Relationships

Ladies, Get Off Your High Heels

It’s 2017, yet there are so many old fashioned notions about dating that existed when my grandfather was courting my grandfather —  in the ‘50s.

Don’t be the one who pursues a guy, that looks desperate. Let him pursue you.

You shouldn’t kiss one a first date.

The guy should be the one paying.

Actually, I can sit here all day and name all of them out there. However, for time’s sake, I’ll leave it at those.

Dating has shifted in so many ways. What we call a relationship has shifted in so many ways as well — we have friends with benefits, bae, partner, and everything in between. Nowadays, Netflix and chill sessions are considered to be a date. Sad, but true. Even the way people are meeting has changed too — we’re using apps like Tinder and OkCupid in the attempts to find a mate.

While all of this change, I think the way that women should approach dating should. I think we should move towards more equality towards the sexes. I think that women should be able to make the first moves, if they want to. I think that they should text first, if they want to. I think they should ask the guy that they like out, not because they are desperate, but because they want to get to know that person.

I’m not going to lie — I think it’s nice when a guy wants to take the wheel and ask the girl out. It takes balls to do so. It’s nice to have a guy that tells you that he wants to go out with you, and wants to spend time with you.

I think though, by the guy doing all of the work, it can get frustrating on their part. That is similar to making the guy always pay. Sure, it’s a nice gesture especially in the beginning, but if you’ve been dating a while it gets expensive on their part. After all, boyfriends aren’t ATM machines. So, every once in awhile, I think women should further treat their fellas out for a nice dinner.

With that being said, aren’t relationships supposed to be mutual? If the guy and the girl both like each other, does it really matter who messaged who first, who pays or who asked the other to hang out? Because ladies, let’s face it — if we waited for men to read our minds, then we will be waiting an awfully long time. By having that equality helps each of you learn to love and respect the other for more than material goods and stupid protocol.

So, if Hillary won the popular vote, then you could surely take the plunge and ask that guy you’ve been flirting with for his number. It will have one of two outcomes — be a complete and total disaster or you’ll have his phone number.

Relationships

The Man Factor

Since my last relationship ended in August of last year, I decided to take a time out from dating for a period of time. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. I began to fall in love with myself, something that is more important than having an ‘in a relationship status’ on Facebook or a Man Crush to post about every Monday if people even post about them anymore.

During that time, I embarked on a journey of self-reflection and growth – kind of like Eat Pray Love without the travel. I learned to be okay with going to coffee shops alone, I learned to go on long hikes with only my iPhone for company, and I began to expand my social circle. I joined a book club, meet friends through a local worship service, and just became comfortable with who I was as a person.

This sounds cliché, but it was just what the doctor ordered. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I am in a place where having a boyfriend is nothing but an extra, not something I need like oxygen. Truth be told, I don’t need a guy to feel awesome. And, that is everything.

Right now, I’m in a place in my life where I want to enjoy every second that I can. I want to wander through unknown territories, I want to try new cupcake shops, and I want to enjoy the people I spend my time with, whether they may be friends or lovers. It’s not like I’m chasing away the idea of having a boyfriend – I’m learning to live life in a way that he’s dessert, not the main course.

And for those who ask me to the question don’t you want a boyfriend, here’s my answer: I’m not waiting around for Prince Charming to get his act together, and ride his white horse. Sorry.

However, there are some people who think that just because you don’t have a boyfriend, a pending relationship, or even someone that you’re ‘talking’ to, it means that you are missing something in the equation. And, for some, that may be the case. But, for me, not so much.

Throughout my time alone, I’ve given a lot of thought about the type of relationship I want and the type of guy I deserve. I’m going to share those thoughts with you now, in case you’re interested.

I am looking for the best and nothing less. Why? Because I deserve it. I deserve a guy that will bring me flowers, one that isn’t afraid to pick me up at home and shake hands with my mother. I deserve a guy that takes me to the movies, to dinner, anywhere pretty much that’s not his bed. I deserve real dates, not just a Netflix and Chill session in your bed. I deserve someone will treat me like I am the best damn thing that happened to me, because trust me, I am. And, I am not afraid to ask for it.
I’m also not afraid to demand what I want. I want someone who respects me, and my friends. I want someone who is not afraid to proclaim his feelings for me. I want nights of great conversation and to spend a good length of time getting to know this imaginary Prince Charming before committing. I want someone who makes me grin like an idiot, and someone who makes me laugh.

And, I’m going to hold out until I meet this person, because not only do I deserve it, but I respect myself enough to not settle for anything less.

At the end of the day, I’ve learned to not be afraid of being alone. I learned not to be afraid to tell someone what I want. And, most importantly, I learned that I deserve to be happy more than I need to find someone to call bae.

Relationships

What’s In a Label?

Define the Relationship (DTR): When two people discuss their mutual understanding of a romantic relationship.

Source: Urban Dictionary 

Nowadays, there are so many labels to a relationship – boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, friends with benefit – that it can make anyone’s head spin. With every relationship, comes two things – commitment and mutual understanding.

I began to think about the concept of dating, relationships, and the ultimate label that every girl that I know craves – boyfriend.

But, my question is, what does it mean to have a boyfriend?

When someone is in a boyfriend/girlfriend/or in a relationship that is similar, both parties agree to a monogamous relationship and have a mutual understanding of such. They are committed to being with each other solely for the time being. There is also a mutual love and attraction shared between the two parties, and thus, both a committed to giving it the proper nutrition for it to grow.

When someone is in this sort of committed relationship, I believe that there is a lot of communication that occurs. For example, asking your partner some of these questions — what makes you happy? What can I do to make you happy? What is something that may otherwise prevent you from having a relationship, such as divorced parents or a terrible relationship? – are some that often occurs. When you do something that hurts the person that you are with, what is something that you can do to help mend that hurt? Basically, there’s a lot of talking.

I recently began to think about what it means to have a boyfriend, and the whole meaning behind the word. In our society, there is a huge pairing between the words ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ and ‘commitment,’ as the connotation of having a boyfriend is loyalty. By having a boyfriend, you are committed, and there’s no other ways around that.

However, I began to question the label and the importance that we stress upon it. There are so many people out there – on dating apps, friends, etc. – who desperately search for a boyfriend/girlfriend as if they were lost in the desert without food. While to each their own, I think that by looking for only that limits your sight, and speeds things up. Having the relationship that you crave requires time, love and tenderness, and does not happen overnight people. You need to get to know your potential partner before slapping a label on it.

My personal conclusion on the label is that it shouldn’t matter, and should not be the central focus on a relationship. Call me a hippie or someone that simply wants to have a relationship that has a recipe set up for disaster. But, hear me out for a second.

As I mentioned a moment ago, slapping a label on the relationship too soon causes both parties to feel pressured. The movies, at least the ones that I watch, often portray relationships as whirlwind, and the couple often is together within the timeframe of the movie. That’s not how it works, sorry to say.

To fall in love with someone, you need to truly get to know someone – sexually, personally or both depending on your beliefs and comfort levels. I think each couple has to have deep conversations with that person, learn their ins and out, and just spend sometime together in that regard – without worrying about the l word.

But, but, but, what about the commitment factor?

I think by my description of a healthy relationship, that the label will come naturally — when each party is ready for that commitment.

And, when the relationship reaches that stage, it will thus be strong and have the foundation to blossom into something bigger.

So, as many of you rush into a summer romance, I invite you to throw out the need for a definition of what the relationship is, and instead focus on the person and how you feel. Chances are, eventually, it will all fall into place.

 

anxiety, mental health, Mental Illness Awareness Month, Relationships, Uncategorized

Not Tonight Dear, I Am Having A Panic Attack: Anxiety and Dating

As a person with anxiety, it is safe to say it has had an impact on my relationships. When I was in my previous relationship, it was when my anxiety was in full swing, and panic attacks were a regular occurrence. However, I was really lucky to have a boyfriend who was supportive and did whatever he could to help me with dealing with it.

While I am lucky to have minor anxiety now, it still exists. I am unsure how anxiety will play out in my next relationship. But, I learned enough about it over the years to give advice to couples that may have to deal with anxiety.

Note: While this post mainly talks about anxiety, these tips pertain to all mental illnesses, from eating disorders to depression.

Talk it Out

With all relationships, you need to communicate, as communication is key. When it comes to my anxiety, I pretty much am an open book and am completely honest with my partner, or a potential one. If not, then you are putting on a façade of someone you may not actually be. Since my anxiety is a part of me, I like to take the time to have a thoughtful conversation about it with my partner. In that conversation, we’ll discuss things such as what makes me anxious? What are my triggers? What is my role in this anxiety thing, and what can I do to help?

One thing that my former partner and I did was go to therapy together to have an open space to discuss anxiety. I believe that it was a helpful thing for us to do, because it induced productive and effective conversation, and is a worthwhile option for those who are willing. However, therapy is a private thing – meant only for the indexed individual. So, if you don’t want to have your partner sits in on a session, then that’s okay too.

Be Supportive

With that being said, always do what you can to show your support for them and their journey. This can be something as simple as hugging your partner while they hit a low, asking them about their therapy session, or just reminding them that you’re here for them.

While the ideal partner is always supportive, it is especially important for when your partner has a mental illness.

It’s Not One-Sided

Sometimes, sadly, a relationship can be consumed with anxiety. It can be overwhelming for anyone to deal with anxiety, especially the loved ones of that person – I am not going to lie. However, it is important to remember that your partner does care about you as well, and wants you to take the time that you need for yourself.

While it is up to you how you prioritize how you divide your time, it can be overwhelming when you constantly feel like you are on call for your partner. Newsflash, you are not a doctor. So, Be sure that you take care of yourself. Play your video games, go for that run, or do whatever it is you do for fun.
In addition to that, do not be afraid to be honest with your partner. If you feel overwhelmed, tell them. I definitely understand, and to be honest, I would want my boyfriend to tell me how he’s feeling.

Just Be There

Sometimes, all we need is a hug and someone to tell us that everything is going to be okay when the world feels like it’s crashing down on you. You may have to do this a lot sometimes, but trust me, it does not go unappreciated.

Be Understanding

You might not understand what a panic attack feels like, or the effect it has on the person going through one until you see your partner stare off into space while kissing you because they are scared and feel unsafe. This is especially true if you yourself have never dealt with anxiety. However, all you can do is just understand and be patient. And, if this does happen to you, kiss their forehead and remind them that it will truly be alright.

Remember They Are More Than Their Anxiety

I am much more than my anxiety. I am a writer, a photographer, a person, a bookworm, and so much more. Mental illness, especially the label, does not define the patient. Remember that they are much more than that, and they too are human. So, whatever you do, be sure to remember that there is more to them.

Relationships

A Note To My Future Boyfriend

Last week, I read this wonderful article on the Odyssey called “To My Future Girlfriend.”Reading that article inspired me to write my own verision of that article. 

Dear Whatever Your Name Is,

I want you to know that I am looking forward to the day we meet, if we haven’t met already. Despite whether or not we are in each others’ lives, I genuinely hope that you are doing well. And if you’re not, I hope that you get to a point where you are.

I am interested in learning how we meet – whether it may be online (as many relationships nowadays consist of people who met online), at a library, through work, coffee shop, grad school or through an event that we both attend. I am looking forward to getting to know you as well. I am looking forward to long conversations, easy laughter, and learning your story and who you are as a person. I am looking forward to smiling like a complete moron, just because I am your girlfriend and you make me laugh like a hyena.

I can’t wait to sit across from you in coffee shops and drink fancy lattes, share meals with you that come with a side dish of easy conversation, and sharing events together such as concerts and parties. Despite the fact that I am eager to share these things with you, I am patient enough to realize that they will come at their own time. Until then, I’ll be able to do those things on my own or in the company of friends. I also want you to know that I am so incredibly lucky to have you in my life, even if I don’t verbalize it often. You are awesome. After all, that is the very reason why I chose to date you, a decision that I will never look back from.

With that being said, I want you to know that I come with my own set of baggage filled with rocks, and scars that grow faint every single day. Those scars, though, still handicap me. I promise to share how I got them with you, and despite their existence, will not let that be a roadblock in our relationship. It may cause me to show hesitation in our relationship, and for that I am sorry. But, I am working on not letting them prohibit me from living my daily life, and hope that you help me grow so we can overcome them together.

In the event we break up, which let’s face it might happen, I want you to know that I can live without you. I promise not to bash you on social media and on my blog, even if you did something shady. I also will cherish the time that we did spend together and respect you, because while our relationship did not last forever, it still existed. It may hurt and take time, but I will move on from that. I will grow stronger from it, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

But, no matter what, I want you to know one thing. I am really looking forward to being in your life, whether it may be long or short term. And until we actually meet, this is probably the last time we’ll speak. So, until then, take it easy.
With love,

Natalie

Relationships

Too Much?

When it comes to dating, I am the type of woman that knows what she wants. I also am the type of women that does not take any crap from anyone — whether it may be a friend who is upsetting or annoying me, a guy that won’t leave me alone, or a guy that uses cheesy pick up lines in the hopes that will make me weak in the knees.

Lately, I’ve been on a bit of an online dating kick. When I talk to guys, I don’t put on a facade or pretend that I am someone I’m not. Instead, I am sarcastic and witty. I also am not afraid to go after whatever it is I want, and sure as will send the first message. Why? Because rules are stupid, and if I want to talk to someone, I will. And, if someone is trying to use some cheesy line on me, that sure as hell ain’t gonna happen either.

For some guys, it can be a bit of a turn off. That is a complete and total mystery if you ask me. I can not tell you how many times a guy has unmatched me because I saw right through the cheesy pick up line, made a clear attempt to get to know him or because I clearly stated what I want.

Well, I am so sorry for not falling for that cheesy line you’ve used for every girl on the app that you match with. I am so sorry for knowing what I want, and for not being afraid to ask for it. I am sorry for not falling all over you, and losing my dignity because I want to date you. 

As a woman in the dating world — or looking for love — I am tired of feeling as if I have to be submissive to someone else. Yes, I can be too much. Sometimes, it can be too much to handle. However, if a guy is turned off by a strong, smart mouthed woman, who knows what she wants, then he is not the guy I want to date.

Plain and simple.

Relationships

6 Things Every Guy Dating a Career Oriented Girl Should Know

For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to be a journalist and a writer. To reach that goal, I held roles at publications, nonprofits, and websites. Add in classes, a job to pay the bills, and it’s safe to say that I was a pretty busy lady.

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via Pinterest

Because of that, maintaining a social life and a relationship can be a bit exhausting, and was a priority that often fell to the bottom of the list. Before I continue, I would like to say that in some of my relationships, I received endless support in what I wanted to do with my career. Other times, usually in guys I met online or have dated once or twice, they would simply complain I never made enough time to hang out with them or didn’t answer their text timely enough.

Uhm, excuse me?

Therefore, I decided to write this list as a reminder of guys who will either date me, or another career oriented girl.

  1. Sometimes, I am just too tired for date night. Friday nights are usually date nights. However, after a long week at the office, the only thing that I want to do is go home and watch 90’s sitcoms on Netflix. It’s not because I don’t want to hang out, it’s just I’m exhausted. Therefore, please don’t take offense when I say that I am too exhausted to go out on the town with you.
  2. I won’t respond to messages right away. Whether it’s because I have a day full of meetings, trying to get things done, or just engrossed in my work, I’m not paying attention to my phone 24/7. I get it that it can be frustrating when you’re trying to make plans with me and I’m not answering. However, please understand that I’m not ignoring you – I just have to get my work done. And, I will answer. Eventually. Just be patient.
  3. I might have to work late – causing me to have to cancel plans last minute. Sometimes, I’m on deadline so I’ll need to stay at the office much later to get things done. As a result, I may have to cancel or reschedule or movie date. Try to understand that I don’t want to cancel, but I genuinely need to be at work.
  4. You’ll be asked to read some of my stories – and give your honest opinion. This one applies to my fellow journalists out there. Whenever I write a piece for my blog, or an article, chances are I’m going to ask you to read it. Just do it, and tell me what you think.
  5. Sometimes, I’m going to need pep talks. Work has good days and bad ones. On the bad ones, be that extra shoulder of support and be encouraging. It will go a long way.
  6. I’m extremely passionate about my career and will talk about it to anyone who will listen. While the work sometimes is stressful, I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Therefore, my passion for writing is greater than anything else I have in my life. On dates it’s something that I talk about constantly – and that’s okay. Just listen attentively, and eventually, I’ll shut up.
Relationships

Method Behind the Madness

About a few days ago, I was sitting in bed with my dog when I suddenly felt something. No, it wasn’t some weird shooting pain or a realization, but a strong urge.

Shall I leave you in suspense? Can you guess what I felt?

No?

Okay, fine. I’ll tell you.

I felt the urge to date.

Now, many of you know my opinions of my relationship status. I can imagine you all as you’re reading this gathering together and singing a collective Hallejuh, and maybe even recruiting Julie Andrews to sing “The hills are alive . . .”

Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but I’ve felt an incredible amount of pressure to find a plus one since my previous relationship ended in August. Almost immediately, I felt almost as if I had said “I’m not ready now,” then I would be attacked for not moving on fast enough. Oh, so this nice guy likes me and wants to date me?!?! Should I jump up and down with excitement, stop what I’m doing, and just be there?

Uhm, hello. No thank you. Who made you the decision maker on what works for me? That position is filled, so I suggest you stop trying to make that choice.

Until now, I had felt that dating was something I did because I was forced to because it was good for me — similar to going to the Dentist. Wait, going to the dentist isn’t that fun?

Well, neither was going on a date.

I actually went on a few dates with some guys, all unsuccessful. And you want to know why?

Of course you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be sitting here and reading this blog post.

It’s because I wasn’t ready to date. The motivation for me going on those ill fated dates wasn’t because I wanted to get to know the stranger I have been texting. It wasn’t because I wanted to date. It was to shut up everyone who had an opinion about my dating life.

And, that’s not a very good reason to date.

Now, as I finally feel ready to even consider letting another person into my life or even go out on a date without feeling the urge to run away and hide from them, I feel dating is less like an obligation. Plot twist: I feel like it could even be fun!

Although I don’t have any interested parties (other than the guys who keep on texting me and I keep on ignoring), I do know that this will be different than the first few dates I went on all of those months ago.

This time, I won’t be lying to myself or that other person. This time, I truly feel ready to begin dating, to begin the possibility of finding another partner. This time, I am not basing my decision on looking at all of the happy couples on social media, and whining that I am not in the happy couple club.

And you know what? I feel happy, even excited about it!

Yes, it took a lot of time to get to this point. I am not sorry that I took the time that I needed to heal and to feel better. It taught me to listen to myself, my needs, and my wants. I grew, and thought about what I wanted in a relationship and in a partner. And although I am still single as I type these words, I know that when I sit across the lucky fella in a café, I know that he will be someone awesome and worth the wait.

Now, time to enter the Hunger Games . . . Wait, I mean the dating world. Same thing, right?

Relationships

Honest Thoughts About Dating

Let me be bluntly honest by stating that I freaking hate dating. I hate the awkwardness of first dates, the whole DTR (defining the relationship) concept and the rules about what is okay to do at what given stage. I find it both crazy and confusing, and I graduated college with a 3.0 GPA, so I am not that dumb.

Now, I have written a lot about dating and my opinions of it on my blog and other places throughout my career as a writer thus far. I probably will end up repeating some of the things that I have mentioned in those posts, but hopefully whoever is reading this can find some humor in my opinions.

I am currently single, in case you all were not aware. As a single woman in my early 20s, I have friends that are committed in relationships (which I am happy for by the way), and even know a few that are even married. I see these couples, both online and around me, and I can not help but feel like I am the lone single girl (a little melodramatic, but you get the idea) who whines where’s my guy?

While I do crave a relationship some of the time, my current state of mind most of the time is that I am not interested in dating. It is not although I want to remain single forever. It is not that I want to say “fuck you” to the opposite sex and want to never get married or anything like that. It is just that for right this second, I do not see myself dating someone. And, I think that is perfectly okay.

I feel like dating is similar to shopping for the perfect pair of jeans. Sometimes, you get lucky and the first pair that you try on is the perfect pair for you, the kind that fits in all of the right places and makes you look thin. Other times it can be a trial and error process of going to several different stores, and spending several hours trying on different colors and sizes before giving up because you spent the entire afternoon at the mall looking for it, and just want something to eat.

The same rules apply for dating. Sometimes, the first guy you meet after ending a relationship who is the person that makes you laugh and makes you grin like an idiot whenever you think about him/her, and ends up being the next person you are committed to. Other times, it takes kissing several frogs before you find the one, and even taking a break to work on yourself by meeting new friends and trying new things. And both scenarios are perfectly okay.

In the novel “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero, Sincero writes that in order to get what you want, you can not force or chase it. I believe that is true. So, I am taking the lunch break before finding that perfect pair of jeans, or in my case, my Prince Charming (who is a tall, nerdy guy who has both brains, a sense of humor and is a sweetheart) rolls up in his white horse.

Now, I can probably hear my friends out there say no! Don’t give up! Keep on going out on dates.  To shut them up, I can assure you that I am not giving up. I am just taking that lunch break, because I am frustrated with trying on several different guys that do not feel right.

Let’s face it, dating is stressful (mostly for me, as dating me is the best experience that the guy can ever have). With that being said,dating is about the only way to try people on, just like the only way to get clothes is to face the harsh lights of the dressing room to try everything on. Both scenarios are stressful, but to get what you want, you have to deal with them.

With that being said, I am 22. I am still young, and have another 20 years before I need to take up knitting and adopt a bunch of cats. While I wait for my next boyfriend, I plan to hang out with the community of good friends, family and my dog. I plan to read all of the books I can get my hands on, I plan to explore and truly learn to be happy. I feel like there is a huge empathsis on dating, on having that relationship, that we often forget the most important thing is to love ourselves. That way, the relationship will be a healthy one, which is the kind of relationship that I want to have.

I don’t know when my next relationship will be, as my Magic 8 Ball refuses to tell me no matter how many times I shake it. But, util then, I loudly and proudly to Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’, and spend Saturday nights curled up with my dog Maggie (who is currently looking at me as if to say ‘hey sissy, are you almost done writing your blog entry?’) reading chic lit novels and living vicariously through their protagonists.

Book Reviews, Relationships

Conscious Uncoupling: A Break Up Must Read

Disclaimer: I’ve recieved this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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The book “Conscious Uncoupling” helps offer you a healthy perspective of a breakup. 

Let’s face it: break ups are not fun. It is safe to say that we all can come to that consensus. I always say that the only way to truly know someone is to break up with them, as the way that they break up with you or react to your breakup (or how a friend takes a breakup) can show a lot about their personality.

Breakups have also become a huge topic in literature. When I went through one a few months ago, I decided to go to the bookstore to look for some resources on the subject, only to be confused by the wide variety of books that are out there. So with so many books on how to break up, how do you know which ones are the ones worth spending your money on?

Katherine Woodward Thomas’ “Conscious Uncoupling” is that very book. The book is organized five steps-find emotional freedom, reclaim your power and your life, break the pattern, become a love alchemist and create your happily even after life. Each of these steps helps comfort you in a time of heartbreak and gives you the tools to not only cope effectively, but become better than before.

What I liked about this book is that it explores the ideas of letting go and maintaining a healthy relationship with your former partner, as well as learning how to find strength within. Cliche? Yes. But, I found it to be really helpful, and I believe that anyone would as well.

For instance, one of the things that I really liked was changing how people talked about your former partner. When I broke up with my ex-boyfriend, my friends as a way to support me, said that he was a jerk and that they didn’t like him anyway. I found that  However, after reading Thomas’ book, I want to correct them and say we both were at fault, and that I am not the victim.

While this is only one of the many things this book has, this book also offers readers a look of at patterns that one has in relationship. Because of this, I was able to take a look at who I am as a girlfriend, and what I could have done better in my previous relationship. For instance, I could have been more honest with my partner, and more open to him. I also could have asked him how he was feeling when it came to my anxiety. However, while I can not change the past, I can change the future and continue to evolve as a person, an even better one for whenever I do get into a relationship.

And, it all started with this book.

So, if you are going through a break-up, whether it may mutual or otherwise, the “Conscious Uncoupling” is the book for you to read. Trust me, it will help you get through it. And if you’re still trying to move forward, this book also offers you a great resource to help you take those next steps in your life.