Career Life Stories Life

We need to celebrate professional milestones as much as personal ones

I have a bone to pick with personal celebrations. I can’t be the only one feeling ornery every time I log into my social media pages only to be bombarded with announcements of classmates (both from school and university), childhood friends, acquaintances, frenemies and random neighbor #85 are either a) tying the knot, b) engaged or c) welcoming a child. Whenever I voice my annoyance out to a close friend, they assure me that no I’m not alone in my feelings, it’s quite disconcerting being harassed by surprise proposal photoshoots, engagement photoshoots (of couples who met a few months ago), or the random maternity shoot.

Maybe I’m feeling a tad bitter that I’m all alone.

Or maybe it’s because we never celebrate our professional milestones the way we do for our personal ones.

I apologize if I sound acerbic but I’m at this phase in my life where I can’t bring myself to care that another one of my classmate’s or a former friend has decided to tie the knot. While I am happy that they’ve found their life partner and thrilled to see where their marriage takes them, I’m not going to give someone a pat on their back for doing what society expects all women. I find it very hard to show my support for creative or quirky engagement photoshoots, baby showers and lovey-dovey Facebook status messages when I barely get a half-hearted good job for moving up professionally.

Maybe it’s the fact that while in university, I had to listen to people giggle about their wedding plans without thinking about where they see themselves professionally. Yes, some people aren’t ambitious or they’re okay being the way they are. But we’re in 2021, women have moved past having conversations that sound like Florence Pugh’s Oscar-nominated monologue in Little Women, on why marriage is an economic proposition.

Love or relationships aren’t the only milestones worthy of celebrations in our lives.

Which is why I can’t help but wonder every time I go through a former classmate’s wedding album on Facebook, where did life take you? Where did you end up before you had your wedding?

Why aren’t any of the STEM ladies shouting about how they were a few of the women who attended a prestigious institution?

I wish I saw more social media posts that celebrated winning a prize, getting the keys to your own home, completing that always talked about documentary film, or even completing a thesis. I, for one, would love to see a woman posting about graduating with an honors degree and then uploading a photo of the said degree onto her socials while we read a lengthy post on her journey.

I wish we had more celebrations for people who completed their one-year anniversary getting sober, moving up in a company or even landing that dream internship they took based on pure nerve. I wish we didn’t only have LinkedIn to toot our professional horns on and that too, it’s always curated in a wholesome way that makes us women come off as unthreatening in our ambition.

I  would love to see that mini-Miranda Priestly (and no, I’m not talking about the toxic work culture she created but her perfectionist attitude that made her an industry titan) in the making’s professional journey.

Why don’t we boast about the power moves and games of strategy we play to get from point A to point Z?

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be celebrating personal milestones, but we need to stop placing a higher value on them than professional accomplishments. The world would profit from women who were more honest about their ambition – I would have loved to see peers celebrating their dreams in a public way.

What is wrong with flexing those years of blood, sweat and tears? After all, if you don’t hype yourself up – no one else is going to.

So take this piece of advice from me, do that ‘Just Got Promoted’ photoshoot because why not, it would be great for your ego and my timeline would greatly appreciate it.

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Love + Sex Love Music Pop Culture

13 signs your love life is basically a SZA song

It’s been three years since SZA blessed our ear concha with her certified platinum album Ctrl… and fans and R&B critics alike are thirsting for more. Earlier this year a promising tweet sparked rumors of a 2020 release, and to fuel the suspense further I’ve had her entire discography on repeat.

Screenshot of SZA's response "I’d say the date me and punch jus discussed .. but that would stress me n build uneccesary pressure 🥺.. short answer is yes" to "are we getting anything this year ma’am i’m STARVING."
[Image Description: Screenshot of SZA’s response “I’d say the date me and punch jus discussed .. but that would stress me n build unnecessary pressure 🥺.. short answer is yes” to “are we getting anything this year ma’am i’m STARVING.”] Via Twitter
In the meantime, here are 13 signs that your love life resembles a SZA song (stay tuned for Ctrl 2 to determine whether they’re auspicious):

1. The perfect work-love life balance still seems like a picturesque myth.

From “petty dues” to “shitty news,” you find yourself constantly engulfed in the ropes of hustle culture – even if it means running on Broken Clocks in the ceaseless pursuit of perfection. 

2. You question your own emotional maturity and fear pushing your partner’s patience.

If you feel like your relationship parallels the cop-out Prom ending to a cliche teen rom-com, don’t fret; even SZA bodies these insecurities. 

3. You find yourself measuring your self-worth with your crush’s potential love interests.

Maybe you find yourself resonating more with the identity-fogged Drew Barrymore of the ’90s, and maybe it’s ok to feel “not more ladylike” in your soul-searching. Regardless of how intimidating “her mom jeans and her new Vans” are, it’s time to recognize your self-worth as independent of external factors. Yes, you are “warm enough.” 

4. You seek someone who can ground you with endless emotional reassurance.

Like SZA in Garden (Say It Like Dat), your emotions (and insecurities) run deeper than being “sensitive about havin’ no booty.” You crave emotional vulnerability in a relationship yet fear the consequences of baring all to a significant other. 

5. The “falling” part of “falling in love” scares you more than anything.

Being “down for the ride” is placing uninhibited trust in someone who could make or break your fall – which is easier sung than done.

6. Still, you’re capable of being your own cheerleader.

If a cheer chant was an SZA song, this would be it. Even in the face of massive disappointment, nobody says “Go, Gina, go Gina” better than you do.

7. You have no qualms getting even with a cheater.

Step 1: “Let me tell you a secret/I’ve been secretly banging your homeboy.”
Step 2: “Oh no, she didn’t, ooh yes, I did/Oh no, she didn’t, I’ll do it again.”

8. You’re ambivalent to, or even emboldened by, being “the other woman.”

You’re not afraid to challenge patriarchal dating norms like SZA, who repackages the side hoe position as a part-time job that she’s got “covered for the weekend.”

9. You romanticize the past based on old relationships.

Perhaps in fear of closing out a decade with personal purpose, you mentally keep yourself “stuck in them 20 somethings.” 

10. When necessary, you’re not afraid to “Skrrt skrrt” farewell on someone who’s playing games.

You’ve got places to see, things to go to, and plenty more people to do… you see your time as too precious to “cry over spilled milk.”

11. “You could never trivialize” your sex life.

You believe in uplifting the vagina like Doves in the Wind, as emblems of peace and power instead of a means to commodify women’s bodies. 

12. Passive-aggressive communication styles really grind your gears.

You’re not a Normal Girl (but really, who is?), but you bounce back and forth deciding whether you’d want to be one. Moreover, you’d rather “pop your top” and face conflict head-on than let resentment for your partner fester within. 

13. Scratch “nice guys.” You have a thing for “gentle giants.”

Your schedule has no room for toxic masculinity – you need a “phoenix among feathers” willing to fly a relationship forwards with soft gusto.

Finding Love Galore in the current era can feel as hard as attempting to locate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in modern-day Iraq, but thankfully, each SZA song just gets it.

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.

Poetry Books Pop Culture Interviews

How Ruby Dhal created a world of healing and hope

In a world where suffering perpetually festers by shape-shifting from one dissuading embitterment onto another, solace may be sought from the redeeming verses of those who strive hard to bring a glimmer of hope into our lives.

Let me introduce you to one such individual: Ms. Ruby Dhal, an empath who devoted her life’s work to combat your lingering hurt with her words.

With a Master’s in Philosophy from King’s College London, Ruby Dhal has paved quite a path for herself since she grew up in Hayes, South West London, where the minority is composed of underrepresented immigrant groups.

Writer-cum-Poetess Ruby Dhal reading an excerpt out of her book for the audience.
[Image Description: Writer and poet Ruby Dhal reading an excerpt out of her book for the audience.] via Ruby Dhal
In an exclusive interview with The Tempest, Dhal recounted where her love for scripting originated: “I’d been writing stories since I was a little girl. I always turned to books as a way to escape from my childhood experiences because, following my mother’s death, they weren’t too pleasant.”

However, it wasn’t until the age of 21 that she seized her internalized obfuscations by the horns and sought reprieve by creating an Instagram page. “I continued writing therapeutic/healing poetry and prose because I realized that so many people around the world were experiencing the same things.”

My Hope For Tomorrow (out December 2019), preceded by Memories Unwound (March 2017) and A Handful of Stars (May 2019) is the third literary enterprise undertaken by Dhal where she perseveres in her pursuit to comprehend intricacies of love, relationships, self-worth, etc.

A compelling tale of self-discovery, this latest addition is, “for anyone on their healing journey who would like to mend their broken pieces,” explained Ruby. “The purpose of this book is to allow each reader to learn more about themselves and become hopeful on their healing journey.”

When asked as to how My Hope for Tomorrow became a personal favorite among the works published by her thus far, the author wistfully observed that “I was emotionally in a much better place when I started writing this book. I had the ability to detach myself from the pieces and think ‘How would someone else feel when they read this?’ which allowed me to direct most of the pieces to my readers.”

In spite of such revelations, Dhal humbly refused to qualify her aspiring literary work to be termed as ‘self-help’ in the ‘hardcover’ definition. “My books spread the message, ‘Here is how you’re feeling, just know that you’re not alone and we’re on this journey together. And remember, there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel and lots of healing that we’ll do along the way.’”

A front and side profile of Ruby Dhal's latest literary addition "My Hope For Tomorrow"
[Image Description: A front and side profile of Ruby Dhal’s latest literary addition “My Hope For Tomorrow” ] via Ruby Dhal
Albeit not dealing with mental illness in the textbook version of things, Ruby acknowledges the strenuous power wielded by our ‘low moods’ on a daily basis. For this reason, she devotes most of her musings on struggling to maintain healthy mental health in this upheaval of a journey we call life.

Her grand message to her devout readers is to, “Hope for the future. Hope for the present. Hope that their healing journey will make them stronger, hope that the pain will slowly fade away, hope that they will experience happiness in every shade, hope that things will be okay.”

Author Ruby Dhal speaking into a microphone.
[Image Description: Author Ruby Dhal speaking into a microphone.] via Ruby Dhal
Apart from her regular intervals of dedicating heartfelt messages for her readers via tweets and Instagram posts, Ruby Dhal is also an avid poetess who has had her work published in Erstwhile, NR Magazine, and Crown Anthology. In the meanwhile, her inspirational take on life can also be found on platforms like Thought Catalog and The Tempest, both of whom show her love of hard-hitting spiritual realism. 

If this wasn’t enough, Dhal’s working on a pilot project where she plans on conducting workshops to help alleviate the staggering nihilism in our lives.

Upon being asked to elaborate on this philanthropic project, Dhal eagerly elucidated how, “every workshop would have a different theme and we would tackle specific obstacles that they’re experiencing, with the goal of overcoming them or gaining the necessary tools to do so.”

Whether you find yourself wriggling out of some unfortunate situation, or are finally beginning to be at peace with yourself or have altogether forsaken any hope to give life another chance- this book is for you.

Brimming with anticipation for coming-to-terms-with-yourself worthiness, My Hope for Tomorrow doesn’t disappoint.

Until then, here’s the author’s personal favorite snippet from the book to warm your hearts:

“I have learned to do the one thing that
most people find so difficult to do –
I have learned to love myself in ways
that I never thought possible,
and that is what saved me.”

My Hope for Tomorrow came out in December 2019 and you can get it here for $12.99. You could even try your luck at winning a free copy through our Instagram giveaway!

Editor's Picks Love + Sex Love Life Stories Advice Weddings

5 things unmarried Desi women are SO sick of hearing

A successful marriage can turn out to be the best partnership in one’s life.

However, before you decide to find the right partner, you should first work on recognizing yourself. Take time and go through life and its experiences to know yourself better and figure out what you value. That journey of self-discovery, however, takes time and patience.

Unfortunately, the middle-class Indian society that I was raised in does not believe in such a journey. Instead, it enforces a culture where women are expected to be married by the age of 25, if not earlier.

The society I come from places significantly less value on self-growth, career and the development of emotional intelligence in the ladder of a woman’s life. Matrimony and motherhood are often considered the most important milestones in a woman’s twenties.

Hence, there is endless pressure on getting married starting early on.

I am a single woman in my late twenties who, for the last five years, has been fighting this rigid culture of age-bound matrimonial rules.

Despite my exceptional academic and professional growth, I am constantly faced with intrusive questions regarding my personal life from “well-wishers. “This list includes but does not end with older relatives, cousins, neighbors and family friends. Many times, there have been questions that simply hit a raw nerve and get too difficult to handle.

After several attempts of tackling them, I have devised the perfect quick comebacks to unwelcome remarks.

1. “A career is good, but when do you plan to get settled?”

Chelsea Peretti Eye Roll Gif By Brooklyn Nine-Nine by
Chelsea Peretti Eye Roll Gif By Brooklyn Nine-Nine by

Uh. Whenever you stop asking me that question.

Time and again, I have had friends, relatives, neighbors, and even acquaintances ask me and my parents this question. What society chooses to ignore is that marriage is not the end-all, be-all of anyone’s life. Every woman should become financially and emotionally independent before deciding to get married.

2. “If you don’t get married now, all the good boys will be taken.”

Anne Hathaway Nbd Gif By Ocean's 8 by
Anne Hathaway Nbd Gif By Ocean’s 8 by

Thank god. I thought your list was never-ending!

Thank you so much, aunty, for your unsolicited advice, but I’d rather decide on my own the difference between “good” guys and “bad” guys. Despite living in the 21st century, these patriarchal prejudices continue to plague social behavior among the Indian society I grew up on.

The good boy argument constitutes someone who earns a huge salary, belongs to a privileged upper-class family and is of the same caste and religion as the girl’s family.

These three prerequisites are thus presented as time-bound since most of such ‘good men’ choose to marry younger women.

3. “The earlier you get married, the sooner you’ll relieve the burden off your parents’ shoulders.”

Benedict Cumberbatch Gif By BBC on
Benedict Cumberbatch Gif By BBC on

The only burden on my parents is your uncalled-for interest in my life.

One of the most manipulative things that I have repeatedly been told is that, after the age of 25, women become a liability on their parents.

Sexist gender roles subscribe men to be the breadwinners of a household, while women are only supposed to be homemakers. While this statement dips in misogyny, it is also gaslights young women into feeling responsible for their parents’ happiness, thereby pushing them into matrimony.

4. “How bad would you feel if your younger sister gets married before you do?”

Confused wait what gif by
Confused wait what gif by

Not as bad as you would for not being invited to her wedding.

If my sister is happy with her partner and decides to get married to him, I would be the happiest person on this planet. Indian culture often dictates the eldest sibling get married first, but each one of us lives by different expectations and beliefs.

Why time-stamp every journey with similar rigid milestones?

5. “Your biological clock is ticking.”

shrug gif by
shrug gif by

And I do not remember asking you to set the alarm.

Motherhood is considered to be one of the first conventional outcomes of a marriage. Patriarchal cultures thus force women into early matrimony so as to bear offspring early in their lives.

But what about women who do not want to become young mothers? Or simply do not want to have children? What if someone prefers to adopt?

No, these are not options.

While comebacks like these can help you tackle the many intrusive questions, this constant fight can also lead to burnout.

Through my own personal experience, I can attest that as hard as you try, you will never match society’s expectations. Because other people will never be satisfied with anything. Marriage will be followed by expectations of parenthood which will then be followed by raising the children “right” according to others’ belief.

A prejudiced society can thus place you on an unending trial of life.

At some point, you have to learn to trust yourself and follow a path that only you are responsible for. A path that places the reins of happiness in your own hands and not those of others.

When you find peace within yourself, no amount of outside noise can deter you from doing what you wish to do with your life… whether that involves marrying young, marrying late or not marrying at all.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories Advice

Here’s how to deal with jealousy in a non-monogamous relationship

Nearly everyone deals with jealousy once in a while.

After spending the last four years exploring consensual non-monogamy, I still haven’t mastered it. When you have multiple concurrent romantic or sexual relationships, people tend to assume that jealousy doesn’t (or shouldn’t) affect you. But it can – and it’s a persistent feeling, with as many heads as we have fears, insecurities, and doubts. It can show up in the most innocuous of situations, and in those times we can be left wondering what it is that is bothering us so much.

It takes courage to admit difficult emotions and even more when trying to overcome them. It takes bravery and patience to sit with our feelings and use them to improve our relationships both with ourselves and with others.

I like to think of jealousy as a composite feeling as if it had multiple parts and components, numerous iterations and displays. Jealousy is nothing more than our fears, doubts or insecurities, most times. We feel threatened, left out, and excluded, and jealousy is right there to help us through it. We think horrible things and react badly, jumping to conclusions before giving others a chance to explain.

The first few times I felt jealous in a non-monogamous context, I brooded, convinced that I was going to be abandoned and that that was proof I was in fact as unlovable as I thought I was. I would detach emotionally whenever I felt jealous because I thought no one could possibly love me when they had other people.

Picking apart these feelings can seem like a waste of time, but we have so much to gain from this. So, next time you feel a tinge of jealousy, remind yourself that things are more complicated than they appear – that humans, such as yourself, have more layers than we realize. Stop for a minute, breathe in deep and try to make a bit more sense of what you’re feeling.

Don’t take this as an indication to pin it all on your partner or to try to find out what movement triggered your rage so you can forbid it. Try instead to just figure out what you’re feeling. And talk to your partner about it in a way that is not blaming but loving.

Don’t be afraid of asking for help in processing these feelings. Each time I do, it results in a more secure connection and better communication in my relationships.

When we try to combat jealousy through the so-called regular routes, we usually worsen the problem for ourselves and others. We either don’t talk about it and hold our feelings to ourselves, eventually exploding; or we blame our partner for our feelings, displacing both anger and responsibility. I’ve definitely done both and I can assure you it didn’t work.

Our emotions are not our partner’s fault unless they’ve broken agreements. We must learn to sit with our feelings, to quietly and compassionately pick jealousy apart. Ask yourself what you’re feeling around it: is it discomfort, insecurity, fear?

For me, it’s usually a combination of fear of abandonment and inadequacy that rips through me. I feel it immediately, this hot white rage that wants to detach emotionally and feels hurt and small and mad. If I listened to it, I would’ve left too many partners behind in crowded rooms. Instead, what I try to do is take a deep breath, find someone to talk to or go to my partner and ask for reassurance.

The third one is still the hardest one; I’m very used at processing feelings by myself, bottling them up and labeling them as I please. Asking for support or reassurance is very foreign, and I still feel weird about doing it. But when I do it, I get a great response and feel better immediately.

Whether you’re non-monogamous, single, or monogamous, engaging with your jealousy is important. Many skills can be freely adapted across relationship styles, structures, and orientations. Humans will be humans, and we tend to have similar fears, doubts, and hesitations when relating to each other. Whatever fear you’re clinging to, someone feels the same way, believe me.

We can’t guarantee our relationships will last forever and we can’t guarantee that they will never change. Loving includes a degree of risk that we need to be willing to take so we can allow ourselves to relate to each other honestly. We might not like it, but we need to deal with it. And, in my opinion, honest relationships and fulfilling love are worth it.

So, go on, face your fears and love deeply without hesitation.

Editor's Picks Love + Sex Love Advice

Do we owe anything to the people we ghost?

If you’ve ever been on an online dating app, you know that ghosting is inevitable. Whether you ghost someone else or you’re being ghosted, you are bound to encounter it at some point. It seems like for every decent match, three potentially good matches ghost you.

How many times have you been thinking “hey, this person might actually be cool” as you send that hahaha in response to their meme, and then… nothing? They vanish from your inbox like a dream and you are left wondering, “is it me?”

Well, is it you? I don’t think so.

Sometimes, people ghost you simply because they’re assholes and don’t care about your feelings.

Dating profiles make you a picture on a screen not a human being with feelings. It’s a lot easier to ignore a message on your phone than a person standing right in front of you. If you went on one or two dates with someone the odds are they didn’t end the date with a respectable “Hey, I don’t really see anything else happening between us but thanks for the night”. They probably just went home, deleted your number and ignored your texts till you took the hint and went away.

And while it’s a shitty thing to do, I’ve done it, and you’ve probably done it. Owning up to your feelings plus the added bonus of confronting someone about those feelings is scary. So we don’t do it.

Another reason why someone might ghost you is that they feel like they don’t owe you anything.

This is especially true if you get ghosted before you meet up with the person. If all you had was a conversation on an app the chances of getting ghosted increase tenfold – note that this claim is not backed by science. How many people have you ghosted after barely a couple of messages?

For me, it’s a lot. A lot, a lot.

And, hot take, I believe that’s okay. You actually don’t owe these people anything. Maybe if you’ve been talking for a while and they suggest a date and you don’t want to go you tell them, or you politely decline rather than ghosting. It’s up to you and your judgment of the situation. But you actually do not owe anyone anything.

Again, it’s possible that someone ghosts you for another innocent yet possibly hurtful reason: they forgot about you.

Have you ever been messaging a match and getting bored? You aren’t clicking with them and the conversation is going nowhere. So you close the app and watch Netflix or something. Then have you ever opened the app a couple days later and realized you never answered their last question? Yeah, that was because you weren’t interested in them and people won’t be interested in you.

You only notice these types of ghosts because you were really interested in them. Maybe you thought the conversation was actually going great, or you were having an off day and sending replies that weren’t really hitting their mark. That’s okay: it’s bound to happen. Yes, it sucks when it happens like 27 times in a row but there’s not really a whole lot you can do.

To combat the ghost you have to not become one yourself. If you hate them with every fiber of your being then don’t ghost people, all it takes is a short message. Here are some thing you can say if you don’t want to keep messaging someone but you don’t want to ghost them either:

1. “I had a good time last night but I don’t think we should go out again. Good luck!”

2. “This is [insert your name here]’s mom, [your name] is grounded.”

3. “I have lice.”

4. “Hey, we both know this isn’t going anywhere, au revoir and bon chance!”

5. “I suddenly got a huge assignment at [insert job, school, or hobby], I don’t really have time to be dating but nice talking to you.”

6. “Hey buddy bud, ol’ pal, ol’ friend, I don’t want to ever see you again. Goodbye forever.” 

And finally, if someone is harassing you on any dating app, you don’t owe them anything. Ghost them, block them, report them, do whatever you need to do to keep them out of your messages and out of your life.

They aren’t worth your time.

Dating should be fun (right?). So if you aren’t feeling it, don’t push it. At the end of the day, we are all people who make mistakes and accidentally ghost people who didn’t do anything wrong.

Maybe next time, just try to remember your talking to a real human  – not a bubble on a screen. 

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 + 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

I broke up with a guy because nobody thought we were #RelationshipGoals

“#RelationshipGoals,” she says as she comments on a photo of two strangers she’s never met, never known personally, and probably never will. And even if she does know them personally – she doesn’t know their relationship as well as she might think.

Sound familiar? This is most of us nowadays. With the lightning speed at which we share our personal photos and milestones – everything is #goals.

I personally find it quite overrated, and boring. But also, I find it so irksome. We base our expectations about what we want in a relationship on something we see online.

We have absolutely no clue about what that couple has been through, are going through or will go through. Yet we think they’re ‘perfect’ because they seem to be photogenic together?

I’ll admit this though, I was fascinated by this trend when it started. I’d go on social media and tag my friends in photos of cute couples doing things. I’d comment “#GoalsAF”, and my friends would respond with the usual, “SAME.” or “IKR?”.

I didn’t realize how unhealthy this was until I almost got into a relationship and then didn’t. I blame #RelationshipGoals for that failed ‘almost’ relationship, and then another.

There were a multitude of other reasons, of course. But mostly, I just couldn’t get over the fact that he didn’t live up to what I was expecting him to be. He wasn’t acting the way I’d seen guys act online. He wasn’t treating me like a straight up princess.

In his defense, he didn’t owe me shit. We’d been on 3-4 dates in total and I expected him to put me on a pedestal because that one guy did this grand gesture for that one girl on Twitter and those were my #RelationshipGoals.

I actually ended things with him before anything went further, and I’m glad I did. I didn’t want to lead him on and then realize when it was too late.

But this wasn’t a one-off event. It happened again.

I met another guy. He was sweet, great, and I liked him too. I enjoyed his company, he made me laugh and we had a real connection. But I still wasn’t comfortable with getting into a relationship with him because I didn’t look at the two of us and feel like yelling, “#GOALS”.

My ‘ideal’ in what I wanted out of that relationship was so shallow and unsubstantial – I cared more about what we looked like than what we actually were like. 

Sounds absurd, right? That’s because it was. I was deciding what I wanted out of a relationship on the basis of social media reality, not IRL reality.

I remember seeing this post about a guy who posted on Instagram daily about his girlfriend and how beautiful she was and how lucky he was to have her. I wanted that. And when neither of the guys I almost dated treated me like that, I figured they just weren’t worth it.

I didn’t know what that couple online had been through to get to where they are today. I didn’t know if they were even a couple in real life, or if they just really wanted the retweets. All I knew was that they ‘looked good together’ and I wanted to ‘look good together’ too.

They create an unrealistic expectation about something so complicated and intricate. Relationships involve human emotions, which are raw, ugly, and real. They’re not something you can hide behind a filter.

Relationships are complex. They require effort and love. I’m not suggesting you should stay with someone even if you don’t feel like it. Just don’t jump to any hasty conclusions based on what you see online. We all have expectations in relationships, I’m not denying that. And we’re allowed to have huge ones too. But let’s form those expectations based on what we really want, and not what we think someone else has got.

Because here’s the deal, you’re not that girl/guy and their partner isn’t your partner. So the chances of things happening exactly for you as it did for them are highly unlikely.

If you truly like someone, give it a shot, flaws and all. Neither of you has to be perfect for you to be #RelationshipGoals. Don’t put that kind of a pressure on yourself or your partner.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I have a major secret about my love life

My social media feed is full to the brim of articles about things only newly single people will understand or the best techniques to mend your heart after a breakup. While I can vouch that eating chocolate and ice cream is comforting, I don’t relate to the relationship advice given, because I’ve never had a boyfriend.

I haven’t achieved the life milestone that the majority of women my age passed in their pre-teens. For the longest time, I believed this made me strange, and it damaged my confidence and self-esteem.

I started to feel the pressure to be in a relationship, even at a young age. I’ve always noticed and had crushes on boys from school. It’s a rite of passage for a typical schoolgirl.

But those crushes never really went anywhere.

As I progressed through primary school to secondary school, there was a stark difference between those who had a boyfriend and those who hadn’t. The ones who did were confident and mature and everyone envied them. Including me.

Of course, I was jealous. I was 16, and I’d never had my first kiss or a boyfriend.

When it came to family interrogations, I avoided conversations about boyfriends and ‘having my eye on anyone’ like the plague. It’s one thing having my friends know I am forever single, but to have my family know was twice as embarrassing.

For the next two years, I struggled to progress any friendship into something romantic. I was out of luck. It wasn’t until I discovered Tinder in my first year of university that I found my chance to date and possibly find a suitable boyfriend.

My first date with a guy from Tinder was going well until he asked about previous relationships. My body froze. I had two options, pretend I had a long line of ex-boyfriends or admit I had never been in a relationship before.

I chose the latter.

He was taken aback by the response and fired questions about being single for so long. I wanted the ground to swallow me whole as I tried to defend myself for not being in a relationship.

After the date blunder, it came to a point when I was no longer having fun on dates and meeting new people. The irrational fear of having to reveal that I’d never had a boyfriend was starting to have an impact on my self-confidence. I believed I wasn’t good enough for anyone.

I’d had enough of trying to find a boyfriend. It was impossible because it doesn’t just happen overnight. In order to combat the unrealistic ideal of finding love, I deleted Tinder and stopped trying to rush into a relationship.

And it worked. The time I had spent swiping left and right and talking to guys I wasn’t interested in was used more wisely. I was a lot happier and even my grades were better.

In that time I realized there’s not a time limit to achieve a milestone of having your first boyfriend. Now I sleep peacefully knowing it is not the be end and end all. It doesn’t matter when it happens because there’s no rush. I may have a boyfriend in the next week, month or year.

I may still be single and writing down my feelings about my non-existent love life.

And if I am still single and not ready to mingle, I will remind myself that it’s ok not to have a boyfriend.

Love Advice

This is how you need to text if you want to get laid tonight

Dear Madame Lestrange,

My partner and I have a great sex life, but I think I’m bad at sexting. It’s so weird to me and I’m doing it wrong. It makes me nervous and I never know what to say. I love it – and I want to be good at it. Help?




Dear Sexy Sexter,

I.GOT.YOU. Sexting is one of my favorite pastimes. I love it. It makes me feel empowered because I always take control and describe exactly what I’m doing in this fantasy world. It’s fun. You get to be as open and dirty and exploratory as you wish you were IRL. It’s escapism at its finest. You get that freedom to say what you want to do and gauge your partner’s reaction — without any real rejection. And sometimes (or very often), it’s a glimpse into the future –> what’s gonna happen as soon as you see that person.

And you know what else rocks about sexting? You can’t do it wrong. They’re super easy once you get the hang of a few key elements. Let’s get into it!


The worst thing in the world is when you’re horny and the person you’re tryna sext isn’t picking up on your hints. So, to initiate – I like to just go for it. I’m not sure if you’re sexting women or men, but in my experience, men are idiots. They just will not pick up on hints. Might have better luck with women – we are drastically better at everything. Either way, I suggest just plunging right in. An unexpected sext is an instant turn on. And what do I mean by plunging in?

Always start with a less-obvious text: “I really wish you were here right now” or “What would we do if we were together tonight?” or “What’s something you always wanted to do?”

From there, take the reins. Chances are they’ll respond in a non-sexual way, and when they do – respond sexually. Example:

You: I really wish you were here right now!

Person: Aw, me too. / some other lame response.

You: That way I could have my tongue in your mouth while I squeeze your ass.

Obviously, there are good and bad times for these things. But it’s always fun to test the waters to figure out when those bad times are. Some people might love getting unexpected sexts while they’re at work. Others might not. Have some fun while you find out 🙂

Keeping it going.

Be explicit. You don’t have to use flowery language or be a romance writer to be a good sexter. You just have to be able to explain what you want sexually. Which, trust me, you can do. The thing that’s great about sexting is you’re meant to be freaky and an active sexual participant. Don’t be passive. Type out what you want to do and what you want to be done to you. Let them know where you want their hands, where yours are, what your mouth is doing, etc, etc, etc. Feel free to ask THEM questions to have them be more active too.

Really just do whatever the fuck you want because this is YOUR show.

Do you want him to lick your pussy while squeezing your ass? Say it.

Do you want to push her against a wall and finger her while you’re sucking on her tits? Say it.

Do you want to be bent over and fucked on the front porch in the middle of the night? Say it.

If thinking about it turns you on, then sexting it to them will turn them on.

And if it doesn’t, at least you know what not to do with them when you’re actually together – right? Same goes the other way if they’re describing something to you and you’re like, “well, no actually that sounds terrible” — you’re able to let them know without having to deal with doing it, to begin with.

Stay realistic, and freaky.

It’s fun to fantasize – but don’t describe things that are completely impossible. Like, don’t say you’re gonna do x, y, z with your legs all bent crazy, etc., etc. It’s also important to not be totally out of character. Let your wild side out, but make sure your personality is still there. For example, don’t sext about anal sex when you’ve explicitly made it clear you don’t want that. You’re still you and that’s who your partner enjoys being with.


Don’t send them unless you trust your partner. It seems like you do – and I’m not going to dictate your life. I’ve sent and will continue to send nudes because I love the way I look and I think they’re fun. But, as you know, these should only go to people you trust (spouse, partner, etc). If you’re not totally sure – send nudes without your face in them! Your face doesn’t need to be in them to be sexy.

Also, you don’t have to send pics for a good sext session. I’ve had plenty of very successful sext sessions without ever sending a pic or video.

You got this. Be yourself, be explicit, and have fun. Go forth and conquer, girl.

You’re welcome,

Madame Lestrange