How to Tell Your Partner That You’re Not Ready for Sex

The topic may sound silly — I mean, who wants to turn down their hot girlfriend who wants to have sex? But this can be a real problem for people who aren’t ready to take that step in their relationship, or who haven’t had sex before. I have a bunch of friends (and I’m sure there are many people who suffer from this problem outside of my social circle) who struggle with the awkwardness that comes with not being ready to have sex when your partner is.  There are many possible reasons why a person wouldn’t be ready for sex. Sex can be a really big deal, especially the first time. Maybe you’re a virgin and you’re waiting for the right person or the right moment for that experience. Maybe you’re waiting for marriage, for a relationship to last a few months, or at least for a few dates. Whatever your reason is for not being ready, it’s valid because it’s in your value system. You can’t help how you view sex based on your upbringing, so make peace with the fact that this is just who you are. You may not be able to control your feelings, but you can choose the way you handle this situation.

The most important part of this process is to be honest with yourself. Don’t force yourself to do anything you don’t want to do, especially when it comes to sex. There isn’t any point in having sex if you feel too uncomfortable emotionally, physically, or mentally to do it (the point is to enjoy yourself). The point of sex is also obviously for your partner to enjoy herself, and she won’t be able to do that if you’re not comfortable too. So save the two of you some trouble and talk it through.

With that being said, it’s also equally important to be honest with your partner. Even if you think it’ll be super awkward to talk about it with your partner (and I’m sure it will be at least a little awkward), do it anyway. It’s worth it to go through a bit of discomfort for a few minutes, in order to let your partner know how you really feel. Explain to her specifically why you have qualms about sex, so she can understand that it’s not that you don’t find her desirable or that you don’t want to achieve that kind of intimacy in your relationship (unless those are the reasons, in which case you might want to rethink the whole relationship). Whatever your reason may be, your partner should respect you for it. If she doesn’t respect you even after you have an honest discussion about it with her, she’s not worth your time — you deserve a partner who will honor your feelings and personal boundaries.

-Chloe

How to Get Out of a Toxic Relationship

She checks his phone when he’s not looking. Or she makes him give her his phone so she can check it in front of him.

He proposes to her after they’ve dated for a month and gets upset when she wants to take it more slowly.

They have each other’s Facebook passwords. Or worse, they share a joint Facebook account.

She sees his overt jealousy as love and protection instead of mistrust and disrespect.

He suggests changes she could make in her physical appearance to make her more attractive to him, like cutting her hair or dropping a few dress sizes.

She stops telling her close friends about the problems in their relationship because he says it’s the two of them against the world.

They talk to their exes when they want to make each other feel bad.

They keep score of different times their partner has messed up in the relationship, to throw it back in their face during a fight.

They change their Facebook pictures from couple pictures to ones of them alone when they’re mad at each other.

Does any of this sound familiar? These are all examples of what it’s like to be in a toxic relationship.

I’m not proud to admit this, but I’ve been in a toxic relationship myself (and I’m going to spill my guts a lot in this post, so be gentle with me). Unfortunately, all of the above are things I’ve experienced in the past. It hurts to see people I care about going through toxic relationships, and if you think you might be in one too, think critically about your relationship. Re-evaluate what it means to you and try out these steps.

Talk to someone.

It’s easier to stay in a relationship when you’re isolated to talking to your partner more than anyone else. It’s unhealthy to have this type of codependency with your partner, and if you feel like things aren’t going so well with your relationship, it helps to get an outside, objective opinion. Talk to a close friend or family member who has your best interests in mind. It’s easy to get swept up in what your partner says to you, but when a person outside of your relationship validates your feelings or worries about the relationship, it can help you see things more clearly.

Branch out.

If you don’t have one already, create a network of friends and family who will help you get through this breakup with love and support. One of the things I fear most when it comes to breakups is being alone. But if you have at least a handful of people who you know will have your back when you go through with the breakup, it makes it a whole lot easier. Near the end of my destructive relationship, I realized how I hadn’t been in contact with a lot of my friends from high school and some of my relatives I used to be closer to. I looked past the awkwardness and vented to them without filtering any of the bad stuff about my relationship that I usually hid from people. It was a little embarrassing at first, but they each assured me of what I wouldn’t admit to myself. I had chosen a partner that was treating me poorly. With their support, I gained the confidence I needed to face him and end our relationship for good.

Make your intentions clear to your partner.

If you don’t tell him straight up that you do not want him in your life anymore, he might get the wrong idea. I made the mistake of answering a persistent ex’s calls even though I really wanted to move on with my life. I was so used to talking to him (and I even missed him) so I gave in. After awhile, I tried ignoring him, but it didn’t work. The best way to let someone know you don’t want them in your life anymore is the simplest way: tell them upfront. In a decisive yet respectful way, tell him that you want to stop talking to each other so that you can go on with your lives separately. If he tries to win you back or sweet-talk you, be even more direct and tell him that you don’t want him romantically any more and ask him to respect your decision. That won’t always work, and if it doesn’t, you’ll need to go cold turkey and block him.

Block him from your life as much as possible.

Make it a point not to contact him. At all. Delete his number from your phone (and use Mr. Number, a useful blocking app, to block his calls and texts), unfollow/unfriend him on every social networking platform you both use. If you initiate conversation or even respond to him when he talks to you first, he won’t take you seriously. He could try to wear you down, but you have to stay strong and stay away. Check out this other awesome lovescrewed post for ways to keep your ex out of your life.

Mourn the relationship, but embrace the change.

A definitive chapter of your life is over, so you should allow yourself to feel sad and cry it out if you need to. Take as much time as you need to let all your emotions out.

Now that you’ve gotten out of the destructive relationship, the worst is behind you. However, that doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy taking on what comes next. You’re alone. The thought of being alone can be really scary, but it can also be a good thing. Change isn’t always bad — it’s just different. You need to allow yourself to get used to this change in your life and recognize all the good that comes along with it. You’re out of a bad relationship. You have the freedom to explore and figure out who you are as an individual. The possibilities are endless.

Explore what life has to offer you.

It may seem like I’m bashing my ex and making our relationship out to be horrible, but that’s not how it was. We just weren’t right for each other in the end and we both had a lot of growing up to do (and I’m admitting here that I was very much at fault too). This relationship helped me to grow personally more than almost any other experience in my life, and that’s what I take away from it. Don’t look back in anger (cue Oasis song) at your relationship, no matter how toxic it was, how much you wish you’d done things differently, or how poorly your ex may have treated you. Look at it as a learning experience. Even though you may have thought this person was your world, that isn’t true. There’s a world around you full of people you can share your life with and who can help you be happier than you would be if you stayed in the toxic relationship. Appreciate this not as an ending, but as a new beginning.

-Chloe

What to Do When You’re In Love with Your Best Friend

Full disclosure: personally I haven’t had much experience with this problem (since I grew up with my BFF and we’re like family), but falling in love with a friend can be tricky. Of course you value your friendship with this person (otherwise you wouldn’t be “best friends” or even reading this post if you didn’t care). But if you’ve started to move into that awkward territory where you think you may have feelings for your bestie, you might want to think it through before you take any action.

Sort out your feelings

One of my close cousins gave me some really sound advice about how to tell whether or not you like or like-like a friend. In her words, to put it crudely, the only difference between a friend and a love interest is that you want to make out/have sex with one and not the other. Ask yourself the hard questions. If the thought of just kissing your friend grosses you out or feels wrong for you, that’s a good indication of your true feelings. If you have feelings of physical attraction for your friend, that might just be natural magnetism. Or, it could be something more, and if you feel in your gut that it’s right, then go for it.

Read between the lines

If you’ve decided that you are attracted to your friend, try to figure out whether or not your friend may like you back. This can be difficult because signs are hard to read and easy to misinterpret. If she has made any suggestive hints at being attracted to you (beyond an obviously joking way) or shows some signs of being interested, you might want to take that into consideration. But make sure not to over-analyze and read into everything she does and says to figure out if she likes you or not.

Think it through carefully

Before you try to make a move on your friend, make sure you’ve thought it through carefully. A few of the worst outcomes in this situation are that you reveal your feelings to your friend and she rejects you or feels too weird to be friends with you anymore. Or, she could reciprocate those feelings and you could have a shot at happiness together. The best way I’ve found to think through all your options and outcomes is to make a pro/con list. After thinking through the possibilities, you can make a decision that you’ll be comfortable with.

Take control over your situation

If you think it’ll help you and won’t ruin your friendship, you should tell her how you feel. You may become miserable (if you don’t already feel that way) if you aren’t being honest with your friend about how you feel. You owe it to yourself to pursue what makes you happy. And if you think this is what’s right for you and your friend, then take a risk. Be sincere and tell her how you truly feel. It may sound cheesy, but you don’t really live fully unless you allow yourself take a chance on love when it presents itself to you. And who knows, you might end up with the love of your life after putting yourself out there.

-Chloe

Note: I refer to the friend as a female throughout the post but feel free to switch it to male if necessary!

Learn to Live Your Life for Yourself

Note: Please excuse the cliche title of this post and give it a chance before you roll your eyes and scroll on.

Recently I went through a bunch of my old stuff in the garage at my mom’s house, and I found a huge box with all my old diaries (at least 20 journals). Since my grandma gave me my first journal at age 5, I’ve documented my thoughts and feelings through writing up to now. I took my time reading through a few of my main diaries, laughing at the entry in which my 7 year old self wrote her first curse word (it was “bitch”), pausing at the poems I wrote about how miserable I was when my parents were getting divorced, and wincing at how worked up I got over my former romantic interests.

After reading through my diaries from ages 6-15, I noticed a pattern. I had formed chapters of my life based on the boys I had crushes on (I’d even sectioned the chapters off with post-its: “Niko love” and “Harry Potter” were two of the earlier ones). When I really thought about it, I realized that I often think about my life chronologically based on who I “liked” at the time.

I also was a bit disturbed with how obsessed my younger self was with boys. Of course it’s normal for little girls to have crushes, but I got worried after reading months and months of entries about one guy I liked in middle school. The only account I have of my life as a tween is her ramblings about wanting desperately for a boy to like her back, planning on how to get him to ask her to a dance, dissecting every word he said to her to find his true feelings for her, etc. I read her angry words about a girl she “hated” because this guy liked the other girl instead, and now I realize that my past self was deeply hurt.

It’s almost scary to me to see how much I let my life be dictated by feelings of attraction (or even obsession) over boys, who (no offense intended) weren’t actually all that great anyway. From a young age, I began to base my sense of self-worth on whether or not my crush liked me back. (By the way, that first curse word was used when I was calling my 2nd grade crush’s crush a “bitch”) Reading all the diaries just made me realize that I continued that pattern for years — and I still catch myself doing that now.

I wish I could go back and teach little Chloe, and especially teenage Chloe, to learn to love herself. Not to sound egotistical, but I think I was a pretty cool kid and I had a lot going for myself self-esteem-wise, until the awkwardness and insecurities of puberty kicked in. I saw all my classmates in middle school get “boyfriends” and I felt that if I didn’t have one too, there probably wasn’t anything good about me. So I became obsessed with getting a boyfriend, and this continued on probably until this year.

I feel like kicking my past self because I really did have a great life growing up, with so much to be grateful for, instead of pining over people who had no idea I was interested in them. I think the hardest part of all for me is trying to turn these realizations into something positive. Yeah, I spent a lot of my life feeling bad about myself because I couldn’t get guys to notice me, but there’s no use crying about it now. The best thing I can do for myself is to try to remember that I have a lot to be grateful for, I still do have an amazing life, and there is so much more to me than being somebody’s girlfriend (which sounds so obvious, but I wouldn’t have believed it deep down even just last year). The worst thing that could happen is that in another decade or so, I look back on my journals from my 20s and realize that I continued that pattern of low self-esteem and wasted my time thinking about how others perceived me when I know now that I was better than that. My journal from here on out will reflect my thoughts and feelings on subjects deeper and more personal than “why won’t he text me back” or “I hate him for breaking up with me.”

So after this long-winded self-reflective post, I urge anyone reading this to know that you are wonderful. You don’t need anyone’s approval to be your beautiful self. Although it took me 20 years to figure that out for myself, I hope you already know that, or at least know it now.

-Chloe

Treat Yo Self: Fun “Me-Time” Dates to Take Yourself On

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If you’re single, these dates will be especially fun. You have no one but yourself to worry about, and that freedom can be an absolute luxury.

And if you’re in a relationship, here’s some good news: these dates will still be super fun!

Most of these dates will require some effort (or maybe a lot of effort), so make sure you go in with a positive attitude and willingness to pamper yourself and get to know yourself.

DIY/craft day

Try something new! There are unlimited things you can make and do. For example, I love making friendship bracelets with my sister, embroidery is fun (and makes great gifts), making handmade cards, sewing, etc.

Learn something new

Learning something new helps you to learn more about yourself in the process. You may figure out you like something you never would’ve thought you’d like before, or you might see that you’re better at something than you thought you were. This date may require you to go outside of your comfort zone, and that’s where the real magic happens.

Check around your area to find a small class you can take — it could be anything from cooking to self-defense.

Try out a new recipe. Plus you can Instagram whatever you cook or bake #FoodPorn

Learn a skill from a YouTube tutorial. Personally, I like to watch drawing or Adobe Illustrator tutorials, but your topic of choice could be anything you want.

Movie marathon

I watch an embarrassing amount of television, but I don’t usually spend as much time watching movies unless I have someone to join me. But if you have an occasion like this, it’s a lot more fun. It’s good to have some self-indulgence every once in awhile, so set aside a day or a chunk of hours when you can relax, watch a bunch of awesome movies, and stuff your face with your favorite snacks.

A few ideas for movie marathon themes:
Chocolate Decadence: Chocolat, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (you can even make the marathon a Johnny Depp double feature with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Like Water for Chocolate. Make sure to stock up on all your favorite kinds of chocolate to make this marathon even more delicious (than it already is with Johnny Depp).

Flashback Friday: Childhood/90’s favorites. This may vary depending on what you liked to watch as a kid, but some possibilities include Disney animated films, Pokemon movies, musical children’s movies (Mary Poppins, The Wizard of Oz, etc.).

Guilty Pleasures: Basically all the movies you secretly want to see but are too embarrassed to actually ask anyone to to watch them with you (and have them still respect you afterward).

Musicals: Don’t be afraid to sing along, either! The Sound of Music, Grease, Hairspray (or the remake too), Moulin Rouge!, Singin’ in the Rain, Pitch Perfect (does this count?), and so on (I’ve omitted Les Mis because it’s probably too depressing to watch while you’re having this alone-time date).

Harry Potter: This one’s pretty obvious (especially if you know me) and will take forever to watch all of them, so you could just watch your favorites if that’s more convenient.

Judd Apatow: Some of my personal favorites. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People, This Is 40.

If you’re a scaredy-cat (like I am), you might want to avoid horror or thrillers — you don’t want to end up with paranoia or nightmares while you’re alone. Unless you’re down, in which case you can hit me up for a list of my favorite horror movies, as I’ve become a self-proclaimed connoisseur of the genre over the past few years).

Dinner date

Dress up for yourself. Or let loose and wear your sweats, since you probably wouldn’t have the freedom to be that comfortable on a regular date.

Cook yourself a meal with different courses — foods you’ve wanted to try out but never got around to it, or your favorites. If you’re up for it and want to go all-out for yourself, you can make a meal with appetizers, entree(s), and dessert (apps, tray trays, and ‘zerts).

Pampering

Treat yourself to a mani/pedi or eyebrow wax, massage, the works (if you’re up to it or have deep pockets).

Do an at-home pampering day, with a bubble bath (add soothing music, incense, candles, bath salts, or flower petals for ambience). Treat yourself for no cost with a DIY mani/pedi or facial.
You can even give your place a spa-vibe with a pitcher of cucumber water, use a bathrobe/slippers, or put out a platter of fruit or light cookies for yourself. Plus you could make a mimosa or cocktail/blended fruity drink for extra relaxation 😉

Exploring

If you don’t want to spend much, just try taking the bus out downtown and wander wherever your fancy takes you.

Check out a store you’ve never been in or go out to a nearby park (butterfly preserves are beautiful) and enjoy nature. You might discover something wonderful in a place you used to think was ordinary.

Be careful choosing where to explore, though. It wouldn’t be a good idea to go hiking or rock climbing alone without letting anyone know about it (unless you want a 127 Hours situation on your hands).

Beach day

If you’re near a beach or can take public transportation to get to one, do it. If not, this date also applies to any other waterfronts near you, like lakes or rivers.

If the weather permits (this is a great time for this date because it’s summer), put on a bikini and shorts/tank or comfy dress, grab your shades, a good book/magazine, a few healthy snacks (fresh or dried fruit, a bottle of water, some nuts, chips, crackers, sandwiches, cookies), lie out on a blanket and soak up the sun. Don’t forget sunblock, of course!

Give yourself the time and space to enjoy the beauty of the ocean or other waterfront and relax.

-Chloe

How to Remove Evidence of Your Ex After a Breakup

Breakups are the worst (which is probably one of the most obvious statements ever). You might feel like shit. Even if you were the one to wanted to break up, it’s still difficult to adjust to the change in your life. You’re moving on from one chapter of your life onto the next, and you most likely won’t have that person in your life anymore. Everywhere you look, there are reminders of your ex. From the pictures on your desk, to your couple-y Facebook profile pictures, to the ticket stubs from all the movies you watched together. The best way to let yourself heal is to get rid of it. All of it.

Here are a few steps for removing evidence of your ex so that you can allow yourself to heal properly:

1. Burn the evidence. Not literally (unless you think it’d be more cathartic to literally burn the stuff that reminds you of him).
Gather all the objects that remind you of him.
Wash all your clothes or bed sheets, anything that might have his scent (this might be a little extreme, but our brains associate memories strongly with smells, so getting rid of his scent might help get rid of painful triggers).
Put everything that reminds you of him in a box.

You don’t have to throw these things away or burn them or get rid of them completely. If you think you might want to look at these things again in the future, you can always keep them in storage, in your garage, with a friend, or at your parents’/grandma’s/whoever’s house. Just not somewhere nearby. If it’s at the back of your closet or under your bed, symbolically, it’ll be like that relationship (and the negative/sad emotions associated with it) is always there with you, and you won’t be able to move on as easily without thinking about it.

2. Unfollow him from everything on social media/networking sites, if you choose not to unfriend him or if you’re still on good terms. If you’re not, just unfriend him on everything (or even block him). No harm, no foul. He probably won’t really care, and if he does, it’s only Facebook, so in reality/in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.

3.  Unfollowing also means no contact. No texting, no chatting, nothing. The less contact you have with him for the first few weeks or months after the breakup, the better. This no-contact doesn’t have to be permanent, though. If you think you can be friends again later, that’s great. But it’s easier to cut off communication early on (even if it’s temporary) so you can give yourself the space to heal, without him coming back into your life and ruining the progress you’ve made.

4. Delete all the pictures and change your statuses to single. This seems a little tedious, but if you don’t make these small changes ASAP, they’ll serve as little reminders in the future that you aren’t a couple anymore. It’s best to rip off the band-aid and get these things done quickly.

5. Tell your close friends/family members about the breakup. It’s better to do this sooner rather than later, so that they all know and can be there to give you love and support, if you want it. Also, it sucks to have your friends keep asking about how you and your boyfriend are doing, long after you break up. It’s just another reminder that you two broke up and can trigger painful feelings.

6. Fill the space that he left behind with things that are all you.
Fill physical space — after you take down the things in your room/place that remind you of him, replace it with things that you like: things that make you happy, inspire, or empower you. Pictures of your friends or siblings/parents instead of pictures of him. A poster of your favorite movie, quote, or piece of art. New bedsheets if your old ones remind you of him too much.

It’s important that you don’t just fill the physical space, like replacing old pictures of him with new ones on your desk, but the space in your heart and your everyday life. If you used to hang out with him after classes on Tuesdays, find something new to do. If you used to have lunch together every day, find new friends to eat with. If you need to, schedule a different friend to be with you every day, so that you won’t have that empty space in your schedule to think about your loss/this change. If you used to go with him every time a new movie came out, find someone else to go with — a friend, your siblings, or even a new/another guy (if you’re up for something fun and casual and won’t feel like it’s too fast to hang out with a new guy).

There are unlimited people around you who can be there for you now that he won’t — he is not irreplaceable. Even if you don’t have that many friends to replace the space he used to fill, then this is a great time to make new ones! Join a club, take a class, volunteer, or talk to the person sitting next to you on the bus or while waiting in a line. Ask the girl sitting alone in a coffee shop/cafeteria/dining hall if you can join her, and strike up a conversation about books, TV, music, or other hobbies, and you might just find a new friend in her.

7. Have some kind of ritual/ceremony for moving on. For example, write some vows to yourself  about what you want your life to be like after this relationship. You could also take all the stuff you have that reminds you of him (as mentioned earlier) and say goodbye to them as a way of moving on from the past associated with those objects. It may sound dramatic, but sometimes these actions are necessary — do whatever it takes so that you can move on in a healthy way.

About a year after a major breakup, it helped me to make a video collage of the old pictures and video clips of us together. I arranged them chronologically with songs to represent the changes and stages of our relationship. When I finished it, I felt a sense of catharsis from making sense of all that had happened between us, through this medium of storytelling. After watching the video a bunch of times and being able to look at the big picture, I was able to let go of a lot of the resentment I had towards him, remember that there were lots of good times too, and move on with my life with less regret. This method might work for you, and even just writing it as a story works well too.

Getting over a relationship isn’t only about forgetting about a person — it’s about moving forward and accepting that this part of your life is over. Whether it was one of the best periods of your life or months filled with tears and fighting, you owe it to yourself to give yourself the time and space to mourn the relationship. As you get rid of or put away things that remind you of your ex, take the time to appreciate the memories associated with those objects. Even though you don’t want to see the dress you wore the first time you went out to dinner together or the cup he always used to drink from at your place, someday you might look fondly on them and those memories. Don’t look at these rituals as ways to trash everything about your ex and the past relationship, but as a way to get rid of mental triggers for the time being, so that you don’t spend this emotional time over-analyzing your ex or the relationship. Breaking up is sad beans, but you don’t have to be. Get rid of the bad triggers, and in time, you’ll be a stronger and happier person by letting yourself heal properly.

Note: I use male pronouns referring to the “ex” throughout this article (without intending to be gender exclusive) but feel free to switch them to female pronouns if you are/were dating a girl!

-Chloe

4 Essential Rules for Having Friends With Benefits

Let’s be real. Girls have needs. But sometimes you’re not at a place in your life when you want a relationship. Fortunately, we’ve got the almost-perfect solution for you: FWB. Being friends with benefits with someone is always tricky, especially if you’ve dated before or if you have any feelings for them. So before you get yourself tangled up in a web of complicated emotions and used condoms (too far?), check out these essential rules for maintaining a fun and strictly physical relationship with someone.

1.  Keep it purely physical. You can text him at night when you’ve got that itch you can’t scratch. You can call him when you want someone cute to make out with. But do not call or text him when you think of a song that reminds you of him, or when you get an A on a paper. You have friends and family to share your good news with and to be there for you when you need them emotionally; you don’t need him for that. If you find yourself wanting to talk to him constantly, either break it off immediately (for your sanity) or consider talking to him about having a more serious, emotional relationship.

2. Stay distanced. Don’t stalk him. Don’t follow his updates on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. It’s a lot more difficult to stay uninvolved with him if you have social networking sites constantly telling you what he’s up to or who he’s talking to. This makes it easier to worry less about him and focus on doing what makes you happy.

3. Remember that you’re not his girlfriend. You can’t ask him who else he’s seeing, and if you do find out that he’s seeing other girls, you’re not entitled to get angry or jealous. FWB means “no strings attached,” so don’t forget that he’s allowed to go on dates or sleep with whomever he wants. If you have a problem with that (like I said before), either stop seeing him or tell him how you really feel. Don’t force yourself to keep this agreement going if you’re having bad feelings about it.

4. Remember that he’s not your boyfriend either. The “no strings attached” rule works both ways. That means you can see whomever you want, whenever you want, without having to feel bad or worrying about your FWB’s feelings. You aren’t obligated to meet his parents, watch the shitty movies he likes, or do any other girlfriend jobs you don’t want to do. And that can be a blessing.

As fun as FWB can be, TV and movies have taught us over and over again that more often than not, these types of relationships end up with someone getting hurt. Even though Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake (and Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, in basically the same movie released at the same time) fall in love by the end of Friends with Benefits, your life is not a rom-com. Chances are, your slampiece isn’t going to get a flashmob to dance behind him while he professes his undying love for you. What’s more likely is that you’ll develop feelings for him (because it’s natural to associate sex with romance) and you’ll be hurt if he doesn’t feel the same way. So if any of these rules don’t seem right for you or if FWB arrangements make you uncomfortable at all, don’t do it. And if you still need some help in the sex department, check these out.

-Chloe

Note: This post doesn’t reflect my personal preferences in regards to FWB. I’m a fairly strict monogamist. 

Ways to Make Long Distance Work

As a veteran of long distance relationships (I’ll refer to it here as “LDR”), I’ll tell you straight up what everyone thinks about LDRs: they don’t work. I’ve done 2 years of long distance (from 2 different relationships), spent months researching statistics about the outcomes of LDRs and tips to make it work, and went through months at a time when I’d cry myself to sleep every night because of the stress of long distance (not to mention trying not to burst into tears throughout the day).

I tell everyone I care about who considers getting into an LDR not to do it, because I know firsthand how painful it can be. You feel like half of yourself is missing every minute you’re away from your partner. Whenever you see cute couples, you wish PDA were outlawed. You spend most of your time wishing you were somewhere else or talking to your partner instead of enjoying the company of those around you. (I know it seems like I’m just trying to talk you out of LDRs, but I’m getting to the point) But, I also know how beautiful long distance love can be. If you’re lucky enough, you find a person who you’re crazy about enough to promise them that you’ll be faithful from miles away, that you’ll spend your Friday nights on Skype with them instead of scouring nightclubs for a piece of ass, that you’ll spend your hard-earned money to travel to visit them even if only for a few days, etcetera, etcetera.

So if you’re brave (and crazy) enough to commit to a LDR, here are a few lessons I’ve learned on trying to make it work. Side note: these tips work well for non-long distance relationships too.

  1. Define the terms of your LDR very clearly. Make sure you each understand what the other person expects from this relationship and agree on what you both think is fair to ask of each other. Some of the key topics to discuss before agreeing to the LDR are whether or not you’re allowed to date or get physical with other people, how often you’ll visit each other, how often/when you’ll set aside time to communicate, and so on.

  2. Set a timeline. One of the biggest reasons why LDRs don’t work is because a couple has to be away from each other for too long, so it feels like the pain of being apart will last indefinitely. If you set at least rough dates for when you’ll be able to visit each other, you can count down the days together, and it’ll make the time apart much more bearable.

  3. Take turns and make compromises. Alternate when visiting each other, so you each make an equal effort on spending money or traveling to the other person. Take turns if you need to sacrifice other important engagements to make time for each other, or with staying up late to talk to each other. That way, you don’t feel like one of you is doing all the work with keeping the relationship together, and you appreciate the equal effort your partner makes.

  4. COMMUNICATE. I can’t stress this enough. Without communication, there is no relationship. You don’t have the luxury of seeing each other face to face, so you have to put in the effort and make sure you let each other know what’s going on in your lives. Figure out what works best for you two, then call, Skype, text, email, Facebook message, or send courier pigeons to each other regularly. A lack of communication can cause either party to worry, which can lead to more trouble in the relationship.

  5. Keep a journal or log of what goes on in your daily life. It’s easy to forget what happens throughout the day and when you talk to your long distance partner, you want to have interesting things to tell them. Writing down things you think of that they’ll want to hear about can help you avoid awkward conversations where neither of you has much to talk about, so you can keep the spark between you two. I keep a little notebook in my backpack at school for stuff like this and it helps.

  6. Don’t isolate yourself to the relationship. While you may want to spend every waking moment talking on the phone with your significant other, it’s important to stay close to the friends and family around you. Just because this one person isn’t in your presence doesn’t mean you can’t have meaningful relationships and fun times with other people who care about you too. It’s unhealthy to be codependent in a relationship, so make the most of your situation and cherish the people you do have around you instead of always pining for someone who can’t be there.

  7. Do thoughtful things for your partner to remind them that you care. You can’t see each other face to face on a daily basis, kiss, hug, (or any other physical activities), so it’s easy to lose the romance in a LDR. But you can still do little romantic things to show your affection. You could send flowers or chocolates, themed care packages, etc. Even though it’s super easy to communicate through Facebook, letter writing is a more romantic, thoughtful way to show your love you care. Get creative — write your partner a story about how you fell in love, make handmade cards for your anniversaries, fold up little origami hearts to give them for each day you were apart, make a video montage of your barf-worthy-cute couple pictures. These romantic gestures will show your partner you’re thinking of them, miles and miles away.

  8. Have long distance dates. You may not be able to go out to the movies and hold hands, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still watch movies together and spend quality time. Set a date and time that works for both of you when you can have a Skype date. You can each prepare a meal (simultaneously or before the Skype call) then each eat in front of your laptops, so you can enjoy good food and each other’s company. Or, you could Skype while you each stay in and watch the same DVD at home. Distance can’t stop you from having a good time when you’re both willing to work a little extra to be romantic.

  9. Either stay 100% committed or end it. The worst thing you can do in a LDR is break your promises. Whether you agreed to stay monogamous, call each other once every other day, or text daily, you made a commitment to this person, so you have to honor it. If you lose sight of why you’re in the relationship, think it over and break up with them if that’s what’s right for you. Just don’t string them along while you ignore them or mess around with other people, because that can mess up a person emotionally for the long term (plus it’s wrong).

I probably sound like a cynic here, but that’s not true. I love love. Although I’ve been scorned by love on multiple occasions, deep down, I still believe that there’s someone out there for everyone. And if you think you’ve found that someone, but you’re thinking of ending it because one of you has to move away, don’t give up hope. I put myself through hell going through LDRs, but some of the best, most romantic moments of my life happened because I took a chance and tried. So if you’re going to try long distance too, I wish you the best of luck—and check back on the blog in the future for more posts on LDRs!

-Chloe

Making the Choice to Date Yourself

After six years of serial monogamy and seriously fucking up my heart, I decided that I needed to take the time to date myself before I could date anyone else. I’ve always been most comfortable with a boyfriend, who serves as a best friend, cuddle buddy, someone to listen to me talk 24/7, and most importantly, a validation of my worth (note: in response to a reader’s comment, I mean that I used to think that having a boyfriend was a validation of my worth). As long as I had a boyfriend, that meant that someone found me desirable and interesting. After lots of journaling, soul-searching, and heart-to-heart conversations with my close friends and family, I’ve made the most wonderful discovery: I don’t need a boyfriend to validate me! And here’s the best part: neither do you. The truth is, you don’t need anyone but yourself to be happy. And if you’ve gone through as much relationshit as I have, you owe it to yourself to date yourself, too.

I got the idea about dating yourself from one of my role models, Rashida Jones as Ann Perkins (from the TV show Parks and Recreation). Ann, despite being the “beautiful tropical fish” that she is, dates a slew of losers and is in a relationship more often than not. Eventually, she realizes that she needs to take time to date herself instead of losing herself in a relationship (basically changing her personality to match those of her different boyfriends). Although Ann is still making arguably rash life decisions, this idea was really useful to me.

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If you do decide to date yourself, you should make some promises to yourself. Later on, if you feel that you’re slipping into a relationship just because it’s what you’re used to, you can refer to this list to remind yourself why it’s important to honor this commitment first.

  1. Focus on your own happiness. When you’re in a regular relationship, you’re expected to put your partner’s needs or wants ahead of your own (at least some of the time). When you date yourself, you put your needs and wants first, always. If you plan on getting married and/or having kids later, this may be the only chance you’ll get to really focus on what you want and learn about who you are as an individual. Take advantage of that freedom and do what’s right for you. Do what makes you truly happy. And if you don’t know what makes you happiest yet, try a bunch of different things out until you figure out what does. Only then can you love yourself enough to have a good relationship with mutual respect and love with a partner, in the future.

  2. Remember that you don’t need attention (romantically or otherwise) from anyone to be happy. Your worth isn’t based on whether or not you have a beau to show off to all your friends. It’s defined by the choices you make and the way you see yourself as an individual. Make the choice to make yourself happy instead of relying on someone else (who may or may not be as awesome as you are) to give you a sense of validation.

  3. Be faithful to yourself. Just as you would in a normal 2-person relationship, be true to the commitment you’re making to yourself. This means that you can’t get into a relationship with another person, because at this point, you might end up backsliding and being a version of yourself you don’t like. For example, you might be a needy, codependent or jealous partner. If you stay faithful to your choice to date yourself, you can concentrate on going through your personal journey of learning to love who you are.

  4. Don’t forget — you’re awesome.  It’s easy to feel crappy about yourself when you don’t have a significant other to constantly tell you you’re pretty/smart/cool, and a lack of self-confidence can cause you to search for a partner to give you that ego boost. But remember, you don’t need anyone but yourself. You chose to date yourself, and why would you date someone who isn’t awesome? Should you ever forget this, keep a list of things you love about yourself to remind you exactly how awesome you are.

I’ll admit that choosing to date yourself is difficult. It’s a big commitment. Often I feel tempted to give in and look for potential partners. After all, I usually assess the people I meet to see if I’d like to date them or not. But it’s important to look past our habits of getting into relationships because we’ll never learn to be comfortable alone if we don’t force ourselves to go through the discomfort of being alone. And it isn’t until you’re alone, with nobody but yourself to think about, that you really learn who you are. So if you’re willing to sacrifice the comfort of having someone to cuddle or take cutesy couple pictures with, for the priceless gift of truly loving yourself, you might want to try dating yourself. Chloe and I started dating this summer (I’ve learned that she’s pretty amazing) and I think she may be “the one.”

-Chloe

How to Stop Stalking Your Ex Online

Check yo self before you wreck yo self

We’ve all been through our fair share of breakups, and if there’s one thing that delays emotional healing more than anything, it’s social media sites. Let’s not beat around the bush — it’s incredibly easy to stalk our exes online (but don’t worry, we’ve all done it). With a few simple taps on your smartphone, you can easily dig up information better than a C.I.A. agent and see what your ex is doing; who he’s hanging out with, what he’s eating, where he’s hanging out (I say all this at the risk of sounding extremely creepy, but that’s just how it is). So before you go stalker-mode on your ex, read these tips and save yourself from some unnecessary heartache.

Stop and ask yourself why you need to check on him. What good would come out of it? What do you have to gain? You’re only going to make yourself feel bad — plus it’s probably not the best idea to spend your valuable time creeping on someone who doesn’t deserve your attention. If you see him having fun in his Instagram pictures or see him tagged in a photo with a hot girl on Facebook, you’ll just feel worse about yourself. If you see there isn’t anything interesting going on with him through his online profiles, you’re still comparing yourself to him, and that’s unhealthy (not to mention useless and pretty embarrassing).

Don’t compare your life to his, especially online, because that’s an inaccurate measurement of real happiness and success. If it seems like he’s moving on faster than you are, then that’s fine. Stop and take a deep breath before you go and cut the bitch who’s posting on his Facebook timeline. If he’s not moving on quickly, then that’s fine too. It doesn’t matter. You are your own person, unrelated to him. His life is not a reflection of yours, and vice-versa. Just focus on your own personal growth, and do whatever it takes to make yourself genuinely happy.

Instead of putting your investigative skills to use, do something positive for yourself. Here are a few ideas:

Talk to a friend or family member.
Take a moment to be grateful for what you have in your life (including the awesome people who do love you).
Dance like crazy to your favorite song.
Smile.
Listen to soothing music.
Write.
Draw.
Just don’t succumb and stalk him online.

Remember, he probably wasn’t perfect. Maybe he flirted with other girls or didn’t make you feel like the most special girl in his life. Maybe he only listened to top 40s. Maybe he never watched Community despite the number of times you recommended it to him. Maybe he didn’t get along well with your best friend. Even if you thought he was the next best thing to Ryan Gosling, there were probably things about him that you don’t miss — and now you don’t have to deal with them!

By simply reading this article, you’ve proven that you’re willing to try to move on with your life and hang up your private investigator hat — that’s a huge step in itself. So give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the single life, because you’re awesome!

Note: I use male pronouns referring to the “ex” throughout this article (without intending to be gender exclusive) but feel free to switch them to female pronouns if you are/were dating a girl!

-Chloe