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MoonDragon's Womens Empowerment Support
Women's Relationships With Their Partner
(Or Men In General)

(I know it's a tight fit inside their "little head" that they think with, but we will try...)

Italics are my responses to these "insightful" comments... as one woman's point of view.

These responses are to Relationships - "Ask Mr. Answer Man"

The 5 Things You Really Want to Know About Men!

Ever wonder what a guy was really thinking - but were too afraid to ask? You're not the only one! We took five of your most-asked questions and got some real answers from a real guy, our resident expert on the male perspective, Mr. Answer Man.
    1. Do all men have the same sexual fantasies? And what are they? Men's sexual fantasies are probably a lot tamer than you think. For the most part, they do not even involve multiple partners, foreign objects or a tight, skimpy French maid's outfit. Male sexual fantasy tends to stick to a very tight formula: hot rambunctious sex with people we are not supposed to be having it with. This pool is extended to include platonic friends, our girlfriend or spouse's friends and ex-girlfriends who were great in bed.

    (See sexual fantasies below for more indepth experience from a female perspective. It is true that the fantasy usually includes taboo sex with anyone, anytime, at any place he may feel he can get away with it... among other things.)

    2. Do men care if their partner earns more money than they do? Short answer, yes. Even if we try to hide it and say that it's okay, the truth is that when a woman out-earns us, it's a blow to our egos. That said, not all of us are comfortable being the breadwinners, either. Being responsible for someone else's financial stability is a huge amount of pressure. It's a Catch-22.

    (Yes, they do. I agree that many men feel threatened by a woman with higher income potential than they have... see below for more detailed discussion from a female perspective,)

    3. How can I tell if my partner is cheating? The issue here is trust. I'll assume, since you ask the question at all, that in some way, you are questioning your partner's commitment, not just to you, but to the truth. And to answer your question, you can't know if your partner is cheating until you're presented with clear, incontrovertible proof. Which leaves us with a far more difficult issue: what to do when you suspect but cannot prove.

    I could throw out all the stereotypical signs of cheating: he says he has to work late, but when you call the office, no one answers; he avoids intimacy and sex; he talks a lot about a female friend or colleague; he's vague or defensive about where he's been when not with you. But none of these so-called signs are proof of unfaithfulness. In my humble opinion, rather than accusing your partner of infidelity, the safest bet is to address the issue of trust in your relationship in general. Whether by yourselves or in couples counseling, your feelings have to be acknowledged and worked through together if you're ever going to build a genuine, trusting relationship. This is not easy - only absolutely necessary.

    Trust is never a sure thing. It is precious precisely because of how vulnerable it leaves us. But trust upheld is one of life's richest treasures, well worth the risk of being honest about our feelings, no matter how painful. Good luck.

    (Seriously girls, we usually have our little warning lights go off in our heads when the usual stereotypical signs occur. Men tend to "pooh-pooh" our intuitions, but as a woman having gone through this several times in my life, I trust my intuitions. Most times, we know something is not right and sometimes it takes awhile for it comes to surface. It may be he is not cheating on you (usually a rarity if these signs are appearing in multiples). It may not be that you have no proof or the proof is circumstantial, but believe me, if you give him enough rope, and he IS cheating, he WILL get caught is some way, somehow, and hang himself with it. You may have to do a little covert detective work, if you suspect, even if it is just to prove your warning lights are not accurate. Chances are if you point blank ask him, he is going to deny it to his dying breath (even if he is caught bare-assed in bed with another woman, he will come up with some totally illogical explanation!)... it gives the talk and court shows something to discuss. If you feel something is up, it never hurts to check up on him to whatever degree it takes to turn off those red warning lights. But do not do it too blatantly, just in case he is not. If you have to, hire a private detective, but this is expensive, and you may not like the outcome.

    But before you drive yourself crazy trying to catch him, think about what you will do if you do catch him and find out the truth (if he is cheating). Are you going to leave him? Are you going to keep him? If you plan on keeping him, it may be easier to try techniques that may help to keep him at home more with you, in place of a confrontation. Appeal to his basic needs (food, sex, feeling good about himself, ego stroking) and be better at it than any other woman could be. After all, you should know him better if you have been with him awhile. It may not be that hard to get him back into your bed if you work on it and give him that thing that you feel he may be missing. If it does not work, you can do with him as you choose anyway. Anyway you look at it, trust is going to be disrupted or shattered, depending on the outcome. Beware of the "other woman" if he is cheating. She may decide to keep him (which may or may not be such a good idea in the long run). Begin looking at women you both know first. Often times, the other woman is a good friend, family member or someone he associates with on a daily regular basis. Chances are it will not be a complete stranger (though this does happen, even one(s) that he pays for - the working girls, so to speak). Watch out for STDs. If he is cheating, or if you suspect he is cheating, protect yourself against sexually transmitted diseases.)

    4. What does a guy really think when you have sex on the first date? He really thinks you're slutty. And that, sister, is not necessarily a bad thing - depending on what you want out of the relationship, of course. Unless he believes that he's the exception to the rule (in other words, if he doesn't think you fall into bed on the first date with every guy), doing the horizontal boogie so early on means your relationship is going to be mainly about sex. When you're making plans for future dates, he'll be thinking of you on the dinner table rather than across it. However, if you wait and get to know each other on an emotional level and let the physical follow, then the relationship can be about both. The exception: If you two have been friends for a while, then hit the sheets on your first "official" date, don't worry - your relationship can be hot and heavy.

    (See below about "playing hard to get". It is true that men will refer to you as a slut if you do this. Although I never saw the logic in it. After all, he also had sex with you on the first date too...wouldn't that make him a he-slut? After all, I believe the pendulum swings both ways.)

    5. Why do men come crawling back after they break up with you? Let me be blunt. A man comes crawling back after a breakup because he'd gotten used to a certain something that he's no longer getting and is now panicking in the face of a biological drive - at the expense of your feelings and his pride.

    There are two exceptions to this rule, and both have to do with the time frame of the "crawl back." First, if your guy comes crawling back immediately, he's probably being genuine - pathetic, but genuine. He realizes he's made a terrible mistake and really does want to make the relationship work. Also, if months and months have passed, you can be pretty sure that he's really thought about it, truly misses you and (finally) realizes what a great gal you are. But if he calls you, say, two to three weeks after he walked out of your life, do not be fooled. It only means he's been unable to get his erotic needs fulfilled and has succumbed to path-of-least-resistance daydreams about his last partner - namely, you. Suggest that he try one of the many 900 numbers out there and cross his name out of your address book.

    (I agree... men come back if they are not getting what they want or need from someplace else... like being dumped by that young, cute little bimbo that he ran off with to begin with. If it is an immediate "oops! I screwed up!" then consider whether you want him back or not. Keep in mind, leopards do not change their spots... and people seldom change their natures and habits. If it is a case of him being dumped by the other woman... show him the door and do not let it slap him on his backside as you toss him to the curb. After all, he did not give a thought to your feelings and situation when he dumped you for the other woman. What makes you think he cares now about your feelings and he is not simply looking for a place to have his needs satisfied and you are convenient?)

Why do men use lame pickup lines?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Because they work. The thing to remember is that the guy doesn't care what you think about the line - he wants to know what you think about him.

    If Mr. Answer Man walks into a bar here in New York City, approaches every woman he makes eye contact with and says, "Hi, I'm Mr. Answer Man. What's your sign?" what he'll get mostly is the brush off. But eventually, some nice young lady will say, "Oh, that's so dumb," but she'll smile when she says it, and when I ask her what her name is, she'll tell me. And that's what I'm looking for - a woman who's predisposed to like me. If I'd wasted time proving myself in scintillating conversation with all the others, I might never have gotten around to finding the one who thinks I'm cute just because.

    (Actually he's just looking for a woman stupid enough to fall for the dumb line and have sex with her. I think they all read from the same invisible "pick up" book and are not very creative about finding a new "opening line" to introduce themselves to a woman. Sad, but mostly true. Most women recognize a line when we hear one and we tend to roll our eyes at the same "old ones" we hear all the time. It is nice to have an original one once in a while, even though we still know it is a line. Women are normally born with a "bull-shit" detector and for some reason, most men still have not realized it yet.)

How do I know when a man's not interested?
    Mr. Answer Man says: It's tricky sometimes, isn't it? It's my duty to remind you that not knowing is really half the fun, but if the suspense is just killing you, here are four simple experiments that will have a guy showing his true colors in no time.

    1. Hand him the date on a silver platter. Next time you're hanging out with Mr. Maybe, wait for a lull in the conversation and say something like this: "You know, I'm dying to (insert activity of your choice), but I can't get any of my friends to go," then look him right in the eyes with your best happily mystified expression. If the evening ends and he hasn't asked you out, forget him and move on.

    2. Invite him along. If you and this fella are out with a group, talk to a couple of your friends about making a change of location mid-evening, then ask him along. If he demurs, he's not interested. (You can also do this without the friends. The only problem is that if he doesn't want to come, you kind of have to go by yourself. On the other hand, if he says yes, it's just you and him ...)

    3. Give him the digits. This won't work in every situation, but if, for instance, you're taking a class with a guy who seems interested, leave behind something of little or of no value, a spiral notebook say, with your name and phone number in it. If he doesn't call, or if he does and then only returns your property, you'll know he's not into it.

    4. Give him the 411. The trick to this one is tone of voice. At some point in the conversation (only once, please), after he's said something particularly charming, funny or touching, respond generally ("That's amazing ...") and then say "I like you" in the same tone of voice you'd use to say "I like your shirt." Then drop it. You've lost no face and now he has all the information he needs. If he doesn't use it, there's your answer.

    (Before attempting to get serious about any man of any age, be sure to find out if he...
      1. Is married or not (or otherwise "available" - keep in mind, he may lie about this just to get you in the sack).
      2. Has kids or not (is he financially strapped with heavy child-support payments for the next 18+ years).
      3. Is employed (you do not want him living off your bank account, possibly cleaning you out, financially).
      4. Is or is not an alcoholic or drug user, has no commutable diseases (STDs) (has he been tested lately?).
      5. Has a criminal record (AVOID HIM, PLEASE, IF HE DOES, especially one of violence! A lot of women are attracted to the "bad boy" image, but in reality this can be an expensive, dangerous, underhanded individual and he can steal every thing you have or hurt or even kill you).
      6. A sexual offender or predator (really important for your safety and if you have children of your own).
      7. Is a compulsive womanizer (won't stay faithful to you or anyone else for that matter).
      8. Is a compulsive liar (the trust issue comes into play).
      9. Is a compulsive gambler (can REALLY get you into financial trouble, not to mention having the stress of someone named "Jacko" or "Tiny" showing up at your door to break a few knee caps).
      10. AND is mentally stable ...not an abuser, a psycho, a stalker, or a total fruit-loop!
    Watch the signs of potential abusive natures, such as control issues, jealousy outbursts indicating serious insecurity problems. Avoid those who want to control you, your life, the way you dress, the places you go, your friendships, your family relationships, your finances, and anything else in your life. Big warning signs. CHECK HIM OUT BEFORE YOU GET INVOLVED WITH HIM!... do NOT be a victim of Mr. Goodbar! Stay away from psycho abusers and killers... if he abuses you, he can kill you.)

    MoonDragon's Domestic Violence Information
    MoonDragon's Domestic Violence Guide
    MoonDragon's Domestic Violence Immigration Information

Are long red nails a turn-on or a turn-off?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Let's turn the question around for a moment: How would it make you feel to look down and see long red nails on your hands? The fact is that if they give you a secret thrill, your overall demeanor will be sexier, which is, well, a turn-on. (The converse is also true: If long red nails would make you feel like you had 10 thumbs, you'll come across kind of klutzy.)

    This is also a phase-of-life issue. If you're single and long red nails are your thing, then wear 'em loud and wear 'em proud; you want to meet the guy who crossed the room to talk to you because of your nails. On the other hand, if you're taken and looking for a way to spice things up, try this simple experiment: Buy a pack of Lee press-on nails, put them on, and go make a blatant pass at your honey. You'll get your answer.

    (Some men seem to like them, for some men... they find it scary and refer to them as "talons" or "claws". Depends on the guy. It also depends on your personal lifestyle and how practical you are and what you do for a living. Well manicured, natural nails are much more attractive to many people (men and women) and are much more practical for most women.

    Myself, as a practical woman that wears soft contact lenses and a midwife, I find long nails (any color) scary and totally impractical. No offense to any of my sisters that enjoy wearing them, but I have no idea how you manage to function in daily life with these type of nails. My nails are short and soft (prone to splitting), but I have tried press-on nails and those products that use a plastic powder solution that goes on top of your real nails that "builds" fake nails on top of your own. They lasted at most about a week and I had to get rid of them (besides not being very good for your real fingernails). They are terrible to scrub dishes and floors with and I couldn't pick up anything while wearing them. I poked myself in my eye trying to take out and insert contact lenses - not to mention damaging a few lenses while trying to wash and rinse them. I couldn't write, couldn't type, and forget trying to fix anything involving handheld tools. I couldn't feel things with the tips of my fingers (which is very important for me as a midwife). How many women having a tummy check or a pelvic exam want to be examined by a nurse, doctor, or midwife with these type of nails? Not me, thank you.

    But, men are strange creatures. We women know this. They like fashions that don't make much sense for women such as 4-5 inch high heels (oh, my aching feet and back!), garter belts and those stockings with seams up the back (thank the stars for pantyhose! I was so happy when these were invented!), sexy nighties (that often times are itchy/scratchy, impractical, and not near as comfortable as your flannels or oversized T-shirts to sleep in), short skirts (you gotta have the legs for them and b-r-r-r-r-r-r in the winter and please don't bend over to pick up anything without thinking), crotchless panties (why bother?), edible panties (I would rather eat something that wasn't in my crotch, thank you), girdles and bras (great for cutting off circulation (again, thank the stars for pantyhose) - good thing we do not have to wear corsets any longer, too many women suffered too much internal damage with those - and having that bound-feeling, although the right bra can be of benefit to some women with large breasts (I was never one of these women except while breastfeeding my babies). Bras can offer needed support to prevent back problems and extensive sagging (but these are usually not the attractive sheer or satin ones). However, sagging will still will occur to some degree with age and gravity, regardless of the bra). Low-cut blouses (which only work for those women with well developed bust-lines, but men never look above the bosom to make eye contact with you and may be very impractical dress in many situations, like at work), and several other things that women wear and do to themselves to make them attractive to the male gender.

    However, if you are a woman that enjoys having long red (or other colored) nails, and you have developed coping abilities to use them, I applaud you. If you don't, follow the advice above and use those press-on nails for that special night (be sure you carry extra glue with you just in case, however.)

Can an open relationship work?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Of course not! Can you think of a single one that has?

    Now this is not to say that a man and a woman can't find themselves getting together regularly for recreation and copulation. Happens all the time. But let's not fool ourselves - if someone you know wants an "open" relationship, all he really wants is permission to fool around. What's required is courage. If a guy wants "open," demand that he be brave enough to let things be what they are without rushing to define them. If he wants "relationship," demand that he be brave enough to give himself fully. Both options are wonderful, but to go for both is to experience neither.

    This, I definitely agree with. A relationship is a relationship. Open relationships often create jealousy and insecurity on the part of one or both partners. If will almost always end the relationship. If you want a commitment, then you (and he) should be committed to each other. And if you and he decide to try this, keep in mind that it goes both ways. What is good for the goose is good for the gander!). Sometimes just having friends with bennies (benefits) works good for some men and women. This will allow both people to have the option of having sex with each other and other "friends" without the emotional "commitment"... just sex. However, in many cases, one partner will start to become clingy and jealous and may want more and the other may not feel the same way.

Do age differences matter?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Well, yes, they matter - a significant difference in age is at once a great part of the attraction and a source of much trouble. But Mr. Answer Man is guessing that you're wondering what goes through a guy's mind when he involves himself with either a much younger or much older woman.

    It's embarrassingly simple.

    Sex. An older woman is much more straightforward about her sexual appetite and much more appreciative of a younger man's, oh, let's call them jackrabbit intensities. Younger women can be relationship obsessed and tend to constantly look to the future, wondering where they and their relationship are going. Older women live much more in the moment, and their confidence and competence are totally appealing.

    Sex and a nubile body. And that's not all. A younger woman makes a man feel worldly and experienced, sexually as well as socially, which is intensely flattering. (And I'm sure we can all think of men for whom it seems to have become addictive.)

    Now, obviously, this isn't all that's going on, but Mr. Answer Man has to be honest - it's a large part of the draw.

    (I think age matters too, at least in the long haul, and up to a point. If it is something to be short term and intense, then probably not. But to have a relationship with someone to last a lifetime, I feel that they should be relatively close in age (at least within the same generation, anyway). I feel that men and women both, as we get older, would like to have some young thing attracted to us, even with our wrinkles and sags, but the reality of this is, the younger ones are usually looking for something besides committed love in an older relationship. This may be money and security with material possessions (most older people are financially more secure than younger people in their 20's or 30's), social status (connections for personal gain and power), a deep-seated psychological need for a parenting figure, or someone to teach them the ropes (life experience is a wonderful thing).

    People from different generations are often interested in different things, such as movies, music, and social interactions. Older people may be more comfortable at staying home more than their younger counterparts (not to mention they may have health issues that may come into play and they do not recover like they used to from partying all night like they did when they were younger). I have often seen men going through their "male menopause" time of their life take on an attractive young thing 20 years or more their junior (20 something) to relive their youth. This occasionally happens with women too, but much less frequently. Sometimes these older persons are leaving their mates and relationships of 20+ years behind them in the process. This may seem to be fascinating and exciting, at least for awhile, but, sooner or later the young one will eventually get tired of the "fuddy-duddy" responses in the older man. She, the young woman, may want to go out and party with her young friends, go to rock concerts, clubbing and dancing, traveling, and pursuing her goals and desires while he, the older person, is wanting to stay at home with a good book, a little television, and a aromatic smoke from his favorite pipe. He may be fully engrossed in his career and his job and may not have the time she requires or expects from him (though she may like having the financial rewards). He's not going to have the same stamina that she will have to keep going (potentially having that heart attack that he has been working on for the last 10 years).

    Having things in common with a person is important for a lifelong commitment. Physical attraction is nice and wonderful, but in most cases, that is all it is. The physical body will change over time for everyone. Immaturity grows into maturity with age and experience (we hope, anyway). This has a lot to be said for it too. For the most part, it is important to find someone that has the same values, goals, and enjoys at least some of the same activities that are also important to you too.)

Do guys secretly want us to change them?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Do guys secretly want to be changed? No. Do we want to please you? Absolutely. And here's where the confusion lies. In our zeal to please the women we love, especially at the beginning of the relationship, it might seem that we are amenable to any and all changes you might want to make. Do not be fooled. If you take this as license to start creating your own man, rest assured you'll end up with a resentful Frankenstein's monster. Besides, do you really want your man to be a living Ken doll? Mr. Answer Man thinks not.

    Another question begs to be asked: Will we be changed by you? Count on it. Compare any man in his 40s to the way he was in his 20s, and you'll find someone with increased confidence, caring, patience, thoughtfulness - in short, a much better person. Why? Relationships are the antidote to selfishness. The process of two people bumping into each other's emotional blind spots over the years creates two much better people. And here's the really good news: The less you think about changing the other, the better the process works.

    (My dear sisters... you are not going to change him. Never go into a relationship with someone so you can change them. This is a really dumb thing to do and it is not going to work. He may put on a good show for you as long as he is interested in you or until he gets what he is seeking from you, but keep in mind, it is only a show. Eventually you will see him for who and what he is as the facade will drop eventually and the true self emerges. Just keep your mind and your intuition open to signs of deceiving behavior. You will not change him to any great degree (we all change or are shaped in some way with each and every relationship we have in our lives, but it may not be a kind of change that you want or can control).

    If he is a cheater, odds are that he will always be one (if he is married to someone else and he is cheating with you, you had better figure that if, by the rare chance, he does leave his wife and marry you, he will eventually be doing the same thing to you down the road. Most men do NOT leave their wives and security at home to take up with another woman in a permanent, monogamous relationship. Do not expect it if you get into a relationship with a married man (bad choice all the way around).

    If he is self-centered and selfish, he will continue to be this way. Do not expect to make him into a loving, sharing individual that puts other people before his needs or desires. This is something that is learned in childhood and most never outgrow it.

    If he is an controlling and/or an abuser, get away from him immediately! This is very important for your safety. If he hits you or abuses you once, it will only escalate and it WILL happen again at some can become a life threatening situation. See our Domestic Violence Information Pages for more information on this serious situation.

    If he has bad habits like alcoholism, drugs, gambling, or other nasty habits... he will not change for you. If he gives up any of his bad habits, it is because he wants to change for himself. But, seriously, do not hold your breath. If you decide to be with him, accept him for all that he is or is not... This also goes the other way around as well... he has to accept you for who you and what are as well. And If you do not find this acceptable, get out of the relationship, pronto.)

How can I get my guy to be more affectionate?
    Mr. Answer Man Says: Approval, approval, approval. And you thought it was going to be hard! Nothing will motivate a guy to reciprocate affection like approval. It's hard to overstate this. Approval is what he wants the most, inside his deepest, little-boy self, and when he gets it - lots of it - his hard wiring will have him giving back to you in spades. So, whether you want cuddling, compliments or a night on the town, here are five suggestions to get things started.

    1. Come on to him. Guys experience consent as approval; it's why some of us are such hounds. When you come on to him, it's super-approval.

    2. Pay compliments. So easy. Let me get you started:
    • Nice pants!
    • You're strong!
    • How come you're such a good kisser?
    • I love your (body part of choice).
    • What a good idea!
    You get the point. Don't wait for the right moment. Throw these things at him out of a clear blue sky.

    3. Ask his opinion. He'll feel heard, he'll realize you value his point of view, and he'll get to hear the sound of his own voice. All this spells approval for a guy. The bonus is you'll get to learn what's going on inside Mr. Not-Always-So-Talkative's head.

    4. Look him in the eyes and smile. At first it'll be more than he can stand and he'll look away. Then he'll look back. You'll still be doing it. By the third time, it'll be all he can do not to drop and give you 20.

    5. Stop telling him what to do. All of your hard work will be undone instantly with a single piece of unsolicited advice. Rule of thumb: You can ask him to do something, but leave how he does it to him.

    Some guys are naturally affectionate, some are not. I honestly believe it depends on how he was raised as a child. Some families are affectionate with each other and some are as cold as ice. Some people simply do not like to be touched a lot or have problems expressing their feelings through actions and words. You may have one of these. You may try the steps above, it may work to some degree or another, but do not expect miracles. You may simply have to accept him for who and what he is. Or the alternative. Find someone else that is naturally affectionate, especially if this is one of your needs.

How can you choose the right present for a guy?
    Regardless of the occasion, get him something you're absolutely sure he'll use - no matter how boring that may seem. I can't stress this enough. A woman feels cared for when a guy extrapolates and gets her something unanticipated based on other things she likes, and the more he spends, the more touched she'll be. Not so for guys. A 10-dollar oil-filter wrench that he uses every time he changes the oil in his car will make him feel loved and supported, while a $400 leather jacket may rot in his closet because it's the wrong shade of brown. Boys are funny about their toys, no doubt about it, but there are four basic principles at play. If you follow these guidelines, you'll always be able to get your guy the perfect gift:

    There is no advantage in surprise. Your guy already knows the things he wants. The chances of your surprising him with something he didn't know he wanted are virtually nil, so my advice is don't even try. Stick with something you're absolutely, 100 percent sure he'll use. Hint: If you're unsure, ask. It won't diminish his enjoyment -- it will ensure it.

    Style is as important as substance. You could get him exactly the thing he's always wanted, but if it's the wrong style, brand or color, or has some unanticipated embellishment, he won't like it. (Agonizingly, women often pick the one with the unwanted embellishment because they thought it was "nicer.")

    The cost is irrelevant. On a basic level, your man is already working hard to buy the things he wants - cars, houses, big screen TV's and remote-programmable VCRs - so you don't need to spend a lot of money to make him feel special. It's the utility of the gift that counts. In fact, if you get him something expensive and he doesn't like it, he'll see little dollar signs with wings flying out the window.

    When all is said and done, like it or not, you are the real present.

    I need to add to the above suggestions... depending on how well you know him (is this a new relationship or is it one that has been going on for 20+ years? They would be treated differently, at least slightly. A new relationship, getting something very personal may be pushing the relationship a bit and may scare him off (for heavens sake, do not buy him those boxer shorts with all the little hearts on them, not only will he probably never wear them, but if he does, he is going to be razzed by his friends at the gym when he goes to work out). It might be better to get something that he can use, but less personal (like tools for his work). A long going relationship, you should know what he really wants and needs. Here you can give him something very personal (and get away with buying him underwear and socks, if he really needs them). Whatever gift you get, give it some thought and whether or not he will really use it. Do not buy him a beautiful silk tie, for instance, if he is a T-shirt and jeans sort of guy. Chances are the tie will sit in his dresser drawer and collect dust. If he does not wear jewelry, do not waste your money on buying him a pinky ring. It never hurts to talk to him (in a matter of fact way) about what thing he may want or need ahead of time. Get several ideas over a period of time and then pick one as a gift idea. If you can take him "window shopping" with you and gradually steer him towards the men's section (clothes, tools, etc) and just look around. They will pick up things here and there and say something like, "wow, I have been looking for one of these for awhile" and put it back down. Make a mental note. About clothes, pick up shirts, pants, etc and say "this might look good on you" or "what do you think about this color (or style)", and so forth. He will give you some feedback. It gives you alittle insight to what he likes and what he doesn't like. It will prevent a lot of purchase returns or dead items sitting in the closet.

How soon is too soon to bring a new guy home to meet my parents?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Here's a simple rule of thumb: meeting the parents is an activity for boyfriends and "just friends." If you're more than friends but you would balk at calling him your boyfriend to his face, it's too soon to introduce him to Mom and Dad.

    You should also consider this: While no guy ever breaks up with a woman because she didn't bring him home to mom and dad early in the relationship, lots of guys get scared and bolt when the invitation comes before they're ready. The degree to which a guy wants to meet your parents is the degree to which he wants commitment. But the opposite is also true: if your intentions are less than long-term, it's uncomfortable to meet the folks whose daughter you've been sleeping with. If he's somewhere in-between, you're going to run the risk of spooking him.

    You've also got to take sleeping arrangements into consideration. I guarantee that the guy will be completely comfortable sharing your bed (and all that implies) under your parents' roof. If you're not - and especially if your parents aren't - you're opening yourself up to more potential weirdness. Be sure to discuss your thoughts with him ahead of time (meaning, before you're pulling in the driveway.)

    Romance is a game of timing, and good timing is mostly a matter of patience. If you wait until not bringing him home would actually be more uncomfortable than bringing him, you'll have a sure thing.

    Meeting the parents is a scary thing, for both you and your new relationship. You know your parents. If they are the parents from hell... warn him ahead of time. Let him know what to expect. Encourage him to be on his best behavior. Forewarn him about household rules (you may NOT be able to sleep in the same rooms under their roof. Suggest things that he and your parents may have in common and give him some topics for conversation and let him know what subjects to avoid. Kinda look at is as a preparation to go before a court judge. Prepare your case well and have answers ready for the questions that your parents are going to have. If you are prepared, the tension will be less stressful. Parents can get really weird about who you are with and many will give him the third degree about whether or not he is the "right one for their little girl." Also, meeting the parents usually signifies that the relationship is a serious one (he may not have that same view on your relationship). Know what the status is on your relationship before hand. I have been through this with my kids. I have also frightened some of my daughter's prospects a few times (and I am not even the mother-in-law from hell!). Do not introduce your relationship to your parents at the same time as announcing you are pregnant by him. This can be a parent overload. Give them a little time to get to know him first, if possible. If he is meeting your father, allow the men to have their little man-to-man talk without you and your mother there. Men will talk together on an entirely different level with each other without the women around. Later, when you meet with your parents without your relationship around, it never hurts to hear what they have to say about him. Sometimes love is blind and refuses to see little signs that you should be aware of going into a serious relationship with this man. You can make the choice as to listen to them or not, but consider any warnings or comments they may have about him as your choice. As a rule, parents only want the best for their children. This doesn't change with your age.

If a woman calls a guy after the first date, will he be turned off?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Let me ask you this: What do you hope to gain by calling? If you've gone on a date with a guy and he hasn't called you for another, it means he's not interested. Period. And it doesn't matter how well the date went. There's not a guy on the planet who, having plucked up his courage to call you the first time, would somehow chicken out for number two. If this is the case, calling only gets you lots of awkward phone silence and hurt feelings. It's time to move on.

    But if he is going to call you, he's going to call you, so why not just chill out? Besides, it's almost guaranteed that he's got some set of rules about how long he's supposed to let it go before he calls you again, and it would be kind to indulge him and see how things play out. Your chance to win this guy (if that was your intention) was on that first date. Your chances to assert yourself in the relationship can't begin until you've at least gone on a second. And, as has been pointed out by many an ancient sage, the wisest course of action is often doing nothing at all. (Oh, and no calling "just to say thank you." Make sure to say a meaningful thank you at the end of the first date and then leave it alone.)

    Ladies... never sit by the phone and wait for a man to call. You will waste your time and your life waiting on men if you do this. Live your life as you normally do. Go out, enjoy your friends and family, go to work, go to school, do not change your life waiting for a call. If he calls back, fine, then decide whether or not you want to go out with him again. Do not let your life revolve around the phone or any man that you have not gotten into a relationship with. If he does not call back... obviously, it is not meant to be. Do not worry about it, do not disrupt your life about it. There are plenty of other guys out there.

Is it okay to ask my boyfriend about his ex-girlfriends?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Ex-girlfriends are difficult for a guy to talk about. There's an emotional calculus that happens, and it goes something like this:

    you + guy = strong feelings
    old girlfriend + guy = strong feelings
    old girlfriend you

    Do you see what I'm saying? You've put him into a double bind by asking him to remember a time when the feelings he's currently focusing on you were focused on someone else. And because he wants to be with you now, memories of those former girlfriends feel like a threat to his current feelings for you. The irony is that if he clams up, it's not to exclude you, but to protect your relationship. A good thing to keep in mind if you explore this. So, if you just have to know, go slowly, and for God's sake, if he's resistant, don't push. Mr. Answer Man also recommends examining your own motives. What exactly do you imagine this information will do for you?

    Men do not usually like talking about old girlfriends or wives. If they do, they often have unpleasant things to say about them and, believe me, they do not always tell the truth. There are often 3 sides to every story. His...Hers...The Truth. Discussions with him or with his former relationships can be expected to be biased. Keep this in mind. Depending on how you feel about this guy and what quirks he has (like a temper), sometimes it is good to talk to former girl friends (especially if they are local and there might be good reason to discuss him with a former relationship... such as if you suspect he may have been an abuser, controlling, obsessive, jealous, etc... good things to know!... another is being unfaithful... it never hurts to find out why he and her are not together any longer. Forewarned is forearmed. If girlfriends are not local and you have no chance to meet any of his former relationships, take whatever information he DOES give you with a heavy grain of salt and keep your eyes open during your relationship with him. Make up your own mind about what to believe or not believe. Former girlfriends can be very vindictive too. She may say things to you to get you to break up with him. Another heavy grain of salt here too. If he has children with these women, I recommend you do get to know them if possible, because he is going to be in their lives to some degree for a long time, because of the kids. It never hurts to have a good woman to woman talk over lunch sometime. There are a lot of assholes out there and you have to watch out for yourself and your safety. Another thing... sometimes they will still be carrying a torch for each other and he may occasionally be seeing her, even while he is seeing you. Sometimes ex's are hard to totally give up. Also, if your relationship does not work out with him, chances are he may say the same things about you that he says about his other former relationships.

Should women fake orgasms?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Mr. Answer Man's heart is breaking. For the record: Women should demand orgasms, women should enjoy orgasms, women should increase their capacity for orgasms, but never - I repeat - never should women fake orgasms. Above all, your sex life should be a very safe place - and safety and truth go hand in hand. If your sweetie's lovemaking isn't doing it for you and you're unwilling (for whatever reason) to share this with him, then this is an area in your life that begs to be examined. Fortunately, here at iVillage we have Sex Coach Dr. Patti, Pleasure Pro. Dr. Michael Ra Bouchard and tons of message boards to get you started. Information is power, ladies - or in this case, pleasure.

    Admit it ladies... we have all done this at some point in our sexual experiences, even if it is just to make the guy feel like he is the "mr. studley" that he thinks he is. Ideally, we should not have to do this, but unfortunately, not all guys are proficient in the art of lovemaking. If orgasm is not happening, try educating him during your lovemaking. Participate with him and show him what you enjoy. Take responsibility for your own sexual experience even if you have to assist him in getting you to that point of sexual release. Be sensitive about it (men have easily damaged male's a guy thing). Get some books about lovemaking and see if he is open to learning different things together and trying new things. Above all have some fun doing it. Do not make him feel like he is a dolt, in the process. If you have to, get some advice from a therapist or counselor. But, seriously, try to work on this on your own to begin with. Almost every man has the potential of being a great lovemaker if he has the right teacher and the right incentive.

What does a guy really think when you have sex on the first date?
    Mr. Answer Man Says: He thinks two seemingly contradictory things. One, male ego being what it is, he'll think you really, really like him and maybe even love him. At the very same time, though, he will wonder if you put out for everybody and he's nothing special at all. Not the most flattering portrayal of the male psyche, is it? That's why you should resist sleeping with a guy right away - it just brings up too many issues. For instance, thinking that you really, really like him can simultaneously flatter his ego and scare him away. And wondering if you sleep with guys all the time can lead to jealousy and insecure behavior - after only one date! Also, let's face it, sex is totally intoxicating and could lead both of you to overlook character traits that make the relationship untenable six months down the road.

    That said, if you've gone ahead and done it, don't worry. Humans behave like magnets sometimes, and the pull can be hard to resist. If you haven't, though, you might want to practice patience - nothing makes a guy show his true colors like a little courtship.

    You really do not want him to think you are "an easy slut" on the first date. Chances are you are not, but you were just very attracted to him and maybe felt this would be a good way of getting his attention. It can backfire on you very quickly, however. I agree, get to know him a while before making the jump into the bedroom. Often sex changes the dynamics in a relationship. Once you have sex with a man, he may have a change of outlook towards you, depending on why he has an interest in you. Yes, he may be flattered, but maybe you were just another notch. Do not be another "notch" in his conquest belt. If you want a serious relationship, if you want to be respected by him, you need to find out if you like him as a person first before making him a lover. However, if you simply want a sexual experience, go for it and do not expect any calls back. Depends on what you want too. Above all, use protection to prevent unwanted sexually transmitted diseases or unwanted pregnancies. Use safe sex at all times. )

What does it mean when a guy says he "loves you" but doesn't think that he's "in love" with you?
    Mr. Answer Man says: It means that he needs to grow a spine. Quibbling over shades of definition is one of the unfortunate things guys do when they're ashamed of their feelings, in this case being afraid to tell the hard truth that he's not in love with you. Worse still, it often occurs when a man is trying to have his cake and eat it too, e.g., stay in a relationship while not allowing it to advance beyond his current comfort level. The antidote to such doublespeak is to hit it with a little truth of your own and then see what that reveals. If his philosophizing on "love vs. in love" were met with, "Fine. Call me when you're in love," Mr. Wishy-Washy might find his backbone pronto. And if the call never comes, so much the better - you're now free to find a man who loves you enough to be in love with you too.

    I have to admit...I have used this one before, myself. Call me spineless Mr. Answer Man. For me, the definition meant with my use was... I love you as a person, a friend, a pal, a companion... but I am not romantically "in love" with you, that I do not want you as a intimate lover since I do not feel that heated passion that lovers are supposed to share with each other. I simply do not look at you as a lover... Just a really good friend that I care a lot about. If at some point we have sex (or do not have sex is fine too), it is only a sharing of a good friendship. But I have no claims on your romantic love life and I applaud you if you find someone that is "in love with you" that you want to spend the rest of you life with in a very intimate way. There is no jealousy, no possession, no wanting to keep them from finding the loves of their lives. I do believe men and women can be really good friends and close companions and love each other "as friends" without the romantic passion that defines "in love with". And yes, I have had very dear friends in my past that I have had brief sexual experiences with in a closeness that is "just friends", but not as a romantic partnership. When they found girlfriends (or others) that they finally connected with, I gave them big hugs and supported their new found loves.

What does it mean when he says he's "not ready" for a serious relationship?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Sadly, it means he's not ready for a serious relationship with you. Think of it this way: if he saw a $100 bill on the sidewalk, would he be "ready" to pick it up? You only want to get serious with a man who thinks you're gold; anything less and you're asking for heartbreak. The good news however is that, though he might not be ready for a serious relationship, at least he's being honest. There are lots of guys out there who would let you think things were serious while keeping an eye out for something better.

    So now, the choice is yours. You can just cut bait -- he's not ready, you want more, so let's find Mr. Ready -- or you can accept the situation for what it is and keep things light. Which is something to consider. "Not serious" relationships can be serious fun.

    This goes for women too. Sometimes we simply are not ready to go into a committed relationship. Maybe he has just gotten out of a serious relationship and he needs some breathing room for awhile. Maybe he still has his "wild oats to sow" and simply not ready to settle down yet. Accept this and either deal with it or move on. It is better that he is honest with you about it and gives you the opportunity to work with that information on your own. That does not mean that the two of you could not get together and have fun together. But do not be possessive or jealous if he is still "shopping around" or "taking a breather" from heavy romantic entanglements.

Why are men obsessed with oral sex?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Because it's an utterly caring act. Would it be alright if I got metaphysical for a moment? In life, the truly hard thing is to give yourself. Intimacy is risk - what if I give myself and my partner just takes? - and although all the mystics from all the traditions tell us that unconditional love should be the foundation for every relationship, it remains the hardest thing to do. But think back to when you were the recipient of a little love coming straight your way, a time when someone treated you to something that was all give, no take and just for you. Melted your heart, didn't it? That's why guys like it.

    I am assuming that this is the man receiving the oral sex. They like it and want it because it feels good, it's fast, it's easy, and they do not really have to do anything except enjoy it! No metaphysics here... all physical enjoyment!

Why do guys fantasize about their partners' female friends?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Because forbidden fruit is the essence of temptation. But give a guy a break. Somewhere between the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other lies a place where your guy entertains notions that he would never, ever act upon. We use the word fantasy because they're not real, nor do we wish they were. They simply overtake us every now and then, command our attention momentarily, after which we return our focus to you. Because, simply stated, the relationship is real -- and fantasies are not. But consider this: Is it at all possible that you've shared some of the juicier details of your relationship with your female friends? Perhaps also, you've told your man about some of your friends', um, proclivities? And if so, will you admit to the possibility that some of the images dancing across your partner's brain were put there by you?

    Men are not usually very good at resisting temptation. Our friends are easy access and saves them from having to seek out a stranger. Chances are they have gotten to know our friends so ice has already been broken and he may know that they are going through tough times or breakups and they are easy marks for affection. Possible laziness on his part? Most definitely forbidden fruit... one that breaks up really good friendships! Men can be such dogs... I swear. After the first time this happened to me with my first husband where he took his fantasies and turned them into a reality, it totally tore up a really good friendship (it was with my midwifing apprentice, of all people), so I lost not only a friend, but also a work helper with my midwifing. I kept the husband for another 4 years after this and then got out of the relationship. I later found out that he had also hit on two of my sisters as well. Luckily they turned him down. Since then when this has happened and they acted on their fantasies, I keep the friends and lose the men. My friends mean more to me than the man did... plus I knew why my friends got involved with him (low, vulnerable points in their lives from bad relationships) and he basically took advantage of that. I know it takes two to tango, but sometimes there is more blame on one side than the other, especially when he keeps repeating the same pattern with other women.

Do men like it when women ask them out?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Men definitely like it when women ask them out. What's not to like? But before you get busy with your phone and address book, there are a few things you should know. For starters, a part of the guy will wonder if you've called him up because you want to have sex with him. Guys are generally hoping to have sex whenever they go on a date, so this probably won't mean he'll behave any different, but you might want to set some limits early on. (Unless that is why you called him.) Also, be prepared for lots of dating gray areas: Who'll drive? Who'll pay? Who'll decide where to go? The impetus is generally on the guy to control the flow of events on a date, but since you initiated things, how far will the initiative extend? Ideally, this will be part of the fun, but it can lead to baffled expectations on both sides. Another thing to consider is something guys have been dealing with since time began: The answer might be no.

    This depends on the man. If the man is "traditional" or the "macho" type of guy, he may think this is "overly aggressive behavior" for a woman. These type of guys want to do the "male thing" and do the asking and be the aggressive one. Many of these types are also the "on top" type of men (the alpha male) and may resent you for taking the initiative. However, there are those quiet, shy ones that may actually appreciate the aggressive initiative of a woman. They may have been trying to ask you (look for the signs) but have felt insecure enough and fear being turned down by you. Then for all means, ask him. Either way, you need to lay the ground rules ahead of time for any man you go out with... about those gray areas and sex. Let him know your limits and expectations. Do not feel rejected or let it bother you if you get turned down or it does not work. This happens.

Do guys like it when a woman makes the first move?
    Mr. Answer Man says: If you're already in a relationship with a guy, the answer is yes, men love it when the woman makes the first move. It's exciting, makes the man feel wanted and allows him to express himself more confidently as things progress. If, however, you're at the beginning of a relationship that hasn't gotten physical yet, the answer is no -- if you put your arm around him and then lean in for the kiss, it will weird him out.

    The thing is, it almost never happens. Even the most sexually aggressive woman isn't usually making a move per se; she's just making it very clear that she wants the guy to. But do guys like that? Definitely. In fact, they lie awake at night dreaming about it.

    But Mr. Answer Man knows what you're thinking: "I thought I was making it really clear!" Sometimes men are dense -- here are five ways to enlighten them:

    1. Invite him in. A beverage makes the best excuse: "Would you like to come in for a ... "

    2. Touch him. On the forearm with your hand is easiest, but on the upper arm with your breast is better. Also, the closer you can comfortably sit or stand, the better.

    3. Shower him with approval. Laugh at his jokes. Look him in the eyes and smile. Respond positively to the things he says. Men find all these things encouraging.

    4. If the conversation lulls, let it. Guys generally get silent before they bust a move -- don't chase the moment away.

    5. Ask a totally provocative question. How are you at foot rubs? Are you a good kisser? What time do you have to get up? You get the idea ...

    I think there are times and places to be the aggressive one. It all goes both ways. They should also laugh at our jokes and make us feel comfortable and accepted as well. As women, we should not always be the one to wait for his first move. Sometimes the guys are very shy and unsure how you feel about him. Sometimes they just may need a little "kick start" to get him going. Others, we want to shove them in reverse and take their keys away.

    Some mild and harmless flirting is fine in many social situations and can be done without serious sexual intent, This may be okay for some men, but other men will take it as a green light to go for the full enchilada without respecting your stop-sign. Do not send him mixed signals. Know when to put on the brakes and let him know without any doubt, what your intentions may be if it progresses to that point during the encounter. If it becomes too intense or you feel the situation is getting out of hand, immediately back off and get him away from you. The woman should always regulate when and how and where and with whom sexual encounters are to take place.

    However, do not be a tease. Do not seriously come on to him and then turn to ice (unless there is a real reason for it, such as him becoming overly aggressive, does or says something to frighten you and he may be a potential rapes are a real issue). Keep in mind, NO means NO if this is what you decide to do. Just because he has spent the evening with you, taken you to dinner, do NOT feel obligated to him for sexual favors unless you really want it yourself (this is one reason I like going "dutch" until such a time that I feel comfortable with a person. If he buys me a drink, most times I will buy him one back so there is no obligation in the process). If he wants to be with you, in a sexual way (most do, but not always), at some point he will let you know if you are sending the right signals. Sometimes they simply enjoy your company as a friend, not necessarily as a sexual partner.

    Take it for granted, no matter how you look at it, dating, relationships and men are a lot of work. For some of us, more work than we want to deal with.

Do men care if their partner earns more money than they do?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Yes, they do. Or rather, a part of them does, for, within every male heart, two roles compete for dominance. Let's call them the Provider and the Partner.

    The word "care" goes right to the heart of the matter - the real issue here is how a man expresses caring. In that regard, the Provider shows love by freeing you from material concerns and will be threatened if your income exceeds his, while the Partner shows love by helping you explore your full potential, teaming up to share the provider role, and will be threatened if you fail to carry your half.

    Now, chances are you know exactly what percentage of each every guy you've dated carries inside. But Mr. Answer Man has a piece of friendly advice: When you're looking to settle down, make sure Mr. Right is nice and flexible -- you never know to what extent you'll want to explore those roles yourself.

    I agree. Many men have this "male ego thing" going. The conventional provider issue. But, in today's world, women are financially succeeding almost as well as men are (it is still a man's financial world in some arenas, but, it is slowly changing). Women are getting and maintaining careers (often at a price of marriage and children, however) and taking care of themselves more and more so. Most families need two incomes to survive anymore. Men have been adapting to this better. Some have taken on the domestic role to become stay-at-home-dads while their wives bring in the family support. However, there are still those old tried and true - macho types - that are offended if you make more money than they do. Avoid them. You do not need them. Strive for a relationship with someone that is at least as financially secure as you are (or willing to be a stay-at-home dad if you are the bread-winner and this option is open to you), emotionally and mentally balanced and an overall "good guy". Someone with a sense of humor, secure with his maleness, and yet sensitive to you and your needs. Someone you want to spend your life with, but not clean out your bank account in the process... the guy that is the opposite of the macho egoist type... the user of women.)

Do men really prefer dating skinny women?
    Take it from me - skinny has got nothing to do with it. In fact, a large part of the allure women hold for men is about the places where they're not skinny. (My favorite example is the pooch. You look down and grimace at it while you work out on the Stairmaster, but all day long your man is thinking about the time when he gets to come home and rest his head on it.)

    Men want to date women who are fun and attractive. Attraction, as you well know, is a chemical kind of thing - it just happens, and good luck avoiding it when it does. And fun, frankly, is an attitude, an ever vigilant determination to find the element of play in any given situation - certainly something you could cultivate, but not a physical attribute. Best of all, if you and a guy are having fun together, chances are the attraction thing is happening too.

    Now, obviously, it won't hurt things one bit if you're working out and eating right, but those are things you do for yourself, right? Which is my point: Take care of yourself, go for fun, and forget about trying to be skinny. (Even if you are skinny.)

    This is nice optimistic response from Mr. Answer Man... I agree with the last part, but this is NOT what I see with most the men I know and have met. This issue has become a big pet peeve of mine, especially after gaining weight myself. There are those men that do prefer large, full-bodied women (for whatever reasons... some seem to feel that large women are insecure and easy targets for control and manipulation, which simply is not true in many cases). I have been at both ends of this weight spectrum. Most men, when you initially meet them, they do not want (or care) about the "inside you", your wonderful spirit or your big, gentle and caring heart, or your intelligent mind. If they are attracted to a woman, they seem to be more interested in the "outer you" and their sexual attraction to you and whether or not they can get you into the sack for sex.

    Many men never even bother to take the time to get to know the inside you. They are focused in on your breasts, your legs, your behind, and if you have a pretty face. This is one of the big selling points for advertisers and one of the reasons so many girls and women have eating disorders. Too many women diet themselves into ill health to be a non-obtainable weight and size. Too many women have their bodies sucked out, cut up with augmentations & plastic surgery, tucked and prodded to become this "perfect sexual object" of the average male desire. Too many women are ridiculed during pregnancy and afterward if they cannot get their "baby fat" off and regain their youthful pre-pregnancy state (which usually does not happen... after all, they are no longer a "maiden" but a "woman in the mother phase" of her life. I personally think pregnant women are the most beautiful creatures in the human race. I guess I am prejudiced as a midwife). Women get their stomachs stapled and exercise till they drop to lose weight. Men divorce or break up with women all the time for gaining weight. I even had one friend commit suicide after the birth of her baby because her husband constantly made horrible remarks about her looks. No one is going to tell me that men, in general, really do not care what a woman looks like and size does not matter.

    It seems to me that many men, in general, prefer Young, thin (but not boney thin, usually), women with large breasts (real or not), and the body of a young boy (Barbie doll type), with long slender legs, small feet and less intelligence than he has (which is not often). The "Pamela Anderson-centerfold" look (no offense to you Ms. Anderson).

    I always find it amazing that men, even when they have their "fantasy woman", will still cheat on her with other women. Sometimes it seems they are never satisfied. No matter what "toys" they have, they still want to play around with "other toys" outside their own "playpen."

    As a large woman now, men I associate with now have deal with me as a person, not as a sexual object, since they do not find me to be one... which is perfectly fine with me. This is one of the reasons I actually liked the weight coming on (medication induced, hypothyroid maintained, combined with menopausal weight gain... it was NOT nor is it now a FOOD ISSUE with me and is the same for many other women). My weight gain has allowed me to put up my wall against unwanted sexual attention (related to post-traumatic stress syndrome). And I admit, it is my psychological shield. Now I am looked at as a person by many of them, with intelligence and sensitivity. I have become a friend and confidante with many men. This is the first time in my life in which I am taken seriously as a person, not just a sexual object.

    I have had my encounters with those assholes that have made crude remarks about my weight... these were men that had their own major insecurity problems and they did not know me as a person, only as an obese woman, then in my 50s. I still occasionally get remarks about..."go on a diet" from insensitive men (and occasional women). There are a lot of fat-phobic people (men and women both) in the world. In the United States today, just to let our thinner brothers and sisters know... there are more of us (larger people) than there are of them. Obesity is a growing problem in the civilized world and in the United States. Not all of it is food related and calorie consumption. There are many more contributing causes, including drug side effects, endocrine, and genetic factors coming into play than was originally realized.

    My advice to my larger sisters and those who struggle daily with a weight problem. Do not let it get to you (easier said than done, I know). If you are being hassled by a man or men, tell them goodbye, kick them to the curb and do what you feel is best for you. As long as you are healthy, weight should not be an issue in your life. Live life. Be happy. Laugh and enjoy yourself. Work on your self esteem and self confidence. Accept yourself, both positive and negative attributes. You do not need a man (especially a shallow-minded one) to feel and be complete as a woman. Just be yourself and let your inner beauty come out. If it is meant to be, you will find a wonderful guy that will accept you for who you are and not just a body. They are out there. In turn, be the same way with the male gender. Accept them for their inner attributes and less for their outer. After all, our bodies change with age and circumstance. They get greyhaired, wrinkled, sagging and bent with age. It is the quality person inside that continues to grow and develop from life experience.

Does it work to play hard to get?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Think of it this way: Have you ever heard of a guy saying, "Man, I'm crazy about this woman - she's so hard to get!"

    Will it attract a guy who's not interested? No. Being less available will have no impact on someone who doesn't care.

    Will your seeming rarity increase your value on the marketplace and draw to you a higher order of fellow? No. In fact, just the opposite. If it seems like you don't date much, guys will wonder what's wrong.

    Will it transform a sluggish or lukewarm suitor into an attentive and energetic one? Not in any long-term sense. It might work in the short-term, but Prince Charming will change back into a frog as soon as "hard to get" has been "gotten."

    Have high standards. Be yourself. True love's rare enough without "hard to get."

    I think a little chase is good. Sometimes it's the fun of the chase (joy of the hunt) and not the catching that some individuals crave. Do not be too easy and willing to be "caught". It is true that if he is not interested, it is not going to make a difference. Keep it in mind, in the animal kingdom, of which we are also members, it is the female who chooses her mate, not the male. The male must prove himself to be chosen by the female for mating purposes. Have high standards and do not just settle for an inferior male to mate with. If Prince Charming turns into a frog, that just means he was always a frog (or swine in some cases) and he was never the prince. He was only a frog wearing a prince mask and suit (watch out for the wolf in sheep's clothing). You need to maintain some respect from the guy and jumping right into bed with him is usually not the way to get it. Give it some time and get to know him first as much as you can before hand.

Is there anything guys don't like doing in bed?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Well, we hate making the bed. Does that count?

    Guys seem to be more adventurous because of the kind of adventure we crave; often it requires that only the woman endure something unusual. For instance, lots of guys say they'd love to have a threesome or give you anal sex, but do you know many fellows who would be up for a threesome with another man - or who would happily let a woman strap one on?

    Different guys draw the line at different places, but in general, it's the least freaky thing two people can do that bothers us the most: expressing emotion. Most guys have trouble doing that anyway, but for some reason it's especially difficult during lovemaking. We may say it's because we're too overcome with animal desire to tell you how much we love you, or that we're already devoting our complete attention to manipulating your body's Dickensian network of sexual bells and whistles. But the fact is, men look at sex as a physical act, not an emotional one. It doesn't mean we love you any less, but for those nine minutes - uh, we mean 90 minutes - you are our prey. That's why us hunters have trouble saying "I love you" but don't have trouble asking you to wear lacey underthings and call us "The Captain."

    No, making the bed does not count, however it would be nice if men did this! I agree with most of this. However, I want to emphasize that you should also be willing to try adventurous things... at least up to a point. Let him know what you will and what you will NOT do, and what may be interesting to try. It is okay to play fantasy games once in a while (but NOT all the time!). Keep things interesting but do not put yourself in harms way either if things get alittle too weird. Do not let fantasy become a terrifying reality (some men will want to do some very weird, dark, and scary things). Keep some control over the situation at all times. Keep your love life spicy but not dangerously life threatening. There are many reasons why men hire prostitutes, one of which is to do things that their wives or girlfriends would not do and another is variety and diversity. Do not get pulled into anything you are not comfortable with. Become skilled at the art of lovemaking, whether this is your first sexual encounter or your 50th. Try to discuss and/or teach your partner about techniques that give you enjoyment as well as those that give him enjoyment. If there are sexual dysfunctions in your relationship (like pre-ejaculation problems or him being the master of the 15 second "quickie"), read and learn about ways that these can be worked with. As said above, do not expect a lot of emotional bonding with sexual encounters... I definitely agree that many men look at women as a sexual tool towards personal sexual gratification. Do not expect him to stay awake for an indepth emotional bonding after having sex. It is more usual for them to roll over and snore. This happens more often than not.

Do men like it when women tell them what they (women) want in bed?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Yes, definitely yes, but be sensitive. No one likes to be bossed around.

    It can be a fine line, especially during the heat of passion, and the thing you want to avoid at all costs is barking out orders like a drill sergeant. To that end, let Mr. Answer Man make a suggestion: Praise, then ask.

    It's so simple and it pushes all the right buttons. You praise them ("Oh, Dan, that feels so good ..."), then ask for what you want ("... would you go a little slower?"). It works like a charm, but don't just take my word for it.

    I agree that this should be the way it should happen. It would be nice if both partners let the other know what they like and what they do not like in a very sensitive say so feelings do not get hurt. However, the reality of it... Some do, some do not. Some feel that they know it all and will not listen to you. It depends on the guy. You will have to try it out for yourself with your partner and find out if he is a listener.

Do all men have the same sexual fantasies? And what are they?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Mr. Answer Man assumes that you're asking so you can give a man you're interested in an experience he'll never forget - which makes him a very lucky guy. Here are five guaranteed turn-ons for just about anyone with a Y chromosome.

    Matching bra and panties. A present that's handed over in a brown paper bag isn't nearly as touching as one that's thoughtfully wrapped. Trust me on this. It doesn't have to be fancy; it just has to match.

    Tell him how good it feels. Men thrive on praise, never more so than between the sheets. Not only will it make him feel like a million bucks, but it'll keep you both focused on what's working.

    Undress him. The longer you can prolong this, the more wonderful, agonizing tension you'll build. If you can manage it without breaking the flow, proceeding to undress while he watches will make him putty in your hands.

    Let your hands wander. Subtle but devastating. Years from now, he'll remember the way your nails trailed along the small of his back.

    Oral sex. There. I said it.

    I agree with all of these, especially the last one, oral sex. A lot of women do not like doing oral sex, but for some strange reason, most men love it. Oral sex fantasies can be either him as a receiver of it or it can include his desire to perform it on the woman or both. Most often it means on him, however. If you are going to give oral sex to him, learn how to do it well and you will be able to control his orgasm experience. If he wants to give you oral sex, try to instruct him about what and where it feels good for you. It is more then just slobbering on the genitals. There are true techniques involved with it.

    Other fantasies I have encountered in my life through experience with men (some more weird or off the wall than others) are:

    Bondage. Either slightly used such as tieing his hands with your stockings and blindfolding him (or doing it to you... be careful ladies... be sure you trust him completely that he won't do anything to hurt or scare you) or the more intense "bondage and discipline"" (B & D), which may involve giving or receiving spankings, scourging (with a hand held "whip"), handcuffs, black latex, and becoming the "master" or "mistress" with a "slave". Sometimes this may progress into full submission, humiliation, and outright sadism-masochism (S & M) where real pain and degradation is involved. Many powerfully, well-to-do men have desires to be "submissive" in the sexual arena and many pay big bucks to have their fantasies played out by professional "mistresses".

    Threesomes/Group Sex. Almost every heterosexual man I have met have had this fantasy. They want to be involved with more than one woman at the same time. This may include having the women together in a lesbian way while he is involved or watching. However, they seem to shy away from watching their female partner with another man or having male to male enteractment. There are wife-swapping clubs and such that often cater to these fantasies. However, if the woman involved seems to prefer the other partner(s) over her own (or vice versa), this leads to big time jealousy and insecurities developing in the relationship. Men want to be the alpha partner of a threesome and will assert his male dominance by taking over the satisfaction of the female, leaving the other male as the inferior partner. I do not recommend this fantasy for most monogamous relationships. It is almost a guarantee to kill the relationship. But the fantasy is still there.

    Fetishes. A fetish is a sexual stimulating object or action. If he has a shoe fetish, this means that he is sexually aroused by shoes (usually high heels). He may like his partner to wear them during sexual interaction (or he may want to wear them himself). This may go for women's underwear (bras, panties, garters, stockings, etc) or any other object that he finds specifically stimulating. There is an old saying: A fetish is using a feather for sexual stimulation... A perversion is using the entire chicken. A perversion is usually considered an abnormal deviation, possibly criminally so.

    Anal Sex. Many men seem to enjoy this, I think mostly because the anal sphincter is usually tighter than the vaginal muscles. But ladies, I highly do not recommend it, mostly for your own safety and health. It can cause serious bowel and rectum damage, tearing, bleeding, and discomfort also with complications of bacterial and viral infections that can become systemic if introduced into the bloodstream through a tear. These tissues are delicate and can be damaged easily. I have known women that had to get reconstructive bowel surgery after having overly aggressive anal sex. If you do choose to do this, make sure you use lots of water-based lubricant, a condom, and a very gentle partner that will stop if you say so. Most of all it takes lots of relaxing to help keep the anus and bowel from being damaged.

    Role Playing. Playing out fantasies through roles, such as: Doctor-nurse. Boss-secretary. Prostitute-John. Burglar-Victim. And so forth. Sometimes they can be fun, sometimes not. Discuss it before hand and stay with the plan. My last husband had an incest-role playing game he liked where he would sneak into the room while I was sleeping and pretending to be my brother and molest me (he needed some serious psychological counseling and I didn't like the game). Another was one that involved the woman pretending to be a his conquest in a bar full of attractive men. Another is dancing and stripping for him or him dancing and stripping for her. Roles can be as creative as the people thinking them up. Keep it sane and safe.

    Odds and Ends: Others I have encountered (some are more or less on the weird to abnormal and highly illegal) are consuming bodily fluids (blood, urine, feces), mutilation or hanging/choking during sexual climax (either of self or the partner), giving or receiving serious pain, enemas, sexual toys (either real or adapted). Sex in public places where being caught or seen is the turn-on. Pornography (which may include voyeurism through watching and/or recording sexual encounters... sometimes without the partner's knowledge). Necrophilia (sex with a dead or feigned dead partner), and animal involvement (bestiality). I am not even going to mention those about involving children and infants (these individuals should be arrested and convicted and worse).

    Sisters, always be careful and set limits. Do not do anything that you do not want to do and always maintain some control in the situation. Do not do anything with someone you do not know or trust completely.

Do men kiss and tell?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Short answer: yes. Here in the new millennium, we men are supposed to talk about our feelings, and as it turns out, we do. And while in general women are still more talkative (Mr. Answer Man knows way more about his female friends' lovers than he does about those of his male friends), men do kiss and tell differently than women.

    (Let's set aside, for the moment, men who brag indiscriminately about their sexual exploits. This is locker room behavior and always says volumes more about the guy's insecurity than it does about his ability to curry favor with women.)

    Guys, in general, will become less talkative as a relationship progresses. Maybe it's the growing intimacy that creates the increasing reticence, but a man is much more likely to share the salient details while it's all fresh and new. After that it becomes more and more private -- something to be honored rather than shared.

    I agree with this. A true "gentleman" does not kiss and tell. Hopefully, you will find that gentleman. Beware of guys that brag (and sometimes enhance their exploits). Avoid these insecure men.

When my guy says he "needs space," does that mean he wants to break up?
    Mr. Answer Man says: Not necessarily. In fact, it could be a sign of maturity. As we all well know, guys often have a hard time understanding and expressing their feelings. Scientists say that as our species developed, men learned to act first and feel later, handy when fighting mastodons but burdensome here in the new millennium. As these unfelt feelings stack up, your man begins to experience a claustrophobic anxiety that causes him to crave "space." He doesn't want to break up - he just wants a chance to get in touch with his feelings.

    Now to be fair, some guys say they need space when they trying to let a woman down easy, so here's how you tell the difference: When your guy says he needs space, let him know that's fine with you, ask him how much he thinks he'll need and if he'd be willing to commit to doing something together once he's had his fill. If he wants to break up, he won't want to commit to anything. But if he accepts those terms, what you've got is a man who's willing and able to ask for what he needs to take care of himself -- an attractive trait, wouldn't you say?

    From my own experience, this really depends on the guy and the relationship. Everyone needs "space" once in awhile. None of us want to feel "trapped" in a relationship with another person. The "space" needs to be specifically defined, however.

    It may or may not be a sign of maturity. Some people have a big problem with being committed to someone else and they do feel trapped by commitment. It can either be "absence make the heart grow fonder" or it may end up being "out of sight, out of mind" depending on the situation. It may be that he simply wants to have sex with someone else (or many someone else's) and does not want to have any guilt feelings associated with it. If he feels you are a "clinging vine", then it may mean simply, allow him to have some breathing room and let him have other interests (not necessarily other women, however) in his life besides being glued to you. Women feel this way, too, when men become too clingy and/or controlling in a relationship. Either way, you will need to find out exactly what "space" means to him. Also let him know that whatever it means, goes for yourself as well.

    If does mean he doesn't want a commitment or to have sex with other partners, then this should be an option for you as well (whether you actually choose to do this or not is up to you, however). Some men feel it is okay for them, but not for you. Whether it is sex and/or break up or whether it just means breathing room, it means that you have the same options to have the "space" yourself.

    I have seen it happen all to often where we, as women, become so engrossed in our relationship with our partner (and our children) that we forget who we are and we give up many of our outside interests (and sometimes careers) and hobbies to devote ourselves totally to our partner and family. We all want to have friends, hobbies, activities, and interests outside of a defined relationship that help us to maintain our individualness as a person as well as having that special person we care about. Some long-time married/partnered couples even go so far as to having separate vacations away from each other every year, just to have a break in the closeness. I think this is needed. We all need a break from the intensities of relationships. This does NOT mean that it is okay to go out and have sexual flings anytime you or your partner want space (unless this is a normally accepted part of your relationship). The old saying... be willing let it go... if it was meant to be, it will come back to you, if it doesn't come back, then it was never meant to be and it wasn't yours to begin with. Most of all, as stated, get the "space" defined for you and take things from there. You might actually enjoy having your own "space" as well to enjoy as you choose.

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience...
We are spiritual beings having a human experience."

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