Love + Sex Love Life Stories

Have you ever felt unrequited love?

Usually when I think of unrequited love, I think of something great. Some sort of grand story full of catharsis. Unrequited is generally special.

A type of love that demands to be talked about for an eternity. Something electric, with compulsive wavelengths. Something like the movies that comes with its own playlist attached to it.

Something with late and long nights spent together in a damp minivan twinkling and spitting out dreams on a whim. Something with vicious fights fueled by our own desire. Something that makes my soul open up just as swiftly as it gets torn apart. And, somehow I wind up bursting at the seams yet feel completely unsatisfied. I always want more. 

Why do we long for the type of love that hurts so much it imprints our hearts? It is difficult to locate the line that separates struggle and triumph, as nearly every love story in popular media blurs the two. But unrequited love is so unbelievably magnificent and sad at the same time that it becomes all encompassing.

Unrequited love is an entire body, overwhelming, feeling. I have broken hearts before and I have had my heart broken, so I can tell you that the feeling never fades, one way or the other. It feels as if you are running fast, and for a long time, yet making no distance at all.

One time I waited two months for a guy to message me back before I realized that he just wasn’t going to. Ever. Again. And that entire time I couldn’t help but wonder why I cared so much. What we had wasn’t at all special, but I still was left longing for a distraction from the heartbreak. I was showered by his passivity instead of his kisses and I wanted him to know how much his absence hurt me, but he was so equally careless and carefree that none of it mattered.

Not even for a second. 

I felt unrequited love again while in a long-distance relationship. This kind of unrequited was different. It wasn’t one-sided. Instead, we felt tremendously for each other. It’s just that our bodies weren’t able to be physically together for some time. We were only long distance for the few months that I would be studying abroad, but it felt like an eternity. I remember being there and using all of my senses to try to gauge what his touch felt like.

Somedays I would wake up and watch the sun from my window, silently knowing that that same sun wouldn’t bounce to him for another six hours, and I would recall how that same sun looked dancing across his back at dawn. I’d lay in bed at night and want to tell him about my day, but I knew that I couldn’t. I was constantly reminded that he no longer took up the space in between my arms when we slept. But I was, and still am, fascinated by the immediate consumption of these moments. I am so grateful to have given him my heart. He still has it. 

The extent of passion is practically boundless. We should feel like we can fly on a whim, or scream and dance, when we are in love. Unrequited love just forces you to confront that intensity, those struggles and triumphs, head on. Some of it is beautiful; some not so much. I like to remind myself that love doesn’t need a reason, love just is. 

Unrequited love is messy, but worth it. It is a collection of fleeting moments. It teaches us that all love should be leaking, dripping, through every difficulty yet also a thread that is continuously weaving through and connecting our bodies and our souls. The whole point of longing is to continue, because there will always be potential to love someone rather than to have loved someone. They can’t be the one that got away if they weren’t the one in the first place.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I no longer wake up in the middle of the night missing you 

I used to wake up in the middle of the night missing you.

When we parted ways, I experienced this intense feeling of nostalgia and emptiness rolled together.

It was so debilitating that it made it impossible for me to pick up the broken fragments of my heart and carry on. I would toss and turn in bed every night, with an empty mind and a broken heart. I fervently missed you and the memories we made together.

I missed all the mornings I would wake up with you beside me, feeling the cold morning breeze and your broad shoulders encasing me under the warm covers. I missed all the ways you made me feel, this feeling which I can’t quite put into words because it was so intoxicating and powerful. I scrolled through old messages and pictures, watched romantic movies trying to imagine you and me as the male and female leads. 

I thought you were my forever. I couldn’t imagine my life without you, and frankly, I didn’t want to.

You were my everything, and my heart belonged to you.

I was too attached to try to move onto someone else. I was too selfish to apologize and try to win you back. I was too reminiscent to try to forget about you.

But then, as time passed, I started to realize that my perception of you as ‘The One’ was merely just an illusion. I realized that I didn’t actually miss you but rather, I missed the fact that you weren’t the person I wanted you to be. And in turn, I stopped missing you.

I no longer miss seeing you smile and hearing your voice.

That smile I was so attracted to and so intrigued by was a simple distraction. That voice which I so longed to hear over the phone was nothing more special.

I no longer miss your presence next to me.

Before, all I’ve ever wanted to do was run back into your open arms. But now, I’m happier alone, and don’t need your arms to protect me as a security blanket.

I no longer wait anxiously for your text message to light up my phone, and consequently, light up my day.

I’ve realized that my happiness isn’t defined by a good morning text and that you in no way or shape have any ability to control what my day becomes.

I no longer miss your compliments

Your compliments weren’t much more than a simple validation that you approved of me, and how I looked to you. I don’t need your approval to make me feel like myself, and to think that I am worthy and important

I no longer ponder over the memories we’ve built and become fond of how you made me feel

The nostalgia is gone, I’ve deleted you, the old pictures, and dated text messages from my phone and my memories.

Most importantly, I no longer wake up in the middle of the night missing you.

I’ve been able to move on past the heartbreak, realize my self worth and move on from the fact that your presence was a part of me. We weren’t meant to be with each other. And you aren’t the One for me, no matter how much I’ve pretended you were. I finally was able to realize that I’m happier without you and that my independence is something I should truly cherish.

So, here’s me moving on for good, and leaving you, the memories, and our toxic relationship behind. 

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Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I was the toxic one in my relationship, and ruined everything

He was the most amazing man I ever knew.

He was a complete gentleman: caring, kind and supportive. He was always there for me in my best and worst times. I was so lucky to have him and believed I would never find anyone better than him. I loved him so much, but there were times when I dreaded the thought of living without him. I needed to feel his presence all the time – in any possible way.

By my side, on the phone, or even over text.

Sometimes, he didn’t text me back and I wondered why.

We were fine the day before, but where was he now? There were a lot of things going on in my head – was he ignoring me? Was he abandoning me? I started spiraling, assuming the worst: that he was ghosting me.

I kept overthinking as I waited for hours, hoping to hear the phone ring or for his name to appear on my screen. But still – nothing.

I needed to call him. So I cracked and starting dialing his number, over and over. I tried to reach him after a few hours, to no avail. Where was he? Didn’t he hear his phone ringing? I’m sure he could, even if he was asleep.

He should at least answer, just once.

He finally did in the end. But he was furious and annoyed. The moment he raised his irritated voice, I jolted in shock.

But… what did I do? I was confused.

I missed him so much, couldn’t he understand that? I thought he understood me well! He knew I was highly sensitive but still, he raised his voice. Coming from someone I loved, it broke my heart. I couldn’t help but cry.

Thank God, he finally understood how hurtful he was being. So he stopped.

But the same scenario played out over and over again.

I hated that he put his business above everything else, even me. Was I not important to him? Why couldn’t he make me his first priority? How hard was it to text or call me, at least once in a while?

But I loved him so much, I was willing to put up with it.

He was supportive, but it wasn’t enough. I needed him to be there and hear about my problems. I needed him to understand how miserable my life was – that I hated my family, my dad for leaving us, my friends for putting me down all the time.

But he didn’t want to listen. All he did was lecture me to be grateful for having everything I needed.

It was tiring, listening to that. That wasn’t the support I wanted.

Couldn’t he understand that I just needed to pour my heart out?

But again, I loved him. Too much to lose him. So I tried to keep my mouth shut, to no avail.

Time and again, the cycle restarted.

It crushed me every time we broke up.

And we did.

Many times. Time after time, he couldn’t be patient with me. It was always painful to hear him say, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m done.”

I was so shattered.

I needed him to understand how much I loved him. I sent him a long text after that. I left him an emotional voicemail, my voice shaking as I sobbed, telling him how I felt.

It was a cycle that fed my heart, even as it broke me.

Because in the end, he came back to me. Every time. I knew he would, eventually. He still cared for me.

Until the day it all changed. We had had a big fight. For some reason, this was the last straw for him. He walked away.

But before that, he finally told me the awful truth:

“I’m tired of your bullshit. All this time, you made everything about you. It’s always about you. You played the victim and were negative all the time. You’re selfish and toxic!”

I was utterly shocked. His words felt like hundreds of daggers being stabbed into my chest and twisted. My heart stopped and I painfully gasped.

I was too numb. I couldn’t run to him and ask him to stay.

He blocked me on social media. Blocked my phone number. I couldn’t reach him. He hated me so much, he moved away not long after that.

For days, I obsessed over the last things he said to me. It took me a while to realize the truth: that he was right.

I was exactly what he said.

The whole time, I had mentally abused him, manipulated his emotions, made him feel guilty of things that weren’t his fault.

The fault was all mine.

It’s been two years since all of this happened. In that time, I’ve changed.

I stopped being pessimistic. Started to focus more on positive things. Instead of complaining, I began to try and make the best of everything, even if things weren’t going well. I learned how to be grateful, how to forgive people – how to forgive myself, too.

I hope he’d forgive me too if I had the chance to know. I will never know as I haven’t heard any news about him since that day, but I still hope.

Love Wellness Interviews

Meet the incredible woman breaking taboos on sexual health and building a more inclusive Muslim community

Nadiah Mohajir is the founder and executive director of HEART Women & Girls, a group of diverse, empowered professionals who are committed to building safe, inclusive communities for Muslim girls. Nadiah has led HEART in providing health education programs to over 5000 Muslim women and girls in the Chicagoland area as well as cities across the country. Her organization helps break through many cultural barriers and raises awareness on issues including sexual and reproductive health, sexual violence, and media literacy.  We sat down with Nadiah to discuss her work, health education, and inclusive communities.

The Tempest: HEART works to create a world in which “women and girls are valued for their character and personhood, rather than their body type, skin color, or what they choose to wear.” Can you give our community a few ways in how they can do this as well?

Nadia Mohajir: Absolutely. First, stop focusing on the external. It’s our collective responsibility to stop focusing on the external appearance of any woman – Muslim or not. When we continually focus on a woman’s appearance – what she wears or doesn’t wear, or how she looks – we are perpetuating a cycle of systemic patriarchy. We live in a world where, most of the time, what men wear or don’t wear or how they look is rarely analyzed, and almost always irrelevant to the conversation. When will that become a reality for women and girls? Only if we collectively work hard to push back on that type of dialogue.

Second, let them speak for themselves. We’re everywhere now – there isn’t a single profession or space that we haven’t explored and a lot of the times, excelled at. There is absolutely no excuse for all male panels or male allies speaking for women. The best thing a male ally can do is to hand over the mic to a woman.

Third, invest in them. We need more leadership building efforts investing in women and girls. We need more programming and professional development investing specifically in women and girls of color. We need more scholarships recruiting women and girls from underrepresented, hard to reach communities.

What would you say is the most challenging part about doing the work that you do?

The sexism and patriarchy. It’s exhausting fighting it from all angles. You say something to take control of the narrative and many in the community comment on how you did it wrong, or could have done it better. You challenge patriarchy or racism within the community and people will line up to discredit what you’re saying. You speak up against an abusive or violent situation, only to face additional bullying, intimidation and gaslighting from those watching from the sidelines.

And men aren’t the only ones that perpetuate this cycle of sexism and patriarchy  – often times, it’s the women in the community that perpetuate the sexism.

Moreover, outside of the Muslim community, the right wingers and Islamophobes also try to co-opt the narrative to reassert their beliefs on how terrible Islam. With the rise in Islamophobia, receiving consistent funding and support for this work in the fields of reproductive justice and anti-sexual assault continues to be a challenge. Additionally, this “knowledge” about Muslims perpetuate stereotypes, which often translates to oppressive policies targeting Muslims and negative real life consequences.

How is it that women in the wealthiest country in the world still struggle with basic reproductive health issues?

[This is] a perfect example of what systemic patriarchy looks like. Historically and currently, women’s reproductive freedoms have always been a politicized issue where much of the time, wealthy men in power are in charge of controlling access to certain information or services.

Moreover, it’s not just about increasing access to information and services – we need to reduce the systemic barriers and build systems that support women to safely, privately, and easily access the services and information they need.

What are some things we can do to create a safe space in our communities for women who want to open up about First off – protect their privacy. Build the kind of space and relationship where they will know that their privacy will be honored. Then, we have to believe them. Don’t silence them when they tell their story or question how true their story is. We also have to validate & affirm. Don’t dismiss their feelings. Give them permission to feel the emotions they are feeling – whether it’s anger, sadness, frustration.

Commit to inclusivity. Create spaces that acknowledge the diversity of Muslim women and girls and actively are committed to building a space that is inclusive and welcoming to people of all lived experiences.

Eliminate blame and shame. One of the main reasons women and girls do not seek help for sensitive issues is because they feel they will be shamed and blamed for their situation. It is crucial to eliminate blame and shame so that people feel more comfortable asking questions or seeking help.

What do you think is the impact of media literacy on women’s health outcomes?

The media has a tremendous influence on both men and women’s attitudes, and ultimately health outcomes. Media messaging, especially those targeted toward young people, often reinforce gender stereotypes, idealize unattainable standards, and pressure young people to meet unreasonable expectations.

The age at which girls are expected to dress sexually has become younger and younger, and if we don’t teach young people to think critically about media messaging and challenge it, we aren’t preparing them for when they need to make decisions regarding their sexual behaviors.

It’s crucial to teach young people to think critically about media messaging through advertising, TV, movies, and music. Is that ad really selling cologne? Or is it selling sexuality and beauty? What techniques are advertisers using to sell their product? What feelings of inadequacy are they trying to appeal to you? Teaching young people to critically think about and be more aware of media messaging protects them from falling prey to advertising techniques.

You can learn more about HEART Women & Girls here. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Love Life Stories

My Islam is more than those arguments about “halal” nail polish – and that’s totally okay

I drove myself crazy trying to figure out the Truth, but realized something important along the way.

As far as I can remember, I have always been a curious person. I want to know the answers to deep and complex things.

For instance, why do bad things happen to good people? Why are we here on Earth? What is the purpose of our existence? 

My mind is blown when I think about the universe and all the miracles it contains. Contemplating how I can transfer what’s going on in my brain to this computer can leave me dumbfounded for hours on end. While I enjoy pondering different issues, it also causes a lot of stress and fear of the unknown.

I was born as a Muslim and I connect with my faith very well. 

However, it really bothers me that there are so many divisions within my religion. There are so many shades of Islam that I can’t even comprehend, so how can I even begin to learn about and understand the nuances in other faiths? It can get pretty overwhelming trying to find out what rings true for you. 

Just because I find understanding and peace in Islam doesn’t mean I believe that that’s the only way to the Truth. I’m uncomfortable when I meet people who only hang out with people from their own faith, think that only their group is going to heaven, and judge others based on superficial things. 

I was on Facebook and saw Muslims having long debates on a woman’s photo saying that her nail polish was haram. Seriously? Give the woman a break! Aren’t there bigger issues to tackle which can actually make our community a better place? If all that energy was diverted towards something more worthy, who knows what our world would look like? 

Once, I was finishing up a therapy session with one of my clients, when her older sister began to question me about Islam. It wasn’t in a curious and friendly way.

It was in more of a “Doesn’t the Quran talk about killing all non-believers?”

She began to tell me how Jesus was the son of God and began to interrogate me on Islam. I felt this pressure to represent all Muslims in my answers so I politely told her that I would get her a copy of the English translation of the Quran. I did not want to cross professional boundaries, but I felt that I had to do this so that perhaps there could be one less person who had this fearful perception of my religion.

Another time, I was sitting on an airplane chatting with a young Tibetan woman and an older Indian man. He looked over and noticed that my seat pocket had a book by Deepak Chopra in it. “Your parents wouldn’t want you to be reading that book because it’s by a Hindu,” he told me.

I got defensive and gave him a mini lecture on how just because I’m a Muslim Pakistani does not mean my parents are close-minded. I tried to stay calm and collected, but it was hard because I felt like this is why there is so much hate in the world; a lack of knowledge and understanding of what different faiths stand for. 

I find inspiration from Joel Osteen, Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, and tons of other people who have different beliefs than me. Because I truly believe that the main messages are the same; we have way more in common than we do in differences.

We all came from the same place and we will be returning to the same place, wherever that may be.

At the end of the day, who am I to judge someone else? It’s not possible for me to look inside someone’s heart and evaluate their intentions. I am just as imperfect as the next Jew, Christian, Buddhist, atheist, Muslim, or whoever!

A few months ago, I was walking in a neighborhood in Newport Beach with my aunt. We were talking about the mysteries of life and I told her how I feel so much anxiety at times when I can not figure out what the Truth is. A couple of minutes later, we came across this statue of a Bible which had this message engraved on it: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

This felt like a sign from the universe that I could just chill out and not take life so seriously.

In that moment, I felt like I was granted permission to not have all the answers and to remember that just having trust itself would guide me the right way.

Science Now + Beyond

Perfect gifts only math and science nerds in your life will appreciate

Being a college student, I know a lot of talented science majors. Budding scientists study a lot, and need some appreciation to keep on going. What better appreciation than lots of THINGS? Here are some of the coolest science gifts I’ve spotted online:

For your environmentally conscious friend.


Get your friend something to wear for the upcoming science marches. Or a handmade patch and a pin to stick on their backpack on the way to their environmental studies class.

Know any neuroscientists?

I Heart Guts

Theres always the one person obsessed with brains. Get your neuro-major (or zombie) friend some things to cuddle with, like this giant neuron or this brain plushie. Or something to keep the sun out of their eyes as the ozone layer breaks down.

For the future biologist in your life.


Show your love with these anatomically correct heart stickers and badges. If your friend is more of a head over heart person, get them this hand-embroidered skull.

For the chemistry nerd.


We all know that chem majors party the hardest. But when it’s studying time, get your friend some gifts to boost their energy level.

For the astrophysicist.


These travel posters will make your friend leave you to go live on another planet. If you don’t want that to happen, you can always give your astro-nerd friend some nice soap or candy instead.