Do you have the freedom to say what you really feel? Do you share your true thoughts and ideas, or do you struggle to avoid hurting, disappointing, or angering others?
It can be easier to try to meet others’ expectations and avoid conflict. We may even believe we are making someone happy by not speaking our truth. What’s the cost? Slowly giving up fragments of who we genuinely are: our authentic self.
There was a time when right and wrong worked for me. I had stability, harmony, and a practical path for pursuing a career in accounting, marrying a wonderful man, and raising three beautiful children.
I didn’t realize I was following expectations of what I thought should make me happy based on what I learned and believed to be true. I was living on the surface, stuck in the paradigm of right and wrong. Though I was happy, something was missing.
Until I ventured within and followed my real passion (psychology, writing, and seeking spiritual truth), I couldn’t see that I’d been living in the framework of family norms and social conditioning, not knowing how to listen to myself.
I grew up shy, fearful of having the wrong answer, one that didn’t fit into what others told me I should be, do, know, and think.
The social mask forms the moment we’re born and we hear our first words. We learn to please, meet expectations, and avoid sharing our feelings, which can turn into a lifelong struggle to be good enough, know enough, and have enough.
We long to be seen and heard for who we are unconditionally, but we find ourselves on the path of conditional love, seeking the approval and appreciation from others that we eventually discover must come from within.
When I began sharing my ideas, it went against expectations of “right and wrong,” and I faced criticism and judgment. I was finally following my own values and the things that excited me.
I’d eagerly share with my family, not realizing how far “out of the box” I’d gone, and was met with silence, or criticism behind my back.
As I stepped into my beliefs, I encountered defensiveness and attempts to prove I was wrong. Conflict for the first time! Both of us were living in our ego’s fear, needing to be right in a space of “how could you think that?”
Then a twenty-year friendship ended abruptly when I wasn’t following her “right” way of business ethics.
As university friends, we had both become coaches, leaving behind our corporate careers, and suddenly I was a competitor instead of a friend.
She felt the need to control the way I did business. Sadly, it turned out to be more important than our friendship.
Soon after, I faced blaming, false assumptions, and horrific judgments from a friend of over a decade. I no longer followed her “right way,” which culminated in a six-page letter about why I was wrong, and who I should be—otherwise this friendship wasn’t working for her!
I was shocked, and felt enormous hurt, disbelief, and some things I didn’t expect: anger, hatred, and resentment.
I hadn’t felt this intensity of negative emotions toward anyone in my entire life. I couldn’t forgive because I’d become attached to my way needing to “be right” for her.
At the same time I’d developed a strong inner trust, validated by the most fulfilling life experiences in all areas of my life. Suddenly, I could see that who was right and wrong didn’t matter.
I was judging her for judging me!
I was also trying to correct her in an effort to fix her, convincing her of my beliefs, needing to control, or trying to change her to make me happy.
It often happens with those close to us who are now hurting us with their “disregard, disobedience, or disrespect” for not following our right way.
I now held the energy of criticism (finding fault, complaining), and judgment (blaming, resentment, punishment). While I trusted what was right for my well-being, I needed to let go of it being right for someone else.
Doing this does not mean we accept or absolve responsibility for all manner of words and behavior. It just means that we stop blaming and judging someone else and consider that they’re doing their best from their own state of consciousness.
The constructive or destructive choices they make form their learning and experiences, and can only be 100% their responsibility.
We may have the best of intentions with our criticism and judgment, and we might find ways to punish, yell, impose, demand, and justify them as the “right way,” but love does not condemn.
When we’re coming from a place of love, we share, teach, and role model in a space of curiosity, compassion, and understanding.
How do you communicate authentically from a judgment-free space so others will stay open to your thoughts? It may help to use these phrases:
- I notice that…
- Are you willing to…
- I’m curious about…
- Here’s how I’m feeling, what are you feeling?
- Are you open to hearing my thoughts and feelings around this?
- Here’s what I desire for our relationship…what do you want?
- Are you willing to listen to my point of view, even if it may not be the same as yours?
- I’m feeling disappointed or not okay with….because what’s important to me is…
- I think/believe that…what do you think/believe?
- What exactly did you mean by…
- I just want to understand where you’re coming from, can you say more about…?
You may want to avoid certain phrases that come across as criticism and judgment, as they may cause defensiveness and affect other’s ability to be authentic with you:
- You should…
- You never….
- You always…
- Why can’t you get that….
- What’s wrong with you?
- Why or how can you not see that…
- I’m so disappointed that you…
- How could you…?
- I can’t believe you…
- You are so…
I’ve learned that, at times, I cannot be authentic because it will bring out someone’s ego (blaming, complaining, condemning), even if I share from a genuine place of love.
We have no control over where someone chooses to live on the spectrum of fear versus love, and must discern whether there’s space to share—and what’s better left unsaid, so we don’t step on other people’s spiritual path.
Sometimes we may simply need to wish others well on their journey, creating a new space for both sides to reflect on what truly matters. This is also a loving choice.
And when you love without judgment, you won’t need to be right because you’ll be free.
“Out beyond ideas of right and wrong there is a field. I will meet you there.”
This article was co-authored by Katie Styzek. Katie Styzek is a Professional School Counselor for Chicago Public Schools. Katie earned a BS in Elementary Education with a Concentration in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She served as a middle school mathematics, science, and social studies teacher for three years prior to becoming a counselor. She holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling from DePaul University and an MA in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Katie holds an Illinois School Counselor Endorsement License (Type 73 Service Personnel), an Illinois Principal License (formerly Type 75), and an Illinois Elementary Education Teaching License (Type 03, K – 9). She is also Nationally Board Certified in School Counseling from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
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Friends are essential to our lives as social beings—we confide in them, look to them for support when we’re feeling down, and celebrate with them when we experience success. As we grow and evolve over time, our friendships will change, too, but sometimes not in a good way. You may feel your friendship has run its course—maybe you no longer have anything in common, or maybe your friendship has become toxic—and decide it’s time to end the friendship. But how do you do it without drama? This article will help you determine if it’s truly necessary to end the friendship and, if so, how to do it as gently as possible.
1 You don’t have to come out. While many people find it’s a great weight off their shoulders, others don’t want to come out, seeing their sexuality as a completely private matter – so it it’s really up to you. Only come out when you feel comfortable and confident in doing so.
2 Coming out can be a really positive experience and it can feel liberating to be authentic with family, friends and colleagues. You can also be a positive role model to others around you who may be considering coming out.
3 Many people worry about other people’s reactions. Key concerns are that they won’t be accepted or will be seen differently. So if someone comes out to you, one of the best ways to respond is to say, “I still feel exactly the same about you.”
It’s also perfectly OK to say that you need time to process the information, but try to communicate at the same time that your feelings towards the person who has come out to you have not changed.
4 Worries and concerns may vary according to how old you are. Younger people can be more concerned about reactions and acceptance among their peer group, and worry about whether or not they might be bullied. Older people – especially those in a heterosexual relationship and maybe with children – may have different dilemmas. If you are coming out to your children, remember to remind them that you are still the same person, that you still love them and that you still feel the same way about them. If at all possible, get the support of your ex-partner and tell the children together.
5 Allow people to be shocked and to need time to take the news in – be sensitive to their feelings, too. Pick a quiet, calm time when you tell people, which will give you all time to talk about it. Remember that coming out may be more of a process than an event.
6 If family or friends react in a negative way, it won’t necessarily be how they always feel. Give them time to get used to the news. First reactions aren’t always lasting reactions.
7 If you are really nervous about coming out to family or friends, consider writing them a letter telling them, then follow up with a phone call or visit. This allows the recipient time to get used to the news, but you still retain control of the situation.
8 Staying in control of the news should always remain with the person who is coming out. So it’s important so think about this when choosing how to do it. While you should use whichever medium you feel most comfortable with – face-to-face, phone call, text, email, social media – it’s worth bearing in mind that some offer more privacy than others. If you don’t want everyone to know at once, consider using more old-fashioned methods of communication. If you want to come out to one family member at a time, remember to tell them that as you share your news.
9 If you are not sure of how certain significant people in your life may react, it’s a good idea to build a support network around you first. This could mean coming out to one person whom you trust and are reasonably confident will be supportive. If necessary, have that person with you when you come out to others.
10 If you suspect someone you know is LGBT, remember that you cannot – and should not – force them to come out, but you can foster an environment where the person feels supported and safe to do so.
This article was co-authored by Lena Dicken, Psy.D. Dr. Lena Dicken is a Clinical Psychologist based in Santa Monica, California. With over eight years of experience, Dr. Dicken specializes in therapy for anxiety, depression, life transitions, and relationship difficulties. She utilizes an integrative approach combining Psychodynamic, Cognitive Behavioral, and Mindfulness-based therapies. Dr. Dicken holds a BS in Integrative Medicine from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, an MA in Counseling Psychology from Argosy University Los Angeles, and a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D) in Clinical Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Westwood. Dr. Dicken’s work has been featured in GOOP, The Chalkboard Magazine, and in numerous other articles and podcasts. She is a licensed psychologist with the state of California.
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Being ignored doesn’t feel good, whether it’s a friend, partner, or sibling who’s shutting you out. While you may be tempted to keep reaching out until they respond, it’s actually wiser to back off. Continue with your daily routine while they process their feelings. The good news is, they probably won’t ignore you forever! Once things have calmed down, try to arrange a face-to-face meeting with them to discuss the problem and work together to come up with a solution that feels right for both of you.
We’ve all been there: your very nervous friend has just come out to you and now it’s your turn to respond.
Okay, so maybe we haven’t all been there. However, for some of our LGBTQ friends and classmates, this is a reality: the moment of coming out looms as a horrible, monster-under-your-bed kind of fear. For others–hopefully for most–it is an incredibly liberating experience. Unfortunately, the listener holds a lot of the power in dictating which direction the conversation goes. Yikes.
Here are some tips from LGBTQ students on how to not make their nightmare a reality.
1. Ask questions
You may have no idea what to say and that’s totally fine. The safest route? Ask questions. Julia Purks, a sophomore biology major at Boston College, said, “It shows… they don’t think it’s a bad thing or a good thing necessarily, but something that is important and worthy to be understood.” Just remember that the kind of question is key. “A lot of people seem to get stuck on the sex thing,” she said. So ask away, as long as your go-to question isn’t about sex. Let’s be real, people: we don’t need another Freud in the world.
2. Show some love
Sometimes a little bit of mom-like comfort can do the trick. Jamie Sladkey, a Youth Ministry major and graduate of North Park University in Chicago’s class of 2014, said her best friend—and the first person she ever came out to—reacted in the best way she could have hoped. “She told me that she loved me and she told me that I was good,” Jamie said. “She validated who I was and didn’t pressure me to say anything if I wasn’t ready.” Coming out is incredibly terrifying, so spread the love, folks. It really does help.
3. Give some high fives (digital or otherwise)
This is a big moment in someone’s life and it deserves congratulating. For Eric Roy, a junior finance and philosophy double major at Boston College, even something as simple as a positive text was enough. He decided to come out over Facebook on the day the Defense of Marriage Act was overturned. “A flood of texts came on my phone, all congratulating me on my coming out,” Roy said. Having a positive reaction can be the key to making everyone involved feel safe. Roy said, “Being able to finally feel comfortable in my own skin was the best feeling in the world.”
4. Be normal
Sometimes just being yourself is the best way to go. “The best reactions aren’t even worth remembering because they felt so natural,” said Michael Rolincik, a junior sociology and music double major at Boston College. “It comes up in conversation, there’s a small discussion and then we move on.” You don’t have to give some grand gesture of support. This is a big moment, but there’s no need to go have it written on a cake.
5. Avoid the stereotypes
For the safety of both yourself and everyone surrounding you, please avoid the stereotypes. There’s nothing more uncomfortable for someone coming out than hearing a reaction that sounds like it came out of a bad ‘90s sitcom. “‘Oh my God! We totally need to go shopping together!’ I mean, come on. Really?” Rolincik said about one of the worst reactions he ever received. Because every single gay person is both fashionable and interested in fashion, right?
6. Remember: you’re listening
Just as you shouldn’t assume that every LGBTQ student wants to shop until they drop, you also shouldn’t assume that you know what these students are feeling. “Some people tell me with some frequency that I’m ‘confused’ or ‘moving through phases,’” Roy said. If someone has gotten to the point that they feel comfortable coming out, rest assured they aren’t confused anymore. Avoid telling other people how they feel, and let them tell you.
7. Ditch the bible…
I’d like to say there’s no wrong way to respond, but that would be a lie. Some responses are just plain horrific. “I had an adult that I trust tell me that she thought this was Satan tempting me,” Sladkey said. They have as much of a right to their identities as you do to your religious beliefs, so if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
8. …And the biology book
Just as you shouldn’t ask about the mechanics of someone’s relationship, don’t condemn them for it. “My mom said it’s not normal because if you take away the emotions and feelings from a relationship, two people of the same sex—biologically—is not normal,” Purks said. “What the hell is a relationship without emotions and feelings? Two bodies in the same room?” Life, love and relationships are about a lot more than sex.
9. Don’t be smug
There can be a fine line between being supportive and being smug. You may be guilty of this without even realizing. A good rule of thumb? Avoid—at all costs—any reaction resembling “I told you so!” “There were a few people who said things along the lines of ‘I knew it!’” Roy said. “These responses can be hurtful. For all LGBTQ people, the first person that they come out to is themselves.” For Eric, his friends saying “I knew it!” invalidated all that time he spent agonizing over his own identity.
10. Watch your words
Sometimes poor wording can be your downfall. “I think words like ‘choice’ and ‘lifestyle’ undermine the fact that being LGBTQ is something that’s part of my identity—something I can’t really separate from myself,” Roy said. “It’s not a choice I ever had to make.” This is easy to fix; cut out those dreaded words like “choice” or “lifestyle,” but also avoid things like calling homosexuality a “preference.” Basically, anything that feels offensive probably is offensive.
For heterosexual students like myself striving to provide the best support possible for LGBTQ friends, we can’t forget that we have the easy job. We’re just the listeners; we aren’t the ones putting ourselves on the line. As much as we may want to fully understand our friends’ experiences, straight allies may never know what it’s like to fear having someone else reject our very identity. Because of my perspective, I can’t offer foolproof advice to anyone struggling with the reality of coming out—or to anyone striving to be a good friend. But I can share some advice that’s the closest thing to foolproof I’ve heard: “At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is love yourself—your true, authentic self,” Eric Roy said.
A good friend is worth holding onto, but you are bound to have one or two that you’d be better off without in the long run. They are those friends you wouldn’t miss much if they moved away…far away…like to another time zone!
If you’re unsure as to who these friends might be, just see if these 10 descriptions ring any bells in your mind.
1. People who are only your friends because of the length of time you’ve known each other.
We’ve all got them; those old friends who seem to have been in your life for as long as you can remember. Once upon a time you were really close; almost inseparable it seemed. Now, however, you are held together by little more than the memories of days gone by.
You’ve both changed as you’ve grown older and the things that once bound you to one another have slipped by the wayside. In the starkest terms, you are not a great match for each other these days and a friendship probably wouldn’t form if you’d met for the first time today.
2. People who only ever react to your prompts and never proactively contact you or suggest meeting up.
There’s a good chance you’ll have someone like this in your life; the friend who you’d never hear from if you didn’t contact them first. They’re the type of person who never suggests going for dinner or a drink, but waits for you to make the first move.
There’s a reason for this, and it’s to do with the value they place on your friendship. If they really wanted to see you, they would be calling, texting, messaging, or even emailing if you’re a bit old school. Try not to take it personally, but they might just be content without you in their life, so why not let them be?
3. People who have to have things their way and who won’t compromise on arrangements.
Some people are so inflexible that they will flat out refuse to do anything that isn’t what they suggested. It doesn’t matter how many others want to do something or go somewhere, if they don’t want to, you have to rearrange the whole thing. And it has to be at a time that suits them too, naturally.
They just won’t compromise and it can be truly frustrating, to the point where you’re loathed to invite them anymore. After all, a bit of to and fro is essential in any relationship, and if they are not willing to try, why should you always be the one to cave in? You’ll only end up resenting them for it.
4. People who can’t be happy for you and your successes.
When you achieve something in your life, no matter how big or small, your friends should be there to celebrate with you. But you might have someone in your circle who smiles through gritted teeth or who congratulates you with a backhanded compliment.
True friends are happy as long as you are happy, and if it’s clear that this is not the case, then you shouldn’t really consider that person a friend. A small amount of envy and jealousy is perfectly natural, but it should not get in the way of friends cheering on each other’s triumphs.
5. People who never ask how YOU are.
Do you have that friend who only ever seems to talk about themselves and their life? You know the ones, where you can meet up and spend the first two hours talking about them before they even ask how you are.
These people are so self-interested that they forget there is a second party in the conversation, one whose life and issues matter just as much as their own. It isn’t until they’ve exhausted every little detail of their own existence that they remember to extend the most basic courtesy by asking about you.
6. People who think they know it all and aren’t afraid to make their voice heard.
Do you ever find yourself having a discussion with somebody who has an insatiable need to butt in every 5 seconds and correct you on something? Frustrating isn’t it? Unfortunately, these people like to come across as knowledgeable and wise, even if the situation doesn’t require either their knowledge or their wisdom.
To be stopped and fact checked midway through a sentence is pretty annoying, but the way it makes you feel is where the true damage to a friendship is done. So what if you don’t know the ins and outs of world affairs, and who cares if you don’t have the same academic background? Being made to feel stupid or ignorant is never pleasant, so if there’s a friend who does it to you, ask yourself whether you want a friend like that.
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7. People who flake on you time after time after time.
Making plans and then having to cancel/change them at the last minute can happen to the very best of us, but there are some people who seem to make a career out of flaking on their friends.
If you’ve gone to the effort of arranging a time and a place to meet, only for them to cancel just as you are about to walk out the door (or worse, when you’re already there), the anger and irritation can be extreme. Of course, if it’s a rarity and they have a good excuse to pull out at the last minute, it is forgivable – they are your friend after all. If, on the other hand, this happens more often than not, you have to ask yourself what else they are doing that’s more important than your friendship.
8. People who willingly participate in drama.
Drama seems to follow some people around wherever they go, like a shadow of raised voices, ill tempers, and bad feelings. Chances are, though, that’s it’s not so much a shadow cast by them, but a darkness that is projected outwards from them.
It’s these people’s willingness to get involved in the drama of life – even if something doesn’t really concern them – that can make them so difficult to be around. Everything is a battle, a fight, a confrontation with another entity, whether that’s a person, an organization, an idea, or even life itself.
With these people around, you have to accept that your affairs will one day get caught up in this drama. Are they such a good friend that you’d let that happen?
9. People you wouldn’t even trust with your houseplant, let alone your deepest, darkest secrets.
Of course, this list couldn’t be complete without touching upon the subject of trust, because if you can’t trust someone, can they really be called a friend?
So, you have to ask yourself whether you’d be happy to divulge personal stories and sensitive information to someone, safe in the knowledge that it wouldn’t go any further. Or, would that person gossip behind your back and share your secrets with others? Trust is such a pivotal thing in a relationship that if it’s the latter, you really don’t want that person as your friend.
Do you agree or disagree with the above? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.
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I’ve spoken to a number of females friends regarding courtship and the like. One thing I still find fascinating is how a woman can go crazy over a guy but refuses to make a bold first move on him because she doesn’t want to appear as a “slut”. Coupled with how sissy-like men have become these days… no wonder a lot of people are DATELESS and not getting laid…
Believe it or not, most of the time women MAKE THE FIRST MOVE on men they are interested in. They give out signs that they are interested in the man. Too bad most dateless men are not able to tune in to the frequency even though women find that those signs that they give out are AS CLEAR AS DAY!
Do note that just because a women has made an initial move on you doesn’t mean that she is ready to sleep with you 😛 You are still expected to game her with slickness. So noticing these signals from women only gives you the green light to bring out your seduction arsenal. Because courtship consists of many stages, sending you a signal that she is interested is only an indication that she is open to your game to take her to the next stage of courtship. You STILL have to smoothly take her through the process and claim her like a man.
Here is a classic guide on being a man.
The KEY difference is that she is OPEN to your game. You will find less resistance from her.
So here it goes.
1) She has not resisted being alone with you on AT LEAST 2 instances.
Women are masters at avoiding awkward one-on-one situations with men they don’t like. They would rather take a long walk down the street on a hot day than to spend 15 minutes alone with a disgusting guy she has no sexual interest in on a bus. Even if you have a group project meeting and you came early and found her early as well… she will not want to spent personal time with you if she doesn’t have an interest in you. She will likely whip out her iPhone and fiddle on a worthless APP or talk to a friend on an urgent call instead of talking to you on an individual basis.
She may give you that one chance on a first coincidental incident to be alone with her. If she does not like what you have put her through, there will NEVER be a second time.
So when she has allowed herself to be alone with her on at least 2 occasions, it’s time to step up your game.
2) She reveals her cleavage to you AND does not fix it when you call her on it.
Women wear alluring dresses all the time but gives a look of disgust whenever a guy checks her out. There is a common misconception that women dress that way to RAISE their attraction to men.
The reality of what’s going on is that women dress that way to RAISE their attraction for that ONE man that means something to her. Every banana means nothing to her EXCEPT that ONE banana.
There’s a lot of psychology going on here. Like making the man she wants see that she has a very high value to other men. And you will be floored if you know what is on their minds when they look at you. But I’m not going to go into that.
Next time you managed to steal a peek at her cleavage, call her out on it. If she does nothing to fix it or “fix” it just to easily reveal her depth to you 3 seconds later, you have been given the all-clear to make your move.
3) She leans over you
Women are instinctively more cleanliness inclined. Most would rather go without a meal than to have any body contact at all with a man she has no interest in. However, when women are interested in a man, any amount of body contact is NOT ENOUGH no matter what a piece of junk he is.
Place yourself between her and her handbag and see if she leans over you to grab her stuff. She may ask you to pass her her bag or move around you to get her bag. But if she leans over you and is not bothered with brushing her body against yours, you have got a winner here.
Remember to spank her for being naughty when she leans over. 😛
4) She laughs at every lame joke you make
This is as obvious as it gets. When everyone in the group has no idea what the crap you mean when you told that lame joke while she is the only one that “gets it”, you can bet your Star Wars figurines that she is interested in you.
Sometimes someone in the group will ask her if she understood your joke… and she cannot explain… Priceless.
5) She contacts you at ODD hours
Let’s face it. Humans wake in the day and sleep at night. We are conditioned to do so. The only logical reason you will stay up way into the night is if you are working on that million dollar proposal you boss demands from you tomorrow.
Odd hours between 1am – 6am are VERY personal time. So when she text or calls you during these hours when you are expected to be asleep, she is already making a bold move to risk waking you up from your beauty sleep. You can easily apply basic flirting tricks into texting. Just be careful not to be a weirdo who does not know when to back off.
She is thinking about you and wants you to know that… even if it means that you only sees her text message or missed call later in the morning when you wake up. She WANTS you to know that she was thinking about you late into the night rolling in her bed.
Please relieve her from her mental torture and make a move on her fast 😛
6) She tells her friends about you
Women cares about how their friends think about their partners much more than men do. In fact, I would go to the extent to say that the BIGGEST reason women look for MR RIGHT is so that they can show their friends that they have found MR RIGHT. Not because Mr Right is so right for her.
This means that when she tells her friends about you, she is taking a risk of looking like an idiot who has fallen for a loser who may not like her back. So to tell her friends means that she has confidence of closing the deal with you while attempting to get “approval” from her friends to move forward with you.
Note: DO NOT be a wuss and ask her what she told her friends about you.
7) She is fine going to your place alone
This is the MOTHER of all signals. Please flick yourself if you are still confused if a woman likes you when she has already spent time at your place ALONE.
The truth is that anything can be done outside a home. If she willingly puts herself in a vulnerable situation like going to your place ALONE… your TERRITORY… she is literally BEGGING you to step up like a man and claim her.
No woman would likely risk being called a slut for casually going to a man’s place alone just “to watch football”. Even more so if she’s married.
Remember that even when women sends you clear signs that she is interested in you, it does not mean that she wants you to ravage her body like a porno movie. It simply means that she is open to moving forward with you.
You still have to smoothly lead her through the mating ritual to make her your girlfriend.
If you want more advanced techniques to move forward with the girl you want, check out this great program.
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