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Mask of shame after experiencing an online love that turned into betrayal and financial disaster to the tune of over One Million Dollars.

Who Am I?

I am Debby Montgomery Johnson, an amazing, strong woman who has removed the mask of shame after experiencing a love that turned into betrayal and financial disaster to the tune of over One Million Dollars. Yes, that’s right … $1,080,762 to be exact!

Like so many of us who have experienced pain, challenge, shame, guilt and worry, I would put on a happy face, smile and have the well-rehearsed words, “I’m fine” come flying out of my mouth.

I hid behind that smile for decades and it seemed to be working, until it just wasn’t anymore and the time to remove the mask and step out from behind the smile became the only way for me to be.

Stepping out from behind the smile, and releasing the paralyzing fear of what others would think if they only knew the truth has allowed me to stand up in my power and I know it can do the same for you!


Henry Sapiecha

Abortion is usually a lonely experience – that’s why I openly talk about mine

Technically, I wasn’t alone when I had my abortion. There was a doctor at my feet. A nurse at my head. She offered to hold my hand, but I dug my fingernails into my palms instead – hoping one type of pain might distract from another. I wasn’t alone, but in so many ways, I was.

An hour later, I returned to the waiting room. My not-quite-boyfriend’s chin was folded against his chest. I poked his shoulder and motioned toward the door.

woman-sits-on-window-edge image

It may take two people to get pregnant, but only one will feel the physical effects. 

“Let’s go,” I said.

I tried to slip my arm through his as we walked through the parking lot on that frigid Chicago morning, but he was stiff and unresponsive. I pulled back and held my elbows tight instead.

I’ll never know what was going through his mind during those moments that are still so vivid for me: the morning I choked out the words “I’m pregnant” on the phone; the day I showed him a Post-it note where a nurse had scribbled a due date that I tried to forget; the night we drank too much wine because it didn’t matter if I drank – I wasn’t keeping it. (I still felt guilty and cried.)

I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him, either. But his experience is his, and mine is mine, and they parted ways shortly after that walk through the cold parking lot.

Eighty-three percent of women who have abortions are unmarried. Which makes sense. For most single women, I imagine that having a child is more daunting than for married ones.

No matter a woman’s marital status, though, abortion can be a lonely experience. It may take two people to get pregnant, but only one will feel the physical effects. Only one can ultimately make the decision of how to handle what’s happening with her body. Thankfully, we still have that decision to make, despite those who try to take it away.

The stigma surrounding abortion further isolates those of us who’ve been through it. It’s not something we’re supposed to talk about. We grieve quietly. Or we don’t. But we don’t dare tell anyone that we didn’t feel grief. We’re expected to agonise over the decision, even though for many, it’s a no-brainer. And while I did feel anxious and sad going through mine, I know that that’s not true for everyone.

I didn’t tell many people about my abortion, and I told even fewer about the emotional turmoil I experienced around it.

The man who got me pregnant and I spent about eight months together. At the time, I thought he was passionate. Looking back, manipulative is a better word. There were insults and accusations that shouldn’t come from the mouth of someone who claims to love you. Through unfounded assumptions about me and random men, he’d often make me apologise for things that never happened. His jealous temper might have stemmed from his intimate awareness of how easy it is to lie. He’d had another girlfriend all along.

About a week after the cold walk through the parking lot, he left his phone at my apartment and the screen lit up with evidence as I scrolled through his texts: “I love you”; “I’ll be home soon, babe”; and “What should I make for dinner?” A seemingly happy relationship formed between work and meals and errands. I could see myself slotted in between an occasional “Where are you?” and “Come home.” But otherwise, their life together seemed shockingly whole.

I was ashamed for not seeing the truth sooner, for letting him control me through my insecurities for so long. And it was terrifying to suddenly lose the one person who had been there through the decision to end my pregnancy, to end our pregnancy. Part of me wanted to shut the phone and pretend I didn’t know.

When I confronted him and ended things, relief became the dominating emotion. I’d made the right decision. And I was freed from a future that scared me even more than being alone.

I began sharing my experience by journaling through tears and with shaky hands. And then I kept writing, through an increasing level of clarity and self-forgiveness. Writing became my therapy. Eventually, it struck me that other women probably needed to share their stories as badly as I did. I began to talk about my abortion with friends, and discovered more and more women who had stories to share, too. Those who didn’t were still open and supportive when hearing mine.

These stories were complicated to tell, but it’s not so complicated to listen. The #ShoutYourAbortion campaign has tapped into this desire to share our stories. Through the hashtag and downloadable posters, women are reclaiming the conversation by refusing to be silent about their decision to end their pregnancies.

These stories can be legally powerful, too. In the recent Supreme Court case that struck down Texas’ abortion restrictions, 200 women filed friend-of-the-court briefs, names attached, describing their abortion experiences.

Ultimately, I healed by myself, without the help of a partner. Hearing other women’s stories over the years helped me realise that I was strong enough to get through it without him. I hope this one will serve a similar purpose for someone else. I hope she knows that she’s strong enough on her own – and that she’s not alone.

The Washington Post 


Henry Sapiecha


Can your violent partner be rehabilitated? Here is the report


Behaviour change programs are highly effective for domestic violence perpetrators.

Two thirds of violent men who attend behaviour change programs completely stop abusing their families within two years, but they always fear slipping back into their old ways.

The first Australian study into the long-term effects of interventions for domestic violence perpetrators found that court-ordered participants in behaviour change programs were the most likely to stop being violent.

Monash University followed men who attended behaviour change programs in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia for two years after they completed the program.

Monash social work professor Thea Brown said 65 per cent of men were classed as violence-free at the end of the study. This meant they no longer physically, emotionally or sexually abused their partners, or made them afraid.

“That’s a good outcome. The men do improve considerably,” Professor Brown said. “It shows that the programs are effective.” After the initial three-month program, most men continued to use professional help to remain violence-free.

Men who had been ordered by the courts to attend a behaviour change program did better than their peers. Professor Brown suggested this could be because they were more tightly monitored, had been rattled by their court experience, or feared the legal consequences if they didn’t succeed at changing their behaviour.

All the men said it was difficult to remain violence-free. “None of them ever felt they were in a secure position and wouldn’t slip back,” Professor Brown said. “It’s very hard to do as well as they should every day of the year.”

One man said: “I only feel confident when I’m doing the program.”

This daily battle was identified by some of the men’s partners who contributed to the study. “He’s good most days, not every day,” one woman said of her partner. Overall most women were optimistic about the future with their formerly violent partners.

Half the men had broken up with their partners before they started the behaviour change program. Forty per cent of the program participants were born overseas.

Older men who were in relationships and had a higher standard of education were marginally more likely to permanently change their behaviour. However Professor Brown said: “We still don’t know why some men change and some men don’t.”

Men said the program facilitators, rather than the actual content, made the difference to them. They also liked the group dynamic. “They found a lot of individual support, they felt they were being accepted by other people, they felt less evil,” Professor Brown said.

Men were disappointed the programs didn’t provide any help with their parenting.

The programs failed to reduce the incidence of mental illness among domestic violence perpetrators. Thirty per cent of violent men have mental health problems. The programs did halve the incidence of alcohol and substance abuse.

Professor Brown said her research, which was funded by Violence Free Families, showed there was a need for closer monitoring of participants in men’s behaviour change programs, and proper exit assessments that could refer men to ongoing support services. Parenting advice also needs to be provided.


Henry Sapiecha

Female teacher charged with persistent sex abuse of girl student in WA

A teenage girl was subjected to sexual assaults by her 26-year-old female teacher for almost a year,police say.West Australia

The teacher faces 23 sexual assault charges, including 15 counts of sexual penetration and one count of persistent sexual conduct with a child aged under 16.


The WA female teacher faces a spate of sex abuse charges, including rape. 

Police allege the 15-year-old student was abused between July 2015 and May 2016.

The offenses were reported on Friday evening and the woman was arrested on Saturday.

The woman is to appear in the Magistrates Court Midlands on June 14.



Henry Sapiecha

Attached Women Smoke Less & R In ‘Healthier Weight Range’: Heart Report shows

loving couples image

Women in relationships eat more fruit and vegetables and are less likely to be overweight or smoke than single females, a new survey has found.

The Heart Foundation survey, released Saturday, polled 6,025 Australians aged between 30 and 65, and looked at the clinical and lifestyle risk factors for developing heart disease. It surveyed people in a relationship (married and defacto) and those not in a relationship (single, widowed, divorced and separated).

“The data found women in a relationship fared better in many of the key risk factors, with more women eating their fruit and veg, more in a healthy weight range, more having normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and less women smoking than their single counterparts,” the Heart Foundation said.


Women in relationships rate better on a number of health risk factors.
Twenty percent of single women polled smoked, compared to just 11.8 percent of women in couples, while 61 percent of single females were overweight or obese compared to 54 percent of those coupled-up.

The survey found 7.4 percent of single respondents were at a high risk of having a heart attack, compared to 6 percent for women in couples.

For men, the results were mixed, with the survey finding men in relationships ate better and smoked less, but were more likely to be overweight and were at a higher risk of heart attack.

Heart Foundation national chief executive, professor Garry Jennings, said in heterosexual couples men were generally less healthy.

“If we look solely at couples, men aren’t as healthy as their female partners, with women healthier in almost every aspect,” Jennings said.

Couple relaxing in bedroom

Couple relaxing in bedroom

“It is bad news. The reality is that men are two times more likely to have been told by their doctor that they are at high risk of having heart attack than women.

“Men need to start getting their act together if they’re to live a long and healthy life.”

The release of the survey comes as the Heart Foundation holds its annual Lock in the Love campaign for heart disease research and patient support in Melbourne.

couple run in park-image

The foundation is encouraging people to buy a lock for $10 and attach it to the heart installations at Queensbridge Square or Collins Square in the CBD, NewsCorp Australia reports.

Heart disease is said to be the single biggest killer of Australians, claiming 20,000 lives each year. (6)

Henry Sapiecha

These 10 Little Things Make Every Man Feel Special…

When it comes to relationships, men and women tend to want the same things – it just seems we want or need them in different ways. For most men, respect and love are synonymous and are weighed the same, but how we show love and respect to a man may not always fall in line with what we women expect from our mate. Small gestures can yield great rewards when dealing with the heart of a man, so applying some of these simple practices can breathe air into your relationship by simply letting him know that you love and appreciate him….just as he is.


Gas him up!

Men like compliments too – so if your man has a killer smile, amazing washboard abs or big biceps – tell him! We all know how great we feel when a man pays us a sincere compliment, so letting your man know that you love his style or the way he walks will make him feel 12 feet tall! Choose something specific, and maybe unexpected, that you find attractive about him, and let him know in a genuine way that you only have eyes for him. Try to tell him 3 things that you love about him every day. He’ll be on Cloud 9 for weeks!


Make him feel needed
Most men like to feel useful – whether it’s fixing the kitchen sink, screwing in a light bulb or solving your crisis at work. I’m not suggesting you nag him to death or bog him down with chores, but find ways to let him know you need him by asking him for his help or his advice every once in a while. Men are great problem solvers, and they truly want to help the woman they love through their challenges. The reason most men shy away from “independent” women is because they sometimes send a message that they don’t “need” a man. But being self sufficient doesn’t mean the men in our lives serve no purpose, so let him be the man and thank him for all that he does on a daily basis.


Stroke his ego in the bedroom
Even if he isn’t the best lover you’ve ever had, make him feel as if he is. Men can be very delicate when it comes to their sexual prowess, and they take pleasing their woman very seriously. Let him know how attracted you are to him sexually, how he turns you on, and what you love about his body. Send him a text saying you can’t wait to get home to him and turn him out, then drink a Red Bull and get ready. He’ll be so turned up you’ll need all your energy to handle the monster you’ve created!


Ask him about his job and praise his accomplishments
Most men take pride in their career and place a certain value on the level of success they’ve achieved. In most cases, men tie success directly to their manhood, and their work gives them a sense of purpose. If they share their achievements with you, it’s because they want to impress you, and show you that they are capable of providing a future for you both – so acknowledge that! Be his biggest cheerleader and give him the admiration and respect he seeks and deserves – the returns will be tenfold.


Ask him about his interests or hobbies as well
All work and no play can make any man a dull boy…so ask him what he likes to do for fun – and be genuine about it. I know for some women, we really couldn’t care less what a touchdown or an RBI is, but it wouldn’t kill us to sit with him while he’s watching the game and ask questions (during the commercial). He’ll be delighted that you’re interested in something he enjoys, and if he is truly digging you, he will gladly share and feel special that you have an interest in HIS interests.


Laugh at his jokes
Men LOVE a woman with a good sense of humor – it shows she doesn’t take life…or herself too seriously. Men also tend to tie their sense of humor to their egos, so if we show them that we get their jokes, and actually think they’re funny, it’s a sign of approval and validation in a fun way. Appreciating a man’s comedic delivery can mean that we understand him, thus creating a connection…and what’s not to love about a person with a funny sense of self?


Cater to him sometimes
If your man has been hard at work or stressed out, rub his neck or give him a nice massage. Draw him a bath or prepare a nice meal for him. Even if you aren’t much of the “domestic” type, catering to your man can simply mean not crowding him as soon as he walks in the door, giving him time to unwind before you launch into a speech about how your day was or what needs to get done around the house. Sometimes realizing that he wants you there, but that he doesn’t feel like talking, is all the catering you need to do. So hand him the remote, let him kick his feet up and be quiet. When he’s ready to talk, ask him how his day was…and listen.


Don’t sweat the small stuff
Not everything in a relationship needs to be over analyzed or beaten down into the ground. So if he unintentionally offends you by not noticing your new hairstyle, let it go. Focus on what he does right instead of harping on everything he does wrong. So he left a glass in the sink…so what??? Be forgiving. Praise his great decisions and minimize his bad ones. Don’t say “I told you so” or take the opportunity to always have the last word. Don’t argue just to hear yourself talk, and don’t focus on always being “right.” Give him the benefit of the doubt and don’t expect him to read your mind. Chances are he really doesn’t know why you’re upset or what he did wrong – and we know that. Just let it go.


Brag about him to your friends
Men love this. Giving him compliments privately is a wonderful thing, but letting the world know how great your man is will having him blushing and wondering how he got so lucky to have a woman like you. Even when he’s not around, let others know what you love and appreciate about your boo. It sets the tone for mutual respect, love and admiration as he will do the same for you unconsciously. It’s easy for us to get complacent in our relationships, so doing a little boasting about your man every once in a while can serve as a reminder of why you love him and just how important he is to you.



Henry Sapiecha

Online dating tips for women: 5 steps to success!

Online dating has created a brave new world for single women in search of love. Indeed, the functionality of the web gives singles the ability to look for a partner using specific criteria (and to screen those who don’t fit the bill) – which means that there is a very good chance of finding someone truly compatible online.

Little wonder then, that more and more Australians are turning to the internet to find someone. In fact, nearly a quarter of Australian singles are currently using online dating, a number that only looks set to increase. In other words, it makes sense to look for love on the web. To female daters do just that, we created some online dating tips for women- guidelines to help make the most of the online dating adventure (and, who knows, maybe the men can pick up a tip or two as well!)

5 of the best online dating tips for women

1. Make that profile count.

You are fabulous. Funny, smart, educated, successful – but how can any potential dates know all that unless you are prepared to put yourself out there? A perfected profile might not be the easiest thing in the world to write but it is worth doing. It shows the world who you are and what you can offer. It may seem crude to think of dating in marketing terms, but there’s a simile here: your profile should be a bit like a window display. You are showcasing the best of yourself in order to pique the interest of someone equally wonderful.

2. Authenticity goes a long way

One of the ways you can get the most success from your ‘window display’ is to be authentic in your online interactions. While some statistics seem to suggest that following a formula is the best to way to ramp up interest, this doesn’t really tell the whole story. Yes, taking photos a certain way or writing a certain type of profile may result in more messages, but if this projected persona doesn’t match the authentic you then the messages you receive won’t match either. Being honest in your interactions – answering messages honestly and using current photos – means that those who do get in touch will be interested in the real you. When it comes to messages from matches, quantity might be one thing, but quality is so much more rewarding.

3. Know what you want

Being honest is important when relating with others online, but it is also important that you be honest with yourself. Indeed, some dating experts even suggest starting out your online journey by making a really precise wishlist, including everything from specific location to future plans. That way, when it comes time to fill in your profile details, or to look through potential matches, you will already have an idea in mind of what you think will work.

4. Confidence is attractive

It is a truism that confidence can be very attractive. One of the key online dating tips for women is to learn to embrace this, using that confidence to make a first move. If someone interesting sounding pops up as one of your suggestions then why not be the first to get in touch? After all, there’s a good chance they simply may not have seen your profile yet, so waiting on them could result in a missed opportunity. If you find someone intriguing, then there is no harm in reaching out and saying hello. If that sounds too daunting, then make sure to the most of our guided communication service – it is ideal if you don’t know where to start!

5. Be kind to yourself

Even the most confident women know that looking for love is not always a social whirl. You can be armed with every online dating trick in the book and still experience a quiet patch or send a message that gets no reply. The thing is, these quiet patches happen to everyone. They are not a reflection of anyone’s worth. This is why it is so vital to be kind to yourself when online. Taking the time to remind yourself that you are in fact wonderful and that you are worthy of love is the best way to get your head back in the game – and you may just find that the appeal of a positive attitude is the quickest route to a successful match.

Internet romance may be a brave new world but it is one that is easy to navigate when armed with the right online dating tips. When you mix an eye-catching profile with an authentic, confident approach and a dash of kindness, you have a recipe that is bound to cook up success for many Australian women. Exciting prospect, isn’t it?


Henry Sapiecha

Who Cheat More? Men or Women?


Who cheats more? Men or women? The surprising (or not so surprising) answer is men! The next question is why? Here are some of the main reasons that men cheat on women.


While we all know that men are naturally “hunters”, if you will, of the opposite sex, that is no excuse to not be able to control their actions, especially when it comes to staying loyal to their partners or spouses. It is basically a lack of discipline that men have.


A study shows that a lot of men love having variety when it comes to anything in their lives. As a result, some men even apply this need to women in their lives, resulting in cheating on their partners or wives. Again, just because you desire a little variety in your life does not give you a good excuse to cheat.


While women tend to use food or sweets to make them feel better when they are going through a rough time, men tend to use sex for that. If a man doesn’t feel like he is getting this at home, he will sometimes find it elsewhere. The best solution for both men and women having problems is to talk to one another, not turn to other things and people.


You are who your friends are! The statement is true. The majority of men who cheat on their partners or wives have close friends who have done the same to their wives. You eventually become who you hang out with.


Yes, in a sense, this is true. Love and sex are not always the same thing, but when it comes to a true relationship or a marriage, they should be. Sex should come as a result of deep love for one another. Many men try to justify the fact that love and sex are different, so they can definitely have sex with other women and still be in love with their partners or wives. NOT true.


If you are a woman and you think your man is cheating, you may be wondering what you can do to help the situation. Although divorce seems to be a popular option today, it is definitely not a good option. You should do whatever you can to make the marriage work.


The best way to solve any issue is to communicate. Communicate in a healthy and mature way though. Shouting at your partner is not going to solve anything and will only make matters worse. Discuss the issue openly and calmly and try to get to the root of the problem.


Unless you have 100% proof that he is cheating, don’t jump to conclusions. If he says he is not, then you must believe him. You need to know for sure before you do anything crazy!


If love stays at the top of your marriage or relationship, you will have nothing to worry about. Listen to what your partner is saying and always communicate. If you feel there is a problem in the relationship, talk about it with your partner. Don’t open up to other men or women.


Henry Sapiecha



To forget the one that got away is hard & here is why

"I've seen tears well up in the eyes of women in their 50s telling tales of adolescent heartbreak."

“I’ve seen tears well up in the eyes of women in their 50s telling tales of adolescent heartbreak.” Photo: Stocksy

My friends and I have an expression: “pulling a Mike”. To “pull a Mike” is to throw yourself at someone and declare your love, only to be knocked back so completely it takes a week for the pulpy remains of your heart to resume beating again.

Mike was a guy I knew in university. He was a history major. A dark, pony-tailed type, he was just a little bit smarter than the rest of us and his slightly frayed Levi’s fitted just a little better than anyone else’s. He was partial to big words with lots of syllables and stroked his chin when he spoke. I used to gaze at him across the classroom, imagining the bright, pony-tailed children we’d have, all the while missing the finer points the professor was making about the economic implications of crop failure in Tudor-Stuart England.

Having pined for him all year, I decided, as exams approached, that I needed to make my move. I prepared myself carefully, skolling at least four cans of VB before approaching him. This made me feel bolder than I really was, not to mention more attractive; it also made me drool a little and sway from side to side as I delivered my speech.

It went something like this: “So Mike, is this attraction mutual, or is it just me?”

His response was swift, and unambiguous. “It’s just you.”

Flashback: my parent’s holiday house, the summer of 1979. Sean Lewis was nine, a year and a half older than me. He had charisma. He won the local Fonz contest; I wanted nothing more than to be his Leather Tuscadero. So I was thrilled when he came up to me down by the swimming dock and said he wanted to talk. As he spoke, I was so mesmerised by the lock of sandy hair that tumbled over his left eye that I almost missed what he said.

“Why do you keep following me around? It’s weird.”

I’ve had plenty of successful dates in my life, and several happy relationships, but for some reason it’s the rejections that stick. I can barely recall the name of my first high-school boyfriend, or the guy I lived with for two years after I finished university. But I remember specifically that Warren Black took Carol Mayfield to the first boy-girl party at primary school instead of me.

I’ve talked to a few people about this, and I know I’m not alone. I’ve seen tears well up in the eyes of women in their 50s telling tales of adolescent heartbreak; it seems there is no scar like the one inflicted by a 17-year-old boy on a 17-year-old girl when he takes someone prettier to the ball. Why do these romantic mishaps sting for so long?

For one, we just seem to be predisposed to remember bad times more clearly than good. Maybe it’s a primeval survival thing. (Wow, things went really badly when I tried to pat that sabre-toothed tiger. Next time I’ll just stay in the cave.) Rejection is traumatic and love is not; obsessing over an unrequited passion 20 years gone might be like remembering exactly where you were the day Kurt Cobain died, or on the morning of September 11.

And heartbreak hurts, literally. Science tells us so. Anxiety (and romantic knock-backs definitely cause angst) releases hormones, like adrenalin, which can stress the heart and force it to work harder.

Some scientists also equate love with other forms of chemical addiction. In this case, it’s the oxytocin withdrawal that gives you the DTs. And how about this: Dutch researchers had test subjects send in photos of themselves to be viewed by other volunteers for an experiment on “first impressions”. Weeks later, the scientists hooked each individual up to an electrocardiogram and measured their heart rate as they heard what the other people thought. When they were told another person didn’t like them, their pulses slowed. Rejection really “broke” their hearts.

Then there’s the simple fact of age. When we’re young, romance and dating weigh more heavily than in later years. Life’s true traumas are not yet apparent, and so we assign our quota of emotional turmoil to affairs of the heart. Somewhere around the age of 30, things change. Children are born, parents grow older and weaker, friends disappear or are lost. Romantic anguish takes a back seat.

And this, maybe, is the point. Looking back on the dockside rebuff of a schoolboy, or the beer-fuelled longings of my 20-something self, I actually feel nostalgic for those early heartbreaks. There is a wonderful innocence in idealising someone the way you do when you are young, of fantasising about marriage and family and love, without the foreknowledge of how nice but, well, mundane these things can become in adult life.

I’m not as brave as I used to be (or I don’t drink as much) and haven’t “pulled a Mike” in a while. I did look up the original Mike the other day. He’s a history professor, still pony-tailed, still in Levi’s. I’ve moved on and I can see now it never would have worked between us.

But he’s left me with some useful words. A younger friend came over the other evening, regretful and teary after propositioning a guy by text and getting the following reply: sry not in2 U.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “you’ve only pulled a Mike. Enjoy it while you can.”

Sunday Life

Henry Sapiecha


never-say-naked-man_woman on man image

There are two reasons men get naked: to get clean, and to get laid. Most of the time, when a guy gets naked in front of you, it’s for the second reason. Or maybe he’s about to go skinny-dipping, which—technically—has the potential to achieve both goals. In any case, a guy who disrobes before you trusts you, and he really cares what you think. Now, I know you’re way too smart to actually utter any of these phrases next to a nude dude, but just in case, here’s a little refresher:

Why aren’t you hard yet? Hey, sometimes we need to warm up slowly! But now that you asked, we’re too self-conscious and stuck inside our own head to finish the job. If we were a little too drunk, now we’re way too drunk. If we were a little too tired, suddenly our eyelids feel like anvils. It’s fine to think this one, but please don’t ask.

Are you going to get off? Same thing here—as soon as you ask, it’s definitely not happening. Sensitive sex mishaps are best dealt with delicately. If you think he’s struggling, just slow down and give him a chance to rethink his attack. Odds are he just needs a new position, a new rhythm, or a helping hand.

Oh! I have to take this call! Chances are you don’t. You’re choosing to though, and that’s kind of a boner killer.

Don’t worry—it’s cold in here. OK, OK, let’s not patronize us, alright? We’re probably already well aware of the cold and its effects. And even if it’s not cold—well, sometimes shrinkage happens for reasons we can’t explain. Maybe we just had a big workout, and all our blood is routed to our muscles. Or a big meal, and all our blood is in our stomach. We don’t know, OK? We’re not scientists!

Do you love me? Of course we love you! We love you more than the internet loves cats! Or, you know, if this is a casual thing, at least we do right now. But if you want a truly honest answer, ask us later, when we’re not so naked.ast try to phrase this in a way that doesn’t sound like we’re going to compete with some other guy’s go-to move. It’s perfectly OK to tell us what to do without also explicitly telling us that you know it from experience—like whispering in our ear how much you want us (us!) to do something to you.

Guys usually love it when I… Again, this just has a bad ring to it. Would you like it if we brought up all the girls we hooked up with while you’re naked? Didn’t think so.

I have something important I need to tell you… Bad news sounds worse when you’re naked—and we’re also less likely to give it the full weight it deserves. So whether you’re married, you’re still in love with your ex boyfriend, you’re a lesbian, you have an infectious STI, you had sex with our best friend, or anything else totally serious, please—tell us while our clothes are still on.

Wow—guys are really hairy. Any time you say “guys are …” when you’re next to our naked body, we know you’re talking specifically about us. We know not all guys are really hairy. We also know that we are. Thanks for making a point to tell us.

You should really watch Magic Mike with me. Really? Now? Channing?

So tell me about your last breakup. Really? Now? Relationship talk?

I really need to clean this apartment. This has to stop. Chances are your guy didn’t tear off his shirt to show you his meandering happy trail. He probably wants to jump your bones, and any random tangents make us feel like we’re less than exciting and not exactly great at keeping your attention. If you want to talk about something important pre-sex, may I suggest what position you’d like to try first?

Actually, I’m not really in the mood anymore. Well that is information we could have used before we hurled our jeans across the room in a flamboyant display of passion. So pardon while we step off into the bathroom for a few minutes. We have a thing to attend to.


We know the big signs of relationship trouble: abuse, addictions, infidelity, deception, control, anger, etc. Many relationships don’t have these problems, but they’re still rife with other issues. They are the smaller red flags you’re not paying attention to that—when done every day—chip away the foundation of your relationship. These things happen to the best of us because we don’t think of them as that bad and we can always find a way to justify our actions. As in, I might be mean to him, but at least I don’t lie to him. He lies to me all the time. Team GEM has come up with 10 signs that your relationship might be in trouble. We don’t like to leave you wondering, so we offer our ideas on what you can do about it, too.



This happens in all kinds of relationships, whether romantic or platonic. We’re nice to strangers because we only see them for a few minutes and it’s easy to be on our best behavior. It’s easy not to snap at them or nag them. But the person we see every day—who left his dirty laundry on the floor or locked her keys in the car again—doesn’t always get the best treatment because we’ve seen that person at his or her worst and, quite frankly, we’re sick of it.

What you can do about it:

Take a day to observe your own behavior. Be honest about whether you have a mean edge in your voice when you talk to your partner. If you do—don’t worry! You’re human and we all behave badly sometimes. Now that you see yourself, take another day to think before you speak to your partner. If you feel the urge to say something mean, bite your tongue (figuratively, of course). Say what you want to say without the nasty edge. Throw in a sincere compliment. Your partner may not notice or appreciate what you did, but keep doing it. Lead by example.


There is no way that one can be in a relationship and not have struggles or problems arise. As conflicts happen, there’s a tendency to have tunnel vision about fixing them by looking at everything that’s going wrong. You both feel like you’re doing the right thing by discussing your relationship, but you’re in the defensive mode of picking at every bad thing about it in the name of strengthening it.

What you can do about it:

Reframe your thinking about your relationship. What’s right in it? Seriously, think about the things you love, the stuff that’s going well, the last time you had a good time together. When you’re discussing your relationship, highlight the good stuff. Ask for more of it and do more of it yourself. You’ll feel better and so will your partner. It doesn’t mean that you don’t deal with pressing issues; it means that you change the conversation to one that’s empowering to the relationship.


On your first date, it really was kinda cute the way your partner scraped her teeth with the fork at dinner. It wasn’t so bad the way he started every comment with, “Hey, you know what?” Now months or years have passed, and you think you’re going to lose it if you see that bad habit One.More.Time.

What you can do about it:

If love is still present, then you still have a chance to work on the “liking each other” aspect of the relationship. First of all, recognize that you yourself have habits that annoy your partner. Then, understand that there’s a good chance that your partner is not trying to annoy you! It’s impossible to hold on to the “first date façade” for months and years at a time. Let go of your annoyance and anger about small things that irritate you. It won’t be easy, but every moment you hold on to poisonous feelings is another moment that will steal your chance to be happy with the person you chose.


Sex is falling to the wayside or has stopped completely. You don’t hug or kiss each other. Communication doesn’t go much beyond the topics of kids, bills, and chores. You’re not connecting physically, emotionally, and mentally. This is a dangerous place to be because one or both of you is heading toward indifference—if you’re not already there. The textbook definition of indifference is a lack of interest, concern, or sympathy. It’s difficult to overcome a lack of concern for your partner

What you can do about it:

One place to start is to physically connect with your partner. For some couples, that could mean making love more often. For others, that might mean holding hands when you ordinarily wouldn’t. Human touch enhances the level of attachment we feel to others. Touch can send a powerful message of comfort, love, and security. It is a way to sympathize with people and show your care and concern. Your partner probably deserves your intimacy.


A self-centered attitude will drag a relationship down subtly, but quickly. It’s hard to be in a relationship with someone who insists on always having his own way, who makes unreasonable demands, or who is unwilling to compromise. It sends the message that the other person’s needs are unimportant.

What you can do about it:

If your partner is the self-centered one, there isn’t much you can do about it since you can’t change other people. But, you have unlimited power to change your response. If he wants you to pick up the dry cleaning and it’s inconvenient for you, then communicate what you can do. You could say something like, “I can pick up the dry cleaning or pick up the kids, but I can’t do both. I can do one and you can do the other. What do you prefer?”

If you are the self-centered one, you have to ask yourself what you’re really trying to achieve in your relationship if your behavior is a source of unhappiness. If you want to salvage your relationship, you have to be willing to do the hard work of self-reflection and then take action to balance your partner’s needs with your own.


Healthy couples should have separate interests. It’s part of what contributes to making each of you more interesting to the other. At the same time, it’s a problem if you—or your partner—have new pursuits that take the time you used to spend together or you have some of the same hobbies, but you no longer do them together. Of course, it may not mean anything to pick up a hobby, but beware if the hobby is leading either of you to spend more time with other people.

What you can do about it:

Bring your partner into what you’re doing and ask to join in what he’s doing. If you don’t enjoy golf, you don’t need to play 18 holes. Take a quick trip to the driving range instead. He may not want to join your theater company, but invite him to a rehearsal or show. The point is to find opportunities to come together sometimes.


Remember the days when you used to impress each other? You used to plan how you were going to look, think, and act when you were together. You put a lot of thought and effort into your appearance and behavior. Maybe now you don’t even bother to throw on lipstick and you no longer feel the need to stay abreast of issues your partner cares about. Impressing your partner in word and deed shows your investment in the relationship. If you do not impress each other, you’re losing your investment.

What you can do about it:

Time to start investing in impressing. Take a look at what you can do to pique your partner’s interest. It really won’t take much effort to look like you made an effort. If your usual date attire consists of sneakers, jeans, and a T-shirt, switch to nice jeans, a colorful blouse, and heels. You haven’t changed much, but it will look like you did. If your partner likes football and you only pretended to like it to seal the deal, then wow him with a nugget of information that you can easily get from watching ESPN on TV or online. There’s no need to be phony; you don’t have to learn the rules of football. But, you can talk about a human-interest story like the death of Adrian Peterson’s son.


Very little hurts more than your partner approaching you about something—anything—and your response is to literally and/or figuratively turn away. No matter how you feel, it shows a lack of care and concern not to respond—even if that’s not the message you intended to send. If your partner is turning away from you, then you know the pain.

What you can do about it:

Sometimes the problem is that the person doing the turning away is angry and doesn’t want to say something hurtful. Sometimes you—or your partner—don’t know what to say, so you figure it’s best to walk away without saying a word. You can prevent a bigger problem by acknowledging your partner as a person in a relationship with you. It could be as simple as saying, “I don’t know what to say right now. Let me think about it.” Or allow your partner some time to process his thoughts. You could say, “I know you need to think about this, but I do need to hear from you, too. Can we talk tonight?”

By doing so, you’re acknowledging that you understand your partner’s needs as well as your own.


There’s nothing wrong with seeking advice from friends and family about certain things. The point of having people in your life is that they help you on your journeys. The caveat here is that friends and family may not be very helpful when it comes to your relationship. Even if your aunt and uncle have been married for 50 years, even if your college roommate is a licensed marriage and family therapist, your connection with them is too close to look at your relationship objectively.

What you can do about it:

Stop talking about your relationship with friends and family. One member of TEAM GEM got this piece of great advice from her mother when she was a newlywed: “If you want me to love your husband as a son, then you can’t tell me all the things he has done to hurt you. You will forgive him and move on, but I won’t be so quick to forgive because you are my daughter and I love you more.” Your relationship will be better off if you talk to your partner first, then take your problems—individually and as a couple—to a licensed therapist. Can’t afford it? See if any colleges around you offer a degree program in therapy. You may be able to use the services of supervised graduate students and the fees are usually on a very reasonable sliding scale.


You’ve talked about all your issues, you’ve fought, and you’ve cycled through good and bad times. But, you wake up in the morning and you’re thinking that maybe your relationship is over.

What you can do about it:

Whether you stay or go is a decision that only you and your partner can make with some pretty deep soul-searching. If you choose to work things out, give it your all. Bring out your best self and treat your partner respectfully. Fully engage with your partner and really listen when he speaks. Avoid fighting. Wait at least three months have passed to evaluate whether your relationship has a future.

rsAfter two decades as a television news anchor, including four years on CBS’ The Early Show, Rene decided it was time for a change. Tired of reading from a teleprompter, René was determined to find her own voice and inspire women like herself – juggling busy lives, raising children and trying to live up to impossible parenting ideals. The result is René’s missive on modern motherhood, Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting and its subsequent website

As the daughter of two, breast cancer survivors, René underwent a preventive mastectomy in 2007 and now works tirelessly to promote early detection.

Rene is a regular guest on CNN, BET, Anderson, The Bill Cunningham Show, The Today Show and The Doctors and is an in-demand speaker. She is a proud wife to Buff Parham and parent to Casey and Cole.


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