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Swiping Right vs. The Slow Burn: A quick guide to sexual tension

 

In 2018 we really like to get things immediately. And fortunately for us the advent of technology allows us to have it all as close to instantly as possible. We get to binge all 7 seasons of Mad Men at once without commercials. We can have our fave restaurant delivered to our door step. We can order a pair of shoes and have it arrive later that day via drones. All in all 2018 is pretty sweet.

But if I am honest I don’t think the whole instant gratification thing translates to romance. Yeah sure, Tinder allows for us to have a hookup arrive in 30 minutes or less like it’s a fucking pizza delivery, but where is the sexual tension? Where is the building of anticipation? What happened to the development of chemistry? Even if you’re just after sex and not a real connection with someone, the whole instant gratification of the Tinder model deprives us what actually makes romance great!

I am not out to bash Tinder, it has it’s purpose, but if your goal is to develop real chemistry with someone, dating apps are going to leave you frustrated, exhausted and probably cynical about love.

Tinder has reduced attraction to something that can be measured within seconds, when in reality, true, authentic attraction builds over time. On Tinder, sexual chemistry is rated right away and expected to exist instantaneously. You can start sexting or sending pics with someone whom you have never even met. You meet people under a preconceived notion that there is an already existing sexual attraction because you are a “match.”

Swiping forfeits the developmental portion of attraction where you get to know someone and then decide through conversation, interactions and body language whether you find them attractive beyond outward appearance. Initial, physical attraction is close to meaningless for women. Women do NOT date for looks. Yeah, we like a nice man to look at, or strong arms to throw us up against a wall, but that is not why we are attracted to someone. Hence, men should understand the value in the slow burn approach when it comes to seducing women. Tinder very much abides by a shallow perception of attraction in which attraction is purely visual. While visual attraction is obviously a component, it is ridiculous for anyone to think that real attraction can be judged from a static image.

Tinder operates under the assumption that you are already attracted to one another before you even say hello and so you can skip the first few steps of relationshional development. Lots of Tinder users utilize this format to get right to sexual intimacy before the relationship has had any time to mature or for any chemistry to truly develop. Instant gratification reduces relational development to first impressions and a shallow façade.

You know what they say, the best things in life come to those who wait. Call me old fashioned, but it is all about the slow burn. I am not just talking “3 days before texting rules” and “waiting until the 3rd date for sex,” I am talking about the importance of building sexual tension and chemistry over time in order to not only keep things spicy, but to build a better foundation for the relationship. Here is what to know:

  1.  In the slow burn flirting happens over the course of weeks, months or even years as opposed to days or hours, and produces greater intimacy and intensified longing- both are integral parts of romance.
  2. Eye contact, body language and interpersonal flirty banter over a period of time deepen levels of chemistry and mutual sexual attraction in which feelings have time to marinate and mature and intensify. These components are absent from dating apps. So if you are going the dating app route it is imperative to keep the texting minimal and meet up as soon as possible. The error many people make with dating apps is that they ‘try and get to know one another’ before meeting up, and while this seems prudent it diminishes the window in which you are both interested. People often lose interest very quickly over dating apps because the relationship fizzles before the two people have even met. Meeting up is the chance to install humanity in the experience and connect via body language and interpersonal communication cues. Both are imperative to truly “getting to know someone.”
  3.  Sexual seeds are planted with mental stimualtion such as debates and intellectual conversations, passionate rants, and witty reparte, rather than the small get-to-know you talk that occurs in the early stages of a relationship. Deeper, more meaningful conversations take time and come as a result of prolonged time together. They emerge as both parties test the waters of vulnerability and compatibility.
  4. Prolonged tension is good for a relationship – without tension and rising action there is no climax (literally and figuratively)
  5. The slow burn always anticipates that there is somewhere more for the relationship to go because not all the cards have been shown. This is what keeps both parties interested and wanting more. This means if you are into a woman do not play all your big cards right away. You should never take a woman on a fancy date or buy her an extravagant gift prior to being in an actual, exclusive relationship. If you show your cards too soon it diminishes the value of your commitment and appears desperate. A woman should feel like she is being seduced for a long period of time where the relationship just gets better with age. Like wine. Or cheese.
  6. Long-term seduction produces satisfaction because nothing good ever comes easily. Women especially feel that any love worth having should be earned.
  7. The best sex involves emotion on both accounts, in which stimulation is derived not from just physical pleasure but from feelings of frustration, longing, tension, love, joy, thrill etc. Therefore the best sex is going to be with someone you have an emotional connection with. And while the whole stranger thing can be hot, I am guessing it does not have the same satisfaction as with someone whom you have real chemistry and intimacy with. Very few women orgasm during a one-night stand (20% i believe) because there is absolutely an emotional component to sex that is imperative to satisfaction.
  8. The slow burn is sort of the equivlevent of the farm to table movement or the slow food movement (rebuttal to fast food) or to a hand stiched garmet- it is far more valuable and satisfying and will last a hell of a lot longer because it took time to be prepared.
  9. Chemistry and romance are dishes best served in a 10 course meal, not from the grab-and-go counter

Obviously Tinder has it’s time and place and we all know that ridiculously happy couple that met through a dating app, but my point is not that dating apps are bad, only that the model of instant gratification does not work for romance or relationships. The best relationships are the ones that build tension and chemistry and intimacy over time, always smoldering, in need of constant stoking.

Perhaps this is why so many Millennials are dissatisfied with the current dating climate, we have lost interest in the thrills of the slow burn because we have been socialized to want and expect instant gratification. We want companionship NOW. We want a relationship NOW. We want a hookup NOW. But waiting and tension and suspense are healthy and lead to far more satisfaction physically, emotionally and mentally. And its hot. It’s way hotter.

good luck,

Ellie xx

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Millennials vs. Vulnerability: Who is Really Winning??

 

 

What scares Millennials most in the world? The rising cost of housing? Looming student loan debt? Net Neutrality? No wifi? Negative. A Millennial’s worst fear is the prospect of vulnerability. I don’t merely mean talking about your childhood, I mean having to tell a guy you like how you really feel about them. Double texting someone that has not responded to you in four days. Having to ask someone “what are we?” *cue music from Jaws* You know what I am talking about. This sort of “put your dignity on the line” honesty is what instills fear in us like nothing else can.

To be specific, unreciprocated vulnerability is what scares us most. It is being too accessible to someone who is not accessible to us. It is crossing oceans for someone who would not cross a puddle for you. Unrequited vulnerability says I am giving more than I am getting. I am being manipulated and extorted and used. I am the only one who cares. As a result, vulnerability feels weak and exposed and helpless.

We are so terrified of being someone’s number two that we are willing to play any number of exhausting games, say any number of lies, and sabotage our own relationships to reduce vulnerability, or at least the appearance of vulnerability.

That is the thing about vulnerability in Millennials, we are far more concerned with the façade than we are what’s going on in the inside. We would rather look perfect on the outside and be a mess on the inside than vice versa. We would rather let someone we care about think that we don’t give a shit about the relationship, and its all casual and “no string attached,” but be in emotional turmoil on the inside, than tell someone what we are really thinking. We would rather make someone else feel lesser, than have to feel the pain of unrequited vulnerability. Heaven forbid someone think that we care more than they do.

As a generation, we are pretty okay with physical vulnerability like nudity and sex, it’s that emotional vulnerability that frightens us. Ironically, emotional vulnerability and physical vulnerability are deeply intertwined, although we would love to pretend that they are not. We love to separate them as estranged entities when in fact physical vulnerability is often a direct ticket to “catching feels.” From there, emotional vulnerability is the first stop on a long road trip of heartbreak and crushed self-esteem.

Now we are a generation that is ridiculously cynical when it comes to “catching feels.” And rightly so, “catching feels” is the worst. Like I would rather have my naked body dragged across hot coals and thrown into a pool of gasoline than catch feels. Catching feels is the ultimate gateway to vulnerability, and once you’ve opened the door you can’t go back. You either have to get over this person (an often long and arduous process) or dwell in emotional turmoil for an indefinite period. Yippee. Dating is so fun.

As a result, we have become a generation of defensive daters. It is all about protecting our own dignity and hearts no matter the costs. It does not matter if we ghost that guy or reject that girl and never speak to her again, as long as our own dignity is intact. As long as we have protected our hearts and minds from actually falling for someone. We don’t mind hurting someone else’s feelings as long as our own feelings are not hurt.

It is okay for someone else to be vulnerable, as long as we get to remain aloof and apathetic, because the person who cares the least is the person with all the power in the relationship. Control is power. The ability to manipulate a situation. The feeling of supremacy. The capacity to influence. For Millennials, vulnerability is a roadblock in our ability to remain in control and possess power.

Now apart from being wrapped up in a culture that tells us to care very much what others think and to groom ourselves to be perceived a certain way, being guarded is also a matter of self-respect for millennials. We see it as dignifying to be stingy with our vulnerability. We feel that our self-worth is somehow wrapped up in how much we have exposed of ourselves.

For Millennials, vulnerability is a currency, and you want to be as frugal as possible. To some extent this isn’t wrong. You wouldn’t go in the middle of the street and yell your deepest darkest secrets, not because they define you, but because you respect yourself more than to just bare your secrets to anyone. Yet, there is a fine line between self-respect and being emotionally stingy.

We have somewhat misguidedly deemed self-respect to be only investing in a relationship where we are sure to get a return. While there is truth in guarding your heart and protecting yourself, there is no such thing as a relationship with a 100% probability of investment growth. Most often a gamble is necessary. If we never take the risk there is never the reward.

This imbalance of investment that we fear so much is pretty much the root of all relational conflict. I first realized this when I was upset with a friend who I felt was avoiding me. There was no conflict. Yet I felt the distance growing between us even though we lived together. I would ask her about her day and ask her to hang out, but she was always aloof and “too busy.” It felt terrible. It took me a while, but I realized that what I was really truly upset about was not that she was not hanging out with me or spending time on our relationship, it was that I felt that I cared more about her than she cared about me.

Think about it. Whether romantic or a friendship or family relationships, relational conflict is derived from one person caring more than the other person or at least a perceived feeling of such. I think this realization was a huge step in gaining perspective about conflict. Rarely are we really upset about an unanswered text or showing up late or a failed promise. Rather what’s truly bothering us is a fear that we care about someone more than they care about us. Being on the non-reciprocated side can really hurt. It feels degrading. And as Millennials, this is a pain we are willing to do almost anything to avoid. We would rather come off as cold and aloof than lower ourselves to tell someone we care about them if we feel that it won’t be reciprocated.

I remember back in good ol’ 2003 watching Lizzie McGuire, and in one particular episode Lizzie was going to tell resident hottie, Ethan Kraft, that she had a crush on him. I remember watching in horror as Lizzie bared her soul to a guy who was nice enough, but clearly did not feel the same way about her. How could Lizzie be so stupid? Didn’t she respect herself? Didn’t she care about being embarrassed?? I remember the horror my 9-year-old self felt as I watched Lizzie throw caution to the wind and embarrass herself in font of him. Even then I saw such vulnerability as something to be avoided like the Bubonic Plague. I carried this mantra with me for the next 15 years. I would never tell anyone that I liked them unless I was sure that they felt the same. The alternative, was not just humiliating, it was a degrading shot to the ego, and totally avoidable. I couldn’t understand why Lizzie had wanted to share that info if she did not have to. No one was making her tell Ethan!

But that is the thing about Millennials. Millennnials are total control freaks. We are obsessed with trying to control and manipulate our circumstances. And when it comes to feelings and dating we want to control that too. Everything is a power play with us. Perhaps it has something to do with trying to combat our role as the world’s scapegoat. Or perhaps it is that nasty sense of entitlement we are so often accused of having. Or maybe it has to do with us being socialized to have control over everything in our lives the same way we exhibit control over other instantly gratifying things like Netflix and Uber. Either way we view control as a necessary means of achieving success and happiness. We feel that if we can just master our emotions and minimize our vulnerability then we will have total control and no one can hurt us.

The truth is that the path to successful and fulfilling relationships is paved with heartbreak and embarrassment, and yes, lots and lots of vulnerability. Maybe Lizzie McGuire had more emotional intelligence than we did back in middle school after all.

Vulnerability is what relinquishes us from the prison of perfectionism and having to maintain a façade. Vulnerability is what prepares us to be authentic and honest and communicative with one another. Vulnerability is the framework behind growth and development and self-awareness. Without vulnerability we remain stagnant. Vulnerability drives us out of our comfort zones and into our truest potential. Vulnerability doesn’t mean not caring what other people think, it is seeing the bigger picture beyond the temporary feelings of fear and anxiety. Vulnerability can be a worthwhile, calculated risk. If we never take the risk, we will certainly never get the reward.

As a Millennial myself, I totally get it. We’ve all been hurt one too many times and the wounds of our previous experiences with vulnerability still sting. We promise ourselves to be miserly with our vulnerability in order to protect our fragilie hearts. We never want to get hurt again. Yet, at some point we are going to have to humble ourselves just a bit, and go out and catch some damn feels and not expect anything in return. No 100% probability of texting back. No games. No favorably calculated circumstances. No tit for tat dating rules. No playing hard to get. No facade of nonchalance.

Maybe #livingyourbestlife does not have to always mean sipping sangria on a yacht in Spain, maybe it can also apply to scary moments of telling someone you care about how you really feel. Maybe it could even be a choice to text someone back immediately or call them instead of texting. Maybe vulnerability is not a plague to be avoided, but an opportunity to be embraced.

 

good luck,

Ellie xo

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