Attending my brother’s wedding on Zoom wasn’t as bad as it sounds

My elder brother and I were born one year apart, an age difference that over the years has led him to become everything from enemy number one to my closest confidant. His wedding was something I had always imagined from a young age – as a sister, how could I not? I wanted to wake up and tease him first thing in the morning and laugh as he morphs into a blushing groom. There would be so much to do – accompanying my mother into the narrow alleys of Liberty Bazaar in Lahore, Pakistan as we rushed to complete the wedding shopping; sharing embarrassing childhood stories with my soon-to-be sister-in-law; staying up late into the night as we planned everything from the flowers to the food. I was sure that there was nothing that could stop me from enjoying all of this. But then, the global pandemic happened.

My brother married this summer to a woman he loves more than anything, and I got to see their preparations and nuptials all through a tiny screen. So why did I not get on the first plane back home? Traveling during a pandemic is not the easiest thing to do or even recommended during the height of the Covid, not to mention that I study in Hong Kong, the region with the longest quarantine in the world. So I stayed put as my family got to do everything I had pictured. It was hard to hold my tears back in my dorm room that seemed lonelier with every passing day. Despite the intense loneliness of being away from my family, I realized over time that it wasn’t all bad. I mean, I did get to enjoy some of the things that would never have happened if I had been there.

The first of these arrived in the form of a package I received a month before my brother’s wedding. My mother, who insisted that I should dress up even if I weren’t actually there, made sure that I felt included in every way possible. Draping the sari over my body, I could almost see the beaming smile my mother would have had if I had dressed up in my sari in front of her. I cried that day, but more out of gratefulness than anything. The package was followed by daily calls with everyone in my family as the wedding preparations started speeding up. In a way, their effort to make me feel included seemed to bridge the gap between us almost entirely. A million miles are nothing when it comes to family.

Then the day of the wedding came. My feelings were at odds with each other the entire day. On the one hand, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because how could I possibly miss his marriage? But, on the other hand, I also felt great excitement. Finally, my brother was getting married, the same boy I complained about and fought with when he refused to do his summer holiday homework, the same boy who stole my doll when I was three years old.

I will never forget that day as a mix of emotions and laughter. Wouldn’t you be laughing if you were in every wedding photo on an iPad? At least the pandemic gave my brother some hilarious wedding photos and me a story to tell everyone. My younger brother and sister, bless their souls, spent most of the festivities carrying me around to meet different relatives. So despite being alone in a dorm room in Hong Kong dressed in a sari and slippers, I felt like I was in Pakistan with my family.

Weddings are about bringing people together, which is undoubtedly difficult to do when a highly contagious virus spreads to every corner of the globe. This experience, however, made me realize that nothing can take away from the magic and warmth of a wedding, not even a pandemic. But more than that, it also taught me that when you feel alone, your family will come through, much as mine did this summer. So, in a way, this article is my love letter to weddings and family.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!


I love weddings, but they make me melancholy

It’s unpopular, I think, to admit how much weddings mean to me. As a diehard romantic from a young age, there’s a lot I love about weddings as an aspiring bride — the chance to wear a beautiful one-of-a-kind gown, the attention bestowed upon me, the commitment expressed through vows, the promise of a lifetime of togetherness, the celebratory atmosphere of it all… it’s safe to say I’m obsessed. 

And yet, several weddings I’ve attended in the past few years have left a sad taste in my mouth. 

After one wedding in the summer several years ago, I drove to a parking lot and cried. At another wedding, I sequestered myself to a corner and moped. I felt so alone, surrounded by adoring couples and a celebration of love. I spent a third wedding mourning that my relationship with the bride wasn’t what it once was. 

I’ve always struggled with jealousy. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’ve struggled with comparison, which has led to my feelings of jealousy. I’m constantly holding myself up against those around me, measuring us, and coming up short in my own estimation. Usually, I compare myself to my friends and family — my brother got more Facebook likes on his post; my best friend is more beautiful; a writer friend got a book deal before me. I’m looking for reasons to love myself and have fallen into the trap of comparison, except I always come up short.

As much as I’ve loved watching the couples celebrating their love during those three weddings, I couldn’t help but compare myself to them. I’m 28, and my list of “nevers” in the dating world stretches like a CVS receipt. Never been in a relationship. Never been on a second date. Never been kissed. Never held hands. On and on it goes. The only thing I have done is go on two first dates. Two whole dates! In 28 years! 

And here I thought someday I’d be a bride!

It’s just too easy to feel like a fool, and it’s so easy to resent the people who are getting married while I’m not. When one of my family members married several years ago, I remember attending the wedding and feeling true joy for him and his bride. It was an honor to stand up at the front of the church with the wedding party. I loved the new dress I bought just for the occasion to celebrate with the happy couple and their guests.

After the ceremony and festivities ended, I took off in my five-inch heels and pretty new dress, got into my car, drove to Walmart, and cried. I cried because it dawned on me, at the time, that I was 20 and despite my strong desire to fall in love and have my own forever story, I had never been on a date. All my crushes had been unrequited. I was heartsick and devastated. The high of the celebration was wearing off, leaving nothing but sorrow.

It’s been eight years since that experience. Last summer I went to my best friend’s wedding – this time around I loved celebrating with her. I was emotional throughout the ceremony –  it was beautiful, moving, and I was unspeakably elated for my friend. During the dinner, I managed to forget that I was there alone. 

I’m so grateful I was able to celebrate my friend’s wedding this way. I regret that I got so caught up in my own issues at the other weddings that I couldn’t enjoy the celebration right in front of me. Moving forward, I will try to revel in the love showcased in future weddings I attend and put to rest all thoughts of my own future.

Maybe someday I’ll have my own wedding; maybe I never will. But one fact I’m sure won’t change is that I’ll stay a little bit obsessed with the institution of a wedding.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Feel-Good The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love

I keep forgetting that my boyfriend exists and it’s the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had

A few weeks ago, I was hanging out with my friends Omid and Malu. We were eating dinner, and mid-mouthful of lasagne I realized that I had completely forgotten that my boyfriend existed for a moment. I just hadn’t been thinking about him. Bemused, I said it out loud. They both laughed it off and we all kept eating. Then around half an hour later, I noticed it happen again. This time, Omid called me out on it and said “you realize it’s normal not to think about him 24/7 right?” Wrong. The concept was completely new to me.

You know how you have a little voice in your head? One that narrates your life and talks you through your decisions and feelings? Well, during my last relationship, my ex’s influence was so pervasive in my life that I developed a second little voice, and that voice was his. So, quite literally, he was always on my mind.

Granted, it wasn’t until the next day that the thought of this had me spiraling. I was shocked. I was sad. I was angry. My entire body felt nauseous. I’d already acknowledged the emotional abuse; I’m still working through some of it. Yet, I hadn’t really understood the gravity of it. He had a say in everything, whether it was about how long I stayed out with friends, how many times a week I went to my dance classes, or what I wore.

He was smart about it though, and never forbade me from doing anything. Instead, he withheld affection, made me feel guilty for not taking his “perspective” into account, and threatened to end the relationship. So I did what I had to do to feel loved, and it was always my choice because I’d internalized his overly critical, possessive, insecure voice.

Everything (and I mean everything) that I thought went through a mental checkpoint: What will he think? How will he react? How can I include him? How will this affect him? If you want an example to demonstrate the extent of it, I even asked him how he would feel if I decided to go vegan. 

It was exhausting, and I do remember feeling unsettled at the time. But whenever I expressed my concerns about our lives being too intertwined or feeling like I had to base my every move around him he would say that relationships are all about compromise. That we were “a team,” and that I was the problem. I was just a selfish, shitty partner. The truth of it was that our relationship dynamic was just toxic.

There is a part of me that feels ashamed while writing this. I never painted myself to be the “type” of person who would get themselves into an abusive relationship, let alone stick it out for three and half years. When I talk about it, people seem to think the same. They say things like “I just can’t imagine you being someone who would be okay with that.” But it wasn’t something I allowed and there isn’t a type of person who attracts or accepts abuse. I realize too that there isn’t really a type of person who abuses people either. We’re all capable of being both. Perhaps it’s up to how we choose to tell the story. 

Once I had a bit of time to sit with all of the above, I messaged my boyfriend who was on a trip with his friends at the time. The conversation went like this:

My message: “So this is a weird thing, but I keep forgetting about you and I realized how good that is the other day. ” Followed by a 1:14 minute voice note of me explaining why.

His response: ” 🙂 I’m glad you feel that way babe xx. I love you and can’t wait to see you when I’m back.”

Looking for more content like this? Follow our brand new Instagram account!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.

TV Shows Sexuality Love + Sex Love

‘Too Hot To Handle’ season two had just as many blue vulvas as blue balls

Too Hot To Handle season two is a ride! It starts with tricking contestants into participating and somehow manages to escalate into even more debauchery from there. Namely, almost every contestant stuck up their middle finger to Lana and her rules, resulting in the loss of a record-breaking amount of money from the prize fund.

A round of applause for the casting directors, who succeeded in finding the horniest people alive. While this did make season two more jaw-dropping than season one, it also meant we were reminded that some men still think blue balls are the best way to convince women to sleep with them.

If you try to make the jump from the Love Island franchise to Too Hot To Handle or vice versa, fair warning you will get whiplash. While Too Hot To Handle has been called the bootleg Love Island by some, the only similarities between the two shows are that they both lock hot singles in a villa with hopes someone falls in love — or lust.

The premise of Too Hot To Handle is that couples are restricted from any sexual activity in favor of sparking a real, emotional connection. Lana didn’t ask, and yet the season two cast still made a case for what I’ll call the twofer: building an emotional connection while engaging in sexual activity. This made the second season far more entertaining because it meant the cast could care less about winning $100,000 — a fact much more scandalous than the rampant under-the-covers action.

At one point, couple Cam and Emily decide they will try to abide by Lana’s rules after being the biggest rule breakers in the villa. Immediately, Cam complained of having blue balls with hopes that Emily would give him a handjob. Thankfully, Emily declined, providing people everywhere a blueprint on what to do when someone tries to use blue balls as leverage for sex.

Honestly, when Cam first said the words “blue balls” unironically, I thought I had fallen into a wormhole that dropped me into the year 2005. I thought we had evolved away from using blue balls as a way to manipulate people, primarily women, into having sex. And yet, Too Hot To Handle season two featured Cam, in the year 2021, blue-balling it up, much to the chagrin of the season two cast and viewers everywhere.

Ultimately, Cam decided to take matters into his own hands, literally. But he didn’t have to do that. According to Healthline, blue balls, medically known as epididymal hypertension, are not that serious and can be solved via various nonsexual, nonarousing activities. In the villa, Cam could have pumped some iron, taken a dip in the pool, or even gone for a chat with a friend. Basically, the pain of blue balls can be alleviated by any activity that keeps you busy. This means if you or someone you know is struggling from blue balls, encourage them to treat it like a personal problem they are in charge of solving.

When the cast found out Cam’s blue balls lost the group two thousand dollars, Chase exclaimed in a confessional, “He is so obsessed with his blue balls. All of us have blue balls, Cam!” This is probably true, in more ways than one. The women on this season’s cast were just as horny as the men, which is why I wouldn’t be surprised if anyone was sporting a blue vulva.

Just like blue balls, blue vulvas, a.k.a. blue uterus and pink pelvis, happen with vasocongestion, which is when bodily tissues swell as a result of increased vascular blood flow and blood pressure. Sexual arousal is one cause of vasocongestion, which can result in the vulva (or balls) taking on a blueish tinge. Again, an orgasm or a nonsexual activity are easy remedies.

My biggest problem with blue balls is not the balls themselves. Historically, men have less of a problem finding release with a partner than women. In addition, women’s sexuality is still taboo, while men are expected to be and accepted as sexual beings. Both of these facts coupled with how blue balls have been used as a manipulation tactic continues to imply men’s sexual release and satisfaction is more important than women’s.

Cam from Too Hot To Handle has become the target of my anger not because he had blue balls. Anyone can have blue balls or blue vulva. It’s how he handled his blue balls that enrages me. His actions showed that not once did he think of Emily’s need for release. He only cared about his own blue balls, which speaks volumes of his character as a lover and person.

It goes without saying that any allosexual person, whether they have balls or a vulva, can still have a high libido. Sexuality isn’t confined to just one gender.

One person’s blue balls aren’t more important than another.

Here’s to hoping Lana is already planning a seminar on this very topic for season three of Too Hot To Handle.

Looking for more content like this? Follow our brand new Instagram account!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.


13 must read books to become involved in social justice activism

Social justice activism and aiming to bring about change doesn’t happen overnight. However, one misconception that many people have about social activism is that they always view it in a political light. That is not always the case. 

Reading a book to me is like discovering a new purpose, finding something to ponder upon and just being able to reflect on someone else’s viewpoint and reflect. I recently read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, a book on social justice activism that revolves around a 16-year-old, trying to make terms with her high-class school while dealing with the reality that brings her back to the narrow streets of her neighborhood.

I was intrigued to read this fictional account of Starr Carter who had to suffer from the trauma of watching a close friend getting shot before her eyes. Thomas beautifully deals with the complexity of standing up for your values from a young age.

In search of more such social justice activism books, I have listed down 13 books that will easily become any social justice activist’s absolute favorite in no time:

1. Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams

social activism
[Image Description: Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams] via
Leadership is hard but convincing others about what you believe in is harder. This is a handbook for everyone looking to work towards combatting the challenges that hinder women, people of color, the working class, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and millennials, who are ready to make a change. With the help of her insights, Stacey manages to break down how ambition, fear, money and failure function in leadership, going hand-in-hand.

Get it for $15.64 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

[adsanity id=”178468″ align=”alignnone”/]

2. Internment by Samira Ahmed

social activism
[Image Description: Internment by Samira Ahmed] via
Written by the bestselling author of Love, Hate, & Other Filters, the book follows Layla Amin, a Muslim-American who leads a revolution when she and her family are forced into an internment camp in the United States. Internment will inspire you to reflect upon Islamophobic rhetoric and politics, ensuring this scenario remains a work of fiction.

Get it for $10.11 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

3. Front Desk by Kelly Yang

social activism
[Image Description: Front Desk by Kelly Yang] via
Mia Tang, the main character of the books has a lot of secrets. Front Desk is all about Tang’s courage, kindness and the hard work she shows to get through whatever comes her way. How she can hold on to her job while chasing her dreams, is for you to read and find out for yourself.

Get it for $7.35 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

4. Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis

social activism
[Image Description: Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement by Angela Y. Davis] via
This handbook is more of a collection of essays, interviews and speeches. Davis brings her perspective of working for civil rights advocacy to present-day movements such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) and prison reforms to the forefront through this compilation.

Get it for $14.67 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

5. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

social activism
[Image Description: Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin] via
The author turned photographer Kuklin interviewed six transgender to represent them thoughtfully for this book. The book is full of portraits, family photographs and candid images that augment the emotional journey of each one of them. Each discussion, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other.

Get it for $11.95 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

6. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

[Image Description: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo] via
White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable and triggering. These triggers may include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear and guilt. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium which this book depicts perfectly.

Get it for $14.72 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

7. A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

[Image Description: A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara] via
Targeted for children, this illustrated book can come in handy for everyone, considering how ill-informed some people are despite easy access to information. Every letter is the definition of a different social movement. For F — you learn about Feminism, when we get to G –  you can learn about the meaning of grassroots organizing and why it is important. Learn ABC, the social justice activist way!

Get it for $10.99 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

8. As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker

[Image Description: As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice from Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker] via
This historical take on how the indigenous people have fought for environmental justice will bring back the social activist inside you to life. Journalist turned scholar Whitaker puts into perspective everything. From treaty violations to the efforts to protect sacred sites, you won’t want to stop reading.

Get it for $14.72 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

[adsanity id=”170729″ align=”alignnone”/]

9. Social Justice Activist by Ellen Rodger

[Image Description: Social Justice Activist by Ellen Rodger] via
Social Justice goes beyond individual human rights. Young budding social justice activists will get a sense of how the words and contributions of activists like Nelson Mandela and Marian Wright Edelman inspired others to choose the path of what is right.

Get it for $8.95 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

10. Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel

[Image Description: Hands Up! by Breanna J. McDaniel] via
Hand up is a story of a black girl who has a habit of raising her hands regularly, be it for playing peek-a-boo or getting dressed. As she grows older, the girl uses the action of raising her hands for a more powerful cause. Read this book out to children to help them understand the meaning of empowerment.

Get it for $16.55 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

11. Friendship as Social Justice Activism by Niharika Banerjea, Debanuj Dasgupta, Rohit K. Dasgupta and Jaime M. Grant

[Image Description: Friendship as Social Justice Activism by Niharika Banerjea, Debanuj Dasgupta, Rohit K. Dasgupta and Jaime M. Grant] via
This compilation of essays brings essential conversations around love and friendship together, from a variety of contributors from across the globe. Each essay narrates how living and organizing within friendship circles and kindness offer new ways of struggling for social justice.

Get it for $42.00 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

12. Technology, Activism, and Social Justice in a Digital Age by John G. McNutt 

[Image Description: Technology, Activism, and Social Justice in a Digital Age by John G. McNutt] via
This book offers a close look at both the present and prospects of social change. McNutt delves into the cutting edge of the latest technology while discussing developments in social media, civic technology and leaderless organizations, not leaving behind the traditional approach to technology.

Get it for $36.95 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores.

13. Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America by Noah Rothman

[Image Description: Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America by Noah Rothman] via
This book is all about the two problems with social justice, one that it is not social and the other that it is not just. Rothman uncovers the real motives behind the social justice movement and explains why, despite its occasionally ludicrous public face, it is a threat to be taken seriously.

Get it for $28.99 on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores. 

[adsanity id=”170648″ align=”alignnone”/]

All of these books are close to my heart as at some point or the other, they have shaped the person I am today and have enabled me to first think and then act.

The Tempest special offer: get 2 audiobooks for the price of one ($14.99) with your first month of membership with code TheTempest. Offer only valid for new members in Canada and the U.S.

Want more book content? Follow our Bookstagram for international giveaways, exclusive excerpts, and author interviews!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love Advice

Here’s why your single friend always gives the best relationship advice

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I give excellent dating advice. However, if you were to ask me for my dating credentials, I would hand you a blank piece of paper.

For some, being serially single is not a choice. But for me, it’s a lifestyle.

I have been single for all of my adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy the independence and solitude—which I know freaks people out. While some single people date, I do not.

So how does this make me—and other serially single people—expert at giving dating advice?

Let me let you in on a few secrets of the trade.

The first secret is not actually a secret but a well-known fact: Almost all forms of content are about love.

Save $20 off pleasure products at Lora DiCarlo for Vagina Appreciation Day. Sale runs April 23rd - April 25th.

Even content that exists outside of traditional romance genres usually includes love and sex. For example, that action movie you just watched, was there a romantic arc in it?


Most movies, television shows, and books have provided blueprints for all kinds of relationships. A lot of these blueprints have helped me understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.

I’ve also read more than a fair share of fanfiction. Honestly, when you asked for my dating credentials, I could have sent you the link to AO3 and, if you’ve ever read any fanfiction, you’d have immediately understood why this gives me so much credible dating insight.

Even being someone who grew up alongside the Internet has made many of us mini experts on random topics. Most of us didn’t necessarily seek this information out; it just appeared on our Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.

Here’s the real secret: All relationships are the same.

Whether platonic or romantic, open or closed, monogamous or polyamorous, all relationships are made of the same ingredients. The dictionary definition of relationship describes the connection between people. And we all have experience with that. I may not date, but I do have lots of friends.

Some of my friendships have failed while others have thrived. This has helped me gain insight on communication, boundaries, and respect—insight that applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.

I’ve also watched most of my loved ones experience all kinds of different relationships. As you can imagine, being single gives those of us who are serially single plenty of free time to observe other people’s relationships—and, if you’re a Virgo like me, judge these relationships in order to perfect the advice we give to those who may (or may not) ask.

Just because your single friends haven’t dated anyone—casually, seriously, or at all—doesn’t mean we’re not familiar with the territory. All of our observations add to our dating advice credentials.

In fact, we’re kind of like therapists.

Because we’re removed from romantic situations, we have clarity uncolored by personal bias and experiences.

Most importantly, your serially single friends arguably have the most experience with prioritizing themselves and their needs. This makes us adept at keeping your best interests top of mind if you come to us for romantic advice.

We want you to be yourself and to love who you are. We will encourage you to take the time to learn more about your wants, needs, and goals before diving further into romance.

The best advice I can give as a serially single person is to try out being single. Being single has a lot of perks, the top of which is that it can give you the time, space, and energy to explore you who are.

I’m not saying everyone should be single. I’m just saying don’t knock it till you try it.

And, don’t worry. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” when you realize being single helped you become a better romantic partner.

Happy dating!

Looking for more like this? Find more on our Instagram!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.

Celebrities Pop Culture

Ranking Taylor Swift’s exes based on how well they would do TikTok dances

The release of Fearless (Taylor’s Version) has brought back all the 2008 celeb romance drama (we are looking at you ‘Mr Perfectly Fine’/Joe Jonas). Taylor has since found her real-life ‘love story’ but it did take a few tries. Now, TikTok is providing the perfect opportunity to do something you’ve never known you needed to before: go back through Taylor Swift’s exes and grade them based on their (possible) dance abilities.

While some of these men are amongst Hollywood’s most eligible, others are amongst Hollywood’s most egotistical but they have all been at some point been known to have dated the singer. I will be ranking them on how well they would execute TikTok dances, based on how well they cared for Taylor. Each of these suitors will each be given A-F letter grades for their imaginary effort.

Taylor Swift has had her love life poked and prodded since she was 17, so let’s turn the mirror back to the men in her life and judge their ability to complete complicated dance moves in slow motion

John Mayer, F

[Image Description: Taylor Swift looking shaking her head in disappointment and turning back while she sings ‘Dear John’.] Via GIPHY.
The oldest of the exes first! When Taylor Swift dated John Mayer he was a spry 32 to her 19. For reference, that means John was the same age as country star Mason Ramsey when Taylor was born. For those of you who don’t know him; his songs were an anthem for college boys who were trying to get laid by playing their guitar in the dorm lounge in 2004.

Taylor wrote “Dear John” about the relationship, in which she sings “Don’t you think I was too young to be messed with?” Mayer is ranked last because TikTok teens do not mess with creepy old dudes. He did not treat Taylor with the grace she deserves, and I believe he would be as graceless in his TikTok dance execution. Plus late Gen Z is far cooler and more aware of predatory behavior than my Myspace generation. 

Jake Gyllenhall, D-

[Image Description: Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhall walking around the streets of New York. Taylor has her arm around Jake and they are holding hands while she holds up a coffee.] Via NYT.
[Image Description: Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhall walking around the streets of New York. Taylor has her arm around Jake and they are holding hands while she holds up a coffee.] Via NYT.
Oh, Jake, Jake, Jake, Jake. TikTok has already warned us of boys with J names, and you’re probably the reason. While his and Taylor’s relationship lasted a short two months, the marks he left on her and her music were significant. His bad boyfriend behavior was responsible for “We Are Never Getting Back Together” and “All Too Well”. The latter resulted in a storm of comments on his latest throwback Instagram post

I don’t think TikTok youths would accept Gyllenhall into their ranks. Also, he seems like he would only dance to sad indie music.

Joe Jonas, D+

[Image Description: Taylor Swift and Joe jones singing and dancing together in a concert] Via GIPHY.
[Image Description: Taylor Swift and Joe jones singing and dancing together in a concert] Via GIPHY.
How WAS your heart after breaking Taylor’s, Joe? (listen to Mr Perfectly Fine to understand the pun). 

Before TikTok connoisseur Joe Jonas married Sophie Turner, he dated a young Taylor Swift. The relationship was short-lived, and he ended their relationship with a 27-second VOICEMAIL. He caused Taylor to “feel so low you can’t feel nothing at all.” According to “Forever and Always”. He may be cool now, but he’s still very low on this list of exes. 

But, he’s seemed to turn over a new leaf and is now a very proud wife guy. Recently, Swift send the sweet couple a handmade blanket for their new baby, and Sophie posted on Instagram about how ‘Mr Perfectly Fine’ is “a bop”. Joe would be excellent at TikTok dances, but I really can’t forgive him for forgetting AJ’s (From Ally & AJ) birthday.  

Tom Hiddleston, B

Stephen Colbert saying "Hiddleswift!"
[Image Description: Stephen Colbert saying “Hiddleswift!” ] Via GIPHY.
Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift shared and brief and totally fake (according to this girl I had ECON-100 with) relationship. Due to this infallible fact about their relationship, I believe Hiddleston would be excellent at a POV dance. His dedication to his work, as exemplified by his “I <3 T.S.” shirt, will be an asset in his ability to perform TikTok dances. Perhaps even to ‘Getaway Car’? 

BUT he has a very small online presence. He was never really on Taylor’s Instagram, so while he could commit to the dances, I’m not sure he’d know what the dances are. 

Harry Styles, B+

[Image Description: Taylor Swift and Harry styles looking at each other and smiling ] Via GeoTV.
[Image Description: Taylor Swift and Harry styles looking at each other and smiling ] Via GeoTV.
Remember that time when the two most iconic teenage crushes were dating each other?

Some of these two singer’s most iconic songs have been about each other. Who could forget Harry singing ‘If you’re looking for someone to write your breakup songs about, baby I’m perfect’. And she delivered! Taylor then released her not-so-subtle song ‘Style’ where she told Harry ‘You’ve got that James Dean day-dream look in your eyes’.

Their meeting at this year’s Grammys sent us straight back to 2012, but it seems like the couple are now in good terms. However, it has been the first time they have talked to each other in almost 10 years, so a TikTok dance might take more convincing. Harry no doubt has the ability to deliver a dance, so the question now is, would he?

Taylor Lautner, A

[Image Description: Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner dressed up as king and queen and smiling.] Via GIPHY.
[Image Description: Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner dressed up as king and queen and smiling.] Via GIPHY.
Taylor and Taylor had a short-lived romantic relationship that inspired a host of memes. I was really rooting for them because I wanted them both to be Taylor Lautner-Swift. I know it would be confusing, but it would be really good for me.

Out of all of these exes, he seemed to treat her best. He inspired “Back to December”, a beautiful ballad about remorse over the end of a relationship. Taylor was just a nice dude to Taylor (see, it would be super confusing if they shared their last name). He was also Shark Boy from Shark Boy and Lava Girl, so we know he has incredible dancing abilities.

So that’s all Swifties! We have reached the end of our ranking!

If you’re wondering, we left Taylor’s high school exes out, as well as Calvin Harris because… we forgot that he existed (whops).

This has been fun and all, but let’s keep it real. The only person Taylor Swift should be doing TikTok dances with is Selena Gomez (hey, Dorothea???), who would blow all of these men out of the water. 

Now go and support Taylor by streaming and buying the re-recorded version of Fearless, aptly dubbed Taylor’s Versionwhich she owns!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love Advice

Did my therapist just compare dating to applying to a job?

Like many people in 2020, I found myself back on the job market. This meant scrolling endlessly—and swiping left often—through job listing after job listing. It was a tedious process and one that I found myself regaling to my therapist during many of our sessions.

While I was deterred by the countless lack of responses and emails starting with, “we regret to inform you…,” my therapist had a more positive outlook on the situation. They noted that job hunting is pretty similar to dating.

I was shocked—and a little disgusted. How could they equate something that should be fun with something that is the opposite of fun? However, the more I reflected, the more I realized my therapist was on to something.

Both dating and job searching have ups and downs, good experiences and terrible experiences. Both offer opportunities to learn about ourselves, our goals, and our wants and needs.

The point of dating and job hunting is to find the best match for us, often by presenting a more polished version of ourselves. Just like in job interviews, we probably shouldn’t go into detail on the woes of bacne or the injustice of fans’ treatment of Zayn post-1D. This isn’t first, second, or even third date material—although it could be for the right person.

Dating is about finding someone whose weird meshes with your weirdness, and the same can be said for job searching. Managers are looking to hire people who are not only qualified but who will be a good fit for the company.

During my job hunt process, I took a fashion risk and wore a leather skirt to an interview. My interviewers were not enthused, and I did not get the job. While it stung at the time, I’m grateful that I wasn’t hired; I would not be a good fit with a company so adamantly anti leather skirts. Jokes aside, this company cared more about what I was wearing than what I was bringing to the table. Their weird did not mesh with my weird and, looking back, that’s totally okay.

This isn’t always the mindset we have when dating. Sometimes it’s easier to hold on to past hurts and rejections. But if someone doesn’t want me for me, then thank goodness they were honest about it! Who wants to end up with a long-term partner that doesn’t even like them?

In a peculiar way, job hunting helped me realize that I don’t have to take dating—or any relationship, whether platonic or romantic—so personally. As the saying goes, you win some and you lose some. But, as a different saying goes, it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.

I think my therapist compared job hunting to dating to encourage me to find the value in the experience I was living through. Being too doom and gloom while job searching prevented me from taking in the sights along the journey. By comparing finding a job with dating, my therapist reminded me that dating can be fun. And even when it’s not fun, at least bad dates give us a story to tell our friends.

While I don’t think we should approach dating in the same way we do job hunting, I do think there are lessons to be learned from both. Admittedly, I wish the lesson was to write your cover letter like you would a dating profile. If it was as easy as that, all of my cover letters would start with: DTW (down to write)/ freaky grammar fetish (oxford commas and em-dashes excite me).

I like to believe the right match(es) for each of us is out there. Even if we have to apply to the partner role multiple times, and even if we discover that role is purely platonic. Just like life, dating is about the journey. Although, unlike life, dating is also about the destination. But that’s a different article.

Looking for more content like this? Follow our brand new Instagram account!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.

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.

Looking for more content like this? Follow our brand new Instagram account!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.

Culture Family Gender & Identity Life

This is my open letter of appreciation to my mother

When I was growing up in Dubai, I often butted heads with my mother – she was stubborn, and so was I. From curfews to outfits, we had our fair share of fights and disagreements. My childhood was a mix of entertainment and challenges. With so many family members and a thriving religious community, it felt like I was watched almost constantly, and that kind of monitoring felt stifling. I longed to break free, but my mom would admonish me – ‘what would the others think?’ Part of me wanted to tell off these “others”, let them know I didn’t care what they thought. I always tried to be my own person, while still trying to succeed in the real world. 

My mother’s own childhood was rich but stifling. My grandfather was a successful businessman and religious leader, meaning. she had similar situations of constant monitoring by her community in Kerala, India, where she grew up. Consequently, my mother internalized a lot of religious and community ideals. Married at 20, my mom was forced to drop out of college and accompanied my dad, a doctor, to Dubai – a then empty, sandy desert town with almost nothing to offer, with two kids in tow.

She spent the next 10-11 years as a housewife to two children who constantly argued, and taking care of a home, with a husband who spent most of his waking hours at a clinic. When I turned 8, my mother started working as a saleswoman to try and bring in some extra money.

My mother would often come home after work to a crying little girl, an angry little boy, and loads of housework. Despite not having a bachelor’s degree, her head for numbers led her past sales and into real estate. She got her real estate license and began climbing up, eventually becoming the manager of a real estate company in Dubai.

My dad let her manage the family’s finances – which meant that suddenly, we started doing well! She invested in property, in stocks, created portfolios, all while continually making real estate transfers and growing to become a popular real estate agent. By the time I turned 15, my mom became a successful manager and real estate owner. 

Having spent time in college, away from the family, helped me get a new perspective.

My mother wasn’t the controlling, bossy woman I made her out to be, but rather a self-starter. She was someone who had almost nothing and made enough money to buy houses in an expensive city. The best part? She’s more open-minded than I give her credit for. Her concern over the community was because she was raised in a small town and had a popular, ever-looming father. When we travel, she lets me be free – even when I went to college, she didn’t hover or ask what I wore or when I came home – in fact, she only would call about once a month, to check up on me.

She’s accepted my irreligious nature. She’s proud of my talents despite them not being STEM-related. She hasn’t forced or coerced me to get married, despite her own history. She’s happy and successful.

My mom went from being a housewife with a high school degree to being a popular real estate owner. She’s the one who encourages me to learn about money, about investments. She’s the one who taught me how to save when I freelanced in college. She’s the best example I’ve seen of ‘if you work hard, you can make it’. 

Of course, we still have our fights, but I remember where she came from, how she managed to shed so many preconceived notions. I remember how she let me be my own person and have my own life, while still continually supporting me. This is for you, mom. Even though I may not act like it sometimes, I’m really proud to be your daughter. 

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Love + Sex Love Advice

Why does nostalgia make us want to go back to the ex that hurt us?

Recently in one of my philosophy of logic classes, we explored the idea of interpersonal relationships and the reason why we tend to feel nostalgic towards past romantic relationships. It’s a topic of interest that I’ve become pretty knowledgeable about.

So welcome to my Ted Talk.

We’ve all been there. Following a bad breakup with your significant other, you’re stuck with this extreme feeling of nostalgia and emotional distress, which makes you want to take them back. 

But here’s the thing: most of the time, we actually don’t want them back. We don’t call them to beg for a second chance. We seriously hate their guts, but yet we find this unexplainable need to run back to them.

Then, is it nostalgia? Our personal instinct to cling onto some of our treasured memories with the people who hold a special part in our hearts? Or is it our psychological incapability to forget about the past

Why do we continue to experience these types of feelings when it comes to our past romantic relationships?

This is my logical approach regarding this phenomenon

We just want to feel loved. And when I say loved—I mean we desire these types of heartwarming feelings, especially during our most emotionally stricken moments.

But when we can’t fulfill this feeling, we begin to search through everything in our current relationships (past relationships included) to find that. And most of the time, that can only be fulfilled when we look back into a previous relationship with a toxic ex and block out everything that went wrong just so we can enjoy the good feelings again.

But while it’s good for you to reminisce on all the great feelings you had, keep in mind why the relationship ended and how the heartbreak affected you. When you’re deep into that moment, it’s hard to shift your focus back onto why your ex is your ex and all the things that caused you two to part ways.

Maybe they will be a part of your future, maybe not. But don’t expect things to be perfect. 

My advice to you is to take the time to focus on yourself and to try not to think about them in a way that everything around you reminds you of them.

Then, when you’re emotionally stable, try to gain some type of closure with them to figure out why the relationship ended and why it’s best for both of you to go your separate ways. 

Finally, delete them from your memories!

Easier said than done, but this is the most crucial step into trying to avoid this dilemma of running back to your ex for heartbreak round two based on that feeling of nostalgia.

Best of luck, and keep your head up high and strong! 

Looking for more content like this? Follow our brand new Instagram account!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.


Let’s talk about the history of the Lock Bridge that Emily goes to in Paris

It’s Valentine’s day – lovebirds and palentines – follow along with our Vday series right here.

Since the Netflix original show Emily in Paris, everyone is dreaming of living out their Paris fantasies and planning their dream vacation. Eating chocolate crescents, day drinking on a workday, and wearing the best outfits as we roam the streets of France. But anyway, with all the love, romance, and dating going on throughout the show got me thinking about one particular romantic landmark in Paris, most commonly known as “the love lock bridge.” There is so much to talk about when it comes to the history and famous tradition of the love lock bridge in Paris. So let’s get to it!

The tradition that makes the love lock bridge famous and a destination for couples from all around the world is that couples come to the bridge, write their name on a padlock, lock the padlock on the bridge, and then throw the key into the river. The tradition is meant to symbolize eternal love and commitment.

A picture of the Pont des Art with the Eglise Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois and Samaritaine in the background.
[Image Description: A picture of the Pont des Art with the Eglise Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois and Samaritaine in the background. The bridge with locks of gold and an array of other colors.] Via Unsplash
Officially, the lock bridge in Paris is called the Ponts des Arts. The bridge was built over the River Seine. It is a bridge for pedestrians that links the central square of the Palais du Louvre to the Institut de France, which makes it a popular spot for visitors and photographers. There is a total of 37 bridges across the Seine River within Paris, and only five of them are pedestrian bridges.

The bridge was built under the regime of Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte ordered the construction of the bridge on 15th March 1801 and it was fully constructed by 1804. The building of the Ponts des art introduced a new building material to the era. The lock bridge in Paris is actually the first successfully built iron bridge in France and the third iron bridge built worldwide.

Unfortunately, throughout its history, the bridge has had its fair share of incidents and damage. In World War I and World War II, the lock bridge experienced damage from two aerial bombings. There were also a number of boats that collided with the bridge before it finally collapsed when a ship rammed into it in 1979. (Yikes!)

The most recent incident occurred in 2015 when the bridge railing collapsed due to the weight of its many love locks (ops!). In response, the bridge became closed to the public for repair and the government removed padlocks from the bridge. There are said to be over a million locks on the bridge today. That is definitely a lot of locks! (The cynic in me wonders how many of those couples stayed together after their Parisian trip.)

While the tradition is quite famous in the city of love, it actually did not originate in Paris, and there are several other places where people hang love locks around the world. This includes Australia, China, Italy, Serbia, and New York. The exact origin of the tradition seems to be unclear. However, there are a few theories.

One theory is that the love lock tradition came from a town in Serbia around the time of World War II. The story is that a young man and woman were in love and would meet in the middle of the night on a bridge in the town of Vrnjačka Banja. During the war, the man went away because he was in the military. When the man left, he fell in love with another woman. (Definitely not cool!) Tragically, the woman he left died from heartbreak. The tradition of placing a lock on the bridge began due to superstition. Women began putting locks on the bridge in hope that their love would be everlasting.

A picture of the bottom of a light post on the Ponte Milvio. Around the bottom of the light post is a silver chain with locks attached to it.
[Image Description: A picture of the bottom of a light post on the Ponte Milvio. Around the bottom of the light post is a silver chain with locks attached to it.] Via Wikimedia Commons
Subsequently, Italian writer Federico Moccia is believed to be responsible for influencing the current wave of the tradition. In 2006, he published a book called I Want You, which was developed into a film. The book featured a couple who put a padlock on a bridge in Rome to symbolize their love. This influenced Italian couples to place locks on the Ponte Milvio bridge as well. From this instance, lock bridges began to become a prevalent attraction across the globe. With Paris being the city of love, the love lock bridge became an extremely well-known landmark and one of the most famous love lock bridges.

Despite the history of this romantic tradition and the Pont des Art bridge, there are now numerous debates about whether this tradition should still be allowed. Placing locks on the bridge in Paris and on other love lock locations has caused damage to architectural structures. It has also caused damage to the surrounding environments. This debate has been especially prevalent since the collapse of the railing of the Pont des Art.

So before taking part in this tradition in Paris or any place else, I suggest being informed on whether or not you are allowed to do so. Fines are definitely not fun, and neither is destroying a centuries-old piece of architecture!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!