Is there an easy way to try prostate massage as a sex booster?
Yes, and no latex gloves needed. Your partner can externally stimulate your prostate gland by massaging your perineum, the spot between your testicles and anus, says Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D., the author of Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots. “In tantra, this area is known as the ‘sacred gate’ because of the deeper, more total-body orgasm it invites. It also helps you last longer in bed.” Ready for some fun? Don’t just point at your perineum and say “Rub it.
” Start in missionary position, and then angle your body 30 degrees so your butt is tilted toward her lap and she can reach around more easily. “Have her massage the area gently with her fingers your prostate will feel like a nut—and then shift to a firmer, steadier, up-and-down or circular motion. Whatever feels best to you,” says Fulbright. If at first you feel the urge to urinate, don’t freak out—be patient and the sensation will transition from “Oh, no” to “Oh yeah!”
For many men, the idea of someone touching their prostate (you know, that walnut-sized gland between the bladder and the penis) sounds about as appealing as getting a root canal. But for other men — both straight and gay — exploring the prostate can bring new heights of sexual excitement and pleasure. It’s so pleasurable, in fact, that some sexual health experts have dubbed the prostate the “male G-spot.”
“The ‘male G-Spot’ is the prostate and it’s about two inches in the rectum toward the belly,” explains Susan Milstein, Ph.D., a sex educator and professor in the Department of Health Enhancement, Exercise Science and Physical Education at the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College in Maryland. That’s because the prostate contains a ton of nerve endings (in fact, there are almost as many nerve endings in the prostate as there are in the clitoris). “It really can open up a whole new avenue of pleasure for men if they are willing to try it,” adds Milstein.
In fact, while many men are wary of anal stimulation, sales of prostate massagers (like this Aneros Vice, $140) have been on the rise in recent years. According to data from the pleasure product company HealthyAndActive, prostate massager sales have increased by 56% over the past five years, particularly among straight men over the age of 45.
Men can even have prostate orgasms without stimulation to the penis. “The orgasm from your prostate is a full body orgasm, and you feel a tingly sensation all over. This is opposed to the more isolated and direct pleasure from a regular orgasm through masturbation or penetration. In general, a prostate orgasm requires more time to warm up and more energy. But it’s totally worth it,” says Chris* (last name has been withheld for privacy reasons), a sex educator at The Pleasure Chest in Los Angeles.
In order to ensure a comfortable and safe prostate massage experience, it’s important to follow these steps.
1) Be prepared.
If you’re trying prostate massage by yourself, make sure your hands are clean. (If you’re trying it with a partner, check their digits for any hangnails.) Perhaps most importantly, “always use lube, as the anus does not self lubricate. If putting something in your rectum hurts, slow down and add more lube,” says Chris. He recommends a syringe-like applicator called a lube shooter ($6.99) if you’re uncomfortable applying lube with your fingers.
Before going in, start with a gentle external massage on your perineum, which is located between the testicles and anus.
“Take some time on your own to get to know your body. Lay on your back with your butt under a pillow, tilting your hips up for easy access. Start with massaging your perineum with your hand or fingers. Apply lube to your finger and rub your anus externally to stimulate the nerve endings,” says Chris.
3) Explore internal stimulation.
If the external massage feels good, curve your (at this point, lubed-up) finger into your rectum towards your belly button. “Two or so inches in, you should be able to feel your prostate,” says Chris.
It’s important to note that you really don’t have to go much further than that, particularly on your first try. “People think you need to shove a whole hand up there, but that’s not how it works,” says Milstein. “Insert one finger a few inches into your anus and push up toward the rear. Wiggle it around a bit, tap the inner walls, and apply different amounts of pressure to see what feels good to you.”
“You always want to buy one with a tail or a wide base that it doesn’t get lost up there. You don’t want to end up in the ‘Butt Bin’ at the ER where they keep objects found in people’s rectums,” jokes Milstein. (That said, if you’re interested, here are 5 surprisingly common penis injuries that can land you in the ER.)
Every guy’s worst fear is breaking his penis during sex. The good news is that you can’t technically break your penis, because there’s no bone in it to break. But there are a number of other penis-related injuries you can experience that are just as horrifying. While minor bruises and cuts are probably the most common injuries (as well as getting kicked in the balls), you can also fracture your penis, get a Charley horse near it, scar it, or even skin it alive.
According to the ER doctors Men’s Health consulted, these are just some of the mishaps that have landed men in the emergency room for genital-related injuries. Here are their stories — and perhaps most importantly, here’s what you can do if this happens to you.
1) Fracturing your penis.
Jesse N. Mills, MD, an associate clinical professor of urology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, says the most common penis injury he sees is a penis fracture. “That’s when a man tears the tough outer lining of his penis during sex when he bangs his erect penis into his partner’s pubic bone. It usually happens when the female is on top and thrusting down on the man’s erect penis,” he says.
Dr. Mills says penile fractures usually happens when a partner is drunk. That was the case with one of his recent patients. “They were in the throes of disinhibited, liquor-induced passion at 2 a.m. when she elevated her thrusting pelvis to the very tip of his erect penis and momentarily lost coordination as she slammed her pelvic bone forcefully down on his erect penis. They both heard a loud cracking sound followed by his shriek of pain,” he recalls.
As Dr. Mills recounted it, the patient’s previously erect penis had turned into a “large eggplant.” “There are three chambers in a penis — the two erectile bodies and the urethra (urinary channel),” he explained. “Most penile fractures are mild with a small tear in one of the chambers that requires a few stitches to close the defect and get the man back to normal in a few weeks. This man tore all chambers and the only thing keeping his penis attached to his body was his skin.” All the blood had rushed from his erection through the tear in his fibrous exterior penile lining into the space underneath his skin. His erect penis, now fully deflated, had quadrupled in size and lost all rigidity.
Dr. Mills says that the patient’s injury was so severe that he not only fractured his penis, but he also tore his urethra completely, so he was unable to urinate. He had to fully reconstruct all chambers and essentially reattach the torn penis to the base, which was still intact. The patient had to use a urinary catheter for three weeks and was out of commission for about six weeks, but he fully recovered and was able to have sex again.
The moral of the story? “Vigorous sex is fine but don’t mix it with alcohol,” says Dr. Mills. “If you do injure your penis, get to the ER right away, embarrassing as it is.”
2) A Charley horse in the groin.
There’s nothing worse than getting a Charley horse in your calf when you’re in the middle of a workout. Actually, wait, there is something worse — a Charley horse in your groin.
When Will*, 37, woke up one morning with a large lump in his groin close to the side of the base of his penis, he went straight to the doctor. As Will recounts it, the doctor immediately asked if he was in a relationship, and if the relationship was relatively new.
“I said, ‘yes,'” Will recalls. “He asked if we were having lots of sex: ‘Oh, yes.’ He told me I have a Charley horse in my groin and explained that particularly with doggy style sex, when the bones of the woman’s hips match up with the soft tissue of the man’s crotch, the excessive hip-to-hip action can cause swelling much like getting punched.”
The doctor suggested that Will abstain from sex for three days. Afterwards, the swelling went down and he was fine. But that might not have been the case had he not decided to go to the hospital. “Anytime something is off — whether it’s a lump or a bulge, pain or discomfort, swelling or discoloration, just see a doctor,” cautions Michael P. Zahalsky, MD, specializing in urology, founder of Z Urology in Coral Springs, Florida.
“I took the pill one night and woke up with an erection that wouldn’t go down. I tried masturbating and taking a bath, but no luck. It was up for about 10 hours when I went to the ER,” says Anson, 42.
The ER doctors gave Anson an injection of pseudoephedrine, a decongestant that shrinks blood vessels. It didn’t work, so they turned to Plan B: draining the penis. “They used a syringe to get into the vein and just let the blood flow out. They had to do this at the base on both sides of the penis. By this point, I’d been hard for almost 20 hours. I was warned that I could suffer permanent damage, but I didn’t,” says Anson.
Anson was lucky. “Usually after 10 hours, you can suffer permanent damage to the erectile tissue. It can become scarred and impact the ability to get and maintain an erection,” says Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, who specializes in urology at Orlando Health. Dr. Brahmbhatt adds (perhaps unnecessarily) that if your erection doesn’t go down after four hours, get thee to the emergency room.
4) Testicular torsion
Melinda*, 41, was “going to town” on her boyfriend in the classic Cowgirl position when her boyfriend abruptly stopped and screamed out in pain.
“I was riding him hard and he dislocated his nut. His nut went over his penis, and he was in so much pain. But he just pushed it down and kept going. It happened to him a few times. It was so strange,” recalls Melinda.
The injury wasn’t strange at all, but it was potentially serious. “A ‘dislocated nut,’ as Melinda describes it, is more likely Testicular Torsion, in which the spermatic cord attached to the testicle can get twisted, cut off the blood flow to the testicle, and cause pain. When he pushed it back down, it probably untwisted,” says Dr. Brahmbhatt.
Testicular torsion is sometimes simply unavoidable. “It just happens sometimes and there is no medical reason for it,” says Dr. Brahmbhatt.
That said, Dr. Zahalsky offers one possible precaution for athletes, runners, sports players, and cyclists, to take: “Wear tight fitting bike shorts or underwear so the testicles aren’t flapping around, which can potentially twist the up. Personally, I like Lulu Lemon for men.”
Dr. Mills, for instance, had a patient who was taking medication that caused him to urinate frequently. So he put an industrial-sized hex nut (¾ inches thick, 3 inches in diameter, and 2 inches in length) around the base of his penis. It forced him to pee less because it compressed his urethra.
“He fell asleep with this snug hex nut on, only to wake up with a swollen erection. The part of the penis past the nut continued to swell like a grilled bratwurst, trapping blood flow in the increasingly injured penis,” says Dr. Mills.
The patient called 911. If he hadn’t, said Mills, he might have lost his penis. “His skin was sloughing off like a horrible sunburn and the tip of the penis was turning dusky, a term surgeons use to describe a limb that has no blood flow. He also couldn’t pee,” he explains.
If a regular cock ring gets stuck, scissors usually does the trick. But the hex nut required doctors to make a call to the hospital’s maintenance department. “We had to use [an electric] saw with lots of steel cutting blades. Sparks were flying across the room and a nurse had to flush cold water over the saw and the penis so we didn’t set fire to his penis or the hospital. After about an hour, we finally removed it. We saved his penis, but he did need a skin graft to cover the dead skin he lost,” adds Dr. Mills.
Bottom line: Don’t stick your penis in anything not made for a penis. And no matter what, don’t fall asleep with anything on your penis. Period.
Most of the time, sex myths are just that — imaginary fables that have no basis in reality, like vaginas with teeth or that urban legend about the movie star who went to the ER with a gerbil up his butt. That’s not quite the case, however, when it comes to myths about cock rings.
A constrictive removable ring that’s worn around the base of the penis or scrotum, cock rings help pump blood to the penis and trap it there, thus helping the wearer maintain his erection. “For men with erectile dysfunction, cock rings trap blood inside the shaft of the penis, which helps to stay harder longer,” explains Dr. Brian Steixner, M.D., chief of urology at Atlanticare Regional Medical Center in New Jersey.
While cock rings used to be the go-to treatment for men with ED, now that Viagra and Cialis are on the market that’s no longer the case. Now, most cock ring customers are perfectly healthy men who simply want to get hard and stay hard longer, says Brandon Bartling, sex educator and manager of the Pleasure Chest sex shop in New York City. Bartling puts it this way: “Even Batman has a sidekick.”
Nonetheless, myths about cock rings are still widespread. When we asked our readers why they hadn’t tried cock rings yet, many said they thought they were just for “old men with issues,” or they “just don’t see the need for it.” That’s why we decided to talk to the experts and debunk 7 myths associated with cock rings. Here’s what we learned.
Myth 1: Cock rings are only for old guys with ED.
Many men appear to believe that if they don’t have problems getting an erection, they don’t need a cock ring. “Cock rings are only for older men with erectile dysfunction. I don’t have that, so why do I need it?” Scott, 42, asked.
To that point, we would respond: well, you don’t necessarily need whipped cream on your apple pie — but how much better is a slice with it on top? Even if you don’t have erectile dysfunction, cock rings can make your erection harder and last longer, which is a win-win situation for you and your partner.
Steve Callow, the founder of the sex toy company Perfect Fit, likens cock rings to a piece of athletic equipment. “I can do pull-ups without wristbands easily, but with wristbands I can do 25% more,” he said. “I like to call cock rings ‘gear for the sexual athlete.’ You might not technically need a cock ring, but it can make you better in bed.” And if you’d like to try one to enhance your performance.
Myth 2: Cock rings are unnecessary and annoying.
There’s a perception that cock rings are extraneous in bed, or that they don’t actually do much to enhance your partner’s pleasure. “They’re too distracting,” Aaron, 39, told us.
You might think that strapping on a mini vibrating toy is distracting, but hear us out for a second. Many cock rings come with a vibrator extension that can be up to three inches long. These are great for your female partners, because it means you can provide them with clitoral stimulation during intercourse.
What’s more, if you turn the vibrator extender away from her clit so it sits at the top of your scrotum, you too can benefit from the vibration.
Myth 3: Cock rings are just for kinky guys.
It’s true that cock rings are popular in both the BDSM and LGBT communities, which has led to the belief that the toys are just for “kinky, fetish-y guys and gay men,” says James, 59. But Bartling says that more Average Joes are buying cock rings than ever before as well.
“We have a saying at the Pleasure Chest: It’s only kinky the first time,” says Bartling, who adds that there’s been an uptick in cock ring sales across the board.
Callow agrees, saying the perception of cock rings is “definitely shifting.” In fact, he pointed out that he sells more cock rings to straight men than to the gay market. “I think it’s just a sign of the times — people are more open about sex and sex toys and it’s not as taboo as it used to be,” he says.
Myth 4: Cock rings will get snagged on your pubes.
Aaron 39, says he would never try a cock ring because he’s worried “it’ll pull my pubic hair out.” Well, never fear: if you buy a ring that has a soft silicon coating (or even just purchase a metal ring) it’s unlikely that’ll happen. “We have a soft silicon spray on ours that’s so smooth it doesn’t grab the hair, and it’s designed with a flat-edge so it doesn’t roll up,” says Callow.
Or you could just keep it trim and smooth down there. Either one.
Myth 5: Cock rings can get stuck on your penis.
Honestly? It’s possible, but it’s unlikely. A cock ring can get stuck if you put on a smaller size when you are flaccid and it gets too tight when you are erect, which is why it’s super important to find a size that works for you. (If you’d like a variety of options, try Perfect Fit’s Play Zone Kit, which offers 9 different sizes.)
It’s helpful to do a little math first, says Bartling.
“Some cock rings have a size on them, which is usually in diameter,” he suggests. “To get your diameter, you measure the circumference of the penis by wrapping a flexible tape measurer or string around the base of the penis if you want a shaft ring, or around the shaft and testicles if you want a cock and ball ring.” divide that by π (pi = 3.14159),” he says.
And don’t forget: “Measure when you have an erection!” says Callow.
If that sounds like too much work, you can also try an adjustable ring. “I recommend adjustable rings for beginners or anyone who has a fear of cock rings. They come in a variety of styles, such as bolo ties-style lasso cock rings or leather with snaps,” says Bartling.
There’s one other way it can get stuck: If you fall asleep with it on. “I had an older man who fell asleep with one on. He woke up to find that everything around the ring swelled up and turned red and he couldn’t get it off. We had to cut it off,” says Dr. Steixner. Say it with us now: don’t be like this guy.
Myth 6: Cock rings will injure your skin.
Rich, 47, says he was scared to try a cock ring because he was worried his “skin will fall off.” While this is highly unlikely, it’s not impossible — in fact, it recently happened to one of Dr. Steixner’s patients.
“I had a patient who used a baby’s bib to tie around the base of his penis as a make-shift cock ring, was partying for days, and left it on. It was red and inflamed and much of the skin was gone because he cut off the blood supply to the skin,” he says.
It should go without saying, but don’t get all MacGyver with your sex toys. Makeshift cock rings are a guaranteed trip to the ER! Stick to buying legitimate cock rings at reputable sex shops.
Myth 7: Cock rings will make your penis fall off.
Again, this is highly, highly unlikely — but technically possible. “In theory, the penis can be permanently injured if the ring is left on too long and is too tight,” says Dr. Steixner.
“The pressure of the tight ring does its job in preventing the leakage of blood, but also puts a lot of pressure on the skin and other adjacent structures (skin, fat, urethra tube). This pressure can cause the cells to die and cause severe damage if left on too long.”
It’s possible to have multiple orgasms if you’re a guy — it just takes some practice
If you learn to control your ejaculation, you can have multiple non-ejaculatory orgasms
The orgasms won’t feel quite as strong as ejaculatory orgasms — but if you want to try it out, here are some tips to make it happen
Everyone would love to have multiple orgasms, but that pesky refractory period tends to get in the way. It turns out, there is a way for guys to climax more than once in a row — it just takes some practice.
The first thing you need to know? We tend to equate orgasms with ejaculation — but that’s not exactly the case.
“The orgasm is the part of the sexual experience that happens between two and seven seconds before ejaculation,” Ava Cadell, Ph.D., a Los Angeles sexologist explained to GQ. “It combines an increase in full-body sensitivity, quickening of breath, and a flood of sensations through the scrotum and penis.”
“Ejaculation is the final step of stimulation and involves the release of semen, as well as the neurotransmitters that will send the body into ‘rest and recovery mode,’ or the refractory period.”
While it’s virtually impossible for men to have multiple ejaculatory orgasms with no refractory period, you can climax several times in a row if you don’t release any semen. The technique is known as non-ejaculatory multiple orgasm, or NEMO, according to Mel Magazine, and involves strengthening your pelvic floor.
If you think non-ejaculatory orgasms will feel different from regular orgasms, you’re right — so remember to lower your expectations just a little.
“You can’t expect for each small orgasm to feel like your usual orgasms,” Jonathan Stegall, M.D., founder and president of the Center for Advanced Medicine in Atlanta, tells MensHealth.com. “They’ll be less in intensity, but for some men, having several small orgasms is actually preferable to having one big one.” (If you just want a bigger payoff in general, click here for 8 tricks to make your orgasms even better.)
Want to try your hand at having multiple orgasms? These tips might help you pull it off.
Strengthen those PC muscles
As we mentioned earlier, having multiple non-ejaculatory orgasms is all about controlling your pelvic floor.
“While some men experience multiple orgasms accidentally, others can learn to invite such a reaction,” sexologist Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D, tells MHealth.
You can do this with Kegel exercises, which strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and your ability to control orgasmic and ejaculatory responses in the heat of the moment, she says. Your pubococcygeus (PC) muscle — which stretches from the pubic bone to the tailbone — controls ejaculation. If you can keep yourself from ejaculating after an orgasm, you’ll be more likely to skip the refractory period and orgasm again — and again, and again.
To perform Kegel exercises, you want to contract the PC muscle as you would when you control the flow of urine as you’re peeing. You can practice Kegels anywhere — like contracting the muscle for 10 seconds while sitting in your car.
Try a different position
If you have a hard time delaying gratification, switching positions during sex can help you control ejaculation and erection.
“Try having sex in a chair, where she’s in the chair and you’re on top of her, but still able to stand up and pull out before you ejaculate,” suggests sex therapist Jane Greer. “That way, you can tighten your muscles right before the point of ejaculation so you can experience orgasm without ejaculation.”
Check your T-levels
Maybe you don’t want to have multiple non-ejaculatory orgasms, but just want to shorten your refractory period. In that case, make sure you have optimal testosterone levels — it’ll make your orgasms better, too.
“Low T is often thought of as an older man’s problem, but I see it in a significant portion of men in their 20s, 30s, and 40s,” Stegall says.
Even if your sex drive isn’t particularly low, Stegall advises guys over 30 to get their T-levels checked with a blood test by a doctor who specializes in anti-aging medicine and hormone replacement therapy. FYI, normal testosterone levels are between 300 and 1,000 nanograms per deciliter of blood.
Signs of low T include fatigue, decreased libido, fat gain, difficulty gaining muscle, mental fogginess, and depression.
“If a lot of guys in their 20s and 30s are honest with themselves, they’re probably dealing with at least some of these issues,” Stegall says.
Low testosterone can be boosted naturally by eating a diet high in proteins and healthy fats, sleeping eight hours a night, and by lifting weights three to six times per week.
No offense to Joe, but mainlining caffeine isn’t the only way to perk up. Try these natural, science-backed methods to rise and shine when your fourth cup isn’t cutting it—or if you just want to try a chemical-free high.
Rock Out on Your Morning Commute
Belting out your favorite song gives you a lift, according to a study in the Journal of Music Therapy. Researchers measured people’s arousal levels after singing along or just listening to one song and found that the subjects felt more energetic after crooning. Hitting those high notes requires some effort, triggering a stress response that gives you a boost, the researchers say. Too shy to sing? Tapping along to a song can have the same effect.
Get Your Popeye On
Eat more spinach: B vitamins, found in leafy greens, help your body convert the nutrients you eat into energy, says Danielle Omar, M.S., R.D.N., a dietitian based in Washington, D.C. Chowing down on a salad won’t amp you up immediately, Omar says, but getting enough B vitamins on a daily basis can help prevent fatigue. Try working one of the greens-packed shakes on this list of 20 Healthy Smoothie Recipes into your daily rotation.
Soak Up Some Rays
Just 15 minutes in the sun may help you feel less sluggish, according to a recent Dutch study. Researchers found that people who saw more daylight felt less fatigued than those who spent more time in the dark. When your eyes are exposed to natural light, they send a signal to the areas of your brain responsible for alertness, the researchers say. Simply leaving your blinds open or stepping outside may wake you up, too.
Stand Up to Wake Up
A short walk can ward off drowsiness, says Chris Repka, Ph.D., a professor of fitness wellness at Northern Arizona University. The physical activity boosts your heart rate, metabolism, and blood flow, he explains. March down to your coworker’s office instead of picking up the phone, take the stairs to your team meeting, or head outside for a longer stroll if you have the time, Repka says. (Bonus: Walking is also The Easiest Way to Kill a Sugar Craving.)
Kiss Your Coffee Breath Goodbye
Gum can boost your alertness, attention span, and mood, a recent British study finds. Chewing triggers an increase in your heart rate and cortisol levels, which are both linked to energy, the researchers say. Opt for peppermint flavor to get the most bang for your buck: Other studies have found its scent can boost memory and processing speeds.
Let Her Rev Your Engine
Just thinking about your girlfriend or wife can act as an all-natural upper, according to Canadian researchers. Daydreaming about her triggers a chemical reaction that increases your levels of blood sugar, resulting in a jolt of energy, the researchers say. Next time you feel yourself nodding off, close your eyes and think about your favorite memories (keep it clean!) while visualizing her in as much detail as you can. You should feel a little perkier afterward, the researchers say.
Laugh Off Your Afternoon Slump
Just tell your boss that viral cat video will give you loads of brainpower in your afternoon meeting. Watching something funny may increase blood flow to your entire body, boosting your energy, Japanese researchers find.
Read up on these research-backed factors that strongly influence whether or not you and your partner are meant to go the distance.
1. You’re Both Positive
Studies show that a positive outlook and a few genuinely exchanged smiles a day can go a long way in keeping a relationship stable.
Researchers from the University of Chicago found that when just one partner possesses a high level of positivity, there’s less conflict in the relationship.
“Positive emotions are fundamental to any relationship because they counteract the negative emotions that shut us down,” says Jane Greer, New York-based relationship expert and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship. “This translates into feeling more secure with your partner and more trusting.”
And the benefits of seeing the cup half full don’t stop there.
Another study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that couples who celebrated their partners’ achievements—say, a job promotion or killing that 7-minute mile—as if they were their own experienced greater satisfaction than those who reacted negatively or with indifference.
In the study, the couples who had broken up rated their partners’ typical responses to good news as “particularly uninspiring.”
While this isn’t to say you should throw a full-on party the next time she shares some good news, it’s a sure sign that optimism can benefit you both.
2. You Keep Texting to a Meaningful Minimum
Tread lightly when communicating with your partner via texting, say researchers from Brigham Young University.
After surveying 276 men and women around age 22 and in committed relationships, they found that heavy texting was to blame for both genders feeling dissatisfied with their relationships.
“Texting is precarious for a lot of people in relationships because it’s hard to flesh out our genuine expressions,” says Greer. “When one person is less interactive, the expectation is not matched by the reality for the other. And this can lead to disappointment and a feeling of disconnection.”
Similarly, the study found that the men who texted more often reported lower relationship quality than those who didn’t text their partners as frequently, while the women who texted more often reported higher relationship quality.
Researchers speculate that as men detach from the relationship, they replace face-to-face convo with increased texting. The women, on the other hand, take to their mobile devices to try and make things work.
Bottom line? Hold the phone—literally.
3. You Limit Social Media Use
You love checking your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds—and, chances are, it’s probably also how you read your news.
But over-scrolling on social media may be one of the most toxic things you can do for your relationship.
One study in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking found that people who use Facebook more than once a day are more likely to report conflicts in the relationship.
“Romantic relationships can be challenging enough to navigate without these added technological complications,” says Joseph Cilona, Psy.D., Manhattan-based licensed clinical psychologist.
“Finding ways to simplify or minimize potential pitfalls, like limiting what each other shares about your relationship on social media, is a great rule of thumb to follow,” Cilona says.
But these results only held true for couples in the early years of the relationship—which may mean the threat of Facebook coming between you two reduces the longer you stay together.
4. You Cuddle
Most of us admit to loving the feeling of being physically close to another human—it’s a natural, biological response.
But consistent physical intimacy (not just sexual) can also signal how happy you are together.
A study published in The American Journal of Family Therapy surveyed 100 men and 195 women to examine their preferences and attitudes towards romantic physical affection—massaging, caressing, cuddling, holding hands, hugging— and found overwhelmingly that the amount they experienced in their relationship was significantly linked to the couple’s satisfaction.
“Cuddling and tenderness help maintain the physical connection and intimacy shared between couples—not just when you’re being sexual,” says Greer.
“As a result, it can be easier to get turned on because there’s always an element of sexual energy being shared through physical touches,” says Greer. “Therefore leading to a happier relationship overall.”
5. You Actually Fight Instead of Holding Back Your Feelings
While your last argument with her might leave you feeling crappy, one study reports that fights may be critical to keeping your relationship intact.
Researchers from Florida State University found that expressing anger when disagreements arise may actually be necessary in resolving problems in the relationship.
In fact, trying to just “forgive and forget” could lead to buried feelings of resentment that fester and almost always reappear later in the relationship.
“If you learn to argue in a healthy way early on, then you’re more comfortable expressing your emotions to your partner and working through your different points of view,” says Greer. “This creates a good working framework for handling arguments in a positive way instead of them resurfacing constantly, causing more strain in the relationship.”
So don’t be afraid to put your feelings out there and fight (respectfully, of course) next time you feel passionately for or against something in your relationship.
6. You Have Regular Sex
If the honeymoon phase has come and gone and the two of you are still getting hot and heavy on a regular basis, that’s always a good sign.
In fact, a study published in the Journal Society for Personality and Social Psychology found that having sex at least once a week brings as much happiness to your relationship as making an extra $50,000.
For this study, researchers surveyed more than 30,000 Americans over four decades, and found that having sex just once a week was the frequency most linked to relationship happiness.
Surprisingly, couples who had sex more or less frequently were not happier.
“Intimacy is just another type of communication, so if that communication falters, so will your sexual connection in response,” says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a licensed psychotherapist and author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.
That being said, it’s important to remember that you should both be into it.
“If you’re mutually enjoying more sex, then it will make you both happier, but remember that it comes down to both people wanting to be intimate that often,” says Greer.
7. You’re Similar
You know the old saying, “opposites attract”? Well, if you happen to have a lot in common with your partner, it may be a better recipe for attraction.
In fact, a study by researchers from Wellesley College and the University of Kansas found that we’re actually hard-wired to desire “like-minded others.”
They were able to reach this conclusion by analyzing pairs of people—from romantic couples to friends and even mere acquaintances—interacting in public.
The pairs were asked questions about attitude, values, and prejudice, among other things.
The researchers found that the longer-term relationship pairs had greater similarities than those who had recently become acquainted.
“If you’re more alike in terms of your personalities, you’re sharing similar styles of dealing with a variety of things in life—from interacting with friends to experiencing life changes,” says Greer. “So if you and your partner share similar values and interests, you’ll wind up with more cooperative spirits and having a greater respect for one another.”
8. Your Spending Habits Differ
You’re certainly not alone if you find that the majority of the arguments you have as a couple are sparked by personal (or combined) finances.
In fact, a Money Magazinepoll found that a whopping 70 percent of couples argue about finances the most—more than household chores, togetherness, sex, snoring, and so on.
But if the two of you have stark differences in the way in which you prefer to spend—if one of you is frugal and the other is freer with their funds—you just might be perfect for each other.
The evidence is in one study by the Universities of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Northwestern.
Researchers surveyed over 1,000 married and unmarried couples, and found that most individuals tend to choose a partner that has opposite money spending habits.
So even if you and her don’t see eye-to-eye on finances, that combination may actually work in your favor.
“Just remember to prioritize the big-spending opportunities like buying a car, house, etc.,” reminds Greer.
9. You Laugh at the Same Jokes
If you and your girlfriend both know how to appreciate a raunchy comedy routine, love anything with Will Ferrell, or both equally detest either of those two scenarios, you’re a match made in heaven.
A study published in the Western Journal of Communication found that 75 percent of happy couples laugh together at least once a day.
Even more interesting, another study reported in the same journal found that 92 percent of married men and women credited humor as a factor that made a significant contribution to their married life.
Sharing a sense of humor gives each of you the resilience you need to laugh off the petty and irrelevant things that naturally build up in life and offers more chances to bond intimately on a regular basis, says Greer.
10. YOU BOTH LIKE TO BOOZE IT UP—OR DON’T DRINK AT ALL
We’ve all seen it at one point in our lives—the couple scenario where one person is totally sober and the other is a giant, falling-all-over-the-place mess.
There’s a good reason why those unmatched levels of drunkenness or sobriety don’t wind up working out in the end.
In a study published in the journal of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, scientists reviewed data collected from nearly 20,000 married couples.
The researchers found that the spouses who consumed relatively the same amount of alcohol were less likely to divorce than pairs where one person drank more heavily or significantly lighter than the other spouse.
“I’ve seen many couples split when one of the pair of drinkers got sober,” says Tessina. “Alcohol alters a heavy drinker’s experiences and perceptions, so couples who drink heavily together naturally have similar ways of living, as do couples who don’t drink much at all.”
Raise your hand if the following are true: Your boss recites Dilbert. The staff consists of the Pink Floyd Animals trifecta: dogs, pigs, and sheep. You hear blood churning through your ears, taste adrenaline in your saliva, feel sweat spreading out from your armpits as your stress levels rise, rise, rise…and then sit there and boil. No release. No escape.
Okay, hands down. Work stress rips us apart. It sabotages us. Inspires stupid comments snapped at people just as stupid. Makes us a Monday-through-Friday phosphorous burn.
Enough already. Tomorrow, and every day thereafter, remember these tips for controlling the weight on your shoulders. Because if you think your job isn’t your life, you’re dead wrong.
Dump the Coffee
We know, coffee is in your blood—and that’s the problem. Caffeine is liquid stress, simultaneously boosting adrenaline production and suppressing adenosine, a natural relaxant in your brain. “Eliminating caffeine is more effective than any other stress-reduction strategy I know, ” says David B. Posen, M.D., a stress expert and author of Always Change a Losing Game. In fact, Dr. Posen claims that 75 percent of his decaffeinated patients feel significantly more relaxed and, ironically, more energetic—mostly from better sleep.
To avoid withdrawal headaches, Dr. Posen suggests gradually cutting back by one cup at a time, beginning with your last cup of the day.
Say the “O ” Word
Ask David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, what’s the biggest office stress buster, and his answer is immediate: organization. “It’s what’s most needed and most lacking. ” Even a very basic organizational habit can cumulatively save you hours in a work week. And, of course, more time means less stress. Allen’s most valuable habit? “My end-of-week review. I go over my inbox and my work lists. By far, it’s my best-spent time. ” Thanks to that one wise Friday hour, he’s never frazzled or overwhelmed when the whistle blows on Monday morning.
Spy on Yourself
Hunched over a keyboard with knots in your shoulders? Yeah, and you probably didn’t realize it until you stopped to think about it. But who has time to stop when everybody around you is shouting, “Go, go, go! ” like the Laker Girls from hell? West Virginia University researchers found that people’s stress levels dropped by 54 percent after a 2-month “mindfulness training ” program—that is, simply paying more attention to the symptoms of stress, such as bunched-up muscles and fast, scattered thinking.
The good news: You don’t need a 2-month course. “Even minor adjustments can produce big benefits, ” says Kimberly Williams, Ph.D., author of the study. This means paying attention if your thoughts begin to race or your breathing becomes shallow. And when you notice knots in your shoulders, you can . . .
Do the PC Stretch
With all due deference to Bill Gates, this is for everyone shackled to a friggin’ computer. “When we’re under stress, we usually lean forward to focus on what we’re doing, ” says Neil Chasan, a physical therapist in Seattle. “This makes the muscles of the neck and lower back work harder—and they’re small to begin with. ”
For quick relief, do what Chasan does when he’s deskbound: Clasp your hands behind your neck and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Now let your head fall forward so your chin is close to your chest, and bring your elbows together in front of you so they’re touching. Pull down with your hands for several seconds, then release. Repeat six to eight times whenever you’re knotted up.
Buy a New Multivitamin
Tomorrow, revise your morning routine to include your antistress pill. In a University of Birmingham study of men 18 to 42 years old, British researchers found that those who took a daily multivitamin high in vitamin C and all the B vitamins enjoyed a 21 percent drop in anxiety, while those popping a placebo actually felt more stressed. (Perhaps from feeling deceived.) Even better, the multi men also rated themselves less tired and more focused. The probable cause: Research has shown that B and C vitamins help reduce the effects of stress. If you want to try the multivitamin used in the study—Berocca—go to drugstore.com. Ninety pills will run you $40.
Throw Up Your Hands
And start juggling. “Juggling gets me out of my chair, ” says Dr. Posen, admitting that his limited skills are actually helpful. “It’s hard to juggle without laughing at yourself. ” Plus, it’s nearly impossible to think about work when you’re concentrating on juggling. And that’s the point: Regularly schedule 5 minutes of laughing distraction. Pick up Juggling for the Complete Klutz, beanbags included (about $10 on Amazon).
I’ve given a lot of thought to how we should (or shouldn’t) talk to other people who are grieving.
Part of this is professional. I’m an adversity strategist, which is a fancy way of saying I help people afflicted by all sorts of adversities, from injuries to job loss to the death of a loved one.
But I’m also curious about this topic for personal reasons. I live with cerebral palsy and epilepsy, so I have no choice but to structure my life in such a way that I am able to thrive in the face of sometimes debilitating physical and neurological challenges.
Many people don’t know how to talk to me about my illness. Just like they don’t know how to talk to anybody about any other struggle they might be facing.
When bad things happen to somebody we love, we want to help, or at least make them feel a little less alone.
But sometimes we only end up making them feel worse.
How? By trying to fix them with platitudes. Like “Everything happens for a reason” or “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
While platitudes are often well-meaning, they’re also harmful, because they prevent us from doing the only thing we must do when our loved ones’ lives are falling apart: acknowledge.
Here are some common responses you might be tempted to make to a friend or relative who is dealing with difficult circumstances, and what you should be saying to them instead.
They recently lost a loved one.
Common response: “Everything happens for a reason.”
Why you shouldn’t say it: It’s damaging because it’s a shame-based response. It prevents the person from being allowed to grieve, and makes them feel isolated and alone.
Try this instead: “What a terrible tragedy.”
By acknowledging that their circumstances are awful, you’re acknowledging them.
You’re not trying to fix it or sweep it under the rug, you’re making it known that you’re there for them when they most need support.
They were diagnosed with a serious illness.
Common response: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Why you shouldn’t say it: That doesn’t work because it sugarcoats your friend’s very real difficulties and makes it seem as if there’s something inherently good about their circumstances, when that’s clearly not the case.
Try this instead: “What’s this been like for you? I know you might be scared, but I’m not going anywhere.”
When people’s lives are suddenly changed, they’re often most afraid of being abandoned and judged.
By asking questions and making it clear that your friendship is unconditional, you give your friend the space to feel safe in voicing their anger and pain.
They lost a job and are facing serious financial stress.
Common response: “It’s for the best.”
Why you shouldn’t say it: It takes you out of the present reality and into an imagined, fairytale future.
Try this instead: “That’s awful. Tell me more.”
By actually recognizing that your friend is in a very tough spot, you show that you’re trustworthy when they are most vulnerable and scared.
By asking an open-ended question, or asking them to “tell me more,” you invite them to share whatever they want to share, and direct you towards ways that you can really help.
Their spouse left them.
Common response: “Time heals all wounds.”
Why you shouldn’t say it: It implies that if your friend just waits it out, everything will get better.
But that’s dead wrong. Time doesn’t heal all wounds. In fact, it can make them worse.
Time alone does nothing. Support does.
Try this instead: “I’m going to support you, and here’s how.”
Don’t just say, “Let me know if you need help.” Be specific.
Say, “I’ll call you tomorrow evening,” or “I’ll pick up your kids from school.”
If they don’t want you to come, they’ll let you know. But offering concrete ways you can be there for them will go a very long way.