Why Getting into a Long Distance Relationship is the Worst Thing You Can Do in Your Teens

This post is an excerpt from a self-help e-book I’m writing about long distance relationships.

The reason I started blogging in the first place was because I felt like I had gone through so much in my own relationships, so I wanted to put advice out to everyone that I wish I could have given my past self. And if I could borrow the DeLorean from Back to the Future to save young Chloe from making the biggest mistakes of her life, I’d go back to my senior year of high school and then my freshman year of college to urge her not to get into two separate long distance relationships (why didn’t she learn from her mistakes the first time?!).

The big sister personality in me makes me want to save everyone I possibly can from the kind of heartbreak I went through when I was a teenager, because the bad things that happen to you as a teen can stick with you and haunt the rest of your future relationships (if you let them). I wrote this chapter specifically to let any teen readers who might be considering long distance know how difficult it is—and more importantly, to try to tell you why I think it’s a terrible idea, even if you go into your LDR with the best intentions and are madly in love with your girlfriend or boyfriend.

I’m going to get very real with you and tell you that you’re almost guaranteed to break up if you get into a long distance relationship in your teens, and more often than not, young people’s LDRs end up bitterly.

As a teen, you’re probably more insecure now than you will be when you’re an adult—not being very confident in yourself is less than ideal for a relationship, and is even worse for a relationship when you’re far apart. Although girls nowadays seem way more put together than my friends and I were in high school (I barely knew how to put on eyeliner, let alone how to contour my face or put on false eyelashes, and we had no filters besides generic websites like PhotoBucket!), teenage years are often filled with a lot of insecurities about looks and self-worth in general. Even if you’re using MAC, your foundation right now isn’t going to be great (a little makeup humor for you!). At this point, both of you probably haven’t really tried dating anyone else yet either, and I’m sorry to say it, but this could make you or your partner more likely to cheat. If your partner cheats on you, it’s probably not because you weren’t good enough for them, but that they haven’t tried being with anyone else besides you yet (or they still want to try dating everyone they can).

This could go both ways too, where you feel like you want to hook up with other people around you, or you start crushing on someone new, because it’s natural to want to try new things when you’re young. Instead of hating yourself for wanting to explore or potentially hating your partner for fooling around behind your back, it might be a better idea to just let each other go so you both have the freedom to do what you want, especially since you won’t be able to see each other anyway—and what’s the point of being in a relationship when you’re young if you can’t do the basics together like going to the movies, going on dates, or just hanging out (not to mention satisfying the urges of your ~raging hormones~).

When I was in LDRs when I was 17, then 18-19, my then-boyfriends hadn’t dated (and just as importantly, hadn’t had sex with) anyone else before me, so they ended up talking to a lot of different girls behind my back while we were dating. While I was an ocean away from them in California, they felt free to flirt with girls through Facebook messaging and one of them went on dates with other girls while we were still in a LDR (he even sexted someone else).

Five years later, I don’t have any hard feelings toward them because, although nobody should be excused for being a huge asshole to the person they’re dating, I know we were only 17 and didn’t know better. My ex was too immature to grow some cojones and tell me he wanted to see other people, and I was so naive that I thought I could be with my first love for the rest of my life.

In my ex’s defense, it’s difficult to commit to one person when you haven’t even seen for yourself what else is out there—especially when you’re only 16 years old and haven’t made out with more than one person in your life. Even though he shouldn’t have had a bunch of side baes behind my back (that slang didn’t even exist at the time; I’m old), I now understand why he would want to date around when we couldn’t see each other.

You can definitely be in love with someone while they’re around you and have a meaningful relationship, but it’s hard to keep it going when you’re both going through so much in your own lives apart from each other. When you’re young, it’s even harder to keep your connection strong when you’re separated because you’ll be growing and changing so much (especially if you’re going to college).

A lot of teens (my younger self included) get into LDRs going from their senior year of high school to college because it’s so hard to say goodbye, and if you’re in love, you want to keep this good thing going for as long as you possibly can. It’s important to follow your heart and do what feels right to you, but your heart will thank you later if you don’t drag out your relationship with someone because you’re too afraid to make a clean break or too naive to think you’ll still be with someone you chose when you were 17 when you’re in your late 20s.

What you want when you’re 18 (in life, but in this case in a partner) isn’t going to be the same as what you want when you’re 22, or 26, or 30. Before you really commit (please please please for the love of god, do not get married) remember that you are young and will definitely change, and your tastes will change. Think about your taste in music when you were 14, or even 16. It’s not the same as your taste in music at 18, right? Unless you’re still into Green Day and My Chemical Romance, or other variations of the middle-school-punk genre. If your taste in something as important as music changes drastically in a few years, imagine how much your taste in romantic partners will change (this will likely change even more and is way more important).

Bonding over things like going to raves together (contrary to popular belief, couples who rave together do not necessarily stay together), or both being obsessed with The Office, or flirting in Trig for the whole school year won’t be reasons for you to stick together for the years to come. And 22-year-old you will want to kick 18-year-old present-day you’s ass for wasting time on someone who won’t be worth months pining over each other in a LDR, once you’re graduating from college and looking back on everything you wish you could re-do about your glory days (geez Chloe, tell us how you really feel!).

Also, you might want to ask yourself why you want to get into this serious of a commitment now when there’s so much to see and explore while you’re young. I know how annoying it is when older people tell you this (I hated how condescending it was when family members talked to me about relationships while I was in high school or early college, and how it made me feel like my feelings didn’t matter), but it’s true—you really do have the rest of your life to settle down and be monogamous if that’s what you want, so why start so young when you haven’t even figured out what you want for yourself yet?

Right now, you can save yourself the trouble of getting cheated on, or ruining someone’s life (not to sound melodramatic), or wasting the most fun time of your life worrying about your long distance boyfriend or girlfriend; just let this relationship go peacefully. If it turns out that you’re both single at some other point in your lives and live in the same area, then that’s awesome and you can give it another shot! But right now, as someone who has been in two messy LDRs in her teens, I can tell you that the best thing for both of you is to just live your lives separately and enjoy yourselves while you’re young—trust me when I say that you have plenty of time for grown-up relationships, cheesy declarations of love on Instagram, and all the serious commitment you could ever want in the future. What you won’t have in the future is the chance to do whatever the hell you want whenever you want, and live out your bildungsroman as your own person, without being tied down.

I’m sure I sound like a broken record and probably pretty cynical too, but I promise you I don’t hate love! And even if I don’t know you, I care about your happiness and personal growth very much. I don’t have many regrets in life, and I know if I went back and made better decisions, I might not have grown into the person I am today, but I do think that I could have avoided a lot of emotional stress, tension with my family (arguing about how serious my LDR had become while I was only 19), and trust issues I have now because I had bad experiences with long distance while I was younger. I also think I could have enjoyed myself more in college (and when I moved from Guam to California in high school) without having to worry about my basically virtual boyfriend. The worst part about long distance is that if you let it, it can make you live more for someone you’ll rarely ever see, and neglect the people who are actually around you, and all the awesome things about where you are in the present. Long distance usually only works out and is bearable if you’re able to come back to each other at least semi-regularly and know that you’re going to live near each other eventually, but when you’re in high school or college and one of you moves away, you don’t have the luxury of knowing when you’ll finally be together again (and might not have the freedom or money to visit each other enough).

You might be thinking, “oh, she just went through two crappy relationships and my boyfriend/girlfriend and I aren’t like that!” Even if you two are cuter together than Alexis Ren and Jay Alvarrez, the strain and stress that comes with a LDR can drastically change your relationship. Your dynamic will be totally different when you go from seeing each other every day at school to having to rely on Skype dates (while getting cut off every few minutes through the spotty Wi-Fi connection in the dorms) and texts to keep you together. Everyone thinks they’re going to be the exception to the rule, but it’s really hard for any couple to still feel close to each other when they’re separated for weeks or months at a time.

I know how heartbreaking and terrifying it can be to say goodbye to someone you love so much (and I don’t think you ever love again as intensely as you do when you’re a teenager, so it’s even harder), but if you really love this person (and really love and want to take care of yourself), the best thing for both of you ultimately is to try to be happy with all the memories and good times you’ve had together, but agree that your happiness and futures are more important than hanging onto a relationship that will almost definitely end eventually. It’s going to hurt like hell, but after many pints of Ben & Jerry’s and binge-watching Gilmore Girls a few times over, in the long run this will be the best decision for both of you.

14 Tips for All 14 Year Old Girls

My dear younger sister Maia is turning 14 this week and we’re all making a big deal about it. I keep making jokes about her growing womanly body, much to her chagrin. I can’t believe how old she’s getting, and I keep thinking about what it was like to be her age. Fourteen was an emotional age for me (as were many of the subsequent and earlier years) and I wish I’d had someone to tell me these things about life, love, and growing up.

So for Maia, and for any other teenagers out there who might read this, here are a few things I’ve learned:

  1. Boys suck. Especially ones who are your age. I don’t know if they get any smarter or nicer, but here’s hoping they do. Instead of spending all your time thinking about boys (not accusing you of anything, but I definitely used to do this), forget about them. You’ll have plenty of time to fall in love and get your heart broken several times over, so save that for later, when you and your future partner will be much more mature and better equipped to handle all the mess that comes with committed relationships.
  2. Your identity as someone’s girlfriend isn’t an accurate measure of your worth.  I used to think that I wasn’t pretty, wasn’t desirable, wasn’t good enough for anyone because nobody asked me to date them in middle school. Do you realize how incredibly stupid that is? As if I were any less of an awesome person just because no 14 year old boys asked me to be their girlfriend! I hope you do realize how stupid that was, and never think of yourself in those terms. Just because you’re not in a relationship doesn’t mean you’re not attractive or desirable. It might mean that boys are too intimidated by your coolness to even approach you. Or it might mean that nobody knows you well enough to see what a catch you are. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The only opinion about you that matters is your own.
  3. Don’t change who you are for anyone. There will be many times when you will want to pretend to like what everyone else likes, just to fit in. But let me paint a picture for you: you are no longer in high school, you don’t have to see the “cool kids” anymore, and you are free to do whatever you please without anyone caring. This is real life, beyond the drama-filled teenage years you’re going through. Although it might seem important to act, talk, or dress a certain way just to make other people like you, don’t sell out. Be yourself, and the people who matter will appreciate your genuineness, and the ones who don’t appreciate you are the ones you don’t want to keep around anyway.
  4. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than the amazing person you are. There are always going to be those girls with their designer handbags, their makeup done to perfection, their shiny hair, their I-couldn’t-care-less attitude, blah blah blah. I always felt like a loser around those kinds of girls in high school, and I still catch myself feeling bad around them today. Then I remember, it’s stupid! So what if they dress better than I do? That doesn’t make me any less of a great person, and the same goes for you. (See #14 on this list)
  5. Be nice to your sisters and brothers. I remember being so angst-y (for no real reason) in my early teens. I always wanted to be either alone in my room or blocking out the rest of the world around me with my earphones (because listening to Green Day was way more important than anything else). Thankfully I’m at a less angry point in my life, and I’m much closer to my siblings now than I was when we actually lived together all year. I wish I’d made more of an effort to get to know them as people when we were younger, and hopefully you can learn from my mistake of being a hermit for a few years.
  6. Be good to your parents. (refer to the previous angst-y teenager description) I shut my parents out a lot because I thought they were lame, because even though my parents are actually really cool, TV and general society told me that parents are sooo lame. But that isn’t true! I was too self-involved to think about it before, but I realized later that my parents were always so supportive of me and even paid for me to go to Japan for student exchange, even when they were making a lot less money than they do now and had other kids to care for. I truly love them for that and everything else they’ve done for me. Someday you’re going to regret it if you disrespect your parents, so be good to them and appreciate all that they do for you.
  7. Stick to your passions, even if all your friends think it’s lame. I used to love reading when I was a kid. Up to this day, people I only knew in elementary school remember me as the kid who loved Harry Potter more than anyone. Then when I got to middle school, my world turned upside-down. Apparently sports were cool and reading sucked! I failed at all sports, but the real failure was when I stopped reading for fun like I used to. Eventually I got back into it, but it took awhile for me to realize that you shouldn’t stop doing something just because everyone else thinks it’s uncool. You know what’s really uncool? Quitting on something you love. Whatever your interests may be, forget what everyone else thinks, and keep doing what makes you happy. You’ll never be happy if you spend all your time trying to make everyone else happy.
  8. Friends who make you feel bad aren’t really your friends. In my freshman year of high school, I ended up hanging out with the bad girls group — the girls who smoked pot/cigarettes, had sex, cut themselves, etc. I’m not sure why I even stayed friends with them because we didn’t have anything in common besides an interest in music (which everyone has). They made me feel bad about stupid things, like being too skinny or dying my hair (although in hindsight, the dye job was really gross and they were right about that). I didn’t realize until later that these girls weren’t really my friends, and sought out a new group of girls who I’m still close to today. Even if it’s inconvenient, try and find friends who share your interests and values, even if it means going out of your way to do it. You’ll be much happier in the long run once you ditch the people who are toxic in your life.
  9. The most embarrassing times in your life aren’t all that bad. Believe it or not, I actually appreciate the embarrassing things that happened to me. They’re the funniest stories I have to tell people! At the time, I didn’t enjoy it when I got dumped over Facebook or Myspace or text message, or the time I dated someone with the same first and last name as my grandpa, but it’s hilarious now. So don’t worry about the times when you feel so embarrassed you want to dig your way to China — those are going to be your most treasured anecdotes someday.
  10. Your body is beautiful. Sure, you’re going through that awkward transition between little girl and sexualized woman. As awkward as you might feel, love your body anyway. I remember feeling horrible inside when we had to change our clothes in the locker room for P.E. — I felt like the most flat-chested girl there. It took me a long time to come to terms with being happy in my own skin, maybe because I didn’t have people telling me to embrace the body I had. Instead, I had people teasing me about my tiny boobs. But you know what? You’re beautiful. F*ck everyone who says otherwise. Look at yourself with love and you’ll grow to love yourself.
  11. It’s never the end of the world when you think it is. I felt like I was dying inside when I got dumped at 15. I even cried to my Geometry teacher after class because I had to explain to her why I was too distraught to do my homework the night before. I wish I could go back to my younger self and tell her that it gets better (and there are much worse times to come), and that he’s not even worth crying over anyway. So when something bad inevitably happens to you, just know that it gets better (although there are also much worse times to come), and that pain is temporary.
  12. Keep a journal. I went back and read through a bunch of my old diaries from high school recently, and the entries were priceless. It took me back to those years and I remembered exactly how I felt. Those journal entries reminded me of what kind of person I was back then and made me appreciate how much I’ve grown into the person I am now, and I want everyone else to have that same gift too.
  13. Don’t waste all your time on Facebook even if everyone else does. When I look back on my early teens/tweens, one of the parts I remember most clearly is being on Myspace 24/7 (yes, I’m old, and Myspace was to me what Facebook is to you). That’s pretty unfortunate, because I grew up on a sunny island with beautiful beaches, and I can count on my fingers the number of times I actually went to the beach in high school. I wasted so much of my time stalking crushes on Myspace or deciding which gross selfie to use as my default picture that I didn’t get to enjoy life as much as I could’ve. So put down your phone/laptop for a sec, and make the most of your teens, because YOLO~
  14. You may not always think so, but you’re awesome. I truly wish I could’ve known this when I was a teen. There were so many times when I felt like a total loser, but looking back, I wasn’t all that bad. Maia, you are one of the most genuinely kind and thoughtful people I know. You have a good head on your shoulders and you take care of all of us, even if you’re not the oldest. Always always always remember that you’re awesome and that I love you.

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–Chloe

What to Do When You Want Your Ex Back

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(Don’t listen to Cher Lloyd.)

I had a minor freakout this morning because I thought I had residual feelings for an ex. I blew up my friends’ phones with long texts about my fears, asking them what I should do. I let my imagination run wild and imagined worst case scenarios, in which I was stuck pining over someone who wanted to be with other people. I imagined running into him everywhere I went or seeing him making out with another girl at a party. I told myself I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I even told one of my friends “I’m dying” because I got a small anxiety attack just thinking about everything. I turned to Google, as I do with most of my problems, and went on a fast streak of skimming through Wiki How articles on what to do when you still have feelings for your ex.

Then I took a deep breath. I realized as I read those Wiki How articles that this is absurd. It isn’t a good idea (on my behalf) for us to get back together. I felt all my dormant insecurities creep back and take center stage in my mind. I was letting my fears win. I realized that all of this is stupid. I don’t need him and I don’t need a boyfriend at all. I made a choice to date myself, and I needed to honor that commitment.

When you chose to date yourself, you’re going to get lonely at some point, no matter what. It’s hard to be satisfied with only yourself when you see happy couples all around you, or when you crave physical affection you can only get with another person. But the trick is to wait it out. As my dear Andrew VanWyngarden said, “the trick is to try to be free / and tend to the void, don’t just fill it.” When you get lonely, don’t just find a person to fill the space that feels empty inside (totally not talking about sex either) — you need to learn how to be whole instead of covering up your emotional wounds with a new relationship.

Your emotions are like the tide — sometimes the water will be calm and you’ll be fine with being alone. Then suddenly, something will trigger your negative emotions and amplify your fears; it will get stormy. But you are your own ship and captain, and you can get through the storm.

When waters get rough, talk to a friend. Let out all your crazy thoughts and feelings to a trusted friend. The fears and worries you keep to yourself usually sound insignificant or silly when you actually say them aloud. Plus, your friend can give you an outside, objective perspective on your situation (and if you need a friend, I’m always here!).

If you’re not comfortable sharing your deeply personal feelings with another person, journaling about your feelings can help a lot too. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own thoughts, and writing them out can bring order to the chaos in your head. Complicated situations get simpler for me after I sort it out in writing. You can even get creative and turn your thoughts into poetry, which can also be really cathartic.

Remind yourself that you’re awesome. You’re stronger than you think you are. When you get lonely, just remember that the feeling is temporary. As Kelly Clarkson said, it doesn’t mean you’re lonely when you’re alone. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (Kelly Clarkson lyrics are actually great advice).

Note: My friend/cousin/older-sister Emma gave me the Kelly Clarkson lyrics as advice and also made this picture of her face on Kelly’s body just for this post. Enjoy!

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–Chloe

The Secret to Being Attractive

Maybe it’s because I went to an all-girls school during the part of my life when my body transitioned from kid-ish to womanly. Maybe it’s because I was mostly friends with girls until I went to college. Or maybe I’m just not willing to believe that it’s okay for men to be pigs, but it’s not okay for girls to dress *mildly* attractive and not expect to get hounded by unwanted suitors.

Over the last 12 months, I’ve been hit on by guys more than I have in my entire life. It’s new. It’s kind of interesting. But I don’t like it. I probably sound like a bitch (you might tell me I’m not even that hot, get off my high horse) and I’m complaining about people finding me attractive (boo-hoo). It’s not the “finding me attractive” part that bothers me, though. It’s how a lot of guys go about hitting on girls that bothers me. I’m very choosy with who I actually date, and if you come across as a LOS-ing douche, you won’t get very far.

For example, I went to a party a few weeks ago and I had a few guys hanging onto me for a lot of the night, and the whole time they made me feel pressured. I already could tell what they wanted from me, and it wasn’t something I wanted to give them. I got texts for the rest of the night, while I was lying in bed in the room I share with my little sisters, and a guy asked me to go out to meet him. I told him I was tired and my phone was about to die, then he proceeded to beg me, then told me I was “lame” for not wanting to go out (in the cold, walking alone in San Francisco) at night to meet him.

It’s disgusting. You put on a push-up bra and people automatically assume you’re DTF. I found myself wondering on multiple occasions about whether I gave off some kind of vibe that suggests I want sex from everyone. It’s sad because they made me feel like I was doing something wrong.

Meanwhile, the whole time I was being pursued by horny losers, I slowly became more interested in someone else. He was genuinely nice to me and talked to me about things I liked. Movies, travel, types of adventures we’d like to go on eventually. He connected with me on an intellectual level and made me feel like there was more to me than having a pretty face. I can’t recall him telling me I was physically attractive, ever. That took the pressure off of me and let me feel comfortable enough to be myself. Guys like him give me hope.

What set him and the losers apart was his approach. I don’t know about all girls, but I hate being treated like a piece of meat. If I ranked the qualities I liked best about myself, intelligence, sense of humor, the ability to quote dozens of quality TV shows on command, and my identity as a grammar police would all come before beauty. I understand that other people might be flattered and into it when someone hits on them in a sexually aggressive way, but most girls I know are more attracted to a guy who wants more than a hot piece of ass.

If you want to try this highly effective approach too, here are a few pointers.

Find out what she likes and really listen to her talk about it. Don’t interrupt. Don’t nod like you’re interested while your mind is elsewhere. Be a decent human being and listen to this person talk about their passions. If you really can’t handle listening, then maybe find another person you have more in common with and will be more interested in.

Tell her about what you’re passionate about and be honest. Don’t embellish the truth and don’t pretend you’re interested in what she’s interested in — if there’s anything we’ve learned from comedies/rom-coms, this leads to misunderstandings and/or hijinks. She’ll either appreciate your enthusiasm and openness, or she’ll think you’re boring (in which case, the two of you aren’t very compatible and she isn’t a keeper).

Be genuine. This is the most important of all. Most people can tell if you’re acting (unless you’re actually an actor or are Barney Stinson), and nobody likes a person who’s dishonest. When you’re genuine, a person can tell. This is definitely the quality I find most attractive in anyone.

So the secret here isn’t really much of a secret. Be yourself, be genuine, and be interested in getting to know a person below surface level. It might seem counterintuitive but it’s much more attractive when you show interest in a person’s personality rather than their looks. This should also go without saying, but if you treat others with respect, more often than not, they’ll appreciate it and appreciate you.

–Chloe

There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea, But Focus on the Fisherman

“You’re so young and there are so many people out there for you.”

This is the phrase I find myself telling my friends more than anything else, in regards to love advice. So many people I know (myself included) get hung up over their own relationship drama. We make ourselves miserable when things don’t go the way we want them to in our romantic relationships. But really, what’s the point?

I’ve spent so much of my time feeling bad about issues I create in my head about guys I like, which only distracts me from the awesome things I do have going for me. I’m not trying to brag, but I love my life — I have an incredibly supportive group of family and friends who love me (for whatever reason that may be), I get to travel to fun places several times a year without paying for anything, I go to a UC and have parents who are able to support me, I’m not in debt, and for 9 months out of the year, I live within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. But most of the time, I forget all of this and let myself focus on the little relationship problems that don’t really matter.

Eventually (recently) I realized that at this point in my life, romance only holds me back from being the person I’m meant to be. When I’m in a relationship, I turn into this needy crybaby who over-analyzes every single thing her partner does. I hope to become better at relationships someday, but I know that I have to work on myself before I get involved with anyone else. Even though it hurt, I took my last breakup as a blessing in disguise. I love being in love, but I realize now that I have to take this time being single to focus on learning to love myself before I can really love another person, without being insecure and bringing myself down.

Part of my realization stemmed from things I read about what people are like while they’re in their 20s. A few months ago, a friend of mine gave me a book about how the 20s are the most formative years of a person’s life (it’s called The Defining Decade by the way, and I recommend it to anyone in their 20s). The book talks about how romantic love is important, but when you’re young, you’re not emotionally or mentally equipped to deal with the stress and other issues that come with serious committed relationships.

I thought about this and agreed —  I noticed that a lot of my relationship problems were a result of my immaturity, or the combined immaturity of my former partners and myself. I see so many other young couples going through crappy relationship problems because both of them aren’t ready to be in a non-codependent relationship in which they treat each other with respect.

Instead, I think young people should spend these formative years focusing on personal growth. We’re young, so we still have a lot to learn about the world and ourselves. Take the time to try new things and push your boundaries. There are plenty of people to fall in love with and plenty of time to do it, but you don’t have all the time in the world to be young or the opportunities you might have now to figure out what you love to do. Focus on doing what you love, and learn to love yourself.

–Chloe

Be the Role Model You Wish You Had

A while back, I was in a toxic relationship. My boyfriend fought with me (verbally) and cussed at me, got mad at me over the littlest things, and made me feel bad about myself deeply. After crying my eyes out while he yelled at me over Skype, I decided that enough was enough. I needed to do better for myself and get out of the relationship.

I’ll also mention that I’m the oldest of 6 children and many cousins in my family, so naturally I serve as a role model for lots of my younger loved ones. So when I decided I needed to get out of the toxic relationship, I knew that I didn’t just need to do it for myself, but for my siblings. They saw my crazy mood swings, from crying at home to being elated and browsing Pinterest for our wedding ideas. They didn’t mention it to me, but I could tell they knew that this relationship was taking a toll on me.

If I let my little sisters see me stay with a guy who treated me with disrespect, I’d be sending them the message that it’s okay to let someone abuse you and not do anything about it. And if I let my younger brothers see me take the emotional abuse and still give love to my partner who wronged me, they might think it’s okay to treat their future girlfriends or wives that way too.

I used the goal of setting a good example for my siblings as a driving force to be the strongest person I could be. I said goodbye to the bad relationship with the intention of never looking back.

I have strong female role models in my life, and I wanted to be the same kind of person who could inspire those who look to me as an example. I couldn’t handle if it if I saw my little sisters in abusive relationships, much less if I knew it was because they learned the passive behavior from me. So when it gets hard to try to do the right thing, I remember the boys and especially the girls who look up to me and use them as my motivation. If you have anyone in your life who has you as a role model, keep them in mind when life gets rough. Even if you can’t be better for yourself, be strong for them.

–Chloe

What to Do When Your Partner Isn’t Perfect

This is something everyone should find relatable — nobody is perfect. 

Most people have a mental checklist of qualities they look for in a partner. For example, my ideal guy would be 6 ft or taller, have amazing dark eyebrows (basically I just want someone who looks vaguely like Brandon Routh and will serenade me like Darren Criss), watches all of my favorite TV shows, reads a lot, doesn’t play video games, loves to cuddle, etc.

But if you look back on the people I’ve actually dated, none of them meet any of those standards. You may argue that I don’t have game or that I don’t choose good partners, but that isn’t true (at least on one of those counts). I choose people who are nice to me, treat me with respect, enjoy my company, and laugh at my lame jokes.

The point is, these standards of perfection for a partner don’t matter. If I don’t expect my boyfriend to meet all of those superficial standards, why should I expect anything else of him, other than to treat me with love and respect?

It’s so easy to find things about your partner that annoy you or that you think are deal breakers. But really, you’re dating a human. Imperfection is in our nature. And if you did somehow find a person who’s “perfect,” then he’d be boring because he lacks that passion and spice you get with a real person who has quirks.

Don’t expect anyone to be exactly who you think they are, because then you’ll never be happy. Instead, be aware of those expectations. They’re a result of years of brainwashing by Disney movies (I apologize for bashing Disney movies because it seems like everyone loves to blame them for all our emotional/psychological problems nowadays) in which the princess and prince fall in love and live happily ever after, rom-coms in which characters end up with their modern-day happily-ever-after,  and our society’s too-idealistic take on love in general.

Recognize that your partner is flawed, but love him anyway (unless those flaws are serious, like he doesn’t respect you, doesn’t make any effort in the relationship, or makes you feel bad about yourself intentionally. In which case, dump his ass). And remember that you’re flawed too, but you should expect people to love you in return as well.

I feel a little sad that I don’t look at life through the same rose-colored glasses that I used to, but I’m starting to accept that people aren’t exactly what you want them to be, and that’s okay. Be grateful just knowing that you actually have someone to love, who loves you back. Without being greedy, there isn’t much more you need to ask for.

-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

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

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.