Category Archives: Sex and Intimacy

Summer Date Ideas in Toronto


Every couple goes through their share of thinking that they have exhausted all possible date night options. However, with summer creeping just around the corner, there’s no shortage of things to do in Toronto. From activities that allow you to escape the heat to enjoying the beautiful natural resources of the city, we have you covered with having an unforgettable summer with your significant other.

Hit up one of Toronto’s many Food Festivals

Toronto has wide selection of food festivals that happen every summer! From Taste of Asia to Toronto’s Ribfest, there is bound to be a festival that satisfies your tastes.

Cool off at one of Toronto’s ice cream parlours

Summertime in Toronto means it’s time to cool off with some of the city’s best frozen treats. Satisfy your sweet tooth for extravagant cones, scoops, and ice cream sandwiches, by trying out all the unique ice cream and gelato shops in the city. Some suggestions include; Sweet Jesus, Eva’s Original Chimney’s, Arctic Bites, and La Paloma.

Spend a day at Kensington Market

Take a stroll in one of Toronto’s most unique and lively neighbourhoods – the one and only Kensington Market. This neighbourhood is full of local businesses, including art shops, bars, vintage stores, and cafes. It’s nearly impossible to become bored in Kensington Market, despite its small size. Sundays are perfect for this date idea, as it is labelled “Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington” since they close down the streets and Toronto’s local artists, musicians, and performers come out.

Toronto Islands

Although closed until the beginning of August, visiting Toronto Islands is a must during the summer months. With bike trails and canoeing, music festivals of all genres, beaches to tan on, and a miniature theme park with an outdoor maze to become a little kid again, the Islands is enjoyable for all.

Ripley’s Aquarium

Spend the day cooling off by visiting this gigantic aquarium boasting 35,000 square feet of sea and freshwater creatures. With sharks, stingrays that you can pet, and daily shows, the Aquarium makes a perfect date. Bonus points, the Aquarium is located right by the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre, which makes for a scenic walk and lots of things to do on a date.

Toronto Zoo

If you’re wild about your significant other and animals, definitely head over to Toronto Zoo during the summer! This enormous zoo will take up the entire day to explore, as it comprises of seven unique regions, including a Tundra Trek and a Canadian wildlife section.

Patio restaurants

Whether it’s private, elegant, casual, sprawling, or shaded, a patio date can be one of the loveliest ways to enjoy an evening with your significant other. Toronto’s plethora of restaurants, cafes, and bars will have you covered with finding a perfect patio for you and your date. Here are just a few of my suggestions: Amsterdam Brewhouse, The Wallflower, Bandit Brewery, Gusto 101, El Catrin, The Dime, and Queen Mother Café.

Picnic

With summer in full swing and gorgeous weather peeking in, a picnic is the perfect date to enjoy food, nature, and especially your loved one’s presence. Here’s a small list of Toronto’s most beautiful parks so that you can escape the urban jungle and enjoy the city’s greenery: Bluffers Park, High Park, Riverdale Park, Dufferin Grove, and Edwards Gardens.

Movie under the stars/outdoor screening

Free outdoor movies appear often throughout the summer amongst various venues and parks in Toronto. Catch a flick with your loved one in the city or go for a short cruise to a drive-in theater along the GTA. My picks include the 5 Drive-in located in Oakville, Landing Park’s City Place, Regent Park’s Weekly Under the Stars movie night, and Toronto Harbourfront’s Free Flicks.

Day trip in Niagara Falls

Take the GO transit, Greyhound, or your own vehicle, and enjoy a weekend getaway at Niagara Falls. Spend the day as tourists and check out the gorgeous Falls by taking the Maid of the Mist or by simply walking along the beautiful path. Also, if you are a shopping enthusiast, there are plenty of outlet stores and malls nearby, as well as the obvious option of crossing over to the States! Finally, enjoy Clifton Hill and its many touristy attractions including, haunted houses, funhouses, and wax museums.

Berry picking

Support a local farm while experiencing a fruitful and tasty experience by picking berries in the GTA. Some farms include Whittamore’s Berry Farm in Markham, the Applewood Farm Winery in Stouffville, Downey’s Farm Market in Brampton, and Walch Family Strawberries in Stratford.

By: Maryam Sorkhou

Maryam Sorkhou is a second year student specializing in psychology at the University of Toronto. Her research interests comprise of mood and personality disorders. She hopes to pursue a career in clinical and counselling psychology, in which she can reduce the stigmas that are often associated with mental illness.

Talking to your kids about sex and sexuality

family_couchFor many parents it can often seem like a daunting task filled with awkward conversations and maybe a clumsy demonstration or two. Conversations about sexuality don’t have to be awkward at all! Engaging in healthy conversations about sexuality sets the stage for talking, without guilt or embarrassment, about body parts and their functions. Setting them up for success to feel positive about their own bodies and to make conscious, well informed decisions that protect their sexual health.

Here are five suggestions to help parents de-stress and raise kids to become sex positive adults:

1. Think about your early experiences with sexuality

Take some time to really dig deep into your memory banks as you attempt to remember how and when you first learned about sexuality. Reflect upon those early conversations about it. Were they positive, negative or did they fall into a gray area? Would you change anything about the ways in which you learned about sexuality?

It’s important to tap into these early experiences as they play an integral role into how you feel about sex and your own sexuality throughout your life. Your feelings and experiences may then be passed onto your children in a variety of manifestations whether they are presented as fears, insecurities, shame or positive views of sexuality.

The key here is to own your feelings by acknowledging and owning them whether they are good or bad. Knowing the “how” and “why” behind your views of sexuality can then be used as invaluable tools when the time comes to take your own child on the journey towards understanding sexuality in all its forms.

2. Use the correct language for body parts

One of the most important things you can do for your children and their understanding of sexuality is to refer to body parts by anatomically correct names. Making an effort to do so from birth will serve as reinforcement for your child as it will be considered normal and they will follow your lead.

The use of the proper names of body parts fosters a positive body image and self-confidence.

3. Keep things casual

Feel free to forgo the urge to tackle one big discussion about sexuality at once. Instead, find ways to approach the subject during normal conversations and activities while avoiding scare tactics. Make it a point to keep things fun while you’re at it, too. It’s totally acceptable and encouraged to get a little silly with things if it helps.

Try to look for teachable moments when attempting to relay information in an inviting way. Doing so will teach your child that sexuality is a positive part of life all while providing them with age appropriate information. Finding opportunities to discuss sexuality with your child will be relatively easy. Do not shy away from using TV shows, music videos and overheard conversations when looking for an excellent starting point when you want the time to come to discuss sexuality.

Definitely encourage your child to come to you with any questions they may have and keep the conversations going.

4. Keep it age appropriate

A large part of sex positive parenting lies within your ability to discuss sexuality with your children from an age appropriate perspective. However, we must first jump the hurdle of the common misconception that “sex education” should be relegated to the annals of reproduction, sexually transmitted infections and contraception. When we abandon and de-stigmatize the standard views of what sexual education “has” to be, we then can openly communicate with children about sexuality in a more honest and informative manner.

Opening this dialogue encourages you to inform your child in an age appropriate manner about a wealth of topics that are crucial to developing a healthy sex positive attitude. The list of topics that are vital to furthering sexuality education includes: love, pleasure, empathy, consent, sexual assertiveness, diversity and preferences, self-image, gender stereotypes, respect for all, boundaries, healthy relationships, intimacy, safety and trust.

5. Lastly, remember it takes a village.

If you’re ever at a loss, talk to your friends, family members, family physician, teachers, community agencies, or your local clinical sexologist for support.

By: Kelly McDonnell-Arnold

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Sex After Pregnancy and Baby

GTY_baby_166272556_jt_131103_16x9_608“Not now, honey, I’m tired” takes on a whole new meaning when you’re a new parent. You’re exhausted, sleep deprived and have a world of new responsibilities. You barely recognize your body in the mirror, let alone want someone else to see you naked. Sex may be the furthest thing from your mind. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. It’s normal to lose your libido after having a baby. There are ways to put the desire back into your relationship and balance family life with sex life. Here are my top three tips to finding (and keeping!) that balance in your relationship:

ONE: Be Realistic

Accept that you are both going to be over extended and less likely to be jumping each others bones. Being a parent is tiring. That’s just a fact of life. Your whole perspective and focus also changes when you become a mom. Yet, it’s still important to nurture your relationship with your partner(s). Just because you are now a mom doesn’t mean you stop being part of a couple. Try to focus less on the lack of wild sex and more on what you can do that feels comfortable. Even simple things like more eye contact, heartfelt compliments, and a long hug can go a long way in fostering that connection and intimacy as a couple instead of just parents. Everyone likes to be told they look nice – especially after having their body changed after pregnancy!

TWO: Channel Your Creativity

Sometimes, it really is the small things that make the biggest difference in our day-to-day lives.  Sure, you may want a weekend get away, but that’s not always feasible. Instead, try a ‘stay-cation’ by spending time relaxing in a bubble bath after baby has fallen asleep. You could even spice it up a bit by inviting your partner(s) to join you in the bath. You’re going to have limited time and energy as a new parent. Ask yourself “Do I want to spend my time picking up toys and making complicated dinners, or do I want to enjoy time with my partner(s) and order takeout?” The exhausted stage isn’t forever. Don’t put your energy in places you may regret, like vacuuming the house just because you are worried about what visitors may think! What do you think? You’re more important than a house guest.

THREE: Let’s Talk About Sex Baby

Communication is an important part of any relationship. The most effective way to get more of what you want is by talking about it with your partner(s). Open lines of communication about wants and needs in the bedroom are key to a happy relationship and healthy sex life. Think about it. You talk about money and parenting style, why not talk about sex? Just like anything else, if it’s not talked about, the problem will fester and become a bigger and bigger issue in the relationship. Don’t let your fear or talking about the subject inhibit you from building a stronger relationship. The bond is more than just physical. By talking through all aspects of your relationship with your partner(s) – from money, to parenting style, to sex – you only make the relationship stronger, not weaker. Talk it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Having a baby doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life. It just brings a whole new dimension to your family and relationship. Savor your relationship with your baby, but also savor your relationship with your partner(s). You deserve to have it all.

By: Kelly McDonnell-Arnold

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5 Signs You’re Dating a Psychopath

Dating a psychopath is more likely than you think!

About 1% of the population suffers from psychopathy, meaning in a town of about 100,000 people, 1000 are psychopaths. It is important to mention that psychopathy is a personality disorder made up of specific characteristics and can only be diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist. But even if you’re not dating a psychopath per se, these are some traits to be weary about in a partner.

Extremely Charming and Over the Top

A Psychopath will shower you with gifts and compliments, and make you like you’re the only one in the world. Being extremely charming is good way of getting people to fall in love with you, and this characteristic is also what enable a psychopath to control or manipulate you.

Manipulative

Psychopaths tend to be able to get their way. They turn their ideas into your ideas in such a subtle way that you have no idea that it has happened. Ever confronted your partner about something they did to upset you, but you end up being the one apologizing? This may be a sign you’re dating a psychopath.

No Sense of Responsibility

Pyschopaths tend to deny responsibility for their actions. They end up blaming you, saying that your actions lead to them to acting they way they did. And they honestly believe that they did nothing wrong due to lack of remorse.

Risky Behaviour

Psychopaths can’t grasp the idea of punishment and this will lead to doing things that puts them and you at risk. This can be dangerous behaviour, promiscuity, cheating, drugs, and so on. Definitely behaviours you should avoid!

Big Ego

Most psychopaths have a sense of grandeur. Your needs come second because actually believe that you are less important. You are there to serve their needs. As long as you are doing that, why would the person put any effort into helping you grow as an individual?

All of these are some tell tale signs that you could be dating a psychopath. But don’t take my work for it! Listen to Kim!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz9LaOJAghI

3 Ways To Communicate In A More Meaningful Way

Speech-Bublé2We are all constantly told that communication is key when it comes to any type of relationship or human interaction. And that’s true! How can we better communicate in our daily lives and make our words genuine? Sometimes it just means taking a few extra steps with respect to how we express ourselves.

1. Elaborate on your thankfulness

Instead of just saying thank you, say:

“Thank you, that means a lot to me”

“Thank you, I really appreciate help..”

“I am very thankful that you are doing ___”

Gives your thank you a bit of an extra punch and helps communicate that you are really thankful and why you are really thankful.

2. Express how you feel in the moment even if it seems obvious

It’s important to express how you feel when speaking to others because even though your feelings might be clear to you they may not be clear to others. We can’t assume that others know what we are feeling and thinking if we do not express ourselves clearly. People can be very intuitive but they are not mind readers. This is especially true in romantic relationships where there might be some differences in how men and women choose to express their emotions.

3. Learn what not to say

To make your words more meaningful and important, examine what you say. We express what we value in our words and if our speech is frequently full of nonconstructive negativity, criticism, insensitivity and empty or trivial words we will probably push friends away and maybe attract “like-spoken” people. Try to keep your thoughts balanced so that your words will be positive, genuine and important.

By: Danielle Taylor

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Psychotherapist Discusses Fifty Shades Of Grey Concerns On CityNews

Our own Carol Anne Austin was interviewed on City News about the concerns surrounding the movie 50 Shades of Grey. One concern is that it may normalize abuse in relationships. Carol Anne explained that this movie may be perpetuating some cultural scripts around some traditional gender roles and that different standards for what might be appropriate sexually for men and women can lead to harmful outcomes.

In addition, the dominance theme is one of the concerns, especially given that some young women viewing this movie may not be sexually experienced. Carol Anne spoke about the importance of having these discussions with our family, with youth and with our children. She explained that the pairing of sex and violence in media is very rampant and that it is important to have discussions around this to make sure we are watching media with a critical eye.

It can be uncomfortable for parents to have these sexual discussions with their teens and Carol Anne discussed that it’s okay for parents to share that sentiment with their teens. Also, parents can seek the help of a teacher, guidance counselor, sex educator or sex therapist if they feel it is outside their comfort zone.

Another concern about 50 Shades of Grey is that this movie may blur the lines of consent. Carol Anne explained that this film is depicting BDSM and it can be great to play around with power in our sexual relationships but we need to make sure to establish explicit consent about this ahead of time. Yes needs to mean yes. Just because we consent to one sexual act doesn’t mean that we consent to other acts down the line. Especially when we want to play with power or pain in our sexual acts we need to make sure everything is explicitly discussed ahead of time and that no one is surprised.

 

3 Ways To Lessen Your Anxiety About Your New Relationship

Toronto Psychologist Healthy RelaitonshipsYou are in a new relationship. It’s magical yet unpredictable. Things seem to be going great but you may not always know what tomorrow might bring. You may have some concerning thoughts. Is trust a problem? Will the spark fizzle out in a few more months? Will your partner commit to you forever? Do you want to marry this person?

There are countless reasons why a person might be feeling anxiety in his/her relationship. However, anxiety early in a relationship often stems from issues such as commitment and trust.

It will probably be helpful to have a meeting with yourself to examine the source of your anxiety and think about the meaning of your nervousness.

It is very normal to experience some anxiety and worry during the early part of your romantic relationship. In a way, it’s a good sign. It means that your relationship is meaningful to you and that you are allowing yourself to experience some vulnerability. However, it can be uncomfortable and unhealthy to experience too much anxiety so here are three ways to bring more calm to your exciting romantic experience:

1. Examine your partner’s actions

You might feel as if you want your relationship verbally validated very regularly. However, depending on the person, this may not happen as often as you would like. Instead, look at other ways your partner tells you that he/she wants to be in the relationship. There are many ways of expressing affection other than through words and these ways can be even more powerful. Recognize the small things your partner does for you. Basically, if a person wants to be in your life, he/she will make the effort to stay there.

2. Communicate

If a relationship is starting to feel too all over the place and causing you stress, it might be time to sit down with your partner to discuss your relationship. Gently inquire where your partner’s thoughts and feelings are at and check to see if you are both on the same page. This type of conversation might be best down in a private and relaxed setting when it is an appropriate time for both of you.

3. Try to develop balanced thoughts about your relationship

The harsh reality is that many relationships end. Therefore, it might be important to value your relationship for what it is now and recognize its importance even if it will end one day. Try to remember that even if you feel a relationship ended in failure it is still a valuable lesson for the future. Remind yourself that even though you might be very sad if your relationship does not work out, you will be able to recover and move on. Empowering yourself with balanced thinking allows you to have more control over your thoughts and emotions. When you have more control over your thoughts and emotions it may help you feel more control over your anxiety about your relationship.

In the end, it is always a leap of faith!

Best of luck with your relationship! 🙂

By: Danielle Taylor

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7 Things He Wants You to Know About Dating

keep-an-open-mind-101-happy-quotes-and-tipsDating can be fun, frustrating, exciting, and miserable all at the same time.  After failed attempts to
make it to relationship status, we often ask ourselves, “What are they thinking?!” Ladies, fret no more, here is what he wants you to know about dating.

1. “Playing hard to get is a turn off to a mature man and like a crack addiction for boys.”

My dad always told me, “Men value what they earn.” Although true, it sounds like we need to make sure we give them the opportunity to earn it.  One man explained “We like the chase but don’t forget you agreed to meet. Don’t be afraid to show some interest.”

2.  “Give your honest opinion about date ideas.”

Many of the men I asked shared their frustration with women either not helping to provide date ideas, not having opinions on their date ideas, or giving too many date ideas. One fellow reported, “If a guy asks a gal’s opinion on date options, be honest.  It’s hard enough to guess what she likes, let alone what she could be allergic/scared of”.

3. “It’s just a date.  Lighten up.”

This seems like something we all know but with so much pressure to “find the one”, all your friends walking down the aisle, and the goal to not hit geriatric pregnancy age by the time we are ready to have kids, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to hook the guy.  One man wanted to remind us, “We already like you (thus the date).  We’re asking questions because we are interested in more than your looks.”

4. “Don’t talk about your ex.”

One man explained “On the first date, only bring up history if we ask.  We don’t really care at this point about your ex or dating history.”

5. “Less is more”

Trends tell us we look best with long flowing hair (hair extensions), thick bushy lashes (lash extensions), tan skin (fake tan), and perfect skin (foundation).  But keep in mind that trends that women enjoy are different than what guys necessarily find attractive.  I guess he isn’t just sweet
talking you when he says you are beautiful when you wake up.

6. “Ask us questions”

Guys said they know the importance of asking questions on a date, especially to keep
conversation flowing, but that it can be a turn off if ladies spend the date only sharing about
themselves.  In fact, some men reported a ladies’ interest and ability to ask questions is a turn
on.  So ladies, try to make that convo 50/50.

7. “An offer to pay goes a long way”

Men agreed that women should offer to pay, but also that you should only let them pay if you
are interested.  They also recognized that more women are practicing “casual dating” than in
the past and if that’s the case, more power to you, but transparency is appreciated prior to
letting them fork up the cash.

By: Ashley Callahan

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Coming Out to Family & Friends

Getting Over BreakupWow!

Congratulations on making this decision!  But isn’t it terrifying too?! Every experience of deciding to tell your social circle you are gay, lesbian or bisexual is different. It is also unpredictable. You may assume it will be okay because you have an open-minded parent, BUT there is a difference between being open to anyone else being LGBT and your own child. This can be a challenge for any parent.

I do not say this to scare you, but to prepare you. You will need to have either a trusted person in your life to talk to during this process or a professional to support you. This is especially the case if you come from a faith community or culture in which being LGBT is simply not accepted. It is important to keep in mind that this time is not just about you. Please recognize that you may be changing the perceptions and worldview of the people in your life. This will take time. Please be compassionate but ALWAYS expect and insist on being treated with personal respect.

If you have a family that is willing to work it through with you, you will need to create a safe place for the people in your life to say and ask what they need to in order to take this new information into their spirit.

Examples:

  • Your mother may wonder what she did wrong.
  • Your sibling may feel there is an important part of you they have never known and need to grieve this.
  • Your grandmother may worry about you and you being judged by others.

Yes, there are some stereotypes inherent here and it will be easy for you get angry. However, these are also real feelings and concerns for your friends and family members. If a safe place is created to explore this together, this can be a time to strengthen yourself and your family.

However, if the reality of your family is that it is not accepted, please remember that you deserve love and respect. There is support out there. I wish you love and light!

By: Lisa Shouldice

Lisa Shouldice

 

3 Ways To Get Into A Positive Dating Mindset

a-purple_tulips_cup_of_coffee-1514218After being stuck in the dating scene for a while and probably experiencing some rejection, many people become jaded about the dating process. While dating is definitely not always an easy or pleasant experience, there are a few ways to develop a positive attitude and make dating a bit more enjoyable.

1. Focus on you before the date

Do what you need to do to feel great about yourself. Participating in some self care is a great way to relax and pamper yourself. Try to keep your mind off the date so that you can avoid becoming too anxious. Tell yourself that anyone would be lucky to go on a date with you and take the time to prepare to present the best version of yourself. Get pumped to some invigorating music while you are getting ready and celebrate you.

2. Decide that you are going to have a great time

Having a positive attitude about yourself and the potential of the date is beneficial for you and attractive to your date. Being engaging is key. Ask your date lots of questions, smile and act at ease as much as you can. We might feel like giving up when a date does not meet our expectations, however, you are still spending time with another human being so make the most of that time. Treat even a person you know you will reject with lots of respect and kindness. Have a great time because you are great company even if your date is not.

3. Share with your friends after the date

Talking about a date afterwards can be cathartic and free some of the tension that built up. If the date went horribly, seek the support of your friends and try to think that you now have a new bad date story to add to your list as most people do.

By: Danielle Taylor

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