Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Burning Down the House: What NOT to Do On a Date



I went on my first "real" date two days before my sixteenth birthday which means I've been in the dating world for just over 13 years. Granted, over 11 of those were spent with a boyfriend (that number scares me actually) but I still know a thing or two about being single. In my 11 years as a girlfriend, I perfected the art of being a great one. There is not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that I am an incredible girlfriend, just ask my exes. The fact that we're still friends is a testament to that statement. Being single, though, is a constant work in progress. While being single is exciting and fun, it lacks stability. It’s the land of the unknown. It’s trial and error. It’s exploration, triumphs and failures.

I feel like I learned more in my two years of singledom to make me qualified to write this post. Some of my dates have been incredible and others, not so much. Sometimes things go well and we continue to see each other, sometimes there is no chemistry, or sometimes something happens, a blunder, that derails the process. It’s these mistakes that I am talking about today. Ones that are completely avoidable. Ones that I hope other people can learn from. More importantly, that I actually have learned from. That's kind of the point of writing this, actually.

Listen to outside sources: This is a tough one because it's perfectly natural to want to talk to our friends about our personal life and what's going on in it. I am not saying we shouldn't rely on friends for support and input but we have to be careful what we allow to affect us. We have to make sure we are still of our own mind when making decisions. The bottom line is that relationships are between two people and bringing too many people into the picture confuses things.  Example: Not long ago, I was about to go on a second date with someone that I was REALLY excited about. I was talking about it with a good guy friend of mine who replied, “"Ha! He's good. He's really good, got the game down pat. And you've fallen for it! He might be my new idol." Now, some people may say that my friend is an unsupportive jerk and that I should've ignored him and told him where to go. They're probably right. Logically, I knew I should’ve ignored him, he doesn’t even know the person I was going out with. But the thing is, he's my friend, and a very good one at that, and I trust him. So when he said those things, my giddyness turned into nervousness and I couldn't shake the feeling that my date was just playing a game and that I was stupidly falling for it. To say that it affected my behavior and my date is an understatement.

Rush things: Getting to know someone is a process, it takes more than a few dates to figure out who they are and whether we want to be with them. We may be excited about someone and want to hang out with them more and more, and that’s ok but there is NO REASON to rush into anything. Don’t rush into feelings, labels, or declarations. Give the person a chance to know you and be known themselves. If it’s supposed to happen, it’ll transition naturally.

Overanalyze: I hate to put a gender label on things, and I am sure my feminist good friend will have my head for this, but, women tend to overanalyze more than men. Not saying that men don't, they can and do, but it's a more female quality. We think about things too much: "What does this mean?" "Where is this going" "he didn't reply/call---why?" “Did I do something wrong, should I have said/done X instead?” And instead of my pragmatic and relaxing, we get all wound up and -even worse-jump to conclusions, often negative ones. We also have a tendency to hold someone we’re romantically interested to higher standards than others in our life. If a good friend doesn’t respond to a text we don’t freak out that they don’t like us, we just assume they’re busy. So why get worked up about someone we like? One of my best friends has a theory about this little peanut in our brain. The peanut is where the negative and crazy comes from. That we can acknowledge that the peanut exists but that we don't need to let it rule our thoughts, but instead acknowledge it and, just quickly, dismiss it. Often times, though, the peanut is wrong. It stems from our own insecurities and not from reality.  The peanut is bad. It ruins things, including our sanity

Over share: When we start dating someone, everything is new and that's exciting and bit nerve-wrecking. We're getting to know them and vice versa. That being said: pace yourself, there is no reason for everything to be on the table from the word go. I get that sometimes this can be hard, I know when I get nervous I either talk non stop (Literally almost don't even stop to breathe. I talk about everything and anything, weird, random, inappropriate, irrelevant. Anything. This is uh, not a good tactic) or become silent. I don’t know which one is worse.  Just remember: it's just a conversation...we have them all the time.

Obsess: The beginning stages are intoxicating, a total rush. It's easy to get swept up in the wonder of it all, to become enamored with the adorableness of it all. Try and be realistic and not get too caught up, because that's when we start obsessing, and obsessing is an unattractive, dangerous world, and it makes us do off kilter things. Take a step back and breathe, let things happen.

Play games: I know that we're supposed to "play the game" and I actually just wrote about why that is bad, but people do it anyway. The thing about games is that we become so immersed in them that it can be more about winning than enjoying. So stop playing them. Stop pretending like you don’t care. If you like someone, just like them.

Push someone away to test them: This is on the same spectrum as playing games, but pushing someone away is pretty much ensuring that they’ll actually leave. Opening up and being vulnerable is scary, no one likes the idea of being hurt or rejected but it kind of goes with the territory. It’s a risk, but then again so is getting in a car and we do that every day. I mean, I drive a motorbike in Hanoi which is a pretty dangerous task that I undertake multiple times a day. I’m digressing. The point is, we make choices daily that could affect us in the long term, and we make these choices without giving them a second thought. We push people away because we want to test them, we want them to prove that they’re stable and not going anywhere. We want to find out early on what we’re dealing with. The problem with this, and there are many problems, is that people don’t like being pushed away. They don’t like feeling like they have to fight you every step of the way. Especially in the beginning. The beginning is supposed to be the fun and easy part, not an obstacle course. As difficult as it may be, resist the urge to push and instead be receptive and open and willing.

Try and make someone jealous: Again, also closely related to games, because it is one. Trying to make someone jealous is selfish and immature and pretty much always backfires. If we’re deliberately trying to wind someone up it can only end badly because they’ll either dismiss us and think we’re not worth it or they’ll get jealous and stake their claim and be forever suspicious and possessive, which frankly aren’t good grounds for a relationship

Lose confidence/Be someone you're not: If someone is on a date with you, there are pretty high odds that it's because they're interested in you. YOU. Something about you piqued their interest so why-WHY-come off like someone you're not? Why lack confidence? There is no reason to be insecure, especially since the other person has already validated your awesomeness by asking you out. If you lose your sense of self and your confidence then game over-you lose, you're out. It is, of course, natural to be a little bit nervous but don’t let nervousness get the best of you! Walk into every situation assuming the best, assuming that this person is into you and proceed accordingly. I can safely attest that every date that I’ve gone on in which I was overly nervous I pretty much ruined while the ones that I breezed into usually turned out to be pretty awesome. (On a personal note, I've come to realize that if I feel unnaturally nervous on/prior to a date, that it's a sign that this isn't the right person to be out with. We should feel comfortable with being ourselves and the person we're with should be receptive to that and vice versa) 

Blurt out nervous destructive comments: This is so painfully obvious that it shouldn't even be on the list. The other thing about this, is it's not something we do on purpose, of course, we try and avoid comments that will cause tension or confusion. I'm a big believer in being oneself, and not having to measure your words before saying them, however, if you, like me, have a tendency to let nervousness cause word vomit, I recommend: trying to think before you speak. For example, telling someone you're on a date with that being affectionate with them is "pointless" will pretty much guarantee that they won't ask you out again. Just like, nervously babbling to someone you're interested in that you "hate being asked out on dates" will probably ensure that they won't. 

Let your ego get in the way: Ah the ego, an essential yet dangerous commodity. It’s important to have a healthy self esteem and to love ourselves (otherwise how can we expect someone else to?!) but our ego can get us into trouble. We know how great we are, but occasionally, someone may disagree with us and while that’s a never fun reality, it is a reality nonetheless. In the event someone decides they aren’t interested-for whatever reason-we have to just deal with it. Get over it. It’s just one person. We can’t charge full steam ahead to try and change their minds. If we’re honest with ourselves, we will admit that our ego can drive us to do things simply to win. Which is a bad reason to want something. Remember this: You aren't into everyone, so you can't expect them to be into you. Also ask yourself: Am I upset about this rejection because I really was into this person, or is it just my ego getting in the way? 9 times out of 10, I bet it's the latter.

Try and make someone like you/ Misread the writing on the wall: This is related to the ego and confidence thing, and it’s something we shouldn’t do. If you're on a date and you're thinking too much it can never go well. If you're out with someone and wondering if it's ok for you say something, wondering how they'll react to you being yourself, then you have to question whether or no this is a person you want to date. The reason why is that you can’t MAKE someone do anything, especially like you. Just like they can’t make you like them. They either do or they don’t. if they do, that’s great, if they don’t, then you have to accept that this is not the right person for you to be dating, even if you hoped otherwise. Dates have two outcomes: one, you go out again or you don’t. If it’s the latter then it’s pretty obvious something was lacking. It’s also pretty obvious when someone isn’t into you, it’s just a matter of whether or not you can pull yourself out of denial mode. If someone went from talking to you frequently to simply responding to your messages (or not respond at all) it doesn’t mean try harder. It means, stop being stupid and find someone who recognizes your worth.

Shirk responsibility: Sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes it’s just because they don’t, but sometimes it’s on account of something we’ve done. If you spent the whole date talking about your ex or being other degrees of unattractive, then yes, it’s your fault. YOUR FAULT. Not the fault of your date, your nerves, or the friend who planted a seed in your head about the person you’re on a date with. Chances are, your date won’t want to see you again, and you can’t really blame them for that. You can apologize, or make excuses, but really you shouldn’t. It won’t change things. What you should be doing is accepting the situation and ensuring that you don’t repeat your behavior. 

Overcompensate: If you do make a mistake or do/say something stupid, it's done. You can’t erase what happened, but you can move on from it, and more importantly LEARN. Apologizing profusely? BAD! Bending over backwards to “fix things?” Just makes you seem unstable and pretty desperate. If you’ve been playing games and playing it cool, sending a barrage of sweet messages or dirty photos won’t negate your former behavior, it will just make you look unhinged. It doesn’t matter how sorry you are, or that you wish you could’ve done things differently. You can’t. What’s done is done.

Repeat mistakes. No one is perfect and no one expects us to be. We will make mistakes and say and do stupid things, it's unavoidable. The thing about making mistakes is that it's actually ok to make them, as long as we learn from them. Doing something bad once isn't ideal, but repeating them means that it's a problem. One that we need to address with ourselves. We can't live in denial, sometimes we need to accept that the problem lies within us and the only solution is by examining why it is why we are allowing this pattern to form. The only person who can fix you is yourself

Beat Yourself Up/Dwell on Things: If things went badly, for whatever reason, it's very easy to replay them in our mind, dwell on our mistakes, and chastise ourselves for our actions. Or wish we'd played things differently. Don't do this. Not only does it just allow us to remain in a state of negativity but it truly solves nothing. Furthermore, we have to realistically accept that if things didn't work out then they weren't supposed to. At the end of the day, it was just a date. It's just a person. There will be others. Better ones. 

Let the past hold you back: Everyone has a past. Everyone has had good relationships and bad ones. Everyone has insecurities and deal breakers. Almost everyone has their heart broken. But the thing is, these are in the past and we can't let the past dictate the future. Sure, we need to take it into account, as we have been shaped by it, but it shouldn't control us. Otherwise we'll never be able to have a successful relationship. Every person is different and we need to be cognizant of that. Case in point: I dated a guy for a very long time who cheated on me. A lot. The numbers were staggering and the hurt was immense. As terrible as that was to go through, I don’t operate under the assumption that it will happen again. I’m not jealous or insecure or possessive. It was one person and I won’t blame others for his mistake.

The thing about this list, is despite them being obvious No-No's, chances are that, regardless of  being educated and competent human beings, that we'll engage in some of these behaviors. We can't help it. Even more confusing is that what is a deal breaker for one person is no big deal for someone else. We can follow every rule in the world but when it comes to relationships, no two are the same. What is comes down to is that we should just be ourselves, and allow both our good and bad qualities show. If we're with the right person, the good will overshadow the bad. We will be comfortable. We'll make mistakes but grow for them. We won't overthink, and instead just be. 


Thanks to the usuals, especially my relationship gurus BK and NM and of course, KP

Friday, May 17, 2013

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer: A Guide to Surviving Summer in Hanoi

It's that time of year again: when every venture outdoors is followed by a shower. Or at least the desire for one. Where we feel as if we are liquid forms of ourselves, slipping on our own sweat and potentially melting into the sidewalk. If somewhere doesn't have aircon, we don't even consider going. The freezing and dismal winter is a distant memory, despite the fact that we were complaining about the cold a mere six weeks ago.

Summer comes on strong in Hanoi, we don't get much warning apart from two weeks of perfect weather, followed by two weeks of torrential downpour, and then it hits in full force. This week the weather ranged between 35 to 39C/95-102F. Kind of a big leap. Personally, I'm not complaining, I'm a warm weather kind of person. I prefer bright colors and heat coming from the sun rather than a remote control. Sure, there are drawbacks to intense heat, but for me, the world is a better place when the temperature is higher. Not only is the sky brighter, the colors more vivid, but people tend to smile more. The frenzy slows down and we start to unwind.

 I grew up in Florida, so I'm pretty accustomed to hot climates, however, this kind of heat is more extreme than even the most blazing month in Palm Beach. For those who are new to this type of weather it can be a little overwhelming, but there are tricks to dealing with it:

1. Hydrate. This is pretty obvious but during Hanoi summers you need to go on hydration overdrive. Always carry a water bottle with you.  Luckily, there are no shortages of beverages in Hanoi, both sit down and to go. Sugarcane juice (Mia da) is one of the most summertime juices. Stands can be found pretty much all over the city, look for stalks of sugarcane next to a big metal machine. Stands are especially prevalent on Doi Can. Tra Chanh is also a perfect summertime drink. It translates to ice lemon tea but the taste is different than you'd expect. the perfect blend of sweet, tangy, and refreshing. The most popular spot for this is on Ly Quoc Su/Nha Tho. Coconut juice also on the side of the road you can buy coconuts which can easily be turned into a beverage with a quick machete chop and a straw. Fresh fruit juice a lot of restaurants and street stalls offer fresh fruit juice. As in you point to the fruit you want and they blend it right then and there. No additives, no preservatives, and they taste amazing. The one I frequent is on Hang Bong, almost at Dien Bien Phu. I think it's like 138 Hang Bong. Also The Cart (Tho Xuong, Au Co) does amazing fruit juices and Hanoi Social Club (6 Hoi Vu) is famous for its slushies. Also, Red River Tea Room (25 Xuân Diệu) is a lovely place for drinks. Finally, crazy as it sounds, hot beverages actually facilitate cooling processes in our bodies. It might seem like the last thing you want in sweltering temperatures, but it actually works. If you don't believe me then read this.

2. Eat. If you're like me, the hotter the weather, the less hungry you are. It's very easy for me to go the entire day without eating on a boiling hot day, simply because the idea of food makes me feel heavier and sick. But not eating is dangerous, for many reasons, but especially in high temperatures, as you can pass out.

3. Get a good tailor. Once it gets to a certain temperature I spend a lot of time figuring out how I can wear as little as possible and still look professional. I am often jealous of men because it is so easy for them to be effortlessly yet appropriately dressed for events: dress pants, button down, decent shoes and they're done. They can even recycle daily and no one would notice. Women, on the other hand, we have to change it up, people notice. However, my jealousy ceases in the summer, because there is no part of me that wants to be in a suit. I pity my poor guy friends working in the city. I'm digressing a bit: It's actually really easy to dress appropriately and minimally if you're a woman. Shift dresses are my best friend. I have countless. Pick a style, go to your tailor, ask her to copy it in a lightweight cotton material and you're good to go. Men, you can probably get lighter weight shirts and dress pants made if you wanted...

4. Invest in good sunglasses. I love going to Luong Van Can and adding to my sunglasses collection for $5, but as stylish and versatile as a shopping spree there can make you, most of the glasses there are not polarized, which is very dangerous for your eyes. Get a decent pair for the peak sun hours.

5. Stock your apartment with candles, flashlights, and battery operated fans. I daresay anyone makes it through the summer without at least one power cut. We never know when they're coming and they're also never convenient. There is nothing like waking up in the middle of the night in drenched sheets, or losing power at 9pm and fumbling around a dark apartment. That's why having the items listed above can really help. Battery operated fans can offer some relief and the candles/flashlights make sure we can find our essential items.

6. Wear sunblock. I'm not just talking about when you're at the beach or pool, sunblock should be worn all the time when out and about in Hanoi. Coming from someone who spends a significant amount of time driving around outside I can safely say it's possible to get burned (or hideous tan lines) in just a 15 minute drive.

7. Find a cool sanctuary. Pools are hot spots in the summer, filled with people wanting to get tan as well as get relief from the sun beating down on them. However you can't spend every moment at the pool or your apartment, so see if you can find another spot that you can escape to. I'd tell you mine, but I'd prefer to keep it a secret. :)

8. Carry an umbrella and raincoat. Hanoi's weather is as unpredictable as the traffic. One second you can be wiping the sweat from your brow and then next minute there is a torrential downpour. Unless you enjoy showing up soaking wet, keep an umbrella and slicker handy.

9. Clean out your air con. This may be a job for your landlord, but your air conditioner filter needs to be cleaned regularly. If not, it can distribute dirt, particles, etc and you're more likely to get sick. our bodies are already adjusting enough from extreme hot-to-colds, that adding in dirty air is just asking for a mid summer sinus infection.

10. Enjoy all the city has to offer. Hanoi is always buzzing, but the city has a certain energy when the temperatures turn tropical. It's the season for: black tie events, national days. barbecues, concerts, rooftop bars, picnics, boat cruises, piknic electronica, road trips. Hanoi is at its finest and should be experienced to the fullest. (Good rooftop bars include: Don's, Marilynn, Bar Betta, Bank, 13 Hai Ba Trung, Commune, Summit Lounge, Rooftop, and Sunset Bar-which isn't a rooftop but still beautiful in the summer) Not to mention all of the amazing outdoor cafes situated all over the city. Another huge perk in the summer is that a lot of high end restaurants offer really great specials. A gourmet meal for $6 is never a bad thing.

11. Escape the city. Flights are cheap. Motorbikes are even cheaper. Hop on your bike and go to Mai Chau, Hai Giang, Tam Do, or Ninh Binh. Get on a plane and go to Hoi An, Dalat, or Con Dao. The break will revitalize you and it's a good way to explore other places in this beautiful country. Or travel internationally. Summertime means beaches: so hop over to Thailand, Malaysia, or my personal favorite, Bali, for some fun in the sun.

12. Remember that you wished for this. I received an endless slew of messages in December and January lamenting about the weather. "It's so cold, it's miserable. When will this be over? I hate it!" We begged for summer to show its face, yet once it arrives we forget so quickly just how dismal the winter months are in Hanoi. 

 13. Keep a supply of babywipes. I love baby wipes, they can be used for so many things. Winter or summer, I always have them in my purse, but in the summer they especially come in handy. It's no secret that we feel gross and grimy almost seconds after we step outside, and babywipes are a good way to alleviate that, and help us freshen up in between showers. 

14. Disregard your vanity. Tis the season to embrace your natural beauty. Or accept that you don't have any (kidding) It's almost impossible to look sexy when you're profusely sweating. You can lie to yourself and say you're "glistening" but that's just denial. Now this is more difficult for women, since we're more likely to be wearing makeup/styling our hair, and in the summer the make up melts and our hair misbehaves. Try as we may, getting glammed up is a difficult, but not a complete impossibility. Women: the high bun is a perfect solution for hair issues. It's elegant, it's easy to do, and it keeps your neck cool. If you want to wear your hair down, may I suggest beach waves: shower, towel dry, scrunch hair with mouse or salt water, let air dry, light hairspray. For make up: tinted moisturizer, no concealer foundation, liquid blush (like benetint by Benefit), waterproof mascara, and the ultimate summer makeup item is bright colored lipstick. Wearing a bright pink or red gives the illusion that you're more dressed up than you actually are, and they're fun. Pedicure are also a summer must-do.

15. Throw a party. Hanoi is a great place to have a party. If you don't want to have something at home,  most bars will let you use their spaces for free, but you can also make use of the green areas near Tay Ho, or the "beach" along the Red River just under the bridge to have a fun, laid back gathering. Grab a cooler, some beverages, pack some snacks, throw on a bathing suit, create a playlist and gather. This is a unique and cool experience, one that you can look forward to while planning and reminisce about fondly when it's over.

These tips aren't foolproof and won't ensure that summer will be painless. I, just like everyone else, will lament and grumble, but for the most part, they should help. No matter how much we complain, we love it here, even when the wind is blowing like a hairdryer in our face. Happy Summer!

*thanks everyone for being overly excited or pessimistic about the summer, our conversations helped contribute to the post. Thanks especially to BT for reminding me certain fantastic things about the summer


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gone Too Soon: A Tribute to My Good Friend Frank, May He Rest In Peace

Last night, I received the shattering news that a close friend, a man that I loved and admired, was no longer with us. My heart broke on the spot and through the steady stream of tears, I have tried to make sense of it. But I can't. I can't make sense of it because it doesn't make sense. Things like this aren't supposed to happen. I know I am not the only person to have lost a friend, but that doesn't make it any easier. I have also been fortunate enough (if you want to call it that) to have NEVER lost a young friend, Frank is the first.

Since I found out, I have been floating in and out of memories, my body giving into emotion and sobbing. Sobbing for what I lost, sobbing for what everyone else lost, and most of all sobbing for the future that he no longer has. I am not known for my ability to talk about my feelings, or for asking for help. My form of expression is, and always been, writing. Something that Frank and I shared.

I am not going to talk about how tragic it is to lose someone, partially because we all know, but also, because words are failing me. I can't describe the sense of loss accurately. Instead, I am going to talk about Frank the man. Who he was, what he meant to me, and why he was loved by everyone who was lucky enough to cross paths with him. This is my therapy, my tribute to him, a small piece of the legacy he is leaving behind.

Everyone who knew Frank will talk about his bright blue eyes and infectious smile. They will remember laughing with him. That even at the age of 19, he had such a strong sense of self, deeply rooted morals that he never wavered from. Something that a bunch of college kids couldn't really understand. Despite us respecting it and him, it made us a bit nervous, and probably, retrospectively,  jealous. We were all trying to figure ourselves out and Frank already knew. He had a vision and he marched towards that.

Frank was a loving person, he truly and genuinely loved and cared for the people in his life. When he asked about your day, you knew it was because he actually wanted to know. He listened. You left every conversation with him feeling happier and more content than when you started it. He just had that effect on people. He had an inherent kindness and the ability to read and understand people, seeing beyond how they presented themselves on the surface.

For me (and I'm sure many others) it went beyond that. In the years I knew him, including one year as a housemate, Frank and I grew incredibly close, sharing many marathon conversations; meeting each others families; staying in all weekend and watching Sex and the City reruns (something he claimed he didn't enjoy and was doing for 'research' but I know he secretly liked it) He even perfected the art of how to apply self tanner on someones back. To this day, no one has self tanned my back as well as Frank did, taking on the frivolous task with a sense of purpose and attention to detail, all the while saying, "I can't believe I am doing this, what have you done to me?" As silly as it sounds, these memories, these day to day occurrences, are what made our bond what it was. 

 Perhaps the defining moment in my relationship with Frank was the day that my grandmother died. I was at my "prestigious" internship pushing paper when I heard the news, and I immediately called my friend Sarah to come pick me up. Sarah, being well aware of my tendency to retreat into myself in times of distress, called our housemates and told them what happened and just to give me space, that I needed to be alone. All of them but Frank listened. Frank walked into my bedroom with a bouquet of flowers, crawled into bed with me and held me as I cried, resulting in his t shirt being turned into a giant tissue. While I wasn't upset with others for following Sarah's explicit orders, I was overwhelmed by Frank knowing what I needed even when I didn't. That's who he was though. The man who loved others and put them before himself, selfless.

He not only wanted the best for us, but he saw the best as well. Our junior year, he decided to take all of the girls in the house (there were 13 of us) on a date. Individually. No romantic intentions. When we asked him why, he told us that he didn't want us wasting our time with men who didn't deserve us. That he was going to take us out and show us how we SHOULD be treated. He wanted us to know that gentlemen existed and that we didn't have to settle for anything less that outstanding. The thing is, that he didn't need to take us out for dinner to that, he showed us that daily, simply by being himself.

Throughout the years, our friendship continued. He moved to South Florida after university and I saw him whenever I was visiting my parents. When I moved to Vietnam, he actively and consistently made an effort to stay in touch with me, something I can't say for most of the friends I left behind. We shared pieces of writing, we edited each others work, and even discussed collaborating on a writing project he was working on. 

My biggest regret is not failing to make feelings for Frank known, I know without a doubt that he was aware of how special he was to me. No, my biggest regret is that I couldn't make him love himself as much as he loved those around him. One of the most difficult parts for me about this whole ordeal is that Frank was a truly remarkable and incredible man. He had a light around him, he brought joy and wisdom and happiness into so many peoples lives, yet for whatever reason, he failed to find it in his own. He made our world a better place to live in but it was not reciprocated. I keep asking myself, "How could a man like that, a man who embodied positivity and love...a man who was esteemed by those around him...how could he not see what we see? How could he not love himself as we did?" 

I realize that there is no use in asking myself questions like that, because there are no answers. I also know while the non stop crying is inevitable at this stage, that Frank would've encouraged me to "Get it out, come on, cry it out....are you finished? Now pick yourself up and be positive. Everything is ok." So I will do what he'd want me to do, which is to live my life to fullest, with integrity, and happiness. I won't get caught up in regret, in the negative. My time with him was too short but it was meaningful; he showed my love, kindness, compassion and insight. He opened himself up unabashedly and with no strings and as a result, he got the same from everyone else. He reminded me that gentleman exist and that it's ok to be vulnerable and ask for help. He encouraged me in every aspect of my life and made me feel like a better person, his faith in me gave me faith in myself. Most of all, he displayed that in a real friendship things like time zones don't exist.  Real friendships exist in the heart, and he will forever be in mine. 
 April 13, 1984-April 30, 2013.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Knowing Me, Knowing You: How to Stay Friends With An Ex


People often comment that they find it pretty remarkable that I manage to stay friends with my ex boyfriends. They say it’s admirable but claim that it’s something they could never do. For whatever reason, there is still a stigma attached to maintaining a positive relationship with the people we were formerly involved with, that it implies all kinds of things that are not actually the case at all. There is always the underlying notion that perhaps the relationship isn’t really over, that someone is still harboring feelings for their former paramour. Or that it would be detrimental to any future relationships.

I’ve never understood this, maybe because, as stated above, I am friends with my exes, save a few. I can’t imagine a world in which I didn’t have some of these men on my speed dial. Over the years they have remained some of the most important people in my life. Exes have a unique perspective into us that no one else has. Not do they understand us, the way we think and feel but they’ve also been there. They’ve seen us at our worst, at our best, they know our insecurities and our strengths. They offer an invaluable insight and they aren’t afraid of us, they tell it like it is and we have no choice but to listen.

Perhaps I’ve been fortunate in having the kinds of relationships that end in a way that this is a possibility,  perhaps I’m more evolved or mature than the average person (though I highly doubt this) or perhaps I just look at it from a different perspective. The way I see it is that I don’t get into relationships lightly, I’ve never had a boyfriend simply to just have one. Every man that I’ve dated has been someone that I truly respect and genuinely enjoy being around. Most of my boyfriends started out as friends first, which served as the foundation of what made our relationship so great. I always find myself dating the kinds of men who are incredible enough to warrant future friendships with. As I said, this could be pure luck on my part but I don’t think so. The world we live in isn’t black and white, and try as we might, we can’t allow ourselves to constantly define and label things and people.  

Relationships, on every level, are complicated and multi faceted, purely on account of fact that human beings aren’t one dimensional, we consist of many variables and these twists and turns are what make life interesting and unpredictable. Romantic relationships take things to a whole new level and introduce different kinds of feelings that we feel for our families and friends, feelings that once felt, can never really be erased. Sure, we can fall out of love with someone, we can realize that they weren’t who they thought they were, or even that we have changed and are no longer the right mind frame to be engaging in this type of relationship with said person.

Relationships fall apart for a plethora of reasons: incompatibility and infidelity being the main two ones, but I truly believe that just because you aren’t able to successfully be romantically involved with someone doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with them or you. That just because you aren’t in love with them doesn’t detract from the fact that they embody qualities that you find attractive in a person, otherwise, why would you have dated them to begin with?

My previous two posts were written on subject matters that I have little to no experience with and was certainly not qualified to impart advice on, but this? This is my thing. So how does one do it? It’s pretty simple:

Break up with them before it gets too late.  So many of us see the writing on the wall but simply refuse to read it. Our feelings have changed, the magic is gone, we’re interested in other people, yet we refuse to end things with the person we’re with in some kind of misguided optimism that maybe, just maybe it’ll resolve itself. That all of this effort we’ve out forth wasn’t in vain. The problem with this is that, in most cases, the cracks keep metastasizing, and will continue to do so until some big blow out or unforgivable act occurs. Once it’s over, it’s over and we should end it before it gets messy

Be kind. This a recurring theme in my posts, mainly because I believe kindness to be the most important quality that one can possess. So when we break up with someone, we need to be kind about it. No one likes being rejected (even if they’re on the same page as you) so it’s within your best interest to be as graceful and dignified in the process.

Ensure that you actually like them as a person. Sounds a bit silly, but often we hold on to the idea of things rather than embracing the reality. Deciding to let someone go, both romantically or platonically, isn't a failure. Sometimes relationships dissolve and there is no point in trying to resuscitate them.

Take time. Even if the break up is 100% mutual, which it rarely is, jumping straight into a friendship is just asking for trouble. Not only is it easy to slip back into your old routine, which blurs the lines, but without a break, you haven’t allowed yourself to really get over it and move on. Furthermore, chances are, one person is still more invested than the other, and not allowing them the separation is confusing and ultimately hurtful. Not a good premise for a lasting friendship.

Make sure you’re on the same page. Just because you’re over someone, doesn’t mean that they’re over you. Sure, they might say that they’re fine, but hopefully if you dated them, you are able to read them on a deeper level. You will know if they’re upset, stressed, on edge etc. If they’re displaying tendencies that indicate that they’re still emotionally invested romantically, you can not expect them to be capable of being your friend. If you are friends but you notice some concerning behavior, address it, take some space, and try again later.

Baby steps. Once an appropriate amount of time has passed and you’re ready to start socializing with your ex, don’t dive in the deep end. Start with coffee, lunch, maybe even dinner (though that can lead to issues) Don’t ask them to be your date to your cousins wedding. Try and pretend as if it’s a new friend that you’re just getting to know. Because, despite your history, this isn’t too far from the truth, you’re relearning them in a different capacity.

Be honest but not callous. You will, at some point, move on and start dating again. This is expected and perfectly fine and while it’s ok (and necessary in some cases) to inform your ex about these endeavors, there is no need to overshare. Keep it simple. Talking about how happy you are and how great this new relationship won’t serve any purpose other than hurting your ex. Save that kind of talk for the friends that you haven’t slept with. Also: avoid jealousy. It’s not attractive to be bitter and unsupportive when your ex moves on.

Avoid memory lane. I’m not suggesting you pretend like things didn’t happen, and of course memories will surface, it would be unnatural if they didn’t and weird if you avoided them on purpose. However, whatever issues you had while dating are off limits. You can not get angry at someone for something they did when you were dating. You broke up, it’s over. If it’s not over for you, then you’re not ready for the friendship.

Keep it platonic. Sleeping with an ex is not friends with benefits. It’s a mistake and trouble.

Manage expectations. They may adore you and be happy to have you in their life, but you are no longer their top priority. You can not expect the same kind of treatment and behavior as when you were together, and you can not be resentful of that fact.

Selective Censorship. This sounds like a terrible idea for a friendship. Why should we censor ourselves with our friends? What’s the point? Well, in this case, telling your ex boyfriend that you found him physically repulsive in the last months of your relationship does not make for a constructive friendship. Think she was the worst kisser? Keep it to yourself, it makes no difference to you any more. If they specifically ask, it’s better to avoid and omit.

Don’t push. Sad as it may be, your ex may not share your sentiment to continue a relationship. They might want a totally clean break. This is incredibly hurtful. There is something terrible about spending a significant amount of time with someone only to find that they aren’t even interested in maintaining anything with you. However, if that’s what they want, you have to respect it. 

These are also kind of highlighted in my Post Break Up Etiquette post from last year.

Ok so after writing that all out, it sounds more complicated than it really is, I realize that.  (I should think before I write instead of do this stream of consciousness thing that I am such a fan of) The initial work and rules really only apply to more recent breakups rather than the ones that occurred years ago. Once you get past a certain point, the friendship requires a lot less strategy and becomes routine. I am at the point with some of my exes that I barely even remember that we dated (not meant as an insult, but more as an indicator of how normal our interactions are these days)

On a side note: as great as having an ex as a close friend, make sure you're transparent about that with any future prospects. No, you don't need to divulge your entire history, but it's not fair for them to think they're meeting up with your really good friend for drinks only to find out that this friend is someone you dated for two years. Jealousy shouldn't be condoned, but neither should blind sighting.

*Thanks to the men that I've dated who have become my closest friends, confidants, and supporters. You are invaluable to me and I truly believe that my world is a better place because you're in it. And I appreciate you beyond any words could explain. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

If Only For A Night (Or a Few): Hook Up Buddy Etiquette


Despite what we may believe, the world hasn’t changed as much as we think. This is primarily due to the fact that it is inhabited by humans and human nature is timeless. Wars are fought over the same thing and people have the same fundamental needs that they always have. What has shifted, though, is the perception and acceptance of lifestyles and acts.

From the beginning of time, sex and relationships have been an intricate part of human existence. In centuries past, people were not celibate, however, they hid their sexual exploits due to societal pressure and the desire to appear a certain way. These days, there is a much more cavalier attitude to sex. There are those who wait for marriage, or those who only engage in intimate acts with ones that they are in love with, but a majority of the population, at least in the western world, have sex casually. They do it for the enjoyment of the act rather than putting some kind of sacred meaning to it. For some, it’s just filling a void, for others it’s satisfying a need. Either way, people are having sex for pleasure and are doing so openly.

Some people get their fix from one night stands and some seek out something slightly more meaningful, in the form of a hook up buddy, which is basically an arrangement between two people where they have sex, but without the randomness of a one night stand or the drama that a relationship could bring to the table. Hook up buddies are increasingly common these days, and despite the “no drama” factor, they’re actually pretty complex relationships, ones that I have spent the past few weeks researching (by email, whatsapp, and face to face interviews aka accosting people at bars barraging them with questions) It turns out, just like romantic relationships, no two are the same, they are unpredictable and rules vary according to the situation.

 People fall into these kinds of relationships for all different kinds of reasons: commitment issues, recent break up, “dry spells”, not wanting a relationship, or just the desire to enjoy the benefits of sex without having to worry about what it means.  Hook up buddies, can, in fact, work, despite protests by some that they can not. It’s all about frame of mind and ensuring that both parties are on the same page. As I said, there are very few rules aside from transparency, however there are some “best practices:”

To sleep over or not: I got such a wide variety of answers on this one. Some people (all men) were insistent that a hook up buddy should never spend the night. They stated that a sleepover blurred the lines. However, the more interviews I conducted (men and women), it was determined that the best practice in this case IS to sleep over, if for no reason more than morning sex. Most of the people I talked to stated that it was pretty much assumed that a sleepover would occur and that it wasn’t a big deal. However the bottom line is: one should do what they feel is right at the time. Also, it is never ok to kick someone out.

Communication:  Since a hook up buddy is obviously someone you know, you have a preexisting relationship with them so this shouldn’t be forgotten. It is ok, essential even, to have some kind of communication with them in addition to making plans to meet up. I’m not suggesting that you talk on the phone every night about your hopes and dreams but they shouldn’t be ignored. It is SO easy to communicate these without actually speaking days; we have email, texts, WhatsApp etc, so engaging in banter, flirting, and casual conversation is hardly challenging. If you expect for someone to be enthusiastic to hop into bed with you, then be willing and prepared to chat to them. Consider it an investment in your sex life. Five minutes every few days goes a long way. Most of the people I surveyed on this matter agreed that “even though they know what the situation was, they like the pretense and didn’t want to feel used.”

Discretion: This is between you and the other person, there is no need for everyone in the world to know your business. This person is not your girlfriend or boyfriend so talking about them incessantly will eventually get back to them and most likely result in a termination of your little agreement. 

Transparency and Honesty: In most cases, the ongoing situation is quite clear and doesn't need to be discussed (who likes the awkward, "So I'm not really looking for anything serious..." conversation?) but sometimes it has to be had. The only way, seriously, that this situation works out is that both people are fully aware of what the deal is and are ok with it. The second something changes, you need to be honest about it.

Respect: It's pretty obvious that we should be respectful of those around us, especially those we are sleeping with, but one of the points that kept coming up in my surveys was the matter that feeling respected was pretty important in these situations. Being respectful isn't that difficult and we all know how to do it so there are no excuses for behaving otherwise. On a side note: the person we are most responsible to is ourselves. If we feel uncomfortable or disrespected than it is our right and within our best interests to disengage from a situation that hinders this. 

Hang Out: There was a bit of discrepancy on this one but the majority of people I spoke to agreed that you should hang out with your hook up buddy, especially prior to hooking up with them. You may not want to date the person but spending time with them having drinks/dinner shouldn't be completely repellent to you. If it is, perhaps opt for a booty call or one night stand. Or someone you pay for.

Be realistic: You may agree to a situation but it's important that you actually understand it and what it entails. No matter how much fun you have, or how nice it is to hang out with that person, or how flirty they are, the fact is that it isn't going any further than where it is right now. It is what it is and expectations of it evolving will only result in disappointment on your end and annoyance on their end.

Third Parties: Remember: this person is not your girlfriend or boyfriend. While they should respect you and make you feel comfortable they don't owe you anything more than what is established. They are allowed to see other people, it is none of your business if they do, nor should you ask them about it.

Don't be selfish: Just because you aren't dating the person, doesn't mean you should be an inconsiderate lover. This is, after all, an agreement between two people that they are both supposed to benefit from.

Be responsible: Hopefully I don't have to explain this. 

So key take aways:
1. In regards to sleeping over, do what you feel comfortable with, though staying over is optimal. Never make someone leave.
2. Flirting/banter/casual conversations should happen. This isn't a stranger and you don't want someone to feel used.
3. Don't talk about it
4. Make sure you're on the same page
5. Be nice and respectful.
6. This isn't a booty call, therefore some hanging out is usually required. Drinks/dinner is not a big deal, and if it is, then rethink the situation and person.
7. Don't have unrealistic expectations, it is what it is.
8. Who else they're seeing is not your business. Just like yours isn't theirs.
9. Both parties should enjoy this, so bring your best to the bedroom.
10. Be responsible

I mentioned booty calls several times, and even though most everyone knows what they are, especially if they are reading this post, here is a definition of what a booty call is, and how it differs from a hook up buddy:

Booty Call: As discussed in my relationship handbook, a booty call is something in between a one night stand and a hook up buddy. A booty call is someone you call simply for sex, you don’t generally hang out outside of the bedroom, nor do you sleep over. No chatting necessary. However, most people are more onboard with the idea of being someones hook up buddy vs a booty call.

*Thank you to everyone that I interviewed, who patiently (and honestly!) answered my zillion and in-depth questions and “what-if scenarios” especially GS, JW, AL, AB, BL, JM

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Haven't We Met? You're Some Kind of Beautiful Stranger: A Guide to Flirting


It’s happened to (almost) everyone, you’re at a party/bar/coffee shop and you see an attractive stranger, one that you want to talk to. Maybe you can’t explain why, chances are that you see attractive people all the time but every once in a while, someone is different in that you decide you want to approach them. So you do and you walk away from the conversation either wanting to see them again or knowing that you probably won’t, but either way you did it. You flirted with a stranger. (This can also apply to someone that you have seen around but don’t really know)

Let me state that I don’t believe I am at all qualified to write this post. When it comes to flirting with someone I am interested in, I am rendered incapable. I become shy. I am the queen of awkward. I blurt out the most random and often counter productive things including but not limited to: “Your shirt is blue” or my personal favorite, “You seem like a player.” (cringe) For some reason, I have no problem walking into a networking event and engaging with new faces but when it comes to that cute guy across the room I can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe this is because in a work or friendly capacity, I know where I stand and what’s at stake, but when an undefined element enters the picture I’m thrown off my game. The truth is, walking up to a stranger/someone you don’t know very well and trying to flirt with them is pretty scary, no matter who you are. The main reason being that rejection isn’t fun regardless of how healthy your self esteem might be.

So when it came to writing this post, I sent out a mass email to friends, both male and female, some and attached some single and asked them for their expertise in this rather daunting forum. Some responses made me laugh, some made me cringe, but for the most part, I was surprised to find that very few had an exact methodology or approach to how to pick someone up. 

I also was told that the concept of picking someone up based on attractiveness is shallow, and to a degree it is. However, I think we need to be honest that-in addition to the personality aspect- we tend to engage in romantic relationships with people that we find physically attractive. And what each person finds attractive is different. (For instance, I don’t find Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling good looking but there are thousands who would disagree with me. However, Will Arnett...that's another story)

I’m digressing a bit. We’re talking about how to pick someone up and from my research I have determined some of the best approaches and some glaring no-no’s. (On a side note, this list is designed for approaches in which the goal is to get to know the person better, not just for the night:)

DO:

Smile. Sounds simple but appearing friendly and open is a big part of the battle. Furthermore, it might give the person you’re interest a reason to approach you, thereby saving you the work! I’m not suggesting to smile like a crazy person the whole time but try not to look bored or scowl.

HAVE FUN. Piggybacking on smiling, make sure you’re having fun! There is something intrinsically sexy about someone who is enjoying themselves and their surroundings. They have a sparkle and allure to them that people want to be a part of. Don’t spend your time worrying about whether the person you’ve been eyeing has noticed you yet, do your thing. The odds of getting positive attention from them increases if you’re having an awesome time with your friend vs standing alone impassively staring at them. (That just SOUNDS creepy, imagine what it looks like!)

Start a conversation. Some people are comfortable just walking up to someone but a lot of us aren’t. So for those who fall into the latter category: stand nearby, in a queue or something. Comment on something to them about the place, bbq, drink choice, anything really, as long as it isn’t negative. Get talking, Stand a little bit too close. Look rapt by everything they say, keep eye contact, laugh at their jokes. Say intelligent things. One thing that I HAVE learned over the years is that you can find common ground with anyone. The secret is finding what it is and building from there. One way to do this is by asking questions, actually listening to the replies and adding in if you can. If things go well, then all you need to do is work in a way to exchange information and see what happens from there.***please refer to the bottom for some tactic that I've seen work 

Have a wing(wo)man. No, this isn’t primary school and your friend shouldn’t go up and say, “My friend thinks you’re really hot,” that doesn’t work and nor should it. However, friends can be utilized in different ways. Let them make the initial approach/start the conversation, only to have you join in at some point. Flirting is really just an extended conversation, if the person likes you they'll continue talking to you, if they don’t, they'll stop. So then, you just move along and keep having fun with your friends. No harm, no foul.

Be yourself. Sounds pretty basic, right? However, when we’re trying to impress someone sometimes we get lost in the art of picking up and forget ourselves. While it’s normal to be a little bit nervous, it’s essential that we are comfortable enough with ourselves to be honest and realistic. The best conversations occur when we’re being natural, when we don't realize that we're flirting. If we don’t click with the person we’re interested in, then it’s best to move on anyway.

Be confident. We’ve talked about before that it’s sexy to be independent and confident, and it’s also sexy to not appear like it’s your goal to be picked up, because really it shouldn't be. (Your goal should be to enjoy yourself and your surroundings to go about your business as normal and see where the evening takes you.) One friend of mine just had an experience where she met a guy, had a great conversation and later on in the relationship they discussed how each one thought the other was picking them up. She wrote, “MAYBE the secret to picking someone up is actually believing you are the one being picked up. This could potentially go very wrong I suppose, but it probably does something to your confidence and thus your swagger and eventual success in the picking up. She’s right. You know your worth and what you have to offer, so it’s safe to assume that others see this as well and would want to pick you up.

Don’t:

Use pick up lines. They’re cheesy, they’re annoying, they show a lack of confidence and originality.

Latch on. Having a great conversation/flirtation session is great, but it doesn’t mean you’re attached at the hip for the rest of the night. If you are really confident you don’t spend all night talking to them, but smile, or catch their eye occasionally, - you are so popular and busy talking to everyone else. you can text them later or the next day. The chase is fun.

Be rude or insulting. Somewhere along the road, people got the notion that playing hard to get translated to being rude. Instead, bad manners are just obnoxious and a sure fire turn off.

Overindulge. Liquid courage is something many people rely on to generate initial momentum, but there is a limit. Falling down and slurring your words, hysteria or any overtly out of line behavior will only hinder, not help your cause. The only exception is on your birthday. Because everyone gets a birthday pass. 

Be creepy. Quirky and zany are good. Creepiness is not. A mild example came in a friends email, At the weekend I had a man point at my shoulder dimples and say ¨Do you know you have dimples there?¨, I was like...¨.....yeah¨, and then he stood and grinned manically at me.” This isn’t even that bad, there are many incredibly creepy and disturbing things that people say and do to garner attention, but it’s the wrong kind.

Lose sight of reality. The bad news is that not everyone we’re interested in is going to be interested in us. Sometimes, they won’t want to talk to us, sometimes they’ll decide after 10 minutes that we’re not their type. Sometimes they won’t ask for our phone number. This is kind of a blow to our ego but not the end of the world. It happens. Usually, it’s pretty obvious when someone is brushing us off, but we are too single minded to see it. Please, be objective, take the hints given, and gracefully make your exit while your dignity is still in tact.

Be desperate. Remember that thing called dignity that we just talked about? Try and hold on to yours. Nothing is more unattractive than being desperate. Except maybe being crazy and desperate. Or a crazy desperate stalker.

Let rejection get you down. This is just one person. Out of billions in the world. Just because they don’t want you doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. Sometimes people just aren’t compatible. Sometimes you’re just not their type. Shake it off and move on.

Be over the top. A friend wrote that “Last summer I had a guy gushing over the fact that I was the most beautiful woman he´d ever seen (!!!!!!) and couldn´t actually put a sentence together without having to stop and breathe. I still can´t work out if he was joking.” To do something like this, even if meant as a compliment is way too much. Telling someone they are beautiful is great. Doing it in a way in which they can’t tell if you are sincere or not, is um…not so great.

Be awkward. Coming from me this is rich. I can't really give tips as to how to avoid this, since it's something I am still learning. All I can say is to avoid it.

***Three tactics that have worked:
1. My friend Harry swears by getting someone to teach you something.  Obviously you have to be in conversation with this person for this to happen. So for instance, if the person you’re talking to mentions surfing or cooking, it’s the perfect opportunity to say, “I’ve always wanted to learn how to X!” if they’re into you, chances are they’ll offer to teach you. Only do this if you mean it though. If you can't swim, don't ask for surfing lessons. 

2. Another friend of mine accidentally picked up a guy when she went up to him and said, "Listen can we have a pretend conversation because there is this really creepy guy who is bothering me and I want him to go away." The guy she approached responded with, "How about we have a real conversation instead?" They got together shortly after that.

3. One night at Mao's, my friend and I spotted a very attractive guy at the bar. I have no idea what came over me, but I marched over to him and started speaking to him.  It went well. Sometimes the simplest approaches are the best. 

These aren't fool proof. The reality is that every situation is different, just with people being the variables there is no real way to control a situation or how it's going to go. The best way to look at it, I suppose, is that you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Starting a conversation is just that, a conversation...wherever it leads is another story. Maybe nowhere, maybe a friendship, maybe a romance. You'll never know until you try, and the worst that happens is that you'll have to try again. 

*thanks to "Blue Shirt" who was the original inspiration behind this post; and an even bigger thanks to all of my friends who so generously procrastinated from their day to respond to my email. You anecdotes and tips were wonderful. I promised that I wouldn't divulge my sources but you know who you are

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Hardest Part: How to Break Up With Someone (The RIGHT Way)


Since I’ve started writing about relationships, I’ve covered wide range of topics: from soulmates to the one that got away, from avoiding bad boys to falling for a friend, from first dates to keeping the romance going; even a post break up guide (to name a few) However, one topic I’ve never touched on is HOW to break up with someone.

This is probably, in part, to my complete ineptitude on the subject. Not that I haven’t broken up with people, I have. In fact it’s usually me who ends my relationships, but, the truth is it took me years to figure out the best way to do it. To learn an acceptable or appropriate way to approach this challenging situation. The bottom line is that I hate the idea of hurting someone. I’d rather come up with ways to keep someone happy than deliver bad news. No matter how much I may want the relationship to end, I tend to break down when I having the talk. Sobbing. Talk about mixed messages.

Despite some of my disastrous approaches to ending a relationship, I do, in fact, know the best way to do it, it’s just the execution part that I (and so many other) struggle with. Here are some of my Dos and Don’ts which I believe make the process easier for both parties:

DO:  Think it through. I’m not saying procrastinate, but make sure you’re going into with a clear head and assurance that this is the right decision.

DON’T: Do it in a rash way (ie in the middle of a fight.) If you are in the midst of an argument that is causing you to rethink whether you want to be with the person, I highly recommend taking a breather. Find a way to end the fight, go home, and rationalize the situation and your feelings.

DO: Face the situation head on. Sometimes this isn’t possible (like if you’re in a long distance relationship) but if you’re within geographical proximity to your other half, have enough decency and respect to do it face to face. It’s not easy, but then again, it shouldn't be.

DON’T: Hide behind technology. WhatsApp isn’t the venue for a serious conversation and email is a one sided conversation, one that tells the other person that you don’t hold much regard for what they have to say. As for the silent approach or having someone do it for you: BIG NO'S

DO: Make sure you hold on to your resolve. Remember: you’ve thought this through, you have your reasons, and they are valid. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t talk them through but the fact of the matter is, that these issues aren’t going to dissipate after one productive conversation.

DON’T: Let them talk you out of it. Sure, they may have some great things to say, and they may make some promises that sound good, but truthfully, once you’ve decided to break up with someone, your relationship is broken and these temporary solutions are just bandaids. Even if it’s tempting, recognize that your relationship will never be the same once you’ve told someone you don’t want to be in it anymore.

DO: Mean it. Breaking up with someone shouldn’t be used as a threat to change things in your relationship.

DON’T: Use it as a means to discuss some issue in the relationship you aren’t happy about. If you have reservations or grievances in your relationship, the responsible, respectful ADULT thing to do is address them as they arise. I am aware that this conversation is also stressful but it’s part of a relationship.

DO: Be kind. I am a big believer in not being able to control those around you, but being able to control yourself and your own actions. In my opinion, there is never an excuse to be unkind. Have compassion. Have dignity. Have enough respect for them (and yourself) to be kind but firm.

DON’T: Be cruel.  I don’t care what the situation is or what they may or may not have done, it is completely unnecessary to riddle the conversation with attacks or insults. It’s important to have reasons (Examples: “I’m not happy anymore,” “I don’t think you’re the right person for me,” “I am not getting what I want out of the relationship”) but to elaborate on their faults or why you don’t like them is unnecessary and just mean. If they’ve done something specifically horrible on their end, keep it simple. (Examples: “You cheated on me/lied and I can’t get past that.” “I feel like you consistently make things other than our relationship a priority.”) It may be tempting to give them an earful but remember: hurting someone won’t make you any less hurt. Even if they hurt you. Because, you’re better than that, or at least you should want to be.

Remember:
There is never a good time to break up with someone. Ever. People, myself included, often use the excuse “Well, it’s not the best time…” and list some excuse. Believe me, I get it. Their grandmother died, you’re about to go on vacation together, they lost their job…so you throwing in the towel seems likes you’re kicking them when they’re down. But here’s the thing: There will always be something. Life is never perfect, there is always some kind of irritation or complication, so using that excuse is just that, an excuse. An excuse to delay the inevitable. They’re going to be hurt whether you end it on the day they get fired or the day they get their bonus check…and you can’t sit around waiting for something wonderful to occur so you can “soften the blow.” Furthermore, know what hurts more? The knowledge that your significant other hasn’t wanted to be with you for a while but stayed with you out of pity/obligation.

I get it. I know it’s not easy. It’s painful. It’s awkward. It’s uncertain how the other party will react. But there is a right way of doing it.  This is coming from the person who has broken up with someone over BBM, over the phone (with follow up email) and the all time low of explaining (by email) that I needed to “give him up for Lent.” Seriously. These happened. So I was certainly not the poster child for how to break up with someone.

 However, I learned from my wrong approaches and changed. I don’t know if it was a case of “practice makes perfect” (sounds terrible, doesn’t it?) or that with age comes maturity and insight (sounds much better) Or maybe the realization that running away and hiding doesn’t make things easier. Break ups need to be handled like any other adversity that comes our way: by looking it in the eye(s), making a decision, and  following through, no matter how difficult it may seem at the time.

*on a side note, PL, am still mulling over writing about the wrong ways.