Small Tips to Strengthen Your Relationship

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If you want a relationship that lasts, you need to find ways to make each other happy that are unique to you as a couple. There are hundreds of little things you can do — and the little things often have the biggest impact. Whether it’s leaving love notes for your partner to find or simply making sure to say “I love you” before you leave for work, show your partner how much you care. If you’re not sure where to start, consider the following ideas:

Cook for Your Partner

Pick at least two nights every month to cook for your partner. Don’t tell the other person what you’re making, but devote the time and energy to ensure it is a special evening. Although scheduling a date night to go out is a good idea, sometimes staying home together and enjoying good food can feel more intimate and romantic.

Compete With Each Other

One of the best ways to strengthen your relationship is to challenge each other. Although you can play games like Monopoly and chess to have some friendly competition, make up little competitions that are unique to you as a couple. For example, see who can find the best low-priced gift for the other person every month or race to see who can be the first to get home from work on a Friday. Debate with each other or see who can run longer at the gym. Whatever it is, make sure it means something to you. As a reward, the winner can pick the dessert, receive a massage or choose a different small treat.

Try New Activities

Make a habit of trying all sorts of new activities with one another. Set a date for once every three months that can act as a seasonal holiday for you to try something new. For example, go to a cooking class or salsa lesson together. The key is to find activities that neither one of you have done so you can learn together. You can foster a lot of intimacy and a deeper connection when you help each other learn, grow and get through uncomfortable situations.

Create Code Words

Relationships are about connection and the bond only the two of you have. Extend this connection to language by making up a few code words that only your partner understands. This way, when you’re at a cocktail party or picnic with friends, you can continue to communicate privately even when everyone else can hear what you’re saying. Pick a secret word that means “I love you” and another that signifies “I’m bored.” Or, best of all, chose one that means “Let’s get out of here and have some fun.”

Take the Next Step

If your relationship feels like it’s in a rut or you want to take the next step, discuss moving in together. Deciding to be responsible and accountable to one another is a great way to show your love for one another. Beyond choosing what furniture you want to move into your new place, talk about your habits, cleanliness preferences and finances. Know how you want to handle your money as a couple and how you can be safe when paying bills online. And even though some of the logistics aren’t sexy or exciting, being able to make decisions together is good for your relationship.

Who Am I?

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Dear readers,

I want to introduce this anonymous submission from a friend of mine. He broke up with his girlfriend of two years, a couple months ago. And on my suggestion, wrote a piece today about his feelings. Please show him your support!

@ReporterandGirl or Facebook or G+.

What kind of fucked up, dark, twisted question is that? What does that even mean? I’m asking, seriously. What defines someone? Our actions? Thoughts? Beliefs? What I do when no one is around? Or better yet, what I do when everyone is around?

When you break up with someone, there’s this pressure to reinvent yourself. To find out who you are. But to me, having to deal with a breakup feels a lot like dealing with a loss of a loved one. But the loss of a loved is not the same. Your loved one is out there loving someone else and there’s nothing you can do about it. And you get to hear about the loved one often, and you want to ask but you hold back because you’re told it’s unhealthy to ask.

Losing someone brings out the worst in me.

sad guy, S.C RhyneI can’t sleep.

I can’t eat.

I can’t think.

Drinking helps.

It blurs out the shit feelings that have been following me like a 12 o’clock shadow. A 12 o’clock shadow is seen by no one except me. I’m standing on it. Very close to me, not very visible. Just enough to surround my feet and remind me that no matter where I go, it will follow.

Bad choice after bad choice after bad choice. Who gives a shit and why? Keep them coming, I’m in this for the long haul.

One drink

Two drinks

Six drinks

I wake up in my bed.

At least I got a night of sleep without waking up in the middle of the night. It’s the only way I can fall asleep without tossing and turning. It’s the only way I sleep without waking up every hour reminded of all the good times we shared together.

Women come and go too.

One woman

Two women

Six women

I wake up alone in my bed.

“I’m not like that” some weird fuck tells me. “I’m not?” I ask myself. Maybe that’s exactly who I am. Maybe it’s not. Maybe that question is simply too complex for me to answer. It’s an unfair question to begin with, because it assumes we can fully understand ourselves. Society keeps pressuring us to find ourselves. We need to know ourselves before we are able to be the best version of ourselves we can be.

Fuck.sad guy, lonely guy, break up, S.C Rhyne

One drink

Two drinks

Six drinks

I wake up in my bed. At least the hangover distracts me from the emptiness I feel in my chest. It’s like an anxiety ball that keeps moving just enough to remind me it’s there.

Constantly.

Always.

Never leaves.

It lives there, at the mouth of my stomach, and plays around the bottom of my rib cage.

“Focus on the pain.” “Embrace it”. “Experience it”. Fuck, just writing about it makes my hand shake. As I’m writing this, my hand is shaking. Right now- I’m feeling it. Just the thought of it drives me crazy.

Deep breaths.

In. Out.

In. Out.

I tried meditating yesterday. Fucking impossible. The recording kept telling me to relax and take deep breaths. It kept telling me to relax and release the tension in my body. Just let it go. I couldn’t do it. I simply could not let go. I slept three hours last night.

Again, one drink

Two drinks

Six drinks

I wake up in my bed. It’s the only way I get a full night’s sleep.

Everyone keeps telling me it will be OK. It will, I know it will. But it’s not right now and that reassurance doesn’t make the anxiety ball go away. I think about all the good times and my heart dies a little.

I’ve given up on me. When I lower my standards, things come easy to me. But comfort is not happiness and it’s definitely not the marker of success. I’m settling for less. Again and again. It’s just easier to cope this way. I want to settle for less and convince myself this is who I am. But I know I’ll never be happy this way.

Never.

It’s not because I know who I am, but because I know who I’m not. And maybe that’s the key to answering the question.

I have so much anger bottled up in my chest it makes me crazy. I miss her so much it hurts. I miss her companionship, I miss my safety net. I miss having someone to call at any time just to shoot the shit. Just to check in. To learn about what’s going on in her life and actually care about it more than what’s going on in mine.

Keep digging into me. I’ll get up and heal. At some point. A couple of years back I learned a valuable lesson in the army. We can give so much more than we think. We can push our bodies that much more. The secret is willing to let your body go. Caring more about giving it your all, than being able to get up again.

One more push up.

One more kilometer.

One more drink.

guy sit ups, guy working out, men exercising, fat guy exercising, S.C. RhyneThis mindset is a double edged sword. I can always push my liver. I can always push my brain into oblivion. How can I know my limits when I’m used to pushing the boundaries of my body. Another shot, another drink, another and another. Push, push, push and then I wake up in my bed.

One drink

Two drinks

Six drinks

I wake up in my bed.

And here I am, without being found. Just me- trying to figure it all out. And maybe this is the beauty in life. We don’t need to figure ourselves out. Just go out there and experience emotion. Love, laugh, be sad, get embarrassed. Appreciate all this because after all, I’d rather feel than not. Even if those feelings are negative, at least I know I’m alive.

–Anonymous

7 Cheap Dates for Newlyweds

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If your date night budget has shrunk after marriage, don’t fret — there are plenty of ways to get some quality time with your honey, even on a tight budget. Here are a few low-cost or free date ideas for newlyweds:

Rent Bikes and Ride Around The City

Many cities offer bikeshare programs that give locals and out-of-towners access to bicycles as a way to “green up” transportation. Take advantage of the low-cost rental and take a ride around the city. You can go in the morning to get some fresh air or take a romantic ride at sunset.

Bike share programs like Seattle’s Pronto or Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare offer city dwellers access to shared bikes for just $85 annually. Other programs like Phoenix, Arizona’s Grid Bikes cost just $79 per year, or you could opt to pay an hourly fee for a one-time ride. Check out what your city offers online.

Go to a Sports Game

We’re not talking about seeing a professional sports game, instead, go see a minor league team, or even a high school team play ball. At the game, buy a bag of popcorn or a hotdog and test your luck by purchasing a raffle ticket–you might leave with a big prize. Admission is generally cheap, if not free, which makes this date idea a winner.

Turn Your Backyard Into a Playground

You don’t have to leave your house to have a good time, just transform your backyard into a poolside playground and lounge the day away. Inflate a few floating pool lounges and toss them into the pool, mix up some margaritas and slather on the sunscreen and you’re all set to enjoy this low-cost date.

Go Thrift Shopping

Visit the local flea market or thrift shop to find vintage furnishings and decorations for your new home together. Make a date out of it and work together to haggle with the vendors. Couples can take this time to learn about your spouse’s design preferences and style. And by purchasing something that could use a little refurbishing, like a chair that needs to be reupholstered, for example, the two of you could get your hands dirty and work together to bring it back to life.

Take a Hike

Adventurous couples looking to test their limits and explore new places can take a hike together. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, choose a trail with beautiful views and take the time on the trail to talk. The peaceful setting provides a wonderful opportunity to not only get in touch with nature but your partner as well.

Support Your Favorite Cause and Volunteer Together

If helping others is second nature to both you and your partner, give back to your community by volunteering together. Use a website like VolunteerMatch.com to find a cause and opportunities nearby. From working with animals to lending your skills to a non-profit, Volunteer Match offers hundreds of unique volunteer opportunities that can help to strengthen the community and your bond with your partner.

See a Movie In the Park

Many neighborhoods host a movie night in the local park during the summer months. Bring a blanket and some traditional movie munchies like Junior Mints or M&Ms and cozy up to your hubby. This date is free and it’s a great way to meet your neighbors if you’re new to the community.

Do you have any ideas for a great but yet inexpensive way to spend time together? Tell me about it on Facebook, twitter, or Google!

Insight into the Everyday Man

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From a woman’s point of view

So last night an acquaintance of mine hosted an event called “insight into the everyday man”. This featured a panel of three men bravely taking questions for over 3 hours from an audience of fifty women! And these are tough New York urban women, mind you! They asked everything from “Why do men lie?” to “Bare vs. Bush” (my question!). In a nutshell, we spoke about some very hard issues and learned that men aren’t as complex or care about the same things that women do. I think a lot of the questions revealed the insecurities that women have (“How can I get him to marry me?” Or “how do I get out of the friendzone?”) and why these answers can be solved by communication.

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TOP: Organizers and Panelists of the event “Insight to the Everyday Man” Bottom: Audience members engaging with panel

Having a Conversation

A man’s reaction to a tough conversation about your relationship can tell you all you need to know about where you both are heading, or not going. Men have fears, but they aren’t taught to express those fears. So when you bring up the conversation about the future or commitment and if he reacts angrily, silent, or defensive– then that is a major red flag that your beau isn’t interested in moving with you further. Yes, men get scared, but a guy that wants to stay with you will get over that fear and communicate that. Very few guys are willing to come right out and say they don’t want to commit because they fear our reactions and hey,

**Bitches be Crazy** cheating boyfriend, girl smash cars, break up, dating, S.C Rhyne

But the point is, many of our questions of what is going on in his head can be solved by having a conversation. You should be listening for what he DOESN’T say, as much as what he DOES say.

Standards or Pressure

So when I walked into the event, I was late and walked into the middle of a conversation about why it was so tough for women in New York City versus the South to meet nice men. One of the gentlemen answering was comparing his dating experience from the West Coast and the South, and concluded that the women up here put “more pressure” on guys. From his point of view, he could understand why — meaning some of the B.S we have to put up with, but sometimes the pressure can be too tough, or women are too difficult to approach. I of course, had to intervene and ask, “Pressure or Standards?” Women (as well as men) should have standards.

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I’m a very blunt and honest person and I expect my partner to be similar too. That’s one of my standards. So, if I feel that someone is making excuses or half-truths, then he isn’t living up to what I expect. Now, some standards can be unrealistic (tall, dark, rich, handsome, and not older than 30) while others are more reasonable (intellectual, provider, honesty, faithful etc…).

One woman, who claims that she is a lawyer, felt that she can only date men who are financially better off or work a white collar job in typically lucrative professions (doctors, lawyers…etc). It was her claim that these men were more intellectual. She has dated the bus driver with sexy abs but who had an empty head. And well, she hasn’t met a stupid doctor. She slipped up and said, “To me, if a man is working in that field [blue collar] then he’s not smart, because an intellectual person would want to build their wealth.”

Well, in today’s market the legal industry is actually over-saturated with lawyers as she should know, and many grads are having a tough time finding a job. Never mind one in a lucrative practice. Meanwhile, many folks who work for our city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority, not only have college degrees but do so in mechanical engineering and yes– a bus driver can make 100K a year with overtime. She interjected that it was the exception rather than the norm. I clarified that her point was a stereotype and not a fact. Anything based off a personal experience is a stereotype. A viewpoint. A bias. Period.

stop sign, stop sterotype, funny stop sign, S.C Rhyne

But I digress, standards— we need to clarify what is necessary and what isn’t. I remember when I was with Jon, he claimed to enjoy “stimulating intellectual” conversations, but his idea of intellectual was based on science fiction shows, and not real life science. Thus, one can only judge someone’s intellectual capabilities only to the level as smart as one is.

Going Forward

So I want to introduce the moderator of this event, his name is Jason Grae. He did an excellent job providing his own input and kept the forum moving. You can find Mr. Grae on Facebook. There will definitely be more events here in Brooklyn, which I hope you can all make. However, if you can’t, you can still ask a question to gain insight to the everyday man. Do you want to know what men think, and why they do the things they do (or don’t do) in relationships? Well, email me a question to reporterandthegirl at gmail (dot) com or you can post it in the comments section. I will post each question with Grae’s response! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and G+

4 Date Night Ideas to Replace Boring Old Movie Night

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Turn your weekly date night into a romantic rekindling of love or do something silly and new together. Choose new activities that go beyond Red Box to something more unique and thrilling.

Studies show that when you tailor your date to something of more substance, you stimulate your brain’s reward system and ignite the love that brought you together in the first place, according to intimacy specialist and professor of social psychology, Arthur Aron. So, reconnect with your significant other by shaking things up on an alternative date night.

Ask the 36 Questions

Create interpersonal closeness with your partner by turning to Aron’s famous list of 36 questions for a unique date night. Discover a deeper connection and level of intimacy by becoming vulnerable in your self-disclosure. Go on an afternoon picnic, sit together next to a stream or get a table in a romantic restaurant and ask each other each question in order. You will undoubtedly learn something new about your partner no matter how long you’ve known each other; you might just learn something about yourself, too.

Questions begin innocuously with questions such as “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” Then, they become more weighty and personal as you move through the list.

Have a Costumed Night Out

Who says you can only dress up as your favorite movie character or super hero one night of the year? Defy the rules of Halloween and date night by finding a great couples costume to wear for a little fun together.

Decide together if you’d like to dress up as bikers, go to a biker bar and role-play all night; or find two Despicable Me minion costumes to roam around town in. Either way, you are sure to have fun breaking away from the same old dinner-and-a-movie idea.

Make a Fort

Build a blanket fort and hide away together. This will be your fortress for the evening (and next day if you so desire). The living room or backyard are ideal locations for your love lair. Give some thought into the architecture of the fort as well as the romance you bring inside. Although they are not necessary, consider bringing red light strings, champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, music, flameless candles and rose petals.

However, some essential supplies include:

  • Sheets and blankets
  • Pillows
  • Safety pins, clothes pins or rubber bands
  • Flashlight
  • Twinkly lights
  • Snacks
  • Entertainment

No handheld electronics are allowed inside your fort unless they are playing music or a movie. Together create your den of love, and enjoy the outcome all night long. And, this might be the ideal time and place to ask Aron’s 36 questions.

Pretend to Be Tourists

Strap on a fanny pack because you two are going to explore your city, tourist style. Don your favorite Hawaiian shirt (you know you have one) and put on your walking shoes. This is your chance to grab your guy and get into the city. Go downtown to see the sites that are not often visited by locals, but frequented by tourists. Take pictures in front of the gothic cathedral and the famous statue or any other silly landmark. Then, turn those pictures into a collage you can cherish forever.

4 New Year’s Resolutions for 20-Something Girls

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Any day is a great opportunity to make a positive change. But the New Year in particular is the most exciting time to envision a better future. Cozy up with a latte or pour a glass of red wine, hit “play” on your favorite Spotify playlist and spend some quality time declaring your resolutions for the next 12 months. Here are four ideas to inspire New Year’s resolutions for the 20-something girl who wants to make every year of this defining decade count.

Personal Challenge

Make this the year you break free from fear and insecurity. Life’s too short to not take risks, be adventurous or test your limits. Are you watching life pass by in a personal safety zone, surrounded by cushy comforts and mediocrity? It’s terrifying to think about what you want deep down inside, but be too afraid to go after it.

Turn your “Wanderlust” Pinterest board into a reality and plan a backpacking trip to Europe for real. Prove to yourself you can train to run a marathon and cross the finish line. Have fun dating men who aren’t necessarily your type, and blog about it. Be open and fearless. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Challenge yourself.

Financial Commitment

A financial resolution to save for a trip, build up a savings account or pay off debt can seem close to impossible. If you’re like the typical 20-something, an entry-level income allows you to just get by, if that. Practice healthy money habits now to help you establish smart finances in the long-term.

Millennials are branded as the generation of entitlement. Commit to saving a certain amount of money each week. Truly save your credit card for emergencies. Help prove that all Gen Y-ers aren’t broke and entitled narcissists who take extravagant trips and buy expensive gadgets with nonexistent money. Schedule an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account. You can also use apps like the Mint to help budget and DebtTracker Pro for following a debt payoff plan.

Wardrobe Rehab

Your 20s are a time of transition. Shopping should become more about quality over quantity and developing style over showing skin. You’re striving to impress your work colleagues, not your sorority sisters. If you’ve got a closet overflowing with college hoodies, party dresses and hot tops for bar hopping, a major wardrobe overhaul can come at a high cost.

Approach rebuilding your wardrobe as a year-long project and vow to make smart, purposeful purchases. Gradually replace items of your former self with classic pieces that are sophisticated and sustainable. Keep on eye on basics in neutral tones like black, white and cream. Indulge in few luxuries like a beautiful Rolex watch and Coach designer handbag are timeless accessories for everlasting style.

Strengthened Relationships

The people we love the most tend to be the ones we take most for granted. The 20s can be a “me” decade dedicated to your wants, needs and desires. Are you guilty of texting Mom superficial messages to make up for calling her less? Do you love your friends to their face and gossip about them behind their backs? Has your romantic relationship become routine and dull? Is your relationship with yourself self-deprecating and damaging?

Resolve to strengthen your most significant relationships, whether you connect with your family more meaningfully, tighten your social circle or decide to fly solo. Most important is the relationship you have with yourself. If that’s suffering, practice self-care, self-respect and unconditional love. Learn to treat yourself kindly with positivity and be your own best friend.

P.S – Welcome to my 200th post on The Reporter and The Girl!!

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First Date Phone Etiquette

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Relationships can be tricky. And while the innovation of smartphones and social media have made it easier for people to stay in contact, the unavoidable and sometimes sad truth is that it has also led to a decline in the ability to connect on a personal level.

This can be doubly true when dating. First dates often have the potential to become awkward and uncomfortable (or second dates or even third dates for that matter), and sometimes the easy way out is to find a distraction. In these situations, the quick solution is to pull out your phone. Unfortunately, this is usually the worst thing you can do. Instead of taking a second to regroup and think of what to say or do next, phones often creates a distance between you and your date.

But, you might argue, what about those situations where it is helpful or advantageous to have a phone handy? Never fear. While there are some instances where a phone can be a valuable asset, there are some ways to make sure it doesn’t negatively affect your date at the same time. Here are a few etiquette tips regarding your phone when going on a date.

Plan Ahead

First dates can be amazing, but rarely are they spontaneous. Make sure to inform your friends and family that you will be unavailable for any kind of communication during the evening. While you may get some grief from some of your more sarcastic friends, it will definitely give you a leg up on the date.

Communicate Clearly

If you should need access to a potential call or text, say for a medical situation or work emergency, make sure to clearly communicate with your date. Let them know at the beginning what the situation is and that you may need to respond.

Be Prepared

Technology rules our world, and the ability to use it effectively can send a message that you are up to date and on the ball. Don’t be afraid to pull out your phone for a specific purpose such as confirming a reservation with OpenTable or using GPS to make sure you reach your destination on time. Just be sure to give your date your primary attention and your phone secondary.

Remember the Moment

Making sure to record the moment can have many advantages. Not only will you have a permanent memory of the night but it also can show your date that you care and truly want to remember the night. Taking advantage of the recent camera technology on phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4 will make sure that every detail is crisp and clear.

Ask Before Sharing

With apps like Instagram and Facebook, your first reaction might be to share any pictures and details of the evening with everyone you know. But, remember that you aren’t the only person involved. Make sure your date is alright with you posting the selfie you just took together, and, if they are, go crazy and share your fun with the world!

The most important thing to remember is always make your date your first priority. If you keep them the center of your attention and don’t get distracted by what might be happening in the world, they will feel both respected and appreciated. That will give you that much better of a chance in getting the second or third dates, or more!

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