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.

How to Deal with Instagram-related Jealousy and Insecurities

Let me just start off by saying that in my logical, reasonable mind, I trust my partner with all my heart. He’s been perfect, never makes me feel worried about the possibility of him cheating, and reassures me that he cares about me by texting me constantly throughout the day and giving me his full attention when we’re together.

But no matter how much I love and trust him, the less rational part of my mind still worries occasionally (which I think is natural for everyone). When I look through my Instagram newsfeed when I’m bored, I’m afraid I’ll see that he liked a hot girl’s picture and I’ll discover that the happiness I had was all temporary. It’s like I’m just waiting for him to prove that my worst fears are true: that love doesn’t work out and that I shouldn’t trust anyone. I feel incredibly petty worrying about something so superficial as a “like” on Instagram—I know deep down that it’s 100% harmless. And I can’t really get mad at him because I follow way more pretty girls and models than he does, and he never says anything about it (but in my defense, I follow them 50% for inspiration and self-love by seeing more beautiful brown women who make me feel better about myself by extension… 50% because they’re hot as hell and I like to admire them).

When I see he “likes” some girls’ photos, I get this painful feeling in my gut. I imagine him fantasizing about how much happier he would be if they were his girlfriends instead of me. I worry that he is comparing me, with the mole on my face, the rolls on my stomach when I bend over, my meager B cups, to this image of a girl with a perfectly contoured face and a push-up bra.

I know none of this is true. Anyone who uses Instagram scrolls through basically mindlessly, “liking” pictures in a second, then instantly forgetting the previous post once it leaves the reach of their thumb. These worries are part of a story I’ve made up in my head that is a manifestation of all my insecurities and trust issues I’ve developed from past relationships, with exes who had wandering eyes. Seeing the person you love give validation and attention (even in the smallest form, a “like” on social media) feels like a betrayal, in a world where a large part of the construction of self-worth relies on how many “likes” you get and who gives them to you—as much as we’d like to think we’re disconnected from social media, it affects everyone.

When I stop and think about it, my worries have nothing to do with my partner. He could tell me he loves me every day, never hang out with any other girls, do literally everything right, and I still would feel this way (and it makes me feel terrible that I do).

At our very core, when we feel jealousy, it’s not about our partners being disloyal about something so small—it’s about our deep need to be loved and to be given attention and loyalty from the person we love. The jealousy stems from the small child in each of us who needs love and worries that the flaws we see in ourselves will prevent other people from loving us (sorry, I know I sound Zen-y like my dad here, but it’s true).

The best solution when you’re feeling insecure about your partner “liking” other people’s posts is to realize and remind yourself that your relationship with a person is much more than what goes on in social media, and shouldn’t be defined by “likes,” especially if it’s with someone you have a deep connection with personally. You shouldn’t compare one “like” on a picture to the weeks/months/years of getting to know each other that you’ve had with your partner (and if he/she really wanted to be with that other person instead of you, don’t you think they would?).

Don’t compare yourself to others, especially not you in real life, right now, vs a staged photo. I feel like shit when I compare myself to a picture of a girl with her makeup done, while I’m lying in bed wearing my oversized “I [heart] gays” t-shirt and no bra. Your partner doesn’t love you because you look on point all the time, they love you because you have a real connection and because of your personality. Plus there’s no way those girls online look like that 24/7. Instagram is performance (repeat that to yourself 100x every day and you might turn out okay).

Some steps to take when you get into a negative mindset with these insecurities:

Get off Instagram! Be productive, take a walk and enjoy nature and keep your phone on “do not disturb” if you use it to listen to music, interact with the people who are around you in real life, work on a project. Create, don’t get into a negative spiral.

Do something that makes you feel good about yourself. Don’t base your self-worth off of whether a person double taps on an image of you. Remind yourself why you are a good person, why you are beautiful, and why you are attractive and worthy of love—most of all, your own love.

What I do:

    • lift weights (makes me feel strong and proud of myself)
    • go for a walk (sunshine makes me happy, gets my sun-kissed skin back)
    • put on a little makeup or curl my hair (doesn’t take that much effort and ends up making me really happy and feel pretty)
    • wear something I wouldn’t normally wear (anything besides work/bum clothes)
    • write (makes me feel smart and capable)
    • tidy my room (makes my living situation more comfortable)

Also, it’s hard to be in a happy relationship with someone who is insecure and doesn’t see their own self-worth (me at times, in this case). You need to remind yourself why you are valuable as an individual and as a partner, both for your own mental health and for the sake of your relationship.

Talk to someone (or at least write it out to yourself). Saying your fears out loud makes them sound a lot less real and will show you they aren’t actual reasons to worry. It helps a lot to get out of your own negative self-talk and train of thought if you have to explain it to someone else, and they can tell you you have nothing to worry about.

Make a list of things to be grateful for in your life. You have more going on for yourself than just one person, anyway!

Make a list of ways your partner has shown they love you. If you’re in a good relationship, these will outweigh the minor slight of Instagram “likes” by far. After I write my lists, I feel so much happier, more in love with my partner, and appreciative of what a good person he is.

Overall, the best thing you can do is to just not look at the feed.

The urge to prevent your partner from looking at anyone else but you (which is impossible) is possessive, and makes me feel small for being controlling in that way. If you want to keep your relationship healthy, you need to just trust that your partner is a good person who does not want to hurt you.

Even more importantly, you need to trust that you are a good person who deserves to be with someone who loves you and will be loyal to you (even if you don’t always believe it, it’s true). The stress of stalking your partner online constantly is bad for the skin anyway, so don’t detract from your physical beauty, and in turn the source of your value as a person (just kidding! internal beauty all the way! *smirking emoji*).

The 10 Commandments of a Healthy Relationship

Writing for Lovescrewed started out as a way for me to reconcile with the bad relationships I had in the past and learn from them, while I went on my journey to becoming a whole person and loving myself. But then I stopped writing early in 2014 because I got into a new relationship and everything was so exciting and fun—and who wants to read blog posts about me being happy and in love anyway? People come to self-help blogs to get raw, honest advice, and I wasn’t dealing with the ghosts of my past anymore to fuel my writing.

Not to say that I’m unhappy now that I’m blogging again, but as my boyfriend and I grow closer to the two year mark in our relationship, I’ve come to learn a lot about relationships, as this is the longest and most serious one I’ve been in.

Needless to say (since it’s evident in my many blog posts), I’ve had my experience with toxic relationships, and learned from my mistakes. I’ve also learned a lot while navigating through this newer relationship. It’s interesting to see how much your feelings for someone can evolve over the span of a couple years—from smitten to infatuated, to learning that they aren’t the person you thought you were falling in love with in the first place, to accepting them for who they truly are and loving that you can learn new things about them even when you thought they couldn’t surprise you.

It’s not always easy, but if you’re with the right person, it’s worth it and hopefully you’ll grow together.

Here are some of the most useful things I’ve learned, and guidelines I try to live by in a relationship (even if I mess up sometimes):

  1. Promise to yourself to never check their phone. Obviously I’m not proud to admit this, but I’m guilty of being the psycho jealous girlfriend who actually blocked girls repeatedly from my ex’s Facebook and Instagram accounts while we were dating… It was hard to stop, but I decided I never wanted to experience that burning angry feeling that made me want to throw up every time I got stalker-y and jealous. I can’t say I haven’t occasionally wondered about whether there’s anything suspicious on my boyfriend’s phone, just out of curiosity (and from seeing way too many Instagram memes about it) but it was important for me to set boundaries for myself. I don’t want to become that distrustful, sneaky person again, and I don’t think anyone enjoys feeling like that either.
    It’s a slippery slope from checking once just to get rid of nagging insecurities, to constantly being anxious about what they might be doing behind your back, and not trusting them enough to believe what they say. If they’re cheating on you, they’re probably smart enough not to comment heart-eyed emojis on someone’s pictures and they’ll probably delete her texts too, so why bother checking? Trust your gut, and if something makes you uncomfortable, try to talk to them about it. But don’t go sneaking around behind their back because if you can’t trust them enough to take their word for it, then it isn’t a great relationship anyway, and it definitely isn’t worth the stress of worrying if you’re being cheated on.
  2. All boyfriends/girlfriends shall remain innocent until proven guilty! Every relationship is somewhat of a gamble of trust, but if the person hasn’t done anything to make you distrust them, try to let go of the pain you’ve gone through during past relationships and don’t just expect the new person to cheat or treat you badly. The worst mistake you can make is to drive a great partner away by misplacing blame on them for something your high school boyfriend did to you 6 years ago. Don’t let the mistakes of your old teenage ex define every relationship you have in the future, or you’ll always expect to get hurt like you did when you were 16 and neither of you knew how to even be in a healthy relationship.
  3. Be each other’s cheerleaders. Encourage each other and support each other’s dreams! This is especially important because a partner should be one of the first people you come to when something good happens to you, and you’d want to be that person to them too. Give good advice you think will help them and show enthusiasm when something exciting happens. There’s no such thing as too much positivity or good attention.
  4. Pick up new hobbies together. If you started dating just because you both liked the same movies or had the same taste in music, chances are that your mutual interests will get old eventually, because your tastes will probably change over time. If you’re in it for the long haul, you have to find activities you both enjoy doing together. My boyfriend and I like to start watching new TV shows together which makes it our thing, and gives us another source of references for our many inside jokes.
  5. Don’t hold their past against them. Try not to get mad or jealous if they slept with a bunch of people before you two dated because that has nothing to do with you. What’s important is how they’ve acted since you met and started dating. You shouldn’t blame someone for something they did before they even knew you existed.
  6. Keep complimenting each other even if you’ve been dating forever. It’s easy to stop doing this over time because you already know you both are attracted to each other. But it’s still nice to hear that the one person you really want to think you’re hot is still into you, or to know that they still think you’re beautiful even after seeing you in the morning all greasy-haired and crusty-eyed. Getting a compliment from your significant other feels a thousand times better than getting 200 likes on an Instagram picture (well, maybe not, but it’s close).
  7. Don’t ask for anything or expect anything. You should definitely expect them to treat you well, but I’m talking about material items. Your boyfriend doesn’t owe you designer bags or jewelry. Although it is nice to receive gifts, don’t be one of those girls who expects her boyfriend to spoil her with expensive things. Follow Destiny’s Child’s lead and be an Independent Woman (The house I live in, I’ve bought it / The car I’m driving, I’ve bought it / I depend on me).
  8. Be grateful and remember to say thank you even for the little things. You’ll become more appreciative of what your partner has to offer if you’re noticing and thinking about the effort they put in to make you happy.
  9. Say “I love you” often, or express fondness in whatever way you’re comfortable with at that stage in your relationship. It’s helpful to remind each other regularly that the love is still there.
  10. Learn how to communicate openly and honestly with each other. This is the most important part of maintaining a healthy relationship. If you don’t express it to your partner when you’re feeling upset with something they did or didn’t do, or when you’re feeling any other emotion towards them, they will not know. This might be obvious, but if you don’t tell them directly, they probably won’t figure it out—nobody is a mind reader (and neither are you, so don’t expect anyone to be omniscient about your thoughts and feelings). If it’s too hard for you to tell them directly, try writing out a letter or a text to them explaining everything you’re feeling, and then try sending it. If it’s a good relationship, then they’re likely to respond well and try to help you meet your needs.
    Another important part of communication is active listening. When your partner is talking to you, don’t just think about what you want to say next—focus on them, then think of how you will respond after. It’s important to let them be heard and be empathetic so you can be there for them and give them what they need. Because while a relationship can be great in that you have someone who will be there for you, it’s your duty (really, it should be your privilege and pleasure) to be a good friend to your partner.

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

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

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!

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. 

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