Giving so much for so little?

Every relationship requires give-and-take between two people, this simply means both parties investing in each other and both getting something back from the relationship. However if one person is doing all the giving and the other just takes, then it isn’t a relationship… at least not a fulfilling one. Have you ever gone above and beyond for a partner to realise that they’re not willing to try as hard as you are? Sadly, this dynamic can have disastrous effects on you.

When you’re naturally a giving person, you might end up falling into the trap of being in a one-sided relationship. There’s been times when I’ve had relationships start off really well (of it does, that’s why they call it the “honeymoon” phase), then suddenly I feel like I’m “carrying” the weight of the relationship, putting in way more effort in terms of resource (time, money, emotional investment). I’ve tackled this situation in two different ways; firstly by raising my concerns and waiting for things to get better, or secondly by “letting it slide” in hopes that things will improve (I really don’t recommend this!) Regardless of how I dealt with one-sided relationships, the end result was that I had to walked away. One thing I’ve learned overtime is: No matter how difficult you think it’ll be, you must let go of anything that doesn’t serve you/make you happy — relationships, people, jobs, etc.

How do we know when we’re in a one-sided relationship?

It sounds like a question with an obvious answer but when people are emotionally invested, they can lose sight of what’s actually happening. Out of nowhere those rose tinted glasses just fall onto our eyes, blur our vision and we start falling for “potential” rather that what’s presented in front of us. According to Kelly Campbell, a professor of psychology and human, you should look out for these signs:

ALL THE EFFORT IS COMING FROM YOU
When you find yourself doing most or all of the cooking, cleaning, planning dates, making all the romantic gestures, it’s an indication that the relationship is unequal. Make a mental note (or an actual note) on how time is spent, including who does what. This will give you a better understanding of the extent of the one-sidedness.

LACK OF QUALITY TIME TOGETHER
Everyone has busy schedules. We all need to allocate time towards career aspirations, family and friends, our romantic partners, and ourselves. Often it’ll feel like a challenge to get the balance right, but if you’re frequently suggesting “date night” to your partner and they show no interest or put it off for another time… this isn’t a great sign. A serious lack of “quality time” together can chip away at the partnership’s foundation, and ultimately compromise the level of happiness you feel when you’re together.

THEIR CALENDAR TAKES PRIORITY
If you’re constantly moving your commitments around or waiting until you know if your partner is available before you make other plans, then yes, this is another sign. You’ll feel like everything else is more important than you which shouldn’t be the case. If your partner only wants to see you when it suits them, then this displays imbalance in the relationship.

MAKING EXCUSES FOR YOUR PARTNER’S BEHAVIOUR
When you’re defending someone’s bad behaviour, it simply suggests that you’re compromising and sacrificing too much… of your dignity! Sadly we’ll lie to ourselves because we don’t want to face reality, or the truth is unbearable. Please don’t fool yourself by making excuses for them, your partner should be showing you the love and respect you deserve.

Well, I don’t know about you, but re-reading my post thus far makes me feel attacked and pretty upset! 😩☹️ It’s a hard pill to swallow knowing that I’ve gone through the above bullshit, but I’m also thankful to God that I saw the light and found the courage to leave. If anyone is going through this current scenario, I urge you to read on and really think about your happiness above anything.

Before you decide to walk away…

One thing I go on about all the time is communication. Effective communication also involves the ability to listen to each other, understand and compromise. The issue with one-sided relationships is that more often that not, it’s just one partner initiating the talks. So when you do bring up the discussion, your partner may not respond favourably to the “problem.” Researchers have called this ‘demand-withdrawal’ which means one partner is initiating a discussion or requesting a change, while the other withdraws from the conversation. It’s always worth expressing how you feel before throwing in the towel. If your partner cares, then they’ll look to improve the balance and put in more effort, but if they don’t change after you’ve shared your concerns, then the partnership is likely not a good fit and you should consider moving on.

If the feelings are mutual, effort will be equal

Romantic relationships can be influential in many aspects of our lives, so when we stay in a unfulfilling relationship it can significantly impact our health and well-being. Balance in a relationship is so important, let’s use a set of scales as an analogy — when one side is putting in a lot more than the other, it will eventually tip and collapse.

Vulnerability: why we need to lean into discomfort.

Many people (myself included) find it incredibly difficult to be vulnerable, and judging from the numerous articles I’ve read, it seems to be a common fear. When we were young, we were carefree, rarely phased by anything; but over time factors such as our upbringing, our environment, our romantic relationships, our social circles gave us different experiences — both good and bad. Unfortunately at some point in life, people will hurt and disappoint us, so we end up building walls around our hearts to protect ourselves. At the same time, we’re unable to appreciate close relationships and intimacy… vulnerability is simply a double-edged sword. 

As humans we’re hardwired to connect with others. We live in families, we build families, we work in teams, we love as couples and thrive in friendships. It’s a scientific fact that our well-being is dependent on our connections. Yet more than ever, I’m witnessing more loneliness, more broken relationships, more disconnection… but what’s causing all of this? Being vulnerable means opening yourself up to new experiences, new people, and getting comfortable with uncertainty. It’s bloody terrifying but worth it, I trust that it creates many beautiful outcomes once you choose to receive with an open heart . The fact is, vulnerability is necessary. You can’t build genuine connections without it, but somehow society has turned it into a weakness.

I find it challenging expressing my emotions, I’m getting better but there’s still a lot of work to be done. I’ve previously been told that I’m cold or dead inside, that my wall is ridiculously high, and that I always keep people at arm’s length. Yeah… this is partially true (I don’t think I’m completely dead inside). In relationships, I try my best to communicate my feelings but sometimes I feel like it’s forced or I get extremely uncomfortable. When I’m hurt or upset, I tend to either shut down or choose to let that person go rather than let them in because it’s “safer” this way. I guess the good thing is that I recognise my issue and I’m making a conscious effort to improve on it.

Part of my resistance to vulnerability came from the fact that I’ve had toxic relationships, I’ve been a toxic person and I’ve attracted toxic people. Some of my relationships were very unhealthy, then there were others where I realised a compatibility issue. I don’t wish to relive any of these experiences but it’s hard to ignore the woes, and the fact that there’s an obvious recurring pattern of my relationships breaking down again and again. After tolerating a load of nonsense, I began viewing my “failed” relationships as a warning sign to pull back, build my wall even higher and go in fully armoured ready for the next “battle” (if there were to be a next). Clearly this was the wrong way to look at things. Relationships should never be seen as a war (and one that I wanted to win every single time)… perhaps I just got used to the toxicity. Anyway I eventually changed my mindset and saw it for what it was — simply a mismatch of people, a redirection, a learning curve and a step towards personal growth.

“You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again, and expect different results.”

If you’re someone who also struggles with embracing vulnerability. I feel you. Being vulnerable is an ongoing process that we fine-tune over time. So as we take small steps together and slowly lean into the discomfort, here are some reminders on how being vulnerable can actually enhance our lives.

DEVELOPING EMPATHY FOR OTHERS
When I’m pissed off, it’s highly likely the other party will feel my wrath. However this usually lasts for a very short period; so when I’m calm again, my compassion kicks in and I try to see things from their perspective… even if I think they’re in the wrong! It’s so easy to judge people harshly, especially when pride and ego gets in the way, but learning to relax and allow ourselves to move out of our comfort zone plays a massive part in being vulnerable. We’ve all been guilty of getting so caught up in our own lives that we forget the world doesn’t revolve around our needs.

BE AT PEACE WITH YOUR PAST
Those who aren’t scared of being vulnerable have already made peace with negative memories from their past. We’ve all made bad decisions and mistakes but we can’t keep storing our energy there. Dwelling on the past means we’re not fully present. Likewise, we shouldn’t worry too much about the future. Living in the moment and appreciating all the amazing moments right now is what we need to be focusing on.

I AM WHO I AM
By accepting our qualities and our “flaws”, by feeling comfortable in our own skin; we’ll learn to accept all the things that make us special and unique. Being confident and our genuine self also allows us to attract the right kind of people in our lives.

BUILDING EMOTIONAL INTIMACY
Speaking of being your true self — vulnerability creates greater emotional (and physical) intimacy. Sure, this is relevant to romantic relationships but it’s just as important to drop your guard around friends and family as well. It’s what creates a deeper sense of love and understanding. For real connections to flourish we have to be brave enough to reveal all of our layers.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

Brené Brown 

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.

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.

Platonic friendships: Can men and women really just be friends?

When it comes to this burning question, there are all sorts of views, some may even have an anecdote to share. In the 1989 movie, “When Harry Met Sally”, the writer Nora Ephron was exploring the exact question, “Can men and women be friends?” According to Harry (played by Billy Crystal), men and women can’t be friends “because the sex part always gets in the way.”

“Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”

Oscar Wilde

Firstly I’d like to note that I am referring mostly to deep, connected friendships between both a heterosexual man and woman and not the casual and circumstantial interactions that happen between people in groups of friends or work colleagues.

From an evolutionary standpoint, men and women were never meant to be friends in the first place. Many leading philosophers claim that the entire purpose of life is to reproduce and pass on your genes. Although this statement is controversial and debatable, we can all agree that our basic instinct is to survive and reproduce.

“If I had the chance, I would smash”

There’s a reason why cross-sex friendships tend to make a significant other feel jealous or threatened. Even if it isn’t said outright, sometimes you can feel tension in the air or glaring eyeballs burning into your skin. Trust me, I know! At this point, I’d expect someone to comment and say, “Oh but if someone’s jealous of a cross-sex friendship, then that’s down to their own insecurities!” — sure, I don’t disagree with this statement. You do find many individuals in relationships while simultaneously still healing from old wounds or unable to let go of past trauma which can create these negative feelings towards the “friend”. However let’s be real… there is a risk that in cross-sex friendships, one or the other will develop sexual attraction, and possibly feelings over time. It’s just how human nature works, but it doesn’t always happen.

Bear in mind that just because your friend is sexually attracted to you, it doesn’t mean they will necessary act upon it. Either they will keep it hidden from you or confess to you when they get the courage to do so. In the past, I’ve had one great friendships fizzle out because he chose to admit his feelings for me… it was pretty awkward and a shock to say the least. After I told him the feelings were’t mutual, he started backing off and our friendship unfortunately never went back to normal. I really hoped he’d be fine over time, but he clearly wasn’t. I reached out a few times to see how he was, and although he would respond (short, blunt answers), I realised our friendship was pretty much dead in the water. 🙁

I have many male friends, and it’s not by choice. I’ve always naturally found that we have more common interests, the same humour, a similar outlook on life and I appreciate that they’re all straight up, no bullshit kind of people. That’s not to say my girls aren’t!

Here’s a confession… I had a little thing with one of my good guy friends about 9 years ago… it was a while back and we were young, but I definitely don’t see him in that way at all. There’s no emotional attachment and it’s certainly the same from his side. He’s a good looking dude and we’ll joke about the past if it ever comes into conversation (rarely!) but it’s never impacted our friendship. These days we’ll talk about life and even offer each other dating/relationship advice!

There’s a couple guys I’m close with who I’ve known since primary school and we literally have a brother/sister type of bond, nothing more, nothing less. I’ve been to their house, I know their parents, siblings and vice versa. And I really value those long-lasting friendships.

With some of the other fellas, they have openly told me that if they had the chance, they would “smash”. Does it bother me? No. Does it affect our friendship? No. I’ve always set and maintained boundaries and I don’t entertain flirtatious behaviour for sake of an ego boost or anything. I draw the line and they know that. I’ve joined in on a “lads holiday” and taken a trip with just one of them in the past. Nothing happened — we slept in separate rooms, partied together, dined together and soaked up the sun by the pool. All amazing holidays! Ultimately, I believe we all have a high degree of maturity which allows our cross-sex friendship to be really lovely, fun and wholesome.

Woman please

When my guy friends get into relationships, I respect the boundary and tend not to invite them out one-on-one. I also decrease the calls, texts, cut the explicit chats about sex, etc. — I just know that their partners wouldn’t appreciate it. Likewise I would feel the same if the roles were reversed. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want their partner to feel uncomfortable or feel like I’m getting in between them. Funnily enough my friend recently admitted that his ex wasn’t a fan of me, 😆 she thought I was “going after” him. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Woman please.

I do get it though, I used to be in a relationship with a guy who was always chatting to his female friends. If we went to an occasion/event, all these chicks would be hugging him, constantly floating around him, giving him that little “playful” stroke on the arm. He ended up being a cheat anyway 🤷🏻‍♀️ so yes I get it!

So… can men and women really just be friends?

I do believe it’s possible… with a few caveats here and there. Sometimes you grow up as childhood friends and it simply remains that way. In other cases you build friendships overtime, and if it so happens that one develops feelings or the “sex part” gets in the way (and it’s not reciprocated) then by all means, a line needs to be drawn. From my experience, this “line” usually come from the woman. This is where boundaries must be put in place. I’ll leave you with some final points to think about.

BE EXPLICIT WITH THEM
It’s important that you’re clear on why you are friends with them. If the motivation is not platonic, then be honest with yourself and admit that you are attracted to this person. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a friendship with them, but it will help to acknowledge the attraction you feel and know your limits in awkward situations.

EASE UP ON THE TOUCHY FEELY-NESS
Rein it in so you don’t give the other person the wrong idea. At the same time, don’t entertain it if they start getting all touchy-feely with you. A hello/goodbye hug is okay, but shoulder rubs, thigh grabs, hair stroking… well! 👀

SHARING THE SAME BED… REALLY???
You know, I was reading up on this… and perhaps I’m an old skool kinda gal but apparently cross-sex friends sharing the same bed is fairly normal? I never realised that and don’t get it. I’ve never shared the same bed with any of my guy friends and wouldn’t want to! How awkward! Personally, I wouldn’t suggest this.

BE AWARE OF EACH OTHER’S SITUATION
When a boyfriend or girlfriend enters the scene then it’s probably time to take a step back. It’s not worth treading on someone else’s toes. Acting accordingly is the respectable thing to do, the last thing you want to do is cause conflict!

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!

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.”