#TwitterTalks Vol 1: Gift Giving

#TwitterTalks Vol 1: Gift Giving

Tis the season! As soon as the clock struck November 1, we all became inundated with reminders of Christmas and the inevitable stress of gift-giving and receiving. For the lucky few, the holidays are a time of wonderful family gatherings and useful, thoughtful gifts that we will use for years to come.

For the other 95% of us, this time of year marks tense thanksgiving meals with racist relatives, and useless gifts that will forever remain in our junk drawers.

For anyone who’s had to unwrap a gift and silently wonder, what on earth were you thinking, and why you do you hate me?, this post is for you. I recently asked Twitter:

What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received from a significant other?

And the answers were….shall we say, interesting. With so many responses, it was impossible to list all of them, so I’ve narrowed it down to 15. But for a good hearty laugh, I encourage you all to read the full thread here.

In no particular order, here are 15 particularly hilarious gems:

  1. Anti ageing hand cream and an exercise dvd. I was 23.. – @Eve_Says_So
  2. An ex bought me a 2-pack of pens FOR MY BIRTHDAY – @lexiecarpenter
  3. a) underwear that was all the wrong size and had been chosen for me by his ex- WTF?! and b) One of those joke Ladybird books for adults about being married. We’d been together about 3 weeks – @mouse_paws
  4. A framed photo of her to look at when we weren’t together 😬 – @PaulF4N
  5. A whole lotta nothing, for the 2 yrs we were together 🤔. When I reminded on the 2nd, I was given bright coloured hair clips with sheeps on them… Not even printed on the clips, they were 3D… A week later… Because I used hair slides occasionally to hold my hair back 😂 – @nyx017
  6. I got her a rose and she ripped it up into pieces as she didn’t like public affection. Kind of kills the vibe I know. Sorry. – @tbanfir
  7. First off, he forgot my birthday so at the last minute he bought me three pairs of owl earrings and two owl necklaces. All from Claire’s. I was 31 and not a huge fan of owls. – @SoTiredOfDating
  8. A stand for my glasses, that was a horses head, but only the nose and mouth. No eyes, no neck. It was horrific. – @BadDatesUK
  9. I got dumped on Christmas Eve. Lovely present. –@crwnuss
  10. An ex got me a large bedroom mirror because he said, and I quote, “you don’t have a big enough mirror and I need one to look at myself in when I come and stay”. –@DespATC
  11. One Christmas he bought me a food processor 🤦🏼‍♀️ –@Dating_Fails_
  12. My whole stocking was an ice scraper ☹️ –@vkissingfrogs
  13. I’ve got 4 LOTR collectors model thingies somewhere 🙄 He put them in the loft as they’d “be worth alot of money one day”. I found them while moving house in Aug.. googled them just in case and…..nope still worthless. –@mrsmop68
  14. A few years back I got a 3-tier-cake stand. Errm, why?? 😳🤣 –@AnnaHopeful 
  15. Random perfume clearly from a knock off market stall. The perfume was called Classic Dór… 😂😂 –@LittleRedIRD

 

What’s the worst gift you’ve ever received? Let me know in the comments!

*Note: I’m hoping to turn #TwitterTalks into a regular feature, so if you have any feedback, suggestions for improvement and/or ideas for questions, please let me know!

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How to be a phoenix.

How to be a phoenix.

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of phoenixes (phoeni??). According to Greek mythology, they acquire new life by rising from their own ashes. They’re often used as a metaphor for surviving a setback, and moving on in life– rising triumphantly like a phoenix from the ashes. How wonderful it would be if we as humans could so as easily as this mythical creature.

Except… what if, try as we might, we can’t? What if one particular setback hits us much harder than it should and we can’t get over the mental hurdle that is our own negativity? How can we cope and move on?

*Note: I want to clarify that the purpose of this post isn’t to discuss hugely traumatic life events (ie, loss of a loved one, illness, etc). I’m certainly not qualified to discuss how to cope with events like that. More importantly, I am not implying at all that my experiences in this post are all that terrible, or comparable to such traumatic events – I know that in the grand scheme of things, I don’t have it all that bad at all. But our emotions are a funny thing, and sometimes, a fairly minor event can affect us; that’s what I’d like to discuss here.

**

The Prep

Back in May, I decided to book the trip of a lifetime to Everest Base Camp. I certainly was not/am not the most fit person, but from all my research, including speaking with 2 people who have done it, the physical challenges would be manageable. I was told to get used to walking for a few hours, ideally with a loaded-up backpack to simulate the weight I’d be carrying during the trek. I was also advised to get in “good” cardio shape (though this is a frustratingly subjective term) and to balance out the cardio exercise with some strength training, particularly for leg muscles. Overall, I wasn’t too concerned about dealing with the physical aspects, because I would just take it slow, and if 60 years olds could do it, surely I could as well!

I spent the next few months going for hikes; but admittedly, on fairly flat terrain, as that was the only option in the concrete jungle I live in. It was nice to be able to explore more of my city, discover green spaces that I didn’t know existed, and I found that hiking was a beautiful, relaxing outlet for me. I tried to balance hiking out with gym sessions (though truth be told, after a few months I started to lose steam and got lazy about the gym). I can’t say that over those months, I felt myself getting particularly stronger or fitter – but I did what I could and tried to make it enjoyable for myself.

But one thing that nagged at me throughout my training was the problem posed by the altitude – a problem that unfortunately, had no solution. Coming from a city that’s basically at sea level, I had no experience in a high-altitude climate, had never done a trek even close to this before, and was worried about how I’d be able to handle it. I read about the warning signs of Acute Mountain Sickness, got the Diamox altitude sickness pills, and prayed that I’d be able to finish the trek. I hoped against all hope that if I wasn’t able to make it to base camp, I would at least not be the only one in the tour group; the only thing worse than not completing something is being the only one to not complete something. No one likes being on the bottom.

Of course, the exact thing that I was worried about happening is what happened; isn’t that always the way?

The Trek

A few days into the trek, I started experiencing a headache in the back of my head; according to the tour guides, that was problematic. A headache in the front of your head is normal, and can be alleviated with ibuprofen. Headaches in the back of one’s head are more serious and caused by altitude. Aside from taking diamox and going slowly, the only “cure” was to descend. My original prescription for diamox was half a tablet, twice a day. My tour guide started giving me full tablets which I dutifully took. I did our daily treks at a super slow pace, drank tons of water and despite my loss of appetite, tried to eat as much as I could to keep up my strength (usually just half a portion of plain rice and potatoes).

Things didn’t seem to improve. The damn headache in the back of my head wouldn’t go away, and I got weaker and weaker. I couldn’t walk up more than a few stairs without getting winded and needing to catch my breath. Even walking on flat terrain started getting difficult, and I couldn’t believe how tired I would get after the smallest of movements. One of my rooms had an in-room bathroom, and one of the fun side effects of the diamox is you have to go to the washroom ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME (I think one night was a record 6 times). I’d wake up, walk the 5 steps to the washroom, and the 5 steps back, and literally be huffing and puffing as I sat back in my bed, because that tiny bit of walking tired me out so much. We were at 55% oxygen, and breathing became difficult. I found it hard to take deep breaths, as I’d get this pain in my chest, so I was stuck with shallow breaths to steady myself.

And to top it all off, I started getting a cold, and could barely sleep through the night because of incessant coughing. It was a grand old time.

I feel superrr dramatic and over the top writing all this out, because quite frankly, it’s only base camp. People do the full SUMMIT ffs and don’t have such harrowing tales! (well, maybe they do, I don’t actually know. I’ve never known anyone who did the summit, but even if they were this dramatic, it would be much more well deserved).

Finally, in the morning with 1 more day to go, my tour guide suggested that I descend a few hundred metres. If the only issue had been how weak and tired I was, there might have been options, but the fact that the headache at the back of my head wasn’t going away was problematic. At that point, all was not lost though; he said that if I felt better the next day, I could still make the trek to base camp. Because that option was still on the table, I didn’t put up much of an argument, and make the descent with an assistant guide.

Looking back on this trip as a whole, this is the part I’m most angry at myself for – I wish I hadn’t listened and had at least attempted to do the trek of that day.

I had high hopes that my headache would go away, and like the revered phoenix, I’d rise from the depths of this challenge and finish the trek. Except, that’s not how it played out. The next morning, I *thought* my head felt better, and we gingerly set out to hike. If I was going to make it, it would going to be a hell of a long day – at least 9 hours of hiking, but likely more, given how slowly I was going and how many breaks I needed to take. I tried and tried to push onwards, but the headache was getting worse and worse. I tried to ignore it at first, but a little voice kept nagging at me. I started getting visions of swelling of the brain and horrible medical things happening to me.

I also started remembering scenes from the 2015 movie “Everest” (fantastic movie, side note, highly recommend), and thinking to myself that a trip like this isn’t worth something bad happening. And then the CRAZY dramatic side of me started thinking that if something did happen, my family would never be able to move on or forgive themselves, etc etc. With those paranoid, dramatic thoughts running through my head, I decided to call it and turn back. There were still almost 6 hours left to hike that day alone, not to mention the 5 or so hours I’d still have left to do the next day to continue onto base camp. At the time, I just didn’t think I had the stamina to do it without compromising my health.

And not only did I not make it, but in my group of 20 people, including 3 much older people, I was the only one who didn’t make it.

The Aftermath

It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make in my life, and although I’ve been back for a few weeks now, I still haven’t been able to shake off my feelings of failure and disappointment. This is where I start to feel ridiculously emo, because there’s really no reason why I should be THIS down and depressed about it, especially so many weeks after the fact. But I just can’t help it – and every time I come across another damn photo of my tour group at base camp, or even the cooler scenery shots that I didn’t get to experience on the way up, it upsets me all over again.

It’s gotten me thinking about *why* it’s bothered me so much. Of course, it’s a disappointing end that would get to anyone. But I recognize that it’s probably not normal for it to be upsetting me to the degree it has been. I suspect it’s because of the following…

I have generally felt stagnant in my life and feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything in the past 5 years or so. Maybe that’s normal once people finish school; school provides an easy way to receive tangible “accomplishments”. Simply going to work every day doesn’t leave me with that same return, and I don’t regularly speak at conferences, publish papers or get awards, or get those other accolades that make it easier to say “I achieved this”. And without getting too specific, the path my career took is not what I envisioned. Despite multiple attempts over the years to steer it towards what I am aiming for, it simply hasn’t worked out. Don’t get me wrong; objectively, I’ve done and accomplished things that I could certainly list that would sound great on paper. But it just doesn’t feel like enough, and I still feel unsatisfied. One notable thing I did last year was complete my first race, a half-marathon. However, that was done with a ton of help from my then-boyfriend, who really guided me through the whole training process. As happy as I am to have done it, I don’t particularly feel as though it was something I can say I achieved on my own. And to be frank, it still doesn’t even feel like a real success – it just doesn’t feel like enough.

So in short, I wanted to do base camp to be able to say that I achieved something big, completely on my own. And I timed it so that it would have happened before my 30th birthday.

With so much riding on this trip, I guess it makes sense that it upset me so much to not make it to base camp. Not only did I not achieve my goal, but it just feels like yet another failure, marking another ho-hum year with no accomplishments. Like the straw that broke the camel’s back, if the camel was feeling dejected and unaccomplished in life.

Moving Forward

It’s been no secret that not making it to base camp has gotten me down. I’ve been given all of the correct advice, and been told the same reasonable, rational things I’d tell a friend in the same situation, including:

  • Most people wouldn’t even attempt something this difficult, so kudos for even trying
  • It’s not worth the potential risk of endangering your health
  • Don’t think you gave up lightly, it was the right thing to do given what was going on
  • You still make it for most of the trek and had a cool experience

All of the above is absolutely right. But there’s something inside of me that just won’t accept it and move on. I just continue to wallow and be depressed about it, and I can’t even get myself to post pictures from my trip.

I think I need to find some way to cope with all of this so that, as the great Oasis put it, I don’t look back in anger on my Nepal experience. I need to find a way to be at peace with the outcome, find the positives in the experience and get to a point where I’m not filled with bitterness and resentment about my perceived failure. Where I don’t curse myself and regret the day I descended, instead of pushing onwards.

And more importantly, I need to find a way to be at peace with my life and appreciate my successes on the whole. This trip has clearly highlighted that there is a void that I’m feeling, and I shouldn’t ignore it any longer.

I write this on the last day of my twenties. Tomorrow, I turn 30 and begin a new decade and chapter in my life. My spirits were lifted this weekend by a party with dear friends, and I know I have a lot to be thankful for. Not many people can say they have their health, the love of family and friends, a job they don’t hate and the personal and financial freedom to travel and enjoy life. But somehow…it just doesn’t feel like enough.

It may well be that all these feelings are now heightened by my 30th birthday. Birthdays have a weird way of making us weirdly introspective, dark and moody as we reflect on our lives. It may be that in a few weeks, this cloud will lift and I won’t be so glum. Only time will tell. But the fact that it’s even possible for me to feel this way tells me I should take action, and I’m oddly excited at the prospect of a self-improvement journey, and being my own phoenix.

If anyone has any thoughts or coping mechanisms, or even a story they’d feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear it!

Curve Ball.

Earlier this year, I broke up with my ex. There were a lot of ups and downs in the last few months of our relationship, marked by the first breakup, a reconciliation, and a final breakup in May.

The recovery process wasn’t the easiest; despite it being a fairly amicable breakup untainted by cheating, abuse and the like, it still took me about 2 months to get over that year and a half relationship. There were good weeks, bad weeks and a revelation that I needed someone who would be willing to fight for me when things got rocky, and not be so quick to just end a relationship.

I booked the trip of a lifetime to Mount Everest Base Camp for early October, and decided to focus on training, exercising and healing. Dating was the last thing on my mind, and I resolved to not even think about finding a new guy until I returned from my trip. After all, what would be the point in starting something right before a big trip like that ? Plus, I liked the idea of going on my trip totally unattached, not checking my phone to see if a guy from back home messaged me, not thinking about anyone but myself and solely focusing on my amazing trip.

As the saying goes — when we make plans, God laughs.

A bit over 2 months after the breakup, I attended a good friend’s wedding. I had known most of her and the groom’s friends (or so I thought), and had no fantasies of meeting anyone because 1: I was pretty sure they’d all be ugly, and 2: I specifically wasn’t looking to meet anyone anyway because of my trip. I actually vividly remember my mom telling me before the wedding to keep my eyes peeled for a guy (why is it that after 25, mothers are obsessed with marrying you off?), and I laughed, telling her that there’d definitely be no prospects at this wedding.

I noticed him at the reception, so much better looking than the other guests in attendance. I remember assuming he was someone’s plus one, because he just seemed so much more attractive than all the people he was hanging out with– funny how our brains make such assumptions. I didn’t really talk to him much at the wedding, but the next day, saw that he had added me and my friend to instagram.

I got the lowdown from my friend, the bride, who confirmed that he was single, and a really nice guy.  I saw that he had posted a nice photo on his instagram from the wedding with me and my friend in it, so I got the bright idea to slide into his dm’s and make a joke about it. After a bit of encouragement from the twitfam to go through with this, I finally did it. I was of course skeptical about how he could possibly be single if he was indeed so nice, and pondered the possibility of him having a furry fetish — but forged ahead anyway despite the risks.

We got to chatting, and in very early August, had our first date. It started off on a bit of an awkward note — we didn’t know anything about each other really, and I realized how much easier first dates are when they’re arranged through online dating. While most people bemoan online dating, and how much better it would be to meet through mutual friends, I realized some definite drawbacks to the ‘organic’ approach. With the online world, you both know you’re there to find a relationship (usually), often have a profile which gives you some information about the person, and it’s a bit more stress-free when you have no mutual friends and don’t need to worry about awkwardly telling your friends that a date didn’t pan out.

Truth be told, I was worried that this guy wouldn’t like me, that I’d have to tell my friends there would be no second date, and that they would all have confirmation that I’m rubbish at dating.

Thankfully, that didn’t happen (or hasn’t yet). We had some awkward silences at the beginning of the date,  but after a few drinks, the conversation started moving along more easily and the jokes started flowing. He offered to walk me to the subway, where we shared a nice kiss. From there, things picked up between us.

We texted all day, everyday — banter that would make me burst out laughing, texts that brought a smile to my face, and he arranged for lovely, thoughtful dates. We went for amazing dinners, saw Coldplay, and he’d incorporate things I mentioned I liked, like a cider tasting. We had a lot of weekends where one or both of us would be out of town, and yet we’d still text throughout, never missing a beat.

All seemed to generally be going well through August and the first half of September. The only nagging thing — before we entered each others’ lives, we had each booked a trip. He was gone the last 2 weeks of September, and the day after he got back, I left for my trip for 2.5 weeks. That left us with almost a full month of not seeing each other, and I wasn’t sure if the feelings would be the same once I returned.

I needn’t have worried. During his time away, he messaged me super regularly, and there was barely any difference in the frequency of our texts. My trip was a bit stickier, given my lack of wifi — but we still made it work. I would get service at least every couple of days, and would do a quick check in with my family, and me and him would exchange a few voice notes. It was lovely to hear his encouraging voice during the harder parts of my trip. He dropped me off at the airport, and picked me up. When I got back on Friday night, things really did feel exactly the same, and I spent my first weekend back rotating between seeing him, and catching up with my family/friends.

On Sunday afternoon he asked, “was it presumptuous to tell my coworkers that I was picking up my girlfriend at the airport?” I told him no, it wasn’t. He said, “okay, that’s what I’ll call you then”. I then made a whole to-do about how he still had to ask me to be his girlfriend (because I’m a super annoying person like that); he asked, and I gave my blessing. And there you have it — somehow, despite not looking for or wanting a new relationship, I met a truly incredible guy.

It’s very early days yet, and there’s a million ways this could all fizzle out. The point of this post isn’t necessarily to say that you will for sure meet someone at a wedding, or through mutual friends, or that X, Y and Z formula will lead you to a new person. Life is a funny, fickle thing and there’s no way to know where our paths will lead us.

But that’s the beauty of it all — you truly never know what’s around the corner, whether it be a great new job opportunity, apartment or significant other. We can’t control how things will play out or force fate to bend to our will. All we can do is live happy, well-rounded lives, be kind to one another and trust that the rest will fall into place. And in the future, when I’m feeling down and hopeless, I will reread this post to remind myself that there is always a new chapter to look forward to.

Changing spots.

In my late teens, I developed these weird spots on my thighs and stomach. It looked as though I had a weird skin disorder, and gave off the appearance of mottled, cheetah-patterned skin. One friend called it ‘marbled’, a term she meant to be a compliment because she thought it was cool. I did not think it was cool. In fact, I hated my mottled skin and the freakish appearance it gave off.

Once, I caught sight of how the backs of my legs looked in a particularly unflattering 3-way mirror, and teared up at how unattractive it was; I didn’t understand why I had to be cursed with this skin condition. I yearned for the earlier years where I had smooth, even, bronzed skin, which I stupidly took for granted. The discoloration got worse whenever I tanned, so for years, I meticulously applied sunscreen and tried to stay away from the sun. I tried every cream, exfoliant, loofah and ointment known to man to get the spots to go away, and visited various dermatologists in hopes of a cure. None of them could figure out the root cause of the issue and ergo, couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

I resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to live with this condition, and learned to slowly be more comfortable in my skin without dwelling on it.

Life moved on. I went to university, got a degree, followed by another degree. I began working, moved into an apartment in the city. I stopped fixating on my spots every time I put on a pair of shorts, and gradually, paid attention to them less and less.

One day, maybe 1 or 2 years ago, I caught sight of my reflection and noticed something shocking: the spots were gone.

At first I thought their appearance had just lessened due to my avoidance of the sun, or that it was some trick of the light. I showed my sisters and my mom and asked them to honestly tell me if they could still see the spots. They peered closely and confirmed that indeed, the spots had significantly faded and were barely visible. As the months passed, my skin continued to stay even and I can happily confirm that I am completely spot-free now.

Why am I boring you with my random medical history, you may ask?

Because I firmly believe that many of life’s problems can (and are) solved this way. Often times, it’s when we stop dwelling on a problem, and stop torturing ourselves to find a solution, that things finally settle down and sort themselves out. Anyone whose lost weight will tell you that you don’t notice results on a day to day basis; the 1 or 2 pounds shed each week are barely perceptible. It’s only when you weigh yourself after 2 months that you suddenly see a major difference. The change hits you when you’re not obsessing over it every day.

This has been very parallel to my breakup recovery. At first I found myself analyzing how I felt, how I was doing every day. As mentioned in my earlier post, I was feeling good the first few weeks. I then hit a bit of a snag, and experienced subsequent weeks of high highs and low lows. I noticed certain triggers that I had; for example, even the tiniest bit of alcohol would get me feeling buzzed and I’d spiral downwards into sadness about the relationship that no longer was. So I avoided alcohol for a while to not deal with those altered feelings, and kept up with a fairly healthy lifestyle (minus the more-than-occasional fried chicken meal).

I don’t know what happened the last few weeks, but suddenly, my emotions have stabilized themselves. It started with a few days, then another few days, and suddenly it’s been a month of stable, even-keeled emotions.

The true test came when I had a slew of back to back wedding events to go to, all of which would be open bar. I was nervous about how the combination of a wedding and alcohol would impact me. But I’m happy to report that I was able to drink quite liberally and to my heart’s content at each event, without a twinge of sadness! It was a major way for me to gauge where my headspace is at, and it appears as though the healing process is going quite well. I can’t discount the possibility of a backslide in the future, and I’m sure I’ll find it difficult to date again when that time comes and I make the inevitable comparisons to my ex. But for now, all seems well.

It sounds horribly cliché, but letting go is one of the most important things you can do if you want to heal, move forward in life and see the progress you’re seeking. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, find a partner or remedy any other life problem – my advice is to just let go. Take the necessary steps you need to of course – go to the gym, try online dating, eat well. But don’t obsess over every single detail, every setback, and every perceived failure. Let go and simply live your life, enjoy every moment you’re experiencing, and have faith that over time, things will fall into place and work out.

Trust that one day, your own spots will change, and you will be right where you need to be.

Fight for me: A lesson from my first love.

It’s been almost a month since my breakup, and I’ve been experiencing a fairly mixed bag of emotions. The first 2 weeks I was doing pretty well. I kept myself busy with my Everest Base Camp prep, and excitedly bought my hiking boots, my hiking pack and researched how to get in shape (side note, I have a long way to go). I threw myself into exercising and went for hikes, picked up a couple of books to read, and caught up on my Netflix. It was actually quite lovely.

But I experienced a distinct turning point when I attended a wedding 2 weeks after the breakup. A combination of alcohol and the general wedding setting brought back lots of memories, and I couldn’t help but think about how much me and the ex would have enjoyed the event. How much we would have marvelled at the gorgeous decor, the beautiful outdoor setting, how he would have enjoyed the old fashioneds they were offering, and how we’d have torn up the dance floor with his awkward, dorky white boy dancing.

During dinner at the wedding, the conversation somehow turned to the ups and downs that various couples had endured, including the bride and groom. We all chatted about the various relationship problems that my friends had gone through, and how with a little bit (or in some cases, a lot) of work, they had gotten their relationships back on track.

Hearing all this really triggered something within me. It made me sad and angry to know that other couples (who quite frankly, were incredibly incompatible with each other) managed to persevere. I heard of terrible fighting matches, couples treating each other horribly, nasty things said to one other in the heat of the moment. And yet, these couples stayed together. Whereas me and him couldn’t handle tiny little bumps in the road caused by a weakening spark. It angered me to know that despite all the problems that abounded in other relationships, and the comparatively minor nature of our issues, we were somehow the only couple who split up.

It then dawned on me that the difference between us and those couples wasn’t the severity of the problems at all. What leads to a breakup often isn’t how incompatible you are or how many fights you have.

Rather, the survival of a relationship truly comes down to how much you want to fight for each other. 

And with that, something clicked. I’ve alluded to my general inexperience with relationships before, and I truly am learning as I go. A key takeaway lesson I have now gained from my first love is that I need to be with someone who will fight for me. The fun moments and laughs are wonderful, and of course the baseline criteria is to be with someone you click with.

But I’ve learned that you also need something more than that. You need someone who will fight for you, who won’t give up so easily until every possible avenue is exhausted. Whether that means trying a new activity together, seeing each other more/less often, taking a trip, or going to counselling, they have to be willing to put in a fight before walking away.

Without that fight, the rest of the relationship becomes meaningless – as I’ve learned the hard way.

Recently I had a friend approach me with a relationship issue with her boyfriend. Without getting into details, she called him out on some bullshit behaviour he exhibited, and during that conversation, he couldn’t stop crying. He was so overcome with emotion and regret that he had to go throw up at one point. He emphatically said that he would work on things, and that he refused to let her go over this. In fact, I think he said something along the lines of “a breakup isn’t an option right now” (in another context that may sound creepy, but it was sweet given what was happening).

She came to me because she wasn’t sure if she should give it another shot or not. While I have some personal reservations about this guy, I admire the commitment he’s made to making it work with my friend. And that’s exactly what I told her; I stressed that unfortunately, it’s not easy to find a guy who will fight for you and try to salvage things when the going gets tough. The fact that he’s so in love with her and is saying he’ll make a serious effort is a big deal, and before ending things, she needs to be 100% sure that it’s the right move (However, this was all said with the caveat that if there were OTHER issues she had, that’d be a different story. But there don’t seem to be).

Of course, some problems don’t warrant a second chance, no matter how much the other person wants to fight to keep things going — the obvious examples being cheating, abuse, drug use. But failing that, as we get older (…yay), relationships get tough and problems more complex. If we are to walk away everytime the spark shifts and things aren’t as rosy anymore, it’s likely we’ll be doomed to an eternity of single-dom.

So with this realization, I’ve now added to my ever-growing list of qualities I need in my life partner — the willingness to fight for me. While that can certainly be hard to assess based on just a first date, I can try to be mindful of this and look out for signs to indicate whether a guy has more of a fight or flight instinct.

My emotions are still going up and down. The dust is now settling, and the excitement of base camp and working out are starting to fade. As I go about my life, little things remind me of him.

I was on my terrace the other day and was reminded of our barbecues last summer, and all the amazing meals he’d whip up. I went to a pub yesterday, the same pub that we used to always go to on Friday nights because of their cheap sangria pitchers and board games. We used to play Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit and try to out-knowledge each other. The other day when I got an itch on my nose, I reflexively wiggled it and remembered this horribly cheesy thing we did where we’d wiggle our noses at each other (the story behind this is so gross and lovey-dovey that I can’t even bring myself to type it out).  And of course, every other song on my ipod is tied to something we did together last year, whether it was an at-home dance party or our road trip (mental note: delete every 2016 song).

I had my first post-breakup hookup the other night with a former fling. While it was fun, I couldn’t help but compare the 2 guys, and think that the ex would do certain things better.

I’m doing my best to truly absorb my thoughts and emotions so that I can somehow release them and move on, rather than repress everything. I’m sure it will be a process but I’m doing my best. When I feel myself longing for him, I remind myself that he didn’t have a crucial quality I need in a healthy relationship.

I need someone who will fight for me.

Just keep swimming.

Just keep swimming.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few days now. I’ve put it off partly because of work — I’m at sessions all week so I need to be “on” and “focusing” the whole day; a stark contrast to when I’m normally at work and can write at my leisure during breaks.

But I’ve also procrastinated because I just didn’t know where to start. I didn’t feel like dealing with the smug I Told You So’s of people who will claim they saw this coming. And most importantly, I didn’t want to admit that the leap of faith I took didn’t pay off.  But here we go anyway.

I had a wonderful April, I truly did; this is evidenced by my Life Update post (which I admit, is quite embarrassing to look back on). I didn’t write that post in an effort to convince myself and you guys that I was happy — I honestly was happy and at peace. On the relationship front, things were going really well again and I thought me and my bf were finally getting back on track.

Then May hit.

I don’t know what happened or why, but I suddenly started noticing a shift with him. It was so subtle, so under the radar, and would have been imperceptible to anyone but me. There was the slightest shift in tone in the way my boyfriend would text me; slightly fewer emojis used; a small change in the way we’d interact and things on the whole just seemed more tepid. It would go back and forth; we’d have a day where everything was fine again and I convinced myself I imagined it, followed by another “off” day where things felt weird; and the next day it was totally normal again. I couldn’t make sense of it and hoped against all hope I was just being paranoid. I told myself I’d monitor the situation for a few weeks to see if the feeling passed.

Every day for those two weeks, I woke up feeling sick to my stomach and wondering how our interactions would be. He’d just text as often, and we’d see each other just as frequently, so on the surface all seemed well. But I knew. My handy-dandy mood tracker was colored green everyday — indicating Anxious (a 180 from my mostly-blue April, indicating Happy).

Sure enough, last week he asked if we could chat. And from that flowed a confession from him that he just wasn’t sure about us anymore, and that he kept going back and forth on whether we had a future. He admitted that some days he thought we were fine, and some days he’d be unsure again — completely confirming the up and down feelings I had sensed from him in the previous weeks. He also said that he felt the spark wasn’t there the way it was last year.

The big thing to note here is that he didn’t know why he was feeling this way, and I completely believe him. I can read him like a book and I know when he’s lying; he genuinely didn’t know why he felt unsure about us or why things felt off. He couldn’t give a single thing about me that irked him, or anything specific in our relationship that he had issues with.

The other notable thing is that nothing had actually changed with our relationship. I’m not naive enough to think that feelings can never go away (hello, just look at the divorce rate), but it’s usually because of something specific. Maybe the couple moved in together and found out they weren’t compatible; someone got a new job that caused stress or required longer hours; a big life event that took a toll on the relationship — SOMETHING. But with us, legitimately nothing external had changed. We had been together for a year and 4 months, and suddenly he just wasn’t sure anymore. And as he rightly noted, the very fact that he wasn’t sure served as the sign that we had no future together. After 18 months, if you still don’t know, then you’re not with the right person. We both knew it, and with that, we ended the relationship.

I know that 2017 has been up and down on the relationship front, and way too many posts these past 5 months have been about my relationship troubles. In light of that, I also know that there are many who will wonder if I’ll just get back together with him again. But I can assure you that is not the case. Things now feel completely different, and I know the love is gone. We’ve gone too far down a dysfunctional, back-and-forth path that we won’t recover from. On a personal level, I have no interest in a rekindling, because I know that he’s not the guy for me. I deserve someone who won’t have a second’s hesitation in being with me. I know my value and worth, and I will not take back a guy who didn’t see it when he had the chance. So no, there is no possibility of us ever getting back together (though I fully predict he will reach out in coming months. And I very much look forward to ignoring him).

But…..

That doesn’t mean this doesn’t hurt. And that doesn’t take away the mixed bag of emotions I’m feeling right now. As I attempt to move on from all this crappiness, I’ll try to organize my thoughts in a somewhat coherent way.

I’m hurt. I’m hurt that he didn’t appreciate me or fight for me. I put in so much time, effort, energy and heart into this relationship, and I would have fought for him if things had gotten rocky. It kills me that despite the solid foundation we had, a switch just went off in his brain and he was able to check out of our relationship so easily. And in a matter of a few weeks no less.

One thing you have to understand is that our first year together was incredible. I hate myself for saying this, but it felt like magic. We had a full YEAR — count em, 12 months!– of dating bliss. We had no issues, no problems, no arguments or squabbles. And it certainly wasn’t because we were tiptoeing around issues or holding back to avoid fights. We were 100% ourselves and comfortable with each other — but our first year was completely smooth sailing for whatever reason. I may not have a ton of relationship experience, but even I know how rare that is. I thought that we built a solid enough foundation in our first year that we could handle any conflicts that came our way, and deal with the ups and downs that every relationship faces. So the fact that in Year 2, he felt the spark was shifting a bit and wasn’t sure anymore? That hurts. The fact that at the first sign of trouble and non-magic, he wanted to run? That fucking hurts. 

I’m angry. I know that in relationships, there’s never any guarantees. But things seemed to truck along so perfectly, and so smoothly. He and I both did everything right, and in the end, I have still wound up single. He asked me to be his girlfriend after a month and said I love you 4 months later; everything was moving at a lovely, normal pace and there was never any hesitation for so many milestones. During our relationship, we saw each other all the time; went on so many lovely trips; we met and got along super well with each other’s families and friends. We had bbq’s, picnics, went on countless hikes, cuddled up with hot chocolate while binge-watching our favourite shows. He helped me train for my half-marathon, cooked so many amazing meals for me, made me laugh in a way that no one had ever done before and made even the most mundane activities fun and exciting. He’d be there for me when I was stressed, upset or anxious and had this positive attitude that always made me feel safe, happy and at peace. If there was a formula for a successful, longlasting relationship, I thought we had it.

And out of nowhere, he “wasn’t sure”.

There is no rhyme or reason to his change of heart, and the fact that he himself can’t even explain it makes it that much worse. As much as I don’t want to become hardened, I can’t help but just feel angry that after everything we experienced, none of it mattered.

I’m annoyed with myself. Anyone who follows this blog and/or my twitter knows that we had a few issues this year. Webroke up only for him to request that we get back together after 5 days, because he was so torn up about everything. I gave him a second chance, and hoped that that experience would make us stronger. I also hoped that the experience of us being apart would motivate him to never let me go again, and to work even harder to keep things together. I KNOW there were/are many who thought I was ridiculous for getting back together, judged me for it, and assumed that we’d break up again.

But I wanted to take that chance and take a leap of faith. We had some heavy talks and genuinely were working through our issues to make major progress. For a while, things were good again.

But not even 2 months later, he gets these weird doubts all over again, effectively killing the relationship. With hindsight being 20/20, I maybe should have trusted that this was not a guy who is willing to fight for a relationship, and would run when there’s conflict. But I didn’t want to be that hardened, unforgiving girl, and I put my pride aside to give myself a shot at happiness. Except it didn’t pay off, and I can’t help but feel annoyed with myself.

Above all, I’m scared. This is the biggie. To reiterate, I’m not upset about not being with him anymore; he has shown his true colors, and I don’t want to date someone so wishy-washy. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m scared about what my future holds. I know this is the cliche thing every newly-single girl says, but I legitimately worry I’ll never find someone to spend my life with. This was my first serious relationship at the ripe old age of 28 (29 now). I never flitted from boyfriend to boyfriend growing up, and I was always the perpetually single friend. Apart from a trainwreck 4-month experience with a cheating ex (which frankly, wasn’t a real relationship at all), this has been my only real relationship. I never met anyone I liked (or who liked me back) during my time in school, and I online dated for 2 solid years before finally meeting my ex-bf (feels so strange to call him that now). That means 28 long years of never being in a relationship and feeling like a freakish outsider who no man wanted. And this was during a time I was allegedly in my “prime”! (And yes, I know your 30s are a magical time, blah blah blah — but you know what I mean).

The thought of having to start over again from scratch fucking terrifies me. If history is anything to learn from, it will be a looong time before I ever meet another guy, if it indeed happens at all.

On top of that, I am now scared that if I do meet someone, this same thing could happen again. Everything could be wonderful and then bam — he changes his mind overnight.

So at the heart of it all, I’m scared to date again, knowing that a once-solid, 18-month relationship could so easily unravel with no reason given.

I’m trying my best to stay positive and to not despair. I know that relationships tend to only happen when one is in a happy, stable place, and I know I need to exude confidence to attract a quality man. I also know that I shouldn’t get ahead of myself and worry about dating just yet — I need time to heal. But overthinking is kind of what I do best, so it’s hard to kick that habit.

I booked a trip to Everest Base Camp for October, so that will be something for me to focus on and work towards. And I have a few fun events coming up this summer, including a camping trip this weekend. I’ve experienced a horrendous breakup before, with the cheating Ex, and my post-breakup recovery actually went quite well (will need to reread that post of mine as a reminder!). Above all, I have an incredible support network, both online and offline. I know I can get through this, as long as I don’t go too far down the rabbit hole of negativity.

It’s going to be hard, and I know I will have days where I won’t be able to stop the tears. But as a wise fish once said, when life gets you down you have to just keep swimming.

dory.jpg

Advice or Sabotage?

A few years ago, I had a friend. We’ll call her Jamie. We met through work, and found we hit it off; we were also both single at the time, and our respective circle of female friends were coupled up. So naturally, we made a perfect pair for weekend shenanigans and could count on each other to be free for Saturday night bar-hopping.

Overtime we grew closer and closer; we chatted every single day, went out every single weekend and kept each other in the loop about our love lives, or lack thereof. I found myself sharing more of my online dating horror stories with her, rather than my friends who I had known for much longer. It just seemed like more of a natural fit to share these tales with Jamie; there was also a part of me that felt that my coupled-up friends either wouldn’t care, or would find my stories juvenile.

One night, we went out to a bar because she wanted to meet up with this guy she was chatting to on Tinder. He told her to come out and bring a friend – I happily obliged to facilitate this meet-up for her. However, that night took a bit of an interesting turn. She chatted with her guy, they went home together and she never heard from him again; something she was quite upset about for a while.

I wasn’t really into the ‘friend’ that I suppose was brought along for me, so I went and scoped out the bar on my own while Jamie and her man were talking. I went to the bar to order a drink, and this fairly cute guy beside me started chatting me up, commenting that we had ordered the same (relatively obscure) beer.

We got to talking and he ended up being a really cool, funny guy – we’ll call him John. After a few hours of chatting, I invited him back to my place; we had…shall we say, a swell time– but what makes this interesting is our story didn’t end there. He actually texted me the next day, and this all turned into a fairly wonderful friends-with-benefits situation for the next 4 months. We’d text here and there throughout each week (not very much, mind you, but it was enough for what we were – aka, not dating), and we’d meet up once a week for nice hookup sessions. “Nice” might be a strange word to use, but that’s what it was – we’d actually watch a movie or show together, have a drink and legitimately talk for a few hours before getting down to business. In the mornings, we’d often have a coffee and sit on the balcony for a bit before parting ways. It was a genuinely nice, sweet experience.

Now to be clear, we weren’t dating and there was a mutual understanding that this wouldn’t turn into a relationship. He made no promises of a commitment to me and as great as he was, he wasn’t the type of guy I wanted for a long term relationship with anyway, due to various factors. So we were both very comfortable and happy with things, and it was nice to get that physical contact and the feeling of a pseudo-relationship.

But let’s go back to Jamie. As I mentioned, she had been ghosted by her tinder guy, and she made no efforts to hide that she was pissed off that I had met someone on the night she was “supposed to” meet someone. If you’re finding her response juvenile and irrational – that’s because it was.

I noticed a major shift with her responses when I’d ask her for advice about anything guy-related. While before she used to give what I thought was good, thoughtful and fair advice, now just seemed sabotaging. It was as though her advice always had the end goal of me winding up single. And more significantly, her advice would be the polar opposite from what my more rational, balanced friends would say. Example:

  • Me: A guy from tinder hasn’t texted me back in a few hours, what does this mean?
  • Jamie: oh he’s probably not interested, you should just call him out on it (alternatively: block and delete him – Jamie’s response would vary)
  • More Rational, Balanced Friends: you’re being crazy. It’s the middle of the day at work, he’s likely busy—don’t read into it. (And almost invariably, they were right, and said guy would text me shortly after)

It all came to a head one night when John and I thought it’d be fun to set up Jamie with John’s roommate (though to be frank, this was something Jamie had brought up time and time again lol). We arranged to meet up on a certain night and it all seemed fine; throughout all this, me and John were still on good terms and continuing whatever it was with us. But our scheduled day, he texted me:

“Hey, so I have a big soccer game early tomorrow morning in X city, so I need to be up and out by 6am. Are you okay if we don’t do a sleepover tonight after the hangout?”

Now you should know that I myself have crazy, irrational, insecure tendencies (though I’ve gotten it more under control in recent years), and this message threw me off for no good reason. I was worried that he was losing interest in me, or that something was off or who knows what I was thinking. It just felt like a weird insult. I expressed this to Jamie:

  • Jamie: WOW that is so rude of him!! I can’t believe he’s just kicking you out, so weird! I’d be so offended if I were you!
  • Me: but when you think about it… if he didn’t want to hang out with me, why agree to this night at all? He could have just bailed on tonight to avoid the whole thing, rather than wasting his Saturday night. [side note to readers: this is the rational response that I should have listened to more closely]
  • Jamie: well, I think it’s because his roommate really wants to meet me, so John is probably just agreeing to help him out, so he’s probably, like, taking one for the team.

UMMMMMM. I was so dumbfounded by her response that I just didn’t know what to say and didn’t call her out for being a gigantic, self-absorbed, sabotaging bitch. God I wish I had.

I checked in with my Rational, Balanced Friends – this group is comprised of about 6 friends in different circles. But they all had the same responses:

  • Jamie is a bitch for saying that
  • There is no issue with John wanting to get a good night’s sleep before a game
  • If anything, it’s a testament to the fact that he enjoys hanging out with you that he’s still meeting up with you despite his early morning
  • It is FAR more likely that John wants to hang out with you as opposed to “taking one for the team” for his roommate who has never even met Jamie – related, it’s also highly unlikely that the roommate cares that much about meeting Jamie, a girl he knows nothing about.
  • Jamie is trying to make you feel bad because she’s still bitter that something happened with John on “her night”.

Looking back, it is so stupidly obvious that my Rational, Balanced Friends were right on all counts. Jamie didn’t have my best interests in mind at all, nor did she give advice from an objective, reasonable perspective. Everything she said had 1 objective: to get me to end things with John, or any other guy I was talking to at the time. She wanted me to push guys away so that she wouldn’t be the only single one and that I wouldn’t be in a relationship before she was.

It was an extremely valuable learning lesson for me, because I like to freely ask people I consider my friends for advice on everything and anything (as the Twitfam has probably noticed!). I perhaps do it a bit too willy-nilly truth, but I do think it’s important to get other perspectives. However, my experience with Jamie taught me that you can’t just ask anyone for their input – in my view, two key criteria have to be met when it comes to asking for dating advice:

  1. The person has to truly be thinking about what’s best for you, regardless of their personal circumstances.

This is obviously where Jamie failed. She couldn’t put her own unhappiness aside in giving advice, and wanted to make sure I didn’t progress more than she did in dating. Don’t ask for advice from people who only want to hold you down with them; they have to want to see you flourish, even if their own time hasn’t come yet.

Incidentally, I also have another friend in her 40s who is single, never married, no kids. I have noticed a distinct pattern with her advice too – she is significantly harsher about guys and much quicker to jump to “break it off” than my happier, more well-adjusted friends.

This of course doesn’t mean that all single people are underhanded in their advice. But you have to seek out advice from people who are happy and secure with themselves and their own lives; those that aren’t will only want to see you suffer along with them.

2. The person has to have the same kind of healthy relationship that you want for yourself.

It’s a huge mistake to think that the only qualified people to give dating advice are those in a relationship. Quite frankly, some of the wisest advice I’ve gotten has been from single people, because they refuse to put up with bs, and are also more adept at spotting the “good eggs”, having been in the dating game themselves.

But if you are asking for dating advice from someone in a relationship, make sure they value the same things as you and are in healthy, stable relationships. I have a friend who consistently dates awful men, and they inevitably treat her like crap and break her heart.

Unlike the Depressed Singles who always tell you to just break up with a guy, these Unhealthy Relationship-ers will always tell you to stick around. To tough it out, to “work on it”, because that’s what they themselves do. They don’t know how to stand up for themselves in a relationship, they are used to letting their significant others get away with everything, and quite frankly, they don’t know what it means to be in a solid relationship.

Having made this connection, I place much more value on advice coming from my friends who are in healthy relationships, not just A relationship.

When stumbling across a news article, we’re often told to “consider the source”; this reflects an understanding that the source of information can impact its validity. Similarly in dating, the source of the advice should be examined closely. Otherwise, you may very well find yourself in the same situation as the advice-giver, whether you want to or not.

***

Update: it has been pointed out to me that I never wrapped up what happened on that night with Jamie and John– I suck at storytelling! For those wondering, I stupidly let Jamie get into my head too much and told John that maybe we should just reschedule for another time. Unfortunately I didn’t check in with my Rational, Balanced Friends until the next day to get their thoughts, and they were all in agreement that I should have just gone that night and not made a big deal about it – John wasn’t saying or doing any ridiculous. The lesson from that night was to be careful whose advice I followed; in this case it wasn’t a big deal, but if it was with a guy I was genuinely interested in, I could have very well ruined something great if I listened to Jamie.

Me and John continued to hook up casually for the next couple of weeks, but then it slowly fizzled out, as I figured it would. He messaged me again after about a year but by then, I was over it and looking to be in a more serious relationship. But for many reasons, the whole experience was invaluable and eye-opening.

As for Jamie – I learned a lot about her true nature through this. I learned that a real friend will support you not just in bad times, but also the good; they will be happy and supportive of you when things are headed in a positive direction for you, regardless of their own personal situation. Jamie was not able to do that. If she couldn’t even be excited about a simple hook-up buddy (because let’s be real, that’s all John was), then how could I expect her to support me if I ever actually got a boyfriend, engaged, married etc? I didn’t want that negativity in my life. So I gradually let her into my life less and less; I didn’t open up to her as much or ask for her advice anymore. Overtime, our communication slowed down and then just dropped altogether. It’s been a long time since we last spoke, and I am all the better for it. Through cutting out the dead weight of our friendship, I’ve been able to move forward, surround myself with positive people and become an overall more secure and happy person.