Love

I woke up with the urge to write. This normally doesn’t happen before 9am, so I’ve decided to go with it. Previously, I wouldn’t write anything until I had what I perceived to be a great idea, but then 3 months would go by without a single journal entry. So, no, not the best strategy for a bourgeoning writer.

We have a deck just outside my room, so after a quick shower and meditation I make myself comfortable, notebook and pen in tow. I have this brief pang of anxiety about the usual things: going to work, the state of the country, my spending habits this past weekend. Nothing particularly riveting to see here – some of these things are first world problems that are fully in my control, others are not. I let it melt away with some deep breathing exercises and “La rua madureira” by Paulize Croze.

Also on my mind, my boyfriend. We didn’t start off traditionally by any means (met on Tinder, hooked up, didn’t define our situation until months later, etc.) It took some time to get to where we are now, and it was admittedly a slow burn. But now, I’m in deep. And while I’m not afraid, it can be a bit overwhelming at times when I realize how I’ve shifted from me to we. I find myself dropping him into miscellaneous conversations with friends, creating lists of restaurants for us to try and trips to take, asking about projects he’s working on out of genuine interest though I know absolutely nothing about coding (I am helplessly right-brained.) These feelings are fantastic, but admittedly slightly unnerving at times. Despite my Drake-level softness, I try not to be too annoying about it, lest I become that girl who won’t shut the fuck up about her boyfriend. Nobody likes that girl.

I don’t want to go to work. At all. I’ve been having a bit of a rough patch as there is not much creativity in my current role, but I am trying to adopt a more positive outlook on the present, working with the situation at hand and taking the steps necessary to improve it. It all starts with thoughts, so its crucial that I adjust my mindset accordingly.

On my way to work I thought about a conversation from last weekend at brunch with my roommates. Following some drinks, it wasn’t long before the conversation naturally turned to dating in New York – as most good conversations do. Kendre, who up until now hadn’t spoken much, said “I’ve never been in love in New York, but I imagine that its probably one the most incredible experiences that one can have.”

This resonated with me, ultimately because I recognized the truth in it. Love can take many forms, but the experience of being in love with someone in New York is rare. Every single aspect of life in this city is competitive, constantly shifting, and based in pride in our autonomy. Each day we interact with countless people, the depth of these encounters varying, and some leaving much to be desired. We are all seeking meaningful connections on a singular island inhabited by of millions of people – amidst full time jobs and endless social obligations – making dating notoriously cutthroat. Nobody has time to waste, which requires having multiple dates a week and experiencing different people in various capacities to find someone you both want to talk AND sleep with on a regular basis, which is harder than it sounds. Feelings aren’t reciprocated. Expectations don’t meet reality. People don’t make the final cut.

But then, you meet someone, and suddenly everything slows down. In connecting with someone else beneath the surface, you relinquish that sense of control that comes with being single, that emotional fortress you’ve built around yourself crumbling by the minute. In a city that is often harsh and divisive, love acts as a grounding and unifying antidote. It happened to me: I am now become a walking cliche of a woman in love. Just saying that makes me want to slap myself, but here is something about knowing there is at least one person that completely gets me is both beautiful and comforting; a rarity in a city that inspires chaos and discomfort at almost every turn.

Love in New York isn’t limited to romantic love: you can find love in family, friends, work, the rat outside of your apartment eating a dollar slice. But I have the opportunity to experience this love – in all its entirely beautiful, cliched, and ridiculous glory. I need to remember not to take it for granted.

 

The Real World

Its 7:15am. Somehow I’ve managed to wake up before my alarm, which pretty much never happens. I am shockingly awake, perky even. Its gross, but I’m actually sort of into it. Given that I don’t need to be at work for 3 hours, I make myself my daily cup of hot lemon water, meditate, and get dressed for the gym.

I’ve been waking up at 7:30am on the dot every day since I’ve moved, likely due to the fact that I now have windows – something I’ll never take for granted ever again. My last apartment move was made a bit out of desperation, and I ended up in a small, windowless room above Bagelsmith. So yes, I now admittedly wake up filled with this absurd contentment over having not one, not two, but three lovely windows, the gorgeous natural light pouring in each morning and welcoming to a new day. Silly, I know, but its the little things.

Late to class, of course. I just can’t seem to time my bike ride perfectly from my new apartment, even though its only 5 minutes away from my old place. The only spot left is in the front row, which I don’t mind, but it means I am going to be that late asshole that pushes her way through the group to get there. Owning it. Luckily everyone is too busy in their downward dogs, so I sneak in relatively undetected.

This is now my fifth apartment since I graduated college. I moved because I very much needed a change but was not ready follow the masses of 20-somethings looking for reasonably priced housing in Bushwick. I hate myself for saying it, but I love Williamsburg. Though only a few blocks south of Bedford Ave, my neighborhood is far less gentrified and much more interesting: the area is an interesting mix of Puerto Rican and Satmar, and on any given evening you’re likely to see people hanging out on the street, music blaring from tricked out cars and going to the butcher. I often want to wish them “good shabbos”, but I imagine they don’t give a shit that I’m Jewish too – to them I’m just another basic, upper-middle class gentrifier.

I think I have always been a bit restless, possessed by an innate need to keep things interesting, which is both a blessing and a curse because I am hardly ever satisfied (see: apartment + job history, dating life). For the first time, though, I feel fully content with my current situation and can actually see myself staying put. My boyfriend jokes that I’m living in a “Real World House”, but I promise its not nearly as wild as that, despite being a 6 bedroom – the roommates are all 9-5ers from around the world and seemingly have the same mindset in terms of relaxing and keeping a nice home, which is what I value right now. Considering I used to value how close I lived to the bars, I’d consider this growth.

 

On Ghosting

Modern dating is akin to surviving The Hunger Games – it is not for the faint of heart. It requires confidence, patience, trial and error. Dating is an investment – when playing the game one must be all in, emotionally exposed and unafraid of rejection. We put ourselves out there in hopes of connecting with someone who can satiate our innate desire to love and be loved (or at least laid.) A true journey is nothing without a few challenges along the way  – managing expectations, following “rules”, navigating societal practices/norms, breakups, the dreaded “what are we” conversation, dodging f*ckboys, and most recently ghosting – which for those unfamiliar is exactly as scary as it sounds.

Ghosting is the act of literally leaving a dating prospect hanging. One party (the ghost) decides that they are no longer interested in moving forward and proceeds to eliminate contact with the other (the ghostee). The ghost is the decider: he/she is in charge of making the executive decision to cut communication via a method of their choosing, be it a slow fade – a steady and mysterious decline of interaction – or an abrupt, unprecedented end to all communication (rude!) The ghostee, often blindsided, is subsequently left to sit and wonder many things, the main one being “what the actual f*ck just happened.” There is no closure, except for the closure you create to get through such times – I personally recommend journaling and hitting a punching bag or two, while others may prefer drinking a liter of Yellowtail and venting on Twitter. In this sensitive time, you are encouraged to do you.

Being ghosted could actually be quite funny if it wasn’t so maddening. There is something particularly cruel about being forced to acknowledged that while there are a million and one ways to get in touch with someone, you are being ignored on single one of them. This level of rejection is enough to drive even the most laid-back person to absolute insanity. Rejection stings no matter when it occurs – be it after one date, several months of seeing each other or perhaps at some point in a long-term relationship (yes, this does happen!) For the weeks following said ghosting there is often a full-blown period that spans the full five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance).  How long this mourning lasts depends on the ghostee – more experienced daters may appear to bounce back quickly, licking their wounds and chalking it up to part of the game. The first cut is definitely the deepest, so one’s first ghosting experience will definitely warrant a few weeks of wallowing in self-pity and talking lots of shit about how big of a douche said ghostee is, regardless of whether or not its based in fact (screw facts, this is about you!)

In reality, having someone ghost you is for the best as it frees you up to explore other, more compatible prospects – you know, those people who actually like you. Yes, you  will move on. But in the mind of a millenial, being ghosted leaves an interminable sting of rejection, a painful reminder of a near-fatal blow to the ego – which, for many of us, is worse than death. More often than not, the pain comes from the loss of potential of a relationship that was never actualized, of not being someone’s type. It triggers our deep-seated insecurities, ranging from body image issues, our level of intelligence, to our personalities – as if a flat ass or a penchant for profanity are legitimate reasons why someone disappears. All of this blinds us to the fact that there was nothing that could have been done differently to change this outcome – so no, do not go back and retrace every text, call or interaction to see where you messed up. The only closure that brings any satisfaction cannot be given by anyone else but us, and more often than not the reasons for said disappearance has little to do with you. However difficult it may be to believe it, your ghost is likely not an evil person, just an extremely cowardly one. Refrain from angrily throwing darts at their photo or wishing them a lifetime of unhappiness. You are, however, welcome to rip them a new one via text, as my friend Jess* did in the recent past:

“I had a few great dates with this guy, and after one night I left my portable charger at his apartment. I shot him a text letting him know, and he said he would get it back to me. A week later, I hadn’t heard from him so I reached out again – letting him know that if he doesn’t want to see me again and no hard feelings but that I really wanted my charger back. He immediately answers – saying he’s sorry, he’s getting back with his ex, of COURSE he will send me my phone charger. Three weeks pass and still nothing – I message again. No response. At this point, I’m LIVID. I go full on crazy – send him a novel cursing him out and shaming him for not being truthful.

In reality, I just wanted him to be honest with me. Needless to say, he never answered my crazy message, but I got my phone charger in the mail shortly after, so it was a win for me!”

Lesson here: If venting to your ghost feels good, do it but make it a one and done type of thing . Do not expect a response – Remember that a ghost is trying to avoid any and all confrontation via cutting contact with you, so the best move after getting things off your chest is ghosting them right back. Also, for the love of god give back people’s stuff in a timely manner. A girl needs her portable charger!

I had to ask some of my eligible lady friends – is there any time when ghosting is okay? It was generally agreed upon that if you have been on less than 5 dates you are allowed to ghost, noting that “it is especially hurtful to tell someone you don’t want to date them anymore when you don’t know them very well.” In this case the ghostee will likely be pissed, but not wounded. Ghosting is also acceptable after a particularly awful first date or when dodging a creep/stage-5-level stalker who is giving you serious vibes (the bad kind) or anyone who comments negatively on your appearance (#boyBYE). As for someone you’ve been seeing consistently for a month or longer, out of courtesy you need to bite the bullet and tell them its a wrap. “Not that it’s ever easy to end things with someone, nor is it ever easy to hear,” one friend said, “but I think after you’ve been dating for a while – like a month or 5+ dates – it’s just good manners to tell them you want to end it.”

My friend Natalie, who has a strict “no ghosting” policy regardless of how many dates she has been on with a guy, takes the high road and has had positive results. “You’re not always to mesh with people – especially when you meet them on social media it can take a couple of dates to really decide if you are into them.” She continued with, “early on some guys fall faster than I do (within 1-2 dates) and I don’t want to deal with the fallout, but its mortifying to reach out to someone and not get a response, so instead of ghosting I tell them ‘hey, I don’t feel the romantic chemistry I’m looking for. No hard feelings.'” She says the men in question have responded well, despite being a bit disappointed (rightfully so, she’s a catch!) But being truthful is key, so do not say that you will reach out again when you know you won’t and for the love of god do not set up a next date and then disappear. Also, eliminate “I’m just not looking for a relationship right now” from your vocabulary – because everyone knows that is B.S.

And there you have it – ghosting is pretty much never okay, unless its very early on in the process or after a painfully awful Tinder date with a creep or asshole. While ghosting may seem like the best strategy to temporarily avoid emotions and confrontation, be considerate of the person on the other side – however painful this may be for you, being ghosted is much worse on the recipient’s end. If you are ghosted, ride out your feels however you see fit and then keep it moving to someone that fully reciprocates your affections – this is an infinitely superior and rewarding use of your energy. If you feel the need to ghost, let them down easy. I recommend this one-liner from my friend Carly: “I enjoyed getting to know you, but I don’t see this working out. Good luck, and I wish you the best.” Telling someone they are not for you is never easy, but completely disappearing is a surefire way to become haunted by ghosts-of-dating past – or at least deserving of some bad dating karma. Who wants that?

Breakups

A few weeks ago, post-breakup, I can safely say that I was in my feelings. There was no rom com and ice cream binge. There were barely any tears because I had cried during the weeks before it even happened. Instead, I went to LA and drank lots of tequila and ate tacos for a week with one of my best friends. I highly recommend this method of coping.

Today I can honestly say that I am okay. This post is not going to be like the initial piece I drafted which in hindsight was more of a letter to my ex than an actual blog post for everyone to to see (pro tip: do not post when you’re reeling from a breakup. It is not cute!) I decided to keep that one for me and primarily focus on moving forward. Anyone who knows me knows that I can hold a grudge to the death. I am still salty at this kid who popped one of my balloons during my 8th birthday party. But when it comes to exes, I put them into two categories: 1) eternally banished assclown and 2) still an assclown but perhaps civility can happen in the future. I decided to go against perhaps better judgement and stay friends with my ex, because I realized after I got over the blow to my ego that I was not actually mad at him, but more so at the overall situation. I chalked it up to lessons learned: no more long distance relationships, know when your man is acting up and most importantly: breakups are not the end of the world, but simply the end of a phase.

This post is short but sweet. I did not want to simply gloss over my breakup as though it did not affect me, because it was an impactful part of my life. I loved him and anyone close to me knows that. As a writer, its only fair that I expose both the good and bad sides of my life. This is not Instagram where everyone only shares the bougie and fun shit they’re up to. I will always remain honest on here, whether I am hurting or I am feeling invincible. More than anything I want our emotionally challenged generation to understand that it is fine to feel sad and vulnerable. You don’t have to be “good” all the damn time. You will never be able to avoid getting hurt, but pain is temporary, so fall in and out of love as it happens and enjoy these experiences regardless of how they end.

The Open Relationship

Those who know me well know that there are a few topics that really get me going. On a daily basis my mind wanders rapidly, contemplating everything from politics and the agenda of the U.S. government to whether I should love or hate Chris Brown. More often than not my thoughts dive into the concept of monogamy: a concept that has permeated my brain since childhood via Disney movies and romantic comedies. In a world where plenty of people seem to have a side chick or homeboy to call when their man is acting up, monogamy seems more foreign to me than ever.

I try to stay away from thinking in terms of right and wrong, which keeps me open to new ideas. Unfortunately this also drives me batshit crazy because I examine these topics from every possible perspective. While many folks shame polygamous relationships as the most unnatural and sinful blasphemous practice on the planet, I prefer to take a more different approach because #feminism. To be clear, my parents have been married for 30 years and are one of the best couples ever (not up for debate). I am a die-hard romantic and I have always practiced monogamy, but I also believe that monogamy is a choice, not the rule, and that many relationships can work outside of the traditional constructs with a bit of flexibility

The open relationship/consensual non-monogamy is from a new concept and is understood across the globe with the exception of the West as “monogamy” is primarily a modern practice developed not so long ago. While these relationships take many forms and can be adjusted to fit the needs of a couple, the arrangement strives to make sure every person involved is fully satisfied emotionally and physically. Mainstream society mainly showcases polyamory, i.e. TLC’s “Sister Wives” and coverage of Akon’s way of life, but I promise your arrangement can be much simpler. Some folks are fine with letting their partners hook up with someone new, be that a kiss to an ongoing friend with benefits. Others are only fine with outside hookups but not with sleepovers. By no means do you have to let your man go out and have orgies every weekend, but being a bit more flexible with what is “allowed” works for many people who love their partners but also value emotional and/or sexual variety. For those who can separate the enjoyment of sex from romantic love for their partner, this can be a fantastic set up. While these arrangements are certainly not free from its share of typical monogamous relationship issues (jealousy, miscommunication, etc.), it is clear to see how eliminating the idea of “cheating” from your partnership and keeping an open mind can work for some couples.

Now if you are sitting there sucking your teeth and thinking “my boyfriend/girlfriend loves me and we complete each other” then a reality check is in order. Despite what you’ve been taught throughout your entire life, nobody can “complete” someone else emotionally and physically. In the initial honeymoon phase of any relationship you may believe that, but down the line your partner may need certain things that you cannot or are not willing to provide, no matter how much you want to make them happy. Are you doing your best to emotionally support your girlfriend but she needs more? She may find someone to supplement what is missing. Does your boyfriend like to be whipped but you can’t bring yourself to do that because you think it’s fucking insane? He may go find a dom who will make him scream. Yes, in an ideal world your partner would never want anyone else but you because you have been told repeatedly that you are special, but this is not the reality. I know some couples who have issues with cheating and constantly argue when one partner strays, but continue to stay together in a relationship that feels more like a prison than a partnership. If infidelity is a pattern, experimenting with an open relationship could prove to be a good thing – building trust and emotional stability while offering variety. Opening up a failing monogamous relationship can be disastrous, but for a healthy couple it can allow you to grow closer. Many couples even report that after opening their partnership made them appreciate their partner even more (and it did not become a sexual free-for-all, as you may assume.)

For most people, the idea of an open relationship is better in theory, but not so much in practice. The idea is difficult to mentally wrap their heads around for most people because it directly conflicts with what we have been taught. We live in a generation with so many “options” that we are spoiled for choice, but we are also extremely selfish and want everything for ourselves, and an open relationship can make you more vulnerable than in a monogamous one. Such an arrangement is not easy as it requires even more communication, trust and emotions that a standard relationship as the rules are constantly shifting and evolving. Feeling horribly jealous while your girlfriend is out with another man or incredibly insecure and possessive? Experts say that you need to sit down with yourself and understand why. Open relationships require a certain level of awareness, confidence and selflessness that I do not think many of us have. On top of that there is also a double standard here: while women are not exempt from cheating, most open relationship propositions I have heard come from men who would like to have a loving partner at home but do not want to stop slinging dick around town. I personally think many men would like relationships to be open on their end but would pass out if they found out their lady was out there getting hers. This is not practical because I do not know a single woman who is okay with letting her man run the streets while they are at home in a bonnet making dinner. Open relationships require both parties to swallow their pride and check their egos, which many of us would rather die than do.

After a LOT of internal debate on this topic, I have concluded, I would be willing to discuss opening up a relationship, though not from the beginning. I am an only child and therefore I am selfish. On top of that I am prideful and have a big ego to boot, so there is no doubt that I would have to do a lot of internal work to make sure I was in tune with my emotions, boundaries and well-being before venturing into this territory. I do respect the fact that many couples make these dynamics work, and so I will continue reading and learning about this lifestyle as it has truly opened my eyes and shifted my perspective on the deeply seated Western concepts of monogamy and morality.

For some interesting introductory reading on this topic, go ahead and read Sex At Dawn and The Ethical Slut.