Tag Archives: finding love

Sex Education Vs. Love Education: Why We Need More Of The Latter

Talk to most teenagers about the awkward moments of their lives and they’ll usually agree on a couple themes. Puberty did all sorts of weird things to their bodies, talking about sex with parents is very uncomfortable, and there’s no easy way to explain certain stains in your underwear.

Even adults who survived their teenage years would agree. That jarring transition from kid to adult is fraught with all sorts of challenges, obstacles, and exceedingly embarrassing moments. I’m not just talking about awkward boners either. It’s overwhelming, so much so that we often need guidance, even though most never admit to seeking it.

This is a big reason why sex education is so difficult, which I’ve discussed before. At least parents, teachers, priests, and poorly-produced after school specials tried to teach kids about these topics. Sure, some of it was misguided and misleading, but at least it wasn’t ignored.

There was one particular topic, which happened to be closely related to sex, that rarely got mentioned. In fact, it was only ever hinted at indirectly, if not overlooked purposefully. It might very well be the greatest oversight that school, parents, and society have committed, short of informing teenagers that pictures of their genitals are never secure.

It has to do with love. No, I’m not talking about the kind we make in a bedroom or within my sexy novels. I’m talking about the real, sincere love that most of us only know from old Beatles songs. Yes, I realize that sounds cheesy as hell, but that’s exactly my point.

Growing up, talking about sex was awkward and uncomfortable. It evoked all sorts of giggles, jokes, and crude remarks, often with respect to certain aspects of human anatomy. At least we talked about it. At least we acknowledged that it’s there and it’s something adults at least try, albeit haphazardly, to teach us about.

The same can’t be said for love. In some respects, talking about love is even more taboo than talking about sex. There was never a class about love. There was never an open discussion about what it meant, how it felt, and how to approach it. We, as hormonal teenagers, were left to figure it out on our own. That already leads to all sorts of problems with sex. Why wouldn’t the same apply to love?

Unlike sex, though, the silence on love has nothing to do with the agenda of religious zealots, government bureaucrats, or parents too horrified to think about their children getting naked. It had more to do with our attitudes, as teenagers.

I don’t know how it is now, but when I was a teenager, I hid the fact that I enjoyed romance. In many ways, my love of comics provided a shield since comics have all sorts of great romance stories. If someone found out I read comics, that wasn’t too big a deal. Liking comics wasn’t too taboo, but liking romance was different.

To enjoy romance, especially for a man, was to be a sissy. It was like there was something wrong with you to actually be into that sort of thing. Just talking about love made you less manly. Never mind the fact that men have done some insanely manly things in the name of love. Just being a fan of love and wanting to explore it was akin to dressing up in bunny pajamas and going to a Metallica concert.

For women, it was somewhat easier, but not by much. Girls were more expected to be into love and melodrama, but that came at a cost too. I knew girls in high school and college who got a lot of crap for being too sentimental, so to speak. Whenever they would talk about love, I could actually see others rolling their eyes and secretly wishing they could mute their friend.

In any case, talking about love was just something that seemed uncool, lame, or insipid. Never mind the fact that everyone seeks love, on some level, and that it goes onto become a major driving force in our lives, just like sex. We just didn’t talk about it and were expected to know it when we felt it.

That, unfortunately, was the most anyone ever dared teach me about love. It was the advice I got from parents and relatives. It was the advice I got from teachers. They would tell me the same things.

“Love is just one of those things you’ll know when you feel. Trust me!”

Now, I trust my parents and teachers with a lot of things. For the most part, the advice my parents give me is pretty damn good. When it comes to love, though, their advice felt empty and unsatisfying.

To some extent, I suspect they said that because even they didn’t know. I doubt they got an education on love, even if they got an education on sex. It’s also worth remembering that our concept of love and actually marrying for it is fairly recent. However, that doesn’t make the lack of insight any less jarring.

Even as a kid, I wanted to learn more about love, but had no idea how to go about it or who to talk to. I suspect others felt the same, but didn’t want to bring it up because it was just too uncool. I ended up learning most from comic books, TV shows, and movies like “Crazy/Beautiful.”

While those offered some insights, you generally don’t want to learn too much from mass media. That’s why we have an ongoing issue about kids learning about sex through porn. It’s also why we, as a society, don’t trust movies to teach teenagers how to drive. We understand mass media is going to horribly skew reality. However, we seem okay with letting it teach us about love.

Naturally, that’s going to cause problems. There are any number of doomed or toxic romances that the media loves to convey as romantic ideals. At least with sex, given the physical elements involved, it’s a bit easier to figure out you’re doing something wrong. Usually, your partner will tell you. With love, though, its a bit harder.

How do you know your understanding of love is healthy or even feasible? How do you know that your concept of love isn’t misguided or flawed? How do you even go about pursuing love, forging intimate bonds, and working with someone to strengthen that bond?

Those are not rhetorical questions. Those are actual questions that never get asked, let alone answered. Humans are a very emotional species. Love is among the most powerful emotions any human can feel. To not talk about it is akin to ignoring that at least half your body is on fire. At some point, the burning becomes too intense.

I don’t deny that our current standards for sex education have room for improvement. However, we haven’t even contemplated standards for education about love. Like our desire for sex, love is one of those innate human feelings that we cannot and should not turn off. It shouldn’t be one of those issues that’s uncool to talk about. It sure as hell shouldn’t be one of those issues that we ignore, especially for young people.

In a sense, though, maybe this is one of those rare issue where adults and teenagers are on the same page. Neither can claim to have a firm understanding of love. That may mean we have to learn and teach it together, but as an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I can think of few things more worthy of learning.

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Filed under gender issues, Love Or Obsession, Marriage and Relationships

Al Bundy Syndrome: The Face Of Learned Helplessness

Some concepts are so vague that it’s hard to put a human face on it. I suspect that’s part of why many people suck at math. You can’t personalize it, humanize it, or imagine it on a pair of breasts. Even things that directly affect people, like learned helplessness, are hard to grasp.

That’s why if you find a way to put a human face on a serious issue, you jump at the chance. It doesn’t just make it easier. It makes them memorable in an unexpected way. I consider the concept of learned helplessness a serious issue that affects our personal lives, our professional lives, and our sex lives. It goes beyond the world of an aspiring erotica/romance writer. It’s way bigger than we’re comfortable admitting.

That’s why, in the interest of putting a human face on a serious issue, I’d like to present the greatest personification of learned helplessness in the history of media. Some of us grew up with him. Some of us were appalled by him. He’s a myth, a legend, and an icon in his own tragic right.

His name is Al Bundy, the hapless husband and father of the Bundy family from the Fox classic, “Married With Children.” To those who have watched every episode and love the show as much as I do, you already understand why Al is the perfect embodiment of learned helplessness.

For those who aren’t familiar with “Married With Children” or why it was such a groundbreaking show, I feel sorry for you. For most people under the age of 20, they have no idea how much this show shook our collective understanding of modern television.

Say what you will about the trash currently on TV now, but before “Married With Children,” it was much worse. By worse, I mean they were boring. Most sitcoms were bland, generic, feel-good stories that tried to paint the world in an overly-rosy picture. Every one of them basically tried to capture the spirit of “Father Knows Best” or “Leave It To Beaver.”

Married With Children” saw that and decided to do the exact opposite, so much so that when it was in development, the title of the show was called “Not The Cosbys.” It was a show where all the conflicts weren’t solved at the end. It was a show where the world wasn’t idealized, perfect, or fair. In other words, it was more in line with the real world.

In that world, Al Bundy gets dealt a worse hand than most. At one point, he was a high school football star with a promising future. Then, he got hit with a streak of bad luck that effectively crushed his spirits.

He got injured and lost his football scholarship. He got involved with Peggy Bundy, a woman I’ve cited before as a character that men should rightly dread. He eventually has two kids that don’t respect him and works a dead-end, low-paying job as a shoe salesman.

While other sitcoms glorify the innate dignity of working class men like Ralph Cramden, Archie Bunker, and even Homer Simpson, there’s nothing glorious about Al Bundy’s life. There’s nothing noble about his poverty. He doesn’t even try to come off as sympathetic. His life doesn’t raise the bar or embody an ideal. If anything, it reminds ordinary people just how bad things can get.

Whereas other TV sitcoms try to uplift an audience by showing how loving, functional families solve their problems in a simple, 30-minute show, “Married With Children” sent a different message. It presented the audience with a level of dysfunction so extreme, so exaggerated that even if you’re home life was a mess, you could take comfort in the fact that you were not the Bundy family.

What makes that message so powerful is also what makes Al Bundy such a perfect example of learned helplessness. Fittingly enough, the actor who played him, Ed O’Neill, actually drew inspiration from someone in his own family.

In a sense, Al Bundy was built around the idea that he was just resigned to his fate. He realized how much his life sucked, that his family didn’t respect him, and that his best days were behind him. Dealing with all that in addition to working a dead-end job effectively destroyed his spirit, so much so that he stopped trying to better his situation.

That perfectly reflects some of the early experiments done about learned helplessness, namely those involving a poor dog that just stopped trying to avoid painful shocks. Al Bundy is basically that dog after it has been shocked so many times that it just doesn’t bother anymore. It accepts that it will suffer and doesn’t try to avoid it.

In a sense, it becomes a mentality akin to a psychological illness. In the spirit of caveman logic and excuse banking, I’ll give it a name. From here on out, let’s call it “Al Bundy Syndrome.” That’s a much more memorable name than the overly-technical term, learned helplessness. With Al Bundy Syndrome, the condition has a name and a face that Ed O’Neill made iconic.

Given that we already have weird diseases like restless leg syndrome and walking corpse syndrome, which I swear is a thing, I don’t see why we can’t create a syndrome out a fictional character. In fact, it wouldn’t even be the first time.

I’m not a doctor, nor do I claim to be an expert in anything that doesn’t involve telling sexy stories, but it’s for that reason that I feel it’s so important to put an actual face on an issue that’s hard to understand. Psychology is tricky, complicated, and messy. Al Bundy is simple, crude, and crass. One is innately funnier than the other.

In that sense, it’s easier to see the signs and symptoms of learned helplessness, so long as you frame it in Al Bundy syndrome. Watch any old episode of “Married With Children” and the symptoms reveal themselves. They include feelings like:

  • Being hopelessly numb to the misery around you, like Al Bundy
  • Making little to no effort to improve your situation, like Al Bundy
  • Assuming the worst in every situation, like Al Bundy
  • Having an extremely cynical outlook, like Al Bundy
  • Not caring about whether the world likes or respects you, like Al Bundy
  • Having no shame or filter about what you say, like Al Bundy

The list goes on, but there are too many to list and watching old episodes of “Married With Children” is probably far more informative than any list, not to mention funnier. It’s a show that probably couldn’t get made today, due to how politically incorrect it was, even for its time. That makes its impact all the more vital.

I doubt that Ed O’Neill or the producers of “Married With Children” intended Al Bundy to be the poster boy for learned helplessness, but sometimes the connections are there and all we have to do is make them. So, moving forward, if you want to know what learned helplessness is and how to avoid it, just remember this face. It may save your life, your marriage, and your soul.

For that, I thank you Ed O’Neill.

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A Helpful (And Sexy) Romance Tip (From Joe Rogan)

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth belaboring. Do not take advice from celebrities. I know they’re so rich, powerful, and rarely have to pay women to show them their tits. Some could spit in a glass and sell it for fifty bucks if they wanted. With all that clout, it’s tempting to think that they have some sort of secret knowledge.

More often than not, a celebrity is the byproduct of knowing the right people, having the right amount of talent, and being willing to work so hard that it makes functional relationships damn near impossible. There’s also an element of dumb luck to it all. Just look at how Justin Bieber got discovered and prepare to run head-first into the nearest brick wall.

Celebrities live in a world that might as well be an alien planet. Their understanding of how things work is so skewed, so distorted, and so flawed they can’t really relate to ordinary people anymore. Does anyone really believe that someone with the eccentricities of Tom Cruise can ever grasp a sense of normal again?

That said, every now and then, one celebrity will come out with a bit of advice that is worth taking seriously. Stranger things have happened, even on game shows. That’s why it’s worth making note of whenever it happens.

Recently, in wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, a brilliant bit of advice came out of these disturbing revelations. It came courtesy of Joe Rogan, a comedian and color commentator whose insights I’ve found to be refreshingly honest. Being a huge fan of his podcast, which I totally recommend, I was very interested in learning his take on the scandal.

However, it was his unusual advice on love and relationships that stole the show for me. It actually had less to do with discussions of the scandal and more to do with topics involving how men behave around women. As someone who has had more than his share of awkward moments around women, it’s something I can appreciate.

His advice isn’t very complicated. It doesn’t even require any special skills or coaching. It’s something every man can do and something they already know how to do. The key is doing it in the right situation, within a certain context. Since I know a lot of men will likely need this advice at some point in their lives, I’ll offer it as freely and openly as Mr Rogan did. With all that said, here it is.

Before you go on a date with a woman, masturbate ahead of time. 

It’s crude. It’s crass. It’s even kind of dispassionate, when you think about. However, from a psychological and biological standpoint, it makes perfect sense for men hoping to form strong, meaningful relationships with women.

There’s no way around it. From a purely hormonal standpoint, men are hornier than women. That’s just how testosterone works. It effects how man pursue sex, love, and everything in between. It also affects other aspects of their behavior, for better and for worse.

Now, apply this to the lens of caveman logic and it makes even more sense. If we work within the context that our brains are primarily wired for survival and reproduction, then it’s unreasonable to assume that our thoughts and feelings will be optimized for determining whether the romance we’re pursuing is right for us.

From our brain’s perspective, when we go out with a pretty girl, we’re basically taking the scenic route to getting that sweet sexual release that we’re wired to seek. Everything else, including the romance, is secondary or tertiary, at best. That creates a major problem, though.

If our brains are more concerned about that release than it is about determining whether we’ve found a suitable lover, then we’re prone to making bad, misinformed decisions. Our pursuit of that release, and the role it serves in the reproduction part of cavemen logic, effectively obscures our more intimate pursuits.

As Rogan himself describes, that incredible desire made him tolerate a beautiful woman who he knew, on some levels, wasn’t right for him. However, he was just so driven by that crude desire of his caveman brain that he avoided the hard truth. He effectively employed a form of excuse banking. I can only imagine the kinds of justifications he came up with, being so driven to fulfill that primary need.

That’s why masturbating beforehand made perfect sense. It effectively froze his excuse bank and uncluttered his mind so that all that wiring in his brain that emphasized reproductive efforts, namely sex, were tempered. Orgasms effect a lot of bodily functions, as I’ve noted before. That includes, to a large extent, the brain.

By giving himself that orgasm ahead of him, Rogan did himself and his love life a huge favor. It allowed him to deal with the woman in a more logical, unfiltered sort of way. It probably saved him a lot of heartache and frustration in the long run.

Even if his experience is purely anecdotal, the science is sound. That’s why it counts as good, legitimate advice for other, non-celebrity men to follow. I encourage those reading this blog with significant others to try it.

The next time you go out on a date with a significant other, get that orgasm ahead of time and see how it affects your approach to the date. It may make for some unusual situations, but that might be a good thing. No matter how unusual they end up being, I’d love to hear the results so please share them in the comments.

Now, I know I singled men out for this advice and there’s a reason for that. While both genders tend to agree on the joys of orgasms, there are some variations in the biology. Since I’m not a woman, I don’t know whether this sort of advice would work the same way.

That’s not to say women shouldn’t try it too before their next date. I honestly don’t see how having an extra orgasm before a date or meeting with a prospective lover can be a negative. If women can provide some insight on this in the comments as well, I think it’s definitely worth discussing.

However, when it comes to men trying to make sense of their love lives and the complications that their incessant desire may bring, I think Mr. Rogan’s advice is sound. It may very well be the best, and sexiest, advice you ever get from a celebrity. For that, I thank Mr. Rogan for his contributions towards improving the romantic lives of his fans.

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How To Flirt Better (According To Science)

Whether you’re a man, woman, or something in between, you’ve probably done your share of flirting. Like learning to walk, ride a bike, or get out of jury duty, it’s one of those things you instinctively do once you become an adult. Compared to riding a bike, though, flirting can be much more dangerous/frustrating/hilarious.

As someone who spent most of his life hindered by crippling social awkwardness, I’ve often been frustrated by the act of flirting, mostly because I was so bad at it. Then, as someone who aspired to be an erotica/romance writer and tell sexy stories, I gained a greater understanding of it and why I was so bad at it in the first place.

When you think about it, learning to flirt is part of our evolutionary destiny. Surviving childhood is a hard enough challenge, but those that do now have to deal with their next major biological imperative, which is reproduction. Part of that process involves finding someone who wants to have sex with you. For some, surviving a bear attack is less daunting than that process.

It certainly has been for me, at times. I am by no means an expert on flirting or one of those self-proclaimed pick-up artists. I’m just someone whose social skills are behind the curve, but is working to improve them, often through telling sexy stories. I’m not saying I’m on my way to becoming the next Hugh Hefner, but I’m making an effort to show that I have something to offer to the opposite sex.

Being the romantic I am, I believe everybody has something to offer, although not everyone is good at conveying it. That’s why, as a service and an effort to help those avoid my hapless social life, here are some flirting tips that have some science to back them.

Most of these tips were compiled on an article from Bustle. I’m not saying the science is perfect, but it passes the Simpson Filter and the various forms of caveman logic that I’ve discussed. There may be other tricks I don’t know about. There are probably men who are much better at employing these skills than me or most people. At the very least, they can serve as a guide for those seeking love, sex, or both.


Flirting Tip #1: Pay Attention (And Draw Attention)

This one is basic common sense, but there are some caveats to keep in mind. Yes, attention is the first and, arguably, the most critical step of any flirtation. There’s a reason it’s value is growing in the current economy.  However, when it comes to flirting, attention is only one side of the coin.

Beyond just making eye-contact with the person you’re flirting with, you need to keep drawing their attention as well. It can’t just be because you’re the one talking. Drawing attention means giving the other person a reason to pay attention to you. It doesn’t have to be a huge reason. You don’t have to slay a dragon or fight Floyd Mayweather. You just need to prove that you’re interesting.

That might be easier for some more than others. If you’re a boring person, then that’s a challenge. If you’ve got something in your life that is strange, unusual, or intriguing, then you’ve got an advantage and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it.


Flirting Tip #2: Smile, Be Open, And Welcome Someone In

This is also common sense, but it’s also one of those things people of both genders only do halfway. Smiling is regularly cited as one of the best flirting tactics of all time, but it’s only part of a much larger process and too many people don’t bother finishing that process.

You can’t just stop at smiling. You have to be open and willing to let someone into your world. I know that sound dirty, but it’s not limited to a sexual sort of way. If someone is open to being with you, then you need to show that you’re open as well. Smiling is a great way to signal that you’re open for business and not just in your pants, but it shouldn’t be the only way.

Let someone know you want to be loved. Let them know you want to take a chance on them too. If that person is open to being loved, then there’s a good chance they’ll act on it. If they don’t, then don’t waste your smile on them.


Flirting Tip #3: Give Compliments (But Not Just On Beauty)

This is something that a lot of people screw up, myself included. Giving compliments is great, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. I’m sorry to admit that for much of my early life, I did things the wrong way. I gave girls compliments, but they were very shallow. I said they looked nice or sexy. They would often smile back, but not much else and I could hardly blame them.

I learned later in life that if you’re going to compliment a woman, her looks shouldn’t be the first thing you compliment. It doesn’t matter if she has tits like Pamela Anderson or an ass like Jennifer Lopez. It also doesn’t matter if a man has the face of Hugh Jackman and the abs of Channing Tatum. Those people get compliments all the time on their looks. To really stand out, you need to compliment something else.

Sometimes it involves a book they’re reading, a sport they’re playing, or TV show they’re watching. Every person has their quirks. When you compliment those, you compliment someone on a deeper level. That’ll get their attention. From there, you can get to work on heating up their loins.


Flirting Tip #4: Make Someone Laugh And Relax

Laughter isn’t just the best medicine. It’s also a great way to bond once you’ve gotten past the point of getting each other’s attention. In a sense, getting attention is the easy part. Holding it with someone is the real challenge. That’s where jokes come in.

Making someone laugh makes you more likable. Being likable means they want to be around you more. Being around you more will let them know whether you’re worth loving. The more you make them laugh, the more you tip those odds in your favor.

It can’t just be crude dick jokes either. Those only go so far. Even in high school, that stuff isn’t enough to get you a date. Making someone laugh isn’t just about entertaining them. It’s about making them feel relaxed. By being relaxed, they’ll be more comfortable around you. By being comfortable, they’re more willing to take their clothes off. It’s logic at its most simple.


Flirting Tip #5: Be Poised, Be Confident, And Lie To Yourself (But No One Else)

Poise often goes hand-in-hand with confidence, but they don’t always have have to be mutually exclusive. Confidence is critical in any successful flirtation. Contrary to what every teen movie ever said, being pitiful is never attractive. Most people don’t fall in love or have sex out of pity.

That’s why being confident is so important. That’s also why sometimes you have to lie to yourself about your confidence level. It may sound crude, but it is one of those things that you can fake until you make. In fact, you can use caveman logic to your advantage. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between fake confidence and real confidence so take advantage of that bug.

In doing so, however, you have to be careful not to give a false impression to the person your flirting with. If you lie to them about the kind of person you are, then that means either becoming that person or having to keep lying. In the end, that’s more stress than it’s worth. It’s also a dick move and most people don’t appreciate that kind of flirting.


Flirting Tip #6: Invite Soft Touching (To A Point)

Being a natural hugger, I can attest to the power of touch. There is some science behind it as well. Even light touching is enough to send the sexy parts of someone’s brain into overdrive. It’s another instance where you can get caveman logic to work in your favor.

Now, this can be risky because touching someone when they don’t want it can get you into all sorts of trouble, especially these days. It’s more so for men, but it’s also something women struggle with as well. It’s not always easy to discern a loving touch from the kind of touch that Ted Bundy might give. That’s why it’s best to keep things soft and subtle.

If at any point, the touching gets heated, then by all means, go for it. Let that touching take you and your prospective lover across the rainbow bridge into paradise. However, you have to make damn sure you don’t jump the gun. You’ll save yourself and your lover more awkward moments than they care to deal with.


Again, I would like to re-emphasize that I am not a dating expert, nor am I a professional pick-up artist. If I were, I’d be charging a lot more for these tips and be a lot less honest about it. The fact that I’ve inconvenienced myself, a major indicator I’ve noted before, to the point where I would write out these tips and give them for free should be proof enough of my sincerity.

Even if I’m not an expert, I dedicate a lot of time and energy into writing sexy stories and crafting sexy scenarios to entertain and arouse. Issues like flirting are things I have to research, explore, and learn about to make my writing as sexy as possible. If it can help other people in the real world get lucky in love or sex, then that’s just a nice bonus.

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My Plans For Finding Love (Through EHarmony)

I actually had another topic I wanted to discuss today, but something came up that I felt was worth talking about. I’m sorry to say it has nothing to do with sex robots, bionic penises, or romance lessons from superhero comics. Don’t worry. I’ll find plenty of reasons to talk about those topics again. This is more personal.

A while back, I bemoaned my luck with online dating, citing that demographics alone are working against me. At the moment, online dating is great if you’re a marginally attractive young woman. The massive disparity between men and women on most sites ensures they can sign up in the morning and have a date before sundown. Men are just that lonely/horny.

For me, though, despite being a fairly attractive young man with no debt, good health, and a sexy mind, the odds and the demographics just aren’t in my favor. I did try online dating last year, namely through Match.com. I even got a paid subscription, which wasn’t cheap. It turns out I would’ve been better off throwing that money at squirrels. At least that would’ve gotten a cheap laugh.

The most I got out of online dating was a lot of spam, namely from a bunch of women asking me to pay for their porno cam. Apparently, there are still some men on this planet who just aren’t content with all the free porn that’s all over the web and still insist on paying for cam girls. It was frustrating because every time I saw a profile that seemed to match, it turns out it was just another goddamn spammer.

If I sound bitter, then please forgive me. Being single at my age does worry me, as I’ve contemplated before. Then, a few days ago, I had a chat with some close family members. They always remind me how much they love me and how much they want me to find love. So, despite my bitterness, they convinced me to give online dating another try.

I’m still hesitant, but what I’m doing now clearly isn’t working. My family keeps pointing out that actually getting out there and finding someone just isn’t what it used to be. I need to do something different and, bitterness aside, a lot of people are finding their spouses online these days. I’d like to join that statistic.

I’m hoping for the best, but bracing for the worst, namely a lot more porno spam. However, I certainly won’t be trying Match.com again. Since I’m not an attractive woman, I’m pretty sure that site just isn’t going to work for me. Instead, I’m going to give Eharmony a shot.

Now, I’ve seen all those goofy Eharmony commercials like everyone, complete with that annoying music. I also don’t think for a second that those people claiming to have met their spouses are real. I’m almost certain they’re paid actors, as is the case with any commercial. However, Eharmony does have a better reputation than most dating sites, at least in terms of intent.

That’s still a relative concept, with respect to dating sites. Given how hard it is to pin down just how effective these sites are, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of difference between Eharmony and Tinder, in terms of reputation. However, Eharmony states outright that it wants to help people find serious love. At this point in my life, I want that as much as any single guy in his 30s.

I imagine it’ll be a challenge. I also imagine there are a lot of factors working against me, as is often the case with any service that makes bold claims, like being able to find your spouse. That said, when it comes to finding love, the erotica/romance writer in me is always willing to make that gamble.

If I do this, though, I want to maximize my chances for success. Moreover, I’d like to document that success on this blog, if possible. I’ll document the failure too, but success is a lot sexier so I’d much rather talk about that.

So, with that in mind, I want to formulate a plan. I’m still working on the particulars of that plan. My family is already helping me, as they do with many things. However, I’d like to open this up to anyone who reads this blog and has experience with online dating. I’m very open to suggestions. What I did with Match.com simply didn’t work. I’d like to avoid that with Eharmony.

So please, if you’re a regular reader of this blog or just stumbled across it because you’re looking for a site that talks a lot about superhero comics and sex robots, I’d like to hear from you. How should I go about this? What can I do to maximize my chances of finding the kind of love I write about in my novels? Let me know in the comments. Again, I’m open to suggestions.

Who knows? If this plays out right, it may find its way into one of my future novels. Sure, that may be hoping for too much, but some things are worth that extra hope. Love is definitely one of them.

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The Attention Economy (And Why It’s Ruining The Internet)

Here’s a little pop quiz that most people will probably fail. What is the most valuable asset in today’s modern economy? Go on, take a few minutes if you have to. I know it sounds like an easy question to answer, but it’s still worth thinking about.

Is it gold? Historically, it is one of mankind’s most valuable materials.

Is it money? That makes sense. People call it the root of all evil for a reason.

Is it knowledge? Smart people can be pretty damn successful.

Actually, it’s none of these. Even money, that one major driving force behind every major heist movie, is not nearly as valuable in today’s economy as it was 50 years ago. If anything, it’s losing its value and becoming an increasingly esoteric concept, so much so that we consider bits of computer code to be money.

There is, in fact, one other asset whose value exceeds them all. We know this because businesses, artists, and even horny people trying to get laid go to obscene, if not annoying, lengths to get it.

That’s right. I’m talking about that most precious of assets that drives the entire modern economy. I’m talking about attention.

Yes, that word deserves bold and italicized fonts. It’s just that important. It may seem like hyperbole to those still used to picking out pocket change between couch cushions. It’s not like you can tip a stripper with attention. However, give it just a little bit of thought. It won’t take much to realize just how important it is. It doesn’t just drive the economy. It drives (or hinders) our love lives.

I know this because it ties directly into my ongoing efforts to be an erotica/romance writer. It also ties into my efforts to make this blog a successful supplement to those efforts. There’s a good reason I try to avoid overly boring topics and talk about kinky things that both raise eyebrows and moisten panties. It’s a way for drawing attention to my work. It is, without a doubt, the greatest challenge I face as a writer.

Talk to anyone who has ever worked in marketing, whether it’s selling books or diamond-encrusted dildos. They’ll probably say the same thing, although the people selling dildos will probably have better stories. The hardest part of selling anything is getting peoples’ attention.

I know I keep referencing this same famous movie clip, but it’s just that powerful. It keeps finding new ways to be applicable to so many things, from making money to finding love. There’s a reason why Alec Baldwin won an Oscar for it. It’s the same reason why you don’t hear from a lot of other Baldwins these days.

Between the bragging, bullying, and brass ball props that Baldwin’s character uses, the most important part of his distinctly de-motivational speech is the A.I.D.A. method he describes. That’s attention, interest, decision, and action. Every major marketing method follows this model to some extent, but it’s that first step that is most vital.

It’s also the step that is most difficult, especially in the era of 350 channels, YouTube celebrities, and internet memes. For most of the modern era, we had only a handful of TV channels, newspapers, and methods for disseminating information. It used to be that a few strategically placed commercials during the Super Bowl would be enough to generate the attention you needed.

Those days are deader than analog cables and betamax. Instead, you have hundreds of channels containing countless shows, stories and sites doing anything and everything to get every last second of your attention. Is it really that surprising that the gratuitous violence/nudity on “Game of Thrones” and iconic franchises like “Star Wars” have become the new standard?

These things get your attention. These things get people talking. It’s only after you have someone’s attention that you can even begin to plan on how you’ll get them to pay for your product and/or have sex with you. In an era of so many choices and so few opportunities, attention might as well be encrusted in polished diamonds.

It’s because that attention is so valuable, so much so that it’s become the main currency of the modern era, that the internet is changing and not necessarily for the better. Spend more than five minutes on the internet, whether you’re checking your email or watching porn, and chances are you’ve run into a little something called clickbait.

In the attention economy, clickbait is akin to the muggers who beat up sick orphans while drunks throw pennies at them. It is the clogged toilet and overflowing septic tank of the internet. They are sites, ads, and shady tactics meant to draw you away from productive activities, like checking your email or reading this blog, and into some buggy, browser-crashing site meant to extract your attention and credit card information.

We’ve all seen them. The names of the sites and the annoying ads they post are ridiculous. Sometimes, it’s painfully obvious. However, it’s still tempting at times to click on them and that’s exactly what makes clickbait so evil.

Like it or not, people need to make a living. Websites need to make money. I need to make money. I can’t tell sexy erotica/romance stories without a roof over my head, food on my plate, and a reliable internet connection. That’s why I promote my novels every chance I get. I haven’t resorted to clickbait yet, but it is tempting. It’s also very frustrating.

I’ve seen the same internet as everybody else. I’m just as annoyed by the abundance of clickbait as everyone else. It’s hard to even trust the text within a link these days. At the same time, however, I can understand the intent behind it.

People are trying to make money. They can’t do that unless they get the attention of customers. The problem is that as the size and prevalence of the internet has increased, our capacity for attention has not. We humans only have so much brain matter in our skulls. That brain can only give a finite amount of attention to a handful of things at any given time.

Until we can start augmenting our brains, which Elon Musk is working on as we speak, this limitation isn’t going to change. We’ll still only be able to give a certain amount of attention to ourselves, mass media, and each other. As such, the amount of clickbait we see on the internet is only going to increase. The sheer absurdity of the headlines is likely to increase as well. I’ll give everyone a moment to shudder.

It’s unavoidable, but understandable. The internet may seem infinite, if only because of the varieties of porn it stores, but it’s not. It can’t run itself for free either. It needs to make money somehow and nobody seems to want to pay for it. Why else would some people resort to Kickstarter, which is basically digital begging, to fund movies?

We’re all guilty of it. I certainly am. I’ll whine constantly about pop-up ads and video ads on a site, but refuse to pay the extra $10 for the “premium” version that removes the ads. While some feel that kind of service is exploitive on the same level as price gouging for medicine, it makes sense. Again, the people managing these sites need to make money and nobody seems keen to want to give it.

The internet will continue to evolve, as it always has. That evolution will be driven primarily by a desire to turn a profit. Unfortunately, no profits can be made unless someone gets enough attention first. As evil and annoying as clickbait may be, we have only ourselves to blame for its existence. At least for now, it’s here to stay. The best we can do is grit our teeth, read some sexy novels, and endure.

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An Online Dating Experiment That Does NOT Bode Well For Me

I know it’s a little early to be contemplating New Years Resolution. We still have to get through the final days of 2016 without losing any more beloved celebrities. Then again, I’ve always been an overly proactive guy. I’m the kind of guy who used to turn in essay papers three weeks ahead of schedule in college. My old professors used to say setting deadlines was useless for a guy like me.

While I appreciate their insight, I do understand that you can only be so proactive with certain activities. Compared to college essays, dating may as well be an Olympic event done drunk, blindfolded, and concussed. I’ve made my recent luck with dating painfully apparent. I’m trying to change that luck for 2017.

Over the holidays, I actually set a very specific goal with my family, one that may or may not be too ambitious. I actually told some close relatives who know how dedicated I am to my craft that I want to bring a significant other to Thanksgiving dinner in 2017. In my family, that’s a big fucking deal. Bringing a significant other to a big family event is right up there with co-signing on a loan.

It’s ambitious, but it’s something I really do want to try. I’m hoping online dating will give me a chance, if only to slightly improve the long odds. Then, while doing some cursory research on the subject for my last post, I came across some very discouraging news.

It has to do with a certain kind of gender disparity. I’ve talked about that sort of thing before and it’s never a pleasant conversation. It’s like talking about taxes, dead animals, and clogged toilets. It’s not going to have pleasant details. With online dating though, I can’t avoid these details.

In this case, the disparity has actual numbers to back it up. After the Ashley Madison hack in July 2015, we learned a nasty secret about certain online dating sites. The amount of men on these sites grossly outnumber the amount of women. How gross is it? Well, according to the Washington Post, only 15 percent of the profiles on Ashley Madison belonged to actual, real-life women.

Think about that number for a second. If you went to a restaurant and you only had a 15 percent chance of getting a meal, you’d say that was a pretty shitty restaurant, wouldn’t you? Well, those are the kinds of odds that men are facing here.

I already have some direct experience with it. Last year, I created an account on two dating websites. In both cases, the only responses I got came from chat bots trying to solicit money for porno webcams. That’s literally all I got. There’s enough pornographic spam on the internet and that’s all I could attract with my online dating profile. What’s that say about me?

It’s depressing, but it’s not just me. People have done actual experiments on this disparity and the results are pretty discouraging. An Elite Daily article profiled a man who created two Tinder profiles, one male and one female. The response rate between them was pretty damn egregious. The female version of his profile got five times as many messages. In terms of raw numbers, that is not a trivial difference.

Other experiments have revealed similar results. The Daily Mail UK did a similar profile on a man from London who actually dressed up as a woman for his profile. It turns out, the men didn’t care. They inundated him with responses, some of them using language I usually reserve for my books.

This is not encouraging. This does not sit well with me. It also reveals something else that gets lost in the laughable number gap. Online dating sucks for men and it brings out the worst in them, which gives the radical feminist, overly PC types a reason to whine.

There are any number of articles where the dirty, pornographic language men use on these sites are documented. Women and the PC crowd love to screen-cap these comments and use them to say, “Look at this! Look how disgusting men are! There’s so much misogyny! All men must be ashamed of themselves and die!”

That may be an extreme response, but extremes are the new normal in this day and age. So I’m not going to waste my time confronting those issues. There’s another side to that coin that will get lost in all the whining and it comes down to this simple truth:

Men are REALLY desperate to find a lover and not having one really screws with their mind.

Think about it because I sure have. When men get really horny, they tend to make poor decisions. Women do the same, but it’s much easier for a horny woman to find an outlet. As these online dating experiments prove, they really don’t have to make much of an effort to get a man’s interest. The massive disparity in gender ensures their options are limited.

With men, however, that kind of horniness really fucks with our brain. Scott Adams even talks about this when explaining the modern phenomenon of sexting. Horny men don’t think clearly and will, in turn, do stupid shit. Remember, our brains aren’t wired for logic and reason. They’re wired for survival and reproduction.

Survival isn’t as big a deal in 2016 so reproduction occupies much more of our mental energy. When we don’t have an outlet, our caveman brains get a little erratic. That leads us to saying some of the disgusting shit that women find so offensive.

Now I like to think I haven’t sent a woman an outright pornographic message, but given the heavy erotic content in my novels, I’m sure I’ve let a few slip. I’m sure some women even found it offensive. There’s nothing I can do to apologize to those women. They’ve already formed an opinion about me and I can’t change that.

So where does this leave me? What can I do at this point if the odds and numbers of online dating are stacked against me? That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. I’m serious. I really would like to know because this does worry me.

I guess I’m somewhat lucky because I do have an outlet with my novels. I can take these sexy thoughts that fill my masculine brain and channel them into erotic novels or sexy Sunday thoughts. I think that’s a healthier way to manage my mental energy compared to sending women overtly sexual messages online.

Then again, it still only goes so far. It still leaves me alone, single, and dangerously close to creepiness territory. I still want to make an effort in 2017 to change my romantic luck, but I’m facing an uphill battle here. If, however, it means I can find a good and affectionate lover, then I’d say I’m willing to fight that battle.

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