An Open Letter To Broken Hearts Everywhere

[Image credit: Bo Boswell]

When I was in the third grade, I got stung by a bee while taking a spelling test. He came out of nowhere – traveled up my 90’s acid-washed jeans, and bit me – and I screamed in unimaginable agony.

“What is it, Sheena?” Mrs. Inglis yelled to me from the other side of the room.
“I don’t know, Mrs. Inglis. But it hurts real bad.”

I was in the third grade when I first felt what heartbreak feels like, only I didn’t know it then.

Two years ago, a guy whom I loved deeply broke my heart. There were no warning signs that I should’ve stayed away; if there were, I was just a girl in love, too docile to notice, and too dumbfounded to care.

Even though what happened went down two years ago, the loss is like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It irrevocably changed me. Sometimes, I feel like I’m okay, and everything is okay, and everything will continue to be okay.

But other times, I feel a sort of endless pain, resulting from a darkness that takes over without my consent. It feels like emotional rape. And when this happens, everything else in life merely feels like a distraction from what’s really going on inside my wounded heart, rendering me unable to perceive what I’m doing at face-value; dating becomes futile. A wine tasting is a trip down memory lane. Kickboxing is just beating up a bag with my ex’s face painted on it. I carry he who broke my heart around with me everywhere I go. I feel him in every fiber of the parts of myself he took from me.

I find this piece to be more seasonable than those I’ve previously written. See, upon hearing the news of Kourtney and Scott, the epic tale of the woman who tried to change a man who can’t be changed, and Ben and Jen, a pair people everywhere thought would put the rest of Hollywood’s couples to shame, I fell apart at the little that had been holding me together ever since my own heartbreak experience. As a child of divorce, I genuinely empathize with those involved in the breakups, feeling each celebrity and celebrity kid’s pains as if they are my own.
And last night, somewhere in the middle of switching back-and-forth between E! and CNN, I began to cry. I’d like to believe I was crying for those everywhere who have been in love;
for the heartbroken, who may never have the courage to recover from the hits they’ve taken, and who have no choice but to remain brave in the face of adversity;
for the heartbreakers, who may never understand the capacity of the absolute tragedy they’ve bestowed upon those who loved them most;
finally, for the couples who tried to make it work, but couldn’t, because forces bigger than them took hold of a probably incontinent situation that we try to nonetheless institutionalize.


One day, something good came of my loss: I was given a professional opportunity to have my voice heard by millions around the world. I started this blog because the pain, when I do feel it, is like that of a bee sting. It’s sudden, but overwhelming. Not too long after I began blogging, I was fortunate enough to quit my job for a paid venture that I initially only embarked on with the sole intention of curing the indubitable hole in my heart; the one that’s yet to be filled. That is, I write.

Sometimes, the darkness gets to be too much. Hell, before I began to pen this, I was curled up in a fetal position on my couch crying hysterically to some Enya-knock-off yoga music (hey, it brings out the feels). Sometimes it can, and it will, get to be too much for all of us. After all, there’s only so much the human heart can take.

Because sharing my pain with others has helped alleviate my own, I encourage you to do what makes you feel alive, and to do more of it. If you can’t sleep, do *that* thing. If you have to stay home on a Friday night to do it, in lieu of getting drinks with your friends because Friday is the only time you can fit that special *thing* into your schedule, then do that. Just stop, drop, and roll. And then, do *that.*

I may never fall in love again. That sounds like a naive declaration, but it could very well be true. And, in the event that I don’t fall in love again, I’ll be prepared, because there is something else I’ve found to half-replenish my soul; doing it doesn’t feel as good as being in love, but it comes as a close second. Equip yourself, and always keep your equipment close, for it’s okay to stay guarded. The one who’s meant to stay forever will have hands heavy enough to break through your walls.

And so, I write. What’s your weapon?


The Not-So-Exclusive Thing About Being Exclusive

[Image credit: Petras Gagilas]

On a typical day, I wake up, hop on the subway, write a couple of pieces, run a couple of errands, potentially head to a social engagement, then go home. In that time, I can’t help but notice all the couples, both seemingly happy and seemingly unhappy: the ones kissing on the sidewalk, the ones holding hands and laughing, the ones in which one partner looks unequivocally more invested than the other because the girlfriend is picking out a Ben & Jerry’s flavor in a deli while talking about which movie she wants to cuddle to later while the boyfriend (indiscreetly) checks out the ass on the aspiring model in tight spandex standing two feet behind him.

As the end of this past Spring turned into the beginning of Summer, I met a guy at one of New York’s male-heavy bars. It – that is, the nameless thing that began to brew between us – started out as casual, and I had intended for it to stay that way. See, I’d just been offered a dream job, set to start in July, and I wanted to celebrate this new chapter of my life by remaining tied down to nothing and no one. The problem is, the moment in which we’re least looking for something (or someone) is usually the moment in which we find ourselves pleasantly surprised by our new-found convictions.

The more I hung out with this guy, the more I realized how much I actually enjoyed his company; when I’m not with him, I miss him, the way I miss chocolate when I try to go low-carb for a week (AKA I miss him a lot). I haven’t felt that feeling in a while. Not soon after coming to the aforementioned realization, I came to yet another one: I wanted exclusivity. For the first time in nearly years, I felt comfortably prepared to see one person, and only one person. And that person was him.

So this is where I find myself. Lately, I’ve been lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling, mulling over what to do next. I don’t know what to do, but I do know I have to proceed cautiously. The thing is, I’ve never proposed exclusivity before, and the thought of doing it makes my heart race, because modern dating confuses the absolute sh*t outta me.

What is it about being exclusive that makes us jump in either unabashed excitement or fear? Why are people so apprehensive when being asked to commit? Why are people – er, like myself – afraid to even ask someone to commit? When the f*ck did it become “cool” to trivialize feelings that are practically pouring out of us and screaming to be coddled?

Like any true adult hoping to find concrete answers, I googled “how to ask to be…”. “How to ask to be exclusive” is the third most popular search, following “how to ask to be a reference,” and “how to ask to be laid off” (um, wtf?)

I also read multiple viewpoints on this topic: the “scientific research” of one of those so-called love-ologists in a Huff Post piece, some dude’s ramblings on BroBible, and a clearly misinformed chick’s claims on AllWomenStalk (do NOT take dating advice from the women who write on there. Those are the women who show up unannounced at their exes’ doorsteps with gift baskets).

What’s interesting is this: women say “Go for it! Be honest about your feelings! Girl power!” But the general consensus amongst men is that the dude should man up and ask a woman to be his girlfriend. Between third-wave feminism and the unimpressive progression of chivalry – women armoring themselves in attempts to come off as though we don’t need men, and men replacing dinner and a show with drinks and Netflix – I don’t know what on God’s green earth I’m expected to do here.

The one thing I do find solace in is that my research has concluded that, apparently, I’m not the only one left in the dark about how one makes his or her way from being completely casual to completely exclusive.

Like that ass-staring guy in the deli, I’ve got one foot out the door and the other one still inside; though I know looking isn’t the same as touching, my thoughts can’t help but to cement themselves in what happens to young couples once the novelty in a relationship wears off. Striving for exclusivity in New York is like that scene in Aladdin: the one where Abu steals the gem in The Cave of Wonders while Aladdin tries to keep his eyes on the lamp, and only the lamp. Abu is the devil on my shoulder, too curious for his own good – greedily always wanting more – and he’s got his peripherals to thank for that.

I’m fearful of what bigger, better, shinier thing may come his or my way if he and I become exclusive. Maybe I only want him because I don’t yet fully have him. Maybe he only likes me as much as he does because he doesn’t fully have me. Maybe, we’ll always simply want that which we don’t have.


What Defines A “Soulmate?”

[Image credit: Brett Davis]

It was a Sunday morning in Manhattan. I awoke to clings and clangs of pots and pans, and they were only just audible enough to drown out the sounds of summer filtering up and in through the windows. An aroma of fried food wafted over from the kitchen. I was intrigued. And then, he came into the bedroom with a fresh-squeezed glass of juice:

“Here you go, love. You just relax.”
“Uh, I most certainly will.”

I picked up The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway from his window ledge and began to read, drifting off somewhere in the middle of ‘The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.’ This time, it wasn’t a noise that awoke me, but a smell: that of a proper English breakfast. Bacon and eggs and coffee and hash browns and jam. Blueberry jam. (How did he know my favorite flavor?)

I couldn’t believe it. The last time someone had brought me breakfast in bed was three years ago. I was sick as a dog, and that person was my mother (hey, Mom!)

When I left his apartment later that humid and hazy day, I got to thinking about soulmates. What defines a soulmate? Do we get more than one in a lifetime? How do we know when to stop our soulmate search? Is it foolish to even hold out for one to begin with? Does someone whom you’ve been seeing for a hot minute treating you well, on its own, make him worthy of being your soulmate — or does that just make him a good person?

24 is a weird age; upon striking up conversation with 35-year-old strangers at bars, your wisdom is playfully dismissed and you’re called a “baby,” but then you go home and check out your Instagram feed, and some 26-year-old chick has just uploaded a clip of her engagement story – y’know, the one that was featured in last month’s issue of Stone Fox Bride magazine. And then, that biological clock that you’ve impressively managed to mute suddenly becomes annoyingly loud. And you’re sitting there with a bottomless glass of red wine, doing a line (of Oreos), all like, “Yo, engaged chick, I’m really happy for you and Ima let you finish, but I don’t give a flying fck about your smooth-sailing love life and — oh sht. I got crumbs in my bed. Egyptian cotton my ass. I don’t deserve nice things.”

^^ (totally hypothetical situation) ^^

Anyway, soulmate. To many, “soulmate” means to stand the test of time. But I can’t attest to the validity of my feelings for any current romantic prospects; I could simply be imposing the title of ‘Potential Soulmate’ onto them because many of my girlfriends have boyfriends. In psychology, the term “mob mentality” “describes how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors, follow trends, and/or purchase items.” Mob mentality is what leaves you lonely when you’re usually not susceptible to such a feeling. Mob mentality is what left me hungry for more English breakfast as I left his apartment too full to speak.

So again, I ask, what makes someone a soulmate? Are the qualities he has even relevant, or is it all about timing? (Insofar as the time in our lives to settle down, or to start a family – or the time in our lives in which we’re loneliest – deems the next guy we see deserving of the title). I think of how I’d feel about Breakfast Lover if I had met him at 27. I think of how I’d feel about him if I had met him at 22. I think of how I’d feel about him if I didn’t like breakfast.

I may be foolish for having stayed single as long as I have in the hope of finding my soulmate; in my scripted ending, the joke’s on everyone else, and all the bad dates and lost causes and false hopes will have opened the doors to someone who pleasantly surprises me.

But maybe, what defines a soulmate is your choice to stay with him. Maybe your soulmate is the man you’ve hand-picked, the man in whom you’ve instilled the faith that he’ll continue to make you laugh, and send chills up and down your spine, and make you breakfast in bed just when you think he forgot what it means to be a man. We wait for our soulmates like we wait for a good sample sale. Well, maybe the joke’s on me, and I’ve got it all wrong, and he isn’t meant to pick us, but we’re meant to pick him.

I wonder if connections we make in the present – those random, remarkable ones that flip our jaded expectations upside-down on their heads – can stand the test of time; of decades, of quarter-centuries.

I wonder if there’s any way of ever knowing if a connection will stand the test of time.

There isn’t.


The Real Reason You’re Sad About Being Single

[Image credit: Bailey Weaver]

I never grow tired of a good meme. Cat memes be my sh*t, yo. But there’s one type of meme that I have grown tired of, and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. Exhibit A:


Hardy har har. The single-shaming meme. People, you’re probably not as sad about being on your own as you think you are; you can thank the media for further fueling why you’re unequivocally sad about being single. But it ain’t just memes that glorify romantic relationships — it’s magazines. And movies. And songs on the radio. My Twitter feed is inundated on a daily basis with headlines like: “6 Tips in Bed to Drive Your Man Wild,” and “Ian and Nikki’s PDA-filled Vacation,” and pictures of sickeningly happy couples working out together, captioned “#relationshipgoals.”

What media moguls fail to realize, though, is that they’re incredibly insensitive and biased. You see, the middle-aged, wedding ring-less guy on the subway reads about the tips in bed, then cries himself to sleep because he hasn’t gotten laid in a year. My over-30 year-old single girlfriend would rather eat her own foot than see Ian Somerhalder and Nikki Reed’s PDA, ‘cuz she can’t even remember the last time a guy kissed her on the street. And the seemingly mindless endeavor of hashtagging “relationship goals” has led me, on more than one occasion, to eat an entire box of black-and-white cookies while watching Mad Men on a Friday night in my pathetic, crumb-filled bed (yeah, that wasn’t easy for me to admit).

My question is: where are the click-baity headlines intended to comfort singles? In fact, doesn’t the only way we ever read about singledom lie in sensationalism of the newest iPhone dating app? We all need somebody to lean on, and when that somebody doesn’t present himself, it’s nice to have something to lean on. The lack of armchairs for singles is what instigated this blog in the first place; I wanted to remind people they aren’t alone.

The thing is, annoyingly loud societal dogmas take an ancient idea and apply it to a world that’s changing faster than most can process; in Layman’s terms, the rules we feel bound to haven’t evolved as quickly as the act of romantic courtship has. The ending result? Many of us feel coerced into coupledom, when we either can find it and don’t want it, or want it but can’t find it.

For the most part, I’m not sad about being single. Life is beautiful in that webs of meaningful connections can be weaved amongst siblings and good friends, amongst pets and parents. And if you let these webs fill you up in all the right ways, you won’t feel ashamed about being single. Still, I hate to break to you that we singles won’t stop feeling bullied until – and only until – the media ceases to measure a woman’s worth in terms of which man is taking her out to dinner on a given night. If and when a cessation will happen is beyond me, which means we’ve just gotta get better at regarding single-shaming as white noise.

I’ll tell you a little story. Over Memorial Day weekend, I took a trip down South to visit my sister. We engaged in a heated debate over which Netflix movie to watch, and said debate consisted of two contenders: the first, Silver Linings Playbook, a romantic drama in which Bradley Cooper and JLaw fall in love with each other (spoiler alert). The second, Still Alice, a Julianne Moore film (I highly recommend!) about a wife and mother who gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. We went with the latter; I figured it’d be more true to life.

On my flight over to Texas, I effortlessly lifted my carry-on suitcase into the overhead compartment all by myself, sans man (I attribute my newfound arm strength to kettle bell workouts). I looked around at my fellow plane passengers, and their blatantly impressed expressions said it all: Huh. I underestimated that skinny loner girl. I felt like a BAMF.

But on my way home, something changed, and I can’t quite put my finger on why. I threw my suitcase up again – only this time, I felt worn out. For the first time, I felt like I wanted a helping hand. Maybe it was the Hot Couple Alert blurb in the tabloid I had just read, or the slew of women in the rows ahead of me whose boyfriends and husbands man-handled their luggage for them. Maybe it was the guy sitting next to me sending texts to “Baby” from his phone. I don’t know what it was, but I spent every second of putting up that suitcase feeling the loneliest I’ve ever felt (what is it about airports that makes me feel so damn lonely?)

I sat down, and my self-pity was eventually replaced by a snooze. Then, thump. We had landed. I turned on my phone. There were no texts from a special someone, just alerts from the usual suspects. My girlfriends. My mother. A couple of awesomely loyal Twitter followers.

A half-smile made its way across my face. I looked out the window, at those big, bold letters: I ❤ NY.


In Lieu Of Labels: Why No Strings Attached Doesn’t Mean No Self-Respect

[Image credit: Kristin Schmit]

“Has she ever had a boyfriend?”
My brother-in-law and I had been discussing the love life of my 20-something year-old cousin.
“No.” I knew what he was going to say next.
“And you’re sure she’s not a lesbian?” he scoffed.
I sighed. “Just because she’s never had a boyfriend doesn’t mean she’s a lesbian!”

Somewhere along the way, people began to equate a life void of serious relationships with being a lesbian. You see, my cousin is not a lesbian (disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing against lesbians), but the judgment imposed on her was misguided. My guess is she’s casually gallivanting with a bunch of ambivalent guys in a mutually impartial way, no strings attached, in an area of grey.

To linger in the grey area is to be wined (happy hour-wined), dined (finger food-dined), then bedded by (but not wedded to) a guy you’re just…hanging around with, for lack of better terms. My years in New York have been filled with encounters of the like – they come into my life as swiftly as they leave – and I end up asking myself, are we dating? This doesn’t feel like dating. But it’s not just after-hours fun, either. So…what the hell is this?

The amalgamation of the modern woman’s stamina (read: independence coupled with justified apprehension to commit to men) with what I like to call “new-age chivalry” (read: the man’s general laziness, sense of entitlement and indecisiveness) is a middle-ground between hooking up and formally dating. And this middle-grey-ground, whatever the hell it is, is kinda like renting a car: you reap most of the benefits, spending lots of time with it, getting comfortable with it, taking it around places. Except it’s never signed/sealed/delivered, because it – he – is never really yours.

The stigma associated with women who “rent” men in the same way that men “rent” women is ubiquitous:
She’s a whore.
She’s a lesbian.
She doesn’t have any respect for herself.

But these statements couldn’t be any more fallacious. In fact, many of my friends who choose to linger in the grey, in lieu of labeling, have heaps of respect for themselves. One’s an engineer-in-the-making whose brains intimidate most men she meets. One’s a nurse who can’t date because she works night shifts and sleeps during the day. And one’s just me, dilly-dallying, because she hasn’t been lucky enough yet to have found the real deal.

(Interestingly enough, a recent study shows that the motivations of women aren’t a far cry from those of men: “Turns out, when you remove societal judgement and safety risks, women are just as DTF as men are.”)

So why are we still calling everyone sluts and skanks and tramps and manwhores? No strings attached has seemingly become the new norm, and it doesn’t mean my cousin harbors any less self-respect than the coupled-up chick in the corner. Sure, my cousin hasn’t met The One yet, but is anyone really in a position to judge the actions of someone whose soulmate is on the last train out of Penn?

Problems in the grey area arise only when one side of the seesaw is on the ground, and the other side is five feet in the air; an emotional imbalance is a ticking time bomb. And if an imbalance occurs, then you’re no longer on the same page with someone, signifying it’s time to abort mission. The only ones who don’t have self-respect are the ones who stick around after the imbalance has presented itself. The ones who try to change the minds of their half-assed lovers. I know, because I used to be one of them.

Unfortunately, an imbalance will sometimes, but not always, happen; one will fall into unrequited love with the other. It’s usually just a matter of time.

But until the imbalance occurs, there’s nothing wrong with using someone, as long as he’s only using you back. Maybe you enjoy being alone. Maybe your heart is afraid to love because it was shattered. Maybe you don’t want a relationship’s responsibility of having to be there for someone else. Whatever it may be, never, ever, ever apologize for lacking a label.

Rent a car. Floor it. Drive around in it. Get a real feel for it. Observe what you like, and observe what you don’t like. Show it off to your friends, then take it home and keep it overnight. And once the leather eventually wears, let it go; cheap leather isn’t meant to last to begin with. But you knew that all along, didn’t you?

Soon enough, it’ll be time to rent a new one.


How To Shut Society Up And Embrace Being Single

[Image credit: Lotus Carroll]

Scallop pancakes and mussel pots. A beautiful, boasting bibimbap. Chicken skewers dripping in a honey glaze sweet enough to turn the sourest cynic into a believer.
A few days ago, one of New York City’s many noteworthy restaurants made for me one of the most decadent meals I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I was contented. Rapturous. Satiated. And in the midst of my dreamlike, unquenchable state, I was interrupted–
“…but aren’t you bored? I mean, if I didn’t have a boyfriend or a cat, I sure would be.”

I dropped my chopsticks. I had lost my appetite.

In recent decades, the term spinster has denoted a lonely, unhappy woman. Spinsterism tells us if we’re not coupled up, then we should, by default, have cats (just look at Taylor Swift, pre-Calvin, and what will most probably inevitably end up being Taylor Swift, post-Calvin). I’m sure my friend didn’t intend for her comment to be offensive or judgmental in nature, but I fidgeted in my chair, then met her gaze with sly reproach. I had not men on the brain, but only food in the mouth.

This generation birthed the New Woman. The Old Woman has been reincarnated into a fierce, career-driven force akin to Beyonce’s ‘single lady,’ and she isn’t being chastised for her ambition the way she was a century ago. But I’d be lying if I said society isn’t unsettled by the New Woman’s willful independence; even today, society dictates we aren’t anyone until we’re with someone. Just ask my coworker:
“You’re still just someone’s daughter until you’ve got your own family.”

Or my mother:
On a recent trip home, I was greeted with nearly floor-to-ceiling-length wedding photos of my sister and her husband.
“Where are the pictures of me?” I asked.
“You’ll get back up there,” my mother said.
“When you get married, too.”
“What if I never get married?”

It’s a sad truth, but what’s undeniable is, well, single people are bullied. So how do you make the most out of being single, so that singledom doesn’t merely feel like biding time until The One?

Pour the love you’re capable of giving into those who deserve to be loved.
I used to drown in self-pity, saying to myself, “I wish I had someone to love ‘cuz I’ve got so much love to give.” I learned instead of storing love, leaving it dormant and deeming it only worth awakening once I’ve met The One, I should pour love into family and friends. The ones who’ve been there all along are the ones who deserve it. And one day, maybe someone who hasn’t been there all along will deserve it, too.
Do what’s cathartic for you.
We churn out the best product when we aren’t enveloped in the hazy afterglow of being in love. Instead of spending frazzled energy on why X hasn’t called me back in Y days for Z number of reasons, I channel a much more concentrated energy on doing things I know I’m good at it, and that which makes me feel alive.

As author Kate Bolick points out:
“[Jane] Austen never married, [Edith] Wharton didn’t fully come into her own as a writer until she’d divorced her husband, and Mary Eleanor Wilkins – a wildly successful fiction writer…did in fact produce her best work before she married at age fifty.”
(I said it before, and I’ll say it again: keep doing you. You don’t want to meet The One, and both subsequently and inadvertently stunt your maximum potential because you fell too soon).

They reason my life must be boring. I haven’t found my soulmate, so I must have cats to get by.
But they’re wrong; I do have a soulmate. Infact, I’ve got many soulmates: during the day, they’re cherry blossoms. At night, it’s Jhumpa Lahiri. And for all those moments in between, I’ve got myself.

I may never find The One, but come Hell or high water, I will have left behind a life well-lived. I may be buried next to someone, or I may not be buried next to anyone at all. But should the latter occur, I’ll be sure my gravestone says something like, “Here lies Sheena: she led a long and fruitful life. She loved fully, and laughed truly, and lived courageously. And though she was alone, she was never lonely.”

Prove them wrong. Your soulmate is you.


Young Monogamy Has Pitfalls: Stay Single In Your 20’s

[Image credit: Daniel Zedda]

I used to tell myself it’s okay to be single in my twenties. But the thing is, I never really believed that; this flimsy, self-assuring process of mine was just a lame way to fill a void that loneliness couldn’t. I’d watch my best friends get wined and dined, then go on vacations with their boyfriends. I’d cringe with envy. For the first time, though, I’m beginning not only to understand, but also to accept the weight of my incantation.

Monogamy is a beautiful thing – when you’re with the right person. But is there such a thing as being too young to be monogamous?

“Young monogamy:” the terminology is almost paradoxical. Are we really supposed to be able to choose a partner intended to sustain decades when we still don’t know how to mow a lawn? Cook a proper, three-course meal? Do our taxes? (I dunno about you, but I get a short Indian man to do my taxes for me. Thanks, Ashok).

Young monogamy can breed careless prioritization. I witnessed a good friend of mine follow her boyfriend across the country because his job depended on it. They ended up breaking up not too long after that, and she realized she had only further stalled her professional dreams in the name of love – or a version of it, anyway.

“Don’t be with someone until you’ve figured yourself out,” she said to me over the phone, through bouts of tears.
“But do we ever have ourselves fully ‘figured out’?” I fired back, both smug and confused.

Though the entire course of our lives is an ongoing self-discovery process, there’s something to be noted: the period between 18-30 is the period during which we change the most. Maturation occurs at an exponential rate up until 30, and after 30, it becomes more linear. Whom you want at 24 might not be whom you’ll want at 29; those qualities you hold in reverence at 23 are not what you’d extol in a partner at 28.

And people, let’s just say, thank god I didn’t follow the advice of 21-year-old Sheena. If I had, I’d still be chasing around blond-haired, blue-eyed bad boys who charm with British accents and carry around guitars. Now, I’m only chasing around blond-haired, blue-eyed bad boys – hold the foreign accent and guitar. See how much I’ve matured already? (Wink, wink).

Kanye said: “Love is cursed by monogamy.” Eh, young love, anyway. The truth is, my skepticism of monogamy as a 20-something has created an altogether aversion to it, for the following reasons: I don’t want to be a 20-something with another 20-something who has a wandering eye because he’s youthfully curious, or whose life ambitions aren’t yet figured out, or who may think he might just pick up and move one day because his calling is in another country.

We have our entire lives to indulge in stability and comfort. In security and familiarity. We have our entire lives to come home to the same person every day; to have sex with the same person until we’re too tired to create bodily friction. Youth is beautiful, and the beauty lies in the restlessness: whether it be a panging to see the unseen nooks and crannies of the world, or a primal desire to bed the beautiful woman speaking Thai in your ear on a night out in Manhattan’s SoHo District.

Most people will say I just haven’t met the right person yet. They’re half-right. Sometimes, you meet the right person at the wrong time. I want monogamy, but changes are always on the horizon in the life of a 20-something. You can’t change the pace of change.

When I meet my man, I want him to have lived fast; it’s the art of having lived a well-traveled youth that makes a man. I want him here, with me, fully present. Because if he isn’t giving me his all, he isn’t giving me anything.


How Do You Know If You’re “Ready” For A Relationship?

[Image credit: kylesteed]

A man grabs his lady-love on the subway and pulls her in close. Sounds of a giddy lilt overwhelm their conversation with every ringlet of hair he curls around his finger. He looks at her as if he’s going to kiss her, but he refrains; still, the tension lingers in the air like impending rain.

As a young adult, my peripherals proved themselves impervious to public displays of affection, but as I grew older and stayed singler, I began to process them more and more. In the beginning, I found them to be sweet. But now, bitterness takes hold of me; I find myself wondering, can’t they wait until they get home? Why does their love weigh on me like the mass of a thousand bricks? Why is what they’re doing seem like an imposition? Um, why do I even care what they’re doing?

My disposition in icky-gooey-lovey-dovey situations is that of indignation, and I’ve come to the following unfortunate realization: I’m jealous.

The man crazy-in-love twirling hair around his fingers is all I’ve ever wanted. Hell, it’s all any of us has ever wanted. But is the act of wanting something so badly, in itself, enough to make one fit for the desired role? Does the striving of an actor for a part make him a good actor, or is he just persistently desperate? Does my longing for a relationship solely make me relationship material?

Or, is it just the opposite? Is relentless longing for a boyfriend just a stand-in for a void that can’t be filled with a relationship? It’s here I find myself running in circles. Each Tinder swipe is a mini existential crisis: a questionably attempted distraction from something perhaps I am missing in myself. With each failed date acting as a puzzle piece almost, but not quite, enough to complete the puzzle, I wonder if I’m looking for something for which I am not yet ready. If only there were a litmus test for deciphering what “ready” really means.

There are days soul-crushing loneliness plagues me. When it takes over, it doesn’t leave room for much else, and being alone becomes palpable; on these days, when I wake, I acknowledge my singledom even before the eye-crust and the bad breath. On these days, my loneliness is the last thing I dwell on before sleep finally comes to steal me.

But then, there are days when the logistics of love are realized. I think about how I’m selfish because I prefer shopping alone rather than with someone in order to save time. How I fail to tolerate sharing a bed because I kick and dream and wake and fall back asleep. How I’m unsure of which city will be my home by the end of this summer season. How, maybe, there is such a thing as being too young, or too lacking in wisdom, for monogamy. How, in short, I am not ready to be in a relationship.

We all want to love and be loved. But if history is any indication, sometimes, love just isn’t enough. The greatest love I’ve ever experienced was short and sweet, and ended just footsteps from where it began; despite how much we grew into each other, we were too consumed with other faculties to make a structured partnership thrive. Actions speak louder than thoughts, and though I want nothing more than to be swept away by a force larger-than-life, I’ve learned there are one too many technicalities to consider upon consideration of taking on the needs of somebody else.

One day, I will be ready. When selflessness outweighs obstinacy, when meeting somebody is not an act of conscious volition, but one of circumstance, when fate joins hands with preparedness – that is, the prepared, best version of myself – I will be ready.


The Definitively Hardest Roles Every Single Person Plays

[Image credit: astrangegirl]

We’re all well aware of the roles every single girl plays. There are those as plain as day: the lone diner. The lone grocery shopper. The lone…ok, she’s basically really good at being alone.

But then there are the tidbits of the roles she plays that people don’t talk about. Like having to amp up her creativity, and considering total and complete abstinence from alcohol. And anything and everything involved with that three-letter word she can’t say in front of her dad but which is so omnipresent in daily life.

What I wish someone would’ve told me earlier is that the difficulties of singledom are all physically taxing. Things I shoulda done push-ups for. Behold the roles the single girl performs:

Outside-The-Box Thinker
The single girl is always on the prowl, and after a while, she realizes she needs to be more creative than her coupled-up friends. Sure, she can date online, which I’ve personally grown tired of because a bad online date is really just a bad job interview in disguise (see earlier post). So, she’s gotta get good at nailing the in-person snag-and-grab.

Many times, when women approach men without a specific reason, they end up scaring them off or seeming too desperate (AAHH! Needy woman! Sound the alarm!) Single girls have to find a solid conversation starter; use idiosyncrasies to their advantage. This Easter weekend, my friend was gracious enough to lend me a pair of bunny ears, and in the name of festivity and singledom, I wore them out to the bar. Several cute men approached me – many more than usual – with nuanced versions of “you’re a cute bunny,” to which I replied an opaquely air-headed “hehehe, thanks.” I copped a phone number and hopped away.

Energy I could spend working out or kickin’ it with family is instead channeled towards weaving the next guy web, and boy, does it get exhausting. One day, I assure you, ima run out of animal ears.

The single girl doesn’t have a boyfriend. She has a bottle. Singles tend to drink shamelessly because if we find ourselves too sober and concurrently in the company of couples galore, we reflect on just how unlovable we really are and cry our overpriced mascara off. We can’t afford to do the latter; we’re already broke on account of having to pay for fancy dinners ourselves. Enter: the bottle.

With the inhalation of one too many whiskey-gingers comes the inevitable loss of something valuable. This infamous Easter weekend, I drunkenly flung a silver ring I’ve been wearing since I was 13 onto the obscure black hole that is the floor of a taxi cab. There I was: sloppy, single, heirloom-less. I sighed, let the Bangladeshi taxi driver console me with kind words, and leveraged my sadness to indulge in a bottle of wine from the male friend I – er, my bunny ears – had made.

A Soul Without A Body
The Veronicas said it best: “I feel so untouched…”. This hallmark of singledom is quite possibly swept under the rug the most: sex, or lack thereof. Perpetual singles, I know, and I’m sorry. To answer your question, no, it’s not normal to go interminably long without being touched, hugged, held in a special way. Part of being human is to connect on a deep physical level vis-à-vis other humans with whom we’ve become emotionally entangled, and if such connection disappears from our lives in the form of complete omission, we become but one half of ourselves. Souls without bodies. We have three options: we can either

a) wait until the next relationship to engage physically – all the while leading long stretches of dry, sexless life – and become aggrieved shells of our former selves
b) cowabunga with a new guy each time the urge calls (hey, why not? you’re only young and beautiful once)
c) have meaningless sex with a f*ck buddy (at least this one’s environmentally sound? ie. reusing and recycling)

Unfortunately, all of these options are less than ideal. The truth is, there ain’t nothin’ like sex when you’re in love, so we just have to hum along ’till the really good stuff.

Ok, it’s tough as hell for a single girl. But despite the sucky roles we’ve mastered, there’s also freedom. And adventure. And stories and transformation and beauty in the muck.

You know the best part of the worst parts of being single? They test the bounds of the human spirit. It takes a true fighter to endure the emotional strength a single girl must sometimes endure. And though she may not be indubitably reminded of it, her strength is tunneling a path not only to the guy of her dreams, but to the woman she was destined to become.


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