Honest Chat About Love

A while ago, when I was grabbing drinks with a girlfriend, I was posed the question, “what is the point of dating in your twenties?” 

We discussed how these ten years are the formative years of our life. The years we are meant to be growing our careers, exploring without strings attached, and living our best lives, so if no one is looking to get married until their thirties, then why date now?

There were many reasonable answers: maybe you want to date for a while before you jump into a legally binding relationship, maybe you enjoy going out and dating and keeping things casual, perhaps you’ll find someone in your twenties, and together your relationship will continue to grow.

I have heard stories about women shopping for husbands on dating apps, but I have also heard of a woman just going on dating apps for the fun of it and never actually meeting anyone. It’s this weird time that we live in because we have people at our fingertips, but what it is you could be searching for all depends on how you are feeling in the present.

My friend and her boyfriend didn’t work out. As she now deals with the pain of heartbreak, I am confronted about what this concept of love actually is. After a couple months, she was ready to lift her life off its supports and move to be with him, which feels like the opposite of someone preaching about seeing no point of dating while we are young. To me, that is too much too fast, but on paper, their “love” or their relationship looked good. Similar interests, same career industry, a firey flame that ignites. And I want to emphasize that flame because to me, I want a slow burn.

At times, I think about where I have encountered love—the way it drove me crazy in the most magical means but hurt me as it has hurt others in my life. I know you need to experience the heat of a fire to know how how to keep yourself safe, but maybe everyone needs to feel a flame like that so you know how to move forward to grow from it.

Something I have learned is the most beautiful smoke comes from slow-burning charcoal—a growing fire that warms you for nights full of infinite memories. They burn with the most delicate oranges when they begin, the translucent smoke snakes, and dances in a steady fluid nature—however, some men, like my first love, lite bonfires with kerosene to engulf the breathable air around you. It’s like an explosion, hot, powerful, but short-lived.

My last love, and men thereafter, suffocated me. His love, our love, altered the way I breathed, thought, and felt. That kind of love, whether it be your first, third, or twentieth, burns you brightly because of how quick it is to ignite. But, when it’s put out, it leaves nothing but ash in its wake. My first love burned so many holes in my skin; it made it impossible to feel whole when he went. It paved way for heartbreak to leave me doubled over in pain.

My boyfriend today has similarities with my previous boyfriend, showing that I clearly have a type, but on paper, the two of them vs myself have little in common. However, we work. the core things that I need in life and love is time, support, care, and communication. Love to me isn’t compliments every day that are spoonfed to me. It isn’t phone calls during lunch breaks or lavish dates. Its someone who takes time for me, but also is mindful of my time. Its someone who supports me, my dreams, and my ventures, and its someone who has dreams I can support. It’s having someone there to hold you and know they will come home with a hug when you need — and when times are tough, they are there to talk it through with you.

All of that takes time. It isn’t found in a fire but rather felt like the warmth of a glowing fireplace that you need to fuel with more wood, kindling, and oxygen to make sure it survives. Tomorrow is our two year anniversary. It is the third Valentine’s Day we will be spending together, and I am very happy and lucky to be with someone who mirrors and is what I need within a relationship.

Self-Love

Although most stores have had their Valentine’s Day decor, candy, and cards up since December, we just barely into the month of February. And as the shelves dwindle as loved ones buy gifts for their significant others, it leaves some of the world happy with the love they are feeling and others longing or sad over the same emotions. This time of year always reminds me of these underlying feelings of wanting to be loved and not lonely and February is an interesting month to dive into the topic.

Ever since we were children, this has been a holiday to show love towards our classmates by filling out cartoon character cards and fastening a candy to the small note. But then as you got older, the holiday became polarizing because there was no longer a day in a class dedicated to decorating a shoebox for your mailbox. Still, instead, it was “whose your valentine?” It no longer was this holiday centered around others but centered around yourself and one other person. And that can be a bit isolating, especially if someone was single, be it for an extended period or after a fresh break-up.

Ever since the holiday has changed for our adult selves, you learn about spin-off holidays like Galentine’s Day or forget about the day altogether. I recently read an article on Zoella’s website that listed 20 Things to Do in February. If you don’t know what Zoella is, or rather who, Zoe Sugg is a British Youtuber who is well known for her beauty videos, style, and lifestyle. She has excellent articles about delicious recipes and mental health, and she’s a blogger that I have looked up to.

I thought all of her suggestions were both comical, like “2. Treat yourself for getting through the longest month of the year. Huzzah!” or inspiring like “14. Do something for Random Acts of Kindness Day” but overall relateable “17. Restart your failed NY resolutions. We go again – new month, new me…” and focused on relationships. This goes along with the message I wanted to get across in this post—there’s more to Valentine’s Day and February than just romance and relationships. And really it should be about caring for ourselves as well.

And although those who are coupled up tend to forget about loving ourselves and focus solely on our partners, I think there is a lot we can do for ourselves to makes sure we too feel the love regardless of our relationship status. I decided to list my own “20 Things” to hopefully inspire you to get out there and find time for yourself.

 

 

20 Things To Do for Yourself in February 

  1. Reward yourself for a small victory, be it a promotion or getting out of bed before 10:00 am on the weekend.
  2. Buy a bouquet of flowers for yourself at the grocery store and put it on your coffee table, so you are always reminded of them.
  3. Have a night where you put on a face mask and watch a movie that has been on your Netflix Watch List for years now.
  4. Write yourself a letter and talk about what you are currently excited for and proud of, keep it safe, and date it for you to open shortly.
  5. Take the time to read for 20 minutes, go on a walk around your neighborhood, or practice something creative that you enjoy.
  6. Treat yourself to a movie, and get a large popcorn and Slurpee all for yourself.
  7. Visit a store that you live and peruse the shelves or displays and find a new book, clothing item, or be it anything you like.
  8. Learn a new recipe, and take the time to enjoy a nice dinner that you made for yourself to enjoy.
  9. Put the phone down before bed and actually try to get 8 hours of sleep one night.
  10. Get up and make time for breakfast!
  11. Pick out an outfit the night before that makes you feel confident and beautiful.
  12.  Learn something new.
  13. Take time out of your day to meditate or just reflect on the day and what is to come.
  14. Tidy your space and light a few candles.
  15. If you have a busy schedule, make sure to set aside an hour dedicated to “me time.”
  16. Listen to a podcast, find some new music, or pick a new audiobook for the month.
  17. Make your bed in the morning, so you already start the day by completing a simple task.
  18. Allow yourself to take a pause and reflect on your feelings.
  19. Define three daily goals for yourself and set to it that you complete each one/
  20. Get yourself a treat or grab a bite from your favorite restaurant.

 

Trust. /trəst/.

trust /trəst/ verb 1. belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of. “I should never have trusted him.”

Trust is fragile; I’ve known that for what feels like a lifetime.

As a baby and child, you trust that your parents will keep you safe and healthy. From an early age, you look to them for food, shelter, and warmth. They were my providers for so long, and I trust them to always have my best interest in mind when they make decisions for themselves and for me. I trust their strength and knowledge. I trust that the truth will always come with validation and honesty.

Growing up with a sibling, you learn how to gain their trust. As the younger sibling, you enter as a foreigner into someone’s home. Children begin to see the attention they once had from their parents divide and focus on the new child. There is animosity built alongside a love that needs to be tended to and grown. That is true, at least in my family. I never doubted my brother’s love or trust, but the ability to trust another comes more-so over time. You show that you won’t always be a tattletale and that you can keep pinkie-promises. You show that you can stand your ground and stand up for them. Siblings learn to trust through their mutual agreements and growth as individuals and becomes a trust you take with you through life.

When you enter school, you trust that your teachers know what they are saying and your schoolmates will keep your secrets. Eventually, you will learn that sometimes teachers don’t always have all the answers, but they always try their best, and not every girl and boy keeps your secrets. Drama is spread fast between loose lips and eager ears. The whispers hurt as your insecurities grow. You will learn to find who will keep your intimate details, intimate, but for many, this is the first time you will struggle with trust.

It stings when a friend, a close friend, betrays your trust. You wonder how you will ever confide in them again, and struggle with the reality of a now distanced connection as you forcibly replace the trust with space and nondescript conversations. In the back of your head, you will think about stories you want to share or advice you need to seek, but your lips don’t budge, and you hide what it is you are really thinking in fear that someone else will know your truth.

Then there are relationships, romantic relationships. Where you meet someone and immediately believe in their reliability, truth, and ability, in order to find in the strength of the match. The person could be familiar, a fellow classmate, a next-door neighbor, a friend of a friend, or friend the family––someone where trust lingers between your undoubted and harboring trust. But then there is a chance the person is a stranger, someone you’ve met at a bar, bus stop, or meet up. The person is a blind date, a match on an app, or a random follower. The trust is new, foreign, and needs to be tended to.

When you first fall for someone, you typically have no reason to believe they aren’t reliable, truthful, or able to be in a relationship. It takes time and investment for you to grow and learn about who this person is––could they be family, someone with your best interest in mind, or could they be reckless with your unhindered belief in them?

Trust is necessary for a relationship, but very quickly destroyed because of its delicate nature. With love, lust, emotions, and attraction on the line, many lines are crossed, and a lot can be released. You overlook the red flags, look past the warning signs, and drive more in-depth into the destruction of a one-off relationship.

“I should never have trusted him.”

“How could she do that.”

“Why did they hurt me like that?”

Losing trust in someone is scary and takes time to build back. There are lessons I have learned from loving those who have damaged the trust in our relationship. At times I felt on guard and nervous because loving them can cause some internal anxiety. Communication is something you need to grow, and that communication requires honesty. Honestly with everyone.

If you feel like you need to hide your relationship, you aren’t honest. If there are aspects to your relationship that hurt you, you need to be accurate. You, as a person, need that to survive. If you are hurting, be honest with yourself and seek what it is that you need.

When you can learn from the times that you have lost trust, you can grow more as a person. Sometimes it is hard to see through the mirage which is a vision of a failed relationship, but soon the veil will lift, and you’ll be capable of thriving in a new relationship.

Relationships After Heartache

Summer is a funny season for me. Being raised in Naples, Florida meant that life was an endless amount of warm days, beach visits, and afternoon thunderstorms. To tell you the truth, I kinda, really, sorta, hated it. The only benefit of never-ending 70-80 degree weather was warmer Halloweens––I loved autumn, but I would have probably hated having to wear a jacket over my costume because it was freezing/snowing for trick-or-treating. I guess I was lucky that I could show off my costumes, but we still had to deal with hurricanes; there is the trade-off. Ever cry because you heard they were canceling Halloween because there were ample amounts of standing water and debris from the Hurricane that blew in the week before? No? Just me? (they didn’t cancel it, which means my mom and I grabbed a costume from Party City last minute, I was a ghost, and it was a laughable outfit, to say the least).

Now that I am older and get to decide my home, and by decide, I mean a place where there is a leaf-peeping opportunity close enough to drive to. But now, I find myself feeling more and more uncomfortable when the weather is ever over 70 degrees. Like it is right now in New York. However, I am so thankful August is around the corner.

Now, you may be wondering, “what does this have to do with being in a relationship after a heartache?” Well, one reason I now feel uncomfortable in summer is because of precisely that. For me, my heartbreaks happened in the summer. Now I didn’t pick this, but maybe that correlation/causation theory in psychology wasn’t wrong. Perhaps a spike in ice cream sales does cause murders, just as the stereotypical “uncuffing season” is summer. It makes sense to those people who think this is the time when you are meant to find a fling on your extended stay in the Hampton’s and leave the person you met in the winter behind.

After my previous relationship ended out of the blue in June, I have had a little PTSD surrounding the anxiety and depression I developed in 2017 deemed “the summer of heartache,” and I can see how it influences my now, current relationship. When I touch the month of June, I start over-analyzing my partner’s actions. I tell myself I am trying to be a bit more cautious this time around, you know “pay attention to what the relationship is needing” instead of focusing on what “I needed” as my ex so graciously taught me he valued more when it came to our relationship.

With all this being said, I can see how summer distances some couples. The first thing that pops into my head for a relationship is cuddling. In winter, when the windows are like the walls of an igloo and the heater is clanging, then well cuddle on! Intertwine those legs and wrap your arms around each other like a gift-wrapped beneath a tree. In summer? Forget that closeness. Sometimes even feeling the warmth of my partner’s thigh delicately rubbing against mine on the Subway is enough for my leg to start to sweat and my body temperature to feel like even more of a furnace.

I think, for myself at least, intimacy is so essential for me to feel comfortable in a relationship. It’s a subtle reminder that you are mine and I am yours (unless you cheat, and then well you suck, I’m sorry I am not sorry for saying that). And when I am trying to feel okay after heartache, and its the summer, and I am having flashbacks, the “not being intimate” and “sitting on opposite sides of the couch so you can feel the a/c at the precise position” are scenarios that make me feel insecure.

Luckily this is the second summer with my partner, and time definitely heals those insecurities, but Summer 2018 was definitely my crash course on relationships after heartache. See we had met in winter, lol, which meant we had four months before the hot, humid, and stinky garbage days sept into the streets when we walked around hand in hand. When it hit over 70 degrees, I felt my fear bubbling up like the heat index. We had distanced to the point my partner was unsure of our relationship. When he communicated that to me, at first, all I could think was, “here we go again, Depression.”

But something I learned about Summer 2017, the rollercoaster of a season, was I needed to love myself through the heartbreak. It was h.a.r.d. to limit my emotions to four simple letters. I was a mess: my eating, irregular, my resting heart rate, frantic, and mindset, troubled. I closed off from most but a select few friends. Then I moved. Then I started working towards myself and I was making new friends, I felt like everything was coming around. Then he got into a new relationship within two months of us ending (hello August downfall), and I was destructive. I was mad at him, so why was I taking it out on myself? 

It took time, over seven months for me to feel good dating again. It took six months of me sulking to say no to it all. I took the month of December, once all my finals were handed in, to pay attention to “me”. It was my best decision. I went on long walks while the snow fell and small flakes collected on my hair and hat. I would remember going to Trader Joes at night, explicitly walking through the tunnel of Christmas trees on 11th and 2nd Avenue and finding yummy, healthy food to cook for dinner. I was going to the Strand Bookstore and spending hours in the clearance book section outside, wearing gloves as my fingertips scanned the spines and gathered more novels to add to my ever-growing “read next” pile.

I listened to music that made me happy, wore face masks that rejuvenated my skin, and sat for hours on the couch watching Harry Potter. I was giving back to myself what I had taken away. I was doing everything I could to bounce back from the heartache. It wasn’t till 2018 when I met my current partner. For our first four months, we were the honeymoon stage and then some, but in the beginning, I was slightly hesitant about entering another relationship because the last thing I wanted was another six+ months of me sulking and binge drinking in New York.

Was he going to hurt me, like the other men did? He didn’t, hasn’t. When we got to the summer and got a bit more distanced, we were able to communicate. I heard his doubts about us and was able to sit and talk it out with him. Our future, our feelings, and our frustrations came out. I had never been able to do that with my past relationship; heartbreak taught me that. 

I think it takes time. If you were in love with someone else, and that love has stopped existing, then I think it’s worth you taking the time to reposition the love you were giving to them and give it back to yourself.  I think you know when it’s an excellent time to enter another relationship. **Mind you my ex’s rebound that caused my August Downfall only lasted a few months, so if you are into breaking up with people often, then maybe skip over the refractory period like he did, but if you are like me and care about people’s feelings, care about yourself first. 

After heartache, care about yourself because you deserve it, dating and caring about others after that will follow in due time.

Loved You First

In the midst of a proper heartache, I steadied my voice and told the man I once loved that I was glad I loved him first. He was my first love before any heartache. However, there was trepidation in the way he loved me back; I wasn’t his first. He allowed for the past heartaches of ex-girlfriends to dictate how our relationship would play out. Slowly, and in every action, I became them. He was able to predict the future, and therefore “we” would never survive because “they” didn’t.

While I treaded through the heartache, I was always told: “you will fall in love again; the second time will just be different.” That meant nothing to me a few months out from free-falling into a world of depressive attitudes and anxiety-riddled days. I found myself wondering if I imagined it all; if he even loved me like he said. I made myself believe we were great together until I saw him with someone else so quickly.

The thing was, he never truly heard the depth to my words. There was a surface he remained on. He had spurts of being cautionary, however, his impulsivity got the best of him. He moved on immediately, and I took the time to heal. When I said I loved him, I meant it. When he said it, he felt it at the moment and moved on from it. His words held no value.

Now that he is single for more than a month, I am currently loving my new relationship. Recently I was suddenly reminded of my past words. What he never understood was, our relationship would not have lasted had I not loved him first. There was a naiveté in my love. I took him and all his faults and loved him as deeply as I could. I was just being me, and he wondered how it was possible for someone to love in the way I did.

I used to be able to hear echoes of him in the man I currently in a relationship with. I was timid to be with someone again. Part of me worried I was still longing for my ex. I used to think they were so similar, and one day before we were together, I communicated that to my boyfriend. His response was the only thing I needed in order to see how vastly different they were.

Since the breakup, I had several men disrespect me. I was a bit of a mess for the most part until I just took time for myself to fully heal. I had matured, but with that maturity came some faults. Our breakup force fed me anxiety and I am still trying to defend my way through it. My boyfriend is careful. He headed my fears and talked me through them during that moment. My ex would have never been able to do that. He wouldn’t have responded.

I used to sit in silence, craving communication, and all he gave me was self-doubt and insecurities when something felt wrong in the relationship. If my ex ever spoke it was argumentative and accusatory. Had I loved him second, he would have pushed me further down and I would have known to leave. His life and interests came first. If he wanted a new toy, tattoo, or had any time in his day, it went to something other than me. He struggled to strengthen our relationship because there was always an excuse that came first.

It’s the little things that trip me up in my new relationship. He cares, he communicates, and he makes me happy in ways I can’t quite describe. The happiness I remember once feeling towards my ex still lingers in my memory, but the kindness and compassion this new relationship exudes are the reminders that there is someone there that will remind you that you deserve to be heard, cared for, and loved. He shows me he’s thinking of me when we are apart — he picks me up when I am upset — when we are together, he shows me we matter.

Love, and love deeply, but remind yourself you deserve the love you are giving everyone else. 

 

Dating Today

Our society has boomed since the embrace of the technology era. Relationships are still work like I am sure they were before everything was at our fingertips. I don’t believe one generation’s dating times are better than another, but because I only have the knowledge of my own, I don’t want to create an opinion over when it was the easiest to date. Older generations had different struggles with relationships, that we experience in our own ways now, and I am praying for future generations.

We are so plugged in that many forget to step away from the screen throughout the day. I am a bit of a classic chaser myself. I’ll send love letters just as I send birthday cards as opposed to birthday Facebook posts. I would much rather Facetime or speak on the phone instead of text all day to get to know someone. I actually prefer long walks on the beach over going to the movies.

We can reach people on dating apps where before you met people through, well, interacting outside of our phones. We live in a world now that you can know a lot about the person before you even hear it from them through social media dumpster diving. We really can’t hide much if it is out there. You see what everyone is up to through the lens they want you to see it. There is no in between when it comes to boasting or dramatizing lives. You do it, or you don’t, but still, people judge regardless.

Online dating, take it or leave it, we’ve all at least thought about it and formed an opinion on it. I am sure some more than most would admit to it, but we are curious if you can really find love through it. The guys I have come across and had feelings for in the past have been a fifty-fifty split between apps and in personal encounters. I am not going to knack online dating. It comes with ease for sure. When I was living in a new large city you can run into endless opportunities for possibly finding love, I know several who have.

What I loved most was just meeting people—meeting people through the people I matched with mostly. I aimed to use dating apps in the past not to find love, but find answers. I hate to admit that I most likely exploited human attraction to find more in the world. I never let it progress if there wasn’t a deeper connection with the men, but I knew I wasn’t on there to find love which is why I avoid journeying that way again.

I like the idea of mutual friends or even casual encounters with strangers the most when broadly looking at the men I have been attracted to. I don’t mind receiving friend requests on Facebook from men simply because I put my humility on the line and introduced myself to strangers, you know like in the olden days. Obviously, there was something common that brought us together, but human interaction is something I thrive on more than our messaging.

I have struggled in the past with just talking to a phone and reading the words others write. I cannot remember a time that I didn’t do that though… Maybe my elementary school boyfriend? I think back to my middle school crushes and even then I remember staying up late sending nonsense with my T9 keyboard. Everything has lived through technology. I guess I could thank the era for bringing me together with the men I have crushed on, but it really never showed me, love, like physically being with someone.

I have made friendships with some of the men from dating apps that probably should have only ever been friends. I think the constraints around the dreaded friend zone are silly because relationships aren’t confined by a romantic interest or not. I would rather show them their part of my life is important to me and I will strengthen it where I can, but to pretend feelings are there when they may have never existed fails to be worth it for me.

Right now, I don’t see myself trying to find love like I have in the past. I go through stages where I am all about it, or I am trying to hide from it, and right now I am not sure where I fall in terms of love. If there is anything to take from dating today it has to be, you need to love yourself first. That is where dating today leaves me—with a relationship with myself because I deserve my love.

Love will find you when you least expect it, I fully have felt that, but you need to be ready when it does. Loving yourself starts today with you.