I’ve Got a Secret!

Back when I wrote about my dating adventures, I was the Queen of the "To Be Continued" posts. My past relationships were drama filled and provided perfect fodder for a blog. And, since I didn't write in real time, I had the ability to stop telling the story at the most inopportune moment for the reader.

After finishing treatment for breast cancer and starting to teach at a local university, my interest in writing about my own dating life waned. I didn't want my work as an advocate or educator to be clouded by my relationship antics. More importantly, by that point, I no longer had the tolerance for drama or antics in my personal life. I don't care for my life to be measured by cliff hangers anymore.

My blog has evolved with me, and I appreciate those of you who've stuck around to read my posts when they're no longer as scintillating.

My life and blog appear to be evolving yet again! I'm headed on a new adventure, and I hope that you'll join me for this next phase. I can't wait to share with you all what it is, as it's the biggest news that I've posted on this site.

"Bigger than when you revealed that you had cancer?"


"Bigger than when 'Buckeyes' Boy broke up with you by blocking you on Twitter?"


I have a secret, but soon it will be a secret no more. All will be revealed by Tuesday, December 18th.

Is It Too Soon for Long Distance?

It’s time for a reader’s question from Formspring.

Question: The guy I like is leaving to go to the Marines soon. We have been talking, but I really don’t know that much about him. We have agreed to write letters to get to know each other better, but I’m not very good at writing letters. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Let’s tackle this question in two parts. The first is the relationship piece. You and Mr. Marine like each other, which is a good start. But, you’re not in a relationship yet so his departure understandably makes it difficult for you to continue getting to know each other. Try to focus on what you do like about him so that the time apart is easier. Also enjoy the opportunity to communicate openly with him about anything and everything that feels right without pressure about where the relationship is heading. One of the reasons why online dating sites are so popular is that they allow couples to develop some level of interest and open communication before the parties meet in person. You have that interest and now have that opportunity to build trust and a relationship (either friendship or love).

If out of sight leads to out of mind, I hope that you’ll consider corresponding with him out of respect for the fact that he is serving our country. Being in basic training or stationed away from home is lonely, arduous, honorable and often life-threatening. Letters, photographs and care packages from home mean so much to people in the military, especially those without regular Internet or telephone access.

When it comes to writing letters, it’s okay to be short and sweet. I recommend loading up on some inexpensive cards with simple messages like “Hello” or “Thinking of You.” Then you can just ask a question or two of him and tell him something new with you. (A friend in the military says that he loves hearing about mundane activities that his loved ones in the States are doing because it gives his deployment purpose.)

If you feel comfortable writing a longer letter, great, but the gesture of the note itself means more than how many lines you write. You can also include a photograph, funny comic strip or article inside. If he’s able to receive care package, ask him what non-perishable snack or magazine from home he misses the most and send a few his way. Simple acts make a huge difference!

Best of luck to you and him!

Did I miss anything, readers?

As a PS – If you’d like to send holiday cards through the American Red Cross to people serving in the U.S. Military, you can do so through December 7th. More information on Holiday Mail for Heroes is available here.

One Foot In Front Of The Other

Four years ago, this blog didn’t exist. I was in a relationship with Lawyer Boy and thinking that I needed to end things for my own well being.

Three years ago, I was blogging regularly and getting the hang of Twitter. I was living with “Buckeyes” Boy, but I began to question his sincerity.

Two years ago, I was recovering from my second round of chemotherapy. The drugs caused me to hemorrhage and soon, I would be thrown into medical menopause. I was in need of companionship during treatment and was spending time with Mr. Agency and Best Boy.

One year ago, I was teaching my first semester at American University. I was dating on occasion, but my priorities had shifted. I had recently finished treatment and was busy with events and fundraisers for five different breast cancer charities.

In four years, my journey has taken a lot of twists and turns. I never imagined just how much undergoing chemotherapy would change my life. My blog isn’t as much of a priority now, and I’m far more selective about which charities I support. I seek stability from my relationships with friends and my significant other and have neither the time nor the inclination for drama. I find more joy out of teaching than I thought possible.

Professionally, it’s been a big month for me, as:

  • I was featured in the October 2012 issue of The Washingtonian about sex and cancer;
  • My Facebook status update, “It’s October 1st. We’re f*%&ing aware. To quote Redman, it’s time for some action,” inspired a post on; and
  • I was quoted in an article about healthy eating during chemotherapy on

I’ve been trying to reconcile how I’ve tried to be public about my journey to help and educate others with the fact that I wish this wasn’t my journey at all. I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I’m very appreciative of all the blessings that I have in my life. Nonetheless, not a day has passed in two years during which I haven’t been frustrated by some lingering chemotherapy side effect. I often wish that I could click my heels and go back to the way things were before cancer. I know that I’m doing what I am meant to do with my life, but that doesn’t mean the past two years have been easy. Is life ever really that simple?

I don't know where I'll be in a year, although I hope that my career and relationship continue on this same path. I'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other and see where life takes me next.

Has your life taken a twist or turn that was simultaneously very difficult and very positive?

The Love Commitment Giveaway

Would you love to win a copy of Doc Scriven’s book,

Fast-paced and told from a unique perspective, is charming, provocative, and delivers to singles and couples looking for a thoughtful and exciting relationship novel. But be warned. is not just a novel. It's also a blueprint by which romantic relationships can be structured and streamlined in favor of both men and women, ultimately leading to marriage in two years or less. As a bonus, contains questions in the back for Book Clubs as well as those interested in experiencing a real-life, Love Commitment journey for themselves.

Book Summary: Gigi and Timo had been living together in Atlanta for a year and dating for three. But one evening, after she broached the subject of marriage, an argument ensued followed by a break-up that kept them apart for three additional years. When they finally meet again, Gigi and her best friend, Sheila, have discovered a system that transforms love from an art to a science. With it, Gigi has a new man and is leveling the playing field between the sexes. Meanwhile, Timo is trying desperately to re-enter Gigi's life for reasons of love and revenge.

About the Author: Darryl “Doc” Scriven is a graduate of both Florida A&M University and Purdue University. He earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy and has taught at Wilberforce University, Southern University, Tuskegee University, and lectured at dozens of universities across the country and world. Doc is the author of seven books ranging from fiction to academic to self-improvement. is his second novel. He is co-founder of The African American Family Enrichment Institute in Atlanta, Georgia and, as such, is committed to building families that will thrive for generations. To learn more, visit You can also check out the trailer for Doc Scriven's documentary.


If you’d like to enter to win a hard or electronic copy of the book, comment with your definition of commitment.

Giveaway Rules: This giveaway will run through Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 11:59pm est. One winner will be chosen randomly via You must reside in the continental United States to win a hard copy of the book. Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, no compensation was received in exchange for this post or giveaway.

The Change

It happens to 50% of breast cancer patients under the age of 35 who require chemotherapy.

For those breast cancer patients who need chemo and are 35-40, the statistics go up to 80%.

If you are over 45, have breast cancer and receive chemotherapy, it’s almost guaranteed to happen to you!

“What are you talking about, City Girl?” you might be wondering.

The Big M. The Change. Menopause.

How does chemotherapy-induced menopause differ from traditional menopause? Dr. Melody Cobleigh of describes it as follows:

“Natural menopause is a fender bender, whereas medical or surgical menopause is like hitting a brick wall at sixty miles an hour.”

That analogy resonated with me. In October 2010, one month after I received my first round of chemotherapy, I began to hemorrhage. By November, I stopped bleeding entirely, and the hot flashes started. Night sweats, sleep problems, and irritability soon became part of my daily routine. And, then, there was the dryness down there. Yes…there!

Think about it. Back then, I was the 37-year-old sex blogger with an active dating life. Once menopause hit, I couldn’t get wet even when I was turned on. If I wasn’t a woman who prioritized sex during treatment, it would have been very easy to just forgo the act entirely. I had to consistently remind myself that this was important to me since my body wasn’t cooperating.

During chemo-induced menopause, traditional sex was painful at times, and I always needed a lot of lubrication. It took me much longer to reach orgasm. Cuddling for more than a few minutes would cause me to get such intense hot flashes that the entire bed would be wet from my perspiration. And, the lack of natural moisture made my pelvic muscles tighten up so much that I felt like I often had a UTI, even though I didn’t.

I didn’t write tons about this all during treatment because I needed to channel my energy in a positive direction. Medical menopause isn’t sexy. It's not easy to talk about. And, it made a tough time in my life even tougher.

Once I finished chemotherapy and stopped estrogen blockers, my menopause side effects subsided. I wasn’t surprised when my period returned in August 2011. However, when my cycle resumed, it was quarterly, not monthly. I wasn’t in full menopause anymore, but I wasn’t back to normal either. I called it, “The Pause.”

Something inside my body finally decided to press the “Play” button, though. I'm pausing no more. My 30-day cycle returned. Menopause is over, although the doctors believe that given my age and chemotherapy, my eggs are no longer viable. I'm hoping that the next time I experience menopause will just be in the words of Dr. Cobleigh, "a fender bender."

What are my tips for female breast cancer patients under the age of 45 who might have to worry about early menopause?

1. Talk to your doctor, nurse or case manager before you start treatment about the possibility of medical menopause. What should you watch out for? What's the protocol if you start hemorrhaging? Will you need to take an estrogen-blocking medication after chemo that could prolong or induce menopause?

2. Think about the long term before you deal with the day-to-day of treatment. Do you want to have biological children? If so, should you meet with a fertility specialist to discuss freezing your eggs before you begin chemotherapy? Err on the side of keeping all of your options open.

3. Be informed! Read as much as you can from reliable medical sources, check out nonprofits such as Fertile Action, and talk to survivors who have been through it before.

4. Make healthy choices for your body. Approximately ¾ of breast cancers feed on estrogen. Many toiletries, including lubricants and vaginal moisturizers, contain parabens, which weakly mimic the action of estrogen in a woman’s body. Select products that are paraben-free.

Did you know that chemotherapy could cause medical menopause? If you are a patient or survivor, what was your experience?

Absence makes the heart grow…

Let’s start the week off with a reader’s relationship question.

Question: My boyfriend and I were living in the same city for five months before he left….. 1200 miles away. I knew he would be leaving before we started dating, but we are pretty much perfect for each other. We decided to stay together while he was gone because we are very happy together. I figured I would get used to him being gone, and that it would get easier with time, especially since we already have a trip planned together coming up. But, I'm a worrier, a dweller, an all-around anxiety driven person. It has been almost two months, and I still cry quite frequently. I am miserable without being with him. We text every day, and talk on Skype sometimes. But Skyping and seeing him almost makes me sadder. I just want to be with him physically so badly. The only thing worse than us not being together right now would never being together again, the reason why I don't end things.

I'm just wondering if it ever gets any better? How can I figure out a way to stop being jealous of all the couples together around me? How can I find my happy place within this relationship so that I can stop crying to him? I'm not sure if I'll ever be happy doing the long distance thing. I'm scared of what it will do to our relationship! Thanks!

Answer: I’m sorry that the distance between you and your boyfriend has been so difficult for you to deal with. Long-distance relationships aren’t for everyone, but it sounds as though you and your boyfriend are doing your best to make things work.

A few questions or approaches that you might wish to consider are:

1. Face your fears. What are you scared of? The physical distance leading to emotional distance? The possibility that he might cheat on you? The chance that your emotions might scare him off?

Has he given you any indication that this arrangement isn’t working for him? Has someone cheated on you in a similar situation in the past? Have your emotions gotten the best of you (we’ve all been there in one form or another) in a past relationship with negative repercussions? Is this your first serious relationship? Or, is this all new for you and that’s what’s scary? It can be easier to deal with your anxieties when you can figure out what exactly they are.

2. Communicate. Talk openly with your boyfriend about your wants and needs and his wants and needs. How can both of your needs be met despite the distance? Are there small gestures or affirmations from him that would make a significant difference for you? If so, let him know!

3. Call for reinforcements. Distance is often tougher on the person who isn’t leaving. Make an effort to reach out to loved ones you have at home. Set up as many plans as you can so you're not just home alone.

If your anxiety is making it difficult to get through the day, I strongly urge you to talk to your doctor or therapist. Chronic anxiety affects approximately 20% of Americans and is nothing to be ashamed of.

4. Try something new. Take a class, volunteer, or join a yoga studio or sports team.

5. Wait and see. How soon is your trip with your boyfriend? If you can find a way to channel your emotions into the joy of seeing him, it might be worth reevaluating your relationship and the distance once you’re together. How frequently can you visit each other or travel together? Is his move permanent? Will you living in the same city in the future? If you get get to the point where you can focus on the big picture, it might make the day-to-day easier to deal with.

Please take care and let me know how it goes.

What advice would you give to this reader?

The Science of Love

I rarely write about my dating life anymore, but suffice it to say that I'm happy. Really happy.

I'm with a man who is kind, communicative and loyal. I haven't always (often?) been able to say that I'm dating a good man, but I can now. And, that's perfect for this stage in my life.

My heart races a bit when I see him, and I feel this rush when he hugs me. When we're not together, I find myself daydreaming a lot and having trouble concentrating.

One of my Sexuality and Social Media students, Gabrielle, might tell me that it's the dopamine talking. For her class research project, Gabrielle is:

Comparing and contrasting the chemical processes that occur within the human body during online dating and face-to-face relationships.  There is a rise in the chemical Oxytocin when social media users meet a love interest online as well as during a physical relationship.  However, Pheromones are chemicals physically given off by the body and spark attraction within a romantic partner.  Does dating through social media hinder the chemical processes of love or have our brains adapted to this modern way of life?

This post that Gabrielle wrote about the chemistry of love had me thinking about my own life:

Dopamine is first released (Newman 9).  It is what makes a person want to spend more time with his or her love interest and gives them the initial “butterflies” (9).  This neurotransmitter is also released when someone drinks or does drugs like caffeine, cocaine and crystal methamphetamine (Tomlinson).  The chemical process of love actually induces addictive like behavior, “which explains the feeling of being addicted to your partner” (Newman, 9).  A dopamine release also increases a person’s heart rate and energy, as well as restlessness (Tomlinson).

Dopamine is also the high a person feels when she or he takes a risk like skydiving or snowboarding down a half-pipe (Park).  The unknown of a new relationship also has the same effect within the brain and this is why he or she often feels so exciting.  The high in a relationship caused by dopamine may diminish over time (2).  This can be caused by parenting and couples often find it difficult to hold on to romance (Blum, 3).  All is not lost however.  Dopamine has been shown to return and add a new spark to a long term relationship (3).  Dopamine also comes back to influence attraction for people who have lost a partner, “Among the couples that Fisher is studying are newly met partners in nursing homes, people in their 70s and 80s, whose infatuation is just as intense as that shared by 20-year-old lovers” (3).

Years ago, one of my friends claimed that the best feeling in the world is falling in love.

Maybe she's right. Or, is it just the dopamine talking again? Read more about the chemical processes of love here.

What do you think about the science behind attraction and love?

Online Dating and Deception

I've tried online dating at various times over the years with limited success. I must admit, though, that I haven't been 100% honest on my profiles.

When I last had an online dating profile in 2008, my post-concussion syndrome symptoms were at their worst. (Back then, a high-pitched ring tone or whistling could cause me to vomit. I wish I was exaggerating on that one.) I didn't disclose details about that or any of my other health conditions. I figured that if I met someone with whom I had a strong connection, I would tell him about my health — or he would see how I was affected — soon enough.

Quite a few of my ex-boyfriends have lied on their online dating profiles, including the following:

"Buckeyes" Boy changed his race on Match with the seasons, even stating at one point that he's Latino. And, he still maintains that he played football in college.

According to his profile, Philly Matt had completed some college. Umm…that's news to me.

Military Attorney Boy clicked that he was either "Separated" or "Divorced" on his profiles. I later learned that his children were unaware that he and their mom weren't together anymore. (They thought their dad had to work out-of-town for a year.)

This topic has been on my mind, after reading the blog of Eleni Bakst, one of my students in my Sexuality and Social Media class. In her post regarding "Recreating Yourself," Eleni writes:

A potential downside of online dating is the possibility of misrepresentations in personal profiles. Recent survey research showed that “86% of online dating participants felt others misrepresented their physical appearance” (Hancock, Toma, and Ellison, 2007). Everyone tries to make the best first impressions, occasionally lying to make themselves look better, more fun, or more interesting. When creating an online profile there is an even greater temptation to be deceptive because daters know that everything they are writing is being “scrutinized by potential mates” (449).

Online daters can “engage in selective self-presentations—a more mindful and strategic version of face-to-face self-presentation. More specifically, asynchronicity ensures the relaxation of time constraints between profile creation and actual interaction with potential dates, such that users have more time to carefully formulate their self-presentation. ” (450). In addition, when online daters notice that something in their self-presentation attracts the wrong daters, they are able to go back and edit their profile, putting them at a great advantage when compared to “normal daters” (450). Online daters have the ability to create, edit, and re-edit the version of themselves that they feel most confident and happy about.

There are also certain factors that discourage deception on online dating profiles. When it comes to who lies about what, the answer lies all in attraction. Research has shown that men and women look for different features in potential mates. Generally, “men look for youth and physical attractiveness in their partners, whereas women look for ability to provide and indicators of social status, such as education and career” (450). Therefore, women are more deceptive regarding their physical characteristics and age while men are more likely to be deceptive about their social status or height (which is often associated with power and status).

In a study performed on New York City online daters using, Yahoo Personals, American Singles and Webdate, researchers witnessed that 81% of the participants lied on at least one of the variables assessed (452). The most frequently lied about variable was weight, then height, and then age (452).

While it may be particularly tempting to be deceptive when creating an online profile, it’s important to always be honest and open from the beginning. Find a person who wants you for who you really are, not for what they want you to be.

Wise words, Eleni! Her project will look at the following:

Do online dating sites really have the potential to create and maintain long-term meaningful relationships?

I can't wait to read more of her findings, including her transcripts from interviews with people who have tried online dating — successfully and unsuccessfully.

Okay, it's time to 'fess up. Have you ever lied on an online dating profile, and if so, what about?

Third-Generation Birth Control

Have you heard of third-generation birth control?

The patch and the NuVa Ring fall into this category, while the Yaz family of birth control pills are classified as fourth-generation birth control.

I first learned of these terms, while reading an article that one of my students, Kelcie Pegher, wrote for a Colorado newspaper. The article is entitled, "When Being Safe Is Unsafe" and illuminated me as to some of the risks of these birth control methods.

Read more to find out about Kelcie Pegher's findings after her boss handed her the tragic obituary of a 24-year-old female.

For her final project in my class, Kelcie is exploring the following topic:

Generation Y is less prepared in communicating successfully in a romantic way with the opposite sex because their technological advances limit them. We live in a world with Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, talking on the phone and of course, real life. With my experiences and friends I find most people of my generation are uncomfortable with the basic idea of speaking with someone on the phone or when to friend someone they are interested in.

I would like to explore this by conducting interviews about the appropriate time and ways to talk to someone with romantic entanglements. I would also like to search articles and blog posts about the ways social media is changing our generation. I’m interested in this topic because I feel as though we’re emotionally stunting ourselves by having so much technology at our fingertips. I hope you’ll join me in my exploration and I will post my findings and research here.

Throughout the next two months, I'll be highlighting at least one post from each of my Sexuality and Social Media students' blogs. Given the limited amount of research on the intersection between the fields of new media and sexuality, my students are exploring cutting-edge topics, including:

  • The appeal of online dating;
  • Safe online spaces for queer youth;
  • Internet safety and dating violence;
  • Online sex education; and
  • How females are portrayed by the music industry.

I hope you'll find a topic that interests you. xoxo

Giveaway – Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Want to win a copy of Victoria Levine's new book, "Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?"

This book will take you on a journey into the truth about deception, guiding you to an awareness that helps you cut through and understand the patterns of manipulation in dating and in life. Men and women of all ages will benefit by reading this book. It explains and points out how people without integrity, who have hidden agendas, will go to any extreme to achieve their desired result. 

About the Author:

Victoria Levine is an author, poet, artist and mother of three. Victoria has been an inspirational speaker throughout her life in all that she has done and experienced within mothering, teaching, business and as a giver of guidance to others in all aspects of life. Victoria Levine’s artwork and blog can be seen at


As a country music singer, I am utilizing Victoria Levine’s expertise in every day life of the entertainment world. Reading about the different player types has helped me to see the manipulation of the different personalites of business opportunists who use the entertainment arena as their playfield. ~ Becca Hennesy, age 35

Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing showed me how to see the way boys would try to manipulate me.  ~ Darian Levine, age 15

This book has helped me to see what I do not want and now I am able to focus on what I do want and bring it to fruition. ~ Carolyn Cricca, age 48

Giveaway Rules:

One lucky reader will win a copy of Wolf in Sheep's Clothing in hard copy or e-book. Hard copies can only be shipped to residents in the United States. Comment to enter for a chance to win the book with your answer to the following question:

Which ex-boyfriend was the biggest wolf in sheep's clothing in City Girl's past and why?

Answers are subjective, and I've dated several wolves so all entries with a valid name and reason will be accepted. The winner will be chosen randomly on Saturday, February 18th at noon EST. Good luck!

* Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, no compensation was received in exchange for this post or giveaway.