No, I will not be taking my hijab off for my wedding and you can’t make me

We often talk about how the hijab is viewed negatively in the Western world. But I don’t think that many people realize that discrimination against the hijab doesn’t only happen in western society. In my experience, it also occurs in my home country, Pakistan, and my own family members are a part of the problem.

My sister and I started wearing the hijab when we were 15 and 13, respectively. For us, it seemed like a natural choice since we’d spent most of our childhood in Saudi Arabia, where the hijab was mandatory. When our family in Pakistan found out we still wore the hijab after moving to Canada in our teen years, they were ecstatic. They thought it was wonderful that we chose this for ourselves and praised us for making seemingly religious choices. 

But that all changed when my sister turned 20 and someone tried to propose to her. Our mother rejected the engagement and it sparked a debate within our entire family. Most of them believed that more proposals would come her way if my sister took off her hijab. I still remember my mother arguing with our aunt who said that hijabs are only meant to look good on girls who are “white, thin, and pretty.” She thought that I was too dark and my sister was too fat, so we were ruining our prospects by sticking to our hijabs.

The worst part about all of this is that my aunt wasn’t entirely wrong. The hijab didn’t make men jump at the chance to marry us. Due to pressure from extended family members, my mother was constantly on the lookout for potential matches for my sister. But every guy who approached would run away just as fast once he heard that she wouldn’t be taking her hijab off for him. 

After a while, my sister did it. She found a guy who seemed accepting of who she was and agreed to marry him after a year. Suddenly, the tune the family was singing changed, but not for the better. Everyone asked if she’d be taking her hijab off for the wedding and discussing how beautiful she would look in this or that hairdo. They tried to talk my mother into making my sister buy lehengas, which would show off her midriff and arms. This completely goes against the very purpose of wearing a hijab.

To reach a compromise with my family, I nominated myself as my sister’s makeup artist and hairstylist for the wedding day and began experimenting with different hijab styles. We naively thought that if we could show them that the hijab could be dolled up, they would accept her decision. They did not. In the end, when the engagement was broken off, they simply returned to their earlier comments about taking off the hijab to score a husband.

The sheer amount of criticism that came with all this has my sister unsure about whether she ever wants to have a wedding, let alone one in Pakistan with our family. It hurt to watch my sister try and deal with the harsh judgment and then come to realize that her opinions hold no value in our community. It hurts more to think that other Pakistani brides might have to put up with the same level of harassment all over one headscarf

My sister was always much more staunch in her love of the hijab. Truth be told, I started wearing it on the condition that it would be pink and glittery. If you asked me just two years back, I might have given in to the family pressure and agreed to take off my hijab for my wedding.

Yet, knowing the struggle and judgment that comes with making a choice has given me an appreciation for the fact that it was a choice. However petty my reason is, it is my choice to put on the hijab, and I will be damned if I let someone else try to make decisions about my body and my attire for that one day in my life.

Now I can say with confidence that I will not be taking my hijab off for my wedding.

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Life Stories Weddings

Being engaged for two months made me realize I don’t want a marriage

The idea of marriage and a wedding was never a question of if, but when. I grew up in a fairly conservative Pakistani household and I was very close to my mother. She has been my idol for all of my life, and I have wanted to live up to the image of the amazing woman who raised me. She came from a complicated family background, but she put her all into giving my siblings and me a stable upbringing and all the opportunities we could ever ask for. Somewhere along the way, I decided that she was the kind of person I needed to grow up to be, a kind-hearted mother who loves her children. Getting married and having children seemed like the future I should work towards, the ultimate goal in a way. 

But of course, it didn’t end there. I grew up, like many young women, in love with Disney princess movies. Something about the fairytale stories of a young woman meeting a dashing prince, going on these fantastical adventures before ending with a huge, magical wedding just spoke to me. I spent most of my life believing in these dreams, thinking somehow that marriage and children would be the big thing I strived towards. 

When my older sister received her first proposal, she was scared. She was concerned if they would be a good fit as a couple and worried over all these details of their life together that I couldn’t even understand. If anything, I was excited for her. This was it, her big wedding! I couldn’t care less about who he was as a person. I went ahead and planned all the details for her potential wedding. I pulled out all the stops for this supposed wedding, despite the fact that she never agreed to the engagement, and later went on to reject his proposal. I still have the document I typed up with pictures and wedding details. Each time some other guy came to propose to my sister, I would pull it out and add to it.

As the younger daughter, I’m not expected to get engaged or married until my older sister does. Add to that the fact that I was a med school hopeful for most of my time at university, and everyone assumed that I would not marry until later in life. I was fine with living vicariously through my sister until then.

Then at 22, I accidentally ended up engaged. It was a stupid move, and every friend I spoke to tried to warn me against it, but I didn’t care. In my family, an engagement is essentially the dating period. We don’t ever enter a relationship without the intention of marriage. But even considering that, this engagement was pretty casual. He was a friend of a friend. He didn’t even live close enough for the two of us to visit or meet up. In fact, during the two months of the relationship, I never once met him in person. We just talked over the phone and texted, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that this wasn’t for me.

We met right around my birthday. He sent me this sweet and sappy message about how he was so glad to have me in his life. I felt so uncomfortable that my only reaction was to laugh out loud when I read it. No one understood it when I tried to explain how the message made my skin crawl. The more serious he got, the more I felt sick to my stomach. It’s not a feeling I can really put into words, but all the talk about our future, living together, and the hypothetical children I thought I wanted didn’t sit right with me when the words and ideas were coming from him.

But I still didn’t want to back out. I pulled out those plans for my sister’s wedding and began reworking them for my wedding. That feeling kept me in this relationship. But I knew it couldn’t last forever. He started getting clingy, he wanted to talk to me more. In hindsight, he was justified in asking for more of my time, but I wasn’t interested in him enough to care about his needs. I only saw him as becoming a hassle, someone I would have to tolerate instead of someone I would happily spend the rest of my life with. I once even told my mother that I’m more interested in trading him for a robot husband instead – I could have my wedding without dealing with another person in the mix.

It got messier after that, with several petty arguments left and right. There was one fight that he thought he could win by giving me the silent treatment. Unfortunately for him, that silence was everything I wanted. The next time we spoke, it fell into yet another argument. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the whole thing was called off the next day. I happily moved on, packing up all my wedding plans and studying for the upcoming exams.

It’s been over a year since my engagement ended. I’ve spoken to several other potential suitors and it’s always the same. I stick it out for the idea of a pretty, magical wedding where I get to be a princess for the event. But inevitably, things break down and I move on to the next wedding plan.

I like the idea of love and romance. It sounds beautiful. But somehow, when actually faced with the realities of it and coupled with the responsibilities of marriage, I crack. I’ve never found myself capable of caring about these men the way they claim to care for me; they remain faceless entities I use to check off on my list of goals. It sounds callous, but it’s not that I want someone else to suffer for my little fantasy wedding. I don’t think I have the emotional energy to spare on someone else and I don’t know if I ever will.

And maybe that’s okay. I’m fulfilled by my family and my career aspirations. I am happy with life. And one day I’ll earn enough money and throw myself that big wedding and be my own princess.

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Editor's Picks The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love

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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Sexuality Love + Sex Love

I betrayed my boyfriend & it was the worst decision I ever made

I am a lie.

Yes, a lie, not a liar. 

I betrayed my former partner with another. I immediately told my boyfriend, but I kept feeling like I was a lie.

Indeed, I grew up with some specific values of honesty, loyalty, and respect.

I valued them more than anything else, especially in relationships. I strongly believed and proclaimed that betraying someone means not loving them enough and disrespecting them.

Undoubtedly, I do believe it, but I made a terrible mistake. I went against all of my values

I was in love with my former partner. It was almost a year and a half that we were together, and I betrayed him with someone else (let’s call him Andrew).

It was not a ‘casual’ betrayal; I know I actively chose to do it. I was on holiday and one night I received a message from Andrew asking me if I would like to have a walk with him.

I was stuck in between betraying my boyfriend or betraying my feelings. 

 I went against all of my values. 

Knowing what would’ve happened, I chose the first option, and I have regretted it since then. Not only for the pain I caused to my boyfriend, but mainly for how I felt after that.

I felt terrible. I felt like I had destroyed my entire world. 

It would be easier to say that my partner had treated me badly before my betrayal, but he was a nice person, always kind, caring and lovely to me.

It would be easier to say that it was a period in which I felt oppressed and I was looking for freedom, but still, this cannot justify my actions. 

So, I guess, I am the only one to blame

I am a lie.

A lie, not a liar.

Immediately after, I told him everything and he forgave me.

We broke up. And I lost myself.

I did not know who I was anymore. 

How can you be in peace with yourself when you betray someone who not only loves you, but also forgives you?

It felt like I was no longer yourself. Like my entire world became a lie. 

I hated myself for having betrayed all of my beliefs. How could I proclaim anymore what love was once if I I had betrayed its very meaning?

We broke up. And I lost myself.

I felt like I stained my soul forever. 

After a month, my boyfriend and I started to date again. He was over my betrayal. I was not. I realized I needed my own forgiveness to move on.

It took me another four months (and many tears) to admit I did not love my boyfriend anymore. I broke up with him, and I focused on reconnecting with myself.

I had to accept that I made a mistake.

I needed to recognize my feelings before the betrayal. I learned the importance of forgiving my actions and thoughts.

We are humans. Sometimes we are egotistical; sometimes we are impulsive. And mainly, we cannot always live up to our personal standards.

Sometimes, we need to rest and reset. 

I needed almost a year to forgive myself. To acknowledge my weaknesses and to create a better version of myself.

It has been a painful path, and I am sure it has not ended yet.

But I knew I was going in the right direction, when I confessed this experience to someone I really cared about yet whose opinion I dreaded the most.

And he told me that I am not my mistake but more than it. And that our relationship could be the proof that I definitely learned from my mistake. 

This betrayal has completely changed my life. It taught me that not being loved by someone we love is heartbreaking.

What’s worse, though, is not loving someone who is still in love with us — and cheating on them instead.

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Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I found my ex in posts about narcissistic abuse and now I don’t know who I fell for

It’s been almost a year since my ex and I broke up and there has been a lot of healing and crying. For a long time, I thought that I would be with him forever and that he was my soulmate. No matter what happened I would tell my friends over and over that he wasn’t a bad person and it was all because of his mental health. I tried so hard to convince them that he was the only person I could be with and the only person I would ever be happy with. After we broke up, he got with someone else almost straight away. I explained it away and defended him. It wasn’t until later that I learned about narcissistic abuse.

Whilst researching for an article, I came across an Instagram page that talked about narcissistic abuse. I looked through a few of their posts and honestly, my world had changed. All of the behavior that I had been explaining away for so long finally made sense. To be honest, my world came crashing down. I thought back through some of our memories and I saw them in a completely different light. A mutual friend saw the posts and she was shocked. Her exact words were ‘it’s like looking at a picture of him’ and I couldn’t agree more. 

These are the things that changed my perspective the most:

Overlapping relationships

This was something that I knew about but I didn’t realize why. I always thought it was because he was naturally charismatic and things just happened but the reality was completely different. People who are narcissistic tend to have overlapping relationships as they need constant support and supply. Even when they are in a relationship with you, they are always on the look for a new supply. This was my ex. It was a year between his first girlfriend and me. After we broke up the first time, he got with someone within a week. I explained this as ‘he is looking to deal with the pain of dealing with the break up’. Looking back, I realize that it was because he couldn’t stand being alone, it had less to do with me and more to do with his insecurities. 

Flying monkeys 

These tend to be their friends who will actively attempt to ruin the life of the person who has upset the person that is narcissistic. Like the Wicked Witch of the West, they send their Flying Monkeys after them to keep them quiet and prevent them from speaking against the narcissist. My ex did this. I never really liked his friends but I put up with them because I loved him, this was a mistake. After we broke up, we would still speak. One day, he stopped randomly and I tried to find out what happened. In retaliation, he had his friends messaging me, constantly stalking my social media and my personal website. I felt isolated and scared. I was intimidated; it felt like I was alone. I always thank my friends for standing next to and in front of me to protect me. 

Disciple type following

They are worshippers that are devoted to those that are narcissistic. Friends make sure to keep you on the right path and give you advice, even when it might be hard to hear. They don’t condone all of your actions blindly and always blame the other person. Holy shit, this changed everything for me. My relationship fell apart when I tried to give advice to my ex when he was wrong. All I received for that was abuse. I was made to feel like I was going crazy, not just by him but by his worshippers. Some of them were my friends, but they honestly wouldn’t have cared if he physically abused me, they would have found some way to blame me for that. The more he changed, the more I fell out of love because the person I loved didn’t exist and even though people agreed, they would never speak to him about it. I was fighting a losing battle. 

I know that I don’t want to be with him anymore. The way that he treated me was abusive and I can finally see that. Something that really drove it home was speaking to people who didn’t idolize him. The similarities between our stories terrified me and I knew that I had to cut contact with everyone he knows. I’m still reeling from what I found.

For his sake, I hope he becomes the person I fell for because he was amazing. But I know I deserve someone who won’t manipulate me. Who I can truly trust and who won’t abandon me just to bring me back into his life to ghost me. I cannot wait till I meet him because I know I deserve better than what I got. 

If you are in need of support, reach out to these helplines:

National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247 (United Kingdom)

National Domestic Violence Hotline – 1-800-799-7233 (USA)


I ended my engagement after ten months. Here’s why it was the best and worst thing

There’s something about an engagement ring.

The weight of it on your finger. The way it rubs against your skin. The glimpse of sparkle when you stand in the sun. The tiny rainbows you find on its diamond.

These daily reminders surprised me at first.

I thought I’d wear the ring, and it’d become a part of me. The same way you forget where you’ve put your glasses, then remember they’re on your nose.

For the 10 months I was engaged, it wasn’t like that at all.

The ring’s existence stuck out to me. Mostly, I wanted it to. I’d fiddle with it when I was nervous. I’d look at it when I felt low. It was a promise; things would be alright.

Because I had been chosen.

I had found someone to support me through thick and thin. A person willing to invest their whole life, and self, to be with me.

I had made it, at 27, to the camp of the ‘chosen ones’. Those women, pretty enough, good enough, worthy enough, to be proposed to. You know the ones on your social media feed. Smiling and showing off their rings on empty beaches and luscious trails.

Getting there meant I could breathe easier.


Because, like them, I had fulfilled a wish. One I didn’t know I had. To be freed from worry about getting to that part of my story. That narrative I share with all of womanhood. To be chosen, promised marriage, and the happily ever after.

I was never one to buy into the fairy tale. Yet the sense of calm I felt post-engagement was unmistakable. It was a resolution to the subconscious, but surely there, discomfort of waiting to be chosen.

As a feminist and young woman, I never thought of marriage. In fact, I was repulsed by the routine questions about my relationship status. Conversations started and ended there. Anything else about me didn’t matter to my extended family.

Yet, here I was. Engaged and relieved.

Until I wasn’t.

Getting closer to happily ever after than I had ever been, I failed to see it. The irony of it was tragic.

Faced with impeding marriage, reality had struck me. The fantasy was over. If I couldn’t imagine being happy with my would-be husband 30 years down the line, what was I doing?

Being chosen had guided my life, unbeknownst to me, and it wasn’t a good story after all.

I was brave and ended my engagement.

Weeks and months of panic and despair followed. I clung to the idea that all I had to do was open the search again. Start over. Find someone more compatible. And wait to be chosen again. I hadn’t lost my chance at happiness. It was a delay. One that sent me into crying fits on the bus. And one that made me ask myself “what have I done?” too many dark nights, clutching a ring I couldn’t give back yet.

I knew then, as I do now, that you need to be happy on your own. But trying, really trying, meant letting go once and for all of the easy story. The romance script I had failed at.

Did I want to follow it again? And delay my happiness? Wait for prince charming number two?

No, I wanted to be happy now. And only, I, could see to that.

Getting there may seem harder but in the end, it’s the only happiness worth anything. Forcing myself to see my previous engagement for what it was took me a while. A whirlwind of romance I had gotten lost into, believing fantasy would turn to reality.

Getting a ring, and wearing it was a powerful artifact of the cultural narrative I never thought I’d be one to buy into. It made me confront the internalized stories I didn’t know I had.

I’m afraid we all have them to some level. I didn’t dare admit to myself that I wanted to find my forever partner before I was 30. I didn’t dare admit I wanted to be chosen. And that I wanted these things like a child wants candy. Because it tastes good in the moment.

It’s embarrassing, looking back.

Yet, I wouldn’t change things. I would end my engagement again. It led me through the worst and best moments of my life. Confronting and losing my shoddy illusion about happiness in favor of something real.

Next time I get engaged, if that ever happens, I’ll be the one to ask. Because I’ve chosen myself already and it’s time to write my own story.

Love + Sex Love Advice

After my breakup, I needed time – not society’s deadlines

Have you ever heard that it takes half the duration of a relationship to get over the breakup?

If you were given this advice while weeping on your couch after getting your heart served to you on a silver platter, you’ll first feel relieved. Then, you’ll probably wonder where this arbitrary calculation comes from.

Cut to me, in the fall of 2017. I was going through a tough breakup, wondering why I had to wait so long to get over the heartache.

We met at a Flamenco bar. He checked all of my boxes.

Cute in an underdog-ish way, smart in an unpretentious way. Worked in the music industry, read Joan Didion, and never cleaned his sheets, because, I suppose, he was too busy working in the music industry and reading Joan Didion.

The only box he didn’t check was the one labeled “wanting to be with me.”

We broke up twice, the second time for good.


I was working a pretty dead-end job and had a lot of time to write very shitty, sad poetry. The only light at the end of my unshowered, sweatpants tunnel was a date on my calendar. Our brief affair had only lasted three months, and thus, I would be absolutely one hundred percent recovered by mid-February. Valentine’s Day of all days! I couldn’t wait.

Well, I’m here to tell you that Valentine’s Day came and went and my internal sadalogue didn’t shift a centimeter. On the contrary, I started feeling worse. Not only was I heartbroken, I was berating myself for feeling hurt. Every time I’d think of Mr. Music Industry I’d start scolding my id like a broken record.  

“Why don’t you get over it? You only dated him for three months! Well. Two months and three and a half weeks.” Why was I feeling this way? What was WRONG with me!?

[bctt tweet=”Not only was I heartbroken, I was berating myself for feeling hurt.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Turns out, what’s wrong with me, is apparently wrong with everyone else.

With burning curiosity, I polled my friends about the ex-lovers that still occupy their minds. There’s the girl he never even kissed, whom he still felt the urge to text six months later. There’s the boy she only slept with for around three months, whom, one year later, she couldn’t help but invite to her birthday party hoping he’d show up. There’s the ex from years ago who still haunts his dreams. And there’s the surprise encounter, witnessed most unfortunately by many, in which a martini hit the face of the boy who broke her heart six years prior, while still in high school.


You don’t get to choose how or when or who will hurt you. You only get to choose the way you react to that hurt. Pain is inevitable, but suffering? Suffering, especially the kind that involves lashing out at yourself for not ‘getting over it’ fast enough, is optional.

The good news is I’m here from the other side to tell all you sad people, there’s no appropriate length of time to grieve the loss of someone you saw a future with. Your inability to get over someone quickly is not an indication of your worth as a human being.  

Nowadays, I no longer think about the boy from the fall.  I no longer worry about bumping into him at a bar, or whether or not he’s watched my Instagram story.  In all honesty, this is mostly because I’m in a new relationship with someone who checks the box of ‘wanting to be with me’.

Sometimes dating someone new is what it takes. Sometimes staying single is what it takes.

Sometimes going on a hike or accepting death or just time in all its forever-ness is what it takes. Not deadlines-calendar-dates-marked-in-red-ink time, but life. The thing that goes on and on and on.  And sometimes it takes nothing at all. Breakups are like cuts to the skin: some run deep and some run shallow.

And although all heal eventually, the pain of each bruise leaves a scar in your mind, guiding your way to feeling less of it over time.

How’s that for some bad poetry? Every shit cloud has a silver lining. Be kind to yourself, people!

Love + Sex Love Life Stories Humor

5 types of guys you’ll meet if your Indian community’s trying to find your husband

In India, the concept of matchmakers is popular.

This means well-meaning folks will connect prospective brides and grooms with each other. Here’s the problem though: they think that if your education, and height and color (yes, I kid you not) match, you’d make a great pair. Of course, none of these attributes can determine whether you are a good person or not – and it doesn’t mean you’ll be a good spouse.

The arranged marriage process can be tedious but sometimes, it can be hilarious.

1. The Guy Who Thinks Looks Are Everything

Child blinking eyes
Via giphy Description: A child with an unimpressed or sarcastic expression blinking eyes

I cannot truly believe that these people still exist today, but after meeting several, my heart goes out to anyone who has met them. They have unrealistic expectations of what their future wife should look like. Sadly, sometimes their parents conform to this too.

You cannot expect to have factory-made precision when choosing your spouse in an arranged marriage!

A guy’s mom once called my mother to find out if I was slim and had long hair. My mom said that I was average-sized, and had shoulder-length hair. The lady then said that I was not what her son was looking for and rudely disconnected the call. My hair could grow, you know? Plus, if he only likes slim people, what is he going to do when I get pregnant – divorce me?

2. The Interviewer

Lady surprised
Via giphy Description: Lady saying ‘Wow, okay’

This kind of guy would love to know everything about you in detail but when you ask him a question, he clams up and gives you one-word responses. He wants to get to know you but apparently, he prefers not talking about himself.

Seriously, even if it is an arranged marriage, it’s gotta be a two-way street, right?

3. The Deceiver

Via giphy
Via giphy Description: A guy rolling his eyes, saying “Oh you think you fancy”

Be very wary of these kinds of people who turn deception into an art form. I know of a friend who thought her fiancé owned a whole host of swanky cars and bikes. Considering he changed the one he drove every week, I don’t blame her.

She found out much later that he owned none of them, but worked in a garage, so he could take them out for test drives.

4. The Disinterested

Via giphy
Via giphy Description: A lady with an exasperated expression doing a facepalm

There are those who want to get married and there are those who turn up because someone has told them to do so.

It could be anyone from parents to family or friends. The sad part is that their disinterest isn’t always obvious. You can usually tell if someone is zoned out on a date. But how can you tell if he goes through the motions, pretends to be interested until after dating a while you say you like him, only to be told “Oh, you’re serious?! Well, I’m not. I only met you because my dad told me to.”


5. The Player

Via giphy
Via giphy Description: Guy saying “He was a jerk, but every once in a while he could be a dick.”

The toughest to identify, this one does the worst damage. I met one of these recently.

We had great conversations, we connected on several things, had similar ideas on life, the works. While I was initially blinded by the connection we shared, I soon noticed that he’d say something just to see my reaction and would then change his opinion, which felt very manipulative. He’d treat me badly just to see how much I’d be willing to put up with. I kept trying to make it work until I realized it was only me doing it. He kept trying to break things up instead. That’s when it hit me: although it seemed pleasant at first, I needed to give this one up for my own sanity.

Of course, not everyone is that bad.

I’ve met guys who were great too, but who just couldn’t think of me romantically. We became friends instead and still keep in touch. So for all of you who are out there and still looking for your life partner, especially if you’re hoping for an arranged marriage, remember that you’re not alone.

No one is worth your sanity and peace of mind.

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.

Love + Sex Love

My boyfriend held me hostage in the relationship, until I told his family

Editor’s Note: Some of the occurrences below may be triggering or upsetting to readers. 


I stared at my phone, reading the text that he sent me two days ago. It was a simple text, just a sentence of words. But it was so powerful. Those words could affect how I feel and act. Receiving the text already brought the uneasiness in me, I couldn’t even describe the horror reading it.

“Just wondering how it feels like and how would you feel if I drive over that cliff over there.”

With that text, there was a picture attached. A picture of his hand holding the wheel, not far from the edge of the cliff coastline.

The feeling of shock from reading the text is still fresh in me.

I can still feel it. Foolishly, I bought it. I called him immediately and spent hours, begging him not to do it. I tried as hard as I could, convincing him that I would never leave him again. In the end, his threat worked.

As usual.

Not long before that, we’d had another fight. It was a big, serious fight but that wasn’t unusual. Him sending a suicide threat via text wasn’t unusual either. As messed up as it sounds, it became a routine.

I couldn’t say I got used to it, but that was what I expected from him.

Our relationship started just like any normal relationship. It was all romantic and sweet at first, but then we found a lot of differences and we couldn’t compromise. Things became complicated. I did love him very much, but some things just couldn’t work no matter how much we tried. There was no point in keeping this relationship going, even if I wanted it.

It was like a dagger to his heart the moment I said: “I can’t do this anymore.” I still remember his face and his reaction. It was a mixture of shock, disbelief, and brokenness. He begged me not to leave him, but I had no choice. I walked away, leaving the love of my life.

Not long after that, I got a text. A text saying goodbye to me… and the world.

I was terrified.

My hands were trembling with fear as I read that text. I quickly rushed to his place and tried to calm him. In the end, we reconciled even though I could feel it wasn’t right. I knew that it was never going to work, but I couldn’t bear the guilt if he committed suicide because of me. With reluctance, I gave in and hoped for the best.

It continued for what felt like forever.

We fought almost all the time. Every time I reached the point when I needed to end the relationship, he lost his mind. He threatened suicide, by any means. Noose, blade, or even bullet. There were more methods he threatened and all of them were horrifying.

He gave me two choices: either stay in this miserable relationship with him or live my own life knowing that his had ended because of me.

Either way, he’d still win.

Sometimes I did think it was just his trick to hold me hostage. I’ve never seen any sign of self-harm, like scars or fresh cuts. I did check in his car and room every time I came over, just to make sure there was no sharp object hidden.

I never found any and I was always relieved.

But he kept giving me the same ultimatum. Every time he did it, I forgot about everything, even myself. The only thing on my mind was the fear of his action next. No matter how much I wanted this relationship to be over, I still cared about him. But I was living in a nightmare of intense anxiety.

I made my decision.

I’d had enough. He’d been anchoring himself to me for way too long, dangled his life in front of my face too many times. I couldn’t let him toy with my emotions and guilt-trip me all the time. In the back of my mind, I knew it was emotional abuse.

I’d been trapped in an abusive relationship.

I called his family and told them everything. Self-harm and suicide were still serious threats and I couldn’t neglect that. But there was no way I could stay in this relationship any longer. If he thought that he could tie his life to me staying, then he was wrong. His threats wouldn’t work on me anymore. And I was sure his family would know what to do about him.

I always thought that leaving him would be the best decision.

I had to do the typical breakup things people do – blocking numbers and cutting off all the communication.

Once I did, I knew I was right.

I couldn’t be freer.


If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, check out the resources below:

* Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-TALK (8255). Here is a list of international suicide hotlines.

* People who are deaf or hard of hearing can reach Lifeline via TTY by dialing 1-800-799-4889 or use the Lifeline Live Chat service online.

* Text TALK to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free counseling.

* Call the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), for free, confidential support for substance abuse treatment.

* Call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), for confidential crisis support.

* Call Trevor Lifeline, 1-866-488-7386, a free and confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth.

7 Cups and IMAlive are free, anonymous online text chat services with trained listeners, online therapists, and counselors.


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