotected sex, and afterwards you won't have to worry about diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and the emotional effects of unprotected safe.
Plus, there are all kinds of creative ways to incorporate condoms and other safe sex items into your sexual play to keep the excitement going. After all, being able to enjoy sex without worrying about all the dangerous stuff that can go along with it really makes safe sex the best sex you can have.
Sex toys can be a great addition to your bedroom antics, whether you are using them with a partner or by yourself. Through thousands of years of design innovation-yes, even cavemen (and women) used primitive sex toys-we've come a long way in sex toy function and design, practically assuring that your perfect sex toy is already out there, just waiting for you to find it.
Types of Sex Toys
Sex toys come in a huge assortment of shapes, sizes, styles, textures, and functions, so it's important to think about the kind of sensation you would like a toy to provide in order to determine which one is right for you.
Some sex toys are meant for external use only, while others can be used internally as well. Once again, it's all about what you are looking to get out of your sexual play.
Here are some basic descriptions of a few of the most popular types of sex toys:
Vibrators - Basically anything that vibrates is a vibrator, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Vibrators can be designed for external use, internal use, or both.
Penis Rings - These are actual rings that can fit on the base of a penis (or around the penis and scrotum) to enhance sensation by constricting blood flow, which can create longer and firmer erections in some men.
Sexy Games - Forget Monopoly and Chance, today's couples have a vast selection of sexy board games and card games to help get them in the mood for some kinky fun.
Anal Toys - Some toys are specially designed for anal play. Men's anal toys are typically designed to stimulate the prostate, which is the male equivalent of the G-Spot in women. Women commonly use anal toys as well since they can create a feeling of fullness which many women enjoy.
Oils and Edibles - While massage oils and edible products aren't actually sex toys, they can heighten your sexual play. There are a wide variety of massage oils, edible lubricants and body paint (even chocolate!) for folks who like to get a little messy in the bedroom.
After you've familiarized yourself with some of the types of sex toys on the market, you'll need to start narrowing down your options to determine which sex toys are right for you, or you and your partner.
Choosing a Sex Toy
Before you go to a sex toy store or start shopping online, it's always a good idea to know a little bit about what you want in advance, since the selection can be overwhelming.
When choosing a sex toy you have a lot to consider including:
Function - What sensations are you looking for? Do you want a toy that provides external stimulation, internal stimulation, or both? Is this toy just for you or will you be using it with a partner? If the sex toy is meant to be used by a couple, you'll want to look for features you'll both enjoy.
Material - Sex toys come in a lot of different materials including plastic, silicone, metal, wood, and even glass. The material the sex toy is made from will in part determine its price and quality. Cheap sex toys made from plastic tend to break easily, while sex toys made from porous materials can collect bacteria, which make them difficult or impossible to clean properly. Each material will have pros and cons and will require different care, cleaning, and storage. All of these factors should be considered before you purchase a sex toy.
Your Body - Your individual tastes and sensitivity levels should be a major factor in the sex toy(s) you purchase. Some vibrators are too strong, others are too weak. Some sex toys must be used manually and others have remote controls so you can play "hands free." Other toys have a variety of textures, bumps, ripples, and so on meant to stimulate you in different ways.
What one person loves, another will surely hate, so being aware of your body will greatly help your search for the perfect sex toy. You'll need to really think about what turns you on, what type of stimulation you enjoy and what sensations you want to stay away from.
Sex Toy Novelties and Accessories
Sex toys need special care and proper cleaning, but sometimes they also need accessories. For example, while all bodies are different, you'll most likely need some lubricant to go along with your sex toys. If you are using an anal toy, lubricant is a must! Unlike a vagina, your rectum does not create lubricant on its own so you have to apply lubricant in order to engage in anal play, either with a sex toy or another person
When choosing a lubricant, try to stick with a water or gel-based lubricant that does not contain glycerin. Women prone to yeast infections should absolutely stay away from lubes with glycerin (frequently found in "flavored" lubricants) as these can cause yeast infections to occur.
Additionally, if you plan on sharing a sex toy made for internal use, you'll want to ensure your toy is thoroughly cleaned between uses or that you put a condom on your sex toy to prevent spreading fluids (if you are sharing during the same sex session). This is crucial if you intend to use a toy both vaginally and anally.
Sex toy storage is another important consideration. Some toys will come with their own carrying case or storage box, but you'll need to look at the directions on your sex toy to find out the best way to store your toy to extend its lifespan. You may want to purchase a special storage container suited to your toy's material to help with any storage concerns.
Sexual novelties like edible oils, chocolate body paint, and even "70s throwbacks like edible panties can usually be found in sex toy stores, but it is best to ensure the quality of these toys is up to your standards before you buy them, as they tend to be cheaply manufactured and not as tasty as they seem; however, there are always exceptions.
Sex toys can help bring some extra fun into your bedroom, even if you're the only one there! In order to find the right sex toy for you, or for you and your partner, you'll need to really think about what you love, what you don't love, how you want to use your toy, and what toy best fits your lifestyle; and your style in the bedroom.
With so many sex toys out there to choose from, the options might seem overwhelming, but by paying special attention to areas like function, style, and material, you're well on your way to finding the perfect sex toy for you!