1. The Withholding Of Sex
In the famous Greek play Lysistrata, the lead character sets out to persuade her female compatriots to deny their partners sex until a peace treaty is signed ending the Peloponnesian War. In real life, collective sex strikes can actually be quite impactful. In 2011, women from neighboring villages in the Philippines were credited for concluding an ongoing conflict by refusing their husbands entrance to the bedroom. Today, a group of Tokyo women are calling for a ban on sleeping with any man who votes for the sexist gubernatorial candidate Yoichi Masuzoe. (There’s a Twitter account with 3,000 plus followers dedicated to the cause.)
However, the inter-relationship sex boycott isn’t a collaborative effort (unless, of course, you’re polyamorous), so it’s far less likely to be effective. Also, rare is the one-person sensual strike founded on a virtuous aim. From my experience, those intent on denying their partner carnal satisfaction are either stubbornly trying to make a point in the aftermath of an unresolved fight, or desperately trying to get something they want.
Within coupledom, the main problem with establishing a no-sex-until-you-apologize-or-I-get-my-way policy is that you set the precedent that sex is a reward. Consider why parents are discouraged from offering candy as a bribe for good behavior: Elevating sweets to prize status undermines food’s primary purpose as nourishment, which can lead to unhealthy eating habits and assumptions. Similarly, on the other side of refusing someone the chance to orgasm due to “bad” behavior there may be a sexpectation for every “good” deed accomplished. Do you really want your partner to feel justified demanding the “Cincinnati bowtie” whenever they run an extra errand or complete an additional household chore?
A healthy attitude towards sex in a relationship requires treating it as something to be celebrated, practiced, and enjoyed together—not something to be held in front of each other like a carrot dangling on a string (unless, of course, you’re into horses).
2. Ex Mentions
Since my boyfriend is divorced, I understand that his ex-wife’s name was programmed into his brain before we met—probably also stamped onto some tacky couples’ stationery and embroidered on a set of bathroom towels. Still, I was unprepared for the level of hurt I would experience the first time he accidentally addressed me by her name. Thankfully, I eventually noticed that he only insults me this way when we’re in the midst of a raging fight, which is extremely reassuring in a super twisted way. But my point is that, although we all have relationship histories, no one wants to acknowledge their current partner’s. So do your best not to let them.
Many of us will have a few serious relationships before we meet the person with whom we settle down, assuming that’s the endgame. And since we tend to date people we’re fond of, at least for a while, there are bound to be pleasant memories attached to these former connections, even long after the nastiest breakup. Certain condiments, shoes, smells, phrases, trinkets, games, and movies are thus likely to remind us of the people we used to canoodle.
I don’t care how secure you are in your new relationship, though: It’s never wise to mention a favorable recollection involving a previous lover. Delight in those times in the back of your mind, or call up a friend to rehash an experience you’re aching to relive. But spare your partner the tedium of pretending not to be bothered by the ghosts of your relationship past. If you want to return to a restaurant you once frequented with an ex, tell your latest squeeze that a friend introduced you to the spot. At the risk of compromising your ability to enjoy your favorite spaghetti Carbonara or chocolate soufflé, you might as well fib. Because once you introduce an ex-association into your relationship, it can never be un-remembered.
3. Flirting With Non-Strangers
Flirting is often harmless. In fact, it can be psychologically fulfilling to banter with the guy or girl standing behind you in line at the pharmacy or to eye fuck someone attractive seated a few rows away at a concert or a sporting event. After all, we’re biologically inclined to seek out information regarding our relative “market value” as living, breathing, sexual beings. And it’s natural to invoke a little jealousy in a partner by gently reminding them of your status once in a while. Arguably, if a little coquettish eyelash batting with a stranger puts you in the mood and ultimately leads to hot sex back at home, it’s a win-win for everyone.
That said, flirting with your partner’s friends is bound to end in disaster. Some might think it’s a show of strength to allow it to go on, but unless you’re searching for “a third,” not much good can come of it for obvious reasons. The less obvious outcome is that you inadvertently arm your partner’s friend with cause not to defend you when called upon for advice during your next relationship hiccup. So remember: Flirting with your partner’s friends equals shooting yourself in the heart and genitals simultaneously.
Cybersnooping is almost always a terrible, no-good, very bad idea. To be clear, I’m talking about the invasion of someone’s privacy by reading their emails or text messages, even if their phone isn’t password protected and/or they’ve left an account open on your computer. In my mind, this is very different from the regular consumption of public information about an individual available to anyone with the savvy and drive to find it online, or cyberstalking.
When you stomp on someone’s privacy, you’re well positioned to misinterpret whatever “intelligence” you gather before wrapping it all up in paranoia and sprinkling the package with false accusations. Even if you uncover a tidbit that seems to justify your policing, do you want to be the asshole who admits to cybersnooping during the confrontation that’s sure to follow your discovery? You might as well enter the ring with a handicap of bazillion.
If you’re compelled to snoop through your partner’s personal affairs, take a moment to question why you feel the need to go all NSA on the person you’re supposed to trust before reducing yourself to acting like a suspicious idiot. There’s probably a better way (unless, of course, you’re with a sociopath).