Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Put Your Head On My Shoulder

Like any cliché, growing up, I was always Daddy’s Little Girl. I’d wait for him to return home from work and rush him as soon as he stepped inside the door. He’d swoop me up and sing “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” to me. I always knew I would have fun when I was with my father, we’d drink milkshakes and dance and he could fix anything in the world.

When I traded face paint for make up and Barbie’s for boys things changed slightly. Fathers, I think, I generally in bewilderment by adolescent and teenage girls. They most likely had no idea how to figure them out when they were that age and even less so now. I suddenly started finding my father embarrassing, like, why did he have to TALK to EVERYONE? I was certain he had no idea about anything, especially not in regards to being cool. When I left my teens and entered my early twenties the “being embarrassed by my parents” went away but there was still this awkwardness, like, what do we TALK ABOUT?

As I have gotten older and had some trying experiences, I’ve gorwn into my relationship with my father….now viewing him as, a real person, who could understand me. I call him and talk to him about life and what I want out of it, my dreams and how to achieve them, my fears and how to overcome them. When I was going through an epic heartbreak, I’d call at 2am (my time) crying and muttering a bunch of nonsense and he listened to me and offered relevant and logical advice, he understood in a way that I never thought he would.

My father is the kind of man who is so moral, and straightforward. Who is good and kind, and who holds himself in such a way that being around him just makes you want to be better. He has the kind of intelligence that enables him to recall the tiniest details, or argue effortlessly about any given thing. He knows the answer to every question on any game show (watching Jeopardy with him is both awe inspiring but also aggravating), he is a master in the kitchen, being able to conjure the most delicious meal at any given time and loves to cook for people. This love and his natural ability for the art form is evident in every thing he prepares. But aside from these things he is a model of what a man should be. He has always, selflessly makes those he loves his number one priority, often sacrificing his own happiness or desires on behalf of others. He is generous, forgiving, tolerant, resourceful, driven and most of all, kind.

He made sure that we know how much we are loved. That we have someone in our corner no matter what. I can’t even put into words how comforting and empowering having that kind of knowledge and security is. My father (both) of my parents have made it clear to me, that as long as I behave with integrity and to the best of my ability that they will be proud of me. They are not trying to push me into living their life or their goals but rather find my own and live for myself. I don’t feel pressure to make millions of dollars or get married and have children, I am not worried by not doing those things that I will disappoint them. Both of them have always stressed that the greatest thing I can give them is leading a happy life (and to always be kind, of course)

I know every girl says that about her father and mine is no different. We’ve always heard the phrase “women marry men like their fathers” and, when I was younger I’d say, “ewwwwwwwwwwww” but now I realize that finding someone a quarter of the man he is would make me blessed.

Happy Birthday.
(I am not sure sure I say thank you enough, or let you know how fortunate I know I am to have a father like you. You are a constant source of strength and inspiration. You make me feel like I am invincible. I love you.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

God Only Knows What I'd Be Without You

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, the most important and monumental holiday of the year. I jest, even as a hopeless romantic I find the “holiday” to be a complete waste of time. I talked about it last Valentine’s Day but to repeat myself, I don’t believe that love is expressed by buying someone chocolate and flowers and going out to an overpriced dinner on a specific day. For me, love is based on something so much more, something intangible. Showing someone that they mean the world to you comes in the things you do in your every day life, the way you treat them and consider them. To limit romantic gestures and thoughtfulness for one day seems counterproductive to me.

I understand Mother’s/Father’s/Teacher’s/every other day, a little bit more, though I do believe that you should honor all of the above on a daily basis…but your significant other? That doesn’t need to be a cliché, that should be inherent, like breathing.

Valentine’s Day always feels like a no-win situation. If you’re IN a relationship the person will inevitably not live up to your standards and if you’re NOT in one then you are made to feel bad about being single, even if on any other day you’d embrace it. I don’t see how this day can be considered a good thing.

As I mentioned above, being in a relationship requires putting in the dedication and effort to make it work. We often times forget that, and it’s as result of this that some relationships fail. We allow ourselves to feel the initial rush of exhilaration when we first date someone and when this wanes off (which it will, it can’t last forever but instead transitions into something much more beautiful) we take it as a sign of “this isn’t the right person.” Sometimes it isn’t, but sometimes it’s just a lack of perspective from our end. We’ve seen too many movies, read too many books that tell us what it should look like rather than what it ACTUALLY looks like.

I don’t claim to be a relationship expert, clearly, since I am single right now, so you are entitled to tell me I have no idea what I am talking about. However, I’ve been in my fair share of relationships (some good, some bad, all enlightening), am the product of parents who have been happily married for 34 years, and have watched my friends go through almost every kind of romantic situation one can imagine, so I do think I have enough perspective that I can write about them. And write about common mistakes we make whilst in them…

Getting Lazy/Taking Someone for Granted: Once we figure out we like someone, we’re usually on our best behavior. We put in effort, we show we care, we make sure the person we’re with knows how great we think they are. We do this because we don’t want to lose them, we want to solidify the union. But once stability is established a lot of times we begin to slip. We assume that since we have the person that we’ve won. But it doesn’t work like that…while it’s impossible to keep up the initial frenzy and whirlwind, to let initiative die out completely is a serious fail. We need to continue in our efforts to charm and seduce the one in our life. Even the most secure, confident people want to know that they are cared about, and that they are important. They want to know that what they’re feeling is reciprocated. I understand that we’re all busy, and we all have lives but maintenance (while essential) doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly time consuming. It can be as simple as an email, or a text, or a voicenote, just to say hi and you’re thinking of them. (If that is too cliché then include a reason why. Example: “I saw a woman fall down the stairs and it made me think of the time you wiped out when running to catch the subway. “ or “I read a really interesting article/book that I think you’d like, I’ll send you the link/you can borrow it.”) It really is as simple as that. Also, listen to what they want. If something is important to someone you care about (and it’s not completely ridiculous) then what’s the harm in indulging that?

Criticism/Trying to Change Them: I’m of the mindset that the people we surround ourselves with are supposed to make us feel better about ourselves, not worse. The people in our lives should be our champions, our supporters, those who know us and love and accept us for who we are. I am not trying to suggest that our loved ones indulge us to the point of denial; we should be challenged, and told when we’re wrong but for the most part, we should have people in our lives who ACTUALLY like us, not who they want us to be. If you’re annoyed that someone leaves every cupboard door in the kitchen open, or if they fall asleep mid text/bbm/whatsapp conversation, those little things are normal, growing pains in a relationship. They’re fixable. Even bigger things like you don’t like them jumping to conclusions or certain comments or actions they make. Those things are fine, they’re called compromise. But it’s when it becomes bigger. I knew a guy once who claimed to have a crush on me, but in (almost) every conversation we had, he would tell me things about myself I needed to “change” and “improve” …one or two were (slightly) valid but most were things that I hadn’t been told before and that no one else seems to have a problem with. When I mentioned this, he told me they just didn’t want to stand up to me. He told me that he didn’t buy the phrase, “This is who I am…” He refused to listen to any logic or input from my side. He’d made up his mind so unless I was willing to agree with him, my words fell on deaf ears. So instead of fighting it, I just stopped speaking to him. I don’t need people in my life whose idea of caring is tearing me down. While I don’t pretend to be perfect, I have enough people in my life who adore me as I am that I don’t really have room for those who don’t.

Playing Dirty: Once you become close with someone you begin to understand the way they think. You know how to deal with certain moods and situations, and the subjects to highlight and avoid. For the most part, you use this information to keep the relationship on a high, but sometimes, when you’re angry/hurt/frustrated it’s used as ammunition. Just because you know exactly what to say to someone to hurt them doesn’t mean you should do it. I know it’s tempting, they did XYZ so they “deserve it”, but one thing I have learned is hurting someone does NOT make you hurt any less, and it rarely brings any kind of validation. Fights are part of EVERY relationship (and breakup) but they don’t have to be nasty, they shouldn’t be. Fighting dirty results in irreparable damage, even after the gloves are put away. People don’t forget what was said “in the heat of the moment” nor will they ever truly accept that you “didn’t mean it,” They’ll always believe that there was an element of truth in your words. Learn how to fight without hurting, how to fight productively, how to use the fight to progress the relationship, not tear it apart. (Tips: don’t yell, stay calm always, stay on focus-don’t bring up unrelated random grievances mid argument, don’t attack or accuse, be clear in explaining what you’re upset about and why, expressing how it makes you feel, let the other person talk and actually listen to them, if they start getting nasty change the tone back, remember that everyone is different and that you have chosen this person for a reason-try and love and accept them, give them a chance to work on it, it won’t and can’t happen overnight, If you say it’s over and are moving forward, actually do it. Drop it. Do not revisit over and over)

Jealousy: Ah the green eyed monster, it can destroy so much, yet is so unnecessary. Jealousy springs from insecurity and I just can’t fathom why one would allow themselves to feel insecure about a relationship that they’re in. It is not obligatory to be in the relationship, you’re in it because you want to be, so why get jealous and insecure? When I’m into someone, I don’t want anyone else, and if I start wanting someone else, I see that as a major red flag and reevaluate the relationship. Jealousy is a MAJOR deal-breaker for me, it is one of the few things I am unrelenting on. Not only am I a natural flirt, but I’m very good friends with almost every guy that I’ve ever been romantically involved with. We talk a lot and spend time together (I am always open about this), but there is nothing “there” anymore. Things ended for a reason and those reasons are still relevant. No reason to be jealous. Same thing with other parties that you meet out. Look at it this way: there is a reason that you’re with this person, and it’s because they’re awesome. So chances are, others will notice it as well. Laugh it off, they’re with YOU. That being said, don’t be so deluded that you assume that everyone wants your significant other, yes they’re great, but everyone has different tastes. Don’t give ultimatums, don’t stalk, don’t threaten other parties or try and throw your weight around. Sit back and relax. When you’re with someone, you have to assume that they want to be with you. (Assumptions are usually bad but in this case, they’re not, they’re essential!!!) Trust the person you’re with, give them enough respect and consideration….oh, and work on your insecurity issues. They’re not attractive.

Blame: It’s so easy to pass blame and judgment on something, and even easier to focus our attention on the wrong thing. No one is perfect, and people are going to do things to disappoint us but casting blame on the wrong person or thing is delusional. Sometimes you have to accept that YOU are the wrong one, and take responsibility for that. It’s not easy to say you’re wrong, admit a weakness, but to not do so results in serious issues for others and yourself. Another form of blame is “the other person.” Not that your significant other should be unfaithful to you, but in the event they are, you have to be realistic about the situation. I have never been one to condone blaming “the other woman.” If I am dating someone, my responsibility to them is to behave respectfully and to be faithful. It is not another guys job to do it for me. Same if I hook up with someone who has a girlfriend (not something I would do but let’s be hypothetical here) …am I the wrong one? No. It is HIS responsibility to be faithful, not mine. I don’t owe her anything. (On a side note, I believe hooking up with someone in a relationship is one of the highest forms of self degradation, no one deserves to be second best) The only exception to this is if you are friends with the person whose significant other you are hooking up with. It is your responsibility AS A FRIEND to behave with integrity.

Manipulation/Guilt Tripping: The ultimate form of passive aggressive behavior is guilt tripping someone into feeling and behaving a certain way. Doing so is unhealthy and damaging and the same can be said for manipulation. Why not just be honest? Be direct about what you want and how you feel and accept the outcome.

The Past: Even though it already happened, we spend so much time focusing on the past rather than leaving it where it belongs. What’s done is done and we can’t control it or change it, so why the fixation? Whether it be a past argument or our significant others past before they met us (example: How many people have you slept with?) focusing on it is unnecessary and negative. Leave it where it belongs and focus on the present.

Monogamy: For some people, monogamy is a dirty word, and impossibility, but hopefully you are not dating that person. Actually that’s unfair, to each their own, but most people like being in a relationship where monogamy is part of the equation. I’ve heard that it isn’t realistic or sustainable, that humans just aren’t built that way, and I think while it is a challenge, to use that excuse is laziness. But then again, I'm not married, however, for me it’s like this, if you love someone, they should be enough. They deserve that. If you want to be with other people, than don’t be in a relationship. Play the field. There is NOTHING wrong with that, just so long as it’s done in a proper setting and when you’re single. Monogamy isn’t so much about physically being with someone but having that trust, that connection, that stability that makes a relationship so precious. To break that alters things. That being said, we are human, we do make mistakes and sometimes we slip up. I am no exception, I will openly admit to having cheated on a boyfriend, something I wish I could take back because it not only hurt him but it damaged my perception on myself, and though he has…I have not yet been able to forgive myself. There is the age-old debate about what we do if we slip…do we come clean to the person? Or hide it from them? I’m of the belief that to disclose such information is selfish. That we do it to relieve our own guilt by passing on the hurt to somebody else. I believe if it was truly a mistake, one that you regret and can say won’t happen again, then keep it to yourself. Deal with it. Sure you’ll feel bad, but you should. It’s YOUR problem, no one elses. (I am aware that A LOT of people will disagree with me on this one)

Third Parties: Last time I checked, relationships tend to be between two people, yet somehow this can multiply and you’re dating the person you’re with, their best friend, and their entire family. We tend to involve people in our most personal business when they have no place being there. For one thing, there are always two sides to every story, and unless you and your +1 are having an equal sharing moment, the conversation will be biased. If we’re really honest with ourselves, we usually don’t call up our best friend to gush, “You will not believe how AMAZING (name) is! …..” we call to complain, and mention something negative. And what happens then? Unnecessary and preconceived notions. Opinions are formed that are not necessarily fair and there will be a negative undertone in that persons mind henceforth. They will always think about the bad things you said, even after you get over it and move on (which, in most cases, we tend to do quite rapidly)but you have now planted a seed which will only perpetuate with time. I am by no means suggesting that you refuse to share information with those nearest and dearest to you, because it’s important to have a support network outside of your relationship, but be careful about what you disclose and how you disclose it. Take into consideration what the listener is going to hear and how they’ll interpret it.

Compromise: When you're in a relationship, you automatically become part of a unit, a partnership and with this means foregoing complete selfishness. You can no longer do exactly what you want and when you want, because you have someone else to consider. This shouldn't be a burden as you have CHOSEN to be in this situation. I'm not suggesting that we become a doormat or lose our sense of self, but rather embrace the conscious decision that we've made. We care about this person, and we want to make them happy, just as we hope they want to please us. This means doing things we wouldn't normally do, making sacrifices and concessions. We have to accept that we aren't always right, and that other people matter. If you can't do this, be single.

These are not the only things to avoid, every relationship has its issues, but they are, I feel, real relationship killers and on many accounts, can be avoided. Being in a relationship with someone you love (or even really like a lot) is something that we should cherish...every day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Ceylon: How I Fell in Love with Sri Lanka

I fell in love with Sri Lanka before I even passed through immigration. We arrived on the eve Christmas Eve and the clean and bright airport was full of good cheer and carol singers, however it wasn’t just the holiday spirit that instilled good will, it was the whole atmosphere, the vibe of the place and the country. Within minutes of being there, I didn’t want to leave.

My decision to visit this magical country was last minute and slightly serendipitous. Due to a long trip to the US/UK in the fall, I knew I was unable to make the long haul to spend the holidays with my family, and when my Thailand plans fell through, I’d resigned to a Christmas in Hanoi. However, as the date grew nearer (and the weather began to turn nasty) I felt the familiar feeling creeping up, I needed to get away, and impulsively (like many of my decisions) booked a week in Sri Lanka.

It’s one of the better travel decisions that I’ve made.

The first time Sri Lanka ever seriously popped up on my radar was July 2010. (Obviously, I knew about the country’s history and followed the civil war) What I mean by popped up is the notion of it being a country I could realistically visit . I was sitting in The Kuala Lumpur airport with my friend Jenny, waiting to fly back to Hanoi on the six am flight. There were two flights leaving at that time, side by side, one to Hanoi and one to Colombo. Jenny and I joked about what if we got on the wrong flight and then made some silly little pact that we’d go there. Though truthfully, I never thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, it seemed cool, but there were so many other places that were on my “travel to-do list” before Sri Lanka. A year later, one of my closest friends got a job in Colombo, imploring me to visit her, so I figured why not?

I had no idea what to expect when I arrived, and perhaps my lack of expectations is what made the experience much more magical. I had no preconceived notions, no plans….I was just ready to soak up everything the country had to offer.
Colombo is a city that boasts culture and old world charm/history while managing to be modern, organized and internationally diverse. As a traveler (or expatriate) it is very manageable and uncomplicated to navigate and explore…and has anything and everything to offer.

Our first day was spent poolside at the historic Galle Face Hotel, whose beautiful view and prime location make it a popular hangout for the expats in the city. From there we had our Christmas Eve dinner at Gallery Café, an enchanting, aesthetically pleasing café with mouth watering international cuisine. At our table we had Americans, Swiss, Vietnamese, French, Japanese, Brazilian amongst others, which kind of reinforced one of the main reasons I enjoy living life abroad. I am always in a multicultural environment, listening to ideas and stories from different perspectives and backgrounds.

Sri Lanka is one of these countries that despite being small in size, has vast appeal geographically. You want a city? It’s there. The beach? Hundreds. Mountains? In the centre. Ancient cities? After Colombo, my travel companion (Anemi) and I headed, with our new Sri Lankan friend, to Sri Pada (aka Adam’s Peak,) a five hour drive east. Once we got out of the city limits, we entered Hill Country, and were surrounded by plush green and passed tea plantation after tea plantation. Sri Lankan tea is the best in the world. That’s a bold statement, I know, but as a tea connoisseur, it’s a statement I can make with a great amount of confidence.

Adam’s Peak is 7,359 ft (2,243 metres) tall known for the "sacred footprint" rock formation near the summit, believed in Buddhist tradition it is held to be the footprint of the Buddha. It is an important pilgrimage site, and the (approx four hour climb) traditionally begins at 2am to arrive at the top before sunset.
I was worried about this.

I don’t make any pretenses about being a climber, nor did I bring any appropriate clothing for the hike, but a few trips to a shopping centre and a desire to see this glorious site drove me up the mountain, resting every half an hour. I am so delighted that I did, the sense of accomplishment was fantastic and the view was breathtaking. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before and strangely powerful. While the top was filled with other tourists, there was a mix of Sri Lankans who had made the pilgrimage and whose presence gave the whole experience a spiritual feel.

The walk down was considerably more difficult than the way up. Perhaps it was the exhaustion finally hitting or that the climatic moment was over but it seemed to go on much longer than desired and energy levels were waning. We finally made it, had lunch and were on our way back to Colombo. We couldn’t walk properly for days, so it was fortunate that our next stop was down south to Unawatuna beach, a place where we could just unwind and relax.

We’d heard stories about the local buses so I was prepared to be shocked but, maybe on account of living in southeast Asia for two years, I didn’t find it to be anything stunning. The bus was crowded, no doubt about that, and there was no room for our bags so I had to but mine on the floor and have my legs up against my chest for the three hour journey. That was not the best thing as they were still tight from my climb, and I practically fell out of the bus on account of not being able to walk.

Galle Fort (reminded me so much of Hoi An) and Unawatuna Beach is where we spent the next few days, wandering around, looking at the architecture, discovering little things that made this area so unique and so exquisite. It was an area that was hard hit by the tsunami and I spent several hours with a man who had lost half of his family in this tragedy.

The people of Sri Lanka are friendly and positive, welcoming and kind. They are proud of their country and like to show it off. For the most part, the people I met while traveling and ambling about didn’t have an agenda other than to talk to me and share their stories, experiences and the beauty of the country that they love so much. Their affection for the place furthered my adoration for the country and everything it has to offer.

I obviously can’t talk about Sri Lanka without touching on the food there, which was divine. The spices, the curries, the sweets…all of which are eaten by hand. Your right hand, by the way. Eating with your hand goes against everything I’d been taught about proper decorum, but once I got used to it, I enjoyed the experience, mixing the different dishes on my plate and savoring each bite.

Also world renowned for it’s gems, I picked up a few trinkets that I will cherish.

When I left, seven days after I’d arrived, it was with regret that I didn’t have more time. I wanted to see so much more, absorb other experiences. I started looking into ways that I could move there and work there. I felt such an energy and connection to this place that I, prior to this journey, had never expected to go to.

I have every intention of returning some day, sooner rather than later, and maybe it won’t be in a long term capacity, but I know that I need to enjoy its splendor some more.

If you ever get the chance to go, don’t hesitate, book your ticket, get on a plane, and fall in love.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rules of Attraction: Relationship Handbook Volume 2

*amended March 9
**amended March 28

After writing my Relationship Handbook, I was overwhelmed with the response I got. Notes and conversations with people all over the place. A Vietnamese friend thanked me because she said it helped her understand slang (apparently she'd just seen a movie with the phrase "Booty Call" uttered and didn't know what it meant)

But aside from the clarity issues like that, the responses I received were from people wanting to share their experiences, contribute their insights. I loved reading them, so much so that I decided to post another volume rather than just add on to the first one.

It struck me (once again) how this kind of thing resonates with people because we all value the relationships in our lives so highly. Whether they be platonic or romantic, the way we interact with those around us play an integral part of who we are and how we feel.

The notes I received were not just from women, which surprised me a bit. Not that men don't care about relationships (they do) but it is women who are often pegged as the ones who need for things to be defined more. As it turns out, that's not true.

We all like to put a label on things because it helps us recognize, validate, rationalize and justify the people we have in our lives and the things that occur with them. Putting a title (whatever it may be be) on something is a way of gaining control over something we actually have very little control over.

I can't claim full credit for this list, though some of the ideas were my own, as I said, I received so much from the outside. In particular, Anya, who really deserves to be credited as co-author of this as well as a fantastic contribution from KB and B. So thanks to everyone, especially them.

So without further ado....

Collectible Editions:
Collectible Editions are extraordinary people from all over the world that we stay in touch with, flirt with, talk about wanting to marry. There is the possibility that they are Mr/s. Right, but not right enough to move for or commit to. They are, in some ways, a faux relationship. We keep them on our roster of people because they intrigue, flatter and engage us. They almost trick us into believing that there is something substantial there, when in actuality they are merely some kind of smoke screen. We like them, and though whirlwind weekend throughout the world may take place, it’s doubtful we’ll ever seriously be with them. In fact, if we actually were in the same city as one of them, the allure would be ruined and they would end up in the rejection heap like everyone else. But we keep them around anyway, because you never know… (and we certainly don’t want them with someone else, at least not seriously, that will ruin our maybe kind of plans)

The Proximity Relationship: A relationship that starts and continues because you are around someone all the time (work/school) and as such there is virtually no work involved. Once the proximity is removed, one of the participants inevitably realizes that they never truly liked the other person and thus begins the exit strategy. It's akin to painting yourself into a corner. Super easy to get into, not so easy to get out of.

Flirt Buddy: Someone who you can flirt with, perhaps outrageously, but safely - usually because you both know you're not each other's type and there are immutable barriers to getting together (ie conflict in core values, age, location, religion, relationships etc). You find each other attractive enough, and enjoy each other's company enough to wish to flirt, but not so attractive/on your radar that you actually fancy them seriously; nor they, you. Of course, the danger is that one party will reappraise the other as potential relationship material .. funtimes ahoy...

*Makeout Buddy: In a world completely obsessed with sex we often overlook the enjoyable activity of a good old fashioned makeout session. There are some situations where making out with someone (JUST making out) is exactly what we want and need. A makeout buddy is someone who we are attracted to and enjoy kissing but simply don't see a need to take it further. These sessions can take place at a bar or even go as far as having hang out sessions at home, where we spend time with them in addition to kissing. It's fun, it's easy, it's low maintenance, it's wonderful.

Platonic Spouse: You do everything together from buying clothes and furniture to talking about your life and relationship fears, and communicate almost every day to 'check in' with each other, and to share your latest triumph/failure. There are no boundaries to what you talk about, with discussions going into the wee small hours .. so chats include everything from sex to bowel movements .. but you're an old married couple where any hint of sex has evaporated and become comfy familiarity. If you shared a bed, it'd be more Morecambe and Wise than Missionary and Whipped Cream. Probably.

Friends With Frisson: Sometimes an attraction with a friend is mutual (if occasionally unequal); there is teasing and flirting, and you know YOU have thought of them in 'that way' occasionally and you suspect, they have looked at you in 'that way' too .. but something stops either (or both) of you from making that first move. You may feel it's just a phase/dry spell you're going through or there may be other factors that stop you (fear of rejection, of destroying the friendship, belief of fundamental compatibility, too high expectations)

The One Who Keeps You Single: It's seldom deliberate or conscious, and not always their fault .. but no-one really compares to 'x'. You date, or try to date, other people to pass the time and move on, but there is SOMETHING that keeps 'x' in your mind and heart. You may even tell them to leave your life, which they do .. until they turn up out of the blue, and turn your life and your heart upside-down again. You may not have even had a full 'relationship' with them (more usually not); they linger, tantalisingly, just beyond your reach, either emotionally or circumstantially.

The One You Want To Save: This person is so lovely! They are so good, and have gone through so much, all they need is just a little love and support, and then they will blossom .. and then what? Fall in love with you, perhaps, or at least address their circumstances so they're free to be with you? Women like a project sometimes and guys like to rescue damsels in distress. I often wonder if two people with matching emotional drivers work in a relationship; I'd imagine short-term yes, until The Rescued wants autonomy...

Right One Wrong Time:We always hear about this kind of scenario. And for me there are two ways this can happen:

a) Two people fall into each others lives and it’s perfection. It’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of a relationship being. This person fulfills you in every way, they make you feel like the best possible version of yourself, it’s so magical that it almost feels like a dream. Of course, you quarrel at times but even the arguments are beneficial. However, you’re moving away, or they’re about to embark in some kind of life changing event that means you can’t be together. You find yourself thinking, “If only we’d met at a time when we could give this thing a real shot.”

b) The person is exactly what you want or are looking for but you can’t engage in the relationship fully because you’re not in the right headspace or geographic location. You wish that you could put the relationship on pause, keep on with your life, and hit play again when you’re ready. You know that once certain things work themselves out that this would be it for you. These tend to end more messily than they should because we often times realize the great we have and try desperately to keep things afloat even though we are weighed down by anchors. (aka The One Who Got Away)

The worst part about these relationships is that the feelings don’t subside with a breakup. You still care and love but you just simply cannot be anymore. You know there is a reason but you can’t fully accept it because you’re angry at the circumstances We romanticize these unions much more than we should, we idealize them when we shouldn’t. As many times as we tell ourselves that there is “no reason”…. there actually is, and it’s better than most. The cold hard truth is that while compatibility and love are crucial, timing is also a major factor in successful relationships.

The Mini-Relationship: A short, valuable, revealing and positively-challenging relationship which is an enjoyable learning experience. It is restorative and introduces a new but treasured aspect into your life, perhaps a language, cuisine, unknown love of dance. But especially for those coming out of a long relationship, a mini-relationship can be a healing and positive experience in and of itself (unlike the Rebound, has that one been mentioned yet?). From the outset, both parties know that it will be short-term but allows for a sense of freedom and adventure. This type of relationship is endorsed by Andrew G Marshall in The Single Trap, pg 131, by the way.

The Relationship in All But Name: This blends together a number of previously mentioned relationships; you're Platonic Spouses, Friends With Frisson, Flirt Buddies and you communicate every day. But while one of you is open taking the risk and giving it a try to see what happens (and would be happy with a Mini Relationship), the other is too fearful, wants fireworks and not to 'settle' for you and mere contentment as you're not what they're truly looking for. You both suspect that you want what the two of you have .. just with someone else, really. While this isn't on the horizon, you stay in this quasi-relationship-in-all-but-name, until one of you finds someone else to share this emotional intimacy with.

Plaything: In between a hook up buddy and someone you’re dating is a Plaything. A Plaything can not be classified as a FWB because you’re not really friends. A Plaything is someone you keep around for entertainment or amusement. Someone who you don’t take seriously but you enjoy having around because they’re fun and they make you feel good about yourself. Usually this is one sided and the Plaything believes you to be in a relationship more serious than you are. Playthings are great in between relationships or when you’re going through something big (kind of like The Distraction) because being with them is truly an escape from reality.

The Coyote: I have written about coyotes in the past. They are the ones that you choose to let in your life but don't deserve to be. Coyotes spend some time (whether it be a few hours, weeks, months or years) winning your affection and trust only to destroy things be being callous and unfeeling. By hurting you, by making you feel stupid and accept less than you deserve. Coyotes only care about themselves and view you as just a pawn in their quest for enjoyment. They take everything good that you have to offer but just leave a black mark on you and in some ways you can't get over it. You know you should forget them and send them packing (emotionally speaking) but you don't. You think about them and analyze/agonize over what happened. But we must accept coyotes for what they are and run far away from them. They don’t care about you. (Here are some signs of how to spot them)

**WISC (Wolf in Sheep's Clothing): A step (or two) down from a Coyote is a WISC. The main difference between a Coyote and a WISC is that coyotes are actually inherently bad--bad people, bad intentions, whereas a WISC is dangerous on another level. These ones are particularly difficult because, from all appearances they are completely wonderful, so they make us feel safe and comfortable. They're everything that we should be attracted to so we find ourselves giving in. Their goal is to win us over but as soon as they do they will lose interest, it's kind of like being attracted to the chase but never wanting to actually win the race. They aren't "bad" because, unlike the Coyote, they don't do it on purpose, they don't manipulate and hurt for fun, it just so happens that it's the end result.

All Talk No Action: This is someone who have a strong desire to be with. And they seem to be just as attracted to you. Your flirtation crosses over into the realm of scandalous...sexting, dirty pictures, and late night conversations...which simply exacerbates the rapacious inclination already in place. doesn't seem to go further than your phone. Things are said, promises are made, intentions stated...but there is no follow through. This lack of execution drives us into an almost frenetic state of frustration...and we become obsessed with making the situation play out in the real world. Perhaps our efforts will work, but most likely we'll be left disappointed and unsatisfied.

However, despite the definitions in this post and the previous one, these are serving more as outlines... as no relationship can be truly defined. No two relationships are the same, which is what makes them so compelling, dynamic, and frustrating. We do our best stumbling around them, trying to learn from past experiences and mistakes while at the same time making sure the past doesn't define us and embracing that everything situation is unique.

Definitions aside, the most we can do is to try and understand ourselves and what it is we want not only from ourselves but from the person that we're involved with, and figure out if we're getting it. Once that is clarified, everything else(should) become easier to discern. Oh and don't read books like the one below. Seriously stupid.