The eX-Files: Keeping memorabilia from past relationships.

Today I’m wondering… “Do you keep memorabilia from past relationships?” I think it’s a good question and I’m sure the answer varies from person to person. I honestly don’t. At least not on purpose. After a failed relationship, I purge anything and everything attached to an ex — especially if it was a bad relationship. It’s got nothing to do with being hurt or upset, but more for me to start with a clean slate. I’m quite cut-throat anyway so once I’m done with someone, I really couldn’t care less. Oh and also… I don’t like clutter!

I’m going to throw it out there and say that keeping old photos and gifts from a past love generally won’t be appreciated by a current partner, whether they like to admit it or not. What am I basing this on you ask? A lot of reading, secondary research and speaking to numerous people. I’d say the first thought people have when items like these come to light is “are they still holding on to old feelings?” The action of keeping memorabilia from past relationships is apparently called “Soul Ties” and causes one to be “locked in” to that person on an emotional and mental level. This is likely to be true if your partner is actually still clutching on to the past and hasn’t fully moved on emotionally from their last relationship.

However on the flip side, many choose to keep sentimental items from the past for different reasons. And after speaking to various friends, I think there are some good takeaways from these overall discussions. A couple of my girlfriends admitted to keeping memorabilia but have boxed the things up and stored it somewhere out of the way. They said that their current partners are obviously aware that they had a life before them; adding that everyone has a past and should have a right to keep what they want to keep. In one of their words: It’s not that I still have feelings for my ex or I’m looking for a reconciliation. I just find it hard to let go of memories of someone I once held dear. It feels like denying they ever were important to me.

I know some people have chosen to keep little objects like old cinema tickets or key chains from a date because in the future they want to have small reminders of what their teenage years were like (which is fair enough, I actually think that’s quite cute) Then I have guy friends who have kept items only if they serve a functional purpose, ie. NutriBullets, Cameras, Clothing.

Flipping the script

So how would I feel if I was dating someone and they kept old gifts or left photos of their ex on social media? Well… I reckon a few years back when I really struggled with my insecurities and paranoia — any of the above would have bugged the shit out of me. Today, if I saw old cards or love letters… I’m not going to lie, I’d probably have an issue with it so would raise my concerns. But with regards to old photos on social media, I might have a look at them (because it’s right there in my face) but I wouldn’t focus my energy on it. There are a few reasons (that aren’t linked to harbouring old romantic feelings) why people still have pictures of their exes. Firstly, your partner might not be that active on social media/hasn’t gotten around to deleting them. Secondly, they may still value his/her friendship; they don’t even have to be friends, perhaps they just broke up amicably. Thirdly, as my girlfriends mentioned, it’s just a memory of a life before you, there doesn’t have to be any meaning behind it.

I try my best not to jump to conclusions too much. If I find myself jealous or insecure about old photos then I’d say that’s my problem to deal with. At the same time, your partner should make you feel secure and not put you in a position where you have to question them. I’m a big believer in actions, so if your other half is clearly showing that you are their present and priority, then there’s absolutely no need to worry. Just concentrate on building happy memories with them!

If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve discovered items/photos from the past but it makes you feel uncomfortable, then I believe you have a right to express your feelings… in a calm manner! When you build up the courage to have the conversation, understandably it can feel awkward. You might even feel bad for bringing it up! Nevertheless, with all relationships, communication is very important. If something doesn’t sit right with you then it’s okay to be direct and have an open dialogue about it, but equally it’s important to refrain from sounding accusatory to avoid anything blowing up into a fight!

Do you still keep photos or items from past relationships? Does your current partner know? What is your feeling towards a significant other keeping sentimental memorabilia? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

“It’s nothing personal.”

Maybe it was a first date and they never followed up, maybe you’ve been seeing each other for a few months and they decided it’s not going to work, maybe you finally plucked up the courage to ask them out and they weren’t interested… While rejection is pretty much inevitable in some capacity, it still blows. Getting shut down for something you desire can be painful and our fragile little hearts can’t help but wonder “why?”

Unless you have confidence of steel, romantic rejection can be traumatic and impact our self esteem. As humans, we are inherently social beings. We long for connections, meaning and need other humans to survive. So when we’re not accepted, the mind finds a way to think negatively about our own self-worth. While we’ve all heard the old line, “it’s nothing personal” — not taking rejection personally is a skill that requires practice.

Rejection can come in various sizes. With the ever-evolving technology today, each of us is connected to thousands of people via social media or dating apps. It’s likely that a person might choose to ignore our posts, chats, texts, or dating profiles, and leave us feeling rejected as a result. Along with these minor rejections, we are still vulnerable to bigger, more devastating rejections as well.

This topic came about after conversing with one of my fellow bloggers (IG: Fantasy World Unleashed). Initially we had quite an insightful discussion on whether size mattered 🤭🍆 (refer to my last post!) We then spoke about the impact of romantic rejection and the various ways people handle it. With a ton of research available at the tips of my fingers, using my own experience combined with my interest in Psychology/Human Behaviour — I felt really inspired to turn this into a blog piece. However, the main question I was asked to address was:

Who can handle romantic rejection better? Men or Women?

On first thought, if I were to generalise (and going into the realms of stereotyping – sorry!) I would assume women would get hit by rejection harder because by nature we’re more emotionally expressive, we tend to overthink/overanalyse situations. With romantic initiatives; yes it’s men who typically have the responsibility of making the first move, therefore women are less exposed to experiencing rejection. Thus when women do receive a “No”… the aftermath can be prickly! Some get angry, others cry, anxiety increases, the ego gets bruised, we might feel like shit, etc… I’ve certainly felt it before, I’ve also witnessed many other different behaviours.

A friend of mine shared his view with me the other day. Reiterating what I had mentioned about the cultural expectation of men having to express interest first, he explained that a higher rate of rejection doesn’t necessarily mean men are any better at handling it. And from his perspective, being dismissed multiple times actually knocked his confidence down*. My other friend claimed that many men handle rejection by internalising their thoughts, compressing their feelings, but are more likely to hold onto the pain longer than women.

*He also said that it’s 2020 so he’d appreciate if women would do more of the initiating… please! 😂
Ladies, take note! Are we ready to move past these stereotypical roles? Let’s save this one for another blog post! 😁

People are people

With everything considered, I guess being “better” at handling romantic rejection is not down to gender at all. It’s more to do with the person. The degree to which we are able to handle rejection is dependent on various factors such as how much we base our self-worth, contentment in the relationship and the effort invested in the other party. To put simply, some people handle rejection well, some not so well, some downright horribly.

Romantic rejection can be particularly challenging, especially to individuals who desire a lasting romantic relationship. A breakup, or rejection can lead to feelings of grief that may be overwhelming, sometimes lasting for weeks, months, or even years! Some people eventually start isolating themselves or hold back from connecting with others because they’re too afraid of going through the process again. Being sensitive to rejection can alter the way we see our lives and our own self… this can result in loneliness and even depression.

The experience of rejection activates memories of other times in which we felt disregarded, or shunned. Many characteristically respond to rejection by blaming themselves. Others attack the source and express aggression toward the rejecting party. Everyone’s response to rejection is connected to how we have learned in the past to cope with negative feelings.

Did you know the same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain? That’s why even the smallest things hurt more than we think they should, because they literally surface (emotional) pain. Unfortunately, when we feel hurt, the go-to response for many of us is to add fuel to the fire by being emotionally unhealthy and psychologically self-destructive, ie. criticising our self-worth or calling ourselves names.

Overcome it and refocus

To put bluntly, rejection is something that will happen in life, so we should probably try to learn to work with it. Being able to face it, deal with it and come out okay on the other side can be really empowering as well as help to build emotional resilience. So here are some tips that could make the journey a little easier.

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Society insists that a “loss” or “failure” is undesirable. This is not true! Firstly, some situations are inevitable. We’re all bound to go through failure at some point in life. Secondly, how can we grow if we don’t experience difficulty? Thirdly, romantic rejection is not the end of the world. If you put things into perspective, you’ll realise there is a lot more to life.

MOVING ON…
It’s tempting to hold onto something that you think has potential… but don’t cling on for too long. It’s always better for your dignity and self esteem to let go gracefully. If you get turned down, don’t try and persuade or manipulate someone into giving you a chance. The relationship will most likely fail because it won’t be equal. We all deserve to be with someone who actually reciprocates the same feelings. Why be with someone who’s there… reluctantly.

CALL IN REINFORCEMENTS
Socialising really helps in dealing with rejection. Call up your friends, have a good time, laugh as much as you can but also, use the time to open up to them. Don’t suppress any feelings, don’t go through the process alone. Friends are there for a reason — be free to explain how you feel, cry on their shoulders and ask for advice.

APPRECIATE WHAT YOU STILL HAVE
Don’t get stuck in dwelling and dragging yourself down. Try your best to shift your focus to what you actually have in life. Sometimes we obliviously get through our days taking things for granted — family, friends, our passions and hobbies… even the simple things like food, nature and a roof over our head. Refocusing our energy and tapping into gratitude will help put what happened into perspective and allow you to not be overwhelmed.

Lastly

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Fantasy World Unleashed for the inspiration and conjuring up this question for me. I really enjoyed the deep dive and hope it gave you and all my readers some interesting insight!

“I had a great time, when can I see you again?”

These days you’ll need to come armed with garlic, a crucifix and a dictionary if you’ve got any chance of survival in the modern dating world. Learning the millennial language of “love” can be pretty helpful to if you want to figure out what kind relationship you’re getting yourself into — or whether it’s even one at all! With the extensive, ever-evolving list of vocabulary, phrases and acronyms, it’s no surprise that many of us feel baffled after seeing things like “TDTM” or “DSL” (all to be revealed at the end of this post!)

In this week’s blog piece, I’m focusing on one very unpleasant term. Please raise your hand if you’ve ever had a potential prospect suddenly end all contact and disappear into the ether… 🙋🏻‍♀️ Yes, that’s right people. Ghosting is what we’re about to cover… or uncover rather!

So the depressing news is that this “trend” happens more frequently than we think. In a survey conducted by dating app Plenty of Fish, among 800 single US and Canadian participants aged 18-33 — nearly 80% had fallen victim of being “dumped” by someone without any explanation. In another survey ran by Elle.com, more women reported being on the receiving end, but more women than men also admitted to being the ghoster!

I’m sitting here shaking my head yet I’m also guilty of committing this cruel act… twice in the past. Not my proudest moments and I don’t condone it. Since then, I’ve matured, improved my communication skills and learned to deal with tough situations like a decent human being.

Ghosting can happen at any point… after one date, after a few texts, even after several months of dating! For the person bearing the brunt, the aftermath can be devastating; especially if it felt like things were heading somewhere. Naturally, self-esteem is impacted, one might feel abandoned, betrayed, angry, anxious and go into a spiral of overthinking. But what drives this behaviour? I’ve provided 6 brutally honest reasons why people will opt for this exit strategy.


AVOIDANCE OF CONFRONTATION
Uncomfortable conversations. Nobody really wants to have them and very few people can handle them. Simply avoiding possible conflict and hoping the problem goes away on its own is usually a Ghoster’s easy way out.

YOU CAME ACROSS A BIT ERM… NEEDY
I mean come on! You got a little ahead of yourself there… talking about the skirting boards, the white picket fence, 3 kids, 2 dogs and your 5 year plan — all of this before the bread basket even touched the table! It was going well until the overwhelming pressure of the conversation caused them to jump into an Uber and out of your life.

YOU’RE A SIDE PIECE
Given how many people are on dating apps, it’s fairly easy for someone else to catch your eye. Other possibilities might be that they’ve returned to an ex, they’re already married or involved with someone else, and that’s a sticky situation! If they’ve abandoned you for those reasons then I’d say you dodged a bullet and got lucky!

THE CONNECTION ISN’T SERIOUS ENOUGH / THEY’RE NOT THAT INTO YOU
When a person isn’t that interested or hasn’t invested much time into the “relationship”, they may feel they don’t owe you anything, including a conversation to explain themselves.

AFTER ONE THING ONLY
The game-playing ghosts. They’ve led you on, they’ve said what you wanted to hear, they’ve gone into full blown Prince/Princess Charming mode… until they finally bedded you. With their egos boosted, it’s time to go ghost. These ones are equivalent to some kind of 15-day free trial.

YOU’RE THE ISSUE
And sometimes it’s just your attitude and behaviour. No one wants to be involved with people who are liars, disrespectful, rude, arrogant, complainers… the list of negative traits can go on. If someone feels that being direct is a waste of their time and energy, they’ll go for the obvious choice and avoid you at all costs.

How to react when you get ghosted

Firstly, let a ghost stay a ghost. Put your phone down, stop stalking their social media, stop showing up at places you know you’ll see them at. It’s not attractive and it says you need their validation, which you absolutely do not! You are worthy and you don’t need anyone’s stamp of approval. 

I know my advice will go through one ear and out of the other for some people… so if you’re tempted to get in touch with them, please think hard about what outcome you’re really looking for. If someone has ghosted you then they’ve already shown an inability to handle conflict in a healthy way. Ask yourself if it’s really worth investing time and effort in someone who is evidently emotionally unavailable.


ACRONYMS
TDTM = Talk Dirty To Me
DSL = D*** Sucking Lips (lovely!)

If you need a bit of brushing up on millennial dating lingo or you’re simply new to the dating scene, you can use my Dating Dictionary as a reference point to help navigate your way through ghastly minefield!

Still waiting to be “swiped” off my feet…

In 2012 Tinder ushered in a new era in the history of romance and revolutionised the dating game. The introduction of the swipe left for a no and swipe right for a yes formula was quickly adopted by many other dating apps. With a mobile-first generation; the carefully put together profiles quickly lost out to photo-led profiles designed to be swiped through whilst on the go. It’s evident Tinder has racked up some impressive stats over the years — as it stands, users swipe 1.6 billion times a day across 190 countries! However, eight years since entering the market, it appears the once thriving “dependable wingmate” has gone from fringe novelty to a dating apocalypse.

As we become bound to the excitement of matches and neurochemical “rewards,” it’s no surprise that us online daters get hooked on these apps. Essentially, whenever “it’s a match” pops up on our screens, the brain releases a flurry of dopamine chemicals, giving us small bursts of happiness. While the swiping process is meant to help us discover potential romantic partners more effectively, it seems the excessive app usage and mindless swiping is weakening ties between individuals rather than fostering connections.

I’ve had the pleasure of letting Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, POF, Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel grace my iPhone’s home screen. I’ve also had the pleasure of deleting them… then reinstalling months later (😩) in hopes that something might actually come from it. Unfortunately it’s the same thing over and over — an exhaustive, repetitive, daily thumb-swiping exercise consisting of nothing more than three-second photo evaluations, half-hearted bio scans and a few dead-end conversations. Indeed, I’m not the only one that feels this way. According Badoo’s research with 5,000 British 18-30 year olds, 68% dislike swiping and matching based on appearances alone, claiming there’s very little going on when it comes to meaningful engagement.

So what are dating apps doing to address the low quality interactions and improve matches?

In the last couple of years, several apps started experimenting with video features. In 2018, Badoo introduced “Badoo Live” — allowing users to receive messages from interested parties while live streaming. A principle similar to Facebook Live, the feature also offers the ability to watch in playback mode. Once a match is made, users can start a live video chat with each other within the app. And with the recent growth in video dating during the pandemic, many apps capitalised on video-chat. Hinge unveiled the “Date from Home” option to facilitate safe dating as well as aid users in transitioning from message ping pong to a virtual date.

By allowing people’s real personalities to shine through, it not only solves the problems of misrepresentative photos, catfishing and delayed responses; but video could also increase your chances of having a personable connection sooner and save time and energy to focus on dates that you’re genuinely excited about. When two individuals hold face-to-face communication (whether physically present or over video call) — the use of voice, gestures, body language and facial expressions help to build stronger relationships. This particular form of exchanging personal information is known as “Dyadic Communication” — and due to its intimate nature, this practice simply cannot afford to be impersonal.

So if we’re really looking to make meaningful connections then perhaps now is the time to start embracing video within dating apps. Many of us will find the thought of recording ourselves rather daunting but we need to keep in mind that dating should also be about having fun, stepping out of our comfort zones, building confidence and utilising our time more effectively. If we can begin tweaking our profiles and incorporating video, I’m confident that the matches will be of higher quality. No doubt it will eradicate or at least reduce the snap judgements made, help us look past the heavily filtered photos and present users/ourselves in a more authentic light.

It’s worth mentioning that I’ll be trialling out a new video-only dating app called Oneder in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing what impact video-first will have from a user experience in comparison to the usual swiping apps, and of course, seeing what romantic potential it has to offer! Who knows… I might actually find “reel” love this time around – watch this space 😉

Is more less when it comes to dating?

Remember when choices were as simple as “regular latte” or “skinny latte”? These days it’s more like “decaf latte, double shot, caramel syrup, half-soy, half-oat, 180-degrees, no-foam, with a sprinkle of chocolate powder on top”. Let me tell you something… the online dating landscape is not too dissimilar! The challenge these days for many singletons, particularly where dating apps are concerned, is not just about dishonesty, but decision-making as well.

Once upon a time I found dating apps fun and interesting but after using them for a few months, the novelty quickly wore off. Now I merely see them as tedious and exhausting… it’s like an endless stream of “potentials” along with endless swiping (left), every time I open the apps. While the barrage of choice should make connections easier, it also makes us more picky. Whether we’re looking for something better or just completely overlooking, do we miss a good opportunity when it’s presented right in front of our eyes?

The paradox of choice

“Maximising” is a term coined by Barry Schwartz, a psychology professor at Swarthmore College and author of “The Paradox of Choice”. Briefly summarised, “maximisers” are those who believe the grass is always greener on the other side. This particular pool of people treat dating and relationships very much like clothing. They might try a few options before committing to the right item, perhaps they’ll stay on the look out “just in case” or if they really can’t decide, it’s possible they’ll end up with two similar garments and flit between them. The only difference is, there’s no refunds or exchanges in the dating world! Have you ever found yourself in this type of situation? I know I have… and I’m talking metaphorically and literally.

I once dated two guys at the same time… whilst also lightly entertaining three others potentials just because I could. Normally I’m someone that likes to stick with one person, at least that way they can have my full attention plus it means less faffing around. But for the sake of trying out a new strategy, I decided to run an A/B split test.

The subjects

Although the two had very different personalities, I found them equally attractive. Guy #1 was the extrovert. In a nutshell I’d describe him as extremely social, well dressed, nicely built, perfect height, super chatty, great fun, hilarious, confident but not cocky. Guy #2 was quite the opposite. Totally introverted. Had a whole lot less to say but any time he opened his mouth, there was good, intellectual substance behind his words. Slightly more mature in the mind which was a nice change in comparison to other men I’ve dated previously! A little on the short side( though that didn’t bug me too much), kinda geeky, generous, thoughtful, well put together and also had a great build!

Activity

After a couple months in, I realised it was getting a bit too much! Multi-dating is honestly so mentally and physically draining. It’s the constant upkeep of texting back and forth trying to maintain several conversations at once, managing dates to ensure there’s no clashes, getting paranoid in case one guy would see me with the other, the effort of getting dressed up to actually go out on these dates (between 3-4 times a week!) …all of this while you’re still trying to suss them out. And that’s just the dating side of my life! Your mind is always in a pickle about which one to eventually kick to the curb, not to mention date requests coming in from the other potentials! This was a mess. It was time to optimise the strategy.

Results

So I ended up getting rid of both guys… and deleted all apps from my phone. Sometimes that’s the way it needs to be. Truthfully I was getting bored and felt overwhelmed with the whole dating palaver. I couldn’t be arsed to make a choice and I definitely couldn’t be bothered to go on any more new dates. It was all unnecessary drama that I didn’t need in my life.

What I found particularly interesting about the “A/B test” was the correlation between my handling of the situation and one of the studies discussed in Schwartz’s book. It concluded that while having increased options can be beneficial to a certain point, giving people too much choice would likely cause poor decision making, feelings of dissatisfaction, regret, or we become exhausted and make no decision at all!

If you think about it, it’s not just dating where we might experience over-abundance of options. It happens in everyday life. At restaurants when looking at a menu, down each aisle during grocery shopping, choosing a Netflix film to watch, figuring out which stocks to invest in, etc. Dating apps are great in bringing you closer to someone compatible, but if you’re hitting it off with one person and still have another 78 others waiting for you to match with them; is it worth having a look through? Or do we focus on this one person and keep those as part of an “emergency stash”?
In my opinion, if you’re someone who is actually serious about making a real, long term connection then the approach needs to be adjusted to fit your objective. Here are a few of my suggestions/thoughts:

1. If you have multiple dating apps, why not stick with your preferred one? At least this will cut down your swipes and choices.

2. If you’re already dating/chatting to someone, spend the time to get to know them properly before jumping ship. Don’t be quick to judge and learn to give people the benefit of the doubt… no one is perfect!

3. We need to stop treating a people as if they’re disposable or some type of commodity. It’s only fair to base a person on his or her own merits and not in comparison to 3, 5 or 10 other people. If I’ve instantly clicked with someone and things have progressed to a second date then they definitely warrant 100% of my attention.

Love, lust or attachment?

With 80 billion cells and various chemicals in our brain, it’s no wonder why feelings and emotions are so hard to decipher. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a time when we’ve met someone and felt instantly drawn to them. It’s common to feel a variety of sensations including nervousness, excitement, an adrenaline rush, anxiety, an increased heartbeat and so on. Sometimes the “sparkle” of a new relationship in your life can be overwhelming; causing your judgements to be clouded. There’ll be a certain point where the mind starts throwing up all sorts of questions like: Should I give 100% to this individual? Do they feel the same? Is it more than just attraction? Is there potential for longterm commitment? Is this person a “nice to have” because I’m bored?


Assuming we have those questions figured out, and things develop even further… are we then entering the territory of love, lust or attachment? How do we differentiate between the three? Personally speaking, I believe I’ve felt lust before, I’ve also felt attachment (in a rather unhealthy way), and both are a type of high that are not just addictive but consume a lot of your mental space. If I were to briefly summarise the two experiences, I’d say:

LUST
Is impulsive, obsessive and surface-level; it offers immediate gratification thus short lived. When you’re lusting after someone, you’ll find yourself in fantasyland. The infatuation begins to takes over to the point where you start ignoring things… including red flags! With lust, we project what we want to see rather than the reality of the person and situation. This is exactly what I went through during a rebound.

ATTACHMENT
Is actually more about yourself than the other person, though it might not seem like it in the moment. It leaves no allowance for vulnerability. It’s convenient, pleasure seeking, requires constant reassurance and eventually drains the living soul out of you because in the end, it’s just a power struggle game. The aim is to keep the person there for as long as possible to fill a void, whether it be boredom, loneliness, etc. Unfortunately as humans, we’re wired to get attached to ideas/people/things very quickly because ultimately it’s what we think will complete us and fulfil our needs. I could go much deeper into this subject but I think I’ll save it for a rainy day!

LOVE
Well I can’t really speak on “being in love” as I don’t think I’ve experienced it in full force as such but in one of my others posts “Love, Sex & Magic”, I collaborated with a fellow blogger and discuss what I believe it to be. Whilst we’re on the subject, I wanted to highlight an interesting study led by Helen Fisher from Rutgers University on the science behind love. There are some key takeaways from her model suggesting that there are various overlaps as well as subtleties between the three ‘strands of love’, all uniquely characterised by their own set of neurotransmitters and the release of specific hormones during each stage, these are:

Lust – Testosterone and oestrogen
Attraction – Dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin
Attachment – Oxytocin and vasopressin

While love can start off with any of these three feelings, ie. people have sex first and then fall in love, some fall in love then have sex, some feel deeply attached to someone they’ve known for a while then eventually fall in love — the brain’s system can be tricky. Having sex increases dopamine in the brain and can push you over the threshold toward falling in love. With an orgasm, a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin pumps into the brain, giving you feelings of attachment. Where casual sex is concerned, as much as we like to convince ourselves otherwise, it isn’t always casual. In fact, those who engage in “hooking up”, do it to unconsciously trigger feelings of romance and attachment. The bottom line: sexual intimacy can trigger a host of powerful feelings. This is why we can become so confused internally when it comes to matters of the heart.

Fisher explains that romantic love is composed of attachment, attraction, and lust. As they emit a different combination of chemicals from the brain, it is impossible to experience real love without a blend of all three. When we do experience this love, one of the central ideas is that romantic love is a drive much stronger than the sex drive. A few signs of “romantic drive” are as follows:

1. You begin to think your love interest is unique. You also experience the inability to feel romantic passion for anyone else. This single-mindedness results from elevated levels of central dopamine, increasing attention and focus.

2. Your overall outlook in life seems significantly more positive. You’ll frequently catch yourself daydreaming about the other person. Trivial events and objects will instantly remind you of them.

3. People who are in love generally feel a powerful sense of empathy toward their partner, feeling the other person’s pain as their own and being willing to make sacrifices for the other.

4. Emotional intimacy is one the biggest factors that sets love apart from the attraction or lust you feel in the early days of dating. When you open up to your partner and become more vulnerable, it shows that you may very well be heading in the direction of love.

5. Oxytocin increases feelings of safety and calmness. When the initial nerves/anxiety are replaced with contentment, it could be a sign you’ve gone from infatuation to love. 

6. Lastly, when you’re in love, you start including your partner in all your future plans. You’ll start considering your significant other when it comes to making big life decisions simply because you want them to be there for it all.


It’s evident our human brains are a minefield; emotions are no doubt complex to decode. Nonetheless it’s important to remember that whether you’re in early stages of a relationship or happily settled down, we at times forget to prioritise ourselves. It’s easy to get wrapped up by someone and driven by forces outside of our conscious awareness, so do check in with yourself to ensure your situation isn’t having a negative impact on your mental and physical wellbeing.

The courage to forgive.

It’s easy to fall into a pit of despair, bitterness and grief when we’ve been deeply hurt. After someone has wronged us, the thought of forgiving them seems elusive. Where relationships are concerned, if we’ve been the victim of cheating, mental/physical abuse, being lied to or put up with toxic behaviour; these events will naturally stick with us due to our brain’s innate tendency to remember things that are emotionally impactful. This is why letting go, whether it’s feelings, people and/or relationships can be so difficult.

Forgiveness is no doubt one of the hardest challenges you will ever face in a relationship or post-relationship. Most of us assume that if we forgive, then the offenders are let off the hook while we unfairly suffer from their actions. We must remember that forgiving someone doesn’t mean condoning their behaviour or pretending it didn’t happen. In essence it’s about letting go of the desire to seek revenge towards the other party, eliminating negative emotions rooted from them and shedding the emotional baggage from the unpleasant incident. Unfortunately there’s no quick formula to recover from pain nor is it a linear process, but if we’re able to practice forgiveness, I guarantee that it will bring a kind of peace that will enable you to move on and live a happier, more meaningful life.

It was only 3 years ago when I truly learned how to forgive properly, since then I’ve reaped the benefits. My perspective in life, personal growth, attitude and relationships in general have improved vastly. Being able to finally get over a relationship wound that I was subconsciously holding onto for almost 10 years (!!!) instantly made me feel a huge sense of relief, freedom and strength. You just know when you’ve finally let that shit go… something instantly changes within you, it’s that kinda feeling.

Until that moment I really thought I had known how to forgive, but I hadn’t. The only thing I was doing was suppressing the memories; but through time, maturity and lots of self-reflection, it occurred to me that some of my behaviour patterns were very destructive. When it came to relationships, I struggled with communication (particularly when I was upset), I was easily triggered, I was defensive, paranoid and anxious often. When I had that moment of realisation, I knew something was going on with me deep down and I needed to fix it. Not just for future relationship but for myself.

If you’re going through a circumstance; whether you’re struggling to forgive someone, haven’t forgiven the past (and haven’t let go) or simply don’t wish to forgive, I get it. Sometimes stubbornness and ego gets in the way. And sometimes it’s just the principle! But if I can highlight just a few reasons why it’s essential to practice forgiveness, then I hope it will enable you to think or view the situation in a different light.

It helps you to recognise the pain in others
No one is born wanting to hurt others. Our life experiences shape us as we mature and learn over the years. If we can take some time to think about the person who has hurt us, we can often find clues that help to explain their behaviour. And when we’re able to do this, we can begin to see things from a bigger perspective. The person who caused us pain is just a human trying to cope with their challenges, just as we are.

It’s for your benefit
Forgiveness is not something we do for others, it’s something we do for ourselves. If you continue to feel like a victim, then you’re carrying a heavy burden. The act of forgiving allows you to drop the burden and free yourself by walking away.

You’ll build inner strength
It takes a lot of courage and mental strength to forgive someone that caused us significant pain. When we practice forgiveness, we’re releasing negative emotions that we’ve held on to. And if we can continue to maintain this powerful mindset, we’ll become more resilient as well as build greater relationships in future.

We can learn from past experiences
Whether we move on with or without the person who hurt us – be mindful of the lesson. During and after the situation, we should do our best to take a step back and learn something about ourselves. Understanding what pushes our buttons, at what point do we get sensitive, how do we handle our emotions, how do we deal with conflict. Gathering this knowledge enables us to be better equipped for the next dispute or relationship later down the line.

Improves wellbeing
Holding a grudge or holding on to any negative emotion affects the cardiovascular and nervous systems. According to a study, people who struggled to forgive had elevated blood pressure and heart rates, as well as increased muscle tension. Choosing to let go and offering forgiveness will help boost your feelings of wellness on a mental and physical level.

Forgiveness comes with many steps, and depending on the situation, it can take weeks, months, or even years to get over a painful experience. I wouldn’t want anyone to be a prisoner of someone else’s behaviour, and struggling to let go might mean that you’re the one who pays most in the long run. It’s important to remember that forgiving means to eliminate the suffering, not the wrongdoing. The offender might not deserve your pardon, but you definitely deserve to be at peace.

Red flags: some people aren’t looking for love, they’re looking for help.

If I were to sit down and have a conversation with myself say… 6 months into each of my relationships, I would not only advise on what characteristics I needed to work on as a person but firmly tell myself to open my goddamn eyes and take a good look at what’s waving right in front of me. Yes. We’re talking red flags.

Taking a chance on someone is necessary if you ever want to find a meaningful connection, no doubt any new relationship is full of challenges. As you get to know someone, there’s no telling whether things will go left or right. However, it’s difficult for the new romance to thrive if you cling on to resistance or fear. In a healthy relationship it’s important for both partners to trust and be trusted, to open up and be vulnerable with each other.

Generally dating and new relationships should be fun. As you transition from strangers to lovers, the most exciting part is learning all there is to know about someone on every level – emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. But sometimes when we’re filled with exhilaration we become blinded by those rose tinted glasses, thus end up overlooking the warning signs. From controlling behaviour to gaslighting to dishonesty; I’ve certainly experienced moments of tunnel vision in past and have been played the fool. While I’m no relationship expert, time and experience has helped me navigate my way through a lot of bullshit, enabling me spot that boundary-pushing behaviour early on. I’ve taken my learnings and would like to highlight some tactics that were used on me to cover up some serious flaws…

Catching someone in a web of lies
Oh jeez… this reminds me of my last relationship! You can read about that drama here. I think it’s fair to say that in life we all tell little white lies here and there, ie. “I’ll call you!”,“We must catch up soon!”, “Your haircut isn’t that bad!”, “I won’t be able to make it tonight, I’m feeling poorly.” These are not unheard of and have very low stake. However, if you’re catching someone fibbing time and time again, especially at the start of a relationship. My advice is to run. If they’re able to deceive you once, it makes it easier for them to lie more often. The more you catch them being dishonest, the more your trust will be tarnished. And what’s a relationship without trust? Sometimes you’ve really got to stop and wonder how honest this person actually is. What else could they be lying about? In fact, don’t even bother doing detective work, save your energy and just leave. Believe me, if you stick around… the pile of lies will post bigger problems down the road.

No life outside the relationship
There’s nothing wrong with valuing your time together, but if the person you’re seeing never mentions their friends, recent social gatherings, group activities, or anything to do with other people… it’s definitely an eyebrow raiser. I completely understand that some people suffer from social anxiety or are super introverted, that’s fair enough. Nevertheless, it’s usually a tell tale sign that the person is codependent and/or very possessive. I’ve been with a couple of guys who wanted my full attention, day in, day out. Apart from feeling like they’re draining the life and soul out of you, this behaviour displays unhealthy clinginess, a lack of self-sufficiency and insecurity. In a relationship, you shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to do your own thing nor should you feel the need to comply with their “rules” to appease them.

They don’t introduce you to their friends, family or anyone in their life
It takes time to meet the important people in your partner’s life. But if you’ve been dating for a while and you’ve been kept at a distance from everyone in their life, then that’s an issue. Unless you’re someone’s mistress or side piece, introducing each other to friends and family is a positive step. If you’re wondering why you haven’t reached that stage yet, it could be a sign that the person doesn’t take you or the relationship seriously… or there’s something shady going on. I suggest you call them out or call it quits!

You’re beginning to justify their behaviour
Toxic people are great at creating a false positive impression to worm their way into your heart. When they’ve done something that you deem unacceptable, somehow they’ll twist your mind to make you rationalise their wrongdoings. If you find yourself thinking or saying stuff like: “Oh he’s only like that because…” then perhaps it’s time to take a step back and really listen to what your gut is telling you.

You start to question your sanity
This is what happens when you’re being gaslighted. Briefly explained, it’s when your partner challenges your perception of situations, of yourself, of your thoughts, of your feelings, of their behaviour. The worst part is when you don’t even realise you’re being manipulated! It’s a gradual build up, these people normally appear very charming at first but soon enough you’ll recognise they’re all talk and no action. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse so it’s best to shut it down as soon as possible. If you feel like you’re starting to second guess yourself more than usual, I would recommend you go in for reality check by talking to your friends or family. Get them to be brutally honest.

Be observant of their behaviour from day one

These are just some of the key red flags I wanted to draw attention to. It’s always difficult to think logically when you find yourself in the situation and in your feelings, at times we even refuse to acknowledge these actions and behaviours. If you’re beginning to wonder how you even wound up in the mess you’re in now, think about the early warning signs. I want to end this post with a quote which rings true when thinking about this topic:

“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

– Maya Angelou

One Q&A + two sassy bloggers = love, sex and magic.

Happy weekend everyone! Hope you’re enjoying the beautiful weather (Londoners) albeit windy! As if it wasn’t hot enough already this week… I’m here to crank the heat up a notch or two with my very first (and very spicy) collaboration! Yessss this a Bank Holiday Special! So before I dive in, I want quickly give a shout out to my fellow blogger, sexpert and orgasm lover, the bold and beautiful soul behind TheDatingShitShow. I’ll warn you now, her content is not for the faint hearted! In short, she takes you on a personal journey with a strong emphasis on female sexual empowerment, essentially you’ll see her life through a “steamy” lens. The underlying message is to encourage women to embrace pleasure, erotic energy and explore your deep desires. Check it out if you have 5 mins to spare 🙂

As for context on how this collaboration came about, we literally met through Instagram like… last week! She dropped me a message and it pretty much took off from there. The fact that we’re both passionate about self-expression, have similar writing tones, are huge fans of Sex and the City (Samantha Jones obvs!) and of course share comparable dating experiences; it just made sense to come together, hone in on our areas of interest and produce a fun and exciting joint blog post to share with our readers.

Between the two of us, we conjured up 8 extremely deep, intimate, daring questions. The type that most people would not typically discuss in such a public domain! It’s a good thing we’re not “most people” then, because here we are… two sassy bloggers + one hot and heavy Q&A piece. We touch on love, heartbreak, sex and porn! So without further ado…


DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE EVER BEEN IN LOVE?

Damsel in Dating Distress
I used to think so but looking back I’m not entirely convinced. The one time I think I experienced “being in love” was with my first boyfriend. I was 16 at the time, together for 3 years so fairly young and naive. I went through all the emotions that you would associate with romantic love. Feeling like you’re on cloud nine, the immediate excitement of seeing or speaking to them, having that person on your mind throughout the day, placing the other person’s needs before your own, imagining the rest of your life with them, being blind to everything else around you, being literally inseparable. In hindsight I realised it was just a heavily codependent relationship. Maybe my “teenage love” was nothing more than an attachment, but not the healthy kind.

Dating Shit Show
The first time I fell in love was with my university boyfriend and we were together for 4 years. He taught me what love should be like and showed me how to love, without conditions. I would say I’ve been in love a handful of times throughout my life, young love, puppy love, dependent love. We learn a lot about ourselves when we fall in love, sometimes it blinds us, sometimes it breaks our heart and then teaches us to be a little less naive.

IF YES, CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE FEELING AND EXPERIENCE? IF NOT, WHAT DO YOU THINK LOVE IS?

Damsel in Dating Distress
I think many of us tend to get confused between, love, lust and attachment. I’ll save my deep dive for a separate post but in essence, love should feel steady and secure. It involves commitment, vulnerability, mutual trust, and acceptance. It’s a feeling and emotion that grows over time through getting to know a person, while also experiencing high and low moments together. Love should hold a more balanced perspective; when together your energies should complement each other whilst allowing for the ability to maintain a life of your own. I’m yet to experience this high level version of love.

Dating Shit Show
Love is beautiful and intimate. The first time I fell in love I learned what love has the potential to be. Love is about bringing out the best in another person and giving your best to another person. Nourishing and encouraging each other to be the best possible version of yourselves. I don’t fall in love very easily, but when I do I fall deeply.

WHAT WAS YOUR WORST EXPERIENCE OF HEARTBREAK?

Damsel in Dating Distress
Not surprisingly, it was with my first boyfriend. The overall heartbreak was a build up of many painful, infuriating moments over time. It started off with his controlling, double standard behaviour where I was told to stop hanging out and speaking to my guy friends. Dictating what I could and couldn’t wear. The verbal and physical bust ups. The lying and cheating. We went through a break up/make up vicious cycle which involved manipulation, mind games and eventually led to the real break up which was just horrid. I cried for about 3 months, lost my appetite and felt a huge void. Thinking back, I cannot imagine putting myself through mental and physical turmoil for a man (!) or anyone for that fact! Being young, having your first relationship and going through a rollercoaster of emotions (never experienced before) was tough. The aftermath of trust issues, paranoia, anger, insecurity, etc. took its toll on me for a good few years, consequently causing damage to my other relationships. Thankfully time allows you to grow, mature, heal, learn and self discover.

Dating Shit Show
I dated a guy for 4 years during my twenties. I moved to a small town where everything and everyone was new. We started dating and I fell in love. It wasn’t what love should be. It was full of resentment, lying and disrespect. He ended the relationship over text after 4 years, started dating someone new a week later, then had me fired from my job. LOL. This was my “rock bottom” heartbreak, the one where you feel as though you’ve been shit on. It took me a while to get over the relationship. but I believe this heartbreak is one of the reasons I am as strong and badass as I am today. That breakup taught me to never give someone else so much control over my feelings and it taught me that love shouldn’t complete any part of me or my life, it should add something extraordinary to an already amazing life.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST TIME HAVING SEX LIKE?

Damsel in Dating Distress
Yeah it wasn’t bad. We had spoken about it in advance and (us being clueless teenagers) kinda “choreographed” what was going to happen, from foreplay to the actual moment! It happened in my house, on my bed. I don’t remember every detail (it was a while ago) but I know we were both nervous. The nerves certainly got to him more than me (I suspect this is common for guys) because it took us a couple of tries which added even more pressure on him – slightly awkward! We got there in the end and it’s kind of what you’d expect for a first time ; a bit of uncertainty, a little clumsy, slow but nevertheless enjoyable. I’m that the experience was shared with a boyfriend, it made everything more intimate and special.

Dating Shit Show
My first time was beautiful. I was very fortunate and I chose well. He was a chef in a restaurant I was working in. He was a little older than me and a lot more responsible. I was in such a hurry to have sex for the first time and he encouraged me to slow down and not to rush such a big thing. My first time was sweet and romantic and unforgettable in all the right ways.

WHAT’S A SUREFIRE WAY TO TURN YOU ON?

Damsel in Dating Distress
There’s a list but here’s the shortened version:

1. Confidence, respect, wit and assertiveness – Nothing beats a man with a strong presence. If he is self-assured with gentlemanly traits, I’m hooked in.
2. Strong arms and broad shoulders – I find it very attractive as it makes the guy appear more masculine and domineering.
3. Aggression/submission in bed – hair pulling, neck grabbing, back scratching, nail digging, against the wall, over the table! 😀
4. Men in sweats (preferably grey) and topless – This look makes me clench my fist and bite it! It’s the way the sweats outline his manhood.
5. Physical affection/heaving flirting/teasing – I thoroughly enjoy getting a guys mind going!

Dating Shit Show
Hmm, I would say there’s a few surefire ways. My top 3 would be…

1. A guy with confidence – A guy who knows himself, knows what he’s about, knows what he wants in life and isn’t afraid to go after it.
2. Sexual dominance – A guy who knows how to take charge in the bedroom gets me pretty wet. One that isn’t afraid to put me in my place.
3. Passion – I need a lover who is passionate about sex and connection and passionate about giving me multiple orgasms.

Some other things would be… man buns, big hands, sexy arms, broad shoulders, sexy chocolate lovers, sensuality, presence, connection, chemistry, a guy who knows his way around a clitoris, good kissers, an ass that looks good enough to eat and those sexy ass V lines.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR SEXUAL FANTASY RIGHT THIS MINUTE?

Damsel in Dating Distress
Hahaha! I’m literally laughing out loud as I type this because there is a certain someone that comes to mind. First of all I would get him to cook a full-on roast dinner for me (as my belated birthday present) after that we’d uber over to a secret and private location (that comes with a hot tub on the balcony and skyline view of London). It’d be an evening full of deep conversations, lots of laughter, being silly, flirty, wine, a bit of weed, hot tubbing, games and plenty rounds of passionate sex. There’d be no sleep until early hours of the morning.

Dating Shit Show
After 6 weeks alone in quarantine I think any form of sex would be a fantasy right now. But my biggest sexual fantasy at the moment is an MMF threesome. I love dick, so a double dick fantasy would do me nicely right now. But mainly right now, I need a good weekend full of instabiable, uninterrupted sex.

WHAT WAS YOUR WORST SEXPERIENCE?

Damsel in Dating Distress
I can think of two occasions… but the worst was a rebound from one of my relationships. Sure he was attractive but unfortunately that’s all he had going for him!

1. He was very, very sweaty! Having face drip like a tap on me is never gonna do it.
2. Performing like a rabbit on speed is also not it!
3. The size! I feel a little bad because normally I’d say it’s how you use your tool; but he had some shortcomings (pun intended). Having a decent looking penis would of been his lifeline. Sadly, short pencil penises aren’t crowdpleasers.

Dating Shit Show
Hmmm I’ve had a few. Top disasters would be:

1. The guy who faked a phonecall to get out of giving me oral
2. The guy who made the strangest noise when he came
3. The guy who refused to give me oral because he couldn’t get hard

WHAT KIND OF PORN DID YOU LAST WATCH?

Damsel in Dating Distress
Porn!? It’s been years! But does going to a sex peep show in Amsterdam count? Right, so I paid €5 or something like that to watch drugged-up-looking couples have sex on a rotating platform. There were about 6 different “shows” going on at once, each having 4 rooms where you go in and have a “peep” at the action. You witness the usual positions, oral, anal and some kinky shit involving bondage… and that’s literally it. I didn’t quite get it, I wasn’t impressed but was interesting to say the least!

Dating Shit Show
Anal porn. It’s usually at the top of my most viewed. Tushy is one of my favourite porn channels, although they need to upload some new material, I think I watched it all during quarantine. I’ve also been watching some MMF threesome porn, for research purposes 😉


With this piece I wanted my responses to be raw and completely transparent so I hope that was delivered! To some readers who know me… I’m sorry haha! I guess you’ve really gotten to know me now. 🙊

I’ve always said social media comes with its pros and cons, however this is one example where I’ve seen a real positive. Since I started taking my blog seriously, I’ve already noticed the fruits of my labour. It’s rewarding knowing that my content resonates with others in the dating/relationship community. The connections I’m making are so valuable. The conversations and feedback I’ve had not only inspire me but also helps with ideas and direction.

It was a real pleasure (excuse the pun) to team up TheDatingShitShow. Thanks again girl, I had a lot of fun writing this and I hope we can collaborate on another piece in future! 💕

COVIDiaries: The 6 feet of separation

Firstly, I really hope everyone has coped okay during these turbulent times. Living in the midst of a pandemic and a lockdown is something that no one could have predicted. Socially and economically there have been a few cause for concerns. Many people have lost or feel terrified about the future of their jobs, some separated from and worried about loved ones, others craving freedom because home felt like their prison or those who are simply stuck indoors with little to no outdoor space. It hasn’t been easy for everyone to adjust to the “new normal”, which is why communicating, connecting, finding new hobbies and really making the most out of life’s simple pleasures is vital. We all need to muster the energy and enthusiasm to get through each day, and if we can refocus some of that energy on our own wellbeing and look out for others; then that’s always a great starting point to a more positive outlook.

Prior to the outbreak, I had been speaking to a few people across Hinge, Bumble, OKCupid and Coffee meets Bagel just to curb my boredom. I went on a couple dates here and there, it was great fun but overall the vibe wasn’t quite right so things died out fairly quickly. There was one guy in particular that I matched with on Hinge. I specifically remember when I went through his profile, something about him just didn’t sit right with me. I mean, it’s likely I was being judgemental (we’re all human at the end of the day!) but he had this very “laddish” look about him. Bar that, he did send quite a funny ice breaker; and funny is always good in my eyes. But don’t get it twisted, funny does not win me over.

As we started talking, I probably put in about 55% effort. That’s my general rule of thumb, you need to see what the other person is about without going all in, and I think you can get a good enough gauge if you fire the right questions and carefully look at their responses. After a few days of talking, I sussed that he was quite a smooth talker, confident with a tendency to step on the line of cocky, witty, funny, fairly charming and quite direct. I’ve dealt with many guys alike in the past, some slightly worse than others and I’ve always ended up extremely unimpressed. My normal reaction would have been to not bother but I was quite intrigued with him mainly because I saw a little bit of my personality come through in his responses. Also the fact that I knew within myself that I needed to be more open minded! As with most guys I meet online, my guard is held extremely high. Most things that are said, I take with a pinch of salt. With this guy, my guard was up for a while… it still is to be honest but it has dropped a significant amount over time.

And almost 9 weeks later (to my suprise) we’re still talking, regularly. We have these weekly video calls which I find very pleasant and entertaining. I’d explain what happens during these calls but I’ll save the details for another post. I guess it’s nice to get dressed up and pretend I’m going out on a date (literally just chilling on my bed), though I must say my efforts of late have been on the decline! Clearly I’m getting far too comfortable! 😬

The most frustrating part is that we haven’t actually met! Timing has been unfortunate but nevertheless I’ve genuinely enjoyed getting to know him thus far. I’ve appreciated the reciprocation in terms of time and effort put in to build a connection. You’d think in lockdown, people would get tiresome of having to entertain a conversation knowing that it wouldn’t lead an actual date… at least not for a while, consequently throwing in the towel after a couple of weeks or so. I wouldn’t be shocked if people said they were video dating purely as a time filler.

With video calls it still feels like there’s a barrier between us. Even though we talk frequently, without the physical form, we’re only getting a small part of what we’re about. It’s a fact that 70% of our communication is done via body language. So I guess my concern now is not so much him being a “lad” but more so us meeting properly and having an actual date! I’m not a pessimist but I can’t help but wonder “what if…”

We finally meet and there’s zero chemistry!?
We don’t find each other attractive face to face!?
We find each other unbearable?!
He’s not really that talkative in person and it gets awkward?!
He’s not really that funny and it gets awkward?!


I am looking forward to meeting him (finally), we joked that it would take us about 10 dates until we’d eventually see each other and currently it appears we’re on track! However it goes, I’ll be sure to enjoy the date, have fun and a good laugh. Fingers crossed it’s not another kittenfish or brick wall situation! Who knows… but make sure you stay tuned for the next chapter of COVIDiaries! 😀