What impact has technology had on love and romance?

The evolvement of technology has changed our lives, it’s been said that society has become too reliant upon technology. With all sorts of information readily available at our fingertips; from weight loss, education, investing, cooking, travel, sport — technology is at the forefront of everything we do, so it’s no surprise we struggle to put our devices down! Even our approach towards dating and relationships, we’re in a world where we’re able to speak to multiple potentials and “test drive” them all before one is selected. Technology has not only altered how we communicate and connect, but also how we feel.

Dating in the digital age means you can pull out your phone and find a date faster than it would take to get glammed up for a night out. We’re living in a time where these technological advancements has made our lives easier and faster… but has it improved our chances of finding love and romance? Personally, while I can’t say for a fact that chivalry is dead, I can say that technology has introduced a few obstacles when attempting to forge genuine, deeper connections.

According to a recent study by eHarmony, 67% of UK adults crave more romance in their lives. By nature most people want to find the ultimate form of human connection, the kind that lasts a lifetime. People want love and they want to be loved in return. So it’s always a breath of fresh air whenever when I hear of a virtual romantic success story. However it seems there are far more stories on the trials and tribulations of why people have suddenly become so inept at making relationships last. Have we run out of time for romance? Has technology made people lazy in love? Is technology actually bringing us closer together or driving us apart? I have so many questions and not enough answers… nonetheless in today’s blog post, I’ve gathered together a few points (benefits and drawbacks) on how the Information Age has changed the dating and relationship realm.

DON’T WORRY, THERE’S PLENTY OF FISH IN THE SEA!
Ah the old cliché… typically used as words of encouragement after a breakup. However for newly singletons, there really are plenty of fish in the sea! These days it’s super easy to sign up to a dating site, and within minutes you’ll find yourself a pile of matches waiting to be swiped through. Online dating is great as it gives us access to many more potential partners outside of our social circle.

ERM, THERE’S TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA!
And while it’s great to have choice, too many options can be overwhelming. Research has shown that individuals who have a larger pool of potential partners were more likely to change their minds and choose a someone else to speak to within a week! There is also the aspect of people being overly judgemental, if it’s not the off-putting photos then it’s their inability to write about themselves well or it’s their terrible grammar/spelling. Regardless of what the minor “issue” is, pickiness can be problematic, thus humans have become easily disposable.

GREAT FOR BUSY BEES
For those who have less time to dedicate to meeting people, technology could be the very thing that’ll help you meet your ideal partner when it’s most convenient for you. A bit of downtime before going bed or perhaps during a less busier week… finding romance is just a couple clicks away.

SO NEAR YET SO FAR
For those in a long distance relationship, technology is a Godsend! Gone are the days when people had to wait for a long time before seeing or hearing from their partners. Being able to exchange video calls and text messages on a daily basis means long distances relationships have become stronger than before. 

BE SPECIFIC
If you want to meet someone with similar core values, faith, interests, background and preferences, there’s most certainly a dating app out there designed to fit your requirements. No matter if you’re after a quick hookup, a threesome, or an affair… you name it, the digital dating realm has got it. Did you know there’s a dating app for Vegans, for Vegetarians, for women who are really into men facial hair, for people who believe in the magic of astrology and obsessed with horoscopes, for farmers, for bacon lovers, for sci-fi lovers, and my all time favourite — the SugarD app! 😆👴🏻

ATTENTION ADDICTION
We all want validation in some form — for each match, each like, each message, we’re bound start feeling ourselves a bit! As the rush of excitement happens, the dopamine our brain produces spikes, so it’s not uncommon for people to get addicted to these “hits” and constantly check in for more. Sometimes people aren’t actually interested in the “match”, they just like what it does for their ego boost.

ROMANCE TAKES TIME… TEXTING TAKES SECONDS
Communication is now easier than ever before, but there’s an argument that it has also ruined romance. Emojis are no love letters, and text messages is where most people feel their partners are falling short. It’s seen as a bare-minimum form for communication, and unsurprisingly isn’t valued as highly as a phone call. Quick messages are great for firming up Friday night dinner plans, but for expressing heartfelt sentiments? Not so much.

FEEDING THE ANXIOUS MIND
Living in a fast-paced digital world where we can get instant responses, some individuals rely heavily on the timings and meanings of each message to get a better understanding of how the other person feels or where they stand. Trust me, sometimes it’s not that deep! Then you have the presence of social media… a tempting space for those who like to play detective — the element of “stalking” allows people to get to know someone before even meeting! Yikes! No matter what stage you’re at in a relationship, having the ability to keep tabs on the other person on a daily basis not only creates worry and anxiety for yourself, but it can also become an obsessive, unhealthy habit.

AVOIDANCE OF REAL LIFE INTERACTION
Technology tends to be used as a means to avoid having real-life conversations, and it occurs more often than you’d think! When it comes to uncomfortable conversations, people would rather take the passive-aggressive approach, making statements which they wouldn’t dare make face-to-face. Or in some cases, completely dismiss everything and “ghost” 👻

I’M SORRY… WHO ARE YOU?
You can talk to someone for days, weeks, or months before meeting someone face-to-face. And the problem here is hardly an earth-shattering revelation… people lie on their online dating profiles! Okay not everyone lies or is purposely trying to mislead you but when we get to know someone for a significant period of time from behind our screens, we end up basing our connection on feelings that haven’t been reinforced by in-real-life experiences — thus we don’t get to see the full picture of who they are. There’s nothing wrong with meeting someone and developing an attachment to them online, but it’s always best to solidify your relationship face-to-face.

Conclusion

When we look at how technology has shaped the dating landscape, the overarching view is pretty negative. However based on some of my points above, I believe technology for some has created a new etiquette to romance and has enabled us to cast our nets a lot wider, opening opportunities to meet people we’d otherwise would not have met.

I think there are other factors we need to consider when putting our thoughts across. The generation we fall in will cause a difference of opinion. For a true traditionalist, dating apps might sound daunting. Once upon a time, courtship meant focusing on one person, picking up the telephone and asking them on a date… and if you’re in luck, you might be greeted with a bunch of flowers on the first meet. Today, you simply drop a quick message which will go along the lines of: “Hey you good? Free tomorrow at 7pm? Wanna have dinner?” — then hope for the best. If that fails then there’s always option 2, 3 or 4!

The popularity of technology has helped us create many connections, but these generally lack quality and substance. Communication is so fast and easy now that it’s removed the ‘thrill of the chase’ and killed romance somewhat. It seems as though the “games”, the ego boosts, the non-committal attitudes/behaviours, and the time-saving efficient nature of modern dating has become more important than actually finding a partner.

Tips for dating online safely and successfully.

I was up the other night until ungodly hours of the morning obsessively binging on a Netflix series called “Dirty John”. I haven’t been hooked on a show since Game of Thrones but it was honestly so gripping! Based on a true crime story, it’s about a manipulative, sociopathic con man who uses dating sites to seduce and extort women. It highlighted how the early warning signals aren’t always clear when you’re blinded by love. I highly recommend adding to your watchlist if you haven’t seen it yet!

After blitzing through the show in two days, experiencing what felt like an emotional rollercoaster, I was left gobsmacked knowing that people like him exist in the real world! From there I felt really inspired to write this post on how to protect yourself when looking for love online.

No matter what age you are, the online world has changed the way we form romantic relationships. Typically before these dating apps came on the scene, you’d meet people through friends, at work or from social events. Don’t get me wrong, this still happens but as we entered the era of social media and online dating, it’s a different kind of ball game. The anonymity of being behind a screen allows people to mould themselves into something they’re not — from hiding parts of their personality, spitting harmless lies about their height or weight, using fake names and missing out information about their children or marital status! If we’re not careful enough, we might end up being a victim of “catfishing” or worse, out of pocket and broken-hearted.

Deception is on this Earth

According to a recent study by Kaspersky, 55% of online daters have experienced some form of threat or problem with another party. While in a separate study ran by members of Michigan State University and Cornell University, 81% of online daters are untruthful about themselves in their profiles! That’s a high frigging stat! Online dating has clearly created a shift so it’s crucial to consider the potential dangers involved. When we start conversing with a new match, it allows us to connect and get to know someone without actually getting to know them — and that illusion of connection can make online dating pretty dangerous, thus we should think twice before giving away too much detail about ourselves.

Date safe

The experience of online dating should be enjoyable; however personal safety must come first. I would say the majority of people using dating apps have good intentions… yet how do we deal with the handful of those who don’t? Remember, you’re never responsible for the predatory or disrespectful behaviour of others — but there are things you can do to protect yourself when you’re interacting with a stranger. Next time you log back into Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, etc., I urge you to keep the following safety tips in mind.

HOLD BACK
It’s natural to want to impress someone new, you might disclose your interests, your job and industry, but you should never give out details such as your home/work address, what assets you own, bank information, email address, phone number… at least until you’ve established that the person you’re speaking with is truly who they say they are. Even then, I’d advise to stay on the side of precaution.

PHOTO SHARING
Don’t invite unwanted attention. If it’s your profile pictures or photos you’re sending to your matches, think before you let that photo land in their hands. Sharing naked or provocative images can lead to risky situations that are beyond your control, you just can’t guarantee that they won’t share it around with their friends or post it online for others to discover.

PUBLIC PLACES
No matter how charming or “genuine” your potential might appear… meet in public! Don’t send them an invitation to come to your place, and if they insist on inviting you around to theirs or suggest picking you from yours, I’d say it’s a red flag! 🚩 When you meet up, pick a venue where there are lots of people around, try to ensure good phone signal (and make sure you have full battery prior to your date!) It’s also worth meeting somewhere that you’re familiar with so you know how to get back home.

TELL A FRIEND… OR TWO
Before the date, let your bestie or family member (or both) know who you’re meeting, what you’re doing and where you’re going. Usually when my date goes to the restroom, I use that opportunity to drop a quick message to my friend and let them know how things are going.

VIDEO DATE
Most dating apps now have video functionality so I’d use it to your advantage. If not, then there are plenty of other video platforms, ie. Zoom, Skype. The conversation doesn’t have to be long but at the very least, you know you’re not getting catfished! A video call will also help you solidify initial attraction, get a gauge on their body language, and get a feel for how the conversation flows.

ARRANGE YOUR OWN MODE OF TRANSPORT
Finally, when you’re going to meet your date… use your own car, order a cab or get public transport — there and back! This lowers the risk of putting yourself in an uneasy or even dangerous situation. It’s best to stay in control over where you go. Even if your date offers to pick you up or drop you off, when you say “no”, they should respect your decision. And if they get funny about it… I have two words: red flag! 🚩

I’ve been “catfished” once before but thankfully nothing sinister came from it. I have to say, it was very odd and I was quite taken back! If your intuition tells you something is off or you feel uncomfortable, just block/delete/report them. But if you’re physically with the person, your safety is key, so there’s nothing wrong with ending a date early and going home. Make your excuse and leave!

Intuition or paranoia?

How do you tell the difference between intuition and paranoia? I have wondered this so much myself and I like to think I have an answer. Before I throw my thoughts out there, let me provide the definitions as they are remotely not the same thing… yet somehow many people manage to confuse the two. Intuition: the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. Paranoia: suspicion and mistrust of people or their actions without evidence or justification.

If you’re generally a worrisome person and an over-thinker it’s challenging to distinguish between self-generated feelings and intuitive perceptions. As someone with a fair amount of anxiety (much as I don’t like admitting it), I’m constantly questioning whether my inner thoughts are simply a product of my anxious mind due to past experiences, or something more intuitive and real. It’s endlessly frustrating for me to express my worries and concerns to others, then receive advice like, “You just have to trust your gut.” To be honest, that doesn’t help a huge amount. It’s like when you’re angry and someone tells you to “calm down” 😒

If you’ve ever experienced the kind of paranoia that makes little sense to anyone but you, you know that trusting the voice inside your head is a lot more difficult than it seems. Research has found that intuitive decision making is impaired for those who are in a state of anxiety. With this in mind, does it mean there is no such thing as “trusting your gut” if you’re an individual who suffers from anxiety/paranoia?

Discerning between the two

Whenever I feel like my “intuition” is kicking in, I have all sorts of mental and physical reactions. My heart rate speeds up, I struggle to sleep, my concentration levels drop, I lose my appetite, I become snappy towards others and my mind begins to spiral. As I read back on my last sentence, it definitely sounds like anxiety to me… but in the moment, the differences between anxiety symptoms and gut reactions are blurred, both can feel one in the same.

There has been multiple occasions where I’ve mistaken my paranoia for a “gut feeling”. The last incident of this was a couple weeks ago where I very badly overacted towards a situation and went into full crazy bitch mode. What added fuel to the fire was the lack of communication towards the other party. Thankfully things were resolved in the end but in no way did I feel good about my behaviour or attitude, it was poor form on my part but that particular moment was certainly a turning point and massive learning curve.

Obsessive and demanding vs. Calm and subtle

So how can we prevent ourselves from freaking out or jumping to conclusions?
How can we get through the murky waters and understand what’s what?

 Intuition and paranoia feel like inner tugs, prompts and “knowing”, but the source is different. It’s important to recognise that paranoia is a thought process which is believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety, insecurity or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. If we can get to a stage where we’re in touch with ourselves enough to know when those aspects are triggered, then we’re more likely able to figure this out — of course it comes with time, practice and a certain level of self-awareness.

I can’t stress enough how much communication helps; and I don’t mean asking friends and family for advice regarding the issues you feel concerned about. I mean having a deep, personal conversation where you really open up about negative life experiences, your childhood, past traumas, mental health… basically anything that might have impacted your character/behaviour over time. It’s a great and vital opportunity to learn about yourself. If you have someone you can trust and feel comfortable around then nominate them to be your “support”. Otherwise speak with a therapist, it may even be better to share this information with someone who doesn’t really know you, won’t be biased or say what you want to hear. Then once you get things off your chest, you can start gathering tools to better cope with any internal issues, therefore ensuring that it will no longer get in the way of your intuition. Here are a few other things to keep in mind.

1. Based on what I’ve felt in the past, paranoia is obsessive and demanding. It’s when the feeling takes up too much of your thoughts and energy. Paranoia tends to last for much longer — hours, days, weeks! It’s intense; it’ll keep you up at night, it’ll give you mood swings, you’ll feel on edge and it’ll send you straight into fight, flight mode. Whereas intuition is immediate, calm, subtle, like a small itch but fades in time if it isn’t scratched.

2. Paranoia is negative and fear-based. It usually presents itself as “what-if” and often future-focused in a very unhealthy way. If your head is filled with hypotheticals, worst case scenarios and you’re constantly honing in on things you can’t control… then it’s likely not your gut instinct. Intuition looks at the present and will come from a clear head and calm mind.

3. While both paranoia and intuition can create an unsettled feeling, paranoia will lean more towards stress and uncertainty — while intuition will feel more reasonable and concrete. I find that if you’re going back and forth, constantly undecided on what to do, then whatever is on the mind is likely anxiety-fueled.

Final thoughts

Feeling emotions is a natural part of being human but when the emotions start controlling us, it’s extremely difficult to tell the difference between trustworthy intuition and untrustworthy paranoia. But I always try my best to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I don’t think I’m paranoid. While you’re battling between head and heart, it’s tempting to follow your head because that’s where your “logic” lies but the mind’s ability to manifest is powerful enough that we’ll believe our fears which then becomes our reality.

If you’ve had a troublesome past then I think there’s little use trying to figure things out; for an over-thinking/worrier there is much greater use in speaking to the person directly and discuss the feelings you’re experiencing, that way you can at least verify reality and learn to trust as you go along. Trying to decide whether it’s intuition or paranoia just adds another layer to the anxiety and doubt, which will not help in building a fruitful relationship or a successful future together.

Red flags? No thanks, I want the green flags please.

Relationships play a massive part of our lives, I can’t think of anyone who wants to waste their time being unhappy and unfulfilled with the wrong partner. Most of us have had our fair share of drama and disasters in the past; so it’s understandable if someone enters a new relationship with a slightly pessimistic outlook. From online articles to social media posts and lifestyle magazines, we often hear about “red flags” in a relationship, but what about the lesser-discussed “green flags”? What are signs of a healthy and loving relationship that has true potential?

Sometimes we focus too much on the negatives and lose sight of the positive things (not just with relationships either) so today I’m discussing traits that’ll indicate whether a person is a keeper ☺️ I’ve prepared a rather hefty list on what I consider “green flags” based on my experience and learnings overtime…

1. YOU ARE NOT CONFUSED ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS FOR YOU (EMOTIONAL AVAILABILITY)
Spending too much energy trying to decipher their mixed feelings? Ain’t nobody got time for that!I’ll save you the stress now and tell you that mixed signals more often than not means they’re not that into you. Harsh but true. A sure sign of someone who’s emotionally available will be in tune with their feelings and can communicate them with you. Not only are they able to do this, but they’re actually willing to. Showing you vulnerability, ie. knowing if they’re afraid, if they really like you, if something bothers them — means you’re not left wondering, guessing, or worrying because they’ve consistently shown that you can trust their words and actions.

2. KNOWING HOW TO HOLD DIFFICULT, HONEST AND CONSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS
Closely linked with point 1… it’s a cliché but I can’t emphasise enough: communication is key! For many it’s difficult to talk about your feelings and put yourself out there, but once you pluck up the courage to do so, you’ll realise that it really is the glue that holds relationships together. If you and your partner are able to talk on a level (even after a fight), if you’re able to express yourselves calmly, effectively and respectfully, particularly through conflict, then you’re in a very good place. Believe me it’s frustrating being with someone who’s equivalent to a brick wall (I’ve been on both sides).

3. A GREAT AND SIMILAR SENSE OF HUMOUR

Imagine cracking a joke that you thought was a funny, only to be met with deafening silence 😭😩 That would fill me with dread! So it’s nice to know your partner will get your weird and wonderful sense of humour. Making fun of each other, sarcasm, banter, having the ability to spar with each other verbally — that’s a green flag for sure.

4. YOU CAN BE YOURSELF

I don’t believe you should be putting on a facade when it comes to dating at any point but when you’re with someone you gel with, you should feel comfortable enough to act exactly as you do when you’re alone. You’re the real you, not a “representation” of you. You’ll feel like you can be honest and speak your mind without feeling like your partner will judge or put you down. Hiding your true self from the get-go means building your relationship on lies… and that never ends well!

5. THEY GIVE YOU ‘ME TIME’

Everyone needs a little alone time now and then. In a healthy relationship, both parties understand and respect the need for independence and “me time”.  It’s important to have your own interests, hobbies, routines and friends. What you don’t want to do is become all-consumed with your partner — not having and maintaining your identity outside of your relationship could quickly lead to neediness and resentment.

6. YOU FEEL RESPECTED

When we care about and value others, we respect their feelings, treat them well and make time for them. We act accordingly when we know someone’s worth and not want to lose them. A positive sign is when you don’t feel rushed into anything you’re not ready for, physically or emotionally. Your partner will listen and understand your point of view (even if they don’t agree). And they’ll treat you like a priority rather than a convenience. Valuing your presence in their life is a green flag.

7. SEXUAL CHEMISTRY
When I talk about sexual chemistry, I don’t just mean having that feeling of wanting to rip each others clothes off and experiencing mind blowing sex (although, that’s pretty hot!) But if our partner can feed our mind and soul, it enhances our feelings of physical/sexual attraction to them. When you’re comfortable enough to discuss bedroom antics, how to spice things up, turn-ons and being able to laugh about the sex, this helps to build a fantastic sex life together! 😏

8. GENEROSITY
I’m not just talking monetary value here, it can be in others forms such as time, effort, attention, positive feedback. Random acts of kindness towards your partner, giving little gifts, plenty of affection, being considerate, putting your needs first (in bed LOL 😜) — it’s this kind of generosity that can help nurture a relationship and keep the flame going.

9. YOU WANT SIMILAR THINGS IN LIFE

Shared goals, values, ideals, life directions, common interests — all of these are going to make the relationship easier for the long term without much discussion or conflict. Thus, it’s crucial to pay attention to see if you’re both aligned and share a similar vision of success. This is a conversation that should be addressed early on, and although that may sound pretty intense, it’s necessary because… well why would you want to water a dead plant?

10. YOU FEEL CHALLENGED (IN A GOOD WAY)

Compatibility in a relationship isn’t just about having great time with someone. Being with a mirror version of yourself won’t expose you to new things, or teach you much about life. Two people who have identical views, personalities, or backgrounds might seem reassuring but realistically it’ll lead you down a path to stagnation. Personally, I think it’s important to be with someone whose strengths offset your weaknesses, and vice versa. It’s better to be with someone who is accomplished in areas you struggle in. Appreciating each others differences as well as the traits that overlap with your own will make you realise that no one is perfect, and that we’re only humans who are constantly evolving 😊

11. CROSSING THE “COMPROMISE BRIDGE” TOGETHER

When you’re invested in a relationship and confident about your future together, the element of sacrifice/compromise will come into play. At some point, you and your partner will have a different approach or opinion which means together, you’ll need to agree on a solution that is mutually beneficial. Combining your perspectives and moulding a life together is a great sign for a thriving relationship between two individuals. That’s not to say you should give up your own identity and values for the sake of the relationship, but rather find the right balance and reach a place of understanding.

12. THEY KNOW HOW TO APOLOGISE

Being with someone who cannot admit when they’re wrong is a pain in the arsehole! When someone can genuinely apologise to you and show genuine changes in their behaviour, then that’s valuable. Of course it goes both ways too. Recognising your own shortcomings, knowing when you’re at fault shows that you understand boundaries and care enough to make amends. All I’m going to say is… choose people who choose you over their pride and ego!

That’s all folks!

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… dating and relationships is not easy! With substantial amounts of advice and guidance from various sources out there, it can get incredibly overwhelming. On one hand, people say that you should never settle. But on another, people say it’s important to not get caught up in ideals and learn to accept people with flaws. The green flags mentioned above doesn’t solve all the problems, but I believe they do provide a pretty solid framework for the kind of people you should aim to add to your life. The fact of the matter is, the purpose of having people in your life is to improve the quality and make you happy. That’s it. So if they are not serving that purpose, then they’re simply not good for you. I’ll leave you with that thought.

Do you have any additional flags to add to the list? I’d love to know. Drop a comment below! 🙃

A story of conflict: Growing up with strict Asian parents and having an interracial relationship.

This is by far one of the most difficult posts I’ve ever had to write… it’s a sensitive subject, an extremely personal account and still to this day evokes so many negative emotions as I type. I can literally feel my heart tightening along with a slight rise in my blood pressure when I cast my mind back to that specific time in my life. Part of me doesn’t really want talk about this but I think it’s important to release memories that I’ve suppressed and highlight important topics/issues that I feel strongly about. I predict it’ll be quite a word-heavy post, I’m not sure how or where to start… so apologies in advance if it sounds like a bunch of word vomit. Everything is based on my own experience, I’m hoping this piece of writing in particular will give you raw insight on the difficult challenges I (and probably many other Asians — more so females) have had to face growing up in a traditional, strict Asian household… especially where dating is concerned.

Before I begin my account, I think it’s worth sharing some context on my ethic background. I grew up in a typical immigrant Chinese/Vietnamese household. I won’t dive into too much detail on my family history but in a nutshell it wasn’t long after the Vietnam War that my parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles had to flee the country. After many, many trials and tribulations, my parents eventually settled in the UK.

People who’ve come from a similar background as myself would probably hesitate to divulge too much information about our upbringing; some words that come to mind include shame, embarrassment and guilt. With this also comes fear. Fear of others judging or thinking less of you and your family. However, I don’t concern myself with the opinions of others, I’m very open and willing to address the elephant(s) in the room.

The way traditional Asian parents communicate their love is vastly different from western culture. There were no hugs, no “I love you”, no praises and compliments. Parents like mine were over protective, abusive (physically and verbally), and needed to have full control over their children. Yet they were incredibly hard working; certainly the most hard working people I know. Everything and anything they did was solely for my sisters and I to succeed in life and I’m very grateful.

An endless cycle of hostility

Now when you’re a 16 year old teenager who has grown up in a western society living under a roof with a Tiger Mum (sadly my dad passed away when I was 5)… there’s bound to be conflict. Lots of it. At that hormonal age, it was only natural for me to start thinking about partying, drinking, smoking, dating and having sex. Of course, I was constantly reminded to focus on my studies (which I did) but I also began to take an interest in boys.

Having a boyfriend at 16 was one problem… but the “types” of guys I was interested in was another (I’ll get to it shortly), I spent most of my teenage years living with resentment. My mum’s discipline and strictness pushed me to rebel and endure an endless cycle of hostility towards everyone.  I lied countless times just to be able hang out with my boyfriend, I snuck out many nights, got kicked out on a few occasions and even packed my things and left home on my own accord. I kept my relationship a secret from my mum for 3 years… although I’m pretty sure she knew but tried to turn a blind eye.

Perception

My boyfriend at the time was black and when it comes to dating, I’d rather not think about race, it holds no relevance to me. But that’s been hard to avoid especially growing up in my household. Unfortunately there is an inherent racist element in Asian culture towards black people. The rigid views and ideologies stem mainly from the older generation which gets passed down. Much of the dislike or reluctance comes from deep-seated racial stereotypes — and this all comes down to lack of knowledge, exposure and availability. Asians who’ve grown up in Asia tend to have very little knowledge of black men and black culture in general.

Frustratingly what makes it worse is that these negative stereotypes of black men have been perpetuated by the media, displaying them as irresponsible “bad boys” and thugs. Asian culture tends to be achievement oriented and “high status” conscious, therefore the qualities of black men depicted by the media are not desirable. The fact is many Asian parents overtly tell their daughters not to date black guys. I imagine there are many Asian girls/women who are attracted to black boys/men but are afraid to pursue such relationships because of how their family will react. Honestly, it isn’t easy for us, and depending on how headstrong we are as individuals, we have two options — either follow our parent’s instructions or don’t… and the latter will instantly label you as disrespectful because you’ve gone again their word and “shamed the family”.

In addition to this, there is a very archaic view on dark skin… it’s an unspoken thing but it exists. Historically many Asian countries believed that dark skin was associated with working in the fields, symbolising rural poverty. On the other hand, pale skin meant living a more comfortable life indoors, out of the sun. Skin colour is thus a sign of social class. I mean this doesn’t play a huge factor on what I’m discussing as this is more about how Asians see other Asians… but worth mentioning for insight.

So even though my mum turned a blind eye, inside I felt like I was committing the ultimate “sin”. It always seemed like I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. The only thing that made it slightly bearable was that my sisters knew and understood the difficulties I was going through. But ultimately if I had admitted to dating a black boy to my mum’s face; I guarantee she would have beaten and disowned me… you think I’m being dramatic when I say it but trust me, I’m not.

World War III: The Dating Battlefield

I can only describe the whole situation as a hot mess and one of my biggest strains. It wasn’t just from the conflict between my mum and I either, the relationship itself wasn’t healthy. Don’t get me wrong, experiencing “young love “was wonderful in so many ways — there were a number of highs but far too many lows.

When we started dating, I didn’t even think to consider what my mum would have thought. We were so into each other, literally inseparable. As my first boyfriend, I just wanted to see him frequently and hangout like any normal teenage girl. Thankfully we went school together; so we’d meet at lunch, he’d wait for me after class, I’d jump into his arms every time I saw him, I’d sneak into his lessons, he’d sneak into mine, we’d get into trouble together for being late… it was a very typical “teenage love”.

Eventually I met his family, his mum was super lovely, I got along with his brothers well, his cousins were nice. His mum made me dinner regularly, I always felt so welcome in their home. I wanted nothing more than to do the same for him… but realised it wasn’t going to be possible which saddened me a lot. It was so unfair, why could I not just come from a “normal” family where parents were not so narrow-minded, judgemental and ignorant? The more I thought about it, the more angry and resentful I became.

In the first year or so, my mum was working outside of London at the time, I had the house to myself a lot which was perfect because I invited him over almost every day. Yeah spending all that time with him was great but the problem was that I was never able to fully immerse myself in those moments… not without anxiety, worry and paranoia sitting beside me. In my mind I’d visualise what would happen if my mum randomly came home early one day and found us in bed! A early grave for me for sure. My mum had a few friends that lived in the area too so whenever we went out, I found myself looking behind my shoulder in case someone would see me. Constantly feeling on edge brought me to tears a lot, and although he was very understanding, it didn’t make me feel any better about the bullshit situation.

What pissed me off even more was that the majority of my girl friends were Afro/Caribbean, and my mum was cool with that. No seriously, they’ve come to my house, she’s spoken to them, cracked jokes, they’ve been around for lunch or dinner… all of that! What the actual fuck? Why couldn’t she see and treat my boyfriend in the same way!? It irritated me to the core. And because of my frustrations and her absurd way of thinking… we were clearly unable to see eye to eye. Often we’d get into some real heated arguments… leading into verbal/physical abuse.

With all that rage inside me, I could only see red around her. She would say something and it would immediately trigger me or we’d be discussing something which would escalate into another topic. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much in my life from just pure distress. At that age, the only way I could express anger was through shouting profanity at her, threatening her, slamming doors, throwing my weight, packing my stuff and leaving. There were many times I wanted to get physically violent with her.

Towards the end of the relationship, my boyfriend and I were very rocky… we had many issues. I felt like I was fighting fires everywhere. At this point, I was battling with him, at the same time trying to salvage my broken heart and the broken relationship. I was still at war with my mum, I felt like my sisters weren’t supporting me enough and fell out with them. I felt like I was drifting away from my friends. It was a turbulent time. As a teenager, it seemed like my world came crashing down. I felt lonely, trapped and so miserable.

I was 19 when I decided to call it quits, I couldn’t deal with the turmoil any longer. It was a hard, painful decision because I was so emotionally invested and attached but I knew in my heart the relationship was no longer serving me. It drained me physically and mentally. It took me a long time to get over him but even then, the hurt and issues that surfaced in those 3 years didn’t leave me until much later in life.

15 years later

It’s been 15 years since all of that happened, crazy how certain moments in life can really engrain in your mind. But I’m glad I was able to share this account with my readers. Personally I think it was an important topic to discuss, especially as we now live in a generation where we need to encourage and embrace cultural diversity. Fortunately, negative stereotypes are slowly dying out and as people become aware and travel more, there has been a growing acceptance of interracial dating/marriages globally.

For those with traditional Asian parents, if you’re facing a similar problem as I did, please do not start a feud and rebel against them. Trying to educate them about the black community is ideal but I’m sure it will be like talking to a brick wall… I would give it a go though. If I could travel back in time, I would have preferred to be honest (even if it meant getting a beating/disowned), I would remind my mum that the colour of someone’s skin does not define them and express how happy that person made me. It’s highly likely that it wouldn’t have gone down well but at least I would have freed myself from living in fear and been able to enjoy the moments without carrying all the emotional baggage every single second of the day.

In terms of my relationship with my mum now? It’s certainly improved. We get along much better. Maturity and gaining perspective has aided towards my overall attitude (and temper) but I’m not going to lie, I still hold a tiny bit of resentment towards her… I know I shouldn’t and I need to let it go, but it’s honestly so difficult. I read a lot of books and listen to various podcasts to help me manage and get past the emotions I hold onto… with time I believe I’ll get there. I’d never want to paint anyone of my family in a negative light, but this is the truth of my childhood but I understand that my mum also endured many difficulties throughout her life.

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!

Does size really matter? Time to break it down…

I know, I know. It’s an old, classic question but it doesn’t make it any less relevant right?
So let’s start with a bit of context…

Why does our culture make such a big deal about the size?

For years we’ve place so many unrealistic body standards on both men and women. Where size is concerned, the importance doesn’t just stem from the increased exposure of social media or all those articles you read online. In fact, porn also has a big part to play in this. We see men with oversized, monster penises — obviously not what the average size looks like! In the same vein, women are shown with large breasts, hairless vaginas, and figures that are impossible to attain without surgery. While we’re bombarded with body-pressure from all mediums telling us how and what to do to be “perfect”, it sets up expectations that are difficult, if not impossible to meet. This in turn causes an extremely problematic, toxic environment that can lead to body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem.

In modern society, penis size fuels masculinity, virility, power and dominance; it would be fair to say that the stigma around size is wrapped up in the male ego. If one isn’t well hung, then he’s less of a man. A number of studies have shown that men are, by nature, more competitive than women; and after speaking to a handful of my phallic friends, it seems that many males are concerned about whether or not they size up. These are absurd ways to consider manhood. In fact, many don’t actually know how to use their tool because they’ve been taught that being well endowed is the only thing that matters. Which brings me to my next point…

My view & personal experience

Size is definitely not a huge factor for me. In fact, I’d go as far to say that size is overrated! There are more important aspects; for example, I’d rather choose girth and stamina over length. I’ve gone from “Damn son!” (almost 8 inches) to your Average Joes (5/6 inches) to shorter, pencil-looking dicks (4 inches) — and from my experience, the sexual eye candy of a penis makes no difference. You could have a massive trouser snake and be pretty shit in bed. Also as a quick FYI – the average vagina is about 4 to 7 inches deep. So you can only put so much in when it comes to XXL anyway, it goes to show that a big dick can be limiting, after all.

Personally I found the 5/6 inchers were by far the best performers but once again, that’s not just based on size. Factors such as sexual chemistry, confidence, communication, being creative and high sex drive count for a lot. You also need to consider the type of person attached to the meat; if you’re having sex with a considerate person that can go to town on you in ways other than penetration, then trust me, size doesn’t matter! However, if your lover is selfish, lazy, unimaginative and lasts for a couple minutes during each session then yes, that’s a disaster… with a small penis! Do you get my drift here?

Anyway, bear in mind this is my own opinion — it can vary from person to person. Some women might find big dicks a turn-on but I would say the key thing is about how it’s used and where you can excel in other areas, because intercourse is just one part of sex. The overall picture encompasses so much more than this simple measure. My verdict: Bigger is not necessarily better.

Research says

A Google search on this topic returned an extensive amount of content with varied answers — there are some self-proclaimed “size queens”, some have said that there is such a thing as “too big”, and others say that size doesn’t really matter at all, as long as stamina, girth, chemistry, or oral sex skills are up there… I hear ya ladies, but I thought it would be interesting to find out what the scientists and their research had to say on this matter…

According to a study published in the British Journal of Urology, the research found that when it comes to penis size, 85 percent of women are just fine with what their partner has. In fact, the people who seem to be the most concerned with penis size were men! Around 45 percent of men felt they owned a small penis; and it is generally believed that the average penis is 6 inches long. Sadly this misleading, distorted perception has triggered anxiety and impacted self-confidence.

Taken from multiple studies, here are some quick stats on the average penis size:

Flaccid length average = 2.8 to 3.9 inches
Erect length average = 4.7 to 6.3 inches
Flaccid circumference or girth average = 3.5 to 3.9 inches
Erect circumference or girth average = around 4.7 inches


Further research conducted by Porterback Clinic and Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield and St. James’ Hospital in Leeds, found that women attached some importance to penis size; and it was only of “substantial” importance to a “clear minority” of the women. And while most of men’s worries about penis size centred on the length, about 90 percent of women actually preferred a wide penis to a long one. The data also revealed that size was much lower down the list of priorities for women.

The truth is that 75 percent of women cannot reach orgasm from penetrative sex alone. Sure, the feeling that comes with being penetrated can be enjoyable, but it rarely provides the big O. And how is that usually achieved? Clitoral stimulation — and that’s true regardless or whether you’re packing a gherkin or a firehose.

Conclusion

And there we have it! Here are the key takeaways from today’s post:

1. More men than women are bothered about penis size.
2. Small, average or large — neither are dealbreakers.
3. Variables such as girth, stamina and skill takes precedence over length.
4. Average length when erect ranges between 4.7 to 6.3 inches.
5. Great sex has less to do with penis size, and requires more than just penetration.


In the grand scheme of things, we often have warped images of ourselves, so fellas if you’re reading this, don’t let penis insecurity sabotage your potential for having confident, fulfilling and overwhelmingly hot sex. Don’t become consumed by penis size, you can be a satisfying sexual partner regardless of the size of your penis. And if you want to please your partner, just ask them what they enjoy, and how you can help them have the best time ever!

When the past becomes our present.

Old emotional wounds have many ways of inserting themselves into existing and new relationships. When this occurs, they can prevent a connection from blossoming or slowly pull at a relationship until one or both parties suffocate. Some of our deepest wounds often come from childhood, and others will make an appearance at a later point in life.

Dealing with heartbreak, betrayal, having our ideas about love questioned and our spirits bruised are distressing experiences to go through. Mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually — these past traumas have the power to greatly impact our overall character; it can affect the way we think, the way we see ourselves, and the way we see others. When emotional pain cuts us deep, it can cause repeat unhealthy behaviours and offer a recipe for toxic relationships. Sometimes without even realising, few of us will continue living our lives holding onto negative, distorted thoughts in our unconscious mind. But one thing is for sure… none of this has to be permanent.

Cute but psycho

I’d be lying if I said freeing yourself from the past was an easy process. It really isn’t. Speaking from personal experience, I spent years convinced that I was healed from my first relationship. Unfortunately, feelings of resentment and bad memories can linger long after a previous split. The reality was that I had simply swept everything under the carpet and put in place a few coping mechanisms which involved: always having my guard up, purposely starting conflicts to make myself feel better and feel more in control, never communicating or addressing the root problem, and playing the blame game. After going through a couple superficial relationships in my emotionally unavailable state, it became clear that my issues were just adding this growing ball of toxic energy. The longer I left it to manifest, the worse I became.

I was cheated on in my first relationship but didn’t find out until a year later… and it was only by chance I had discovered the secret. Around the same time, the manipulative and controlling behaviour became more apparent (dictating what I could/couldn’t wear, where I could go, who I could talk to/hang out with, etc.), our heated arguments were pretty intense, we hurled things at each other then got into physical altercations. The atmosphere was always tense and disruptive, and not just between us but for others as well. When things were good, they were amazing; when things were bad, it was hideous. Being 16 at the time, in my first relationship; I was naive and “blinded by love”. I can’t even comprehend what was going through my mind back then. All I knew was that no matter what shit we had gone through, he was never wrong in my eyes. Eventually three and a half years later, I found the courage to leave. And by no means was it an easy exit.

I swiftly got into my next relationship about 5 months after but I was just a ticking time-bomb for my next partner… and the next one after that. When I look back, I feel awful for the way I treated some of my exes. Even thinking about it now makes me cringe and feel a lot of shame. I found myself creating worst-case scenarios in my head, getting easily triggered over certain things they’d say or do. I was always feeling hypersensitive, insecure and on-edge when they wanted to have a guys night out or attend a work do. I dealt with it all by self-sabotaging. I would go down their phones to check their call logs, messages, photos, social media. I looked through their draws, cupboards — I don’t exactly know what I was looking for but I needed anything to use as ammo so I could pull them up on it and accuse them of cheating on me. I honestly think I put more effort in my search for “evidence” than I did with the actual relationship. Messed up huh?

Road to recovery

When we’re stuck in trauma, our limbic system (basically an important part of the brain) can become impaired in its ability to regulate our emotions. As a result, our mood, sleep and thought patterns can be impacted and lead to symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, loss of appetite, low sex drive and even depression. It’s essential to understand how past issues are affecting your love life so that you can address them.

No one likes feeling vulnerable, disappointed or hurt, but how we deal with past issues determines the quality of our lives, our next relationship and ultimately helps to shape ourselves. As mentioned, it’s not a straightforward or quick practice, nonetheless I guarantee that taking an opportunity for self-reflection and learning can be the gateway to experiencing real joy and happiness. If you’re seeking some guidance on how to release those burdens, I’ve compiled some mindful tips to help loosen that grip on previous situations and move forward in a much healthier way.

IT IS WHAT IT IS
For some of us, “letting it be” or “letting it go” alludes to the idea that we’re wrong or it feels like we’re allowing someone else to be right. It also means letting go of your expectations of how things should have been. The fact is, what happened was all in the past and there’s nothing you can do about it. The drama, holding on… it’s all in your own mind. As you continue feeding the memories, you make what someone said or did even bigger and more powerful in your head than it might have been in reality. Accepting what happened gives you the ability to create empowering stories and discover valuable lessons to carry with you in the future.

DO NOT PUT EVERYONE IN THE SAME CATEGORY
Your new partner should not be punished for the pain you felt from previous relationship, just because someone did you wrong in the past, it doesn’t mean that your new partner will do the same. It’s an unfair position to put them in. It’s important to communicate, be open and honest, and explain why you might have certain hangups or sore spots. And if it’s a situation where you’re clinging onto hurt and anger but struggling or refusing to let it go, then perhaps you’re not in the right frame of mind for a new relationship.

TAKE YOUR TIME TO HEAL
There’s no timeline for healing from trauma, it can take months or even years. However, it’s vital to release the sadness and let yourself process all the emotions. Use the opportunity to self-discover and work on getting your mind back in a better place.

LET IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM
Some will feel better after verbal communication with a friend, family member or therapist, others might prefer writing down their thoughts in a journal. Either way, the cathartic release can do wonders for your mental health. You’ll find that self-expression helps to clarify your thoughts, feelings, reduce stress and even solve problems more effectively.

DO THINGS THAT YOU ENJOY
On your road to recovery, I reccomend channeling your energy into things you enjoy. Perhaps you let go of a hobby you used to love? Maybe you want to take up something new? Just go for it. Even if it’s a bit of therapeutic shopping, brunching with friends, binging on awful reality TV shows or treating yourself to a pamper session — stick to positive environments, surround yourself with good people and focus on finding happiness and inner peace.

I always encourage learning and growing from all our experiences in life. When we’re dealing with past trauma, concentrate on becoming stronger in the process, rather than carrying the baggage around like an anchor. Don’t let it weigh you down from living and enjoying your life. The past should be used as a reference to serve and support you for the present and future. Always keep in mind:

“Scars remind us of where we have been, not where we are headed.”

Getting undressed with Riley and Damsel.

Over the last 3 months, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with a number of friendly, genuine and supportive people. The dating community on Instagram has got to be one of my best social media discoveries and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. There are so many talented writers, poets, artists, speakers and entrepreneurs — all of us on the same path to pursue our passions and leverage our skills. More recently, I’ve been chatting away with fellow writer and author of Riley’s Raunchy Reads, you must check out her content. Riley will sweep you away into an erotic world of explicit, sexual interaction and steamy hot romances. I can only describe her creative pieces as jaw-droppingly insane!

With a mutual appreciation for each other’s work, we decided to team up on a blog post with a slightly different angle. Today we’ll be “undressing” ourselves and stepping into the spotlight. If you’re looking for some quick tips, guidance and insights on the realms of dating and writing, you’ve landed in the right place! Read on for our mini Q&A…


WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WANTING TO START UP THEIR OWN BLOG?

Damsel
The first thing I’d say is to find your niche. It definitely helps with the build up of content. Figure out what you’re passionate about and just go for it! Try not to worry about getting it right or perfect either. Honestly, I look back at my old blog posts and think “ugh what is this shit?” — but over time; you’ll learn, you’ll improve and you’ll figure out what works best.

Also, don’t forget that you’re telling your story. Don’t be worried about other blogs covering the same topics as you. You must remember that it’s about your perspective, your creativity and the value that you add — already it’s unique in its own right. Be real, be honest and really embody the stuff that you’re writing about.

Finally, use social media platforms to your advantage. It helps to connect with readers and other bloggers, perhaps even for inspiration, but don’t get too caught up in it. Don’t get hung up on the follows, likes, etc. Focus on your writing first then social media after.

Riley
*Do not start a blog if you are half hearted about it or unsure, speak to friends and get their advice about your ideas that you are potentially going to upload to this blog then make the decision.

Before I started my blog Riley’s Raunchy Reads (www.rrrox.co.uk), I created a notes list in my phone as to why I wanted to start my blog. This included the following questions: – Why do you want to start a blog? What is the blog going to be about? What is your niche going to be? What content do you want to deliver or create? Do you want to use any other social platforms to promote your blog? What colour theme are you going to follow? It is going to be illustrations, free pictures from the internet or art you create yourself? I felt these questions helped me create the base of my blog.

I then reached out to my friends and we discussed my ideas and I even gave them a short snippet of my first story to give them an idea of what it was going to entail. They thought it was a great idea and really pushed me forward to take the final steps of creating an Instagram account and blog. The Instagram account was so I could promote my blog and engage with my audience. 

Tip *I always tend to have one draft in the pipeline because you do not want to be stuck without any content for a long period of time. Allow yourself enough time to brainstorm ideas and take notes. I currently have about 5 different notes on my phone that I jot notes down when ideas come to me, it’s good to get into that habit. 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF STARTING DATING STORIES BY ME / RILEY’S RAUNCHY READS SO FAR?

Damsel
I’ve been overwhelmed by the lovely community, the engagement and positive feedback. I’ve had people messaging me saying how my experiences and situations resonate with them, I’ve had some approach me for dating advice as well those who have been very complimentary about my writing style and tone. When I realised that my work was making an impact on others, that was my highlight moment. The support and kindness truly pushes me to keep writing and sharing.

Riley
I personally would say my highlight since starting Riley’s Raunchy Reads has been the relationships I have built with the talented and inspiring writers, sex educators and business owners that I follow on my Instagram. 

The collabs that I have done so far have been so eye opening to subjects I have not been aware of, products I wouldn’t even think of and it’s just been a great overall experience with each one of them. I look forward to any collabs I do in the future, whether that be an IGTV live, story or blog post. 

I’m excited for what is to come. 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP 3 DATING TIPS YOU’D GIVE?

Damsel
Be authentic –  Of course you want to put your best foot forward, but at the same time, you must accept and embrace all of who you are. Many daters dress, think and act in a way they believe their date would like them to, and in essence, they become someone they’re not, in hopes that this alter ego will help them find their perfect match. I guarantee you’ll have a lot more enjoyment and less pressure on dates if you trust the process by being genuine from the start.

Honesty is the best policy – Not everyone will agree with me on this but when I first meet someone, I’m always upfront and honest when it comes to what I think the other person should know about me. From personal experience, there’s actually a lot of good that can come from being honest in the dating realm. The more unapologetic and brutally honest I’ve become, the less I tolerate people manipulating me, using me, or being rude to me. Sure, I might get a “bad” reputation because of it, but at the very least, I’m no doormat!

Know your non-negotiables – Before you invest time and effort in anyone, make sure you know what your deal breakers are. Ask yourself what could you not accept, compromise on, or adjust to. Smokers? Non-monogamy? Substance abuse? Deal breakers will vary from person to person, and setting these out will not only ensure your core values are aligned with your romantic partner but also provide stability and structure to the relationship.

Riley
Always be yourself – do not change for anyone. Someone will love you for you, but first ensure you are happy within yourself before trying to find that special someone.

Be honest – there is no such thing as ‘too honest’ if people can’t handle it, they aren’t for you. 

Be respectful – The one quote I will always live by is ‘treat people how you want to be treated’ – says it’s all really. 

WERE THERE ANY SITUATIONS OR ANY PARTICULAR TRIGGERS THAT MADE YOU START TAKING YOUR WRITING SERIOUSLY?

Damsel
Lockdown made me do it! I started writing at the beginning of this year after experiencing another failed relationship and a couple of disastrous dates but it was something I’d do to pass time and showcase to my close friends. Then as I found myself stuck indoors, I felt like I needed an additional activity that would stimulate my brain, so that’s where the writing came in. The guy I’m dating at the moment also gave me a little push and encouraged me to go public, he’s been pretty helpful and supportive too.

Riley
It was when I started to enjoy sex and foreplay, I thought now I understand what it feels like, how new experiences should feel. At that point I was like I’m ready to change the way I write to incorporate this into my writing. Being able to explore my writing by using fantasises, some real-life experiences and ideas in my writing gave me the confidence to be like, YES, I’m ready let’s get this ball rolling. 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE OF WRITING SO FAR?

Damsel
In terms of going down memory lane, it was certainly not one of my favourites… but with regards to writing, I’d say “I would rather adjust to your absence than be frustrated by your presence.” was pretty satisfying. This was the failed relationship that inspired me to start the blog! The trials and tribulations, all the bullshit, the audacity… like wow. I’m shocked at myself by how much ridiculousness I tolerated. Even now when I regurgitate the story to my friends, we can’t stop laughing. I see my blog as a bit of an outlet so it was like a breath of fresh air once I got it all out of my system. Although I look back in disbelief; overall it really helped me reflect, improve my mood and gain so much perspective.

Riley
I answered this in one of my IGTV videos and I still stand by my decision. So, at first, I was obsessed with my first story Pleasure by The Fire because it was what got my juices really flowing and my excitement back for getting back into writing. I still love that story don’t get me wrong but now my favourite would be Seduction under The Stars. It has had such good feedback and I really enjoyed including character names in that story, plus who doesn’t love a school reunion crush! 

ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR TIMES OR DAYS WHEN YOUR CREATIVE JUICES ARE AT ITS PEAK? (PUN NOT INTENDED!)

Damsel
Generally, on any given day, my juices start flowing in the evenings from 8pm onwards and I’ll find myself writing up until midnight. On occasions I’ll wake up early (around 6am) on the weekend and get a sudden burst of inspiration, from there I just pull out my laptop and start typing away!

Riley
I would say it depends on my mood and what I’ve got planned. If I’m off work and I watch something romantic on TV or read something on my Instagram like a quote or short story, I’ll think ‘Yes, that is what is missing’ and then start writing like a mad woman. I mean there have been plenty of times I’ve just been sat listening to music, especially the playlist from Fifty Shades of Grey and my creativity just appears. This is where I’ll start writing notes but if I feel like it could be a story, I grab my mac and away we go. 

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