Not sure if you want to spend $3.99 on this month’s Elle? Don’t worry, we’ve got Wendy Felton, editor of GlossedOver.com, here to tell you exactly what’s up on the sex, love, and relationships front in each month’s crop of lady mags.
Next month’s presidential election has totally saturated cable news, the internet, and even the November issues of the women’s magazines. (Check out the interviews with Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain in Marie Claire.) Reading relationship advice in magazines is a lot like watching the debates: There are applause-worthy truths, suggestions that make you roll your eyes and stomp out of the room in disgust (just me?), platitudes so vague as to be meaningless, and, of course, endless clichés.
- Like some candidates, Cosmopolitan raises more questions than it answers in its quiz-laden November edition. One test even lets you determine the strength of your relationship by picking your favorite tree. (Guys who select the oak are “marathoners in the sack.” It must be true if Cosmo says so.) The mag also resurrects The Rules with “5 Times You Shouldn’t Text Him.” Apparently, communicating verbally is not the way to get his attention! But you can “whip” him right away by “touching him softly and slowly” on his hand—which is, like, standard first-date behavior. Reality TV fixture Lauren Conrad reveals that every boyfriend she’s ever had has cheated, so she may want to tear out the cheater-detecting quiz on page 63. Men might not own up to their infidelities, but they do admit to plenty of atrocious behavior in “Guy Confessions.” The worst offender? A 27-year-old who still takes his laundry home to Mom. Elsewhere, the magazine offers “Bad Girl Sex”—95 suggestions ranging from saucy (there are multiple references to him “finishing”) to so-so (your body as gummy bear buffet). Still seeking a sex partner? Maybe you’re “girl hot” and not “guy hot.” In a shocking twist, “guy hot” requires displaying a massive amount of cleavage. And if you’re looking to settle down and cancel your Cosmo subscription, there’s a recipe for engagement chicken, a dish so tasty it inspires marriage proposals!
- Self realizes that a happy marriage isn’t built on poultry alone. In “Relationship Bootcamp,” writer Jenna McCarthy and her husband spend a weekend with marriage guru Terry Real. Real emphasizes respect for your partner, but realizes that resolutions aren’t always so simple. His advice? “Take a time out. And go make a sandwich.” (A chicken sandwich?) Fighting about flirting? Fret not! A study from McGill University says chatting with a cute co-worker can actually strengthen your relationship. See, women “make an unconscious effort” to compensate for coquettish behavior by cozying up to their primary hunter-gatherer, since flirting instinctively threatens that bond. Back in the modern age, 70 percent of couples who meet online get engaged in less than two years, while the majority of offline couples need more than two years to set a date. Facebook’s “whatever I can get” aside, the data reveals that online romance seekers are ready to commit.
- Still, technology is fraught with landmines. In Marie Claire’s “Love/Sex” section, one woman thinks she’ll never live up to her man’s ex after checking out the old girlfriend’s MySpace profile, and another writer scrolls through her boyfriend’s cell phone call log…only to find out he considers that a deal breaker. It’s enough to make a woman desperate enough to look for love IRL. May I suggest Beijing? The city boasts a “marriage market” where eager parents meet in the hope of making lasting matches for their offspring. Courteney Cox has built a satisfying marriage with David Arquette, saying the best thing about being married is how “there” he is for her. In other “there” news, sex toys are getting bigger, and not (ahem) that kind of bigger—instead, the devices are assuming furniture-like proportions. And in a thought-provoking essay for which there is no suitable segue, a descendant of a notorious Nazi writes about her relationship with a Jewish man whose grandfather was persecuted during World War II. And you thought your McCain/Obama relationship was doomed!
- Elle’s E. Jean Carroll dishes out advice to another mismatched couple. Her sage words to a reader who fears her bedroom tastes are too exotic for her vanilla boyfriend: “The chap is not a mind reader. Tell him what you like.” Indeed! Nicole Kidman’s found something she likes, saying her marriage to Keith Urban is based on “a deep and more profound love.” (She also says ex-husband Tom has the same thing with Katie, which is as good an explanation as any for the couch-jumping.) Even women who don’t look like Nicole can find a happy ending with a Hollywood type: Comedic actor Steve Coogan says, “I like eights, actually. Tens tend to be a little too demanding.”
- And what about the men who are 10s? Glamour’s “Let’s Talk About Sex” reveals what it’s like to romp with male models, firemen, and other fantasy types. The winners: Older gentlemen, firefighters, and pro athletes. (Says the lucky lady who beds a pro martial arts fighter, “He has no limitations are far as positions or stamina.” Wow. Just…wow.) Also winners, according to guy columnist Jake: taken men. Their relationships make them more confident and better dressed—and thus more attractive. Is your guy taking you to meet his parents? Glamour advises drinking in moderation (you think?) and addressing them like friends. Moving or starting a new job? A new study says women undergoing major life changes are more likely to forget birth control. Finally, a little bit of schadenfreude goes a long way. “8 Lessons You Can Learn From Celebrity Crack-Ups” proves that even famous people have relationship troubles…and that their foibles contain valuable lessons for the rest of us. Remember, everyone—when George Clooney says he doesn’t want to get married, it’s not just a campaign slogan. He means it.
Still, there’s no need to worry about long-term commitments—giving a guy a vote of confidence only affects one night, not the next four years. If he proves to be a lame duck, there are way more than two candidates who’ll campaign for your attention. So make a stump speech, sway some swing(er) states, and stand up for what’s right for you. When it comes to, er, not-so-foreign relations, you have plenty of veto power.