Love Actually (Maybe)

“The magic moment is that in which a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ may change the whole of our existence” – Paulo Coehlo

Decisions, decisions. To text him, or not to text him. To kiss her, or not to kiss her. To get back together with the asshole, or to tell the asshole to go to hell. To marry her, or not to marry her. If at these kinds of relationship crossroads you’ve never second guessed yourself, or felt pulled in different directions, then you are one of the lucky ones.

It’s no secret that dating and relationships can be tricky. Love, and our pursuit of it is one of the most talked about and written about issues in our lives. It’s this emotion that in many ways is the most beautiful and uncomplicated thing in the world. Yet the amount of hours I’ve spent decoding conversations, analyzing feelings, and asking for advice, is insane. And I know I’m not the only one.

This also isn’t unique to our generation. I have a friend, who in all of her brilliance still calls me asking for dating advice even though she makes a living helping other people with their problems. She’s the one that everyone else goes to. Yet when it comes to dating in her forties, she’s got the very same questions my friends in their twenties do. Then there’s the 60-year-old woman I met in a mastermind program. One night I spent nearly two hours on Skype with her talking about the man she had feelings for. “Should I text him? What should I say?”

We’re not all that different. It’s the same rush of emotions, the same conversations, the same questions. Much of our time is spent in a grey area, unsure about where things are going, or if we want them to go anywhere at all.

The Law

In 2008, Mark Manson wrote an article titled Fuck Yes or No in which he explains, “Most dating advice exists to ‘solve’ this grey area for people. Say this line. Text her this. Call him this many times. Wear that. Much of it gets exceedingly analytical, to the point where some men and women actually spend more time analyzing behaviors than actually, you know, behaving.”

Indeed, the internet is full of articles insinuating that they hold the secret to finding love, or keeping it. The only problem is, there’s another human being involved. A human being with their own thoughts, feelings, patterns and behaviors that regardless of how much you perfect your behavior or text messages, will still act on their own accord.

So, Mark Manson provides some clarity. Here is the answer we’ve all been waiting for.

“The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them. The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” also states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.”

It’s uncomplicated, clear, and incredibly effective. If it’s not a ‘fuck yes’ then that means it’s a no. Manson explains that this gets rid of a lot, if not most of the grey area in dating. We would save ourselves a lot of energy and pain if we lived by this.

“The Law of ‘Fuck Yes or No’ implies that both parties must be enthusiastic about the prospect of one another’s company. Why? Because attractive, non-needy, high self-worth people don’t have time for people who they are not excited to be with and who are not excited to be with them.”

While I agree with everything this article says and try to live my entire life by this, I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a few minutes before I go back to following this law religiously.

What if …

  • What if you’re one of those people who falls really hard, really fast, for everyone that you meet. If this doesn’t apply to you, you know someone who does this.

“They’re the one, I know it!”

“This is it this time, I can feel it!”

“I’ve never felt this way before.”

For these hopeless romantics, everyone they date is a fuck yes.

  • What if it doesn’t feel like a fuck yes right away? 

My current relationship started with my boyfriend behaving like a ‘fuck boy.’ I was his manager at the time and he overheard me saying that all I really wanted for my birthday was birthday sex. (I know, I should have been more aware of who was listening) So he offered it and I promptly told him to fuck off. (I know, not very professional) But he’s a smart man; the seed was planted and obviously in this case it bloomed. He went from fuck boy to fuck yes, but it took a little bit of time.

  • What if it was a fuck yes, but things change?

Furthermore, what if this is a pattern that you keep repeating? Where no one seems to do it for you. Reasons for this could include but are not limited to: daddy issues, ex issues, or your own shit that you’re not dealing with. Maybe your parents got divorced and you’re therapy’s biggest cliche, unable to let yourself be loved for fear that it will be ripped away from you re: mom and dad. Maybe an ex-fling that you had amazing sex with keeps playing with your head. What if the reasons why that ‘fuck yes’ feeling goes away is about you, not about the relationship itself?

Manson does elaborate and explains that you should apply the law to your decisions as it suits your particular circumstance, “Fuck Yes or No doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be falling in knee-wobbling love at first sight. It doesn’t even mean you have be completely convinced that someone is right for you. You can be “Fuck Yes” about getting to know someone better. You can be “Fuck Yes” about seeing someone again because you think there’s something there. You can be “Fuck Yes” about giving things a few months to pan out and see if you can fix the problems in the relationship. The point is: both you and the other person need to be fuck yes about something, otherwise you’re just wasting your time.”

Of all of the dating advice I’ve ever heard, Mark Manson’s is in my opinion, the most refreshing. Frankly I’m a little upset that I didn’t come across it for another 7 years after publication. I could have really used that advice in the summer of 2008. And 2009. And 2011.

Of course, you don’t have to take this advice or any for that matter; as with all things, you get to decide for yourself. And no law or rule of thumb is going to make those decisions any easier. What I would suggest is making sure your choices are actually yours, and not a result of some personal shit that you aren’t dealing with. Make sure that that ‘fuck yes or no’ is coming from a clean slate.

Once you’ve got ‘you’ handled, then start saying “Fuck Yes.” Otherwise it might just be your ego or your pants doing the talking.

Originally published in Branded Magazine Issue 08: The Affirmation

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Vanity & Tinder

Vanity & Tinder

Thoughts on the dating apocalypse.

In Vanity Fair September 2015, Nancy Jo Sales wrote an article titled “Tinder is the Night.”

When I finished reading it my overall feeling was, ‘Thank GOD I am not single anymore.’ It made me cringe, it made me feeling disgusted, it made me vow to never download that app ever again, no matter what.

With pull quotes like “Hit it and quit it” and, “It’s like ordering Seamless but you’re ordering a person,” as a woman, it’s hard not to feel like a commodity.

Yet, she didn’t write anything that I didn’t already know through my own experiences. Rather, it just proved my own personal findings to be true. It wasn’t just me. Yet after every failed date, fling, or almost-relationship, I continued to fully participate in the whole thing – dating via Tinder.

The article interviews groups of twenty-something girls and guys living in New York City. The stage is set: “It’s a balmy night in Manhattan’s financial district, and at a sports bar called Stout everyone is Tindering … Everyone is drinking, peering into their screens and swiping on the faces of strangers they may have sex with later that evening … ‘Tinder sucks,’ they say. But they don’t stop swiping.”

After reading the section where she chats with a group of girls post-Saturday night hookups, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of what they were saying was a facade.

They talk about being on the app nonstop, the disgusting messages they receive, but also admit that it’s a confidence booster. (Even though some of the guys that Nancy interviewed admitted to swiping right (yes) on every picture in order to increase their chances of getting laid.) The girls also laugh about how so many of the guys they hook up with are terrible in bed. They make fun of their hookups who can’t get hard, or who finish in two minutes. They laugh it all off with this breezy I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude.

It reads almost as callous as the guys’ interviews.

Do these girls really feel that way? Or are they just trying to impress each other and fit into what they think they’re supposed to be?

I know far too well how it feels to go back and forth between “Fuck it – whatever” and, “I know in my heart this isn’t fulfilling me.”

The article definitely gets this point across: It’s a competition to see who cares less.

And I’m calling bullshit.

“I slept my way across Europe,” said with pride by a girl I met through friends one night out. Soon after meeting her I found out what the catalyst for this was: Some guy had told her she was bad in bed when she was 16. I don’t have to have a degree in psychology to know that she most definitely cares.

It happens all of the time – Choosing sex over our self worth. Choosing the instant gratification of feeling wanted over taking a stand for what we really want.

Matthew Hussey, NY Times best selling author and columnist for Cosmopolitan, wrote an interesting response to this Vanity Fair article on his blog, Get The Guy

His message to all of us: We need to take responsibility for our love lives. “When did we get so awful at reading early signals in an age where everyone is so blatantly obvious with them?” asks Matthew.

Perhaps we are addicted to the challenge.

From my experience, we are not often honest about our real intentions. A frustrated twenty-five-year-old guy in the Vanity Fair article talks about the girls he’s been meeting. “They act like all they want is to have sex with you and then they yell at you for not wanting to have a relationship. How are you gonna feel romantic about a girl like that? I met you on Tinder,” he emphasizes.

I can understand his frustration about getting mixed messages. But, “A girl like that.” That pisses me off. Like what exactly? Is it that she gave it up too quickly, or is it that she’s using the app. There are double standards everywhere you look. 

But Matthew also points out, “It’s unacceptable for men to shrug off responsibility by saying ‘the app made me do it’ – If you’re a shitty guy on Tinder, you’re a shitty person. Period.”

AMEN.

“Human beings were this way before apps came along,” says Matthew. “They’ve just found the technological liquor cabinet, that’s all.”

But were we always this bad? To everyone’s horror, Calgary got second place on Ashley Madison, a dating site for married people. Not a silver medal that we should be proud of. Does having choice at our fingertips make us more likely to behave like these men and women in New York City that Nancy interviewed, or more likely to cheat when we do find someone we want to commit to? Or, were we always this way and just got caught less?

It’s a question I’m not sure I want the answer to.

At least Matthew has some kind of solution for us: “As always, the way to stand out is not to play the same game everyone is playing, and right now the most valuable commodities in the dating marketplace are authenticity and a backbone.”

His advice is that social skills are where it’s at.

Again, I can’t help but feel like our dating success or failure is being directly related to ‘self improvement’, and that feels icky in and of itself. 

In short, dating can be a minefield. But as with a lot of things, the solution is usually simple.

I remember grappling with the questions, “Is it me? Am I single because I’m choosing not to settle? Or am I single because I’m incapable of attracting the right person? What am I doing wrong?”

And then a particularly sickening conversation with the last guy I “dated” before my current relationship. He voiced every self-doubt I had ever had. “Poor you, you want it all, the relationship, true love … and you can’t find it.”

Needless to say, I never saw him again after that. The funny thing about life is that usually when you feel like you’ve hit a wall and you want to give up, that’s when there’s some kind of breakthrough. 

I met someone awesome a couple of weeks after that horrifying conversation. Falling into a relationship with him was a breeze. I didn’t have to pretend like I didn’t care. I didn’t have to perfect my social skills. And I didn’t have to be anything other than myself. It was simple, as it should be.

The solution to the ‘dating apocalypse’ might require something radical. Perhaps what we should do is put our phones away, be our imperfect honest selves, and call bullshit when we see it.

High School Reunion

Published in Branded Magazine

IT HAD COME TIME TO ATTEND MY 10 YEAR HIGH SCHOOL REUNION.

How did I get here? I still remember what I wore on my first day of university. And didn’t I just move out?

I have to remind myself that I’ve had, like, six boyfriends, seven roommates, and it’s already been five years since I finished university. On a sunny afternoon in June of 2005, everyone warned me, “Don’t wish time away; it’s going to fly.” I was in my gown with too much eyeliner on and too platinum of hair, thinking only about after-grad and not much else.

Well, as expected, they were right.

I wish I had a hilarious reunion story about running into an old crush that had rejected my 15-year-old self only to wind up being one of those guys who ‘used to be hot.’ We all know those people who peaked in high school.

But I don’t have a story like that because I didn’t go. I don’t even know when it was, but I decided I would be busy that night.

Nevertheless, having been free from the doors of my high school for an entire decade, I’ve been thinking about all of the things that I’ve done and haven’t done since. In reminiscing, I became aware of the lessons that I’m really happy I stumbled upon. Though some of them involved a lot of growing pains, they have been instrumental in shaping the pretend fully functioning adult I am today.

10 Things I Learned in the Last 10:

1. There are many unconventional ways to make money. For a long time I felt judged for not taking a traditional career path, knowing that trying to justify my choices was futile. Yet I spent the majority of this summer working from my cabin. Never had I thought that I could design a schedule and a life that allowed me so much flexibility. It doesn’t have to be 9-5.

2. I remember hearing these lyrics for the first time and knowing exactly who I would dedicate them to: Ive got some friends,some that I hardly know, but weve had some times I wouldnt trade for the world.” Swing Life Away Rise Against

They reminded me of those restless souls that I stumbled upon while backpacking SE Asia, the standard twenty-two year old thing to do.

HSTRAVEL2

Traveling is a better teacher, self-discovery method, and roaring good time than you can imagine. Short trips or big trips, it’s worth every penny.

3. You’re going to offend people— it doesn’t make you a bad person. You are a good friend whether you say yes or no to going out for drinks. And anyone who is up to anything in this world is going to piss some people off.

There’s bound to be someone that thinks of you when “Bad Blood” comes on. Speaking of Taylor Swift lyrics…

4. a) Dating is hard. 

4. b) The grass is never greener. All you want is a boyfriend/girlfriend until you’re fighting with them about their ex, or what Netflix series to start. When you’re finally single and free again, the hunt for your next mate commences and the cycle continues.

4. c) Don’t compare your relationship to other people’s. You never know what their relationship is really like – we only post the good stuff, and even the good stuff is filtered.

4. d) GIRLS: Ignore boys who text you after 10 p.m. BOYS: If she doesn’t text you when she’s drunk, she’s not that into you.

5. Write things down. I first started writing down my goals when I was 23. Five years later, I am living the exact life that I envisioned. It’s freaky. Now I write down ridiculous unlikely things just to test out my manifesting powers.

But in all seriousness, you really are a powerful creator. Just decide, write it down, and take a tiny step in the right direction.

6. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. I’ve learned this lesson about 7,345 times.

6 b) What classifies as binge drinking is really not that much, and you’re probably going to have to lie to your doctor.

7. McDonald’s will never fill you up.

8. You will finally understand why your mother always bitched at you to put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher—especially if you end up with a messy roommate.

9. At some point you will realize that you are either wearing, or have eaten, all of your money. You will then proceed to scribble down a ‘budget’ that you’ll follow for a day and a half. Nothing will change.

10. Dating will seem like the most complicated thing in the world, until you’ve met someone great. Then friendships will take the cake for the thing that drains energy out of you. That is, if you let them. Relationships are tricky, whether they are romantic or not. The best advice I’ve ever been given is to speak up when something is bothering you, and to say what you’re really trying to say—but say it now, not three days or three years down the road.

And this:

One day, whether you are 14, 28 or 65 you will stumble upon someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die. However, the saddest, most awful truth you will ever come to find is they are not always with whom we spend our lives.” –Beau Taplin, The Awful Truth.

That good old saying, “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime,” is true. And it’s okay. We play different roles in each other’s lives. Sometimes we are cheerleaders from afar as we watch one another conquer goals via social media. Sometimes we are not much more than drinking buddies, an occasional therapist, or a shoulder to sob on at 2:30 a.m. outside of a bar. And sometimes we even play the villain.

Overall, the last decade seems to have been a trial in learning to chase after what we want, while simultaneously learning to let things go. As much effort as this life requires, it needs to be matched with an acceptance and willingness to roll with the punches.

To the next 10.

I have to admit that the closer I get to 30, the less scary it seems. I imagine it to be a time where I’ll laugh at my twenty-something self and her petty problems, finally have a career figured out that seamlessly weaves together my passions that pays triple what I make now, and of course, eat salads every day.

I know, dream on.

I can only hope that the approaching dirty thirties have some great times in store. Until then, I will bask in the knowledge that the last 10 years have brought, and of course, continue to lie to my doctor about how many ounces of alcohol I consume on a weekly basis. 

I’ve also been writing about coffee and jackets. Check out brandedyyc.com