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?

Relationships and Social Media

The growth of social media has expanded the definition of what constitutes cheating and provided new mediums for initiating and maintaining an affair. Internet infidelity, emotional affairs and inappropriate sexting with an ex weren’t an issue before the advent of laptops and smart phones. Navigating a relationship in the age of social media can thus seem trickier than climbing Mount Everest. There’s no guidebook or set path to follow.

What are five tips for avoiding some of the relationship pitfalls and dealing with what really matters in the age of social media?

1. Ground Rules: At a certain point in a relationship, patterns develop and rules are discussed. You know how often you’ll be seeing the person. You know who typically will be paying for a meal, doing most of the driving when you go out of town or picking up a bottle of wine for a dinner party. Once you move in with a person, there will be additional rules established for housework, bills and home maintenance.

Set ground rules for using social media. What photos do you feel comfortable sharing online? What accounts, information and pictures can be public? Can you be friends with people that you used to date? Does relationship status on Facebook matter to you? Could sharing too much about your relationship have negative professional ramifications or make you feel awkward around your family?

2. Established Norms: There are some rules that shouldn’t need to be discussed. However, it’s best to address everything before to avoid a potential fight later. Relationship issues or problems should not be discussed on any social network. There is absolutely no need for your friends, family and co-workers to know about your relationship problems. Period.

For those of you who blog, the same rules apply. Your significant other shouldn't be finding out your thoughts about the relationship for the first time by reading a post.

3. Friendships with Exes: As a general rule of thumb, it’s worth remembering that women traditionally care about any other woman that their significant other loved. Men, by contrast, care about any other man with whom their significant other had sex. That's important with respect to online communication since a huge benefit of social media is reconnecting with old friends. When those friends are exes, that’s not always a good thing for your current relationship.

Discuss this openly and make sure that you both are on the same page. One person in the couple may have more of a problem with friendships with exes online and off, and a compromise will be in order. You might need to weigh the costs of liking an ex’s status updates and photos against your current partner’s contentment. That should be an easy choice, but if there’s a reason why you want to stay in touch with a particular ex, communicate those reasons with your significant other.

4. Public Accounts: A healthy relationship requires trust, honesty and communication. Keep your accounts public to ensure that you think before you friend, follow, Tweet or comment. Don’t say anything via text, Gchat or email that you would have a problem with your partner seeing. It’s a slippery slope if you start to communicate with a member of the opposite sex in a secretive way. In this day and age, you don’t need to meet someone for a drink or have sex with another person for your significant other to feel as though you have been cheating.

5. Break Ups: For those of you who are over the age of 21, I would also address the fact that social media should not be used to end a relationship. (Breaking up via social media is tacky at any age, but there’s no excuse for it after college.) If you’re in an adult relationship, an in-person break up is warranted since there are emotions involved and possible logistics to discuss.

Communicating with your significant other offline is the key to successful online relationships.

What would you add to this list? How have you and your partner navigated social media pitfalls?

Giveaway – Hands on Sexy Feet

It's time for a Friday Giveaway, and this is a great one!

Are you familiar with reflexology?

Reflexology is an ancient healing art of stimulating the feet that reduces stress and improves your physical well-being. Experts estimate that 80-90% of disease is stress related, and massage combats this stress by helping us relax. In each foot there are over 7,000 nerve endings – called reflexes – which correspond to every organ and system within your body. Simply pressing on those reflex points can elicit a response from the nervous system that helps to soothe and balance the entire body.

I've been a fan of reflexology since high school, when my mom began receiving treatments at a holistic health center. We had a book about reflexology at home and began giving our own foot massages with the goal of stimulating the correct pressure points.

I wish that wellness expert Michelle Ebbin's books had been available back then, but we're lucky that we can rely on her expertise now!

“My goal is to teach people about the benefits of massage therapy and how to incorporate it into your lifestyle for optimal health, enhanced relationships and overall well-being.” ~ Michelle Ebbin

Michelle is passionate about the healing benefits of touch. She founded Basic Knead in 1994 with the goal of creating unique massage products that everyone can use to bring the healing power of touch into their daily life. A graduate of Columbia University and the Institute of Psycho-Structural Balancing (I.P.S.B.) in Los Angeles, Michelle has authored best-selling books and created award-winning DVDs and massage products.

A few highlights from Michelle Ebbin's illustrious career include:

• #1 best-selling author on books about Reflexology & Baby Massage including:

– Hands on Sexy Feet
– Hands on Feet
– Hands on Baby Massage
– The Little Book of Reflexology

• Featured expert & host in the #1 massage DVD series in the World (Gaiam/Living Arts)

• Featured massage expert for

• Featured on Live with Regis and Kelly and The View and in Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire

• Partner in the development of a new touch therapy program for cancer patients with City of Hope, one of the leading NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the world

• Spokesperson for The Naturalizer brand shoe company’s N5 Comfort Shoe and their Wellness from the Ground Up campaign

Follow Michelle on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about her.

Michelle has generously offered to give one lucky reader a copy of her best-selling book about reflexology, Hands on Sexy Feet, with the Sexy Love Sox!

What's the book about?

The book is the follow-up to the bestselling Hands on Feet. This new book-plus package from Michelle K. Ebbin teaches you how to use reflexology to stimulate the body’s erogenous zones to improve sexual intimacy and performance, in addition to overall health and well-being. With the included pair of unisex, one-size-fits-all Sexy Love Sox™, descriptive graphics on the sole of each sock show exactly where to press to relax your partner and turn him or her on. The user-friendly book includes simple techniques and helpful information about reflexology, how it works, and how it can be used to boost your libido and naturally improve your sex life.

With the unique map of the body on the bottom of each sock, easy-to-follow instructions, and line illustrations throughout, Hands on Sexy Feet makes the benefits of sensual reflexology accessible to everyone—and a lot of fun to use.

Want to win a copy of Michelle Ebbin's book and the Love Sox? One winner will be chosen randomly on Friday, March 2, 2012 at noon EST. To enter, you must be a US resident and comment below with the words, "Hands on Sexy Feet!"  Good luck! xoxo

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

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.

Giveaway – The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love

Book Giveaway Time!

Would you like to kick off the year reading The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Love, a new novel about modern love, sex and relationships set amidst Manhattan’s Madison Avenue? The book has been described as "Sex and the City" meets "Mad Men."


When Max Hallyday, a rising New York adman, joins a glitzy Midtown agency, he knows the game is winner-takes-all. But when his best friend, Roger, a serial womanizer, seduces Max's billionaire client and puts his career in jeopardy, Max strikes back. He pens a column exposing the "Rogers" prowling the city: The Guys' Guy's Guide to Love. Championed by magazine publisher and former flame, Cassidy Goodson, Max becomes famous… or is it notorious? With the women of New York clamoring for more, sparks begin to fly with Cassidy. Can Max survive his instant celebrity and cutthroat rivals to discover where his heart really belongs? The Guys' Guy's Guide to Love is a fast-paced take of flawed men and savvy women competing for love, sex, power, and money in the city where they play for keeps.



About the Author:

Robert Manni is President of Agent 16 advertising agency in midtown Manhattan. For the past two decades, he has watched, played, and succeeded in Madison Avenue's relentlessly changing game. A true devotee of New York City, Robert is inspired by and remains in awe of its people, energy, attitude, and romantic backdrop. He is a world traveler, Reiki Master and teacher, certified advanced clinical Master Hypnotist, graduate of the Jose Silva Method/Life System, NYC Marathoner, and a bona fide "Guy's Guy" who somehow survived twenty years of single life in the big city. The Guys' Guy's Guide to Love is Robert's debut novel. He is currently working on his second book.


“Robert Manni has a message for his fellow men. You’ve got some catching up to do…His words of wisdom on that subject are woven throughout his first novel, ‘The Guys’ Guy’s Guide To Love’, which follows the lives of two New York men representing…the angel and the devil on every guy’s shoulder.” ~ The New York Post

“Prepare to man up and hunker down for this exuberant guided tour of the male sexual psyche.” ~ Ian Kerner, NY Times best-selling author of She Comes First and Love in the Time of Colic

If you’d like to enter for a chance to win the book, just include “The Guys’ Guy’s” in your comment. (I just like the repetition with the different, yet strategic, apostrophe placement.)

You must enter by Friday, January 13th for a chance to receive a hard copy or e-version of the book. The winner will be chosen via Good luck!

* Pursuant to FTC Guidelines, I received this book free of charge from the publisher. Giveaways do not constitute product endorsements.

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,


Facebook and Relationships

If your relationship isn’t “Facebook official,” is it real in this day and age of social media? Read on to learn about my thoughts on several different types of relationship modes on Facebook:

1. The Play-by-Play: They’re on. They’re off. Oh, wait, they’re back on. Friend this person so you can find out when they’re “in a relationship” or she’s “single” again. Tune in for the occasional status update in which all the specifics about what’s not working are shared with every friend she has! Also note related status updates in which a guy checks in with the boys at a sporting event or locations in Vegas, Miami or New York, or a female writes about how much she loves her girlfriends and that she’s in desperate need of a spa day or Girls’ Night Out!

2. The Photo Barometer: Are they on or off? They don’t include their relationship status in their Facebook profiles, but a simple glance at which profile picture they’re using should tell you all you want to know. A couple’s shot means that they’re on, but a photograph without the other person speaks a thousand words.

3. Peeing on the Wall: You didn’t even know that those two people knew each other, and yet, he’s writing on her wall, checking in at places with her, and commenting on her photos as though he’s getting paid to do so! It’s like The Animal Kingdom, Facebook Edition. The man wants to mark his turf and let you know that he’s staking his claim to this woman and her…I’ll go with heart. Just click “like” to encourage this behavior.

For those of you who notice a lot of comments on your wall after only one date, view this as a bright yellow flag! If you're in a relationship and don’t write on your girlfriend’s wall, while she writes a lot on yours, realize that she still feels the need to proclaim that you’re her man.

4. The Masquerade: A couple hasn’t indicated that they’re in a relationship. The two people don’t write on each others' walls. They don’t post their own pictures of themselves, and yet, they’re tagged together in photos at every event. Are they together? Yes. Are they doing their best to keep their relationship off of social media? Yes. Tag sparingly if you’re a good friend of either party.

5. The Passive-Aggressive: He doesn’t confront his significant other about a problem directly, but he’ll start a conversation about the issue on Facebook. Parenting, money, shopping, PMS and pregnancy are often the prime topics to be highlighted. Maybe relationship therapy from the Facebook peanut gallery can help smooth things over? [Insert eye roll here.] Isn’t it easier to keep certain matters private and off relatively public forums like Facebook and blogs?

6. The Glory of Love: She can’t describe her partner in a status update without the use of a minimum of three adjectives. And, there are numerous status updates a season, espousing her undying love and appreciation for her wonderful, fabulous, amazingly sweet husband. I’m all for letting others know that you love and appreciate them. And, there's nothing wrong with the occasional loving status update or wall comment. But, unless you're in the beginning stages of a relationship, me thinks thou doth praise too much.

So, readers, what did I miss? What have you seen on Facebook with respect to relationships that's worth noting? What modes do you personally use?

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?

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!