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Is the “get over him” mentality not allowing us to grieve properly??

Relationships are a huge part of our lives no matter how “empowered” we are. And although having a boyfriend or not having one is in no way a reflection of your value, it does not mean that the loss of a relationship does not hurt. 

The days of Ben and Jerry’s binges and long nights crying into a pillow are over. In recent years the idea of the breakup, and how one should treat a breakup, has had a vast makeover. Revenge bodies as inspired by Khloe Kardashian and rebound hotties are the new post-breakup traditions. 
As strong, empowered 21st century women we are not suppose to let men get us down. Men are not suppose to define our identities or our happiness. Sometimes this is taken to far out extremes where we are often taught through vague, innocuous terms that men are disposable. We are suppose to be so empowered that men have no effect on our well-being.  And yet sometimes that is not always an accurate reflection of reality.

The new breakup mentality is to “get over him” as swiftly and seamlessly as possible. Women are no longer suppose to cry over men or experience grief, rather they are encouraged to either shove their feelings under the rug and present a facade of un-bothered chill, or participate in often unhealthy behavior such as using alcohol and partying as a coping mechanism, or hook up as a way to feed a veneer of empowerment. This “get over him” mentality is highly problematic in that it does not allow for, or encourage women to properly grieve, and instead suggests “band-aid fixes” and instant gratification to fill a void. 

I think of lot of this lack of healthy grieving has to do with undefined relationships. With so many relationships in label limbo, ie friends with benefits, hookups and “things” that never really leave the “talking” stage of relationship development, lots of women have trouble justifying their own pain. They feel that because he was not their “real boyfriend” or it was “just sex” that they should not really be sad over him. They convince themselves that because it was not a “legit relationship” that they should be able to just move on quickly and “get over it.” Worse, they think that entering into a similar arrangement with the next guy will fill the void.

These are dangerous messages that many mainstream women’s media outlets promote. Women are repeatedly fed the idea that pleasure seeking and instant gratification are replacements for grief or counseling. Moreover, much of women’s mainstream media perpetuates the idea that empowered women move on quickly and don’t get hung up on feelings. 
“Feelings” in particular are an entity more and more women are looking to avoid in the dating arena. Ironically, what exactly is dating without feelings? Feelings have been labeled a death sentence for the “empowered” women who is not controlled or hindered by emotions or the high price of bonding and becoming vulnerable with someone. To the modern dater, feelings are synonymous with vulnerability and a lack of control of the situation.

Rather women are suppose to engage in casual sex sans feelings, something that is not really a reality for most women. The result is a lot of women who don’t end up feeling “empowered.” Instead they feel depressed, lonely, and unfulfilled. Much of said negative feelings has to do with the fact the relationship or lack there of was not properly grieved when it ended.
Unfortunately the culture does not provide women with the tools to understand why hookup culture leaves them feeling this way. Hookup culture and mainstream media gives women the impression that hooking up is sexy and fun and empowering, and then leaves women confused and insecure when it is not all that it is promised to be. 

Women are often berated and belittled for being the more “emotional” sex. This is the often cited reason for why there has yet to be a female president or why women can’t be in positions of power. While this is an unfair and degrading assessment of womanhood that many female leaders are working to break down, society still maintains the connotation that feelings are “vulnerable” and “weak”. Instead of allowing women to express their femininity and be celebrated for it, we tell women that in order to stand a chance in a man’s world and be taken seriously they have to disavow themselves from being “emotional,” “needy,” “clingy,” or just plain too “romantic” as if those are to be avoided like the plague instead of misunderstood components of the feminine psyche. What if we saw expressing emotions and feelings as wise and empowering instead of weak? How then would our view of women and hookup culture differ? 

Moreover, if “feelings” are the enemy then we are more likely to treat others with inconsideration and a lack of compassion. Teaching ourselves that it isn’t cool to “catch feelings” promotes a dating culture that is unkind, aloof, and unsympathetic, and results in far more heartbreak. Even if it isn’t “cool” that doesn’t make feelings any less legitimate or irrelevant. 
So if men are expendable and feelings are “uncool” we are left with a cold and un-compassionate hookup scene. We are left with a dating world where men are at a huge advantage and women do not have the tools or information to properly grieve relationships no matter what they look like. Does not sound very empowering to me. 

Contrary to mainstream messaging, grief is an integral part of moving on and finding future healthy relationships. We need to be able to allow ourselves the full spectrum of human emotions in order to process and move forward. There is no benefit to bottling things up or seeking out dangerous emotional behavior in the hopes of covering up our hurt. Although the self care industry will have us believe that retail therapy and body scrubs will alleviate stress or unhappiness, the truth is that mental and emotional self care cannot be purchased. Grief is a long, arduous mental process that requires times, patience, and the support of good relationships. 

The first step in the process is recognizing the hurt and legitimizing it. No matter whether it was a fling or a hookup or a one stand stand that has now ended in less than favorable terms, that hurt matters and is legitimate. It should be handled with grace and patience.

Some of the best things you can do for the grief of a relationship is to talk to a friend, exercise, do something fun that does not have to do with partying or alcohol or mind-altering substances, and get lots of sleep. It is important to allow yourself to feel the pain and say to yourself that it is okay to be upset. It is not you who is weak for feeling this way, it is the culture and it’s mentality of “get over it” that is damaging. 

I think this highlights an important trend in our society, that we value emotional stoicism and having the appearance of “having it all together” more so than we do actually doing the work that grief requires of us to get ourselves “together.”

I want to challenge women to help one another to properly grieve relationships, and allow one another to be upset without feeling weak or inferior for doing so. True empowerment comes from supporting and encouraging one another. It is also important to note that it is okay to seek out professional help, our friends cannot always be responsible for helping bear our burdens and sometimes counseling or therapy is necessary. This does not make someone weak, it means they are wise and introspective to seek out help when they need it. 

While the current dating culture is full of misinformation and un-compassionate attitudes, we can seek out positive behavior in ourselves that prioritize growth, wisdom, introspection, forgiveness and healing. It is also imperative that we recognize negative and problematic messages in our culture and take steps to instead seek out truth. When we stop to ask ourselves why the culture might promote certain ideas and whether they are helpful to us is the first step in breaking free from negative influences and learning to be discerning consumers of information. 

Good luck,
Ellie xx

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The Low-Down on Dating Apps

Picture this:

You just got back from dinner with your girlfriends. You had a  great time catching up and hearing about one another’ lives. You sipped wine and giggled about work, boys, and The Bachelor. And yet there is a lingering anxiety in the back of your mind. All of your friends are in great relationships…Except you... One is engaged. The other just started seeing this super cool guy who started his own company. The other girl has a long term boyfriend who is apparently great in bed. You are totally happy for them, and yet you cannot quite put your finger on it, it is sort of an impending worry, quietly hissing at you to get a move on, you’re missing out! 

Like any good, modern woman, you furrow your brow and recite to yourself how much of an empowered woman you are, who does not need a man to complete her and how fulfilled your life already is. And yet….there it is again… the light tap on the back of your shoulder, the worry that you will end up alone with 56 cats and gets excited for TSA to feel you up at airports. You cringe. 

You quietly whisper “fuck it,” under your breath as you pull out you phone and re-download a dating app. 

You swore this was not how it was going to be and that this style of dating was, “totally not for you” and yet you need the reassurance that there are options, possibilities, even hope. You don’t even have to go on any dates. Just chat with a few hotties, even if only to encourage yourself you still got it…

Sound familiar?

Pretty sure if you have been single at all since 2012 you have experienced some form of this scenario. 
In theory, dating apps are great. Who does not want to judge strangers or flirt with hotties all night long without ever putting on pants? And the options… hot damn we have never been provided with so many options before! It is like an all-you-can-eat-Vegas-buffet of dating! 

Yet, once the initial glow of judging random strangers on totally shallow characteristics has worn off, we rarely find ourselves excited by the prospect of tossing up a photo on the internet and hoping complete strangers will not be repulsed by us. Sure the whole swiping thing is fun and feels like a game, but after a while dating apps can start to feel less like innocent fun and more like a last-ditch alternative to dying alone or missing out on love. They certainly are not always the Band Aids to our love lives that they are sold to us as. 

Sometimes dating apps become subtle ego boosters, where we seek them out in the hopes of re-affirming our own attractiveness. We really do not want to spend the evening with a stranger making small talk, but we would not mind some harmless flirty banter just to remind ourselves that we are desirable…

Dating apps effect us each on an individual basis. For some it is Camelot and for others it is the 9th layer of Hell. And yet regardless of our dating preferences, dating apps retain similar consequences for all of us. It really boils down to whether the pros outweigh the cons or vice versa. Are we willing to brave the stormy seas of ghosting and meeting strangers and vulnerability in search of love, or is modern dating the equivalent of the proverbial frog in boiling water? Are we just normalizing a negative dating environment?

So how do dating apps affect us? Are they bad news or modern marvels?

  1. Dating apps can lead to increased anxiety

According to dating expert, Anita Chlipala there is a correlation between increased levels of anxiety and depression. This is due to increased exposure to rejection. While dating apps have increased the sheer volume of interactions, they have also increased the volume of rejections that occur. Other things that can make us feel anxious and/or cynical about our dating prospects are low numbers of matches, excruciatingly long periods between communication, crude messages, and ghosting. While there are compliments and flattery to be exchanged, feelings of rejection or harassment often weigh heavier on participants and can impact self consciousness.  Basically a few hurtful exchanges can spoil the experience.

Another factor that increases anxiety is the sheer amount of conversations and interactions one might be juggling. Sure this might sounds like most single peoples’ dreams, but for women especially this can cause stress to the point of wanting to delete the app. Lots of women experience anxiety at having to maintain several different conversations. Coupled with the fact that most interactions lack humanity (a result of not having met in person), many women come to point where they are both overwhelmed and don’t feel invested anymore and either end the conversations or ghost. 

  1. Low Self esteem

Yes, dating apps have the potential to make us feel like desirable sex goddesses when hoards of matches message you to tell you what a snack you are. On the other hand, large volumes of rejections, ghosting, and lack of matches can do serious damage to our self esteem, especially if we believe( incorrectly) that our peers are having loads of success on dating apps and hopping into bed with every hottie they match with. Please see: Getting It on Millennial Edition.

We start to question what is wrong with us and worry that we are missing a crucial ingredient to our dating life. We are often left under the impression that those on dating apps are hooking up right and left and getting loads of matches and exchanging nudes on the daily. This perception leaves many feeling inadequate or undesirable based on a false comparison. The truth is that most users only use apps sporadically and most people do not engage in random hookups with strangers. Generally most people get ghosted or stood up just as often as their peers.

  1. Easier to become dissatisfied

 It is all about expectations. When there are soooo many possible dates, apps can create feelings of dating abundance. Yet, this often promotes higher expectations for dates and matches. When we assume there could always be someone better this can inspire users to move on quickly from prospects without truly giving them a chance. The idea that there is always someone hotter, smarter, cuter, richer out there keeps us swiping and keeps us continually dissatisfied with results. This is not to say that we have to go out with everyone we match with, only that an attitude of “never good enough” creates unhappiness and excuses us from challenging ourselves to work on our current relationships.

Another consequence of this is dating fatigue, where we become swamped with so many choices, and so many possible choices, that we fail to invest in any of them. Combined with continually unmet expectations, users can become fatigued with dating and either quit or become cynical. 

Ugh so are dating apps a total drag?

Not at all! We all know that engaged couple that met on an app. In fact it is 30% of couples these days….The point is to recognize toxic situations, attitudes, and behaviors and either make changes or get away. If dating apps are making you feel miserable, anxious, insecure or overwhelmed feel free to delete the app. Trust me when I say it is not the necessity to a full dating life that pop culture makes it out to be. You can still meet people IRL. 

It is also important to recognize your dating style. We all date differently. Dating apps work really well for some people and for others they cause crippling anxiety and fear… and that is okay! It is perfectly okay to meet strangers online if that floats your boat, and it is also totally okay to need to get to know people and have some mutual history first. It is okay to feel like dating apps are not for you and to reject them entirely, this sentiment will not make you a Puritan or a prude. The important thing is to recognize this and own it. 

But are there ways to make the dating app experience better?? For sure! 

  1. Don’t try to talk to everyone all at once. Just because you matched or they reached out, don’t feel like you are missing out or have to respond. This is a good way to avoid getting burned out or overwhelmed. 
  2. If people are crass or rude, do not engage. There will always be jerks, but learn to pick your battles. 
  3. Reject any notion that dating apps are the end-all-be-all of your romantic life. They are not a necessity or an indicating factor of whether or not you are hot or desirable or cool or destined for a life of loneliness. 
  4. Remember that most people are experiencing the same frustrations you are. It is a false comparison to feel that you are “failing” at dating while everyone else is banging and going out on cool dates and meeting their soul mate. 
  5. If you do start chatting with someone that peaks your interest above the rest, it is better to meet sooner than later. The sooner you meet in person the sooner that individual becomes a real person and not just an icon on your screen. The sooner you meet up, the quicker you can determine real chemistry or attraction, as opposed to guessing and making assumptions via vague texts and unclear syntax, emojis, tone, etc. 
  6. Meeting strangers for sex might seem like a easy solution to a lackluster dating life, but don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the false reality that everyone is doing it. Meeting strangers is always dangerous. And “meaningless” sex with strangers can not only be physically dangerous but also mentally and emotionally. 

So there you have it.

Dating apps have their pros and cons, but the most important take away is that we use the marvels of modern technology as discerning consumers, bearing in mind their effects, influences and implications. 

Dating apps should not feel like a plea-bargain to not be alone any longer, or a desperate attempt to get out of single hell. Dating apps shouldn’t be viewed as a “quick fix” solution to a crotch that might be overgrown with cobwebs. Just because it might seem like anyone and everyone are shacking up these days, does not mean you need to rush into the arms of the first person who gives you attention or “super likes” you. You are wayyyy better than that, and just believing that for yourself is enough to exude the type of confidence to lure in other confident, successful hotties (like yourself) IRL.

Good luck,
Ellie xx

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Dear 2018: Thank u, next

“Thank u, next.” Anyone want to make a bet on how many girls are gonna use this as the caption on their ‘gram tonight????

And while many girls are going to spew Arianna Grande lyrics all night and still end up in the bed of their fuckboi hookup who can’t/won’t commit this New Year’s Eve, you, you reader, are an intellectual. You will not let 2019 beat yo ass the same way 2018 did. You will get real about working out, getting clear skin, leaving behind toxic relationships, being responsible, saving money, paying off debt, and making strides in your career. You know why? Because you, enlightened 20-something-year-old reader are making the life-altering realization that your 20s aren’t just for fucking around/ finding yourself.

Sure there ought to be a bit of that, but don’t let the internet and memes and society lead you astray with the misguided notion that your 20s are a bullet proof time to make mistakes and you are invincible from any real consequences. If you are gonna make mistakes in your 20s they need to be things like starting a business and watching it fail and then being inspired to work harder or realizing you are dating a shit person and then leaving for one that is more fulfilling. When did “finding yourself” go from meaning “self growth and exploration” to trying fuck as many people as possible during your gap year in Eastern Europe? But somewhere along the way everyone confused “your 20s is for making mistakes” to mean that your 20s is to act like an irresponsible moron without consequences. False. Every day my Instagram feed is convoluted with memes that romanticize acting a fool in your 20s and sleeping with fuckbois and blacking out and being poor and making poor choices. If you can really laugh at those sorts of choices without irony or self-deprecating humor you are privileged. Most of us can’t get away with living like that without consequences, it catches up to us.

Our twenties are about setting yourself up to live and have lived an awesome life in your 30s and 40s and 50s and beyond, not making poor choices and hoping they will all just be funny stories in the nursing home. Because the truth is that these choices matter, maybe not a single one, but they add up and a whole decade of living recklessly and irresponsibly is masochistic.

Instead let your 20s be the years you build your empire. Have fun, play hard, work hard, and have adventures. Don’t waste your weekends getting drunk and hooking up with losers. Meet people with ambition and goals and self-respect. Be patient with relationships. Leave toxic relationships behind. Don’t waste your best years of health and vitality sitting on the couch eating Kraft Mac n’ cheese watching Netflix. Eat healthy, get a fitness routine, pick up a new sport, try new things, form a skincare routine. Don’t waste prime earning years squandering your money on bullshit like going out and tanning salons. Invest your money. Get a Roth account. Save. Save. Save. Live at home if you must. Live within your means. Stop eating out all the time. Learn to cook. Bring a lunch. Start using coupons. Set aside money for investments like property and stocks. Save money for emergencies. Don’t take our loans unless your ROI is proven. Don’t “buy” things if you can only afford to lease them. Work hard at your job. Show up on time. Grow and develop your professional resume. Network. Always look ahead to your next career move. Set goals. Don’t waste your time seeking instant gratification, instead seek out long term results and fulfillment.

Don’t let age 30 creep up on you while you are still at the bar picking’ up chicks and going home with fuckbois and eating drunk pizza at 2am wondering where your life went and why you didn’t leave the college life behind when you graduated?

Forget the socially-ingrained lie that it is better to not care or to not “give a fuck,” because that is how to keep expectations and unhappiness at bay. In 2019 you should absolutely give a fuck. Care about hobbies and people and your career and your future. Respect this next year as an opportunity to lay a foundation for the next year and the year after that and the year after that, and watch as you lap everyone around you. Cheers!

good luck and happy New Year,

Ellie x

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Where did all the “good men” go????

 

So last week I talked about “good girls” and how to spot such “scarce” creatures in the millennial dating world. If you haven’t already read it please see last week’s post: Where did all the “nice girls” go???

The conclusion was that while many a man wonders what happened to the types of women they would not cringe at the thought of taking home to meet mom, the truth is that men are in need of changing their OWN perspective and their dating behavior in order to find higher quality women.

But I am always one for gender equality.

Girls experience the same male-burnout and probably even on a larger scale. They complain about the limited choices of “good men” that treat them right and don’t play games. They bemoan the sparse options of men with good jobs and aspirations to be fathers. Women grumble and whine over being pumped and dumped by yet another loser who “couldn’t commit” and so they find themselves asking,” where did all the good men go?” What happened to the men who asked women on dates instead of to “netflix and chill?” What happened to the men that were respectful and opened doors?

Well, ladies as much as you want to think that men are from mars and women are from venus, you share more than you think with your testosterone counterparts.

The truth is the same for men as it is for women. Jerks exist. They always have and always will. It is womens’ jobs to sift through the unreliable dicks, filter through the loser who just want to fuck, get realistic about their standards, and change their dating behavior. Because there are lots of great guys out there, it is your job to find them. It is also your job to accept that if you have been pumped and dumped a lot (or whatever it is you are sick of), it is not just because men ain’t shit. It is important to recognize that you may also be part of the problem.

If you are wondering where all the “good dudes” went you are probably asking this for 1 of 3 reasons.

1. You are having sex too soon with too many strangers
2. You are only meeting men in the party scene
3. You have seen too many Disney films and your expectations are unfathomably high and unrealistic.

Does this look familiar? That is because men and women are both guilty of the same attitudes and behaviors that invite low quality men and women. So this might sound redundant, but it is absolutely necessary to see how men and women thrust the same unrealistic expectations, coupled with a complete lack of self-responsibility upon one another and then complain when they can’t seem to have any romantic success with the opposite sex. You are responsible for only one person’s behavior and that is your own and so if you want to see changes in your dating pool, and kinds of people you date, hookup with, and get into relationships with, you need to start with yourself.

Let’s get started with a little dating makeover shall we?

1. Have sex. Yes girl, I am a proponent of having sex when you want and with whom you want. Have casual sex. Have one night stands. But if this is not making you happy or fulfilling you, or you are ready for a more committed relationship, it is time to stop having sex right away. Ladies, it is all about filtering. If you want to know that a dude won’t just pump and dump you, don’t have sex with him right away. If he is willing to wait, chances are he is in it for more than just pussy.

But I like sex, I want to have sex. I don’t want to have to suppress my sexuality.

That is fine. I gotchu. Have sex whenever you would like, all I am saying is that if you are no longer finding hookups to be very fulfilling and they keep bringing along jerks, it is time to change your strategy. Stupidity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results right? Jerks gravitate to girls that are willing to have sex right away because it is easy and requires very little masquerading as a “good man.” This is not to say that you can’t find a nice guy hooking up, it is just that the odds are considerably against you. For a lot of women that risk is not one they want to take. Delaying sex also gives you the valuable chance to see what he is all about. You want to test drive before you buy right? Spending time with a guy without sex will show you who he is when he is not just handed what he wants. Delaying sex is not about controlling or manipulating men, it is about filtering men to determine whether they are a worthy investment or not.

2. Ugh. I cannot stress enough how unlikely it is you are going to find a guy who wants to settle down and have five kids and join the PTA with you in the party scene. Ladies please do not expect to meet Prince Charming at a rave. Why? Because those dudes are out for a good time, they are the ones trying to get with fresh pussy, and try new drugs and think they will never EVER settle down. They also probably don’t do their own laundry either. Stop going to bars every weekend looking like a bunch of street walkers and wonder where all the good men went???

3. I am sorry to say that Disney probably left us with some unrealistic expectations about romance. Like the fact that Eric was wiling to marry a naked, mute girl on the beach. Or that abusive, manipulative kidnappers make good lovers. Girls are uber guilty of fantasizing about unrealistically perfect men. They want Christian Grey and The Notebook and Titanic and Peter Kavinsky (sorry had to name drop again) all rolled into one. Too often girls expect to be treated like princesses because duh they are sugar, spice and everything nice right?Well… While women should undoubtedly be treated well, this is an unfair and selfish standard to put on men. Relationships are about reciprocity and mutual respect, not finding a man who will put you on a pedestal and worship the ground you walk on. It is time to get real with yourself and ask yourself whether or not you are putting unfair expectations on romance and men in general. And the truth is that most women only think they want Prince Charming. Do you really want a man who would fall in love at first sight? Doesn’t that mean that he could easily fall in love again with someone else and that you really were not that special? Do you really want a pussy-whipped beta that would willingly submit to you? Nah, me either girl. ladies, it is time to get real about your standards. By all means, hold out for good men and respect and love and kindness, but do not set men up to fail with your unrealistic expectations.

Okay so where are all these good men at that women can supposedly lure in with these new dating mindsets?

1. They are working on themselves. The “good men” you dream about are not sitting on their asses playing video games and they are not out chasing ass (if they are getting ass it’s because ass comes to them). These men are improving themselves, they are working on their careers, getting fit, eating right, socializing with people that build them up, they are getting educated, they are learning new tricks and trades. They are productive and proactive

2. But…they probably are not in college. Those dudes are still in party mode and won’t emerge for a a few years.

3. They probably are not in their early twenties. These guys are like 6th graders with large forearms and cars and bank accounts.

4. They probably are not on dating sites. As I have said, we all know a few couples that met on a dating app and are getting married, but don’t let this lure you into thinking that you too will meet your handsome prince while scrolling through Tinder at 2am, drunk. Those people are the exception not the rule. The truth is that most young dudes on dating apps are looking for hookups. And ladies, please do not deceive yourself into thinking that “but only if he just met me, he would want more than a hookup!”

5. The “good men” are putting themselves and their missions in first place, so they are not out trying to pick up women. They are not slaves to getting laid, eager to manipulate, lie and ooze sleaze in order to sleep with a new woman. And because of this women present themselves. If you want to meet “good men” you need to also put yourself in self-improvement situations like a new class, running a marathon, a career networking community, leadership roles, local government, volunteering, and mentorship roles. This is where you will find men who want to be better versions of themselves, and it also a good opportunity to see them in action. You aren’t going to meet him waiting at home for him to climb up your hair.

 

I get it, after a few years in the Gladiatorial arena of dating we start to feel cynical. Everyone is either a liar, jerk, asshole, manipulator, narcissist, or some lethal combination. And so we become pessimistic about the sorts of choices out there. We emerge with the tatters of our hearts after a few too many broken hearts, and we wonder if we should write men off altogether. Maybe a convent would not be so bad? Or the cool, drunk aunt that always travels and never married?

But often times we forget that we are in charge of our own dating behaviors and the contexts we put ourselves in. We set the standards. We make the rules. We decide who gets a pass into our lives. We filter.

Your attitudes and behaviors invite men that correspond. When you demand more you get more.

If we are tired of a parade of fuckboys, it is time to start re-evaluating where we meet guys and how we engage with them.

We also need to understand the lens through which we view men and determine how that influences our standards. Are we expecting him to ride in on a white steed? Are we hoping for a fairytale and then wondering why we cannot seem to like any guys we go out with? It is also noteworthy to say that if you want a high value man you need to be a high value woman. Be the kind of girlfriend, you think your dream man deserves or is looking for.

Contrary to the seemingly endless supply of fuckboys, good men do exist in the wild, you just have to be willing to ditch the party scene, filter sooner and more throughly and remove the rose tinted glasses. And remember you can’t change the boys, but you can change yourself.

And to all the boys who don’t meet your new and improved criteria.

Thank u, next.

good luck,

Ellie xx

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Swiping Right vs. The Slow Burn: A quick guide to sexual tension

 

In 2018 we really like to get things immediately. And fortunately for us the advent of technology allows us to have it all as close to instantly as possible. We get to binge all 7 seasons of Mad Men at once without commercials. We can have our fave restaurant delivered to our door step. We can order a pair of shoes and have it arrive later that day via drones. All in all 2018 is pretty sweet.

But if I am honest I don’t think the whole instant gratification thing translates to romance. Yeah sure, Tinder allows for us to have a hookup arrive in 30 minutes or less like it’s a fucking pizza delivery, but where is the sexual tension? Where is the building of anticipation? What happened to the development of chemistry? Even if you’re just after sex and not a real connection with someone, the whole instant gratification of the Tinder model deprives us what actually makes romance great!

I am not out to bash Tinder, it has it’s purpose, but if your goal is to develop real chemistry with someone, dating apps are going to leave you frustrated, exhausted and probably cynical about love.

Tinder has reduced attraction to something that can be measured within seconds, when in reality, true, authentic attraction builds over time. On Tinder, sexual chemistry is rated right away and expected to exist instantaneously. You can start sexting or sending pics with someone whom you have never even met. You meet people under a preconceived notion that there is an already existing sexual attraction because you are a “match.”

Swiping forfeits the developmental portion of attraction where you get to know someone and then decide through conversation, interactions and body language whether you find them attractive beyond outward appearance. Initial, physical attraction is close to meaningless for women. Women do NOT date for looks. Yeah, we like a nice man to look at, or strong arms to throw us up against a wall, but that is not why we are attracted to someone. Hence, men should understand the value in the slow burn approach when it comes to seducing women. Tinder very much abides by a shallow perception of attraction in which attraction is purely visual. While visual attraction is obviously a component, it is ridiculous for anyone to think that real attraction can be judged from a static image.

Tinder operates under the assumption that you are already attracted to one another before you even say hello and so you can skip the first few steps of relationshional development. Lots of Tinder users utilize this format to get right to sexual intimacy before the relationship has had any time to mature or for any chemistry to truly develop. Instant gratification reduces relational development to first impressions and a shallow façade.

You know what they say, the best things in life come to those who wait. Call me old fashioned, but it is all about the slow burn. I am not just talking “3 days before texting rules” and “waiting until the 3rd date for sex,” I am talking about the importance of building sexual tension and chemistry over time in order to not only keep things spicy, but to build a better foundation for the relationship. Here is what to know:

  1.  In the slow burn flirting happens over the course of weeks, months or even years as opposed to days or hours, and produces greater intimacy and intensified longing- both are integral parts of romance.
  2. Eye contact, body language and interpersonal flirty banter over a period of time deepen levels of chemistry and mutual sexual attraction in which feelings have time to marinate and mature and intensify. These components are absent from dating apps. So if you are going the dating app route it is imperative to keep the texting minimal and meet up as soon as possible. The error many people make with dating apps is that they ‘try and get to know one another’ before meeting up, and while this seems prudent it diminishes the window in which you are both interested. People often lose interest very quickly over dating apps because the relationship fizzles before the two people have even met. Meeting up is the chance to install humanity in the experience and connect via body language and interpersonal communication cues. Both are imperative to truly “getting to know someone.”
  3.  Sexual seeds are planted with mental stimualtion such as debates and intellectual conversations, passionate rants, and witty reparte, rather than the small get-to-know you talk that occurs in the early stages of a relationship. Deeper, more meaningful conversations take time and come as a result of prolonged time together. They emerge as both parties test the waters of vulnerability and compatibility.
  4. Prolonged tension is good for a relationship – without tension and rising action there is no climax (literally and figuratively)
  5. The slow burn always anticipates that there is somewhere more for the relationship to go because not all the cards have been shown. This is what keeps both parties interested and wanting more. This means if you are into a woman do not play all your big cards right away. You should never take a woman on a fancy date or buy her an extravagant gift prior to being in an actual, exclusive relationship. If you show your cards too soon it diminishes the value of your commitment and appears desperate. A woman should feel like she is being seduced for a long period of time where the relationship just gets better with age. Like wine. Or cheese.
  6. Long-term seduction produces satisfaction because nothing good ever comes easily. Women especially feel that any love worth having should be earned.
  7. The best sex involves emotion on both accounts, in which stimulation is derived not from just physical pleasure but from feelings of frustration, longing, tension, love, joy, thrill etc. Therefore the best sex is going to be with someone you have an emotional connection with. And while the whole stranger thing can be hot, I am guessing it does not have the same satisfaction as with someone whom you have real chemistry and intimacy with. Very few women orgasm during a one-night stand (20% i believe) because there is absolutely an emotional component to sex that is imperative to satisfaction.
  8. The slow burn is sort of the equivlevent of the farm to table movement or the slow food movement (rebuttal to fast food) or to a hand stiched garmet- it is far more valuable and satisfying and will last a hell of a lot longer because it took time to be prepared.
  9. Chemistry and romance are dishes best served in a 10 course meal, not from the grab-and-go counter

Obviously Tinder has it’s time and place and we all know that ridiculously happy couple that met through a dating app, but my point is not that dating apps are bad, only that the model of instant gratification does not work for romance or relationships. The best relationships are the ones that build tension and chemistry and intimacy over time, always smoldering, in need of constant stoking.

Perhaps this is why so many Millennials are dissatisfied with the current dating climate, we have lost interest in the thrills of the slow burn because we have been socialized to want and expect instant gratification. We want companionship NOW. We want a relationship NOW. We want a hookup NOW. But waiting and tension and suspense are healthy and lead to far more satisfaction physically, emotionally and mentally. And its hot. It’s way hotter.

good luck,

Ellie xx

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Millennials vs. Vulnerability: Who is Really Winning??

 

 

What scares Millennials most in the world? The rising cost of housing? Looming student loan debt? Net Neutrality? No wifi? Negative. A Millennial’s worst fear is the prospect of vulnerability. I don’t merely mean talking about your childhood, I mean having to tell a guy you like how you really feel about them. Double texting someone that has not responded to you in four days. Having to ask someone “what are we?” *cue music from Jaws* You know what I am talking about. This sort of “put your dignity on the line” honesty is what instills fear in us like nothing else can.

To be specific, unreciprocated vulnerability is what scares us most. It is being too accessible to someone who is not accessible to us. It is crossing oceans for someone who would not cross a puddle for you. Unrequited vulnerability says I am giving more than I am getting. I am being manipulated and extorted and used. I am the only one who cares. As a result, vulnerability feels weak and exposed and helpless.

We are so terrified of being someone’s number two that we are willing to play any number of exhausting games, say any number of lies, and sabotage our own relationships to reduce vulnerability, or at least the appearance of vulnerability.

That is the thing about vulnerability in Millennials, we are far more concerned with the façade than we are what’s going on in the inside. We would rather look perfect on the outside and be a mess on the inside than vice versa. We would rather let someone we care about think that we don’t give a shit about the relationship, and its all casual and “no string attached,” but be in emotional turmoil on the inside, than tell someone what we are really thinking. We would rather make someone else feel lesser, than have to feel the pain of unrequited vulnerability. Heaven forbid someone think that we care more than they do.

As a generation, we are pretty okay with physical vulnerability like nudity and sex, it’s that emotional vulnerability that frightens us. Ironically, emotional vulnerability and physical vulnerability are deeply intertwined, although we would love to pretend that they are not. We love to separate them as estranged entities when in fact physical vulnerability is often a direct ticket to “catching feels.” From there, emotional vulnerability is the first stop on a long road trip of heartbreak and crushed self-esteem.

Now we are a generation that is ridiculously cynical when it comes to “catching feels.” And rightly so, “catching feels” is the worst. Like I would rather have my naked body dragged across hot coals and thrown into a pool of gasoline than catch feels. Catching feels is the ultimate gateway to vulnerability, and once you’ve opened the door you can’t go back. You either have to get over this person (an often long and arduous process) or dwell in emotional turmoil for an indefinite period. Yippee. Dating is so fun.

As a result, we have become a generation of defensive daters. It is all about protecting our own dignity and hearts no matter the costs. It does not matter if we ghost that guy or reject that girl and never speak to her again, as long as our own dignity is intact. As long as we have protected our hearts and minds from actually falling for someone. We don’t mind hurting someone else’s feelings as long as our own feelings are not hurt.

It is okay for someone else to be vulnerable, as long as we get to remain aloof and apathetic, because the person who cares the least is the person with all the power in the relationship. Control is power. The ability to manipulate a situation. The feeling of supremacy. The capacity to influence. For Millennials, vulnerability is a roadblock in our ability to remain in control and possess power.

Now apart from being wrapped up in a culture that tells us to care very much what others think and to groom ourselves to be perceived a certain way, being guarded is also a matter of self-respect for millennials. We see it as dignifying to be stingy with our vulnerability. We feel that our self-worth is somehow wrapped up in how much we have exposed of ourselves.

For Millennials, vulnerability is a currency, and you want to be as frugal as possible. To some extent this isn’t wrong. You wouldn’t go in the middle of the street and yell your deepest darkest secrets, not because they define you, but because you respect yourself more than to just bare your secrets to anyone. Yet, there is a fine line between self-respect and being emotionally stingy.

We have somewhat misguidedly deemed self-respect to be only investing in a relationship where we are sure to get a return. While there is truth in guarding your heart and protecting yourself, there is no such thing as a relationship with a 100% probability of investment growth. Most often a gamble is necessary. If we never take the risk there is never the reward.

This imbalance of investment that we fear so much is pretty much the root of all relational conflict. I first realized this when I was upset with a friend who I felt was avoiding me. There was no conflict. Yet I felt the distance growing between us even though we lived together. I would ask her about her day and ask her to hang out, but she was always aloof and “too busy.” It felt terrible. It took me a while, but I realized that what I was really truly upset about was not that she was not hanging out with me or spending time on our relationship, it was that I felt that I cared more about her than she cared about me.

Think about it. Whether romantic or a friendship or family relationships, relational conflict is derived from one person caring more than the other person or at least a perceived feeling of such. I think this realization was a huge step in gaining perspective about conflict. Rarely are we really upset about an unanswered text or showing up late or a failed promise. Rather what’s truly bothering us is a fear that we care about someone more than they care about us. Being on the non-reciprocated side can really hurt. It feels degrading. And as Millennials, this is a pain we are willing to do almost anything to avoid. We would rather come off as cold and aloof than lower ourselves to tell someone we care about them if we feel that it won’t be reciprocated.

I remember back in good ol’ 2003 watching Lizzie McGuire, and in one particular episode Lizzie was going to tell resident hottie, Ethan Kraft, that she had a crush on him. I remember watching in horror as Lizzie bared her soul to a guy who was nice enough, but clearly did not feel the same way about her. How could Lizzie be so stupid? Didn’t she respect herself? Didn’t she care about being embarrassed?? I remember the horror my 9-year-old self felt as I watched Lizzie throw caution to the wind and embarrass herself in font of him. Even then I saw such vulnerability as something to be avoided like the Bubonic Plague. I carried this mantra with me for the next 15 years. I would never tell anyone that I liked them unless I was sure that they felt the same. The alternative, was not just humiliating, it was a degrading shot to the ego, and totally avoidable. I couldn’t understand why Lizzie had wanted to share that info if she did not have to. No one was making her tell Ethan!

But that is the thing about Millennials. Millennnials are total control freaks. We are obsessed with trying to control and manipulate our circumstances. And when it comes to feelings and dating we want to control that too. Everything is a power play with us. Perhaps it has something to do with trying to combat our role as the world’s scapegoat. Or perhaps it is that nasty sense of entitlement we are so often accused of having. Or maybe it has to do with us being socialized to have control over everything in our lives the same way we exhibit control over other instantly gratifying things like Netflix and Uber. Either way we view control as a necessary means of achieving success and happiness. We feel that if we can just master our emotions and minimize our vulnerability then we will have total control and no one can hurt us.

The truth is that the path to successful and fulfilling relationships is paved with heartbreak and embarrassment, and yes, lots and lots of vulnerability. Maybe Lizzie McGuire had more emotional intelligence than we did back in middle school after all.

Vulnerability is what relinquishes us from the prison of perfectionism and having to maintain a façade. Vulnerability is what prepares us to be authentic and honest and communicative with one another. Vulnerability is the framework behind growth and development and self-awareness. Without vulnerability we remain stagnant. Vulnerability drives us out of our comfort zones and into our truest potential. Vulnerability doesn’t mean not caring what other people think, it is seeing the bigger picture beyond the temporary feelings of fear and anxiety. Vulnerability can be a worthwhile, calculated risk. If we never take the risk, we will certainly never get the reward.

As a Millennial myself, I totally get it. We’ve all been hurt one too many times and the wounds of our previous experiences with vulnerability still sting. We promise ourselves to be miserly with our vulnerability in order to protect our fragilie hearts. We never want to get hurt again. Yet, at some point we are going to have to humble ourselves just a bit, and go out and catch some damn feels and not expect anything in return. No 100% probability of texting back. No games. No favorably calculated circumstances. No tit for tat dating rules. No playing hard to get. No facade of nonchalance.

Maybe #livingyourbestlife does not have to always mean sipping sangria on a yacht in Spain, maybe it can also apply to scary moments of telling someone you care about how you really feel. Maybe it could even be a choice to text someone back immediately or call them instead of texting. Maybe vulnerability is not a plague to be avoided, but an opportunity to be embraced.

 

good luck,

Ellie xo

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