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Is Pope Francis Reaching Out to Gay Parents?

The pope calls for Catholic leaders to put some thought into dealing with children whose parents are in 'nontraditional' relationships.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis has continued the Roman Catholic Church’s shift in tone on LGBT issues by calling for the church to adjust its approach to dealing with children of gay and divorced parents, although Vatican officials have taken care to emphasize that doesn’t mean the pope is open to same-sex unions.

"Gay unions raise challenges for us today which for us are sometimes difficult to understand," Pope Francis said in a November meeting with leaders of Catholic religious orders, reports Agence France-Presse, quoting excerpts from the discussion that were published on Italian websites Saturday. 

"I remember a case in which a sad little girl confessed to her teacher: 'My mother’s girlfriend doesn't love me,'" he continued. Some English translations of this quote use the term "fiancé" rather than "girlfriend," but the Italian original uses the feminine form of that word, indicating that the pope "is referring to a girl whose mother is in a homosexual relationship," notes the National Catholic Register.

With so many parents in so-called nontraditional relationships, the challenge to the church in ministering to their children is "How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing?" Francis asked. He added, "We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them."

Vatican officials quickly took steps to deny that the pope was in any way endorsing same-sex relationships. Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, denied that Francis even specifically addressed such relationships, Reuters reports, although this appears to be contradicted by the translations of his words. Lombardi also told Vatican Radio that the media had manipulated the pope's words to come up with a "paradoxical" interpretation. Recognition of same-sex unions is under debate in Italy, a nation that offers no legal rights or antidiscrimination protections to LGBT people.

The National Catholic Register, while allowing that Francis did appear to be discussing a child whose mother was in a same-sex relationship, argued that the pope's words did not represent a major shift in attitude toward such unions. "While Pope Francis is calling for additional thought to be devoted to the question of how to Evangelize children in unusual family situations — as well as everyone else in society — it does not appear he's calling for anything as dramatic as the headlines might make you think," wrote Register blogger Jimmy Akin.

Still, the pope — named 2013 Person of the Year by The Advocate — does seem to be continuing to approach LGBT people and their concerns in a more welcoming, less condemnatory way than his predecessors. Last year he said it is not necessary for church leaders to continually emphasize opposition to abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage, and he stated, "If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?"

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10 offensively terrible dating tips from the religious right

10 offensively terrible dating tips from the religious right

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetWe may have survived yet another war on Christmas. But we must remain vigilant. For the very same secularist, Muslim, homosexualist, communist, atheist freedom-haters who try to take the Christ out of Christmas (and put the melanin into Santa and Jesus) are attacking the very nexus of our entire 2,000-year-old (give or take) Earth: the relationship between man and wife. But have no fear. Below are some handy and holy tips on love, relationships, dating and marriage, which allow you to please yourself (not that way), your mate and your Lord.

1. Girls: Shut up. Justin Lookadoo (how sexy is that name!) is a faith-based dating coach, motivational speaker and former juvenile probation officer (killer combo). His books include “Dateable: Are You? Are They?,” “The Dateable Rules” and “The Dirt on Sex.” Lookadoo’s website offers the following  gems:

  • “Dateable girls know how to shut up. They don’t monopolize the conversation. They don’t tell everyone everything about themselves.”
  • Shutting up also prevents girls from doing undateable things like asking boys out.
  • “God made guys as leaders. Dateable girls get that and let him do guy things, get a door, open a ketchup bottle [never thought of that one]. They… let guys be guys. Which means they don’t ask him out!!!!!”

Also, a dateable girl “isn’t Miss independent.”

2. Boys: Be wild, but godly, and cover up your ladies. Lookadoo says dateable boys “bring God into it.” But that’s more fun than it sounds, since “men of God are wild, not domesticated. Dateable guys aren’t tamed.” But that doesn’t mean being too wild: God’s dateable guys know “porn is bad for the spirit and the mind. They keep women covered up.”

3. Share an eating disorder. The Christian Broadcast Network has some (101, to be exact) ideas for “ Creative Dates.” A few of my favorites are nutrition-related: “Make up a fun diet together,” or “Eat creatively one whole day for $1.18.”

4. Engage in strange, antisocial and alienating behavior. Among the CBN’s date ideas are, why not “Kidnap a friend for breakfast … visit the library and ask the librarian a bizarre question … develop a new laugh together … survey the neighborhood with a self-made, bizarre questionnaire … go to the airport and watch people … run your own neighborhood day camp for one day.”

5. Pretend to be senior citizens. The 101 dating tips above are so fun you’ll probably run through them in no time. But don’t despair. Focus on the Family has even more great suggestions, including, “Date like you’re from the generation older or younger than you actually are. Eat ice cream cones and rollerblade in the park for a date fit for teenagers. If you prefer senior-style fun, eat applesauce, play bingo and watch a black-and-white movie.” While you’re at it, rock some Depends underwear, blast Fox News, and complain about having to keep up with the latest terms for black people.

6. Transcribe the Bible together. If you want to bring religion directly into your date, try out the following Focus on the Family  idea: ”Find a flat piece of scrap wood and use a permanent marker to write out your favorite Bible verses. Take it to a nearby beach, river or lake and toss it in the water. This may be of great encouragement to whoever finds it later on.” Fun for you, fun for your date, and totally creepy for the random person who finds it! What’s not to like?

7. Wives: Keep the devil out by submitting. Karen Blake, the author of  “Do You Hear the Battle Cry? An Essential Handbook for the Wives of Christian Men,” has  a lot to say about marriage. The bad news is that, “Satan is out to kill your marriage and destroy your ministry.” (But we already knew that.) The good news is that “God has given you the tools to defeat him.” One of the best Satan-defeating tools is submission: “The devil has worked for centuries to set up a world system that says a strong woman must never submit to a man. It says, “Submission means getting walked on.” God clearly commands, “Wives, be subject—be submissive and adapt yourselves—to your own husbands” (Eph. 5:22, Amplified).” As usual, Michele Bachmann is right.

8. Put out so your husband behaves. In her book  ”No More Headaches: Enjoying Sex & Intimacy in Marriage,” Julianna Slattery offers some great tips on how women can help their helpless husbands resist temptation. Take the story of Sheila and Mark:

“While Sheila seemed content to put their sexual relationship on hold for the time being, Mark responded by initiating more frequently. If he was a deer panting for water, she was a camel who seemed capable of walking through the desert for months at a time without a water break. [powerful imagery!]

Over time, Mark began to direct his sexual needs through masturbation and light pornography. A few nights a week, he would stay up late, surfing channels, hoping to catch a glimpse of something sexual. The guilt and shame he felt only intensified the rift of intimacy in their marriage…. More than anything else, he longed to be pure, to share his sexuality only with Sheila. But life was too busy, his desire too strong, his will too weak, and the gulf between them too great.

Like Mark, your husband depends on you to be his partner in his battle against sexual temptation…. you are a key component in his victory. You’re the only woman in the world whom your husband can look at sexually without compromising his integrity!”

9. Dump your Muslim girlfriend. Pat Robertson has much good advice for relationships. A Christian (duh) viewer of Pat Robertson’s 700 Club asked the holy host if he should marry his Muslim girlfriend of three years.  Pat’s answer: “No way…. She wants to do her Muslim thing….Walk away.” Worried that walking out on a girlfriend isn’t the Christian thing to do? Don’t worry. It totally is. Robertson explains, Christ is “not gentle Jesus, meek and mild, he really isn’t.” Like so many men, Jesus Christ is merely misunderstood.

10. Stay married to your husband who sexually abuses your kids. In her surprisingly not very forward-thinking book,  “Created to Be His Help Meet: Discover How God Can Make Your Marriage Glorious,” Debi Pearl literally  tells women to stay with their abusive husbands:

“But if your husband has sexually molested the children, you should approach him with it. If he is truly repentant (not just exposed) and is willing to seek counseling, you may feel comfortable giving him an opportunity to prove himself…. Stick by him, but testify against him in court. Have him do about 10 to 20 years, and by the time he gets out, you will have raised the kids, and you can be waiting for him with open arms of forgiveness and restitution. Will this glorify God? Forever. You ask, “What if he doesn’t repent even then?” Then you will be rewarded in heaven equal to the martyrs, and God will have something to rub in the Devil’s face. God hates divorce — always, forever, regardless, without exception.”

God totally hates divorce. But he hearts abuse!

Katie Halper

More Katie Halper.

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Kellan Lutz Addresses Miley Cyrus Dating Rumors

Jan 6, 2014 3:27pm

gty kellan lutz miley ca 140106 16x9 608 Kellan Lutz Addresses Miley Cyrus Dating Rumors

(Photo Credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images; James Devaney/Getty Images)

Kellan Lutz says there’s nothing going on between him and Miley Cyrus.

“Are we dating? No,” the “Hercules” star, 28, told Ryan Seacrest today. “These rumors are hilarious.”

See: Miley Cyrus Party with Kellan Lutz in Vegas

Lutz explained that while there may be pictures of him and the “Wrecking Ball” singer popping up of them hanging out together, there’s a perfectly good explanation.

“It just makes me laugh. … I’ve been friends with Miley for like six years,” the former “Twilight” star told Seacrest. “She’s a great girl. … We are friends [and] we run in the same circle.”

Watch: Miley Cyrus’ Sexiest Video Yet Leaks Early

In fact, he said he’s not dating anyone.

“I’m happily single. … I’m not [looking] right now. I’m enjoying life and traveling quite a bit. … There’s no real time to find the one,” he added.

SHOWS: Good Morning America

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How to Start Having Mindful Relationships

Accepting Emotional Responsibility

A lot of folks out there are just plain uncomfortable with the emotional responsibility of relationships, and it stumps me. I think of responsibilities in my life and relationships much how I expect my lungs to breath for me. I wonder if my lungs feel overwhelmed and crowded. Insecure about whether they are breathing deeply enough as to not disappoint me. Or if they had more time, would they breathe more deeply. Relationships are our breath in life. The way we relate to the Creator; is the way we relate to ourselves; is the way we relate to others and to fear the emotional responsibility of your relationship to the Creator, doesn’t make sense.

Spirituality & Religion

No matter if you follow a religion or not you have a relationship with the most expanded part of yourself, the Creator. By nature we nurture that part of ourselves. I am always mindful of what I have, and what I want, and the daily practice of mindfulness helps me to get it. Mindfulness is the practice of staying present to all the thoughts in your mind and then letting them go. By acknowledging everything; you are enabled to process unexpressed emotion and recognize old beliefs that may no longer support your current needs and focus.  This creates a place for peace in your mind, body, and spirit. It is natural to expect the Creator to always reinforce your highest sentiment and to be replenished with the light of a loving universe if you have a place for that light to go.

Every Part of Your Heart

Every day I get up, I expect my body to work for me. I know that what I put into it, I get out of it.  How I take care of it and nurture it, is how it takes care of me and nurtures me. That’s not to say that there aren’t days where I indulge my emotions and my spirit over my body, but guaranteed she always lets me know immediately. You see, we speak several times a day. It can get pretty busy in my head… “Hey Liver, how you doin today?” Kidneys? Heart? Ya…Heart…I know you really took one for the team yesterday, it’s ok, I know your sad. Cry it out. Would you like some more fish oils?” I believe that it is the natural expectation of consciousness that we will do all we can to take care of what we have been given, and that if we can’t take care of what we have, it’s best to not get more until we can. I know that when I can master what I have, more will come.

Meaners Not Doers

Our relationships with others are attracted to us based on our alignment with our self and our needs, and then negotiated from there. The mindfulness you give yourself is the mindfulness others will give you.  Expectations are a natural part of any negotiation. If you mean well but don’t do well, then it makes sense that you would attract meaners and not doers. One of my favorite quotes is by Ben Franklin, “Well done is better than well said”. They say that when you truly love you don’t keep score in your relationships. I don’t know… my jury is still out on that. I think it is a part of the natural order to remember the things we like and the things we don’t. Remembering our traumas helps us to survive. Completely grieving our traumas are different than remembering them. Grieving takes permission, patience, and work. Grieving the loss of power and then mourning; figuring out how you will go about things moving forward. The lowest thing that anyone can ever do to you is to inspire you to do or be less then you are.  You are the perfect light of the Universe. Ultimately, you are the one that decides the actions you will take.

Don’t Fight Fire With Fire

Today our culture is plagued with many ungrieved social traumas and it is time to give yourself permission to grieve the ones that you own, and let others grieve in their own time. If you practice mindfulness it will help you to cultivate your relationship to yourself, others, and the Creator in a better defined and loving way.  Be who you are and not who others want you to be, by taking more time to be mindful of your needs and fulfilling them for yourself.  That way you will have a clear understanding of the emotional responsibilities that you hold for yourself and that others hold for you. Fear and discomfort averted.

by Tracee Dunblazier, GC-C, CCDC, of, Sponsor of Intuition & Symbols

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Wayne Brady Is Dating TLC's Chilli

No scrub here! Wayne Brady is dating TLC's Chilli, Us Weekly can exclusively confirm. The relationship is fairly new, but the couple has already shown their affection for each other in public. On Friday night, the two were spotted holding hands while ...

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‘Worst online dating profile ever’ still attracts hundreds of desperate guys

A screenshot of "the worst online dating profile ever."

A screenshot of “the worst online dating profile ever.”

Anyone who has spent any time online dating knows these sites sometimes double as cesspools of shallowness and desperation. But Alli Reed, a Los Angeles-based columnist for, has really driven home that point. As part of a dual social experiment/exercise in disappointment, Reed created what she terms “the worst online dating profile ever” — and hoped against hope that no one would respond to it.

She invented a profile for a woman with the username “AaronCarterFan” and listed her (misspelled) interests as “desining a line of dog close with matching iphone cases” and “knockin the cups out of homeless ppls hands.” She claimed to live off the child support an ex still sends her for a pregnancy she faked. And her favorite music includes anything “thats not like all getto or redneck you know, or not like from some weird country without bathrooms.”

Basically, Reed wrote, she made sure to come across as “mean, spoiled, lazy, racist, manipulative, and willfully ignorant.” But the messages still poured in — more than 150 in the span of 24 hours.

“I created AaronCarterFan to see if there was a lower limit to how awful a human had to be before men would stop messaging her,” Reed said in an e-mail Monday afternoon. “As it turns out: nope.”

Like many of our contemporary social dilemmas, however, it’s hard to say which is to blame: human nature, or the Internet? I suspect, although I can’t say for certain, that even at a bar or dog park many people would be willing to overlook quite a bit to get with someone as attractive as Rae Johnston — Reed’s friend, who supplied the pictures for the fake profile. Likewise every study that finds online daters are shallow or racially biased or otherwise abhorrent: Is that really a commentary on online dating, or on dating in general? One of the most fundamental differences between the two, after all, is the primacy of algorithms on sites like OkCupid, which make behavior so much easier to track and quantify online than off it.

“Honestly, I’m not at all disillusioned with online dating. Or at least, I’m just as disillusioned with real-life dating,” Reed said. “It’s all terrible.”

There’s a happy ending to this story, though: While working on the experiment, Reed met a guy through her other, real OkCupid profile. They’re now dating. He is, she says, “the best person I know.”

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5 Ways to Clinch the Third Date

You've bonded over drinks and swapped biographies over dinner. But the next step might not be what you think.

Although modern dating mythology has long thought of the third date as the date when sex becomes a realistic possibility, heading into it with that assumption won’t do you any favors if you’re looking for a real relationship. “Sexual pressure kills romance,” explains Whitney Casey, a relationship expert for and author of The Man Plan. “Planning a day date shows you want to know her, and shows you’re willing to put in the effort to do so.”

SEE: How Do I Invite Her Back To My Place?>>>

So instead of the oh-so-cliché Friday night dinner, suggest one of these five third-date ideas. Sure, they all start in the afternoon—but don’t be surprised if they end the next morning.

1. Head to an amusement park. Nothing says "I like you" more than spending the equivalent of a tank of gas to win an oversized stuffed animal. Plus, research has found that adrenaline-spiking activities like riding a roller coaster mimic the feelings of falling in love—and might even be transferred toward how she feels about you.

SEE: 5 Ways To Keep Your Relationship Alive>>>

2. Meet for brunch. Less cliché (and less expensive) than a dinner date, getting to know each other over eggs sends a signal that you want her in your daytime life. For added points, plan a couple of options for after, suggests Casey. “Suggesting a walk in the park, a cool street festival, or hitting a museum exhibit shows her you’ve put thought into an itinerary.”

3. Go on a tour. A cemetery? A neighborhood? A brewery? Chances are, there’s something cool in your town that neither of you have done before. And while a tour isn’t ideal for a first or second date—it’s too hard to talk to each other—by date three, you know each other well enough to decide if something sounds cool to both of you. “Relationships are built on common experiences,” reminds Casey. Even if a tour’s a bust, the terribleness of it can become something both of you can bond over.

SEE: Dating Advice - 5 Fixes For Tech Screw-Ups>>>

4. Let her see you sweat. Suggest a run, spin class, or hike. And if you’re feeling flirty, face off against her in a mid-run race. Competition raises testosterone, which can amp up both of your libidos. (See Partner Up for more playful date ideas.)

5. Head to the zoo. Going to the site of a third grade field trip makes it clear you’re not planning to attempt any, uh, monkey business. Plus, studies have found that triggering feelings of nostalgia can increase self-esteem and foster feelings of connectedness—both of which will make your date feel even more comfortable with you.

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7 Steps to Freeing Yourself From Toxic Relationships in 2014

Before Christmas, some friends and I saw August: Osage County. Predictably, a conversation ensued about dysfunctional families.

"I can relate," one friend said. "No one but my family can make me go from complete calm to instant rage with just a look or an off-hand comment. This time of year, it's insane. All year we avoid each other. At Christmas we're supposed to get together for two or three hours of fake jollity and tense politeness. After 20 minutes, we're hissing and spitting at each other like a nest of vipers. Then we reel away for another 12 months of polite avoidance." She sighed, "For the past three years I've told the family I'm working. I'd much rather spend that time with people I want to be with, instead of seething with resentment."

While my friend's family is possibly not as vitriolic as the Westons of Osage County, dysfunctional families are one of the major sources of toxic relationships.

If they're bad enough, avoidance can be the best recourse. How can we tell?

1. Identify relationships that might be toxic
Any relationship in which we feel drained or constrained to act in ways not necessarily of our choosing may be toxic. These unequal relationships feature emotional blackmail, domination of one over the other or a tacit struggle for dominance. One or both parties might feel controlled, abused, not safe or taken for granted. We might feel drawn into mind games against our will, or feel manipulated by the other's overly dramatic, erratic emotions. At work, we might realize we've been cleverly maneuvered into an untenable position we didn't foresee- - perhaps even into something unethical -- by a boss or fellow employee with few scruples. Communication designed to address issues seems to go nowhere, or is twisted into more blame.

Often, we find ourselves inadvertently repeating the habitual relational patterns of our family of origin. Being aware of this can allow us the space to make different decisions about how we want to be. But it's hard work. Old emotional ties can make this a sticky process.

When my friend characterized her family as a nest of vipers, she was simultaneously recognizing that individuals in her family are unable or unwilling to change. Treating them as she would dangerous creatures helped her decide her course of action and not to be fooled by sweet, manipulative ploys.

2. Decide how important this relationship is for you
It might seem obvious that we should get away from a toxic relationship as quickly as possible, but there are reasons we might decide to stay for a time. Loyalty to family or friends, needing employment, legal contracts or compassion might figure here. Be aware of the toll on you, and that your goodwill can be exploited. Find a way to balance what you feel is right for you. Less healthy reasons for staying are the comfort of familiarity, habit, an external locus of control that means we feel powerless or a deep, secret belief that we do not deserve happiness.

3. What's your time limit?
"I can only bear to be with my malicious-tongued great-aunt for half an hour before I begin to foam at the mouth," declared another friend. "I visit because I'm her sole remaining family. I manage it once a week, but only for 30 minutes. One second more than that and I'm car-screaming all the way home."

It's a great idea. If you've decided to stay in the relationship for whatever reason, have a time limit, be it minutes or months. Be careful not to underestimate the demeaning attrition of spirit that we experience in a toxic relationship. It can take months or years to recover ourselves.

4. Stress management
Another friend made us shriek with laughter as she described her industrial-strength strategies so she could work out her 12-month contract in a toxic workplace. Tellingly, her favorite movie is The Devil Wears Prada -- another film in which the fabulous Meryl Streep plays a consummate toxic matriarch.

Regular gym sessions featuring the punching bag or kickboxing classes; running, swimming, sport, dance, yoga, tai chi, Pilates or a favorite hobby are safe, responsible and healthy ways to de-stress physically, emotionally and mentally.

5. Good hard self-reflection
In some cases, we might be unaware that we're in a toxic relationship or believe it's our partner who's at fault. It's important to know that, to some degree, we may be unconsciously contributing to an unhealthy dynamic through our insecurity or low self-esteem. Are we too accommodating? Too anxious to please? Believe they need us or that only we can understand them? If so, are we really helping or just maintaining our own exploitation? Be honest. A deeper level of discernment might pick up that we are actually immersed in our partner's emotions, neediness and insecurity -- and that we've been unconsciously coerced into maintaining their equilibrium, keeping them happy. We need to differentiate: what is our stuff? What is theirs? Who are we apart from the relationship?

6. Staying away from toxic relationships
Congratulations if you've decided you don't need them and have developed a toxicity radar to spot the covert manipulator and super-nice passive-aggressive friend. An uneasy gut feeling can be a distant early warning signal. Other signs are in intense reactive emotions or that honest, open communication is ineffective. It's an interesting phenomenon that healthy, differentiated individuals don't engage with toxic people if they can help it.

7. Maintaining a toxicity-free relationship
Sometimes, assertiveness and clear communication free of game-playing means an unequal relationship can be rectified into one that is more equal. It takes courage to be in the moment and not default into habitual ways of relating, to take responsibility for honest communication and to expect reciprocal respect.

If that's not possible, move away. Make 2014 your year of breaking free.

Transpersonal psychotherapist Avril Carruthers is the author of the just-released Freedom from Toxic Relationships, from Tarcher/Penguin.

© Avril Carruthers.
December, 2013.

This Blogger's Books from Amazon
Freedom from Toxic Relationships: Moving On from the Family, Work, and Relationship Issues That Bring You Down
Freedom from Toxic Relationships: Moving On from the Family, Work, and Relationship Issues That Bring You Down
by Avril Carruthers
Let Your Past Go and Live: Freedom from Family, Relationship and Work Baggage
Let Your Past Go and Live: Freedom from Family, Relationship and Work Baggage
by Avril Carruthers

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Vatican says pope’s comments on gay couples don’t mark policy change – Los Angeles Times

ROME -- Pope Francis has taken another step toward making the Catholic Church more inclusive by telling priests to rethink how they reach out to the children of gay and separated parents. But the Vatican warned Sunday against reading too much into the remarks.

"How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing? We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them,” Francis told around 120 leaders of male religious orders during a meeting at the Vatican.

"I remember the case of a very sad little girl who finally confided to her teacher the reason for her state of mind: 'My mother's girlfriend doesn't like me,' " Francis said.

Francis' remarks, which he made Nov. 29, were reported Friday by La Civilta Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit magazine.

"The percentage of children studying in schools who have separated parents is very high," Francis said. "The situation in which we live now provides us with new challenges which sometimes are difficult to understand."

The pope received praise from gay-rights groups in July when he said, "If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?"

His latest remarks were interpreted by some Italian commentators as an opening to homosexual unions, in a week when Matteo Renzi, the new leader of Italy’s center-left Democratic Party, has relaunched the idea of legislation allowing civil unions, including same-sex unions, in Italy.

Plans for civil unions in Italy have repeatedly been shot down by Catholic politicians.

On Sunday, the Vatican indicated that Francis’ comments were more about reaching out to a changing society than giving it a stamp of approval.

“Speaking of an ‘opening to gay couples’ is paradoxical because the pope’s speech was totally general and because even the small concrete example given by the Pope (a girl who is sad because her mother’s girlfriend doesn’t love her) alludes directly to the suffering of the children,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio.

On Dec. 29, a leading bishop said Francis was “shocked” by planned legislation in Malta that would allow gay couples to adopt children.

Bishop Charles Scicluna of Malta denounced same-sex adoption in his Christmas sermon, then told the Sunday Times of Malta that he had shared his concerns about the issue with Francis on Dec. 12. Francis, he said, had “encouraged” him to speak out.

Also Sunday, Pope Francis announced plans for a visit to the Holy Land in May. He said he would visit Amman, Jordan; Bethlehem and Jerusalem on May 24-26.


Former strongman Pervez Musharraf may be leaving Pakistan

Extremist Syrian rebel group accused of mass-executing prisoners

Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman has meltdown on CNN over North Korea trip

Kington is a special correspondent.

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20 online dating cliches – and what they really mean

By Clare Spencer BBC News Magazine


January is a boom month for the online dating industry as millions turn to the internet to find love. But composing a profile that makes you sound fascinating and unique is harder than it sounds.

Post-Christmas to the Wednesday after Valentine's Day is the peak season for dating websites, according to Plenty of Fish's Sarah Gooding.

In the process, millions of people will try to summarise their characters in just a few paragraphs. But anyone who browses a few profiles will quickly become very familiar with a handful of phrases.

I'm new to this, so here goes...

This betrays its author's discomfort about using an internet dating site, says William Doherty, professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota.

For him, it shows that there is still a stigma to online dating.

"When people are in a setting where they feel there's some stigma, they like to talk as if they are unfamiliar with it," he says.

I love laughing

Dating coach Laurie Davis loves laughing at this generic assertion. She is paid to rewrite people's dating profiles and this is one of the phrases she sees - and urges her clients to ditch - time and time again.

"Doesn't everyone love laughing?" she says. "They are trying to show that they are fun and that they have a light-hearted side, but it means nothing."

Other meaningless phrases, she says, include: "I'm a glass half-full kind of person." Then there's: "I try to see the best in every situation." But it's highly unlikely that someone looking to attract a mate would ever say: "I try to see the worst in every situation."

Davis says the problem with phrases like these is that they don't help with the main purpose of the profile - they're not "prompts" that act as conversation-starters.

"You can't start a conversation by saying, 'I see you love laughing. I love laughing too.' If you love comedy shows, though, that's a conversation-starter," she says.

I like laughing
I like going out and staying in

"In other words, you like existing," jokes serial online dater Willard Foxton.

The anonymous "single mother on the edge", who writes Gappy Tales, writes in her blog that she would "take a vow of celibacy" if she saw this phrase one more time. "Why do perfectly intelligent people write that?" she asks.

Covering too many bases is a particular bugbear of Ben England. The 28-year-old marketing director was only on Guardian Soulmates for one month before he found his girlfriend. But he had enough time to be irked by descriptions in profiles that were consciously trying to please everyone.

In his blog, Everyday Heartbreak, he takes particular displeasure at someone who lists liking going to public lectures at the London School of Economics - along with stripy tops.

Bonnie and Clyde
Looking for my partner in crime

Some people may even go as far as to specify they are after a Bonnie to their Clyde - or vice versa.

This is an attempt to be light-hearted, says Doherty. "It's not heavy, it's saying 'I'm a normal person, I'm interesting, I'm low-key - I don't have all these deep needs that are going to bother you.' It's a way of saying, 'Hey, I'm a jolly fellow' but there aren't a lot of ways of saying that."

It keeps popping up because most people have a limited vocabulary for expressing what they want romantically, he adds.

I'm here for some good banter

"They are saying, 'I don't need anything deep,'" says Doherty. "I'm having fun - so to say 'I'm not desperate, I'm low-key, I'm safe.'"

"It's all a way to say I'm not going to be a burden to you, to push too hard to get serious too fast."

My friends say I'm… (plus list of adjectives)

Lists of descriptors such as smart, attractive, romantic, thoughtful, trustworthy, sexy, passionate, fearless, honest or friendly are labelled "empty adjectives" by dating coach Erika Ettin.

She says on the advice blog for the dating site Plenty of Fish that the problem is that these words "can't be proven until someone gets to know you".

"This is where the concept of 'show, don't tell' really comes into play. For example, rather than saying that you're funny, say something that you find funny."

"A list of adjectives doesn't mean very much," says Davis. People may say they're funny, but how? Is that humour going to resonate with a potential partner? People say they're kind but unless they demonstrate that, it's meaningless. "It's better to show it in actions," Davis explains.

Davis also takes issue with starting sentences with "My friends say..."

"That doesn't speak very confidently of you," she says. "It seems like you're not comfortable about yourself."

Woman checking mobile phone
I like walks in the park, watching movies and going to the pub on Sunday for roast dinner

Along with its cousin - "I like Sunday brunch in the pub with the papers and trawling round bric-a-brac markets" - this is a potentially bland description of weekend leisure time.

Doherty thinks this kind of stuff is appropriated from romantic comedies, novels and reading other people's profiles. "It's all saying, 'I'm a regular person.'"

My friends (and family) are really important to me

England highlights this as one of his top meaningless phrases. "It tells you absolutely nothing about someone. Find me someone that doesn't think their friends are important to them," he says.

His point is that far too many people put their likes as things that it's very rare to dislike. "One put that she likes sunshine. Really?"

My life is fab. I just need someone to share it with

Usually accompanied by a fulsome description of a high-powered, achievement-filled and cosmopolitan life.

Doherty says this is signalling that "I'm not desperate, I'm not needy, I'm not lonely. I'm a very happy, full person. My already rich life would be enhanced".

He says people who say phrases like this are trying to say "being on here does not mean that I have deficits as a person". The reason people feel the need to state how good their life is is because they still feel uncomfortable being involved in online dating, Doherty suggests.

Couple in a bar
I'm easy-going

Variations on this are "I'm laid back" and "I'm down to earth." In his list of 10 things he hates about Plenty of Fish profiles, Greg Hendricks writes that these are so common that he ignores profiles that include them.

"What are any of these even supposed to mean? These stock traits are in so many profiles, I practically skip right over them."

Plus, who would ever describe themselves otherwise, says Foxton. "No-one thinks, 'I'm really uptight.'"

I like to stay in with a glass of wine and a DVD

A variant on this is "I like cosying up in front of the fire". It's a phrase that irks's chief scientist Helen Fisher. She says people should avoid it.

"These are things that we see in the movies. It seems to be linked with intimacy and they don't have the imagination to come up with what is meaningful to them. It's boring and shows no creativity."

The key lies always in being specific, according to Gooding.

"One thing I see a lot of in profile descriptions are really generic descriptions. So a typical description would be 'I'm a fun active girl who likes to hang out with her friends and watch movies'. So you've pretty much described everyone on the website."

Couple reading
Genuine guy seeking genuine girl/guy

"Western culture values authenticity," says Doherty. But trying to demonstrate one's sincerity very often appears contrived.

"It's saying 'I'm in this fake setting, but I'm telling you I'm genuine even though I'm doing this thing that feels weird.'" But he warns against "over-asserting". Normal people don't feel the need to prove themselves.

"No-one is saying, 'I'm running out of people to date, I just want to find someone to marry, have children with and grow old with - that is my deep need,'" says Doherty.

I enjoy long walks on the beach at sunset

As an anthropologist, Fisher says she understands that people are trying to express their love of nature, downtime and intimacy.

But it doesn't help them stand out from the crowd. "The bottom line is, who wouldn't want both of those scenarios?"

Dating coach Julie Spira concurs. She suggests on dating website Your Tango that it makes people look unoriginal. "Putting it on your profile just makes it look like you've copied and read every other profile on the internet."

I like travelling

England isn't a fan of profiles where all the photos show the dater in an impoverished country doing something mildly dangerous. According to him, "we've seen it all before".

Greg Hendricks echoes this complaint. "People who put this in their profile are trying to sound adventurous and diverse, but in actuality they sound just like every other profile."

The Muddy Matches blog suggests people bring this up time and again because talking about travel is also a good way to establish common interests, but it warns "don't jabber on about your trip for ages without drawing breath. Try to find out where you've both been and where you'd both love to go".

The 6ft conundrum

Attitude towards height is one of the most curious aspects about straight dating sites. Women looking for men often demand someone over 6ft and men often lie about how tall they are.

Foxton says that when he was on his mission to date 28 women, what seemed to surprise them most was that he was exactly the height he had said he was. Dating website OK Cupid notes that this is the most lied about aspect on online dating. On average, it suggests, people are two inches shorter than they say they are.

Fisher says men lie about two things - their height and their salary. Women lie about their weight and their age to emphasise their child-bearing potential.

Don't get in contact if you don't know the difference between "your" and "you're"

Grammar fanatics are over-represented on some online dating sites. But it's not always advisable to advertise just how important apostrophe usage is to you.

"Your profile isn't a place to vent. It's somewhere you're trying to find someone fabulous," says Davis.

But the problem is deeper than that for her. "People are trying to attract someone who is educated, someone who has a distaste for bad grammar, but there are many people who are not educated who know the difference between your and you're."

Crystal Harris and Hugh Hefner
I'm a 42-year-old man looking for a 27-year-old woman

Christian Rudder argues on the OK Cupid blog that while the ratio of men to women on straight dating sites stays stable as people get older, the male fixation on youth distorts the dating pool.

He says data from the website suggests that as men get older, the age gap they might countenance beneath them widens.

So a 31-year-old man might look for someone between 22 to 35 - up to nine years younger than him. A 42-year-old might look for a woman up to 15 years younger than him, Rudder suggests.

But the men's stated age range doesn't tell the full story. When Rudder looked at men's messaging habits, he found they were pursuing women even younger than their stated age range.

I'm normal

"I'm not going to stalk you," is the subtext behind a range of commonly seen phrases, suggests Doherty.

"It's the ultimate stranger dating so it's not surprising that there is this emphasis on safety and normality."

It's not a phrase to take at face value, he says. It's a good idea to be suspicious of anyone who has to assert that they are normal.

Retro television
I don't watch television

An increasingly common statement on some dating sites. It's often a prelude to a list of varied and often esoteric interests from someone who is "achingly hip, unflinchingly bright and invariably bearded", as Guardian Soulmates daters are described on Bella Battle's blog.

"With any other dating site, I can peddle out a profile with the usual likes and dislikes and some junk about country pubs and DVDs," she writes.

It's not enough to be average. "You have to have hobbies too - hobbies so boldly idiosyncratic they make you unlike any other person on the planet. The first guy I went on a date with from Soulmates was into astronomy and 17th century harpsichord music."

We'll tell people we met in a bar

This is dishonest and off-putting, says England.

"It's not accepting the truth. Why are you lying about something? It doesn't matter whether you met them in Waitrose in a club or on the internet. What matters is that you have met each other."

Again, for Doherty, it indicates that people are still uncomfortable about looking for love on the internet. This is changing, Davis notes in the Huffington Post. She cites Pew research to mark "the official demise of the online dating stigma". Some 59% of internet users agree that "online dating is a good way to meet people" and 42% of Americans know an online dater.

Plenty of Fish also gives a sense of the scale of online dating. It says its own data from Comscore from 2012 in the US shows they have 55 million members, 24 million messages sent per day, 50,000 new signups per day, and 10 billion page views every month.

Follow @BBCNewsMagazine on Twitter and on Facebook

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It’s A Date!

Celebrating an anniversary? Taking your crush on a first date? Want to rekindle the spark? Funky eateries, cozy hideaways, outdoor adventures, the perfect night in—we’ve planned for every occasion. We’ll leave the hard part (finding that special someone) up to you.


Adult conversation. A day without diapers. The pleasure of pure quiet—no crying, no whining, no carpooling to ballet class. In other words: alone time to recharge and catch up with each other.


You know those things on your bucket list that always seem just out of your grasp now that you have kids? Well, today’s the day. Reserve an early-morning balloon ride just after sunrise with Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon Flights in Boulder. After a continental breakfast, the wind will carry you 10 or so miles in up to 1.5 hours. Revel in the silence of the stunning Rocky Mountain horizon from Pikes Peak to the Wyoming border. If you don’t mind a group, you’ll fly with about a dozen other passengers. Otherwise, spring for the VIP private flight ($375 apiece), which includes a bottle of champagne and two glasses for your journey.

You’ll be back on the ground well before lunchtime, with plenty of time to swing through Boulder for a leisurely bite along Pearl Street before continuing up U.S. 36 to Lyons. Here, treat yourselves with a spa-and-wine package at Rock n’ River Day Resort’s La Bellezza Spa and Ciatano Winery. We suggest the Celebration: a relaxing steam sauna and hot tub session, followed by two 50- minute therapeutic massages and, eventually, a trip next door to the winery. Choose five pours from 10 varieties for your tasting, and leave with a bottle to savor later. You’ll return home rejuvenated, ready to run soccer practice the next morning.

Make it happen: Fair Winds Hot Air Balloon Flights, 6375 Nautilus Drive, Boulder, 303-939-9323,; La Bellezza Spa (303-823-5006, and Ciatano Winery (303-823-5011,, both at Rock n’ River Day Resort, 16858 N. St. Vrain Drive, Lyons,

TIP: The Fair Winds balloon operators will work with you to make your experience memorable. Guys, if you want to have flowers or something special waiting in the basket, just put in a call beforehand to work out the logistics.

DREAM DATE: "Get a babysitter, have dinner somewhere off the beaten path, like the Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant on Colfax Avenue, and head to a theater for an evening movie. With three kids, I can’t remember the last time we saw something together that wasn’t animated." —Matt Selby, chef/owner, Vesta Dipping Grill and Steuben’s


Every year on our Top of the Town ballot we ask our readers to tell us their very best first date ideas. Here, a few of your most, er, creative responses.

Reader vote: JumpStreet

Jury says: Sweaty kids, flying dodge balls…ahh, what ambience.


Reader vote: Skydiving

Jury says: You’re right. Skip the small talk.


Reader vote: Casa Bonita

Jury says: Please tell us you’re bringing the rug rats.


Reader vote: Mountain Air Ranch—Colorado’s Family Nudist Resort

Jury says: Uh, we hope this is a joke.

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Poll: The happy state of America's relationships

Dara Behzadi with wife Mercedes

Dara Behzadi, 50, with wife Mercedes, 38, spend time with their children Lucas, 6, Jacqueline, 3, and Mateo, 1, at their home in New Buffalo, Mich. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune / December 26, 2013)

Wendy E. Donahue Tribune reporter

10:17 a.m. CST, January 4, 2014

An exclusive Tribune poll finds a whopping 94 percent of married or cohabiting couples are happy in their relationship. It’s too soon to pronounce the downfall of the divorce rate – about 45 percent of all marriages in the U.S. still end that way -- but the poll of 1,783 Americans shows some positive signs for committed partnerships.

In followup interviews, couples from the survey commissioned by Thomson Reuters and conducted by Ipsos offer intimate details of the strategies they use to love, honor and protect their union.

Says Jason Keller, 31, of Kansas City: "If you’re arguing, and the hallway is so long, and by the time you get to the front door you’ve made up, that shows you can talk to the person. You have to find someone to communicate with, not just be with."

Therapists and researchers fortify those homegrown tips with science-based strategies for relationship success. It’s not just about being there for your partner in bad times. Social psychologist Arthur Aron says it's highly beneficial to celebrate the good – what he calls "capitalization."

"Your partner gets a promotion or finds something that is lost, and you celebrate it," he said, "not to the point you’re making fun, but sincerely. That’s an opportunity to really make things better."

Read the full report as a DigitalPLUS member

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Make family relationships a focus

Have you made your New Year's resolutions for 2014? If you haven't, would you consider working on strengthening your family relationships? After all, family should be the most important and meaningful part of your daily life.

There are many ways to define a family: a nuclear family with both parents; a stepfamily; a foster or adoptive family; a single-parent family; or an extended family like grandparents and aunts and uncles. One important element that they all have in common is caring for each other.

A good family relationship is important as it is the source of emotional support, comfort, warmth and nurturing, and provides protection and security to its members. A family has its own goals and aspirations and is where every member should feel special and be encouraged to pursue his or her own dreams -- a place where everyone's uniqueness is permitted to flourish and supported.

Although every family has conflicts and disagreements, as a normal part of a family life, all the family members should feel they can express themselves openly, share their feelings and have their opinions listened to with respect and understanding.

For children, the family additionally provides a sense of belonging and unique identity. The family instructs children and gives guidance about personal values, instills discipline and helps children learn and internalize social behavior and code of conduct. It is usually through the family relationships that a child learns how to get along with others, how he or she views himself or herself, and what is appropriate behavior from their experiences in the family.

Hard work is needed

As important and critical are the functions of the family, it does not happen automatically. Every parent knows the hard work that goes into making and keeping family relationships positive, effective, adaptive and functioning.

Studies conducted in the United States and other countries have identified six major characteristics present in strong and healthy family relationships. These are:

• Commitment: Members of strong families are devoted to the well-being and happiness of the other members. This means the family comes first, work responsibilities come second, bad times do not destroy relationships, forgiveness is readily available, priorities must be established, some sacrifices must be made, traditions are established and cherished, love is unconditional, etc.

• Appreciation: Members of strong families show and talk about their appreciation for one another. As important as the human need for love is the need for appreciation. It helps motivate family members to continue to behave positively toward one another. Appreciation in families means: looking for the positive instead of the negative; treating family members like our best friends; showing love in small ways every day; creating a positive environment at home; etc.

• Communication: Members of strong families work at developing good communication skills and spend a lot of time talking with each other, from small, trivial things to deep and important issues of life. Communication is the lifeblood of relationships. Effective communication means: being open and honest, yet kind; avoiding "mind-reading"; avoiding criticizing, evaluating and acting superior; dealing with one issue at a time; attacking the problem, not each other; having an understanding attitude; etc.

• Time together: The studies on strong families indicate both quality time and quantity of time are necessary for good relationship formation and maintenance. Spend time together for meals, do house and yard chores, indoor and outdoor sports and recreational activities, movies, religious services, special events like holidays and birthdays, etc.

• Spiritual wellness: Strong family members have a sense of a greater good or power in life and that belief gives them strength and purpose. The spiritual dimension in families provides the following benefits: helps family members maintain a positive outlook on life; provides guidelines for living; provides a sense of freedom and peace; gives an awareness of a divine presence in life; helps families cope during times of trouble; etc.

• Coping ability. Members of strong families are able to view stress or crisis as an opportunity to grow and learn. Having experiences in problem solving increases one's confidence that he or she can deal with most things that come his or her way. It's the ability to find something positive in difficult situations, and to focus on that positive element to cope, without becoming overwhelmed. Family members pull together when things get tough and share responsibilities. Strong families rely on their spiritual resources to get them through times of crises.

Open and effective communication allows members to express their feeling freely, which are important parts of surviving the crisis. Flexibility is another important strategy. As the saying goes, "strong families bend, change and adapt, and when the storm is over they are still intact."

All the six qualities interact, overlap, connect and reinforce each other to form a net of strength to make family relationships work on an ongoing basis.

This year is an opportune time to begin to make a special effort to strengthen our family relationships. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step."

Will you take the first step?

Annie F.B. Unpingco, LCSW, is administrator of I Famagu'on-ta at the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center.

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A relationships guide for new NYC mayor

As Bill de Blasio was inaugurated Wednesday as the mayor of New York City, those on stage included a who’s who of top dignitaries, and their proximity to the podium signaled their importance to the city’s new leader. The closest? Hillary Clinton. Next up: Bill Clinton, who swore in the new mayor. Also in the front row: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

For de Blasio, these four figures are not just prominent politicians whose positions alone would have granted them seating privileges. They are among several people he will have some sort of relationship with in the coming years, whether personal, professional, or simply in the public imagination.

De Blasio knows some of these people well, and others hardly at all. But how he navigates these relationships could affect how he governs the city of 8 million as well as his national profile.

(QUIZ: Do you know Bill de Blasio?)

Here are seven key relationships New York City’s 109th mayor must manage in the days ahead:

Barack Obama

The president had a strong professional relationship with Bloomberg, but a grudging personal one. His relationship with de Blasio is still in its early stages, though the existence of mutual friends could help it blossom.

De Blasio’s best friend is Patrick Gaspard, and the new mayor has cited Gaspard as a key adviser even from across the oceans in his current post as ambassador to South Africa. Gaspard was the president’s political director before becoming executive director of the Democratic National Committee, and he remains in touch with the White House.

Gaspard helped bring the new mayor together with Obama, starting long before de Blasio’s candidacy took off by taking the then-public advocate and his family backstage to meet the president at an event in Philadelphia.

(From POLITICO Magazine: What De Blasio can learn from Teddy Roosevelt)

Another connection is Obama’s political strategist, David Axelrod. Axelrod is a mentor, friend and former partner of de Blasio’s top political consultant, John DelCecato, whose own ties to Obama run deep. A campaign adviser who cut some of the president’s re-election ads, Del Cecato also coached the new mayor on engagement with the White House.

The two teams have generally been in lockstep, and that’s not likely to change soon. De Blasio has already visited Obama in the White House as part of a group of mayors, and although two sources said a repeat visit isn’t in the cards anytime soon, those who know the New York politician says he’s been able to start building his relationship with the president without need for much advice.

“They’ve connected over shared values and agenda,” said one person familiar with the relationship. “Both (are) passionate about economic disparities. It’s been a very naturally forming relationship. Both have urban sensibilities and they’re both a bit bookish with acute sense of the echoes of history.”

All of that will be important as natural tensions are likely to arise going forward. De Blasio’s going to want attention from the federal government that Obama probably won’t be able to give, and Obama’s going to be pressured to respond more fully to the kind of progressive politics that de Blasio represents.

Rahm Emanuel

With Bloomberg exiting the stage, the role of “mayor among mayors” is now open, and it’s a void that both de Blasio and the Chicago mayor seem keen to fill.

So Emanuel raised a few eyebrows when he praised Bloomberg in a tweet on Dec. 30, writing: “Most importantly, @MikeBloomberg expanded the bounds of what cities can achieve — opportunity, safety, and accessibility.”

It was a nod to Bloomberg that described him in the larger-than-life terms that he himself aspires to. De Blasio has been criticized as falling short of such prowess during his transition, which has been slow out of the gate.

Still, New York is New York. And Emanuel’s election in Chicago got a fraction of the national media focus that de Blasio’s did.

In the end, the pair could find it easier to cooperate than compete. After all, they share a similar set of concerns: crime, union contracts, pension costs.

Emanuel, a former congressman and one-time chief of staff for Obama, met privately with de Blasio soon after the New York City primary. And just ahead of de Blasio’s inauguration Wednesday, the Chicago leader tweeted: Congrats to Mayor @BilldeBlasio on his first day building a strong, prosperous NYC.

Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg at one point called de Blasio’s campaigning “racist.” But since de Blasio won the Democratic primary _ effectively winning the whole race _ the outgoing mayor has publicly declined to criticize his successor and has said he doesn’t want his aides to, either. People familiar with Bloomberg say he’s kept that practice up in private, too.

How long the detente lasts remains to be seen, especially after a de Blasio inauguration in which criticism of Bloomberg’s policies was commonplace, and thanks for his service were scant.

There are few people de Blasio owes his election to more than Bloomberg, though that wasn’t by the latter’s design. De Blasio capitalized on an anti-Wall Street populism and a sense of alienation among wide swaths of the city’s voters, who suffered during the prolonged recession and felt the improvements the billionaire mayor made to the city largely sidestepped them.

That fact was on full display during the televised de Blasio inauguration — the former mayor sat rigidly as speaker after speaker effectively denounced his tenure. Even de Blasio, who did thank the mayor for his time in office, made it clear that he views his own ascension as a sharp departure from his predecessor.

There has never been much love lost between de Blasio, who’s close with some of the city’s union leaders, and Bloomberg; in both style and substance, they are opposites. De Blasio’s “tale of two cities” mantra was aimed squarely at Bloomberg. The latter’s description of the Democratic candidate’s message as “racist” and reminiscent of class warfare drew widespread criticism.

With all that said, it’s easy to assume that de Blasio thinks he doesn’t need his predecessor. But Bloomberg is one of the world’s wealthiest people, a mogul whose corporate ties in the city run deep. His social circle contains some of the Masters of the Universe who can make life difficult for de Blasio if they grow concerned with how he’s governing.

Cynthia Nixon

The “Sex and the City” actress was prominently featured at de Blasio’s inauguration — she sat on the stage and gave a short speech introducing one of the day’s performers.

Nixon and her wife, education activist Christine Marinoni, were early supporters of de Blasio, lending him star wattage at a time when he was barely breaking double digits in the polls. Nixon also was among de Blasio’s most visible gay supporters in a campaign in which his rival, Christine Quinn, was looking to become New York’s first woman and first lesbian mayor.

Nixon was the opening speaker on stage at de Blasio’s primary night victory event. Nixon also helped organize celebrity backing for de Blasio, while Marinoni engaged progressive activists.

Nixon’s been such a vocal backer of de Blasio, whose “tale of two cities” populist campaign was critical of the Bloomberg years, that it would become instant news were she to criticize him down the road. She also represents a hybrid of constituencies — women, the LGBT community, parents of school-age children, and the city’s wealthy — that de Blasio will need to maintain strong ties to if he wants his poll numbers to stay healthy.

The Clintons

The Clintons sat in the front row at de Blasio’s inauguration for a reason: He has past connections with each of them, allegiances that mutually benefit them all.

De Blasio once worked for Bill Clinton, and he managed Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign. It was his relationships with both that helped launch his own career as an elected official, first as a city councilman from Brooklyn, and later as public advocate, a citywide job with a staff smaller than what you’d find in some restaurants.

De Blasio’s taken hits for that relatively small chief executive experience, and his sluggish transition has earned more criticism. Bill Clinton’s imprimatur could temper some of those attacks and bring an air of gravitas to the de Blasio team.

What de Blasio offers the Clintons is validation with the progressive left, which viewed Hillary Clinton with enough suspicion to sink her candidacy in the 2008 presidential primary. Before he swore in the new mayor on Wednesday, Bill Clinton said he wanted to “strongly endorse Bill de Blasio’s core campaign commitment to shared opportunities.”

Some de Blasio supporters believe the Clintons would be wise to stay in his good graces. The new mayor’s wife, Chirlane, is a Wellesley graduate like Hillary Clinton, and she could be important as an African-American woman galvanizing supporters behind a presidential candidate should Hillary Clinton decide to run in 2016.

Andrew Cuomo

There’s no such thing as a good relationship between a mayor of New York City and the governor of New York — too many competing interests, diverging constituencies and politics at cross-purposes.

But De Blasio and Cuomo have publicly and privately made assurances that their history will make their relationship different. (The governor was the mayor’s boss back when they were both working at the Department of Housing and Urban Development under then-President Bill Clinton, and they’ve remained friendly since.)

Indeed, Cuomo defended de Blasio when Bloomberg criticized how the candidate used his family in the campaign, and the governor endorsed de Blasio immediately after the primary.

Cuomo’s father, Mario, had his own strange history with New York City mayors — after losing to Ed Koch in the 1977 mayoral primary, he beat Koch for the gubernatorial nomination in 1982, and their relationship was never close. But demonstrating how important the connection between City Hall and Albany can be, Rudy Giuliani — a Republican then in his first year — crossed party lines to endorse Mario Cuomo in the 1994 general election, citing city needs. Not surprisingly, that set off years of bad blood between Giuliani and the man who beat Mario Cuomo, George Pataki.

Having Andrew Cuomo in charge in Albany won’t necessarily mean de Blasio will get whatever he wants. For instance, the new mayor will need state help to get the tax hike to pay for his universal pre-kindergarten promise, something Cuomo may resist at as he looks to burnish his moderate credentials while gearing up for a reelection campaign surrounded by speculation about his possible plans for a 2016 presidential run.

De Blasio will have a chance to pay his respects in a week at Cuomo’s State of the State address on Jan. 8. There the new mayor also can make the rounds at the receptions following the speech, events that are hosted by major players in the state capital.

Elizabeth Warren

So far, de Blasio and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have come as a set in many people’s minds, even though it doesn’t appear they have any sort of personal or professional relationship.

He’s a progressive populist, she’s a progressive populist, and they’re both tapping into something deeper going on in the left that many in the Democratic Party, including the president, are trying to catch up to. Many de Blasio supporters see his election as part of a continuum with Warren’s and the 2010 win of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — who presided over de Blasio’s initial swearing-in just after midnight — of politics bending more to their brand of progressivism.

Both have ambitions for a national spotlight that’s only so big, and that’s without getting into the actual questions of politics and policy that the two will face.

Any issue where one speaks out ahead of the other could immediately set off speculation of a rivalry, while any issue where there seems to be the tiniest ray of daylight between them could be trumped into a progressive civil war. For a brand of politics that’s for the first time attempting to evolve from running outsider campaigns to actually being in power, the potential for pitfalls is huge.

How each approaches Hillary Clinton in particular could test the national ambitions for both. De Blasio has cleaved close to the former secretary of state. Some progressives hope that Warren will run against her for president, despite the Massachusetts senator’s repeated denials of interest.

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