Swipe Left: Thoughts on Dating App Culture

I feel like I’ve been talking about dating apps with a lot of my friends recently, more specifically about how unsatisfying they are. While there are a whole slew of problems with these apps that contribute to this feeling, today I’m only going to focus on one and how I specifically combat it by using, or rather, not using the apps. 

The chief problem with these apps as I see it, is that they allow us to fall into the belief system that we can actually find a PERFECT partner for ourselves. Because we have access to a seemingly endless amount of potential matches, we allow ourselves to think that eventually, we must be able to discover the PERFECT one if we just swipe long enough. You may not think you do this – but I encourage you to be more self-critical. Have you ever swiped left on someone because they weren’t tall enough? Swiped left because their job wasn’t ambitious enough? Swiped left because they misspelled a word in the profile description? I definitely have. We think that because we have infinite choices, we can be infinitely discerning as well. We disguise these limitations as having ‘standards’, but more often than not the standards by which we are evaluating potential matches are society’s standards, not our own. Because the means by which we are normally able to evaluate matches – actual interaction – isn’t available. 

Because here’s the thing – people are SO different in real life. I think about it this way – for me personally, out of the seven* guys I’ve gone on more than two dates with, I met six of them in person. And I wouldn’t have swiped right on ANY of those six had I spied their profile on a dating app. Not because they weren’t attractive, but because they totally aren’t the type that translates well on a dating app. They’re the type to post cheesy photos and simple profile descriptions if any so they just wouldn’t stand out on an app to me – but in person, I clicked really well with them. In person, I was able to evaluate by the standards that matter to me. Do they make me feel wanted? Do they make me feel safe? Do they make me laugh? Do they turn me on? And so on and so forth. Notice all of those questions have to do with how they make me FEEL which is impossible to tell on an app. The most you can do on a dating app is maybe send some flirty texts back and forth but until you meet in person you can’t know if you have that x-factor with someone because it’s just too detached. 

I’m not saying you should give up on apps completely but they should definitely be taking a backseat to your other interactions – if you use them too frequently, you’ll just drive yourself crazy. So first and foremost, do you. Kill it at work, practice your hobbies or pick up a new one, watch Good Omens like you’ve been meaning to, read, workout, travel, spend time with your friends and your family. Fill your life to the brim with the things that already bring you joy and accomplishment. This will do two things – it reduces the time you have to merely swipe out of distraction, but it also makes your life fuller so that when you do meet someone you have that much more to bring to the table because you’ve actually been living a life instead of swiping it away. 

Secondly, when you do use the apps, I only have two tips for you – prioritize the people that made an effort to talk to you first rather than just match, and then endeavor to meet up with whoever you take a liking to as soon as you can. As I mentioned before, it’s so hard to tell if you really click with someone unless you meet them. This also weeds out anyone who is just in it for the distraction as well as preventing the black hole of texting in circles. 

Lastly, focus on meeting new people in person whenever possible. Whether it’s a work or networking event, or a friend’s party, you never know how far your circle truly expands and who might be able to introduce you to someone amazing.

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PC: Kiki Moussetis

*No I am not currently dating the 1 that I did meet on an app – that was a short six month relationship awhile ago.

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My Blood Ran Hot

I see you as you walk into the room and I feel my blood run hot. All long limbs, smooth skin, and a quick voice. 

Now’s not the time, I think to myself. But I can’t help it. I watch you as you speak to everyone else but me. I watch your lips curl into a laugh. I watch the tendons in your wrist flex as you write. 

I’m getting distracted. Every movement you make this morning I see in my memory of last night. 

When I tell the story I can pretend that I was reluctant. I can pretend that I was naive, but we both know I wasn’t. I wanted you. I wanted your skin, your mouth, your hands. 

And you wanted me. You ran every one of your fingertips across every inch of my skin and devoured my body. 

My desire was powerful but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to be perfect. Certain ideas prevail no matter the partner, but I didn’t care about those. I needed your nuances, your secrets. I needed to know what I could do so that I could permeate your mind and make myself irresistible to you.

But there’s no way I could’ve known those things. You don’t tell your secrets to someone you just met…yet it seemed like you knew the secrets of my body without ever having to hear me say them and that terrified me. 

It terrified me because I hadn’t known I was out of my element. But it became apparent quickly that you seemed to know exactly how to touch me and I had no idea how to touch you. Everything I did from that point on became laced with doubt.

In the moment when I realized your actions betrayed nothing but confidence, my mind abandoned me. My want dissolved into anxiety. What if I was doing something wrong? What if my body looked unattractive from this angle? What if everyone you’d been with before was better?

My mind took my lack of knowledge of you and transmuted it into insecurity, which in turn, suffocated my passion. My mind never considered the possibility that you wanted to impress me as well. It wasn’t about my want anymore, it was only about your want. 

I wanted to be wanted more than I wanted to satiate my own want. If I couldn’t satisfy you, what good was I? 

So when you walked in the room, my blood ran hot, not from lust, but from embarrassment. I was embarrassed that I had let everything in my world tell me that my own pleasure wasn’t as important as yours. 

………………………………

This piece was inspired by some of my thoughts that have pervaded my mind over the years in my sexual encounters. I feel like from my earliest memories of these types of situations, I remember wanting to feel wanted more than any other feeling. I wanted to be so mesmerizing and irresistible to someone else, more than I, myself, wanted to feel good. And while there is a peculiar kind of power in becoming that seductive to someone, it’s also difficult to achieve, and certainly not lasting. It has taken me, and is still taking me, a long time to consistently put my energy into feeling good instead of worrying about what my partner is thinking of me the entire time. Honestly, it’s kind of embarrassing for me to release it now when I’ve always been such a strong advocate for women owning their own sexuality. Because I still fall into the trap of wanting to please my partner so badly that I will compromise my own pleasure to do so, and that’s not ok. It ends up being hugely frustrating for everyone involved and it’s something I continue to be aware of in my interactions.

 

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PC: Kiki Moussetis on location somewhere in Greece

She’s Not Me

I want you to be happy, I said. And I meant it. But then I see a picture of you with her and I feel those words in the back of my throat like bile. I’m stopped dead in my tracks as my truth becomes a lie.

Because she’s beautiful. I know nothing else about her but I know she’s not me. And knowing just that much is enough for me to create her entire being in my mind. I tell myself that she’s my opposite, because that’s what I had to tell myself you wanted when you told me you didn’t want me anymore. 

She’s light where I’m dark, soft where I’m hard – it’s easy to hate what’s not me.

But it’s easy to hate what you don’t know. And though I don’t know her, I know you. I know you couldn’t be with my opposite no matter how hard you tried, not when you loved me so fiercely.

My hate pauses for a moment as I realize she’s probably the kind of person I would have been friends with. I shake the thought away.

I must hate her. And I must hate her without hating myself so I decide instead that any similarities to me that she possesses are mere shadows of the traits that I used to love you. I now disdain the very idea of her. I repeat this over and over and convince myself that I was simply too much rather than not right at all.

I must hate her. I have to believe that she is lesser than because if she’s more, then the end of us wasn’t about you, it was about me, and my failures.

She’s yours, and I’m not. She’s your present, and I’m your past. I take a deep breath as I reconcile my lie. Turns out, I did mean it when I said I wanted you to be happy. I just forgot the part where I meant not quite as happy as you were with me.

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

I know what you’re thinking but surprisingly, this piece isn’t directly about my most recent breakup, merely inspired by it, and by the rupi kaur poem below. This piece is an amalgamation of all the feelings of I’ve ever had when I find out the other person is moving on. No matter how far along in the healing process I am, there’s an ever-present need to convince myself that I’m still better than whoever their new person is so that I can cope and protect my own confidence. I’m not proud of thinking this way because logically I know that the end of a relationship has rarely been only about me, or only about the other person, its end almost always has to do with the way we fit together. Eventually, I do move past this phase but my gut reaction is always negative and I wanted to capture that. 

This piece started out a lot differently. I had written a kind of repetitive poem pitting myself against this imaginary girl that represented all of the things I was insecure about in my relationships. But then I called my sister to run it by her and she ripped it to shreds. It stung a bit but she was right. The original piece was petty and superficial and honestly didn’t capture the depth of these feelings the way the piece above does. 

Last week I got a ton of good feedback and I’d really appreciate it if you could leave your thoughts on this one somewhere as well! Did you like this week’s or last week’s better? I’m really trying to get better at this type of writing so please let me know what you think!

Hit me up on any of the platforms below!

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Or comment here!

the woman who comes after me will be a bootleg version of who i am. she will try and write poems for you to erase the ones i’ve left memorized on your lips but her lines could never punch you in the stomach the way mine did. she will then try to make love to your body. but she will never lick, caress, or such like me. she will be a sad replacement of the woman you let slip. nothing she does will excite you and this will break her. when she is tired of falling apart for a man that doesn’t give back what he takes she will recognize me in your eyelids staring at her with pity and it’ll hit her. how can she love a man who is busy loving someone he can never get his hands on again. 

– rupi kaur, milk and honey

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PC: The inimitable Clara Yu

 

One Tiny Thing

I rolled over because it was too hot. Having your arms around me was comforting and I loved it but I couldn’t take the heat radiating off your body surrounding me in addition to the summer air.

You were already asleep but when I moved you shifted on to your back. I rolled back over onto my other side so I could look at you. You always fell asleep before me. What a gift! To fall asleep as soon as you went horizontal. I was always plagued by at least a few minutes of anxieties before being able to rest, but you were just so peaceful. Your right hand was above your head, and your left rested on your chest and I already missed you.

I know I was the one that rolled over and moved away, and that it had only been a few seconds since we were last touching, but I missed you. I didn’t want to disturb you, but I couldn’t be so far apart from you and still fall asleep, so I unraveled my legs and slowly moved my right foot to find your left one. Gently. Carefully. Your peace was precious to me. Your feet were splayed out, so they were easy to find. I softly tapped the tops of my toes against the bottom of your foot. I was calm again. You were right here again. I settled my head on my pillow and closed my eyes, all my anxieties were quelled with the smallest of touches.

And then, I felt your toes curl over my foot just briefly, drawing me just a little closer, and I knew you had missed me too. Even from beyond consciousness, you wanted me close, and at that moment, I believed I had everything.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Who is this about? You get one guess. But I wanted to write it as a sort of small personal catharsis piece because a couple weeks ago I was trying to go to bed and this scene just all of a sudden came flooding back to me and I had a full-on emotional breakdown over it. I had been relatively ok for months since the breakup but then this small thing hit me and I was just destroyed. Even now I can’t write or edit the above paragraph without my eyes getting glassy.

It simultaneously represents everything I want in a relationship, but also everything I lost.  Every relationship has different tiny things like this, that you discover together and a lot of them can’t really be forced or talked about, they just have to be there. My previous relationship had a lot that made for amazing chemistry, and now…pretty devastating loss.

Additionally, I am trying to play around with different styles of writing and writing things other than straightforward, advice type articles. So if the above passage made you feel something, anything, I’d love to know.

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PC: Clara Yu

An Interview with My Mother

Usually, I write a post praising my mom every year to commemorate Mother’s Day, but this year I found myself struggling for inspiration so I decided to go straight to the source of life herself and annoy her into giving me content. Below is an interview with my mom about what being a mom has been like for her, maybe next year I’ll take submissions for questions!

Note: I’ve written this in interview format so ME is, of course, me, and MO stands for Mom. Anything in brackets or parentheses is a note added by me.

ME: Let’s start with the beginning. How did you decide you wanted to become a mom?

MO: I just felt like it was time. We [she and my dad] had talked about it before we got married, so we both knew we wanted kids. The only decision part was to wait to start trying until after we got married.

ME: How did you know when you wanted kids? How did you know you were ready?

MO: I just knew.*

*We laughed here because this was so unhelpful so I pressed her for more

MO: It was just a feeling of readiness. We knew there was no ‘best’ time and we wanted them so we had them. Maybe part of it was your dad’s age, because he knew he wanted kids soon so he wouldn’t be too old of a father. [Note: my dad is 8 years older than my mom]

ME: What was your pregnancy with me like? Leave Kiki out of it haha

MO: Um…no morning sickness. I got horrible acne. For the first part, I felt kinda lousy because you hear about the pregnancy glow, and mine was more like the pregnancy plague. I still worked full time, but I was grumpy and bitchy and even got in trouble at work due to my attitude. I didn’t work out really, aside from walking [Note: She did train for a half marathon after I was born though]. However, once the first trimester passed, I was just waiting for you to get out. I just got bigger and watched my toes disappear from view. Couldn’t even have shoes with laces.

ME: How was childbirth itself?

MO: Take the drugs. That’s all I have to say.

ME: What was the scariest part about being new parents?

MO: Well we were so excited when I was pregnant. It was so cool when we could feel you move. We were excited all the way until you came out and then we brought you home and we looked at you and said: “what do we do with her now?”. Everything was easy when you were still inside, but now it was real and it was scary. Knowing that we were ultimately responsible for shaping this person, this baby, into a real person that’s going to be out there in the world was terrifying.

ME: Ok, well thanks for freaking me out. What was the best part once you brought me home?

MO: Hmmm…making you giggle. Watching you smile. Watching you discover things. Your fat rolls!

ME: Yes I was fat, look how far I’ve come. Are there any choices you made in your parenting when I was little that you were convinced were the right choices at the time?

MO: No. You’re never sure if you’ve made the right choice until much later. You can never truly know if what you did was right until your child is presented with a situation that requires that lesson later and they choose the best option or not.

ME: Well that is not comforting at all. Let’s fast forward a little bit, how did you approach puberty for me?

MO: I think we bought you a book right?

ME: Several actually.

MO: Yeah that’s right. We wanted to make sure you had literature about everything going on and we wanted to make sure you knew you could ask us any question you wanted and that we would be honest with you. And above all else, we wanted to make sure you were getting information from us rather than friends or others.

ME: How did you make sure I knew I could come to you?

MO: Just by repeating it, making sure you were aware at every step. But we also never pressed you to tell us anything. And the thing is, this worked for you because you had no problem asking us point blank questions no matter how uncomfortable, but for your sister it was different.

ME: How did you approach the situation when I wanted to start dating and hanging out with boys?

MO: Well we knew it was coming. And once you were old enough to drive we knew we had less control over the situations so we wanted to make sure there were rules in place. There had to be a structure surrounding it, no point in having you out till all hours for no good reason, leaving more room for trouble. I was thankful that you would talk to me about it though, and that you would listen to me when I would give advice. I was also thankful that you were taking responsibility for making sure that you were safe, and that you felt important and comfortable in your relationships.

ME: So do you think you were successful in raising me? Why?

MO: Well yeah…I mean…you lived (laughs), but you did everything right. You heeded advice, you made good decisions, you made bad decisions but learned from your mistakes. You help others when they ask for it. You’re adventurous.

ME: How did you decide to have another kid?

MO: We always knew we wanted more than one. We originally thought we were going to have four but once we found out how hard one kid was, we reevaluated pretty quick (laughs). But we also always thought it was a good idea for a kid to have at least one sibling so we made sure we did that.

ME: Ok what’s the best thing about being a mom?

MO: Loving and being loved unconditionally. I liked the process of teaching another human how to be a human. For as many tears that were cried, there were so many more smiles.

ME: Awwwwww, ok what’s the worst thing about being a mom?

MO: It’s just so much pressure. And not even from the kid, but from other adults that judge you and tell you you’re doing it wrong or make you second guess yourself. And puke. Puke is also terrible.

ME: What did you learn from your mom that was invaluable in your mothering technique?

MO: Patience, so much patience.

ME: There are so many questions I could ask. One that’s super important to me though is how was it traveling with two kids? Especially two small kids?

MO: It was scary in the sense that you’re going into an environment where there are so many other people and new things and you don’t know how your kid is going to react. You don’t want to be that parent with that kid. You want to be prepared for everything so you end up being a pack mule and it’s freaking exhausting to actually get to the destination, much less enjoy yourself.

ME: Ok, let’s wrap it up since you want to go to sleep so bad! How do you think your role has changed now that I’m an adult?

MO: Well you’re pretty much self-sufficient so I’m just here for the occasional question now. I don’t need to really teach you anything anymore, I just have to trust that I have imparted as much knowledge as I could before now. Obviously, we’re still here as a safety net, but you’re doing everything you need to be doing. You respect what we taught you and you use it in your life now. Now I’m just here for questions like “how long does previously frozen chicken last in the fridge?” haha

ME: What about from when I was in college as compared to now that I’m completely independent?

MO: Well we’re not your bank anymore…that really means you’re fully independent now. There’s nothing we could hold over you if necessary. It’s like we’re more equal than before. We have adult conversations but ultimately when you make your decision it’s your decision because I can’t make you do anything now. So I feel I’m more to bounce ideas off of and provide comfort than to actually give direction.

ME: It’s interesting you view us as more equal. Do you think my role within the family changed?

MO: Of course. All the things I used to do for you, you now do yourself. Making appointments, cooking, laundry. And as much as I’m glad that it’s less work for me, it was also hard letting go of those things because it means I’m not needed as much and it’s all part of you breaking away from us to become your own person.

And that’s it! Anything you wish I would’ve asked? Maybe I’ll write a little appendix if I get enough extra questions!

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Me and my mom sweating our faces off at the Grand Canyon PC: Kiki Moussetis

 

 

How to Keep Friends Around the World

Because I travel so much, and move states, cities, and countries so often, I now have friends pretty much everywhere, but I don’t have a home base anywhere. Most of my friends don’t really know each other or hang out together apart from little groups of two’s and three’s here and there.

One the one hand, this type of set up really works for me. I thrive off of one on one time far more than groups anyways so having to always hang out with single friends for the most part is actually preferable than trying to get a group together every time.

However, this gets a little difficult because it becomes impossible for me to actually see these friends as often as I’d like. There are people in LA, New York, Chicago, Virginia, Calgary, Milan, San Francisco, and Athens that I’d love to see all the time, but that’s just impossible.

Even so, the friends I have in these places are invaluable to me, and I refuse to let the relationships just die because they bring me so much joy. But, it can be really difficult to maintain them when we aren’t interacting with similar places or people and thus have less in common than when we were sharing an actual geographical location.

So how do I stay in touch with so many people that are so far away, you ask?

This is how –

  1. Figure out what method of communication works best in every relationship. Some friends I can go six months without talking to but then we get on the phone and talk for three hours. Some friends text me forty messages at a time and then we converse from there. I send FB messages as long as letters every few months to some friends. I send voice messages with other friends, and some friends I call on my commute to anywhere. Sometimes I just DM people when something on Instagram reminds me of them. Everybody has their best way of keeping in touch, and once you figure out a way that keeps you connected, keep on using it.
  2. Make plans to stay in touch as if you were making plans to see them in person. If I’m busy but I tell someone I’ll call them right back, I call them right back. If I schedule a skype call with someone on the weekend, then I treat it as if I was going to lunch with a friend. Carving time out of your day for this may seem less important than actual physical contact, but it can be just as meaningful if you make the effort.
  3. Visit each other as often as you can. I realize that traveling is not in everyone’s budget, but make the most of it when you can. For example, last summer I had a trip to Greece planned with my family but one of my best friends was living in Milan so I got to Greece a couple days early and flew to Milan to see him for just two days since I was already in Europe. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities like that and hopefully, you can always find ways to meet in the middle.

Obviously, this is not sustainable for a lot of friends, but I’ve made some super close ones over the years and there’s no reason that distance should change that.  I won’t lie though, this is hard, and many people are discouraged because they feel like they don’t have anything in common with their far away friends, or at least not enough to reach out. While this may or may not be true, I’ve found that a good way to circumvent it is to be genuinely, super interested in your friend’s lives. Even though my friend in Milan goes to a school I’ve never been to and hangs out with people I’ve never met, I still ask him to tell me about all of it because then I can use it to keep us connected later. Staying in touch may seem overwhelming at times, but all it takes is a tiny bit of planning, and a tiny bit of effort and before you know it, you can stay in touch with anyone, anywhere.

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PC: Kiki Moussetis. Location: Crete, Greece.

Learning to be My Own Person

Since moving back home for a while, I’ve had extra time and exposure to think about how my parents took care of me when I was younger and how they imparted certain lessons that I was able to take with me even after leaving.

Not only that, but I’ve been able to more clearly see what I’ve picked up apart from them. I had been living mostly far away from home for nearly six years now and that time forced and allowed me to create an identity for which they provided the foundation but I continued building. It’s still exciting for me to discover how to do things on my own, even if it’s a mundane activity like how to structure my 401k and although I feel a little bit melancholy at the fact that I don’t really need their help for much anymore, I recognize that it’s important to embrace this stage because it’s crucial in order for me to build the identity of me as individual separate from relationships. As such, the list below are just some random thoughts about lessons that I didn’t learn directly from my parents –

Lesson #1 – How to invest. I’m not some hotshot, but I have a few passive income streams working now and this is something my parents aren’t super comfortable with. I did learn a lot about different types of investments in university, but using my own money has been entirely self-taught.

Lesson #2 – Travel tips. My dad has traveled a lot but not quite to the extent that he’s gained the kind of status I have from being a consultant – through this I’ve picked up a few work arounds and tricks to make things easier when traveling. I also travel for vacation much differently than my parents. I stay in hostels and spend a lot of time finding mechanisms to save money and live like a local.

Lesson #3 – Sunscreen is skincare. My parents can be sun bums, and I never realized how much my skin could’ve improved if I’d been more religious about sun protection before.

Lesson #4 – Cooking. My parents are both actually good cooks. But through my own unique experiences, I’ve developed a taste and proclivity for different types of cooking than I grew up with.

Lesson #5 – More skincare – washing your sheets and towels often can have a larger impact on your skin than any skincare product. Wash your pillowcase every three days to prevent breakouts.

Lesson #6 – Packing cubes are the best things in the world for travel. Everything stays organized, you don’t have to pull it all out and dig every time you need that one thing.

Lesson #7 – You don’t have to finish all the food on your plate or use items until they wear out to get your money’s worth. You can simply enjoy as much as you want and stop.

Lesson #8 – Texting is a perfectly acceptable way to keep in touch. I haven’t heard some of my friend’s voices in months but I’m still able to stay close with them.

Lesson #9 – Crying sometimes does solve things because it functions as a form of emotional release.

Lesson #10 – Parents just want you to be happy. I used to think my parents wanted me to be wealthy and stable, but really they just want me and my sister to be happy and safe.

There are tons of other lessons I’ve learned along the way, but honestly, these are the only ones I can think of that are separate from my parents. When learning how to do my taxes or get renter’s insurance, I leaned on them heavily. The only reason I feel comfortable learning things in new countries is because of what they exposed me to when I was young. The things I listed above are things that I can directly see where their influence ended and my own tastes and preferences developed. These are things I’ve picked up apart from them and have even taught them a thing or two as a result. Discovering this separation and continuing to discover it has been so crucial to my growth over the past few years and I’m really realizing that my parents have been responsible for so much of my development but becoming a person on my own is a task I also have to undertake on my own.

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We can still go on family vacay together though 🙂

Heartbreak Appendix

I mentioned this briefly in my first post in this series but the hardest thing about this break up for me has been the forgetting.

It’s knowing I will forget the feelings I had for my ex over time, but also knowing that he will forget his feelings for me as well.

This is the part that truly kills me about this breakup. It’s the fact that we were literally part of each other for so long and we won’t be able to keep that anymore.

Eventually, I’ll forget the exact shade of blue of his eyes. Eventually, I’ll forget what his laugh sounded like. Eventually, I’ll forget how he would concentrate when making cappuccinos. I’ll forget that he would put brown sugar in everything. I’ll forget everything eventually. One day, he will just be an idea of someone I loved.

He’ll forget me too. He’ll forget how I got mad over open chip bags. He’ll forget what my skin feels like. He’ll forget the face I make when I’m trying not to laugh. He’ll forget what my shampoo smells like. He’ll eventually forget everything about me that makes me, me.

Of course, we’ll both remember events. Like our trip to Peru, or things we did in Calgary and LA. But those are just pins on a timeline.

I will eventually forget how it truly felt to be on top of Macchu Picchu with him. He will eventually forget how it truly felt to swim close to me in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Santorini. We will both eventually forget how it felt to people watch from Bottega Louie together in LA.

We may never forget that we did those things, but we’ll forget how we felt doing them together and that wrecks me.

The only bright spot I can think of in all of this is in the fact that the forgetting helps with moving on. It’s devastating to forget these feelings, but it would also be devastating to still feel them when you can’t even have the person that’s causing them.

In other news, here’s how I’ve been coping in real time –

  • I bought a slinky red dress, a ton of skin care, and a ton of earrings
  • I am actively trying to text my friends and family to fill my communication void. I already apologized in advance for spamming them.
  • I became obsessed with a certain anime. OBSESSED.
  • I also look at my old messages with my ex to talk myself out of reaching out to him (most times this works, sometimes  not)
  • I workout a lot
  • I’m also making a ton of life changes (more coming soon)

Do what you gotta do, right? This marks the end of my heartbreak series for now. If you want to recap, you can start with the beginning here.

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PC: Kiki Moussetis

Heartbreak Part Three: Reflection

As I’m working through healing from this breakup, a super important piece that I wanted to call out is reflection.

Let’s be clear though, this is the third part of a series being released weekly, so even though I’m going to talk about the last part in my process, these things don’t occur in nice, neat chunks and they certainly don’t occur this quickly. I’m still working through some ugly emotions, I still have weak moments where I want to reach out to my ex, I still can spend hours wondering what could have happened differently. I cry, I rage, I pout. This is a process, it takes time. Lots of time. So even though the following is attempting to focus on the positive, I don’t want to sugarcoat the fact that there is a lot of negative still mixed in for me – and that’s ok.

However, the negative emotions are almost the easy ones at this point. Anger, sadness, insecurity. They’re familiar now. I feel self-righteous in feeling them and that makes them comfortable. He did this to me, I was stupid, I don’t have this anymore, and on and on.

But then I think there’s an inescapable fact about all of this – we couldn’t have grown into the people we were meant to be without having loved each other. We also couldn’t have grown into the people we were meant to be without having left each other.

No matter how angry or frustrated or weary I am about all of this, the relationship caused me to grow and change and for this, the only thing I can feel is gratitude.

Before this relationship I had never done any of the following –

Lived with my partner, been in a long-distance relationship, traveled with my partner, started a life from scratch, been to Canada, skied, mountain biked, camped, cross country skied, or compromised for a relationship.

Apart from the outdoors stuff, those are not small things.  Those are actually pretty intense buckets of development in a relationship that could have only happened in this particular relationship for me.

Additionally, I learned a lot of things about myself apart from a relationship. I confirmed the fact that I’m restless, and I realized that I am far braver than I was giving myself credit for. It takes courage to take risks for love. It takes courage to move, or to move countries. It takes courage start over. It takes courage to try and make new friends from nothing. It takes courage to own your decisions when you can feel the doubt rolling off people. And the thing is, I am not afraid of any of it. It was hard for sure – there’s no sugarcoating that – but I don’t fear it.  In fact, I realized I don’t actually fear very many things at all (apart from spiders EW).

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment I gained from this relationship is that I no longer fear failure. I used to be terrified of it. Any failure, big or small, would completely cripple me and deter me from getting outside my comfort zone. But doing what I’ve done for this past relationship proves that I don’t fear it anymore. I took so many risks, some paid off and some didn’t, but I loved the process of taking all of them and the experience is invaluable to me despite the result.

I no longer fear investing my money into things that may not pan out. I no longer fear investing my time into people that may hurt me in the end. I no longer fear being alone nor figuring things out on my own. These things still make me nervous and you bet your ass I’m still going to do everything in my power to make sure things don’t fail, but there’s no fear to prevent me from at least trying. I can’t find reasons not to take risks anymore because sometimes those risks pay off big time whether in actual results or personal growth.

So as much as I’m tempted to see myself back at square one, that’s really not fair. I am so much brighter, and better, and braver than I was before. This relationship started by sheer romantic whirlwind*. We met in France, he followed me to Greece, and we continued long-distance from LA and Calgary. We fell hard for each other and I took a chance and moved to Calgary. It didn’t work out and now I’m figuring out what to do next. That is a wild ride from start to finish.

Parts of me are still embarrassed at the failure (I’m not immune jeez), of course it sucks to tell people why I have no place to live at the moment. But that embarrassment won’t stop me from being honest, and it won’t stop me from doing it again, because carrying that fear with me to my future can only hurt me, and then what was the point of all this pain I’m going through now huh?

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Clara Yu coming in again with a great pic from my trip to LA last week ago

*In case you’re wanting to re-live my whirlwind romance those posts are linked here, here, and here. I made the mistake of doing this and ended up a sobbing mess so I hope you fare better than me.

Heartbreak Part Two: Healing

I’ve never written one of these articles because even though I use the same steps to get over a breakup every time, I wanted to make sure I gave this advice from a place of pain so I could actually analyze if these steps helped rather than just spouting the same fluff as every other heartbreak puff piece. So here we go, this is how I personally deal with a breakup, in no particular order –

  1. Retail Therapy. There is a reason we shop to fill the void. But for me, shopping after a breakup isn’t so much about finding things to replace a person, it’s about buying at least one piece of clothing, jewelry, or SOMETHING that my ex hasn’t ever seen, or touched, or had any contact with. It’s a piece that I claim as entirely my own, has no relationship with the past, and it’s the beginning of me claiming my individuality back. I already bought a killer red dress and some earrings.
  2. Change Your Look. This is similar to the clothing one in that it’s a way to reclaim your appearance. I never do anything too dramatic here, usually a different hairstyle, or slightly different highlights, or a new ear piercing. Doesn’t matter how big or small it is, it is still something that your ex has no part in now. You don’t have to listen to their opinions and it’s honestly the perfect time to try out something if you’d been considering it for awhile. And afterwards, you feel just new enough that you can almost fool yourself into thinking that you’re a completely different person than that girl who dated that guy, and for a little while, you’re untouchable. Even though that feeling won’t last forever, it’s important to get a taste of it early on, because that’s the feeling your aiming for consistently throughout all of this. I haven’t done this one yet but I’m most likely going to get some new highlights and maybe a tattoo that I’ve been putting off for awhile.
  3. USE your support system. I had been feeling so lonely, stressed, and sad in the months leading up to this breakup because I was anxious about what was happening to the relationship and I unintentionally isolated myself. I was embarrassed to let them in on how everything was falling apart. However, once everything went to complete shit, I immediately leaned on my family and my close group of friends from university for pretty much everything. I could write a book on how each one of these people helped me cope with this kind of pain, but the important thing here is that I had a support system to lean on and I used that. I vented, cried, asked for compliments, advice, empathy, and they gave it all to me. This obviously is cathartic, but using them also puts you back in touch with them and makes you realize how many people you actually do have in your corner throughout a tough time.
  4. HOWEVER, set expectations with your support system as well. You should never feel like you have to talk about it or that you have to be feeling a certain way at a certain time. Your support system should do just that, support. My friends and family were super great in the fact that they were constantly checking up on me, but didn’t pressure me to talk about it, instead they just wanted to make sure I was ok and we would talk about it sometimes but sometimes not. They should be onboard with what you’re needing at the moment, not with what they are interested in hearing.
  5. Say YES to everything. Anything you’ve ever wanted to try, go do it. Your friend invites you to a new class or something, go do it. Go out with friends, family, or just yourself! Go out and do things constantly (note – this does not mean you have to go out and party, just go out and keep busy). There will feel like you have a huge void in your life at first because you just have to get re-used to living without your other person and you have to fill it with things that keep your attention. For me, I am lucky in the fact that I actually had to move to a different location, I have friends all over the world that I can leverage work into seeing, and I just planned a trip for myself which I haven’t done in AGES (I’m going to Japan and I’m PUMPED) . Historically, my most productive periods of life have actually been immediately following a breakup so here’s hoping that trend continues.
  6. DO NOT WALLOW. Or, if you must wallow, put time limits on it. I know this is an unpopular opinion because many people say you should take as much time as you need, but I think we’re all capable of being a little bit stricter with ourselves. Only allow yourself a certain amount of wallowing per day or week. And if you absolutely must wallow, make it a productive wallow. Cry while taking an aromatic bath, go on an epic venting session while masking, make a blog post out of it (haha), etc. Wallowing without a goal can quickly turn into an endless spiral of dark thoughts ending in you scrolling to the first posts of your ex’s Instagram and that is helping NO ONE.
  7. Practice gratitude. Even if you’re not into the whole zen thing, it is important to be able to see the positive side to things. The thing is that theoretically, the goal is to eventually find a person to spend your life with, which means that the actual precious time is alone time now. Who knows when that person will waltz in and preoccupy your time indefinitely. Be grateful for this time alone, for this time to get to know yourself, to be selfish, to only worry about doing YOU.

Overall, the main thing for me is that I have so much more time and freedom to play with that I have to somehow utilize now that I’m not taking someone else’s opinion into account all the time. Everything has been feeling a little off because it’s like I’m missing huge chunks of a normal day. We don’t have our nightly phone call when I’m away, there’s no one on the other side of the bed, there’s no one to cook new recipes with, there’s no one that makes me cappuccinos, there’s no one to give my constant energy and love to… Aw damn, now I’m crying again as I’m writing this…it’s just the feeling that there’s a void that I have to fill and I use the above steps to do it. They’ve worked before and I’m hoping they’ll work again, but unfortunately for us all, time is the only thing that will truly tell.

An interaction from one of my favorite rom-coms (French Kiss, 1995) that I think sums this up perfectly:

Luc Why are you chasing after him after what he’s done to you?

Kate Because I love him! And I’m afraid that if he doesn’t come back that I’ll… it’ll hurt so much that I’ll just shrivel up and I’ll never be able to love anyone ever again.

Luc You say that now, but… after a time, you would forget. First, you would forget his chin, and then his nose, and after a while, you would struggle to remember the exact color of his eyes, and one day you wake up and, pfft, he’s gone: his voice, his smell, his face. He will have left you. And then you can begin again.

What do you do to get through a breakup?

*Author’s Note – I actually talked to my ex yesterday morning to work out some logistics with the stuff I left behind in Calgary and I completely fell apart on the phone, so just remember if you’re going through this that it is a work in progress and you’re allowed to have moments where you just CAN’T.

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I visited LA this past weekend and spending time with my friends here was MUCH needed