Video | Let’s Talk About First Dates

One of the perks of writing a regular sex and dating column for Sun Media is that I get to participate in fun live chats like the one I did for Valentine’s Day.

The other day we did another live dating chat with the lovely Lida Elias of Save My Date where we talked about the etiquette of first dates. I still think I look totally awkward and Muppet like on camera (and I still haven’t mastered how to position myself so my eyes aren’t looking down) but I thought I would share the link anyways. If you tune in you’ll hear me talk about awkward first dates and tell the story of my date with The Big Baby, live. Come on, I know you want to.

Thanks Lida, Victoria and the rest of the Sun Media Team for a great chat!

PS. If you have any questions about dating, sex, or relationships that you’d like me to answer – email me! I’d love to do another Ask Simone post.

Do More of What Makes You Awesome

In December I participated in the Stratejoy Holiday Council and loved it. One of the things I found extremely helpful about the workshop was it helped me break down my goals for the year into easy to manage pieces. I decided to set goals for two months at a time so that every 60 days I have a different theme and specific things that I’m working on. This has been my theme for March-April:

Why I chose this as a theme: I’ve realized that I’m the best version of myself when I make time to do the things I love: being creative, writing, dancing, pushing my body & getting in regular sweaty workouts, listening to my favourite music, engaging with the world and learning new things. I’ve learned that when I don’t make time for these things, I feel depressed and bogged down.

Have you ever had the feeling like you no longer recognize your own life? Where you think of the person you used to be when you were younger and think “Where did I go?”. Where you spend whole days feeling guilty and discouraged because it feels like you’re not living up to your potential? I’ve had many of these moments. Actually, I spent a huge chunk of my twenties feeling this way. These moments are sad and they’re hard, but they’re also sobering. I believe that if you can recognize something is wrong, you can change it.

When I was a child I had so many diverse interests and things I was totally nerdy about. I swam, ran track competitively, took pottery classes, competed in public speaking competitions, collected stamps, read voraciously, sketched, painted, sang in a choir, played the cello and spoke fluent French. I also danced ballet. I didn’t think so at the time but I was a classic overachiever. Although a lot of my other interests fell to the wayside (when was the last time I made pottery?!), ballet was the one that stuck. By the time I was in my pre-teens I was in the dance studio 4-5 times a week after school.

Although I loved ballet and had the right body type, I didn’t have the stomach for it: the long hours, the constant, never ending criticism, the impossible quest for perfection. Ballet is part art-form, part psychological warfare. It’s a lot to handle when you’re not a fully formed adult emotionally. At some point in my late teens, ballet  just stopped being fun. I wanted to feel like a normal teenager – go out on dates, join the drama club, have a life outside of dance – so, I cut back.

When I moved to Toronto as an 18 (soon to be 19) year old, I swapped the dance studios of my childhood for underground clubs, my pointe shoes for platforms, and piano solos for the bumping bass of house music. Compared to an hour and a half ballet class in pointe shoes, dancing all night in 5 inch heels seemed like a breeze. The upside is that I developed an abnormally high tolerance for foot pain. The downside is that I eventually reached a point in my mid 20’s, where I was working in an office job I hated, swilling vodka on the weekends and wondering “What have I become. Where did all my interests go?!”

Although I took dance classes sporadically while I lived in Toronto, I never made it a priority. Even though I missed ballet, I think I was afraid of feeling of how I used to feel when I took ballet classes as a teenager: picked on, criticized, imperfect, never good enough. Instead of facing my fears, I made excuses as to why I wasn’t taking ballet classes: work, stress, school, relationships, money etc. When I was in my late 20’s I suffered a really bad back injury. My excuse then became “I’ll go back to ballet when my back is better.” However, since being diagnosed with Degenerative Disc Disease and arthritis, I’ve realized that my back is never going to be fully “better” and it seems silly to not do something that I enjoy.

To really be in love with my life, I need to dance. Just like I need to write. As I was telling my Mom the other day, I’d really like to take a ballet class where nothing is on the line, where the only person I’m trying to impress is myself. So, that’s what I have decided to do! I got so excited about the prospect of dancing again, that I the other night I dug out my old pointe shoes and took them for a whirl around the kitchen…

Since I haven’t taken a ballet class in a really long time, I decided to ease back into it by taking Barre Method. The classes are a blend of yoga, pilates and ballet exercises. I love it! As I was explaining to my friend Kate, “It’s like X-treme Ballet.” We do typical ballet moves but with weights, balls and lots of reps, all set to fun music. And oh boy, do you feel it. Like actual ballet, it’s hard work but the hard is what makes it good. In case you were wondering, it also gives you glutes and abs that could crush cans.

{Photo via Barreworks, Toronto}

It feels really good to move my body in this way again. Just like when I visit Quebec or France and immerse myself in French, doing ballet exercises again makes me feel like my body is remembering a language it learned many years ago. I’m starting with Barre Method so that I’ll be ready to take an actual dance class in the summer. Who knows, after that I may even brush up on my French!

Sometimes I wonder if maybe we get it right the first time. If what we are passionate as children is a reflection of our true calling in life. I was a kid who loved dancing, telling stories and learning about the world – which, essentially describes who I am now. I don’t think our essential selves really change that much from when were children, it’s just that life piles on so much bullshit that sometimes they get buried under other people’s expectations of who we should be. I imagine if we all peeled back the layers, we’d find our beautiful, shiny, awesome cores. That’s what I’m trying to do. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Do more of what makes you awesome: my new life mantra.

What makes you awesome? 

How Sexting Can Ruin Your Sex Life

The last time I was single for an extended period of time 7+ years ago, “sexting” wasn’t really a thing yet. Heck, many of us didn’t have smart phones, which meant sending a text that said “R U There Yet?” required that you to press multiple keys, like, 18 bazillion times. Telling someone over text “I want to bend you over the conference room table, pull up your skirt and cover your mouth to muffle your screams of pleasure” was a major time commitment, and something only reserved for people that were worth risking developing Carpal Tunnel syndrome over. However, now it seems like texting and it’s (at times) creepy cousin sexting, is the primary mode of communication in the dating arena. After Small Town Cop asked me over text about my “nether regions” following our first date, I’ve come to the conclusion that  maybe all this technology is actually harming our love lives more than anything. Seriously, what’s the deal with sexting?!

To get to the bottom of this issue, I’ve decided to call on my friend Liz from No Strings Dating to give her take on sexting. Take it away Liz!

Truth be told, I’ve never really been that big a fan of sexting. Maybe a little bit here and there, when stuck at work or in traffic I’d send off a racy text, or more likely when the guy on the receiving end of said sext is in an important meeting or hanging out with the boys. What can I say? It keeps things interesting. Interesting, yes. Sexy? Not so much. I’m actually of the belief that sexting regularly can ruin your real life sex life. Here’s why.

First of all, some people are big talkers. It’s super easy to pick up your phone and type out what you want to do to someone when you see them.  But all too often people simply can’t deliver on the sexts they send. It might seem like a really hot (and sexy!) idea to text your guy and tell him that you are going to rock his world all night long, baby or that you just love giving head more than life itself, but after a long day of work maybe you just want to cuddle-which would have been perfectly ok if you hadn’t promised otherwise. My general life rule-sexual or otherwise-is to manage not just my expectations but the ones of those around me. In my opinion, it is WAY hotter to have my fiance’ walk through the door thinking it’s going to be another boring night of Modern Family on the couch and surprise him with a can of whipped cream and naked twister, than it is to just talk about it all day and then fall short of his expectations.

Sexing also harms your connection as a couple. Technology is great for maintaining a connection with family and friends, but it doesn’t do much for a relationship-granted, if you’re in a long distance romance that is another story. But generally speaking, if you see your partner everyday, you shouldn’t feel the need to text them all that much about things other than asking if they could pleasepleaseplease stop by the store for tampons and a snickers bar-just me? But I mean, why wouldn’t you just talk to them face to face? Or at least call them on your lunch break if you’re horny and have phone sex in the car like a civilized person. (PS while I am a total sexing hater, phone sex is something I can totally get behind). While it might feel otherwise, sexting actually builds a false sense of intimacy. It feels like a “safe” way to express yourself sexually, but hiding behind an iPhone isn’t going to get you a one way ticket to orgasm city.

These days, relationships start via text and end via text. I have friends who get into intense arguments with their boyfriends via text, and it never seems to occur to them to pick up the damn phone and call each other…or even better, suggest meeting somewhere face to face to hash it out. The best sex is the kind that strips you bare and leaves you a bit vulnerable. If you feel like sexting is the easy or safe  way to let your partner know what you like or what you want, try whispering it in his ear instead. Or better yet, showing him exactly what you mean.

It’s not to say that sexting can’t be a fun add-on to an already satisfying sex life, and there is nothing wrong with texting your boyfriend a naughty one liner (just make sure you send it to the right person) as long as you put more, much more, emphasis on your face to face interactions. Think of sexting as the sprinkles on an already delicious cupcake. It’s just a little something something extra…but you really don’t need it, and it’s not what you notice when you take a big bite. Yes, I did just compare sex to a cupcake. In related news, why yes I am pmsing.

Liz is the social media manager at We Love Dates and No Strings Dating. She writes, tweets and thinks about love and sex all the live long day. In her spare time, she watches way too much reality TV and has a slight obsession with chips, salsa and margaritas. 

What do you guys think about sexting?

 

How to Survive Fashion Week Without Looking Like a Jack-Ass

If you’ve been following my twitter or Instagram feed, you might already know that I spent March 19th-24th attending Vancouver Fashion Week and blogging for The Kit.ca. Although I’m not a fashion blogger, I’m definitely a fashion enthusiast and I have been fortunate to attend both Toronto and Vancouver Fashion Week several years in a row. Although Toronto Fashion Week is bigger, flashier and a much more star studded, I really enjoy attending Fashion Week in Vancouver because the event is more intimate and accessible. Attending Vancouver Fashion Week means never having your view of the runway partially obscured by Ben Mulroney’s hair (which, in case you wondered doesn’t move, at all, and therefore, totally haunts my nightmares)

Since a couple of you have asked me about what it’s like to attend these kinds of events, I thought I’d take a break from regularly scheduled dating, relationship and sexy time talk, to share with you guys a few things I’ve learned from my Fashion Week experiences over the years.

(The top middle photo is of me & my lovely blogger buddy Alison from Styling My Life)

1. Play nice. See those PR girls frantically running around the venue trying to seat everyone? Be nice to them. If you need something or a detail gets messed up (i.e. there’s someone sitting in your reserved seat), be firm but always be polite. Kindness is remembered. When it’s between seating you (the lowly journalist) in the front row or the heavily botoxed “VIP” who is throwing a hissy fit as we speak, those nice PR girls will hook you up. True story.

2. Don’t feel like you have to wear head-to-toe designer. Although you’ll definitely see people wearing their share of labels, a designer wardrobe is not required for attendance. With that said, just because you own a few designer items doesn’t mean you have to wear them all at the same time – actually, it’s probably better you don’t…and yes, woman with the Gucci print shoes, bag & matching pants I’m looking at you. As it turns out, many of the well-dressed people I spotted at Vancouver Fashion Week were actually wearing pieces that they’d purchased at Zara, Top Shop or made themselves. It all comes down to how you style yourself. I brought a nice pair of shoes and a decent looking handbag, but the majority of the stuff I wore during the week was actually from Joe Fresh, Material Girl, GAP (!) or thrifted.

3. Accept the fact that your feet will probably be uncomfortable for most of the week. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t feel particularly professional in flats. Because Fashion Week is technically “work” I wear heels to all the shows and events. Between standing around waiting for the shows, running between venues and meeting up with friends for dinner/drinks, my feet take a beating. My suggestion? Pack a pair of flats in your bag for the trip to and from the venue. If you have a pair of foldable flats even better.

4. Here are a few other things that you should pack in your fashion week survival kit: Bandaids (your feet will need them), protein or energy bars (some of the shows overlap meal-times and it’s good to have something to discretely munch on so you don’t pass out), a smart phone with a camera (for Tweeting, Instagramming and taking snap-shots of the looks), business cards (Fashion Week is a great networking opportunity. I actually forgot my business cards this year and felt like a total dolt.)

5. Leave your UGGs and DOGS at home. I don’t think there is anything wrong with UGGs per se. I wear them around the house, for walking in the snow or for other wintery/outdoorsy activities – but they do not belong at a fashion show. Same goes for flip flops, house shoes or (god forbid) Crocs. It doesn’t matter that you’re in Vancouver where everyone is “so laid back” – invest in a simple pair of pumps or ballet flats if you’re going to be attending Fashion Week.

You know what else doesn’t belong at Fashion Week? Your Dog! Yes, Hugo here is probably the most adorable pup I have ever seen, but he’s also terrified! Fashion shows are loud, chaotic and the music often reaches nightclub-like volumes. Not only is it totally distracting to bring your pet to a fashion show, it also sucks for the animal. It felt so bad for some of the dogs because you could see their owners were trying to cover their ears & soothe them during the shows so they wouldn’t freak out 🙁 Leave your dogs at home!!

6. Be aware that you’ll probably get hooked on a new, free soft drink beverage. Where there is a Fashion Week, there’s always someone promoting  a new, questionable “energy” beverage. I’m guessing that these companies equate Fashion Week with not eating or sleeping properly and therefore, assume everyone is looking for a caffeine boost – which, wouldn’t be entirely untrue. Let us not forget the time you spent a whole day drinking free Fuze Ice Tea at a charity pool party or the Vitamin Water Incident of 2010. The beverages are there, they’re free and you’ll probably try them. FYI, I think I’m still on a caffeine high from all the  Starbucks “Refreshers” I drank during Vancouver Fashion Week.

7. Don’t worry about taking photos. There’s no way you’re going to get high quality shots of the runway unless you’re a professional photographer, so don’t worry about it. You can get the professional photos sent to you by the PR reps after the event or find them online. However, do take a photos of some of your favourite looks and of the name of the show before it starts. You’re going to see so many looks throughout the week that it’s impossible to remember them all without a visual reminder.

8.  Remember, there’s no laughing, pointing or cat-calling in fashion. I’m thinking this might be a Vancouver thing because I never seen anyone do any of these things in Toronto however, I saw people do ALL OF THESE THINGS at VFW. Even if a model struts down the runway in something that looks like the lovechild of a potato sack and a beach ball, show some maturity & respect and keep your comments to yourself. Also whistling and cat-calling models while they’re trying to work is just skeezy. Ignoring my advice will likely make you look like a jack-ass.

9. Stay sober. It’s really, really tempting to drink during Fashion Week. There’s champagne to be purchased between shows and there’s ALWAYS an after-party somewhere. Fashion Week is hectic especially when you have other work to do (either at the office or freelance) and you’re trying to attend and write about as many shows as possible. Unless you love feeling like crap, it’s hard to party all night and keep up the pace. Instead of partying it up all week, on the last night of Vancouver Fashion Week I treated myself to a decadent seafood meal and a glass of Pinot Grigio with some of the lovely blogger ladies below.

10. Don’t be a stranger. Talk to people! If you play your cards right you might end up meeting some Real Housewives and making some new friends!

mary-zilba-christina-real-housewives-of-vancouver

(With Mary and Christina of The Real Housewives of Vancouver, who were super nice & friendly!)

( Blogger Buddies! L-R – Me,  Britta, Nina and Allison)

What do you guys think? Did I miss anything?!

Ask Simone | Can Using a Vibrator Make it Harder to Orgasm During Sex?

Not sure what vibrator to choose? Got a relationship or dating question that’s keeping you up at night? I recently put it out there that I’d love to answer your sex, dating, relationship questions. The exciting news? Some of you actually sent questions for me to answer. Yay!

Here’s a question I received this week –

Hey Simone!

Your most recent post made me think of a question that I would love for you to address on your blog. Do you think it’s possible that using a vibrator (and thus becoming used to achieving orgasm by means of something that can never be replicated by a penis) can somehow make it harder to orgasm during sex? I don’t have sex super often (sadly!) but when I do I find it next to impossible to get off. Since I’m super used to my rabbit-style vibrator, I’m wondering if I’m somehow getting my body so used to one thing that another thing (i.e. a penis that is definitely not going to vibrate) just isn’t going to do it for me. Or am I just generally difficult to please? Thanks!

A

Dear A,

First of all, I just wanted to say congrats on taking your pleasure into your own hands – literally! I truly believe that we need to know how to pleasure ourselves before we can expect someone else to do the same. However, with that said, I totally understand how frustrating it must be to not be able to have an orgasm with a partner.

As I mentioned to you in my response, when I first received your message I wasn’t sure how to answer. A panic button in my head immediately went off: “Is it possible that my love of sex toys is actually hurting my sex life rather than helping it?! Omg, what if it is?!” I wasn’t sure how to answer your question so I turned to Dr. Trina Read for some professional insight.

Dr. Read explained to me that what you’re going through is actually pretty common. As she explains, “Vibrators make orgasms quick and intense; once a person becomes accustomed to that feeling it can be difficult to achieve orgasm with manual stimulation. Especially during intercourse.”  There’s no scientific evidence that suggests that you can become addicted to your vibrator, however some people do become mentally reliant on the instant gratification that a vibrator provides. When this happens, it’s just a question of training/re-training your body to enjoy other sensations too.

I think the first step is recognizing the difference in sensation between a vibrator orgasm and a manual orgasm because as you mentioned, a penis (or a hand, or lips for that matter) don’t vibrate. Here’s a few things you can do to mix things up:

– Whether it’s stepping away from your iPhone or putting your rabbit away for awhile, there’s definitely something to be said about “unplugging” and getting back to basics. Give your rabbit a break for awhile and instead try to have an orgasm the old fashioned way, by using your fingers. You may even remember how pleasurable exploring your body in this way can be.

-If you’d like to use a toy, try something that offers a different sensation. For example, you could try something like the Sqweel Wheel Oral Sex Simulator. I’ve nicknamed this toy “The Tiny Wheel of Tongues” because that’s basically what it is. Instead of vibrations, The Sqweel has a wheel of soft, tongue-like spokes that rotate and simulate fairly accurately the experience of a partner’s tongue during oral sex. It generally takes me longer to orgasm while using this toy but the sensation is much closer to what it feels like when I’m actually with a partner.

the-sqweel-wheel-oral-sex-simulator

Another option is to invest in a good quality dildo like the Lelo Ella that’s designed to help you discover and stimulate your g-spot. G-spot orgasms feel slightly different than clitoral orgasms. Move the toy inside you and discover what feels good (you can also do this by just turning off your rabbit and inserting the shaft.) In my personal experience, once I figured out where my g-spot was and started to stimulate it regularly, I became much more aware of it during partner sex and it became easier to have internal orgasms. You could also try using a set of Ben Wa balls like the Lelo Pleasure Beads to help strengthen your vaginal muscles (which can lead to more powerful orgasms)

I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone hon. I love my Lelo Soraya like nobody’s business but even I sometimes have problems having a vaginal orgasm with a partner. Truth be told, most woman need to have some clitoral stimulation during intercourse to get off. I usually orgasm really easily through oral sex or finger stimulation, but when it comes to straight penis in vagina sex, sometimes the orgasm just doesn’t happen. This is especially true when I’m with a new partner. During the 6-years I was with my ex-partner we got to the point where we knew each other’s bodies so well that I knew exactly which positions would help me have an orgasm (being on top is basically a sure-shot for me. Always has been) With that said, getting to that point took time, patience and trust.

Now that I’m single, I’m remembering what it’s like to get to know someone from scratch and it’s a different story. Sometimes you’re  just not sexually compatible with the person you’re having sex with and no matter what they do, you’re not going to get off. Other times you’re so attracted to someone and it’s hot and thrilling, but you still are getting to know their body & how you fit together. I’ve experienced both scenarios over the past year.

You mentioned in your letter that you don’t have sex that often so I’m guessing that you’re not in a long term committed relationship. If this is the case, my guess is that once you do find someone you click with and trust (trust is huge) you’ll be able to work through the orgasm issue together. I’m fully confident that you can have earth shaking orgasms with a partner, it just might take some time, patience, and lots of naked sexy time to figure it out. In the mean time, have fun experimenting and exploring on your own.

By the way – if it’s vibrations you seek, you might really enjoy a vibrating toy that can be used with a partner like the We-Vibe or the Lelo Tor.

I really hope these tips help. Remember, you’re not hard to please. You’re just a normal woman who knows what she wants.

Love & Hugs,

Simone

What do you think – Did I miss anything? What advice would you give?

Got a question about sex, dating, relationships or sexy products?! Send it on over! I’ll do my best to answer it, or  at the very least, find someone who can. 

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