Is Honesty Always The Best Policy?

Let’s tackle a reader’s question from Formspring!

Question: I have a best friend, Jenn, that’s been dating her boyfriend, Joe, for about six years. He’s in jail. It’s been one year, and Jenn has been waiting for him. She moved in with Joe’s parents. She told me a month ago that she slept with another guy. Jenn asked me what should she do — help!

Answer: Thanks for your question. This is definitely a tricky situation. I’m typically of the mindset that honesty is the best policy, even if negative repercussions ensue as a result of being honest. I’m also a huge advocate of open communication since that’s a key component to a healthy relationship.

I find myself wondering, though, if there’s a prison exception to these ideals. Joe is in jail, and that experience will have an enormous impact on his sexuality, his self-esteem and his relationship with Jenn. You didn’t mention how long Joe will be in prison so there’s also the issue of the growing emotional and physical distance between them

It sounds like Jenn needs a listening ear and support at this time. When Joe is released from prison, Jenn and Joe can figure out what the future holds for them and their relationship. I’m not one to advise lying by omission, but it might make sense for Jenn to wait and see what happens before adding further stress to an already difficult situation.

There’s a separate issue here relating to how friends interact with each other. If you feel strongly about whether or not Jenn should tell Joe what happened or stay with him in the long run, you need to broach those topics delicately. Let her know that you love her, appreciate what a tough situation this is, and will support her no matter what decision she makes. If you believe she should tell Joe or not wait for him to get out of prison, don’t phrase those things directly or bluntly. Express your concerns to her and indicate why you’re worried. Remind her that you’re telling her this as an over-protective friend, but that you will continue to stand by her as you always have.

The reason that I’m emphasizing what you say and how you say it is because friendships can be irreparably damaged when people are too direct with their thoughts about partners, parents or children. It's also rare that tough love between friends will change someone's actions. Jenn needs to make her own decisions and mistakes, as she takes comfort in knowing that friends like you will have her back.

Good luck to Jenn, Joe and you! Please keep me posted.

So, readers, did I miss anything? What boundaries do you set in terms of what advice you give your friends?

Book Giveaway – What Every Woman Wishes

It's Friday! Time for a giveaway!

Valentine's Day will be here in less than a month. If ever there were a time for men to learn more about what women want, this is it! Make Valentine's Day a day neither of you will ever forget with this reveal of what women actually want – yes, even the secrets women usually won't give up.


#1: We don't want to hold his underwear.

Inspired by her years of experience as a straightforward woman with predominantly male friends, Sylvia D. Lucas' What Every Woman Wishes Modern Men Knew About Women – whose message at its core is "We actually very much love men" – is a girl talking to a guy from her bar stool to his. No trickery, no cunning, no game playing – this is the dirt on women men wish they'd known for years (or that they'd always suspected was true – and now it's confirmed!).

Here's what men think they know:

They know the experts say men should do domestic things to turn a woman on. But why? Why do women like it? It's not for the break they get from doing it themselves.

Women like roses…(Wait. Or do they?)

Women like jewelry, ANY jewelry, as long as it sparkles. And as long as it's from him, she'll love it. (Wrong. So wrong.)

Women sometimes issue marriage ultimatums, and men would be wise to respect them. 1. What's behind that ultimatum, and is it really an ultimatum? 2. It's fine for a man to respect it (once he knows what it is), but caving to it? Stop!

Sometimes men wonder why they have no idea what a woman is thinking, why she acts like she's not interested but keeps saying "yes" when he asks her out. What the hell?

Humorous, conversational, and brutally frank, What Every Woman Wishes Modern Men Knew About Women addresses all of the above (and more) from a refreshingly honest and modern perspective.

Said one married (female) beta reader who is incredibly private and would rather remain anonymous, "This book seems like it's MORE than just 'what every man should know about women'….it's more about the modern-day woman, the independent, 'we don't need you for things, we need you for companionship and we want you to understand we are just like you' woman. It started some good conversations between me and my husband because he sometimes has a hard time figuring out what type I am. This helped me to explain to him what I want, need, or expect as a woman."


"It is my opinion that this is perhaps one of the best books on this particular topic I have read. And I have read my fair share of relationship books. But unlike previous books I’ve read, which I found to be rather limiting in their messages, I found What Every Woman Wishes… to be more down to earth and realistic in its presentation. Sylvia D. Lucas is witty, clever, intelligent and logical as she makes many good points on topics ranging from marriage to myths surrounding gifts. This is a book I would highly recommend to all men – married, dating and single. It is that good (and important of a topic). I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Also, as a [recovering] germaphobe, the underwear story really freaked me out." – Joe Glasgow

"I read it in one sitting, straight through. Loved it! Talked my boyfriend's ear off about it for half a day so that he just smiled and nodded after a while. After reading WEWWMDNAW, I felt like I had just hung out with a girlfriend and shared our views on relationships between men and women. Quick, light read that delivers a valuable message." – review (4/5 stars)

About the Author

Sylvia D. Lucas is a former journalist and an award-winning writer with a passion for stomping stereotypes, promoting empathy, and wading through the BS to get to the truth.

Giveaway Rules

One lucky winner will receive a hard copy or e-version of What Every Woman Wishes Modern Men Knew About Women. Hard copies cannot be shipped outside of the US. The giveaway will run until noon EST on Friday, February 3, 2012. To enter, just comment with what you wish the modern man knew, what you're glad your modern man knows, or what you as a modern man know or want to know.

Good luck!

* Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, this post was provided by the author without compensation to City Girl Blogs in exchange for the issuance of one book to a winner chosen randomly.

Want to Date More in 2012?

Interested in dating more in 2012?

Here are my top five tips, as shared earlier this month on The Tommy Show on 94.7 Fresh FM:

1. Don't feel embarrassed about letting someone know that you might be interested in him or her. Send an email to an intriguing online prospect, say hello to that cute guy at the gym, or ask the girl with the beautiful smile if you can sit down next to her at the coffee shop.

2. Ask friends you trust to introduce you to their single friends. Do something in a group so there's not the added pressure of a blind date.

3. What do you enjoy doing or what have you wanted to try? It's easier to meet people when you're involved in an activity (at the gym, taking a class, volunteering, etc.).

4. Use online social networking to improve your offline social life. Set up an online dating account or revise a current profile. Sign up for speed dating, Professionals in the City or The Grace List and attend an event for singles. Go to your first Tweetup or Yelp event. Pick one thing that sounds fun to you and do it! You might meet a future friend, partner or business contact! If you find yourself nervous, seek out a friend to help you set up or edit your online profile or accompany you to an event.

5. Put a positive spin on the act of dating. In a city like DC, you meet and start up conversations with new people all the time. Talking to a potential date is no different! Just be yourself and be confident about who you are and what you have to offer now.

What tips do you have for those who want to date more in 2012?

For those of you who aren’t in metropolitan areas, how have you met new people?

2011 Wrap-Up

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, 2011 was the best of times and the worst of times for me.

Lessons I wish that I didn’t have to learn this past year:

  • That chemotherapy, the accompanying medications and low blood counts cause you to forget a lot of things that happened during treatment
  • That two people I considered close friends would belittle my cancer and judge how I handled it
  • That the hardest part of treatment is when it’s over because you don’t suddenly feel better – inside or out
  • That during menopause you: 1) are hot all the time; 2) can’t sleep well; 3) can’t get wet, even when you’re turned on; and 4) are moody and irritable
  • That Philly Matt not only didn’t have my back when the chips were down, but wasn’t an authentic friend or boyfriend
  • That not all charities and advocates are truly about the cause
  • That there was an expiration date to realizing that Best Boy was right about the fact that we'd be a good couple
  • That I have a long way to go before I look in the mirror and like what I see post-cancer
  • That the side effects from hormonal therapy for breast cancer can outweigh the benefits of taking the medication in the first place
  • That hearing about how great my short hair looks causes me to cringe because I didn't choose this
  • That far too many people have encountered the same feelings and reactions that I have during and after treatment

What I’m thankful for over the past year:

  • My amazing friends
  • Teaching, my students and my university. The joy I experience from teaching has been a huge unexpected blessing for me in 2011!
  • Not having to worry about a roof over my head, the clothes on my back, health insurance and food in my stomach
  • Best Boy and a dating life that's interesting without much drama
  • My doctors
  • My health
  • The comfort I get from my faith
  • Feeling like I’m doing just what I’m meant to do with respect to this site, my charitable endeavors and my advocacy work

Despite so many blessings, I can't wait to ring in 2012. I wish that I didn't learn so many hard lessons this year, but I know that in the long run, I'll look back on this year as one of huge personal and professional growth. For now, though, I can't wait for 2011 to be over, and I'm praying for a peaceful and healthy 2012.

I hope that you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and that 2012 brings you much for which to be thankful!!! xoxo

2011 in Haiku

Twenty Eleven
Started year in chemo haze
In my bed? Best Boy.

He said he loves me
But does that mean he’s in love?
Neither of us know.

Winter beach weekend
With close friend, ex Philly Matt
My Teddy Ruxpin!

Well, not anymore.
“Tsunami” ensues as beach.
Friendship is over.

Mr. Agency
Reappears. Then disappears.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

By April, he’s gone.
We are over now for good.
Yet become friends. Huh.

I date other guys.
But keep them all at arm’s length
Don’t feel any spark.

I let you all pick.
The choices rather lame, tho.
Drama-free dating.

Not much time for boys
(At least, new boys in my life.)
So happy. So busy.

Is heart spoken for?
Honestly? Maybe it is.
By Best Boy. For now.

No epic love tale
But we care for each other
Still makes me smile

Sometimes it does work
At other times, it doesn’t
Don't want the same things

So, I play the hand
I’m not yet ready to fold
Am I, “The Gambler?”

What will next year bring?
Hoping for more of the same
Without more cancer!

Third Blogiversary Thanks!

Today is the third anniversary of my blog.

In December of 2008, I was getting over Lawyer Boy, working on my thesis, and battling the side effects of repeated concussions. It seemed like the perfect time to finally write down my crazy dating and steamy sex stories. I blogged anonymously since I had planned to return to legal policy work. Back then, the majority of my readers were friends in real life.

In December of 2009, I recognized that I could turn heartbreak into blog gold by writing about the relationship debacle that was my time with "Buckeyes" Boy. Within six months, my readership had increased 10-fold, and I started realizing that my blog had turned into a brand. Could I write about sex and relationships and conduct workshops for a living?

In December of 2010, I had finished my fifth round of chemotherapy. I hadn't slept well in three months. I was on way too many medications, including steroids, and was in chemo-induced menopause. There wasn't much in my life at that time that was joyful, but I (somewhat thankfully) was too sick and out of it to care. I just wanted to get through treatment and wanted my life back. I did find moments of happiness when I used my experience to help educate others and when I received attention from either Mr. Agency or Best Boy.

This December, my blog is so much different than it was because I'm so much different than I was. This blog has changed me for the better. Cancer has changed me, too, and with respect to relationships, those changes are also for the better.

Have I made my share of mistakes over the past three years? Sure. But, I'm proud of myself for realizing that life provides enough drama for me all on its own. I don't need my relationships to provide anymore drama. My blog hits aren't as high as they were a year ago, and I'm 100% okay with that. My love life isn't a train wreck, and I don't make questionable choices anymore. A reader who enjoys going online to critcize others will be bored by my site now. A person who just visits this blog for entertainment purposes and doesn't want to hear about cancer or health advocacy will be similarly disillusioned.

I was talking to a group recently about my first book in the sex and relationships arena. I have enough posts to compile a book about my own dating adventures, but I don't know that I see myself going back. Do I really want to go to bookstores or college campuses and speak about my relationship mistakes or give added energy to guys who wronged me years prior? I won't say that will never happen, but it's just not my priority now.

I care about educating others. I care about talking about those topics that people don't often talk about — from anal to cancer to first orgasms to prioritizing our health to spicing up a stale relationship. I care about putting a face to cancer and letting people know that it's okay to date and have sex during a health crisis.

In the next month or two, my site will be redesigned to reflect the new direction. If you're still reading now, there will be more of the same, but the site will be easier to navigate. I'll also be linking my name to my brand more since I'm no longer anonymous. Stef Woods and City Girl Blogs are now one and the same.

For those of you who have read my blog faithfully, I thank you for standing by me after the train wreck has been cleaned up. I'm appreciative that so many of you out in the blogosphere have become my friends. You stuck by me through the highs and lows, and for that, I'll always be grateful. A special shout-out to Abby, Erika, Intrigue Me, Jean, Jo, Kat, Simone and Teacher Girl. I look forward to thanking you all in person some day soon!

With much appreciation from the bottom of my heart, a huge virtual hug, and best wishes for the happiest of holidays,


Giveaway — Life’s Too Short to Date Men Like Me

A Hilarious Guide to Avoiding Jerks and Attracting Decent Men!

Every woman has either dated a jerk, or knows a friend that has dated one. But avoiding the jerks and attracting a decent man is actually a lot easier than you think.

Forget watching reruns of Sex and the City or chatting with your girlfriends late at night. In this guidebook, a self-professed jerk comes straight out, speaks the truth, and systematically explains how to

• spot, avoid, and say goodbye to jerks;

• tell if a guy is wasting your time;

• deal with players

• hunt for good men (and where to hunt for them).

You’ll also learn how to avoid common mistakes, such as overrating initial chemistry, inadvertently hurting a man’s ego, losing a good guy’s interest and much more. Full of witty satire and sarcasm. Get ready to laugh out loud with this hilarious anti-game.

What people had to say about this book:

“Hey Willie, this is so entertaining! Ha ha you have a great sense of humor, and your statements are so true!” – Denise

“We all know no one likes a tattletale. Hate the game, not the player. Every girl Tiger slept with knew he was married. Who is worse?” – Steve the player

“That was such an enjoyable and enlightening read. I mean it’s well written, witty, and one would think some of it is common sense, but sometimes people (i.e. me!) need common sense to slap them in the face!” – Cheryl

“Willie whistle blower has a nice ring to it. You know someone’s going to kick your butt one day? Good work!” – A guy Willie no longer parties with

“I don’t understand you. You go through university, build a promising career. Now you quit your job and write this book? Why would you tell the whole world you’re an asshole?” – Willie’s mom

About the author: Willie Booker grew up in England and Hong Kong. He graduated from the University of Nottingham with a degree in psychology, and went on to work in the finance industry. He is now a full time writer and dating coach, and will soon be launching a new dating and match making company targeting young professionals and businesspeople.

Purchase the book on Amazon here.


When Willie Booker, the author of "Life's Too Short to Date Men Like Me," contacted me to offer a book giveaway for my readers, I had to say, "Yes!" The synopsis and cover had me nodding my head and laughing out loud. Any good reader knows that I was the Queen of dating guys like Willie. (Wait a minute….he and both lived in Hong Kong. Maybe I have dated him ;)?)

One lucky winner will be chosen randomly to receive a copy of the book. Comment between now and Saturday, December 17th at noon to enter.

You must include the word, "Willie," in your comment. Why? I just like the author's name and the word's alternate meaning.

Good luck! xoxo

* Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, one reader will receive this book free of charge. I have not receive any payment or compensation for this post.


The Rules of Juggling

“Do you tell all the guys you see that you're dating around, or is it just assumed that everyone does it? If someone is seeing you exclusively, do you ever feel bad about not reciprocating? I'm trying to figure my own stuff out, so I'm comparing notes.”

When I received that question in my Formspring inbox, I smiled to myself. I can wax poetic about anal sex, what to do if you’ve found a lump in your breast, or what constitutes a body-friendly sex toy. But, when it comes to juggling more than one guy, I wouldn’t regard myself as an expert in that arena by any stretch of the imagination. In this regard, I have tried, but I have rarely succeeded.

I have tried to operate under a certain code of norms when I’m dating more than one person:

1. Be honest without being forthcoming. I don’t lie when asked about others I might be dating or having sex with, but I don’t offer up information about my dating life voluntarily;

2. Steer away from comparisons. If you’re dating two guys, there will always be one guy with whom you have more in common, one guy with whom there is more passion, one guy who you see more regularly, etc. I don’t compare one guy to the other, but rather, I accept each guy for what he brings to my life;

3. Respect the parameters of the relationship. If I say I’m sexually exclusive, I am. If I’m in a committed relationship, I am. If I’m not allowed to date or kiss other people, I don’t. Period; and

4. Safety first. If I’m not in a sexually monogamous relationship, I need to be using condoms. That need increases exponentially with each partner.

I do think there are a few other variables to dating more than one person:

1. If you’re not in an exclusive relationship, it is assumed that you’re dating other people. However, a double standard still exists. It is more socially acceptable for a guy to be sleeping with more than one person than a woman. I wish that wasn’t the case, but past partners have gotten upset with me when I was engaging in the exact same behavior as they were.

2. If one person wants more from the other person, then he or she should initiate that conversation sooner, rather than later. Dating more than one person can get even more complicated when one party is content with that arrangement in the long term, and the other is looking for a serious and exclusive relationship. Are you and the guys that you’re dating on the same page in terms of what you’re doing in the present and what you’re looking for in the future? If not, that could be a problem regardless of how many people you're dating.

3. Are all parties involved being honest with each other? There needs to be a certain level of trust, communication and respect here. If you decide to be sexually exclusive with one man, is he respecting that arrangement, too? If you both are dating other people, are you both equally as concerned about safe sex? If you think something feels off with your arrangement, trust your instinct.

4. Emotions can often trump rational thought. My polyamorous friends are able to be in serious relationships with a long-term partner, while dating others. They’re honest and open about their wants and needs, and they don’t get jealous when their partners go out with others. In fact, it’s encouraged and supported! I admire how they can approach their relationships in such a levelheaded manner, although I know that I wouldn't be comfortable with that type of arrangement.

So, what advice do you have for the reader who asked the question? Are there rules or norms that apply that you don’t think I covered?

The Anal-Loving Joneses

You don’t do anal sex?!? All the girls do it now.

— Statement made to a recently divorced woman from a guy she had started dating

When a friend of that woman relayed that comment to me, I rolled my eyes and shook my head.

Me: I hope she responded that ‘All guys aren’t going down on women for less than two hours at a time these days.’

My friend and I laughed, as we speculated as to why a guy would say that to a woman.

Male Friend: He’s just trying to test her boundaries.

Me: He’s trying to prey on her insecurities since she hasn’t dated in a while. It reminds me of those guys in college who would try to pressure a girl into bringing another woman into the bedroom by saying that all girls secretly fantasize about being with another woman.

Male Friend: What’s your website again? I need to send her your way. [I smile and pass him my card.]

There are certain dating rules – spoken and unspoken – that come to mind with this situation:

1. A woman never has to do anything that she doesn’t want to;

2. A woman never has to do anything that she doesn’t want to. (It’s like Fight Club. Some rules bear repeating);

3. There are quite a few guys who are just trying to get a woman into bed. (Does that apply to all men? Of course not. But, there are enough guys of this mindset that it’s worth mentioning);

4. Some guys will try to test women’s boundaries sexually and with respect to dating etiquette. (If a guy can just go over to have sex with a woman without taking her out on dates or giving her advance notice, he will do that);

5. Some women are okay with just having casual sex with men, but that’s not the norm for the majority of females; and

6. Some people are interested in trying anal sex and some aren’t. Some people love it, and some don’t. For those who are interested in trying it out, trust and communication are integral to the safety and pleasure of the act. Click here for my Anal 101 post.

No one – male or female – should engage in any sexual activity because others are doing so. That applies to freshman in college who are wondering if they are the only virgins on campus. (They aren’t.) That applies to a guy who wants to wait to have sex until he gets to know a girl, despite the fact that his buddies are all saying he should ‘seal the deal.’ (He shouldn’t, until he and the girl are ready.) And, that applies to anyone who is getting back into the dating scene and isn’t sure what he or she feels comfortable doing. If you aren't 100% sure about moving forward physically or emotionally, then you shouldn't do so. If a person won’t wait for you, then he or she isn’t the right fit as a sexual or long-term partner.

For the woman who received the comment that instigated this post:

A 2010 survey of 5,200+ people ages 14 to 70 found that 32% of women have had anal sex and 31.8% of heterosexual men have had anal sex during their lifetime. If you need more statistics, additional information is available here.

Your date is wrong on so many levels, and he was disrespectful to make you feel like you had to keep up with the Anal-Loving Joneses. If you continue to date him, make sure that he’s treating you well and not pressuring you in any way.

So, readers, did I miss anything? What are your thoughts on this issue?

Giveaway: Does He Cheat?

I'm not one who spends time pontificating over whether or not a guy is a cheater. I try to believe the best in people — men and women — and assume that people are being honest with me until I find evidence to the contrary. If that makes me naive at times, then I accept that. Disingenuous people will eventually show their true colors, and I'm rarely one to waste time and energy on a "What if?" I also view cheating as a symptom and not the problem itself.

Nonetheless, I do appreciate that many women are fascinated by the male mind. When the publicist for the authors of Does He Cheat? approached me about a giveaway for my readers, I said, "Sure!" (I'm never going to turn down free stuff for you all!)

Self-proclaimed Recovering Cheater™ Sterling Anderson and writing partner Stephanie Dart have collected and dissected 50 cheating men for the eye-opening book “Does He Cheat? Confessions from Men: 50 Signs Your Partner May Be Cheating.”  Written from the male perspective, the book is crammed with numerous ways cheaters manipulate and deceive their naive partners. To help empower women in their relationships, “Does He Cheat?” provides readers with firm recommendations to counteract against a cheater’s game.

Five signs your partner may be cheating, from the Does He Cheat? book:

 #3     A Make-over: “When I met a younger woman, I had to drop 10 lbs and 10 years.”

ADVICE TO YOU: Start looking younger and better yourself: dye your hair, hit the gym, take scuba diving classes. Get young and happy yourself. If he doesn't like the new, better you, someone else will.

#27    No Sex: “I don’t want sex” means, “I don’t want sex with you.”

ADVICE TO YOU: If sex stops, start it up again.  When you don't use it, you lose it—or him.

#45    Thai, Swedish, Japanese Massages: “Any action from a pro, like a rub-and-tug, isn’t cheating.”

ADVICE TO YOU: Find a masseuse for the both of you. There are many legitimate, professional massage therapists that will even come to your house.

#41   Online Dating: "Who doesn’t like fishing in a barrel full of fish?”

ADVICE TO YOU: If you are now involved with a man you met online, ask him if he has canceled his subscription. If unconvinced, check around other dating sites. Most of these men are too lazy to change their user names.

So, readers, what signs have you noticed that are good indicators about whether a man or a woman is cheating?

If you'd like to win a copy of Does He Cheat? (in hard copy or Kindle version), include the words, "I'd like to win a copy," in your comment.

All entries must be received on this blog or Facebook by 11:00pm on Tuesday, November 8th. Thanks!