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All the words I wish I could have told you

I got rid of my last photo of you, and I immediately regretted it. I realized that I will never be able to use the photos I took, documenting our love, as a bookmark.

I regretted that on any suspecting afternoon, with the sun gleaming just right twenty years from now, one of those photos will never fall out of an old book in front of my children and they won’t ask about the boy in the picture with curly hair and reddened cheeks.

I regretted it because you are – you were – my first love. And a person only gets one of those in a lifetime.

When I finally left I reacted curt toward you, almost passive or indifferent, because I didn’t want you to know that this was killing me too. Because I wanted to be strong – because the alternative was weak. Because we met un-intentionally and you immediately became forever etched into my soul.

I regretted it because we were damned from the start – because I found happiness in you before I found happiness in myself.

But, the reality is that I didn’t even know that I was looking for someone like you to save me from my misdirection. In fact, all I knew was that I liked the feeling in my stomach when your bright smile landed in my direction. I liked the comfort I felt in your eyes, I liked being desired. And, I liked how the beginning of our love story sprouted as if it were straight out of a Nora Ephron film.

The thing about those movies, however, is that they always ended just before the story actually began and reality set in.

For whatever reason, I thought myself righteous enough to pop our bubble. To be the one who decides that there is something better, grander, more extraordinary beyond the story of us.

So, I let it go. I convinced myself that I needed to get away so that I could start feeling again.

But seared inside my mind, hidden behind my self-proclaimed and glaring passions for the best love story known to man – and my belief that you couldn’t possibly give it to me – are the photos of you that I took in sepia. My hand on your chest. The back of your head against a sunset. Our hands holding one another. A kiss stolen in a gas station parking lot. Your eyes meeting mine with affection from the driver’s seat when we stopped at a red light and I told you to smile.

I regret that I didn’t give us the chance to seize just one more moment together. I regret that I didn’t give us a chance.

I know that you broke my heart in little ways for a long time, but I broke your heart in a big way all at once. One does not cancel out the other.

I loved you unconditionally. You knew it, too, but you lost me. I waited until I had enough and I left.

I realized that it is better to be single and search for myself, then to settle for something I feel insecure in.

Don’t get me wrong though. Our ending wasn’t nearly as tumultuous as I am making it out to be, nor as I would have liked it to be. One second we were, the next we were not. And that was it. We just ended. There was no thunder, no lightening. Nothing.

Even now as I am sorting through what exactly happened, I still can’t help but think that if you loved me the way you said you did you would have treated me the way you said you would.

I wouldn’t have had to beg.

Even when we did eventually try to talk about us, instead of ignoring the elephant in the room with banter or seduction, I’d be speechless. I didn’t know where to start.

But, please don’t mistake my silence for indifference. I do still love you. I always will, except it’s not the same. We spent so much time together and I know that I am saying so little right now to make up for it. I know that this is unbearable, but I promise you that every word I wish to utter to you is in my mind. I just can’t bring myself to speak when you look at me like that. When you draw yourself closer, it is a bribe which I can’t commit to. So please take a step back, I’m so tired of this. I am drained. If I stayed, I would spend a lifetime choking on words I wouldn’t ever dare to say.

I invested in you and I lost myself. I became dependent. And to be honest, this was the last thing I wanted. I spent close to a year relying on someone I didn’t want to rely on – nor could I. I knew it was the end long before you did, and I held on anyways, just in case, because I have a drastic fear of letting go and moving on.

But how can I reconcile breaking your heart and leaving everything we had together in just a few short minutes. You say that I took you by surprise, that you didn’t see it coming – but I don’t know how. I gave you all of the signs. You saw my silent tears. I always knew I wanted more. I was destined for something different. I felt it, deep in my bones, I just never faced it until I was forced to. I was able to ignore my confusion because we laughed with one another. We couldn’t take our hands off one another. We ran home in the pouring rain together, stopping only to kiss.

We experienced the best of one another for a short period of time, and I know that our relationship lasted as long as it was meant to. We loved each other until we couldn’t. We chewed us up and spit us out. We got everything we needed to get out of one another. We fell in and out of love from worlds apart. But I still feel terrible. And I feel like I should be feeling more even though I have been overcome with intense conflicting feelings every day since we said goodbye. Every day for close to a year.

I guess I just want you to know that I didn’t make this decision in haste. I needed to get away in order to understand more of myself.

I regret not thanking you enough for watching me blossom and believing in me so that I could believe in myself. I should have told you just how much you helped me realize the endless bounds of myself, for better or for worse.

I should have thanked you for letting me go, even though it hurt like hell.

I regret doing this to you because you waited for me. Because I gave you dozens of silent chances in my head. Because you would take me back in a second and I am here telling you that I am confused. That I need more time. That is – time to think. Time to learn and explore and dream. But all you hear is that I need to do all of these things away from you, that I need time alone. That I would rather work on building my sense of self alone than by your side.

But I deserve someone who makes me feel alive. Someone who is generous and who makes my heart jump when I tell people that they are mine. And you deserve someone who doesn’t give you an expiration date.

I am scared that maybe I made a mistake, that maybe I am foolish, or maybe that this is all that my love amounts to. I am having trouble accepting the normalcy of the end of us. The lack of explosion.

I am scared that I will forget. I am scared that after a few months everything we had will feel just like a dream. A dream that is open-ended, a dream that will constantly be on repeat in our respective minds until the end of time. Fated to carry each other’s baggage.

I regret that I now have to give you to someone else. That someone else will nuzzle into your chest, and devour your smell. I regret that I gave it all up so easily and have only in hindsight realized the weight of my naivety. Or did I? Because I also remember being so incredibly devastated, and being met with oblivion, with dismissive niceties. I remember my anxieties being belittled or made to feel small. I remember that I didn’t have the means, or the patience, to heal you.

I remember crying on the dance floor a year ago. Turning around so that none of my friends would see. I was staring at your messages. They were curt, broken and hard to make sense of. I remember being confused, I remember when someone told me for the first time that I deserved a love that was better. A love that nurtured. A love I didn’t have to settle for. A love that swept me off my feet.

I regret that we were different together than we were around everyone else. That no one got a real glimpse of us, in love. I regret being so quiet. I regret that I couldn’t love you like you loved me. I regret that you couldn’t love me the way I needed you to. I regret that we’ve run out of things to say.

I regret that our relationship was already broken even when your fingers were strumming through my hair or when we sat across from each other on the floor in a fit of laughter.

I regret knowing it was the end before you did, and holding on anyways just in case. I regret not telling you just how nervous I was and just how serious I was when I said that I thought we lost our spark. Our magic.

I regret it all because I wish that I held on to those pictures for a little while longer. I wish I studied them. Even though I knew the ending wouldn’t change.

Neither of us can fully heal our heartbreak unless we are apart. We have to heal for ourselves, rather than for the possibility that one day down the line we will be together again.

Seeing you that day, when you came by to collect your things, actually helped me realize that I am better off without you. That I am happy now. Really happy. And I no longer doubt myself. I no longer rely on you for happiness. I no longer get angry or sad because you couldn’t make me happy.

In hindsight I had absolutely no idea who I was when I met you. I still really don’t. I’m not even sure that I knew what genuine happiness looked or felt like.

Maybe that’s what ruined us after all. My indifference. My sadness. All of which at the end of the day amounted to nothing.

Soon I will be able to think about you without ripping my heart out.

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Dear Madame Lestrange Love Advice

Do you have any advice on how to be single?

Dear Madame Lestrange is The Tempest’s love, sex, and relationships advice column. Have a question? Send it to Madame Lestrange here.  It’s anonymous!

Dear Madame Lestrange,

So, I’m a serial monogamist. I’ve finally come to admit it after years of denying it. I have an incredibly hard time not being in a relationship. So far, I’m a month strong, which is great, but being home for the summer is really lonely, and I’m having the urge to hop on Tinder or OkCupid and find the next one.

I know this would be bad, but I’d like to tell myself, “what’s the harm?” But I know the harm; I need to work on myself this summer, and really spend some time with myself, something I haven’t done in years.

Do you have any advice on how to be single? I love being in relationships, and I love to hang out and get to know someone really well. But in the end, I always end up losing myself in it and distracting myself from my real problems. Can you help?!


—Your Single Gal

Dear Single Gal, 

You’ve already recognized what you need to do and that is to stay single. It’s always good to take some time out for yourself to figure out what you want and what you are looking for. 

My advice would be to figure out why you feel the need to always be in a relationship, do you miss the companionship? The sex? Or intimacy? This is the first way to figure out how to be single! Try finding things that ignite your passion, if there is something that you have been ignoring whilst looking for a relationship push your free time towards that. 

It’s not easy being single when you’re so used to being in a relationship and it can be really lonely. This is something that you have to push through in order to make sure that you are working on yourself. It’s important to recognize the things that you enjoy doing in a relationship you can do on your own.

You can go to the cinema and go to restaurants. You don’t need someone to be with you. Equally, grab a couple of your friends and head to the movies! 

Your welcome, 

Madame Lestrange 

More Dear Madame Lestrange

I’m planning on having sex with my boyfriend soon. It’ll be my first time but not his and while I’m very excited, I’m also very nervous. I want to make this a pleasurable experience for us both and I have no idea what I’m doing. I gave him my first handjob too and while he did cum, I feel like I could’ve done better. Do you have any tips?

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Love Life Stories

How do I make space for love if my life already seems full?

A few years ago, I was lamenting my perpetual singledom, when a friend asked me, “But do you think you have space for love, or  a relationship in your life?” The answer was – and arguably still is – no. 

I like being busy and hate being idle. I’ve always been this way. At the time, I was studying my master’s, acting as editor-in-chief of a student newspaper, running a freelance illustration business, and tutoring a journalism course at my university. I didn’t have time for a relationship. I was goal-oriented, and a relationship didn’t form part of that goal.

Fast forward to today. My life is just as full, if not fuller. I work a full-time job as a graphic designer, my freelance illustration business is still steaming ahead, I run a few half marathons a year, and I recently started writing for The Tempest

I’m busy. Like, really busy. Weird flex, right?

Am I really too busy for love?

I love being busy. But I also love love, and I wish I could find a balance between the two. After my friend suggested I didn’t have space in my life for love, I bought a double bed. I thought maybe if I had the physical space for a relationship, I’d make space in my life for one. 

We are always able to make time for our priorities.

But physical space doesn’t translate into what I think of as ‘life-space’. Life space is about priorities. We are always able to make time for the things we deem important. We are always able to make time for our priorities. And I didn’t know if making space for love was my priority.

When my friend suggested I didn’t have space in my life for a relationship, my priority was my university degree. Now, my priority is my career.

I’m currently at a point where I need to diversify my priorities. Striking a work-life balance can be tricky, and is something I need to work on. As somebody with a tendency for burnout, I’m always being told to take it easy, to find a balance between work and play. 

I’m on a bit of a mission to find a work-life balance that will allow me to make space in my life for a relationship.

I’m on a bit of a mission to find a work-life balance that will allow me to make space in my life for a relationship. (Although there’s kinda this global pandemic going on that’s made it a bit weird and tricky).

Here are four things I’ve tried, and whether they’ve been personal victories or failures:

1. I tried taking dating apps more seriously

I’m notoriously bad at replying to men on dating apps. In fact, my dating app bio is home to the words, “Bad at writing captivating bios, worse at texting strangers. But also very alone, so maybe I’ll learn.” 

I decided to be more conscientious about replying on dating apps, but I find it difficult to find the time and effort to converse with people who I don’t care for. This helped me learn that in order for me to make space in my life for somebody, I need more of a connection than a superficial right-swipe. 

2. I created some work-life boundaries

I made some work-life rules for myself which – admittedly – worked better before we all started living in perpetual quarantine. One rule that I’ve kept up is that I’m no longer allowed to use my laptop in bed. My work can only happen at my desk, and my bed is exclusively a place of rest. Creating small boundaries like this one work as small steps towards making more space for things that are not work. My hope is that by making more of this kind of space, I’ll also make space for love.

3. I’m learning to say “no”

I developed a habit of saying yes to every bit of work that comes my way. This has meant that I often find myself drowning in work.

I’m trying to break this habit, and learning to say “no” to work that doesn’t serve me. As a freelancer, you have as much right to be picky with what work you take on, as a client has to be picky when it comes to who they hire. A good exercise in this process was to make a list of work that makes me happy, and work I find tedious. I only take on the tedious work if I have the time. Only doing work I love means that I have more time for the work I love, and the people I love.

4. I’m also making more time for the people I love platonically

I enjoy making people feel loved, but sometimes I find myself prioritizing my work over my family and friends. Finding a work-life balance is also about making sure the people I care about know that I care about them. Making life-space for my loved ones used to mean making time to see them face-to-face over a coffee. In quarantine, it means making time for video calls, sending them memes, and reminding them that they’re doing okay. By making space for my loved ones, I’m slowly making more space for romance. Or at least, I hope I’m doing that!

I’m learning that love is a priority of mine. So, making time for love should be a priority of mine, too.

Editor's Picks Love + Sex Love Life Stories

It took years to go on my first date – I still don’t know why

I didn’t go on a date until I was almost 24. This wasn’t because I was against dating so much as the fact that no one had ever asked me on a date.

But there I was, two weeks away from my birthday and a guy on Tinder asked if we could get a drink that night. It felt too rushed and I like to take things slow. I would be happy talking to a guy over text for weeks or months before meeting in person – but I said yes. Mostly because my coworkers urged me to, but partly because it felt just impulsive enough to be right.

It didn’t end up going anywhere. My second-ever date a few months later also didn’t lead to anything, but the two of them combined, mere months apart when I’d waited almost 24 years for a first date, felt like a sign – that times were changing. It felt like maybe, just maybe, I was finally becoming someone who dated.


Now two years have gone by and I’m starting to wonder if I’m not well on my way to another 24 years without a date. 

Again, it’s not that I haven’t tried or wanted to date. In fact, maybe I’ve wanted it too much. Maybe I’ve poured too much of my self-esteem into getting a date, a follow-up date, a relationship. 

These two years in a “dating desert” have been a rollercoaster. Some days I believe there’s something wrong me — surely there’s something wrong with me if I can’t get anyone to want me! 

Other days I’m convinced it’s not me, it’s them; the men of the world are just not looking at me the right way, not seeing all that I have to offer.

Ultimately, I think it’s neither of the two. What I try to remind myself (when I can), what I try to make myself believe, is that there’s nothing wrong with not dating.

This is something that I absolutely know and believe in my mind and sometimes even in my heart. I know so many great people who haven’t dated, or who did date but never married, or who did all the above but are alone now; and that’s not just fine, that’s good.


Because everyone has their own story to tell, everyone’s life is its own beautiful narrative, and it can’t all look the same.

I think back on the things I wanted as a child (married by 19, multiple children by my mid-twenties, living in South Carolina for my whole life) and I have to laugh.

That’s not my life at all.

I’m a single 26-year-old in New York City who can barely manage to feed herself most days; a brood of children would be supremely unlucky to have me as their mother at this stage. 

But as a kid, all I wanted was the story of dating in high school, engaged in college, married by graduation, family a few years later. I didn’t succeed in that plan obviously since I didn’t date in either high school, college, or even grad school. And I thought it made me broken.

I thought it meant I was unlovable, undesirable, and flawed in a way that couldn’t be fixed. Sometimes, if I’m being honest with you (and myself) I still feel that way. But that doesn’t make it true. 

Just because I feel broken doesn’t mean I am broken. 

More importantly, my time in single-dom is teaching me something very important: how to love myself. That’s something I’ve always struggled with. My self-esteem has lived at the bottom of the ocean for much of my memory, and I’ve lived with depression and anxiety since high school; all of that combines to make me not just dislike myself, but outright hate who I am much of the time. 


Being single forces me to reckon with that.

I can’t default to finding my value in the fact that a man loves me because there is no man who loves me. I can’t ignore the feelings of being undesirable, because they’re ever-present. 

It’s hard for me, as someone who desperately craves human connection and wants a so-called “forever person,” to come to terms with the fact that I don’t have that

I think it’s okay to want a relationship and be sad that I don’t have one. I do think what’s not okay is beating myself up over it. 

That’s what I’m trying to stop. Instead of looking at this amount of time with no dates as a desert, I’m going to look at it as just another stretch of ground on the journey of life, if you will.

Maybe it’ll last forever; maybe it’ll end tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m going to remind myself and everyone around me that there’s nothing wrong with being single and learning to love yourself.

Love + Sex Life Stories Life

7 things all single people are tired of hearing

What annoys me most about people’s unwarranted opinions on my singleness is that it’s something they think needs to be changed. Apparently, for many people, being simultaneously single and happy is still unfathomable.

A lot of the comments I get from friends, family, and strangers come from a good place: most people think they’re doing me a favor. But the thing is, I don’t want or need your dating advice. And even if I did, I’ve heard it all a million times before.

1. “Be patient, your Mr. Right is out there somewhere.”

A woman looks exasperated and says "Okay, seriously. Oh my God."
[Image Description: A woman with blonde hair who is wearing a black necklace looks exasperated and says “Okay, seriously. Oh my God.”] Via Giphy
Yes, because I spend my days sitting around waiting for Mr. Right to walk into my life. Last year, I wrote an article about how my political opinions impact my dating life.

After reading it, my gran sent me a text message telling me not to worry, I still have plenty of time to find someone. Her intentions were well-meaning but she missed the point of my article which was about how women aren’t expected to voice strong opinions.

People who are single are not just waiting around to be discovered. Individuals lead productive lives just fine. 

2. “But you’re so pretty!”

An exasperated looking man blinks his eyes.
[Image Description: Obama gives an exhausted expression and blinks his eyes.] Via Giphy
Please don’t ever say this.

Whenever someone says this to me, I imagine that I’m an object that is just waiting around for a man to pick me. My single status is not a one-way street. I am not just waiting for someone. I am not going to go for just anyone.  And I’m certainly never settling for someone who bases my value on my physical appearance.

3. “You should get out more.”

A woman gives an annoyed look.
[Image Description: A woman wearing a hat and with braids gives an annoyed look while tapping a pencil against her collar bone.] Via Giphy
No, thank you. I get out plenty and when I’m not out, I’m either working or spending time with friends or family who provide me with more than enough love and fulfillment.

Also, it’s none of your business. 

4. “You need to lower your standards.”

A woman looks shocked and asks "Wait, what?"
[Image Description: A woman wearing a gray sweatshirt looks shocked and asks “Wait, what?”] Via Giphy
I’ve heard this one most often. Surprisingly, it has come from other women.

I think it’s sad that many women believe it’s better to compromise themselves and what they believe in than be single. And I’m not talking about normal relationship compromises. I’m talking about compromising your core values like whether or not you support abortion rights.

5. “Maybe you shouldn’t be so vocal about your opinions.”

A woman shrugs while text saying "I just can't" appears around her.
[Image Description: A woman with blonde braids who wears dungarees shrugs while text saying “I just can’t” appears around her.] Via Giphy
As someone that stands up for what they believe in, I get this one a lot. And that’s OK. I stand by what I believe in and I am happier being single than settling for someone who is intimidated by a woman who voices her opinions.

6. “You need to meet up with [insert name here].”

A woman moves her hands while saying "Nah".
[Image Description: Michelle Obama moves her hands while saying “Nah.”] Via Giphy
I know feeling like a matchmaker is probably fun, but please don’t subject your single friends to unwanted attempts of matchmaking. I don’t want to go on a date with the misunderstood guy from your sister’s office.

So please don’t try set me up on a date with him.

7. “Don’t worry, you’ll understand when you’re in a relationship.”

A woman makes a confused expression.
[Image Description: A blonde woman moves her face to makes a confused expression.] Via Giphy
Look, I get that there are some things we only understand when we experience them. Imagine I was having problems with my studies and when asked about them, I responded: “you’ll understand this when you do the same degree as me.” It just doesn’t make sense. I hate that people assume everyone is going to be in a relationship one day and suddenly have a greater understanding of specific issues. Maybe I won’t.

Either explain your issues to me or don’t bring up the topic at all.

I guess what bugs me most is being continuously reminded by society that there’s something wrong with being single. If I am happy with being single, I wish everyone else could be too.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

Boys are interested in me – until they hear that I’m an activist

When I was 16, one of my best friends said she doubted that I would ever get married.

“It’s because of your liberal views,” she said. “Men don’t really think that way.”

I was hurt by this statement. But I didn’t believe it. I thought of my hometown, a small South African town, as a place with mostly narrow-minded people with an apartheid-era mindset. I thought my love life would look far more promising once I got out.

“Just wait until I go to university,” I thought.

And eventually, I did leave for university. I packed my bags and moved towns to pursue a degree in journalism.

I met men who were feminists. I met people in interracial relationships. I watched theater productions about confronting your own white privilege. I protested against rape culture on campus. I was around the enlightened, and my perfect man was somewhere in the crowd.

Except he wasn’t.

Politics is cool when you’re in university, and so is activism. But there’s a time and place for it. In class. At protest meetings. But not so much in social settings.

I met boys. I went out and got drunk on a regular basis in my first-year. There were drunken hookups. Boys have, for the most part of my life, taken an interest in me. Up until the point of politics.

Often boys have initiated conversations with me. It must be fun to watch. At some point, the conversation moves towards interests and I talk about politics and social justice. One of two things happen. Their eyes glaze over and slowly they make their way out of the discussion. Or they entertain me and even challenge my ideas. It’s fun. But that’s all.

It’s very seldom that someone will follow up their pursuit after they have heard me talk politics. And so, I’ve stayed single – but I’m okay with that.

Social psychologists from the University of Buffalo studied the reactions of men to women who appeared smarter than them. They found that men found smarter women attractive from a distance but less so when they came into close contact with them. I don’t know whether men find me smarter than them. But I do know that most men are uncomfortable with the way I engage in conversations.

My friends used to warn me about avoiding discussing social issues at events. “You always talk about such serious topics. It’s depressing,” they’d say. “Guys find it intimidating when you talk about intellectual stuff.”

They’ve mostly given up warning me since I ended up talking about politics anyway, even though I used to try not too. I used to try to be less opinionated. Less vocal. Post less on Facebook and talk less about social injustice.

But I can’t, and I won’t. And that’s okay.

I have always been interested in social affairs. This interest is not limited to my studies or writing. It follows me around during my shopping trips, my travels and yes, even my nights out.

My interests in social issues often paint me as the angry feminist. And it’s true, I am angry. Angry at the many ways society has failed marginalized groups. But I don’t direct this anger to people who engage with me, I simply explain it.

Apparently, that’s not cool. In fact, there’s even research to show how badly society responds to angry women. A paper in the journal Law and Human Behavior presents a study that has shown that when women express anger in a group discussion it undermines the argument to the group. The opposite is the case for men and their anger validates the argument. It’s a narrative most women are familiar with. The angry woman is often portrayed as being emotional and hormonal rather than legitimately angry.

In a Medium post, Sana Saeed wrote that caring about politics is shorthand for, “I care about what happens to people and how our world functions.” For that very reason, I can’t pretend to be apathetic about social injustice and I can’t truly be happy with someone who is indifferent.

I hope that in an era of social justice and women’s rights, women will no longer feel the need to suppress the parts of them that make them appear intimidating and thus undesirable. But until then, I am happier being angry and intimidating on my own.

Love Advice

20 online dating tips every single straight woman absolutely needs to know

Gone are the days of the stigma of saying that you met someone through an online dating platform. Couples who meet online are proof that every person out there on the app is not pathetic or unable to meet people. But at the same time, the internet is filled with online dating horror stories – guys just looking to hook up, closeted misogynists, and of course, people who look nothing like the profile picture you were attracted too.

While these dating woes are very real and very frustrating, they do not have to overwhelm your journey towards the right partner. As a success story of online dating myself, and someone who has seen quite a few successful couples in my group of friends, hope exists. Do not self-sabotage, get ready to learn a lot about yourself and others, and enjoy yourself along the way!

[bctt tweet=”While online dating woes are real, they do not have to overwhelm your journey towards the right partner.” username=”wearethetempest”]

1. Online dating is a great way to be introduced to new people

sexy ricky martin GIF
[Image Description: A gif of Ricky Martin saying hello and talking about being sexy and knowing it.] via Giphy

You work a lot maybe, or big parties and groups do not feel like the best way to meet people. Or maybe you are a social butterfly and love big gatherings, but why not have another mode? After some swiping and filtering through who is worth your time to engage with, you meet new people in a much more meaningful way. I personally didn’t enjoy the concept of speed dating and places where people reminded both women and men that we are single. I already knew I was single, thank you very much.

2. Spend more time in person than on the phone or on chat

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[Image Description: A gif of Raven Simone telling people to get off their phones.] via Giphy

So you gave your number and gave that guy the green signal to take the conversation forward. Congratulations! After about an hour of conversation when you determine he is not a serial killer,  meet him in a public place. No details of where you live, or anything else. Sometimes the problem with too much phone time is the in-person falls flat. After all, you want to fall in love with a human, not a screen.

[bctt tweet=”Couples who meet online are proof that every person out there on the app is not pathetic or unable to meet people” username=”wearethetempest”]

3. Use coffee or happy hour as your first meeting

coffee GIF
[Image Description: A gif of a cartoon wired coffee cup asking for someone to drink it.] via Giphy

With #2 in mind, keep the meeting at a low-key place without high expectations of a fancy dinner. Coffee or a quick beverage of any sort also is not too bad of an investment of time nor money. Let’s be real, sitting down with a person to dinner is a big investment, both in money and time. Do not be a jerk though and only choose the spot nearest to your own house (I once knew a guy who did that).

4. Find an “out strategy” in case a date is not going well

i have to go tv land GIF by YoungerTV
[Image Description: A gif of a woman from #youngerTV looking at the time so she can leave.] via Giphy

Oh, yes. This one is one that women tend to “feel bad about.” Well, don’t! Wrap up and say you have to finish a major deadline or that you are a boss who can’t miss out on your Tuesday night Bollywood workout class. Neither your nor his time is wasted.

5. If he is responding to you very sporadically or not calling after the first day, let it die

[Image Description: A gif of Kate McKinnon from Saturday Night Live World News Update. It is captioned: That feeling when he doesn’t text you back but you see him tweeting.] via Giphy

Many of us have perhaps made this mistake. Yes, he did see your message. No, you should not get so down on yourself if he did not respond exactly thirty seconds later. However, from experience, I can tell you it is obvious when someone really feels like talking to you and when they do not. Please do not read much more into it. Do not feel silly for thinking that the guy you like is not really giving you the time. He isn’t! Next, please. You’re a catch for a reason.

6. If he at any point is asking for sexy photos or invoking sex soon into the conversation or texts, let it die

pretty little liars sexting GIF
[Image Description: A gif of Winston Schmidt from New Girl on the phone. The caption reads: Did you get my junk mail?] via Giphy

If your goal is also to hookup and you are cool with that, then this does not apply to you. However, if this is not your goal, just stop bothering. No reason to get angry about it. It becomes even easier to keep your options open. Never do anything that you are not comfortable with or think you need to do it to be more attractive.

7. If he only talks about himself and takes no interest in your life or what you have to say, please let it die

date GIF
[Image Description: A gif of a Pixar animation of a guy talking about his video game dreams with a girl in glasses.] via Giphy

It seems easy. Someone shuts up for maybe thirty seconds or at least wants to know more about you. This also comes from body language while YOU are talking to him. Does he fidget? Does he look at his phone? Does he hold eye contact with you? Have you cut the small talk and started asking the deep questions?

8. Do not be fooled by the “mystery man” who tells you he is too busy after the first date

busy GIF by Leroy Patterson
[Image Description: A gif of a cat under a sink sipping water and saying it’s too busy.] via Giphy

He is full of it. He is not too busy because he took the time to swipe right on you. He took the time swipe right on many women, which means he took time to start up conversations. Maybe he does have a demanding job and projects, and got way too busy, but you do not suddenly become too much of a drain on his professional goals in life. If a guy likes you, I promise he will make the time. Keep moving!

[bctt tweet=”If a guy likes you, I promise he will make the time. Let the lack of response burn and then keep moving!” username=”wearethetempest”]

9. Assess the humor in the process – it makes for great stories

first date GIF by Originals
[Image Description: Woman on a date sitting across from a man really hating it.] via Giphy


I took a sociological approach to online dating after the first few times of being frustrated. I decided to take screenshots of some of the ridiculous things I saw in dating profiles, for instance. One of the most ridiculous was one man’s dream woman needed to have a BMI<25. Wow. So specific.

10. Sometimes you may end up making really good connections

sheldon cooper GIF
[Image Description: A gif of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. The caption reads: I made a new friend who likes trains as much as I do.] via Giphy

For those dates that end with, “hmm…neither of us felt that” – it is not that he is a jerk. He may be a perfectly nice guy, but just not the nice guy for you. You are not a mean person for rejecting him and vice versa. Join forces and maybe you’ll have a new wingman! If love, chemistry, timing and all other complicated human components were that simple we would pair up quickly with the next nice person we meet. It doesn’t always work that way in reality, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a friend in the process.

[bctt tweet=”If love, chemistry, timing and all other complicated human components were that simple we would pair up quickly with the next nice person we meet.” username=”wearethetempest”]

11. Be present in the moment rather than obsessed with what things could become during the first date

date GIF
[Image Description: A gif of Seth and Ryan of “The OC.” Seth says: It’s fate, it’s destiny. We both like burritos.] via Giphy

I understand that you are a forward-thinking woman. You do not want to waste your time. However, just sit down with the man. The art of conversation comes from focusing on what is happening and being discussed right at that moment. Invest your time fully for that hour, and you may surprise yourself  with what it turns into.

[bctt tweet=”The art of conversation comes from focusing on what is happening and being discussed right at that moment.” username=”wearethetempest”]

12. Walk in with positivity on every date.  Negativity emits itself quickly.

happy good vibrations GIF by The Runner go90
[Image Description: A gif of two guys in long hair talking about drinking tea and sending positive vibes.] via Giphy

You just finished a date with a complete idiot. You had to grab yourself another glass of wine, or another cup of coffee just to not lose it. But you always have to remember, good men do exist! If you walk in with emotional baggage from the one before, you may be missing out on them.

13. Put away your phone.  Please.

[Image Description: A gif of Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation smashing a mobile phone with a hammer.] via Giphy

Yes, you. Even if the date is boring you to tears, just keep it away. Unless you are giggling about that article that you both just read or want to laugh at adorable German Shepard photos, focus on the person at hand.

14. Let your main goal in a date be developing comfort and being yourself. Nothing more, nothing less.

dating GIF
[Image Description: A gif of Zach Braff from Scrubs talking about how dating only brings out a side of you the other person likes.] via Giphy

I personally hated wasting my energy on being fake. It was too exhausting, and I would go home thinking, what just happened? However, that said, take the time to find topics that both you and Mr. X can talk about mutually. Or perhaps Mr. X or yourself have something new to teach each other.

15. Do not overschedule yourself

upset this is too much GIF
[Image Description: A gif of an overwhelmed man with tears and hands over his head.] via Giphy

This is a real problem. You may have too many dates lined up in the week to where you just want to stay in and make a nice bowl of pasta all for yourself. Spread them out, and do not feel bad if you have to reschedule for your own sanity.

16. Some guys will just not be into you (and vice versa).

the muppets online dating GIF
[Image Description: A gif of Fozzie Bear talking about this online profile. He says: When your online profile says “passionate bear looking for love,” you get a lot of wrong responses. Well, not wrong…just wrong for me.] via Giphy

It is fine because there are many more! Admittedly, online dating is probably the one place many women have some advantage (and know it). So much of the power is in our hands because we have options. Many times women are overwhelmed by messages while men are swiping constantly before they match. Yes, I tested this by trading phones with male friends to understand what they were trying to tell me.

17. Do not act all nonchalant when you feel offended or hurt by something

im fine GIF
[Image Description: A baby elephant trying to push against a log, but ends up falling over.] via Giphy

Make it clear that you do not take shit when you have been ghosted or breadcrumbed especially after you invested some time. I did not do this in the beginning, but then I realized that by sitting silent, I accepted it. I would even show that acceptance when that same person would message me months later and act like nothing happened. No. Do not be a doormat. You do not need to go on a revenge streak and try to put thumbtacks on his desk chair, but say something.

[bctt tweet=”Make it clear that you do not take sh** when you have been ghosted or breadcrumbed especially after you invested some time” username=”wearethetempest”]

18. Take breaks from online dating apps for a few months at a time

pizza relationship GIF
[Image Description: Julia Robers from Eat, Pray, Love talking about her relationship with her pizza.] via Giphy

A common complaint I heard from my girlfriends: “There are no good guys on these apps. It is the same lame ones.” And they were right. But the optimist in me realized we (at the time) lived in such a transient city. People enter online dating platforms at different times for different reasons. This made it more worth coming back on after a few months or when being on the move again to a new city! It was after taking a break that I found love through this medium!

[bctt tweet=”People enter online dating platforms at different times for different reasons” username=”wearethetempest”]

19. Only say online dating is not for you after you have given it a try

mindy project dancing GIF
[Image Description: Danny from ‘The Mindy Project” dancing to Aaliyah’s “Dust Yourself Off and Try Again.] via Gipy

Maybe online dating has ruined dating, which I am also well aware of through many single friends and once even thought myself. I understand that the numbers game is completely frustrating, sometimes even demoralizing. However, just because some people may practice the trend of dating multiple people at a time, does not mean this has to be you. It does not mean each and every person on the app is doing exactly what people tell you.

20.  Remember that love only comes when you love yourself

dating GIF
[Image Description: A gif of Rashida Jones on Parks and Recreation talking about dating herself.] via Giphy

I know this one is cheesy, but it is the last point for a reason. Only when you love yourself first, to the fullest, can you love someone else.

Online dating may seem overwhelming but it does not mean you have to crawl into the fetal position and avoid it. The experience can be empowering, and who knows, sometimes even entertaining. Because you know that you have the confidence juice to find love, and little rejections along the way are simply ways to brush yourself off and keep going!

[bctt tweet=”Online dating may seem overwhelming but it does not mean you have to crawl into fetal position and avoid it” username=”wearethetempest”]

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I didn’t have my first real boyfriend until I was 25 years old

When I met my current partner, Mark, at 25, I had been single my entire life. I had dated around casually and definitely had my heart broken a few times, but I had never been in a real, serious partnership. 

I had basically become an expert at being single. 

I knew the exact cues to leave a couple alone if I were third or fifth wheeling (which happened a lot). I knew how to position myself in the group photo so as not to come between any of the couples but also not look like the single loser friend. I had completely detached myself emotionally from Valentine’s Day – it was an opportunity for half priced chocolate and only an opportunity for half priced chocolate. 

I don’t really have a great answer as to why my first relationship didn’t happen until I was 25, other than it just didn’t.

People love to question why single people are single. They also love to assume that it’s a problem that needs to be fixed. 

For me, it wasn’t. 

Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely times in high school or college when I wanted a boyfriend very badly, but eventually, I grew to appreciate all the benefits of being on my own.

It sounds cliche, but I truly did get to know myself in those years. I made decisions that I might not have had I been in a serious relationship (like my move to New York City); decisions that helped me to grow leaps and bounds. 

Without a partner, my friends and family took up the entirety of my heart. 

I went on vacations with my friends’ families and my own parents became equally close with my friends. When my best friend starting dating her boyfriend (now fiance), we all went out to dinner with my parents so they could meet him. 

They love him and are probably about as excited about their wedding as they are for my sister’s.

Because of these relationships I had built, adding a partner into the mix proved to be a bit of a balancing act. Mark fit in seamlessly with my friends and family, but making space for him in my emotional life was a completely new and seriously enlightening process.

Single-ness is a hard thing to unlearn – especially when you’ve been doing it for a quarter of a century, and it didn’t take me long to realize that there was a serious learning curve when it came to being a partner. 

About month or two into my relationship, I was having a bit of trouble with a friend. 

This person had done something that upset me and I confronted them about it, and it made things uncomfortable between us. The whole thing was making me feel kind of sad and weird, but I didn’t mention anything about it to Mark at first.

It wasn’t that I was trying to keep anything from him – it actually just didn’t occur to me. 

Why should he be bothered with something that had nothing to do with him? It wasn’t that huge of a deal, and I could handle it on my own. 

A week or two later when I was feeling particularly stressed, I blurted out something about the situation between me and my friend. When Mark asked me why I hadn’t mentioned it before, I told him the truth – I didn’t think it was necessary. 

He wasn’t offended that I didn’t confide in him, but explained that he was there for me and wanted to share my experiences – the good and the bad. 

That moment was the beginning of my understanding of what my relationship – or any relationship – is truly supposed to be about. I started to realize that this person was offering themselves to me in a way that no one else I’d dated ever had, and I’d be an idiot not to trust him.

A little while after this incident, Mark and I had our first real fight. 

My friends and I were planning an upcoming dinner party – something that we did every few months to get everyone from our old improv group together. Historically, it had been a “no significant others” type of situation; not really written in stone, but kind of an unspoken agreement. 

Mark and I were out at a bar one night and I mentioned the dinner party. When he asked if he would be coming with me, I explained that he wasn’t disinvited, per say, but that we just generally didn’t bring boyfriends or girlfriends to this get-together. 

As a person who had been in long-term relationships for the majority of his young adulthood, Mark was confused.

And as a person who had been single their entire lives and relied solely on friends for my social life and emotional support, I was confused by his confusion. 

This led to a difficult, somewhat painful (but very civil) discussion about our relationship and expectations (I’m exhausted and antsy just typing that sentence). I was totally new to conversations like this, and it was uncomfortable and upsetting and confusing. I knew how much I cared for him, but I also was still operating in the headspace of a single person.

 It was suddenly very apparent to me that fully and wholly welcoming Mark into my life was going to result in a lot of changes. 

And that I really wanted to make them. 

It was truly the beginning of seeing him as my partner and realizing how much I wanted him by my side. 

If you’re only going to allow a person into certain aspects of your life, you’re never going to grow past a certain point. All of my previous “relationships” had stopped at this point – they were casual, superficial, removed from any kind of real emotional effort. I wasn’t at all familiar with the protocol for moving past that point.

But I found that once I jumped into my relationship head on, it wasn’t so hard after all. 

In fact, it was pretty damn easy. 

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

After the breakup, I forced myself to be single – for one major reason

When I’m in a relationship with someone, I utterly and completely unfold for them. I give it everything I’ve got and there’s no half measures or middle ground. Instead, there’s an all-encompassing effort in an attempt to be the best girlfriend, the sexiest woman and the most supportive partner.

While being an overachiever can be a good thing, when I’m in a relationship it means I rarely leave anything for myself. By the time I’m done loving my man, I’ve barely got any crumbs left for myself. So as another relationship ended in which I realized I had once again given far more than I had ever got, I committed myself to the single life.

Despite the stigma, the sympathetic looks (of which there are many) and the crushing spinster stereotype, I realized that if I was unable to master the fundamental tenets of self-care, I had no business being with anyone at all.

Most people are afraid of being alone. I, however, was terrified I would give myself away again to the next man that came along. Giving yourself away once is painful enough, but doing it twice over the last five years has split me in ways that I’m not always sure I can recover from. Sometimes, things that are broken can’t be put back together in the same way. The pieces don’t always fit like they once did.

Deciding to remain single, despite the possibilities that arose over the past year, has given me an enormous amount of time and space. The time to understand the things I want and the space to fall for myself. It’s remarkable the shifts that happen when there’s no one in the picture and by no one, I mean there’s no romantic involvement, boyfriend, someone you like or a situationship going on.

In short, you’re not waiting for anyone to message you, which in itself is a liberating feeling. No matter how strong we are, we’ve all felt the agony of staring at our message screen waiting for those grey ticks to turn blue and the ‘typing…’ sign to appear.

I’ve found that being single is a lot like standing alone in a vast marble hall and every time you call out, your echo returns to you. Which is to say, you are utterly alone with only yourself to come back to and within that hall is infinite possibilities. I’ve been standing in that hall for over a year now, and instead of loneliness, I’ve felt all the love that normally flows out of me into another person, flow straight back into me.

Being single gives me the energy to selfishly chase every dream I’ve ever harbored. I can pick up and travel to Australia for two months, because I’m not worrying about when I’ll see my man. Even if I wasn’t worrying about it, I know that if I was madly in love with someone, I wouldn’t want to travel around Australia for two months because I would miss them and feel the pull of their arms calling me home from oceans away.

I can stay up late or hole myself away for weekends at a time writing as many novels as I like, never worrying about someone else’s schedule. Leaving those worries and the expectations you place on yourselves to always ‘be there’ for your lover is liberating as hell. It’s like breathing the freshest air you’ve ever tasted.

I’ve also learned that single seems to be a synonym for time. When I’m in love, in that gut wrenching, tremble every time you see their name kind of way, I spend time writing messages, rephrasing messages, having long FaceTime conversations, watching what they’re up to on social media, worrying about outfits and buying new lingerie every time they come around. I know I don’t have to do any of these things, I know the men I’m with don’t expect it, but I know that the person I am does it anyway. It makes me feel good and sexy and I love talking to the person I’m with.

So believe me when I say that my single life has given me so much free time, and I’ve put it to better use than I would have done having a four-hour conversation with some guy who gives you FaceTime because he can’t give you much else.

But time is a small thing in the grand scheme, and the lessons single life gives you are golden. Being alone means you’re confronted with yourself when normally you can hide in another person. It means you have to figure out how to make yourself happy when you’re sad. There is no one else to take you out and cheer you up. You have to understand your triggers, and learn how to talk yourself off the ledge when you’re in bad spaces.

Above all things, you must learn how to be so complete alone, that no matter who might come along, they could never take parts of you away. That’s the golden lesson, the best thing I’ve ever learnt and the reason I’m trying to persuade anyone who will listen to stay as single as they possibly can.

We’ve learned from childhood that we need a partner to save us, and I’ve spent years learning how to save myself and that’s something I’ll need forever, even if the love of my life turns up tomorrow.

He still can’t save me and it’s good to know that I’ve got my own back.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

13 things you’ll only understand if you hate dating

If you’re someone who hates emotions, easily feels awkward, finds the idea of being shackled to a significant other panic-inducing, thinks that marriage is a trap, finds mushy couples nauseating, or just generally dislikes dating, I feel you. Dating is hard, especially in 2017, and some of us prefer to keep things lowkey and stick to casual hookups. Some of us don’t even go that far and prefer to have casual wine nights with the same four friends, weekend after weekend because meeting new people is exhausting.

Quite frankly, being in a relationship seems way too demanding for me. Relationships drain me and take up precious time I could be using to see my friends, explore new cities, research important social issues, and sleep. I’m not a particularly warm person, and I can admit that I have little interest in romance (gag) or PDA.

If you also find yourself emotionally estranged at all times or just really value your freedom, you’ll probably identify with these statements on a deep level.

1. You think flirting is hard

[Image Description: A woman sitting in on a chair, raising her hands while saying, “Maybe I like you, maybe I don’t.”]
I’m a very sarcastic person, so attempting to turn that part of my personality off and actually be nice to someone who is showing interest in me is difficult.

I’m often kinda mean and scare people off, but I can’t really help it.

2. You’re terrified of “catching feelings”

[Image description: A woman with a terrified expression screaming as the camera zooms on her face.]
This is especially true if you’re about as sentimental as a paint chip. Where did these feelings come from? Do I actually genuinely care about someone other than myself? How do I stop this?

3. You dread having the “What are we?” conversation with your fuck buddy

[Image Description: A woman wearing a dress waving her hands and leaving after giving a flying kiss with both her hands.]
We’re nothing because I’m about the dip-the-fuck-out-and-end-all-contact-with-you approach.

4. Seeing your friends in happy relationships and knowing you’ll never have that is a sad reality check

[Image Description: A sleeping hamster falling in a small hole on his face.]
Do you ever look at happy couples and feel a yearning for a significant other who isn’t a total fuck, only to remember the combination of your debilitating anxiety, tendency to cancel plans and general emotional unavailability that only perpetuates your relationship with wine?

5. Your response to nosy relatives is on point because you’ve said it so many times

[Image Description: A woman saying “Stay out of my business.” to another woman.]
For the umpteenth time, no, I’m not seeing anyone, because I avoid that shit like the plague. Nothing to see here, move along!

6. Listening to your friends’ relationship troubles is lowkey annoying because you just can’t relate

[Image Description: A man in a woman’s wedding gown saying “I know.”]
I want to be there for you, but nobody likes me, so there’s that. I don’t know what it’s like to enjoy being with someone else in the first place, so I probably can’t help you.

7. You make it abundantly clear to all your hookups that you’re NOT looking for anything more

[Image Description: A woman sitting on a sofa saying, “Nah!”]
So they won’t text/snap/slide into your DMs the next day! Be honest from the start so you don’t have to deal with their emotional baggage later.

8. You’re resigned to being the third (or fifth) wheel when you go out with your friends and their partners

[Image Description: A man and woman are holding hands on top of a table, looking at each other, when another woman comes and sits on one of the chairs of the table.]
But at this point, it’s not even weird anymore.

You’re no longer just tagging along; it’s more like you’re a part of a small family. And you’d rather hang out with your friends than a significant other, anyway.

9. You honestly wonder how TF people get married

[Image Description: A man in a pink snapback saying, “The fuck?”]
HOW? How do you decide you want to spend a lifetime with someone? How can you put up with someone else’s annoying habits, day after day, year after year?

I can’t even decide if I like these tacos enough to eat all three.

10. You scoff at the idea of soulmates

[Image Description: A man laughing with a hand over his mouth.]
Lmao, excuse me, what?

Yes, I’m clearly jaded, but also, soulmates aren’t a thing. When people use this term I’m caught between laughing hysterically and vomiting, and sometimes I’m not polite enough to keep this reaction inside.

11. You feel legit nauseated at the prospect of long-term commitments

[Image Description: A woman saying “Everything hurts and I’m dying.” while smiling into the camera.]
Surprise, those aren’t butterflies in your stomach, it’s just your stomach churning.

12. You’re pretty sure that if you ever are married, divorce will absolutely be part of your future

[Image Description: A woman standing with the door of the room half open, saying “I want a divorce.”]
I hate to be super pessimistic, but it’s true. If I get tired of people after dating them for only a few months, how will I survive a marriage?

‘Till death do us part, no thank you.

13. You have constant crushes but know none of them are serious

[Image Description: A woman sitting on a sofa in a red dress smiling while saying “Look, he’s cute!”]
You see attractive people, admire them from afar, but since you’re awkward, you never approach them or make any serious moves. This aggravates your friends to no end, but you’re content to stay in your reclusive bubble.

Will I ever find a life partner? Probably not. Dating simply isn’t enjoyable or worthwhile to me.

Plenty of friends and family have told me that I just haven’t met the right person. News flash: men are terrible and I’ll probably never meet one I can stand. But my aversion to dating goes beyond my hatred of the patriarchy.

I genuinely value time to myself. I don’t see anything wrong with going through life without a partner; in fact, traveling, living, and making life changes by yourself can be incredibly fulfilling and even relaxing.

If you’re like me and dating isn’t for you, don’t let anyone tell you that it should be. Keep doing what you’re comfortable with and living your best life.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

My friends almost ruined my life when they tried to play “matchmaker”

I’ve been single in all my life. Being in an all-girls high school, there was hardly any chance for me to meet or talk to boys. All my best friends were girls and we kept it close-knit. We shared everything and did all the things together. We were like sisters.

Even though we rarely had opportunities to interact with boys, somehow they managed to get boyfriends. I didn’t. To be honest, I never even had crushes on anybody.

But one friend request changed everything.

This one boy from a nearby school sent me a friend request on Facebook. Without thinking, I accepted it. I didn’t expect us to become close, but in no time, we actually did.

My biggest mistake was telling my friends about this. They were all excited that I’d finally found my ‘first boyfriend’ after being single for my whole life. Every time they said it, I rolled my eyes. I had my first guy friend and immediately they thought we should be together?

At first, I didn’t take it seriously. But slowly it started to annoy me.

They became completely committed to being matchmakers. Through their attempts to set me up with him, my friends became close to him. In their eyes, we were a match made in heaven. But I didn’t want to make it into a big deal. After all, he didn’t feel anything for me.

Turns out, I was wrong. I found out he did feel something.

The moment my friends found out, they were ecstatic. Every time I was with them, they’d bring up his name and start teasing about us being together, making up romantic scenarios about our happy ending.

I told them to stop, but they didn’t listen. They thought I actually liked it when they were being playful and that I just pretended not to. It finally reached the point where I completely I lost it.

I argued with my friends, for the first time ever. My relationship with them turned sour. At the same time, I turned down this guy and we stopped being friends.

A few weeks later, my friends apologized.

Everything became normal again, just the way it was before. We spent our time, as usual, hung out, and enjoy our school days like we used to. I was relieved, thinking that it was finally over.

But then, this guy came back.

I tried my best to ignore him. But my friends were excited to start their matchmaking game again.

There were no jokes or teasing at first. But they tried to catch my attention by mentioning his name in every conversation we were in. It started to irk me again, but I pretended to be uninterested in talking about him. I couldn’t accuse them of trying to play matchmakers again because they weren’t bringing up their fantasy about our happy ending anymore, but I was still uncomfortable.

But their matchmaking schemes started to become clear pretty soon. 

They invited him to hang out with us, and then bailed so we could be alone. They always came up with creative excuses about why they had to leave. When we were in the same class, they intentionally arranged for us sit next to each other. It bothered me so much, I started to avoid all of them. But I couldn’t escape our chat group on social media.

Some of them shared pictures of him and me together, sitting next to each other in the class or cropped our group photos. Sometimes they put heart-shaped borders or effects in those pictures, and that really pushed me over the edge.

I confronted them.

We all met during lunch and I spilled everything out. I told them how much I hated them being matchmakers and how much it pissed me off every time I had to listen to their daydreams about me and this guy. I made it clear that I had no romantic feelings for him and that we were never going to happen.

I gave them a choice. They could keep playing matchmakers and I would stop being their friend or they could quit it and save the friendship.

Of course, they didn’t want our friendship to end because of that. They admitted it was all for fun though they really did want to see us together. They just wanted me to be happy, and in their minds that included me having a boyfriend.

Finally, they promised to stop. Thankfully, they were true to their words.

It took quite a while to get our friendship back to normal this time. But they understood that I was perfectly content with my single life. Alone didn’t mean I was lonely.

Eventually, I will find someone, but for now, I just want to enjoy my single life. And I’m glad my friends have chosen to respect that.

Love + Sex Love

I believed I was the reason my relationships failed – until this happened

I can’t remember how many breakups I’ve been through. I’ve lost count. Sometimes I wondered if they just weren’t the one for me, but most times I believed I was in the wrong in the relationship.

Years ago, my first boyfriend broke up with me because I was too busy for him.

He wanted to be my first priority, above everything and everyone else. I did try for him. It was my first relationship and I didn’t want to disappoint him. So I abandoned my family time, barely spent time with my friends and even neglected my studies, all for him, but apparently, it wasn’t enough.

And I believed, our breakup was my fault. I should’ve spent more time with him.

After a while being single, I had a new boyfriend. But it didn’t take long for him to break up with me too.

His reason? I was too fat for him. When we were first dating, I was a little bit skinnier, but few months after that I gained weight. Although it wasn’t much and I was only a size 3, it didn’t please him. He preferred the way I looked before I became ‘fat’.

I tried to diet so I could lose weight for him. Now I know it was pretty impossible, for me to lose that weight, but I was desperate for the appearance I had before. So, I worked out for hours a day and starved myself. Sometimes I fell sick because of it. And it was pointless because he still dumped me anyway.

Again, I believed it was my fault.

That wasn’t even the worst breakup excuse I’ve heard.

There was one time when I’d lost touch with my goals, passions, and dreams. This time, I was in a relationship with a guy with a ‘traditional’ mindset.

I told him about my big dreams, but all I got was his disapproval. He wanted someone who could fulfill her responsibilities as ‘his wife’ – or in other words, full-time housewife. For him, a woman should be committed to domestic responsibilities and house duties. We were in a serious relationship and already had marriage on our minds. I was madly, foolishly in love with him, so I changed my mind and sacrificed my own interests just for him.

Still, it didn’t work out. I still couldn’t fit his ‘perfect’ wife requirements.

I had more relationships after that, but they all failed. Some ended for ridiculous reasons. Sometimes I dressed up too much to their liking, and the other times it was my habit of hiding my ‘natural look’ behind my makeup too much. The weirdest reason of all? I talked just like his MOM.

I thought there was something wrong with me, which ruined every relationship I was in. I always changed so much about myself to try and make the relationships work. I put my boyfriends as my top priority and forgot to look after myself.

Finally, I decided that maybe relationships in general just weren’t for me.

I stopped dating for years. I rejected a lot of men that wanted to date me.

But there were times when I’ve plenty of happy couples and wondered what made their relationship work. Slowly, I started to realize one thing.

The men respected their partners. They let their girlfriend be the person they wanted to be.

This whole time, I lost myself just for the sake of a man.

I was never the problem, they all were.

I compromised my needs and interests so I could be ‘worthy’ of them. I completely lost my self-worth as well as my identity for the sake of a relationship. For those undeserving men, I distanced myself from my family and friends.

I realized it was time for me to find myself again after losing myself to all these unhealthy relationships. I had a lot of passions and hobbies before, but they were all forgotten and I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy them as much as I used to.

Compromises and sacrifices are important in a relationship, but not to the point where I had to forsake my self-value just to make a man happy.