How to Become Amazing at Talking to Women on the Phone

 

Want to show me you’re interested? Pick up the phone and call me. Phone calls used to be the norm, but somewhere along the line with the advent of texting, they’ve become the exception. While I’d still prefer texting for most forms of communication, there’s something to be said about the phone call — especially when it comes to catching up with old friends or getting to know a new love interest. I love hearing the other person’s voice and their laughter instead of just their LOL’s. When someone I’m interested in calls me, I get butterflies and my spirits soar like I’m Drake dancing in the Hotline Bling video.

With that said, a lot of people still feel awkward talking on the phone. When the team at Livelinks approached me, I thought it was the perfect oppertunity to share some of my conversation tips for talking on the phone.

1. Invest in a headset.

The biggest complaint I hear from people re: phone conversations is that they “don’t have time to just sit and talk for hours.” I feel you, guys. Unlike texting, where you can distractedly watch back to back episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine while you send witty quips back and forth with your crush, talking on the phone requires a bit more mental focus and presence. My suggestion: get a phone that allows you to plug in earphones. I have an iPhone 8 and if I’m planning on making a phone call longer than a few minutes, I attach my headset. This allows me to do other things around the house or even go for a walk while I catch up with my favorite people.

2. Ask open ended questions.

Not sure what to say? Start by asking open-ended questions (I.e. questions that can’t be easily answered with “yes” or “no”) and let them take the lead talking-wise. What are you passionate about? Where have you traveled? This could even be as simple as asking, “what’s new and exciting with you?” In other words, if you’re not sure what to say, make it all about her. Not only will it take the pressure off, it will also send the message that you’re legit interested in learning more about them (always a good thing). If it helps, make a list of open-ended questions before you pick up the phone and keep them handy.

3. Listen actively.

Don’t zone out. If you’ve asked an open ended question and they’ve answered, follow it up with another open-ended question to show that you’re paying attention (“Oh, you traveled to Spain. What was your favorite part?”)

4. Don’t make it all about you.

Ugh. There’s nothing worse than having a one-sided phone conversation where all the other person does is talk about themselves. With that said, if you’re nervous or the other person isn’t saying much, it’s easy to default to stream of consciousness rambling. To avoid turning your phone chat into a therapy session, think back to those  open-ended questions. Make sure you’re asking your phone date questions and giving them the chance to do the same.

5. Don’t overthink it.

Just because you have them on the phone, doesn’t mean you have to reveal your deepest, darkest secrets. Talk to them about stuff you’re comfortable about and just be yourself. Remember, it’s just a conversation.

6. Make her laugh.

There’s a reason why people always list “sense of humor” as one of their most desirable attributes in a partner. Laughter is a huge turn-on. While I don’t suggest you go into the conversation attempting to be a comedian, keeping things light and playful is a great place to start.

7. End the conversation with an ask.

So, the conversation has gone well and now it’s time to sign off. Don’t hang up the phone without locking down the next steps. Whether it’s asking her out on a date or scheduling your next phone chat, make the other person feel like the conversation was a good use of their time by setting up future plans.

8. Channel your inner Winston from New Girl.

Lastly, it all comes down to confidence. I love the show New Girl and my favorite character Winston. While Winston is kind of awkward in real life, we learn in the later seasons that he’s inexplicably good on the phone (and well, it’s pretty hilarious). The point here is that you can be awkward in real life and still have good phone etiquette. Stick to the tips mentioned above and channel your inner Winston. You’ve totally got this!

PS. If you’re looking for a place to try out these new tips, try Livelinks (1-888-507-1136). Thanks for supporting the posts that support Skinny Dip.

How To Stop Delaying Good Sex & Travel Until Your Body Changes

 

You saw that sparkling picture on Instagram. Your friend came back from her trip and raved about the food, the margaritas, and those postcard-stunning views. You’ve dreamed of traveling there since you were a kid but… That particular destination involves wearing a bikini? IN PUBLIC? And shorts? And see-through caftans? And sleeveless everything? Uh, hard pass.

How many times have you considered a weekend road trip, an afternoon hike, or a red eye flight to an exotic location, but you didn’t book it because of how your body looks?

The internet is full of heartbreaking statistics about how many women think “I hate my body” at least once a day. And as much of a bummer as that internal monologue is all on its own, it leads to more sad statistics that say that women are more likely to cancel plans, skip out on job interviews, and avoid travel and outdoor activities, all because of how we feel about our bodies.

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I’ve written about how my feelings about my body have changed and evolved since entering my thirties. While I’d like to say that this is just a natural consequence of aging, I know it’s more than that.  After I turned 30, something called Instagram happened and I feel like it changed everything. I’ve always had a pretty healthy, secure, relationship with my body, but even I sometimes feel “less than” compared to the plethora of perfectly tanned, buff, influencers that can be found posing in exotic locations with Rapunzel like locks and washboard abs. While I try and disengage from media that makes me feel bad, when I was researching my recent trips to Mexico and Jamaica, I found myself scrolling through these kinds of photos and wondering if I was fit enough/cool enough to visit these locations.

(SPOILER ALERT: we’re ALL hot enough/cool enough do anything we want.)

I can’t be the only person who feels this way, so I reached out to my friend Annika Martins, who’s a Body & Visibility Coach for women entrepreneurs (and also travels 4-8 months a year), and asked her to chime in. Over to her…

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** Hey, Skinny Dip hunnies! Annika here. Simone and Joe the Intern are my favorite taco-noshin’ crew, so I’m thrilled to give some love to their community.

Here are 5 tips on how you can travel NOW, instead of waiting until your body changes to feel good about yourself (hint: that never works):

Start small and low-key.

Even though I grew up on a Caribbean island, I was so ashamed of my bigger body that I avoided the beach like the plague (despite craving the ocean daily). As an adult, I worked hard at finding true confidence in a swimsuit, and one of the things that helped was starting off gently, with secluded local spots and then quieter, low-traffic travel destinations.

Go during the low-season. Stay at a more mellow resort or an even more private AirBnb.

Those first few times wearing a swimsuit or shorts in public were a BIG deal, so instead of adding to my anxiety by strutting onto a crowded beach, I started somewhere small and low-key. This gave me the mental space to get comfortable with something that had previously been terrifying, and it allowed me to remember the real reason I wanted to wear the swimsuit in the first place: the water on my skin, the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, and that powdery soft sand between my toes.

Get your mind right BEFOREHAND.

How we feel about our bodies has very little to do with our actual bodies – it’s entirely about what we think of our bodies, so doing some inner work before your trip is key.

Empowering affirmations. Mantras that soothe. Take a non-permanent marker or post-it notes to write encouraging words on your hotel room bathroom mirror.

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Most important of all: Prepare a mini-script of things you want to tell yourself if / when you start to feel insecure or panicky. Trying to uplift yourself when you’re overwhelmed and anxious becomes so much easier if you’ve prepared a few bullet points beforehand so you’re not scrambling to come up with healthy self-talk on the spot.

DON’T GO (yet).

There’s a time for pushing beyond our comfort zone and there’s a time for acknowledging that we’re forcing something that truly doesn’t feel right yet (and that’s a guaranteed way to have a crappy travel experience), so if a trip feels entirely out of the cards right now, ask yourself this:

What’s the best & closest possibility?

Instead of getting on the plane or booking that camel trek right this second, how can you experience a small piece of that travel adventure NOW?

Is it having dinner at an Indian restaurant that brings out belly dancers after dessert? Or scrolling through Pinterest pics of your dream destination and visualizing yourself there? Or maybe it’s going to a local pool when no one’s there, or a secluded park to ‘practice’ wearing your vacation-wear?

Choose the best and closest possibility, and then another, and another, until you’re ready to plunk down your passport for the adventure of a lifetime!

Annika Martins runs The Embody Collective – a body image & visibility program for women who want to show up more fully in their body, professional life, relationships, everything. Find her on Instagram or check out her Embody program here.

June 12th was Loving Day & Here’s What You Need to Know

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On June 12th, people across the United States celebrated Loving Day — an unofficially recognized holiday that commemorates the landmark 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

Given how monumental the decision was, it’s embarrassing to admit that as Canadian my first exposure to Loving v. Virginia was through the  Oscar nominated film Loving, which stars (the amazing) Ruth Negga and Joel Edgarton as the very aptly named Mildred and Richard Loving, the plaintiffs in the landmark case.

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In 1959, Mildred a woman of color, and Richard, a white man,  settled in Virginia after getting married in the District of Columbia. One night, their bedroom was invaded by a group of police officers who’d broken into their home in the hope of catching them having sex, a crime under Virginia law (they were sound asleep). The couple was then sentenced to a year in prison for violating the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which prohibited interracial marriage — a punishment they traded for a one-way ticket out of Virginia. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision determined that the law was unconstitutional. The date was June 12th, 1967.

As a Canadian, reading about Mildred and Richard Loving, was humbling. Let’s be real: Canada has a less than stellar track record when it comes to race relations, but interracial marriage has never been blatantly illegal.

(Sidebar:  if you’re curious about the history of racism in Canada I strongly encourage listening to CBC’s Missing and Murdered podcast – it’s amazing – or reading this piece for a primer.)

I feel incredibly privileged to live in a time and places where interracial dating is not only legal, it’s actually pretty common. A few years ago, Vancouver was dubbed “the capital of interracial dating” because it has more couples in mixed unions per capita than any other Canadian city, with Toronto in second place. In other words, I’ve pretty much spent my adult life living in a bubble of sorts, free to date and love whoever I want.

(Another sidebar: If you want to get a feel for interracial dating climate in Canada circa 1957, I suggest you watch the short film, Crossroads. It’s cringe worthy in the way only educational films about dating from the 1950’s can be, but also quite progressive in the context of what was happening in the United States at the time.)

This brings me back to Loving Day, which was established in 2014 as a way to commemorate the Loving v. Virginia decision and celebrate multiculturalism.

While June 12th is already in the rear view mirror for another year (seriously, where has June gone?),  Loving Day.org has a bunch of helpful info about the day and how to celebrate, including a list of Loving Day celebrations. Don’t see your city or town represented? Plan your own celebration.

If you’ve got little ones, there’s also a children’s book, The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage that’s really, really, wonderful and has gorgeous illustrations.

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I know this isn’t your usual Skinny Dip post, but at a time when children are literally being ripped from their parent’s arms and police violence against people of color continues, it’s important we educate ourselves and resist — and that resistance includes celebrating loud & proud the freedom to love whoever we want.

Quick Advice For Female Travelers In Their Twenties

 

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I‘m here today to talk about one of my favorite topics: travel! One of my main goals when I graduated university at 24 was to travel as much as possible. The problem: I had a very restricted budget (I was broke AF) and was kind of nervous about traveling solo. So, while some of my friends backpacked through Morocco solo, I  got a job at a travel agency, traveled in very large groups and went on adventures with my then-partner. While I think traveling solo is definitely something everyone should experience at least once, it’s only since I’ve been in my 30’s that I’ve become more adventurous when it comes to striking out on my own.

With that said, female travelers in their twenties are becoming increasingly common. If you’re thinking of taking the plunge, here’s a few things that I learned while traveling in my 20’s (and also my 30’s!)

Do As Much Research As Possible Beforehand

While it can be tempting to book a trip with reckless abandon, do your research beforehand so you know what you’re getting yourself into (I’d prefer to stay in places that don’t have murdery vibes, but that’s just me). Just don’t go overboard. You don’t want to get analysis paralysis, but you do need to make sure you’re booking places that are safe, secure and come with positive reviews.

Be Mindful of Your Drinking

By the time I started traveling in my 20’s, I’d heard enough stories that started with “so, I woke up naked on a beach in Thailand after blacking out”, that I vowed never to drink while traveling, period. To be clear, drinking is fine, just make sure that you stay safe. You shouldn’t drink too much if you’re alone, or with people you barely know either. Don’t put your drink down, know your limits and use your common sense. (PS. If you’re going to drink absinthe, don’t do it in the shower.)

Stay Somewhere With Great Reviews

Look for places with great reviews so you know you’re staying somewhere trustworthy. I chose my recent hotel in Jamaica not because it was the fanciest place on the strip, but because it had consistently great reviews. A place like Fairfield Inn & Suites Mexico City Vallejo has features you should be looking for. You want to make sure that you’re going to be well looked after, wherever you’re traveling and whatever you’re planning on doing.

Pack Light

Nothing hammers home the importance of packing light like having to lug a heavy suitcase up the stairs of a five story Italian hotel with no elevator or air conditioning (#truestory). As a recovering over-packer, I always have to remind myself that I usually end up only needing 3/4 of what I put in my suitcase. Pack minimally, pick up anything you need/forget when you get there and leave room to bring home anything you might purchase.

Invest In A Portable Charger

I learned this hard way when I went to Disneyland for the first time as an adult and my phone ran out of power halfway through an epic photo-shoot with Joe the Intern. A portable charger will ensure you always have phone battery – not to just update Instagram, but to call a cab or LYFT if you need to.

Eat The Food And Don’t Sweat It

Although you may want to stay healthy on your travels, give yourself permission to let go a little bit. While I don’t regret eating my body weight in tacos last time I was in LA, I do regret that one time I went to Loteria Grill and ordered a salad when I was really craving a plate of juicy lamb Birria. Don’t be afraid to try the specialty dish, and enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. It’s not going to kill you!

It’s Okay to Get A Bit Lost

If you get lost, don’t sweat it. You might find something amazing that you wouldn’t have found otherwise — like an amazing hole in the wall restaurant or a cool photo op. Allow yourself some freedom in your schedule to really explore and find new things. For everything else, there’s Google Maps.

Enjoy The Moment – Not Through A Screen

For the majority of my twenties, smart phones simply didn’t exist (shout out to my Nokia flip phone, RIP!) so this wasn’t an issue. Now I try to make a concerted effort to limit screen time as much as possible when I’m traveling. Make sure you’re properly enjoying the moment as you travel, and not just through a screen. Be mindful of what you’re seeing. By all means, snap some pictures, but make sure you actually take in the moment yourself.

A Quick Note On Safety

Don’t listen to anyone who says “it’s not safe for females to travel alone.” While there’s definitely some locations that are safer than others (and some that you probably want to avoid altogether), if you carefully plan where you’re going and take safety precautions, you should be fine. You can’t let fear of the unknown stop you from exploring!

Hopefully, these tips have been helpful.

Bon Voyage! xx

How To Be Your Own Best Friend

 

This post was brought to you by omgkinky.com. Thanks for supporting the posts that support Skinny Dip.

There was a period in my life between ages 18 and 22 where I really struggled with spending alone. I went from living with my family, where I was always surrounded by people and spending time alone was a choice, to living by myself in Toronto where being alone was the default. I now covet my alone time, but back then I was terrified of my own company — especially on the weekends, when I assumed everyone but me was out doing “cool stuff.” I’d sign up for extra shifts at work and say yes to plans with friends (no matter how ridiculous) just so I wouldn’t have to deal with the inevitable panic attack that would set in whenever I thought of staying home alone in my apartment.

Something changed around 22 or 23 and I finally re-learned how to date myself. Here’s a few things that have helped me build a better relationship with myself.

1. Find out what you love and do more of that thing.

A few years ago, I realized I feel most like myself when I’m dancing or moving my body (barre, yoga, climbing a pole), so I’ve made a concerted effort to do those things. If you’re not sure what you love, give yourself permission to experiment and try as many new things as possible. You might end up falling in love with a part of yourself that you never knew existed (or you might just end up taking a lot of photos of a half-naked G.I. Joe).

2. Take yourself on dates.

Solo dates are the best because you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT! I used to feel really awkward sitting alone in a restaurant or a movie theater, but now I kind of love it. I still love doing these things with other people best, but sometimes it’s nice to know you can go have an awesome day/night all on your own.

3. Listen to your buddy voice.

Our intuition often gives us the best advice… if we’re willing to listen. That rising sense of anxiety you get whenever you get a text from a certain person? The sinking feeling you get before doing x, y or z? The nagging sense that something just feels off? These aren’t just random thoughts. Your intuition wants the best for you, so it’s important to listen to “your buddy voice” (as my friend likes to call it). Respect your personal boundaries. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

4. Masturbate.

Seriously. I’m of the firm belief that the world would be a better place if we all took more time for self-pleasure. To quote RuPaul, “if you don’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?” The same applies to sex: you can’t expect someone to please you, if you don’t know how to please yourself. So don’t be afraid to explore and experiment in this regard too. You can check out omgkinky.com for some suggestions. The Skinny Dip archives are also chock-full of ideas for solo-play!

5. Stop emotionally drop-kicking yourself.

I can be my own worst enemy, but I’m trying to get better at quieting the negative self talk. Treat yourself how you’d want to be treated. Would your best friend repeatedly tell you that you suck? No, of course not. So, stop saying these things to yourself. Instead, remind yourself that you’re pretty great & are doing your best.

6. Be unapologetic about your interests.

My interests are eclectic to say the least. I like taking photos of Joe the Intern, collecting pins, reading like a beast, looking at art and occasionally taking a few spins around the pole. I’m also obsessed with soul music, hip hop and true crime podcasts. I used to think that I had to hide certain interests so that my story as a person would make sense for other people (I mean, it’s already weird enough that I’m a sex writer without having to add, “oh and by the way, I’m also super into doll photography!”) but I’ve since learned that I’m not doing the world any favors by pressing the dimmer switch on my identity. The more I embrace my interests, the more confident I feel and the easier it becomes to spend time solo.

7. Take a trip by yourself.

My recent foray into solo travel has definitely evolved the relationship I have with myself. While I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some lonely moments when I went to Los Angeles, Mexico or Jamaica solo, for the most part traveling solo was an exhilarating experience. You can visit unique destinations and once you’re there, explore them however you like. Traveling solo is something everyone should try at least once.


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