Tag Archives: love story

Finding Love Has Become An Extended Job Interview (And For Good, Yet Unromantic Reasons)

Being a self-professed romantic and an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I often scrutinize the nature of romance more than most. Whereas some might watch a movie or TV show and see the basics of a romantic sub-plot, I’ll dig much deeper. I’ll identify which romances are inherently flawed, why some work beautifully, and why love triangles are inherently awful.

That scrutiny goes beyond media, popular culture, and my own efforts to tell a good love story. I often find myself observing how romance unfolds in real life. Whether it’s how people have pursued romance in the past to my own romantic endeavors, there’s a lot to break down and it doesn’t always make sense. Love isn’t known for being rational, after all.

It’s because of this tendency of mine that I notice things that rarely come up in discussions about romance. Recently, I realized something profound while reading several stories about how modern dating has changed in recent years, of which there are many.

Modern romance has become more a job interview than an emotional journey.

I imagine some will roll their eyes at that notion. Some might even agree with it and not need any convincing. A few probably think I’m giving this too much thought, even for a romance fan. That may be a fair point, but I believe the evolution of modern romance is becoming a lot less romantic.

To be fair, finding has undergone many upheavals throughout history. It wasn’t until the past couple centuries that people actually married for love. Those who claim to champion “traditional” marriage probably aren’t aware that marriage and formal relationships were little more than passionless business contracts for most of human history.

Love and romance were always there. We, as human beings, are hardwired to form loving bonds. It just took different forms and people went about it in very different ways. Most people have a general idea of how people go about it today. It tends to go something like this.

  • Two people meet, either in person or online
  • There’s a spark of attraction
  • They both pursue each other
  • They go on dates to learn about one another and explore their romantic connection
  • If the connection is strong enough, they forge a lasting relationship and build a life together

Granted, this is an exceedingly gross simplification. It still covers most of the basics. That’s the problem, though. It only deals with the basics and people are rarely basic.

It starts shortly after a mutual attraction is established. Once two people start pursuing one another, the dating phase starts. Movies, TV shows, and romance novels tend to be vague about how this unfolds. However, it’s here where the parallels with job interviews start to show.

While a love story may depict candle-lit dinners, coordinated dancing, and intimate gestures, the bulk of that process tends to involve more pragmatic acts. For two people to understand whether they’re romantically compatible, they need to get to know one another. To get to know one another, they need to interact.

That, in and of itself, doesn’t make dating indistinguishable from a job interview. For that, the modern structure of relationships is what fosters that and I’m not just referring to marriage. This affects couples who cohabitate, as well as those who are serial monogamists.

From a logistical standpoint, a modern romance has many moving parts. It’s not enough to just be attracted to one another, enjoy each other’s company, or have great sex. People often have to find a way to fit one another into their lives. There are jobs, career aspirations, and living situations to consider.

These days, people aren’t as likely to stay in the same place they were born in, especially if the opportunities in that town are limited. The same goes for their families. Even if they stay, sometimes their parents or extended family move away. Maybe it’s for retirement, going to college, or pursuing their own romantic interests. Having to accommodate all that into a relationship can be daunting.

In the same way you might be qualified for a job, but not in a position to take it, you might find yourself in a similar relationship with romance. All the emotional, physical, and sexual chemistry is there. However, you’re just not in a position to pursue it. You can’t maintain that relationship when you’re both living in other time zones or pursuing different paths.

That’s not to say long distance relationships can’t work, but it’s like trying to do a job remotely. There’s only so much you can do when you’re not present. If that weren’t the case, everyone would work from home or from a tropical paradise. I that as someone who has been unable to pursue major opportunities and broken up from good relationships due to distance.

Even if you can work around issues of distance and time, there’s also the matter of becoming entwined with family affairs. As the “Meet The Parents” trilogy so hilariously demonstrates, being with someone is rarely just about being with them, individually. At some point, if the romance is to be serious, their family will get involved.

That process can be as complicated as matching qualifications for a specialized job on a resume. You’ve got to make sure both families can get along. They can’t just tolerate each other at the wedding or during the holidays. They have to be capable of co-existing in a way that doesn’t undercut the romance.

It’s very similar from having a job that matches your skill set, but for an organization that is just insufferable. A lot of people have had to endure jobs they hated, even if they paid well or matched their various talents. When the organization within the job is awful, then even a dream job can be awful.

You can love someone with all your heart. You might even have someone your family loves. However, if your lover’s family is an absolute pain, then the romance will suffer. Now that relationships aren’t just business arrangements, we have to navigate around one another’s lives and their families. To do that, it’s necessary to treat dating like a job interview.

You have figure out if this person fits into your life.

You have to figure out if their hopes, dreams, and abilities match what you’re looking for.

You have to prove that your hopes, dreams, and abilities match theirs as well.

You have to determine whether you fit into the organization of their life and their family.

Ultimately, you have to build that shared life together around all of that, knowing that breaking up/being fired/quitting comes with a personal/professional cost.

On the surface, it’s hardly romantic. At the same time, there’s an undeniable pragmatism to it. As society has evolved, complete with more egalitarian gender roles and fewer taboos about being single, we’re in a better position to chart our own romantic path. We don’t just have to settle for limited options and few opportunities. We can dare to seek something greater.

As a byproduct, the basic romantic elements of intimate chemistry can never be enough. It’s necessary, if not unavoidable, to assess a prospective lover’s entire life to determine of that romance is even viable. It’s not easy and it’s exceedingly imperfect, as the rate of divorce and abusive relationships indicates.

However, being the romantic I am, I still say it’s worth pursuing. That process is still very likely to change as society, technology, and attitudes change. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are sure to change it even more. Whether it becomes more or less like a job interview remains to be seen.

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Filed under gender issues, human nature, Love Or Obsession, psychology, romance

Finding Love During A Pandemic: A Love Story To Lift Your Spirits

I’m a long-time romance fan. I hope I’ve made that abundantly clear by now. I’m also still striving to become a romance writer. Between the books I’ve written and the sexy short stories I’ve told, the ideas are there, as well as the effort. This passion of mine has not changed, despite the deeply demoralizing impact of 2020.

I know things got quite bleak last year. I don’t deny all that bleakness got to me. There really was no guide to how to deal with a once-in-a-century pandemic. Once things started getting locked down and people I knew fell ill, it really hit me hard. This was bad. This was historically bad. Naturally, it seriously undermined my ability to enjoy romance.

Romance is about connection, hope, and intimacy. The events of the pandemic were the complete antithesis of all of that. It was not easy to navigate, to say the least. That’s coming from someone who was lucky enough to not get it.

However, now that vaccines are rolling out and I recently got mine, I find myself emerging from the soul-crushing feelings that plagued me last year. It has also inspired me to recapture my love of romance, both real and fictional.

To that end, I’d like to share a real life love story that captured all the right feels for romantics and non-romantics alike. On top of that, it’s a love story that played out during the worst parts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s quite possibly the least romantic setting imaginable, but love still found a way.

This story comes courtesy of NJ.com and involves an elderly couple who’d known each other for years, but found love during the worst possible times. Check out the story for yourself. If it doesn’t warm your hardened heart, then I question your humanity.

NJ.com: N.J. sweethearts found love in their 90s — right at the start of the pandemic

This is a story on how it is never too late to find love, and how even the worst of times can serve as the catalyst.

Bill Biega is 98. Iris Ivers is 91.

Their longtime friendship was blossoming into romance by March 2020. That’s when the coronavirus pandemic prompted a stay-at-home order at the Applewood continuing care retirement community in Freehold, where they resided in separate apartments.

Bill and Iris quickly realized they couldn’t stay apart, resulting in an awkward encounter more befitting a college dorm.

“A security guard caught me sneaking back into my apartment,” explained Bill Biega, who will turn 99 in July.

The guard told him that everyone on the floor knew what was going on and gave the furtive couple a choice: Move in together, or stay apart indefinitely.

Iris packed up her belongings and joined Bill in his apartment the next day.

Just over a year later, both are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The stay-at-home order has been lifted but Bill and Iris are still living together, a choice prompted by a pandemic that neither could have imagined. A ray of light, amid so much loss.

Iris described Bill’s one-bedroom apartment as “cozy for two.”

“I can’t imagine us not being together, as long as we can be. We’re also realistic, and we know that we’re not getting any younger,” Iris said.

I’ll say it again. Love is a beautiful thing. It’s also powerful. Even the worst pandemic in a century can’t stop it. At a time when we’re all starting to emerge from this year-long nightmare, we need stories like this. We need to be reminded that love is real and people can find it, even during the worst situations.

Let’s take comfort in that as we build a new normal.

To Bill and Iris, thank you for sharing this story. We all needed it.

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Filed under Current Events, real stories, romance, Uplifting Stories

The Perfect Love Story For 2020 (Courtesy Of Ryan Reynolds)

I’m a big fan of romance, love stories, and the sexy stuff that comes with it. I hope the novels and sexy short stories that I’ve written have made that abundantly clear. I’m an unapologetic sucker for a good romance, be it cute, cheesy, raunchy, or some combination of the three.

I also don’t deny that 2020 has been a goddamn nightmare. As bad as previous years have been, 2020 has risen the bar for all things awful. This year has caused many people objective pain, loss, and heartbreak. I’m just one of many.

This year has taken such a heavy toll on me personally. It’s taken a far worse toll on many others, especially health care workers and doctors. However, as bad as it has been, there’s still room for a good love story.

Granted, that love story would have to be weird on a whole new level to function in a year like 2020.

Thankfully, that’s why we have people like Ryan Reynolds.

He doesn’t just play a fast-talking anti-hero in skin-tight outfits. He’s done some objectively heroic things in real life. Sometimes, he even supplements that effort with something that just makes us laugh, cry, and cringe all at once.

This latest project is one of them. It’s built around a love story. However, it’s a very twisted love story and one that can only occur in a year like 2020. I wish I could put it into words and do it justice. I am just not a good enough writer.

Just see for yourself. You’ll understand. I promise.

Yes, that was real.

Yes, that was a love story about Satan and the year 2020, in the form of a woman.

Yes, that was every bit as fucked up as you thought it was. It’s also every bit as glorious.

As a fan of romance, as well as someone who appreciates the all-around awfulness of this year, this was just perfect. It’s poetic in its approach, doubling down on the notion that this year has been Hell and taking it to a literal extreme.

At the same time, it shows how love can blossom. Even if you’re the ruler of Hell and the worst year in human history in female form, you can make it work. It’s just a matter of finding that perfect person to connect with. When it happens, it’s a beautiful thing, even when it involves disturbing figures.

The addition of Taylor Swift music just makes it even more effective. As a love story, you can’t get much more genuine and/or disturbing. While a part of me still wants to throw up at the thought of enduring another year like 2020, my romantic side can’t help but take joy in this video.

To Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Swift, and the fine people behind this video, I sincerely thank you. On behalf of romance fans and people who are so sick of 2020, we applaud you. We needed something like this. It’s the only way we’ll continue to live, love, and endure to the next year.

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Filed under Current Events, funny, romance, YouTube

Romance Is Real: Men Recount Their Lover’s Greatest Romantic Gesture

The world is really messed up right now. I don’t think I need to remind everyone how or why. I’m trying to stay as positive as I can. Lately, though, I’ve been failing. Every day, I wake up and read my news feed, only to lament how fucked this world is right now. I know things have to get better at some point. That point just seems so far off.

I admit, it’s been very depressing. I’ve found myself feeling more depressed than usual and I know I’m not alone. Thankfully, being a big romance fan can have unexpected advantages. As bad as things are, you can’t stop people from loving each other and expressing that love in beautiful ways. You can quarantine populations, but you can’t quarantine passion.

With that in mind, I’d like to offer something uplifting to all my fellow romance fans. Thanks to the fine folks of the Reddit Recap channel, we have a list of real stories from real people about the most romantic gesture their lover ever did for them. Even on my worst days, reading stories like this puts a smile on my face and brings a tear of joy to my eye.

Please take a moment to enjoy this little montage. The last one should really warm your heart.

I hope your day is better because of that. If you have another story like this to share, please do so in the comments. Seriously, the world needs those kinds of stories right now.

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Filed under romance, Uplifting Stories

A Simple Thought Experiment On Romance Vs. Stalking

At what point does love become obsession?

At what point does infatuation become unhealthy?

At what point does a romantic gesture become creepy?

These are all relevant questions that don’t have clear answers. Those who unlucky enough to have dealt with a stalker probably have different answers compared to those who’ve never had that experience. I haven’t, so I won’t try to speak for those who have.

Even without that experience, I think those questions are still worth contemplating. They help put our understanding of love, romance, and relationships into perspective. We may think we know what it means to be romantic, in love, and in a relationship, but tend to forget that this entire perspective has been shaped by our circumstances.

What constitutes romance today is not the same as it was 50, 100, or 500 years ago. It’s easy to forget that the concept of marrying for love is relatively new, historically speaking. The idea that you seek a partner, go out on dates with multiple individuals, and eventually settle on the one you fall in love with is downright radical compared to how society went about sanctioning intimate relationships.

It’s something I’ve mentioned before, but now I’d like to take it a step further. Take a moment to think about all the ways you were romantic with a current or previous partner. Then, try to take a step back and ask whether this same gesture could be done by a stalker for the same reason. How does that affect your perception of the gesture? What does it reveal about your concept of romance?

As an example, consider the following romantic gesture, but through the eyes of a stalker.

I love you. I love you so much that I want to spend the rest of my life being with you. My love for you is so intense that I want the law to sanction it in a contract that will legally bind our love. I also want to put this ring with a shiny stone on your finger and have you wear it every day to let the world that you love only me. Nobody else is allowed to love you. Only I can love you.

What I just described is a gross perversion of a marriage proposal. In one context, it’s the ultimate romantic gesture. In another, it’s an incredibly disturbing rambling by a stalker who desperately wants to secure the love of another.

Here’s another example, but from the eyes of a romantic.

I love you. I love you so much that I want to live with you, share my life with you, and bear part of your burdens. I want to be close to you constantly. I want us to be under the same roof and share the same responsibilities. I want our love to be the basis with which to share our lives.

It’s another sweet gesture. It highlights that critical step when a romance goes from just sharing affection and intimacy to sharing lives and building something together. At the same time, it also sounds like something a stalker would suggest.

With those two examples in mind, take a moment to contemplate the implications.

What is it about these actions make them romantic?

Why do we go about romance in this particular manner?

What do these gestures and rituals imply about our perspectives on romance?

I don’t present this experiment as a way to undermine the way we go about romance. I’m a genuine fan of romance, in general. The novels I write and the sexy short stories I tell reflect that. However, I think it’s helpful and somewhat necessary to scrutinize certain concepts, especially if they’re important to you. You may be surprised by what they reveal.

Please try this thought experiment on your own time when you get a chance. If you have any insights you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.

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Filed under romance, Thought Experiment

Developing Quality Romance According To “Chuck”

The Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has required everyone to get creative in alleviating boredom. At some point, there’s only so much binge-watching you can do with new shows. That’s because, along the way, you find out just how many of them turn out to be utter crap. As such, you find yourself returning to older shows that you haven’t forgotten, but haven’t seen in a long time.

I found myself in that exact position recently. Over the weekend, I was in search of a new show and came across one that I once followed closely. That show is “Chuck,” a quirky, yet endearing spy thriller/comedy/drama from the late 2000s. It’s one of those rare shows that sounds good on paper, but is even better in execution.

The premise of the show is simple. A once-promising young man named Chuck Bartowski is stuck in a dead-end job at a Best Buy-like electronics store, his future having been derailed by getting expelled from Stanford after being wrongfully excused of cheating.

Then, one day he gets a mysterious email from his old roommate, Bryce Larkin, who just happens to be the one responsible for him getting expelled. That email turns out to be a top secret program called the Intersect, a compilation of every NSA and CIA secret ever assembled. It gets downloaded into his brain, making him the most valuable intelligence asset in the world.

It puts Chuck in a strange position that requires him to become a spy under the protection of Major John Casey and Agent Sarah Walker. Action, drama, romance, and various hijinks ensue. The show often has a comedic undertone, but it gets serious in just the right amount to still be entertaining.

I started by just watching the first episode.

Then, I watched the second.

Then, I watched five more.

The next thing I know, I’m already in season two and the show is every bit as fun as I remember. It’s even aged remarkably well. I believe that if this show came out today and was completely unaltered, except for some of the technology, then it would still be a hit. It might even do better than it did when it came out because of just how well every character is handled.

This brings me to the part about Chuck” that stood out most for me while re-watching it. Once again, it has to do with romance. There’s a lot I could say about how this show handles its romantic sub-plots, but I’ll sum it up in a simple statement.

This develops TV romance in a believable, balanced, and endearing way that everyone can appreciate.

A lot of shows have major romantic sub-plots that play out over the entire run of the show. Shows like “Castle” and “X-Files” are famous for drawing those plots out over years. The problem that often plagues these plots is that, by drawing them out, they often become stale. Some even become downright toxic. A show that successfully develops a balanced, sincere, believable romance is exceedingly rare.

I would gladly cite “Chuck” as one of those rare success stories. From the first episode to the emotional series finale, the primary romance that drives the plot of this show is between Chuck and Sarah. It’s set up in the first episode as a ploy for Sarah to get close to the man who possess the intersect, but it evolves into so much more over the course of five seasons.

There are many things that make this romance great, but a big part of what makes it work is how it gets the basics right. It’s a romance that never feels lopsided, forced, or insincere. It’s also not a romance that robs either character of their agency or their personality. It doesn’t move too fast or too slow, either. It evolves in a way that feels real and heartfelt.

Chuck and Sarah isn’t a run-of-the-mill, love-at-first-sight type romance. It’s also not one of those pretty-girl-falls-for-dorky-guy romance either, although that is how it seems initially. It starts off basic. One day, Sarah walks into the store. Chuck sees her and is attracted to her beauty. Call it shallow, but that’s how many romances start in the real world and this one certainly doesn’t remain shallow.

As their relationship and their partnership evolve, each character develops in their own way. Through their romance, we learn where they came from and who they are. Chuck was once a promising student at Stanford who had big dreams that got crushed by forces beyond his control. Sarah is the daughter of a con-man who was recruited to put those skills to use for the CIA.

Both characters have traits and histories that function outside the romance. They each develop along their own path. Chuck goes from being a bumbling, anxious, often-unwilling spy to a determined, capable, and dedicated agent. A big part of that evolution is due to the influence and support of Sarah.

Sarah goes from a simple role-player into someone with her own hopes, dreams, and ambitions. She has plenty of changes to become cold and callous like her partner, John Casey. She chooses to avoid that path and Chuck is a big inspiration for that choice. He makes her better, just as she makes him better. That’s exactly what a healthy romance should do.

As for the evolution of their romance, it’s hardly worthy of a fairy tale. Throughout the course of the show, Sarah and Chuck find themselves caught up in other romantic entanglements. Sarah has a romantic history with Chucks rival, Bryce. Chuck has more than a couple flings that range from a girl working at a sandwich shop to his lying ex-girlfriend, Jill.

Remarkably, none of these side-romances come off as basic obstacles. There are reasons and motivations behind these romantic pursuits. Even if Chuck and Sarah have feelings for one another, circumstances and uncertainties keep them from developing a functioning relationship, at least at first. Eventually, they are allowed to get together, be together, and even get married.

In many shows, that level of maturity is an endpoint. For “Chuck,” it’s another key component of their romantic evolution. That’s a big part of what makes both the series and the romance work. It doesn’t just end when the guy gets the girl. Being in a relationship and consummating that relationship is just part of what makes it function. The show finds a way to work that into the plot and it works beautifully.

There’s so much more I could say about the relationship between Chuck and Sarah, but there’s no way I could capture the full scope of their love story without recounting nearly every episode. That’s why I highly recommend bingeing the show on whatever platform it’s on. Last I checked, the show is on Amazon Prime.

In just watching the first two seasons, it’s easy to see how much time, effort, and thought was put into the Chuck/Sarah romance. It also helps that the acting skills of Zach Levi as chuck and Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah are maximized through plenty of dramatic moments.

It’s a romance that helps develop and benefit both characters over the course of the show. It’s easy to root for them and you really feel it when they’re hit with some devastating moments, especially in the penultimate episode of Season 5. It also shows that balanced romance can be told over the course of a show without it getting stale, hallow, or toxic.

In real life, quality romance occurs when two people bring out the best in one another. Chuck and Sarah prove that over five memorable seasons of “Chuck.” Their love may get messy, complicated, and convoluted at times, but it still feels real and genuine. If you’re a romance fan in any capacity, I encourage you to revisit this gem of a show.

Even if the romance doesn’t do it for you, the show is worth watching for Jeffster alone.

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Filed under Marriage and Relationships, romance, sex in society, television

Wonder Woman, Relationships, And Misguided Standards For Female Heroes

I love superhero comics. I love romance. Naturally, I love it when they’re combined into a perfect package of super-romantic sentiment. I’ve singled out a few favorites of mine in the past, as well as a few not-so-favorites that act as cautionary tales. Chances are I’ll find plenty more excuses to write about superhero romance in the future.

That said, I’d like to take a step back from the specifics of superhero romance and assess the forest from the trees, so to speak. Instead, I thought I’d highlight something that I’ve been noticing within the pages of some of my favorite comics. It’s not necessarily an egregious flaw, but it is a distressing trend for lovers of romance like myself.

It has to do with how superheroes are portrayed when they’re in romantic relationships. Almost every popular superhero is caught up in a romantic sub-plot. Superman has his ever-iconic love story with Lois Lane. Cyclops and Jean Grey have decades of romance and drama. Spider-Man gets around so much that he has multiple iconic romances.

Not every superhero is defined by their romantic sub-plot, although some are more effected by it than others. It’s hard to tell the story of Sue “Invisible Woman” Richards without involving her husband and children. However, certain characters are held to different standards when it comes to romance.

That’s to be expected, given the diverse circumstances of each hero. Not every hero is going to be affected by their romantic sub-plot in the same way. That effect also changes through different eras. Even the iconic relationship between Superman and Lois Lane has changed a great deal over the years, although not necessarily for the better.

However, this particular era has really twisted the standards for female superheroes in romantic relationships and not in a good way. I won’t go so far as to call it a double standard like the others I’ve cited, but the differences are stark. It goes like this.

A male superhero gets caught up in a romantic sub-plot. The plot progresses, he enters a relationship with his romantic interest, and continues being the same hero he’s always been. The relationship supplements his story.

A female superhero gets caught up in a romantic sub-plot. The plot progresses and she enters a relationship with her romantic interest, but the relationship conflicts with her ability to be a superhero. It gets to a point where the act of her being a hero is detrimental to the relationship. She can have one or the other, but not both.

These scenarios are somewhat generic, but they convey a similar message. Male superheroes can be in romantic relationships without it undermining their heroic persona, but female superheroes can’t have those relationships without it becoming an obstacle.

This strange, unbalanced dynamic played out recently in the pages of “Wonder Woman #754.” I’d even go so far as to argue that Wonder Woman suffers the most from this dynamic, despite being one of the most iconic female superheroes of all time. Given that she’s the ideal that other female superheroes are compared to, I think that’s telling.

The main plot of the issue isn’t important. The side-plot is where this dynamic showed up. There were frequent flashbacks that highlighted Diana’s recent “drama” with her long-time romantic interest, Steve Trevor. I put drama in quotes because it feels less like drama and more like forced excuses.

It’s been an issue for Wonder Woman for decades. Despite being her most iconic love interest, going back to the 1940s, Steve Trevor has never been that official with Diana. Even though they’ve professed their love for one another in many forms and in many timelines, they’re rarely ever shown as being in a functional, mature relationship.

It’s not just with Steve Trevor, either. Even in the classic “Justice League” cartoon in which she was romantically linked to Batman, nothing ever became official. There’s was never a point where Wonder Woman went from being single to being in a real, functioning relationship.

In fact, the only time Wonder Woman was ever in a functional romantic relationship was when she dated Superman during DC’s short-lived New 52 era in the comics. During that time, Wonder Woman and Superman had their own comics and their own stories. Sometimes, those stories became entwined. Sometimes, they didn’t. It never undermined their relationship or vice versa.

I know comic fans have strong opinions about the New 52 as a whole, but I find it telling that this was really the only time Wonder Woman was allowed to be in a relationship while still being Wonder Woman. For her to be someone’s girlfriend and still be the hero she’s always been, her significant other had to be Superman.

Take a moment to think about the scope of that standard. Wonder Woman, the standard-bearer for female superheroes for decades, can be in a functional relationship, but only with someone as capable as Superman. She and Steve Trevor can be in love, but they can’t have a relationship. He’s just an ordinary man. He’d just undermine Wonder Woman’s ability to be the ideal female hero we know and love.

Meanwhile, male heroes like Batman and Spider-Man can become romantically involved with far less capable individuals, many of which don’t have superpowers and can’t fly across the planet to be on time for date night. They’re still allowed to be in those relationships, but Wonder Woman can’t even make the effort with one of her most iconic romances with Steve Trevor.

As a fan of superhero comic, romance, and Wonder Woman, I find this both flawed and frustrating. While the “Wonder Woman” movie did an solid job establishing genuine romance between her and Steve Trevor, they still never got a chance to actually be in a relationship. It’s as though a female hero can’t be in a relationship without losing something. At the same time, a male hero can’t have a complete story without one.

It’s a strange disconnect and I think it’s getting worse. In recent years, superhero comics have made a concerted effort to develop female characters and I applaud that effort. It has led to some major successes. The problem is that, like Wonder Woman, these female characters aren’t really allowed to become anyone’s girlfriend. Being in a relationship is seen as an obstacle to being strong, independent, compelling characters.

Respectfully, I call bullshit.

Being in a relationship isn’t detrimental to any character, male or female, if the relationship is well-written. In addition, female characters don’t have to be completely, 100-percent independent to be great. In fact, making them that emotional single-minded is a good way to make them unlikable and unrelatable because, in the real world, people have relationships. They form bonds, rely on others, and are effected by those close ties.

Now, I don’t deny that writing great female characters is challenging, especially in recent years. It feels like you can’t write female characters without having an agenda anymore, even when it’s not printed on a shirt. Again, I call bullshit. Female characters, like all characters, are deeply affected by the loving bonds they form. They deserve the same development and exploration as their male counterparts.

Why can’t Wonder Woman be in an official relationship with Steve Trevor?

Does being Steve Trevor’s girlfriend make Wonder Woman any less a superhero?

Does any female superhero lose something when they become someone’s girlfriend?

These are relevant questions that are worth asking. If someone as iconic as Wonder Woman can’t be in a relationship with someone without undermining what makes her Wonder Woman, then that’s not a problem with her as a character. That’s a problem with the standards and assumptions we have about superhero romance.

I’m sorry if this rant feels dragged out, but this has been bothering me for a while. I’d be happy to discuss it more. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Filed under DC Comics, Marriage and Relationships, romance, superhero comics, Wonder Woman

“My Sweet” A Sexy Short Story (For The Day After Valentine’s Day)

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The following is a sexy short story for those still basking in the afterglow of Valentine’s Day. If you had a bad Valentine’s Day or were alone, then maybe this will help rekindle your sense of romance. I know it’s been a while since I wrote a sexy short story. I decided Valentine’s Day warranted the extra effort. If you’d like to see more, please let me know in the comments. Enjoy!

“Mmm…that smells so good,” said Calvin Gains with a wide, excited grin.

“You must be hungry. I just put a fresh batch in the oven,” replied his beautiful wife, Candy.

“You’re right, my sweet. I am hungry…and then some.”

Joyous, playful laughter filled the kitchen of the undersized suburban house Calvin shared with his high school sweetheart turned dedicated spouse. Candy – a perfectly befitting name, if ever there was one – had a knack for making every kitchen smell heavenly. With the holidays around the corner, she’d been busier than usual.

Calvin, always one to show his appreciation, snuck up behind his long-time lover and slipped his arms around her waist. She responded with a soft purr and a loving smile. The fact that she still smelled like flour, sugar, and cinnamon wasn’t lost on him, either. If anything, it gave him more reasons to kiss down her neck and inhale her sweet scent.

“I used your favorite recipe,” Candy told him, still standing in front of the hot oven, “an extra pinch of vanilla…a little bit of nutmeg…and a double dose of cocoa powder.”

“If you’re trying to make me hungrier, you’re doing too good a job,” Calvin said, deepening his embrace and intensifying his kisses.

“You know me. When it comes to cooking the best holiday treats and pleasing my husband, I like to overdo it!”

Ever since they got married, Calvin didn’t think he could love this woman more than he already did. Time and again, year after year, she proved him wrong. During the holidays, she always went the extra mile.

The kitchen was still a mess, as it often was whenever Candy spent more than an hour laboring over her famous triple chocolate sheet cake. It was just one of the many wonderous dishes she prepared for him and the family over the holidays. Her grandmother had owned a bake shop and her mother was a renowned chef. She’d grown up in a home surrounded by skilled cooks who knew their way around the kitchen.

To her, cooking for loved ones meant more than just preparing a meal. It was its own unique way of conveying affection. Calvin, having grown up on TV dinners and soggy leftovers, didn’t know just how much affection could be shared through something as simple as food. She’d actually made him cookies when they went on their first date. She offered them to him with the same loving sentiment that he’d shared when he offered her flowers.

It was the first sign that Candy was a special woman. She proved it once more when she turned around within his embrace, wrapped her arms around his neck, and captured her lips with hers. Even through her lipstick, Calvin could taste traces of the batter. It was so sweet that his heart skipped a beat.

“Mmm…tasty,” she said lovingly.

“Speak for yourself,” he quipped.

That little taste stirred more than just his appetite. As they kissed in the middle of the dirty kitchen, the heat from the oven raised the temperature of the area. It was already hot to begin with, as was often the case whenever Candy cooked, but such heat only intensified his passions.

It made clothes feel sticky and sweaty.

It made hearts beat faster.

It made every touch seem more intimate.

Whether due to the growing heat or his escalating hunger, Calvin craved a more fulfilling form of love. He held her closer and kissed her harder, their bodies pressing together, as if nourished by their ambitious touch. He was just wearing a sweater and jeans. She had on a skirt, a tight-fitting T-shirt, and an apron. However, when he traced his hand down her waist, eventually making his way towards her inner thighs, he discovered an unexpected treat.

“Ooh! What have we here?” Calvin said, breaking the kiss, but keeping her in his embrace. “Candy Gains, are you wearing fancy lace underwear while you’re cooking?”

“You mean the same underwear I wore on our anniversary last month?” she said coyly. “I think I am.”

“I want to say I’m shocked, but given how much you love to cook and how much passion you put into each dish…”

Calvin’s words trailed off. As his tone grew deeper and manlier, he skillfully slipped his fingers into her panties to feel the womanly flesh beneath. He was gentle, but direct. He knew just how his wife liked to be touched in her intimate areas. He also knew what got her aroused. Being in a kitchen, cooking her favorite treats for her loved ones, definitely got her juices flowing.

“Just so you know…the cake needs to cook for at least 20 minutes,” Candy told him, already gasping intently under his touch.

“Hmm…20 minutes, you say?” Caivin said, now speaking directly into her ear. “That’s a long wait when you’re hungry.”

“Well, there are ways we can pass the time.”

“Oh? What did you have in mind?” he asked, as though he didn’t already know.

Candy laughed playfully before turning around within his embrace, locking eyes with his and casting that beaming smile that was every bit as sweet as her name. The fact that she still smelled like flour and chocolate only made it sweeter.

Without saying a word, she kissed him passionately on the lips. At the same time, she slipped her hands under his sweater and pawed his manly flesh. It sent the message she needed to send. He responded in kind, twirling his tongue with hers while still feeling up her skirt. While one appetite eagerly waited, another became more pressing.

“Sweater…pants…off!” she gasped in between desperate kissing.

Her voice was muffled, but Calvin heeded her impassioned call. He removed his sweater as quickly as he could. He didn’t even think twice about tossing it into the dining room, leaving him shirtless in the middle of a hot kitchen. Before it was even off, Candy went to work undoing his pants. There was already a noticeable bulge in the way. That didn’t stop her from getting them off, underwear and all.

Even as she helped strip him naked, the heated kissing continued. It kept the passions flowing while also supplementing his wife’s arousal. As soon as he kicked his pants off, he lifted her up in his arms and set her down on the kitchen counter across from the oven. From there, he reached up her skirt again and removed her panties. She even elevated her hips, assisting him every step of the way.

“Do me, Cal. Do me right here on the kitchen counter!” Candy urged.

“Does this count as an appetizer?” he asked coyly.

“It can be…depending on how mannerly you intend to be.”

“You know me, my love. Even when I’m hungry, I always mind my manner!”

As if to remind – and it wouldn’t have been the first time he did so in the kitchen – he dropped to his knees and pushed her legs apart. He spread them so wide that she knocked over some empty cans of ingredients, but she didn’t mind in the slightest. He’d clean it up later himself. For now, he had another kind of meal before him.

Candy had become more aroused than he thought. He could already see her exposed womanhood under her skirt. She was already wet, but in the same way she loved cooking delicious treats, he loved getting her intensely aroused.

“Mmm…my favorite appetizer,” Calvin said as he licked his lips in anticipation.

With an unobstructed view and a clear path, he buried his head between her legs and gorged on her pussy. He was thorough, but mannerly, using his lips and tongue with the utmost care to stimulate her tender folds.

His good manners paid off. Candy let out sharp gasps that echoed loudly throughout the kitchen. She became so aroused that she reached under her apron, lifted up her shirt, and began fondling her breasts. In doing so, she revealed that she hadn’t been wearing a bra. That hinted to Calvin that she’d planned on getting him horny with her holiday cooking. If that were the case, then her plan worked perfectly.

“Cal! Oohhh Cal!” Candy moaned with delight. “Dine on me, my love! Dine!”

Calvin responded with only a muffled grunt. Still holding onto her thighs, her legs spread in a perfect V-shape, he stepped up his oral efforts.

He probed her hot folds with his tongue, hitting all those special parts that he knew so well. He trailed his lips up and down her slit, giving special attention to her swollen clitoris. He felt her body shudder under the onslaught of sensations. Looking up, he saw her joyous expression. She even banged her head back against the kitchen cabinet at one point, arching her back and squeezing her breasts. It was a beautifully erotic sight, one that made her feminine juices taste even sweeter.

It would’ve been good manners to keep eating her out until she climaxed. However, Calvin couldn’t keep ignoring his own escalating appetite. Between his stomach and his dick, desire compounded desire. Now intoxicated by the taste of his wife’s flesh, he broke with formality and rose back to his feet.

“I know it’s not time for dessert,” he said as he positioned himself between her legs, “but I need at least a sample of the main course.”

“Calvin, my darling husband,” Candy said with a seductive grin, “take all the samples you need!”

“Even if I work up a bigger appetite in the end?”

Especially if you work up an appetite!” she said intently.

Like an angel seeking to nourish his very soul, his beautiful wife drew him into another embrace and kissed him. She didn’t care that his face had just been between her legs. If anything, that turned her on even more. She wanted him. She was as hungry for his sex as he was hungry for hers. With their lips locked and their bodies eager to satiate that hunger, Calvin took the first proverbial bite.

He thrust his hips forward.

He entered her wet womanly depths with his hard, manly flesh.

He shifted his hands to her hips while she locked her legs around his.

From there, their passions overtook their hunger. It didn’t matter that their kitchen wasn’t the most spacious room in the house. It also didn’t matter that the counter was dirty, cluttered, and not made to support an impassioned woman making love to her husband. The only thing that mattered was that they were together, their bodies entwined and their love taking a tangible form, just as his wife’s delicious treats cooked behind them.

“Yes! Yes! Oh Cal! Ohhh Cal!” Candy panted as they moved to the heated rhythm.

“Candy! My sweet, beautiful love! Ohhh yes!” he gasped.

He stepped up the pace of their lovemaking, moving his hips back and forth, working his throbbing manhood within her tight folds. They had already worked up quite a sweat and not just because of oven. Calvin could still smell the cake. That hadn’t been lost on him, even as their bodies rocked and their moans filled the kitchen. It was almost fitting, making love to the woman who nourished his body with the same passion she put into her meals.

Like her uncanny culinary skills during the holidays, such passion paid off. He sensed her nearing an orgasm already. Candy always got very animated during their lovemaking, even during spontaneous acts. She hitched her legs up, grabbed onto his shoulders, and narrowed her gaze on him. He could even feel her inner muscles contracting harder around his manhood, as if her body were embracing him as much as her heart.

“Cal…I’m close,” was all she got out through labored gasps.

“Come, my sweet. Come!” he told her.

She took his loving words to heart. After a few more focused movements, Calvin sent his lover over the edge. Her expression tensed to the flood of sensations. Her nails dug into his shoulders while her grip with her legs tightened. He could feel his lover shudder under the weight of her release. As he took in the view, he smiled and caressed her face.

Watching her react to the rush of ecstasy was always such a spectacle. Seeing it while her delicious treats cooked in the background made it even more rewarding. Candy even acknowledged that. As she took in her release, she leaned in and kissed him lovingly. She then whispered something telling into her ear.

“There’s still time to work up an appetite,” she said to him.

“I know,” he said with a mischievous undertone. “And I intend to use it!”

He kissed her again, trailing his lips down her neck and listening to her labored gasps. Once certain she had caught her breath, he resumed their impromptu kitchen lovemaking.

With plenty of hunger still driving him, he withdrew from her briefly and realigned their now-sweaty bodies. Candy laughed gleefully, still in a post-orgasmic daze, as he bent her over the kitchen counter and positioned himself behind her. Now with a perfect view of her heart-shaped butt, which was still partially covered by her skirt, he guided his manhood back into her.

Once their flesh was re-entwined, he resumed their sensual rhythm. This time, however, he stepped up the intensity.

“Ooh, Cal! Oohhh yeah!” Candy moaned. “That’s it! Work it! Work it like that!”

“Mmm…Candy,” Calvin grunted.

She was encouraging him to cut loose and use that well-nourished body of his. Having helped nourish it through her cooking, she enjoyed the fruits of her labor as much as him. Calvin responded to her encouragement as best he could. The results were as sweet as any treat.

Back and forth, he worked his hips. He rocked her body with his intimate motions, keeping a firm hold of her hips. The sound of their flesh colliding filled the kitchen, along with more moans. Like any delicious appetizer, Calvin savored every bit of it. He enjoyed drawing out their lovemaking, just as he enjoyed drawing out a good meal. At times, he even leaned in and whispered his loving sentiment’s into his wife’s ear.

“You are…the sweetest thing…in the world,” he said to her.

Candy responded with more joyous moans and loving gestures. Through their steady succession of movements, Calvin built towards his own release. Candy even helped, bucking her hips and guiding his hands to her breasts to give him the energy he needed for that final push. He could already feel that intimate heat in his core building. His beautiful wife simply gave it the necessary spark to ignite it.

“Candy…I’m close too,” Calvin said through labored grunts.

“Come, my love! Your dessert awaits!” she said playfully.

He delivered the last round of desperate motions. Finally, Calvin crossed that final threshold and entered that special world of delectable bliss. It was as savory as any hungry, impassioned man could’ve hoped.

As he soaked in his release, he wrapped his arms around his wife, rested his chin on her shoulder, and let out a euphoric gasp that filled the kitchen. She took his hands in hers, holding onto him as he enjoyed the feeling. He felt her womanhood embrace him as well, contracting and throbbing as he released his load into her womanly depths. It was the final ingredient to a perfect dish of passion and it couldn’t have been sweeter.

“I love you, my sweet wife,” Calvin said to her.

“I love you too, Cal…my delicious husband,” Candy replied.

Their intimate flesh parted, but they remained in a loving embrace. Still hot and sweaty from their lovemaking, they shared another soft kiss to complete their intimate act.

Then, in a moment that couldn’t have been timed better, the timer on the oven went off. Candy’s cake was complete.

“Perfect timing!” she laughed.

“I’ll say,” Calvin said.

“See? That wasn’t too long a wait.”

“I admit, you made it easier,” he said. “It’s almost as though you knew your famous holiday treats would get me in a particular mood.”

“What can I say? I enjoy satisfying all my husband’s appetites!”

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Lesson About Love I’ve Learned From Writing Romance

When writing, talking, or criticizing a certain topic, we often do so thinking we know enough about it to make it matter. It’s not until we actually make the effort that we realize just how inadequate our knowledge is. It can be distressing and disheartening on some levels, but it can also be revealing.

I’ve been writing romance stories since I was a teenager. I don’t deny that those first stories I wrote were awful. I’ve even gone back and deleted some of them, both from my memory and my computer. They were that bad. I made the effort because I believed I could tell a good, meaningful love story. It wasn’t until I started writing that I realized how much I had to learn.

I’ve learned quite a bit since then, but I don’t doubt for a second that I’ve a lot more to explore. The fact that I’m still single, unmarried, and not dating anyone at the moment is proof enough of that. However, after reading about and writing so many love stories, both as novels and as short stories, I’ve uncovered countless insights into love.

Writing about it, discussing it, and even observing it in people who have found it has taught me a lot. Much of those lessons have found their way into my writing over the years. In the interest of sharing those revelations, I’d like to offer a few of those insights for those still struggling to make sense of this emotion that drives so many people, both in real life and in the world of fiction.

Some may seem obvious. Others may seem corny. That’s to be expected. Love is one of those strange emotions that seems so simple on paper, yet so overwhelming in practice. That’s part of what makes it special. That’s also part of what makes it worth pursuing. Hopefully, these insights help with that.

Lesson #1: Love requires effort, but can become tedious if it turns into work.

Lesson #2: Love is often more opportunity than destiny. Fate may bring people together, but it’s through choice and effort that something comes of it.

Lesson #3: The line between lust and love is often blurred, but becomes more defined when those involved are honest with themselves and each other.

Lesson #4: It’s okay for love to be shallow on some levels, but greater depth is needed in order for it to blossom.

Lesson #5: Being in love means growing and evolving with a person. That means loving someone for who they are and who they’re trying to be.

Lesson #6: Being in love is only part of a functional relationship, but it’s a critical part that can make others work.

Lesson #7: Love isn’t always logical, but genuine love is coherent and consistent.

Lesson #8: You cannot control how, when, and where you fall in love, but you can control the situation around you.

Lesson #9: Being in love, like being in a relationship, is an ongoing feeling. Treating certain parts as endpoints only undermines both.

Lesson #10: In the same way love means different things to many people, the experience of love can be just as different. Even if others don’t understand it, that doesn’t mean the love is less sincere.

Lesson #11: Love is unpredictable, but there are often patterns that become noticeable when you’re honest with yourself and your partner.

Lesson #12: There’s no one right way to love someone, but there will always be many more wrong ways.

Lesson #13: Love build on lies is always unstable in the long run.

There are probably many more I could list or haven’t thought of. If you have some lessons in love that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.

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Filed under Marriage and Relationships, romance, sex in society

Saturdays, Sexy Short Stories, And Baby Yoda

It’s Saturday. I know that’s usually when I post one of my sexy short stories, but as I noted a few days ago, I’m cutting back on updates of that nature. That’s not to say I’ve told my last sexy short story. I still intend to write them, but I’ll do so more sparingly.

That could change if demand changes. I’ve noticed that traffic for my sexy short stories has remained somewhat stagnant in recent months. Is that because I’m not writing good enough stories? Is there a certain niche that I should focus on? I don’t get a lot of feedback so I’m not sure how to proceed. As such, I’ll be proceeding more cautiously.

In the meantime, in lieu of a sexy short story, here’s a picture of Baby Yoda being adorable.

You’re welcome.

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