sakura tree

How To Be Emotionally Available

Most relationship bloggers I come across always write about “How To Deal with an Emotionally Unavailable Man”. Today, I want to switch the perspective to focus on you. Because if you’re attracting emotionally unavailable partners, the bigger root of the issue is that you’re most likely not emotionally available either. You attract partners who match your energy & vibe. Don’t immediately blame your partner for their emotional unavailability. Take a close look at yourself in the mirror, & realize that your heart isn’t healed, open to new love, or ready for an unconditionally loving relationship either. It’s time to learn how to be emotionally available!

Choosing Emotionally Unavailable Partners

I have a long history of choosing emotionally unavailable partners. I proactively stayed single until I was 18 years old. As a college-bound nerd, I didn’t even want to think about actually having a boyfriend in school. I didn’t date anyone until after securing my 3.8 GPA & getting my early acceptance into the University of California system. But waiting until I was 18, didn’t actually help me much in the dating department. Instead, I was too young & unsure of who I was or what I even wanted in a boyfriend.

Over time, I learned that having a crush isn’t a good reason to get into a relationship. In fact, it’s during the early stages of infatuation that you need to stay the most alert. Always stay rational to ensure you’re not just getting swept up by your hormones.

To be emotionally available, you need to be just that. You have to let yourself feel your emotions but not let them cloud your judgment. Allow your partner to move through their emotions, empathize with how they feel, & reassure them that their feelings are valid. This is also emotional intelligence. When you’re emotionally intelligent, you open your heart to love & allow others to open their heart to you without fear.

Be Yourself

No matter how terrifying it is to be intimate & vulnerable, be yourself. If you’re putting up a facade to keep someone interested, you’re asking for trouble. Let’s consider my favorite Disney movie, Aladdin. Princess Jasmine developed feelings for him as a poor, thieving, street rat, but Aladdin refuses to listen to Genie’s encouragement to be himself. Instead, he creates an elaborate scheme to make Jasmine believe his lies as Prince Ali Ababwa. By being himself & telling the truth, he would have prevented so much unnecessary conflict. No matter how long & hard you try to pretend to be someone you’re not, your mask will eventually fall off. Let your partner see your true colors.

In my worst relationships, I would betray myself out of desperation & not wanting to be alone. I changed my appearance, my diet, my hobbies, & my lifestyle to become whomever my partner wanted me to be. Instead of staying true to myself, I dyed my hair blonde, straightened my hair, got expensive blowouts, wore tons of makeup, got eyelash extensions, & ate Paleo. I also learned how to breakdance, pop & lock, do Tae Kwon Do, & rock climb to “convince” my partners to fall deeply in love with me.

In my best relationship, he loved the natural texture of my hair, so I embraced my natural curls. Wearing makeup 24/7 to cover up my birthmark or freckles was unnecessary because he already saw me without makeup the weekend that we met. He made me feel irresistible & sexy while wearing basketball shorts or sweats. No guilt-tripping me into staying home with him instead. He was genuinely happy for me when I’d go to brunch, wine tastings, basketball games, concerts, or stand-up comedy shows with my friends & siblings. He encouraged my healthy habits of regularly attending RUMBLE boxing & SoulCycle classes. I could enjoy what I love to do & look however I wanted & still feel beautiful & perfect to him.

Love Unconditionally

Lastly, learn to love your partner unconditionally. If you’ve never been truly emotionally available, you’re setting yourself up to be loved by partners who put up a facade. They keep their options open, just in case, & keep secrets, & to control the relationship & you at all costs. Being emotionally available is taking a true leap of faith to allow another individual to love & see the real you. Open your heart to someone who wants to fall in love with all of your darkness & ugly sides, just as much as your beautiful ones. Even in your ugliest moments, trust that your partner will empathize & stay because being truly emotional available starts with you.

XO Denise

i hate nothing about you with red heart light

Love is All You Need

The song Love Is All You Need by The Beatles has helped me get through the darkest times of my life. It’s a timeless classic that I play in my head or sing to my pug, Pogi, when we cuddle. If you’ve never heard it or don’t like this song, I want to invite you to really listen to the lyrics. This song is NOT saying that all you need is “romantic” love the way other songs preach. In life, all you need is love… for yourself, for others, & for the world.

Manifest & Pray with Love

Every morning & every evening, I pray & ask God to bless everyone in the world. In the past, my prayers were only wishes for myself, my family, my friends, & our pets. While manifesting teaches us to focus on what YOU want to manifest into your life, I feel the most fulfilled when my prayers & manifestations come from a place of unconditional love for the highest good of everyone in the world.

Changing my lacking mindset into immense gratitude has changed the way I see the world & my place in it. While I still manifest for myself, I’m more fulfilled when I pray for abundance, healing, good health, & peace for everyone.

Here’s my general prayer checklist:

  • Please bless everyone in the world & help ensure that we are all happy & healthy.
  • For anyone without food or shelter, please grant those who come across them with compassion, generosity, & kindness.
  • Anyone who is suffering from old age or illness, please grant them with the divine grace of healing.
  • For anyone who it is their time to pass, grant healing to their loved ones who are suffering from loss.
  • Please bless all of my enemies & all the enemies of others around the world.
  • For anyone who is sending out hate & darkness, please transmute that energy into love & light. Then send it back to them. May they heal their hearts & minds, become the best possible version of themselves, & find peace in their own life.

Spread Love & Peace

Love is All You Need is about filling your life with love & peace. It was released during the Summer of Love in 1967. If you’re not familiar, it was a social phenomenon that brought together nearly 100,000 hippies, originating in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury. It spread up & down the West Coast & across the United States to New York City. With our nation being as divided as ever, I hope to remind us all to learn from our past.

Why restrict love & peace to a single Summer? There was the Second Summer of Love, & San Francisco celebrated the 40th & 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love. But still, try to always be a beacon of unconditional love & proactively choose to spread peace to everyone.

In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Don’t let any differences of opinion cloud your judgment. Don’t start unnecessary arguments, physical fights, or even war. People who are cruel are often suffering beneath the surface because only hurt people choose to hurt people. Instead of acting out of revenge or spite, try to always choose to bless your enemies. Learn from your hate, because we all deserve to live with love in our hearts & minds in peace & harmony.

XO Denise

ancient ornamental wall in temple hall

Your Body is a Temple

Since February, I’ve been slowly decreasing my iPhone, iPad, & MacBook screen time. With my favorite TV show being Black Mirror & after watching The Social Dilemma, I had an epiphany when Lent began. I changed the settings on my iPhone to automatically lock me out of my apps at 10 pm. I now have about two solid hours away from screens before bed. Instead of scrolling, I read a book or write in a notebook or my journal before bedtime. I recently finished reading PS. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. This quote has really stuck with me: “My body is a temple not just any boy gets to worship at. I won’t do any more than I want to do.”

Virginity is Sacred

My mom stayed a virgin until she married my dad. Because of my mother, I thought that I’d wait until I got married too. My mom also got married at 28. It seemed too old, so I thought I’d be married & having sex with my husband by 25. In reality, I was too preoccupied with cheerleading, dance, & getting good grades in school to want to date anyone seriously. I didn’t get my 1st boyfriend until I was 18, after being accepted to the inaugural class at the University of California – Merced.

Even though my 1st two boyfriends pressured me to “give it up”, I did proudly remain a virgin until I was 21. But I will also finally admit that I embarrassingly lost my virginity out of spite & revenge in the end. I dated my second boyfriend for two years. Despite talking about marriage, in the last three months of our relationship, I was no longer worth the wait. He found & started sleeping with my replacement as soon as he broke up with me.

Societal Pressure

Young, heartbroken, & naive… I stopped trusting my own judgment & the morals I lived by. I was influenced by my friends who thought I was crazy for still being a virgin. After enough peer pressure, I decided to sleep with the next guy that gave me attention. While I waited for three dates to lose my virginity, I immediately knew in my heart that I had made a huge mistake. The “three-date rule” was created to allow women to engage in sexual activity without being branded a slut. But looking back, my heart was still healing. I did not know this new boy well enough to be sleeping with him. I just wanted to feed my ego. If I proved I was still desirable, my ex was stupid for dropping me for the 1st girl willing to sleep with him.

It’s a common saying that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone new. But with my personal dating history, it is clearly false. While it’s acceptable to quickly jump back onto the dating apps, my most successful relationship was after giving myself time to heal my heart. I took time to reflect on my past mistakes & get to know my next partner, before being intimate with them.

Swipe Culture

All of the men I meet on dating apps are only single first dates so far. My friends still judge me & label me as a prude. I never kissed a stranger or had a one-night stand, but I have zero regrets about it. I am 34 years old & still single. I’m proud to say that I’ve never settled for love. I’m not lonely, & I haven’t gotten pregnant by someone I don’t see a real future with. If I wanted it, I could have a comfortable life as a trophy wife to a rich man with my own kids already. But I’m waiting for the right man because I intend to only have one husband. Divorce is not, nor will it ever be, an option for me because, to me, love is all or nothing.

Lesson Learned

Due to my very high standards, I went 10 years without openly calling anyone that I dated my boyfriend. When I finally met a man I saw true potential with, I still didn’t refer to him as my boyfriend until several months after we started dating. When we met, we actually spent an entire weekend together, getting to know each other as friends. He asked me out on our first official date about a month later. And ironically, we did sleep together on our first date. But the foundation we already created as friends made me have no regrets about it. I learned so much about him during our first date. And I oddly knew more about his character & who he was in less than a month than I did with any other man I’ve dated. That says a lot considering that my longest relationship was on & off for 6 years.

Here’s how I knew I was right to trust him with my body the night of our first date:

He asks for consent.

While he went in for the first kiss with full force, he still asked if what he was doing was ok. No one else I dated has ever asked me for consent before trying to be physically intimate with me.

He always makes me feel comfortable & safe.

The way he looks at me & my body always made me feel so beautiful & cherished. He always approaches me slowly, touches me carefully, & asks questions to make sure that I’m ok. Your partner should ask or tell you what they want to do before actually doing it.

He never pressures me into doing more than I wanted to do.

We never needed to “spice things up” in the bedroom. In the times he feels he’s pushing my intimate boundaries, he checks in with me afterward. He was always open to learning what I liked & disliked for the future. It’s the way I trust him so much that no matter how we want to explore in the bedroom, I know in my heart he always cares & protects me.

While relationships are usually more passionate in the beginning, I’m pleasantly surprised that our spark never fizzles out. In fact, this past summer, we reached a different level of physical intimacy. We could sip water when we got thirsty, stop to get a snack, crack jokes about things that happened earlier that day, laugh hysterically, bring up any off-topic conversations, & still never miss a beat. It was a different level of intimacy that I didn’t even know existed. And I’ve never achieved it with anyone else since.

He told me his secrets, allowed me to move through my emotions, & never tried to control my reactions.

While we dated, he told me a lot of his secrets. He even told me ones that had the potential to really upset me & give me an opportunity to walk away from him for good. While some may say I’m naive & stupid, I always respect honesty. I love the way he remorsefully reassures me that he’s ok with however I react & decide to do next.

Looking to the Future

I still have close friends & family that are encouraging me to date more to get over my ex & “get under” someone new. But I’m being deliberately thoughtful about dating. I am also currently celibate. I’m proud of myself for taking the past 6 months to heal my heart & love myself first. I am truly happier having taken sex off the table. I’m not rushing to get into another relationship. I’m taking my time to ensure that I really know & get good vibes from the men that I’m connecting with. I already get hundreds of dating app matches & DMs on my social media accounts each week. I’m worth so much more than cheesy pickup lines & corny compliments about my body, eyes, & smile.

I LOVE HARD. I give myself to my partner fully when I truly fall in love. That’s probably why the majority of my exes still lurk me on social media. Whenever I’m newly single, it’s not long before the boys from my past come out of the woodwork, hoping for another shot. Even if I’ve already deleted their phone numbers or unfollowed them on my personal social media accounts. But this time around, I’m trusting my instincts when it comes to love because I deserve only the best. Society claims that we should live without regrets. But if I could go back in time & stop myself from being intimate with the wrong people, I’d do it in a heartbeat. While I can’t get my virginity back, waiting to give myself to the right man is the next best thing. My body is & will always be sacred. It is a privilege to achieve any level of intimacy with me. Because not just anyone deserves to worship at my temple.

XO Denise

seashore

We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve

Last month on March 31st, I came across The Perks of Being a Wallflower on Netflix. As the last day for streaming, I felt compelled to watch it before it disappeared. I read the book back in the day, so I naturally also watched the movie when it came out in the theaters. Don’t worry – there are no spoilers today, but I recommend reading the book or watching the movie if you’re interested. One quote by the author, Stephen Chbosky, “We accept the love we think we deserve.” has always resonated with me. Reflecting on my previous relationships over the past few months has only confirmed that the partners I chose to stay with long-term have always acted as a mirror into my soul & how I felt about myself at that time in my life.

Love in My Teens & Twenties

In my teenage years & my early twenties, I always chose romantic partners who were attractive, but emotionally immature & self-centered. At the time, I had no idea what love entailed. All I needed in a relationship was someone who was just as attractive & popular as I was, obsessed with me, & willing to jump over every hurdle I placed in their way to earn my love & affection. My relationships were one-sided. In my eyes, I deserved someone who was attractive enough to help me climb higher within my social circles or career. I wanted someone to devote themselves to make me happy because I needed validation. I didn’t love myself, so I desperately wanted someone who was willing to always show me my worth by how much money they would spend on me & being willing to drop everything in their own life to cater to my every need.

Love in My Thirties

After nearly a decade of bad romantic decisions, in my early thirties, I finally date guys who are emotionally mature, hilarious, honest, trustworthy, & worthy of my time & attention. After my quarter-life crisis at 26, I finally got my $#!+ together & stayed single for a while, because I knew that I deserved better. I don’t date guys who are obsessed with me, because I no longer need the constant reassurance of their love. I only spend time with men who are well put together, have a great sense of humor, can carry an intelligent conversation, & have their own personal life goals. Now, I proactively choose to only date men that respect the boundaries I set for myself & appreciate my ambition, confidence, intelligence, & entrepreneurial mindset.

I’m happy to say that I know who I am & what I deserve. When a man no longer respects me, I walk away knowing that it’s not about me & my worth anymore. I no longer blame myself for a man’s betrayal & dishonesty, because that’s not a reflection on me. By choosing to hurt me, they’re actually betraying & lying to themself. You can love someone unconditionally, but always walk away when staying with them means sacrificing your self-respect.

Key Takeaways

Take the time to reflect on your past relationships & understand that whenever your romantic partners chose to betray your trust, cheat, flake on plans, lie, or sneak around behind your back, they were really doing it to themself. When your partner doesn’t feel worthy of you, they will show you who they are through their actions. If you’ve been nothing but kind & faithful to them, take their actions as a sign that they think they don’t deserve you. If you choose to stay despite mistreatment, you’re ultimately telling yourself that you “deserve” to be with a terrible person. I’m hoping to be the one who tries to teach you & anyone else who comes across my blog that you do deserve to be loved better.

No matter how long you’ve been with someone; you don’t deserve abuse, betrayal, or manipulation. Do not tolerate abuse & stay with someone because you “love” them. It’s not selfish to love yourself enough to walk away. Only you know who you are & what you truly deserve. Be willing to forgive their mistakes, but be strong enough to protect your heart & give it to someone who will cherish it.

You deserve someone who will be honest with you even when it’s hard. The right partner will love you & defend your honor even when you’re apart. You deserve someone who will reassure you that despite who wants them, they will always only want you. Don’t let anyone other than you dictate what you deserve. This is your life, & you deserve an amazing one surrounded by people with good intentions. So if “we accept the love we think we deserve?”, what do you deserve?

XO Denise

frozen wave against sunlight

Intimacy 101

What is your definition of intimacy?

In my mind, intimacy is a terrifying level of closeness. It may sound oxymoronic, but I’m not afraid to admit that intimacy in a romantic relationship is scary. While it’s natural to not have passionate chemistry with everyone, you will know when you meet the right person. Everyone wants love, but not everyone has the strength to let down their walls. That said, knowing & embracing intimacy is the only way to surrender. Learn to be vulnerable in order to fall in love, so let’s get into my personal version of Intimacy 101!

Intimacy cannot be forced into a relationship, & it shouldn’t have to be. No matter how hard you may want to try to build an intimate connection, intimacy must come naturally. It takes two individuals who are ready to fall in love. They want to be vulnerable & experience all types of intimacy.

Let’s explore the different types of Intimacy: Emotional, Experiential, Intellectual, Physical, & Spiritual.

Emotional Intimacy

Emotional intimacy is being authentic & honest with your feelings. You must able to freely share your innermost hopes, dreams, fears, & secrets without judgment. Openly express your emotions & feelings for your partner, & understand that your partner is a human. Learn to accept who they are when they’re emotional. Make an effort to listen, & understand how they feel, even when it’s hard.

Experiential Intimacy

Experiential intimacy is sharing experiences with your partner. Go on exciting dates or trips that you plan & discover together. Bake or cook new recipes together in the kitchen. Go bungee jumping, or take a hot air balloon ride. Choose stops on a road trip that you both enjoy, & share your “must-do” things when exploring new places. Create meaningful memories & inside jokes. When you’re cuddling on the couch, you can laugh & reminisce about all the good times.

Intellectual Intimacy

Intellectual intimacy is feeling on the same page as your partner mentally. It’s having deep & thought-provoking conversations. It’s important to feel mentally challenged. Be open to expanding your perspective safely without fear of being attacked for your thoughts & opinions. Fall in love with your partner’s mind & their way of seeing the world.

Physical Intimacy

Physical intimacy is self-explanatory. You should feel welcome partner’s personal space. It’s holding hands, hugging, kissing, massaging, & any forms of sexual activity. It involves consent, being comfortable, & feeling safe as well. No one should ever feel pressured or shamed into being physically intimate. Even in a committed relationship or marriage, no means no. Feel safe in your partner’s arms & trust them to love & respect your body.

Spiritual Intimacy

Spiritual intimacy is sharing special & meaningful moments. It can include religious practices, prayer, & meditation. It’s discussing ethics, morals, & personal definitions of spirituality without fear of being judged. To me, it’s spending time in nature, observing a sunset, going on hikes, & walking along the beach. It’s also appreciating rivers, lakes, & waterfalls together, so you can connect even in serene silence.

Key Takeaways

Intimacy still terrifies me, but I learned a lot. Exploring intimacy helps me realize the ways I experience intimacy without realizing it. Being with someone who makes you forget about being scared of intimacy is important. Use your fear as a guide. If your person makes you scared to be intimate & vulnerable, take it as a red flag. It may be time to reconsider your relationship. Your desire to feel closer to your partner needs to be greater than your fear.

Couples often try to build a foundation through physical intimacy alone, but don’t overlook the other types of intimacy! A healthy relationship involves being intimate, vulnerable, & taking a leap of faith. When you find the one, they inspire you to engage in all types of intimacy, & your person wants to be intimate in a way that’s always comfortable & safe.

XO Denise

SOURCES

mbg

BetterHealth

@doodledwellness

mysterious shadow behind dark backdrop

Release & Let Go

Unconditional love involves being able to release & let go. The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy was on TV this past weekend. I shamelessly admit that I made myself cozy on my couch with a mug of peppermint tea, a comfy blanket, & my cutie pug, Pogi & enjoyed every minute. I succumbed to the hype & read all three books back in the day. My sister & I even did the Fifty Shades of Grey tag on my YouTube channel with my sister. I even watched the movies with my friends for Galentine’s Day three years in a row.

The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy gets a lot of criticism that I won’t go into right now, but you’re more than welcome to judge for yourself. There are some spoilers ahead, so if you want to stop before proceeding, now is a good time to do so. With that said & with Christian Grey in mind, let’s discuss that needing to control your partner is not love.

My Controlling Ex

In my most unfulfilling relationship, my partner was controlling & obsessed with me. It may seem like a dream come true to have a partner who wants to protect you at all costs & wait on you hand & foot, but I absolutely hated it. Before we were official, he stalked my social media channels for any indication of ways to win my heart. He also asks my friends about how to win me over. I posted a picture of purple boxing gloves on my Facebook one day, saying if someone could find where to buy them for me, I’d love them forever. About two weeks later, I received pink boxing gloves, a letter professing his feelings & hopes that even though they were the wrong color, I’d still like them.

If you think this was a romantic gesture, please consider it from my point of view. I was looking for a link or a specific sporting goods store (Big 5, Dick’s Sporting Goods, etc.) that carries boxing gloves, so that I could buy exactly what I wanted for myself. Instead, someone, whom I do not know well, haven’t seen in person in months, & was not officially dating, went out of his way to ask my best friend for my home address behind my back. He bought & sent me a present that I did not ask for. It wasn’t even what I wanted, both overstepping my boundaries & intruding on my privacy. While this is a red flag in my mind, my friends claimed he was a good guy & had good intentions.

Manipulation & Obsession

Once we were in a relationship, his need to control my every move & his obsession with me only got worse. When riding in a car with him, he would stare at me constantly, asking me if I was ok. He ran stoplights & stop signs. My passenger side door was hit in a car accident. He was more concerned about the look on my face & why I wasn’t talking, instead of driving us safely to our destination. If you’re curious, I’m introverted, & I will not deny that I have a resting bitch face. But when I’m quiet, it’s not a huge cause for concern. It’s quite the opposite actually because to me silence can be golden.

At a movie theatre, he would ask if I was ok in the middle of the movie. I would have to whisper in the dark theatre to reassure him that I was fine. If we were at home & the movie was interesting, I’d express more emotion & discuss what I enjoyed about it in-depth. But no one should have to creepily smile in the darkness of a movie theatre & reassure their boyfriend that they’re having “such a good time”.

When it came to food, he bragged about how much weight he lost going Paleo full-time. At that time, I was at a very healthy BMI. I went to the gym for an hour each day for 5 days a week, & I danced with a Hip-Hop Dance Company. I also ate salads from Trader Joe’s for lunch, & I ate home-cooked meals for dinner almost every single day.

But to him, I wasn’t doing enough. He needed & wanted me to go Paleo full-time too, so I tried it for about a month. While I did lose weight, it took a huge toll on my mind & a physical toll on my body. There were times I’d get light-headed & almost faint when taking a shower after a workout. I still remember how scared I was as my vision went fuzzy. Sitting in the shower out of fear of slipping & hurting myself. I felt so weak & overwhelmingly sad all the time.

I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again… I LOVE FOOD! Being deprived of carbs, dairy, & dessert for that entire month was torture. To me, being skinny will never bring me the same happiness that a bacon cheeseburger with garlic truffle fries, a molten chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream, or a plate of loaded carne asada nachos can.

Whenever I tried to express my unhappiness to him, he shot me down. He tried to make me feel guilty about wanting to go back to my usual 80% healthy & 20% unhealthy diet. My boyfriend made me feel ashamed of my love of food. He told me that I’d never achieve my fitness goals with the way that I wanted to eat. He guilt-tripped me into doing what he wanted. Even though he claimed to “love” me, it didn’t matter that eating Paleo was making me depressed & physically sick.

Key Takeaways

Needless to say, I’m so happy to be out of that relationship. These are only a few of many other uncomfortable situations that he forced me into during our 10 months together. Again, controlling your partner is not love. Love is wanting to keep your significant other happy & healthy. Forcing someone to do something that they do not want to do is not conducive to a healthy relationship. Do not put up with someone who oversteps your boundaries, disrespects you, or treats you like their property.

While other women fawn over Christian Grey, after rewatching the movies, I simply cannot. *SPOILER ALERT* Never fall in love with a partner who wants to control what you eat & drink, stalks you, looks up your bank account information, or gives you unnecessarily extravagant presents to “buy” your love. While I am open to a dominant man in the bedroom, a healthy relationship allows both individuals to live their lives independently. Believe in their partner’s ability to make the right choices for themselves. When they make love, it’s always consensual, & they’re able to fully trust their partner with their body. When apart, your partner can enjoy themselves, be happy, & be safe, without needing to hover over their every move.

My past relationships teach me a lot about who I am & where my mind is at certain times in my life. At 23 years old, I was too young & naive to know any better. I suffered because I was scared of being alone. Please learn from my mistakes, & don’t let the allure of a man like “Christian Grey” cloud your judgment. Anastasia Steele was also young, naive, & taken advantage of in my opinion. While she stood up for herself & did a lot of good for Christian in the end, fiction, whether in books or movies, is not real life. Please choose to love yourself & love your partner without the need to control or obsess over them.

True unconditional love allows you to love someone for who they are & the choices they make for themselves without smothering or suffocating them. Holding on to someone too tightly just makes them want to run away as fast as they can. All you can do is ensure that they know that no matter what each of you does separately. You’ll always be in their corner to support them. Because even if you don’t need them every second of every day, being apart doesn’t mean that they’ll forget to love you. When someone truly has your heart, you know that they’re not going anywhere.

XO Denise

close up of tree against sky

Love is Laughter

Successful relationships & a shared sense of humor go hand in hand. I absolutely love to laugh & my day doesn’t feel complete without it. Because of this, I can’t imagine being stuck in a relationship that I have to fake smiles & laughter. I won’t pretend that my partner is hilarious when they’re really not. From past personal experience, I’ll never settle for a dull, stoic life, even if my partner was very wealthy & promised to provide me with a fancy, stable lifestyle for the rest if my life. While I covered the Five Love Languages in a past blog, I believe that laughter is the sixth & most important love language.

The Importance of Laughter

Whether you’re in a relationship or not, happiness & laughter are important to maintain throughout your lifetime for your mental health. I have many past, memorable laughing moments where I was crying, about to pee my pants, falling off chairs, & barely able to breathe. My family & closest friends will tell you that I have four distinct laughs. Being introverted, only the special, select few are able to make me laugh enough times to hear all of them. As my esteemed blog readers, you may never hear them, but I’ll share them with you now.

My Four Laughs

  1. The Pity Laugh
    • This is the laugh that I use to be polite because it’s embarrassing to have a joke fall flat. It’s quick & subtle, & simply recognizes when someone tries their best to be funny. While its intention is to be kind & humor someone, I really do hate to use this laugh. It doesn’t feel genuine when I laugh this way. I can’t help but wonder if the recipient can tell that I don’t actually think they’re funny.
  2. The Quick Giggle
    • This laugh is when the situation or location I’m in prevents me from laughing to my full extent. If I’m at a library, museum, or fancy restaurant, I only laugh as much as is socially acceptable. This one also usually causes me to contract & hold in my abs, like a quick ab workout. lol
  3. The Long & Loud Laugh
    • This laugh is when I’m in the privacy of my home or at a friend, family, or significant other’s home. When something is really funny to me, I can’t hold in my laughter, so it usually comes out with gusto. I love being able to laugh freely with others that I love & trust. My laugh can be intense, so I never want to feel embarrassed by my laughter.
  4. The Can’t Stop, Can’t Breathe, Crying, & about to Pee My Pants Laugh
    • This laugh is when something is so funny that I can no longer control my bodily functions. I lose myself in all of my senses. My laughter is practically orgasmic. I can clearly recall every single time I’ve laughed like this. The last time was while playing Bananagrams with my family in South Lake Tahoe. The time before that was camping in Mendocino, joking about wood, while bundled in a blanket around a campfire eating s’mores.

As a love language, laughter can come in many forms. You don’t even need to be directly near your partner to give it to them. When a couple shares the same sense of humor, they continuously create humor & joy together. Laughter can be expressed through jokes, reminiscing on funny past experiences, playful banter or teasing, funny memes, funny videos, etc.

Key Takeaways

In a healthy & strong relationship, couples can constantly banter back & forth. They tease each other without getting upset because they share the same sense of humor. Their inside jokes are endless. They share plenty of funny past experiences because every moment together is a new opportunity to have fun. They’ll want to sporadically send each other funny memes & videos that remind them of each other. Even in separation, they Snapchat each other, send silly, animated Memojis through iMessage, or joke about their day-to-day with each other on FaceTime.

When you’re with the right person, every moment should be filled with laughter. And even in separation, the mere thought of them should still put a smile on your face. What good is having a beautiful house, a fancy car, or being rich if you feel lonely & unhappy? Money can’t buy you love. Find a romantic partner, who makes you truly happy, to create fun-filled memories & laugh with for the rest of your lifetime. Unless you’ve chosen to learn nothing from fairytales, how else do you expect to live “Happily Ever After”?

XO Denise

To All the Boys I Thought I Loved Before

I love the To All the Boys movie series on Netflix. While I wish I actually read the books instead of just watching the movies, I don’t have much time to read young adult fiction novels nowadays. lol I love Lara Jean & her close, dynamic relationship with her sisters though. Every year for the past couple of years, I’ve had a Sister pre-Valentine’s Day celebration where we have a romantic-comedy movie marathon with a heart-shaped pepperoni & mushroom pizza, paired with brut rosé. In celebration of the newest release of the 3rd movie, To All The Boys: Always & Forever, & with Valentine’s Day only a couple of days away, I decided to write this open letter to all the boys I “thought” I loved before. Fair warning, despite my outward demure & innocent demeanor, my love life has never been perfect. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the past, & I’m using this letter to finally confess & apologize. I hope that my letter comes across as raw & vulnerable, yet still heartfelt.

Number 1: Thank you for accompanying me to prom, being my 1st kiss & my 1st boyfriend, & I’m so sorry for breaking your heart.

I knew you liked me immediately from the way you’d stare at me in silence as I walked into Biology class to take a seat. You sat behind me but didn’t say anything to me until a few months before the school year was over. I could tell that you were excited when our teacher decided to change seating arrangements so that we sat at the same table. Thanks for accompanying me to my Senior prom. I probably would have skipped it all together if I didn’t get a date, but it actually turned out to be a really fun night.

I’ll finally confess how taken aback & scared I was when you asked me to be your girlfriend after we had only been talking for a week. Then, you told me “I love you” only a week after that. I really wasn’t ready for a relationship, & I wasn’t ready for any of the intimate things that you wanted from me. I was just too scared to hurt your feelings.

I’m really sorry for wasting your time that Summer. I knew you got a job just so you could afford to take me out on dates & buy me gifts. The reality was I was only 18, & I just didn’t see a future for us. I didn’t want to leave for college still dating my boyfriend from high school.

When you finally confessed that you failed your classes & needed to repeat your Junior year, it was the last straw for me. I already graduated & was so ready & excited to move away for college for the next 4 years. I wish I hadn’t been such a coward & broke up with you in person. You deserved more than the email I sent you. You wanted to marry me & asked if you should wait for me, & I said no. I’m so sorry that my honesty broke your heart. I hope you found someone who was equally obsessed with you to love you in all the ways I knew I could never have grown to.

Number 2: Thank you for showing me what love is not, & I’m sorry for emotionally cheating on you with my TA.

I knew you wanted me immediately, but I soon found out that your intentions were always only to feed your own ego. You knew that every guy in the dorm wanted me, so you just wanted to be able to say that you won out of all the competition. From the way you looked at me when I’d walk by to the way you’d direct your attention & questions to me when we were in a group, I guess I was just intrigued by your persistence.

We started dating only a week after meeting. In retrospect, I should have taken way more time to get to know you to ensure that we were even compatible. I had no idea who you were, & what I slowly learned about you over time didn’t make our connection any stronger.

Thank you for respecting that I was still a virgin & wanted to save myself for marriage, but the honest truth is that I was never sexually attracted to you. I’m sorry for all the times I insulted you, got frustrated with you on road trips, & for that day I put hands on you, because I reached my breaking point. Physical & mental abuse is inexcusable, & I hope you found it in your heart to forgive me.

I wish that you had been honest & upfront about your issue with the distance between us, because you lived in SoCal & I lived in the Bay Area. You should have told me that you wanted to break up with me EVERY SINGLE TIME you went home to your family for the holidays & Summer. It would have saved us both a lot of trouble & heartache.

While you admired my intelligence, I hated seeing you cry & resent me every time I’d get better grades on my homework, exams, & classes overall. I didn’t want to pretend to be someone that I wasn’t, & that’s probably why I fell for my TA. I could never be the type of girl who would dumb myself down to make a man feel better about his own intelligence. I knew that I wanted someone on my level who could carry a deep conversation. I’m still so sorry for emotionally cheating on you with him & for playing intramural basketball with him the following year, just to spite you after you cheated.

While I don’t blame you for actually cheating on me the Summer after that, it just seemed so cliché that you chose the blond Canadian lifeguard at the gym you were working at of all people to cheat with. I knew that having to see her visit you on campus every couple of weeks was my karma. After you got married & divorced shortly after, I convinced myself that she was only in a relationship with you to get a Green Card. I do forgive you for cheating on me. We had two long, hard years of lessons to learn from each other. I hope that you have a happy & fulfilling life with your new wife & kids now.

Number 3: Thank you for having breakfast with me after class, & I’m sorry for using you to get over Number 2 & Number 8 over a decade later.

From my understanding, you were using me to get over your exes both times too. Your ex from high school even made fake Facebook accounts to lurk me, which I told you about & you handled. We were honestly just two hurt souls trying to find comfort in each other, while neither one of us knew we would ever go the distance. The way you never wanted to be tagged on anything with me on social media was a huge clue that it was time for me to walk away. Not to mention that you slept with our mutual friend in the bathroom during the same party we were all attending. I still can’t believe you flew from LA to the Bay just to see me. Even though the spark died for me a decade ago, I still had fun drinking mimosas & catching up with you. I’m proud of how much you’ve grown over the years. I hope that you finally healed your heart & found someone you love who truly loves you in return.

Number 4: Thank you for jailbreaking my iPhone & the late nights we’d spend playing Guitar Hero. I’m sorry for not walking away, when I knew you weren’t ready for a relationship & were juggling too many options.

After dancing together at the toga party, I tried to keep my distance from you. You were good friends with Number 3, & while I successfully did not go back to your dorm with you that first night. I still succumbed to my own loneliness a few weeks later. We both knew we were never meant to be together. I could tell you weren’t over your ex & had a lot of other options, but I still prayed in hopes of getting you to choose me. And for that I’m truly sorry. That last time when were supposed to hook up, I took my friend crashing her car into mine as a sign from the Universe that it was time to finally stop & let you go. I hope you healed from the hurt your ex caused you. You deserve the free will to choose who you want to love & be with. You were a great guy, just not the right guy for me.

Number 5: Thank you for introducing me to your family, & sorry for holding on to the illusion of the happy family we could have created together for way too long.

You were the perfect man that I always imagined I’d marry in my head. I’m sorry for blaming you for not living up to my expectations & resenting you for not wanting me forever the way I wanted you. Nothing was your fault. You chose me for a time & trusted me, but you knew that we couldn’t go the distance. After our terrible Valentine’s Day weekend, I knew you were breaking up with me that day, which is why I didn’t call you to wake you up that morning or confirm when you were coming to see me. When both of your back tires blew out on your way to break up with me, I knew that it was your karma for not being honest with me sooner.

I knew that you still loved your ex, & I was jealous that you were still such close friends with her. While I appreciate that you apologized for breaking up with me so that you didn’t have to feel guilty about dating someone else soon after, I wasn’t honest with you regarding my actions. I never told you that you were right. I did delete all of your friends off of Facebook that day. It wasn’t a Facebook glitch. I chose to lie to your face with no remorse & took pride in my pettiness.

I knew how much joy you took in collecting your ex girlfriends, so I did what I did knowing that if you found out the truth, you would never collect me too. I was young, angry, upset, & vengeful. Now in hindsight, I have no idea what I thought deleting all of your friends would really accomplish besides hurting your ego. Regardless, I’m so sorry for doing that to you, because of my own insecurities & holding onto a dead end relationship. I’m sorry for all the on again off again years that followed as well. I hope you & your current girlfriend are happy & build a happy life together.

Number 6: Thank you for teaching me that I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy, & I’m sorry for leading you on then making you out to be the bad guy.

I’m sorry for using you to get over Number 5. I thought you were generally attractive, but you weren’t able to hold a conversation or mentally stimulate me ever, which is why I was avoiding being vulnerable & intimate with you. Eventually it made my skin crawl when you’d touch me, which is why I always made sure to keep my distance from you whether it was in a public or private setting.

I just liked that you were in the military & never around, because when we were together, I was so bored. My heart hadn’t healed, nor was my heart even in the new relationship we were trying to build. I knew that you could see yourself marrying me, but going through with that would truly have been my worst nightmare.

When I found out that you got a massage with a happy ending the week before you were supposed to come home to see me, I was honestly relieved. I didn’t want to be seen as a bitch who dumped her boyfriend because I wasn’t attracted to him anymore & thought he wasn’t smart enough for me. I’m so sorry that I wasn’t upfront & honest with you about how I felt. I forgive you for getting the massage, & I’m so sorry for breaking your heart. You, your wife, & your son seem to have built a very happy life together, & I wish you all the best.

Number 7: Thank you for teaching me to respect myself, & I’m sorry for not leaving sooner & meddling in your love life for way too long.

We were only supposed to have been friends. I knew immediately that you were still hung up on your ex, & even though you knew she couldn’t be who you wanted her to be, you still had hope that you could get back together & work on your vulnerability. I did truly forgive her for cat-fishing as me, & I’m glad that she seems to have found her happiness with someone else.

After that ex, I knew when you started dating the real estate agent who had a fiancé that you were just more & more bad news waiting to happen. I knew you were planning an exit strategy when you started making new “friends”, & I knew that you must have asked one of them to be your girlfriend before you told me about it that night.

I’ll finally confess that it was me who DMed your new girlfriend from that fake Instagram account. While I knew that I didn’t want you, I was so jealous that you were closer to getting your happy ending than I’d ever be. I had become a monster, who I was ashamed of, & I’m so sorry for my actions. I was so relieved that she was able to forgive you, & I knew that seeing her come visit you in Oakland & you visiting her in Hawaii all over social media was my karma.

I was glad when I finally had the strength to walk away from you, & I was even happier when you finally moved away to Hawaii. I learned & grew so much as a person, because of what you put me through. I’m sorry for using you as a shoulder to cry on when I didn’t know where my next relationship was going.

I know you’re still trying to heal from your last relationship & deciding what you want. You have so much potential. Keep growing, & please stop settling for ABGs. You deserve someone who is kind & still has a brain. Stop chasing girls who just look good & are only after you for money & all the things you can buy for them.

Number 8: Thank you for teaching me how to unconditionally love someone, & I’m sorry for desperately holding onto you, when I knew in the back of my mind that you never wanted be mine.

I couldn’t write this blog post without including you. Though it doesn’t even apply to you, because I don’t “think” I loved you. You’re actually the only one who I knew that I loved. I’m so sorry that it took us breaking up for me to admit that. I didn’t want to be the first person to say “I love you”. Because of the conversation we had before becoming exclusive, I convinced myself that saying those three words & eight letters would be my complete ruin.

Our relationship was so incredibly intense & scary. Without even trying, you always brought out the best in me. Everything that I lack as a person, you inspired me to improve & work on every single day. You admired & appreciated my intelligence. You supported my hopes & dreams. You made me feel strong & perfect. I still remember when you pointed out that billboard by the Oakland Coliseum to me as I drove us back home after you met my parents. If you only knew what I see in the mirror… I still can’t believe how beautiful I am in your eyes.

Our connection was unparalleled mentally, physically, & spiritually. No one has ever loved me in the way that you did. It was amazing how comfortable & safe I always felt in your presence. There were so many nights when I would lay there in your arms, breathless, heart-pounding, & thinking “I love you” over & over again until I fell asleep.

Did you know that I wasn’t even supposed to go on the camping trip that we met at? If you only knew how much I hate sleeping in a tent & freezing my ass off… lol But I know now that choosing to still go camping & us finally meeting at dinner was fate. I don’t believe in love at first sight, nor have I ever thought anyone was even remotely attractive immediately upon meeting them. But you had me so enamored that I needed to discreetly text my sister, begging her to switch seats with me. But she refused to take one for the team & I was stuck sitting next to the Raiders guy. lol

I still think about our conversations after dinner walking back to the campsite, laughing about Echo & “Samantha” while gazing up at the stars, sitting together in the trunk of your car & letting you teach me about CBD & THC, & pointing out the boulders walking down & back to the lake. That weekend was amazing. I just wish you had stayed through Monday.

I know that you’re still trying to hide your darkness from me. I knew that you were entertaining a lot of other women when we met & I came into your life. I knew you weren’t ready to give up your single life just yet, so when you didn’t call or text me after I gave you my number in the weeks after camping, I took it as a rejection. Your hesitation about us was the only reason I booked that trip to Hawaii to visit Number 7.

After you ignored my first Facebook message, I decided to try one last time & asked you to text me, sliding into your Instagram DMs. lol I was so happy to finally have your number, & we texted back & forth all day. We had two amazing dates that first week, then you ghosted on me after you got back home from your trip. Then a full month went by & despite my better judgment, I still wanted to see you at the Halloween party. Dancing with you all night was so much fun, & when you told me the next day that you didn’t even consider yourself a dancer, I appreciated that you danced all night just to be near me. I also respected that I took you home, & you didn’t try to take advantage of me while I was drunk & high.

After our first break-up in December 2019, I could tell that you were trying to cut out all of your other options, which I appreciated & was why I stayed with you for as long as I did. I’m still so sorry for what happened in November. It wasn’t right of me to try & control your free will, nor is it ok ever ok to be a “messenger” to ensure that other parties are aware of a situation. As an Economics major, I assumed that people deserve to have equal knowledge to make informed decisions. But the bottom line is real life is not Game Theory & not all choices in life are quantifiable, because people deserve to make their own choices.

Despite the messiness in the wake of our breakup, know that I will always look back fondly on our relationship. You taught me what true unconditional love feels like. While our communication still needed work, I will forever compare my new love interests & suitors to the love I received from you. As scared as I am knowing that no man may ever be able to measure up to the love that you tried to consistently give me & what you taught me about myself, I’m still so grateful to have met you.

I haven’t gotten in touch with my spirituality in over a decade, & I thought I stopped believing. But I still see signs, synchronicities, & reminders of the love we shared all day, every day, which renewed my faith because you were honestly a gift & a blessing from the universe. While I only had you in my life for 13 months, I knew that I loved you for 10 of those months. I still thank God every day for bringing you into my life, & I will continue to pray for you, because I truly want you to be happy, even if you’re happier without me.

I’ve finally learned my lessons in love. I respect myself enough to walk away from anyone who isn’t willing to give me what I want, knowing that I deserve to be the one & only woman in a man’s life. I’m not going to repeat my past toxic cycles any longer. To all my exes that I hurt, I’m so sorry from the bottom of my heart. To my exes that have hurt me, I forgave you a long time ago & I wish you only the best.

Writing this open letter gave me a glimpse into how Hamilton must have felt writing the Reynolds Pamphlet that ruined his political career. As I’ve said before, my love life has never been perfect, & I am only human. Love isn’t all flowers, champagne, & chocolates. Love is hard work.

If you’ve been unlucky in love, I encourage you to examine your own past loves & relationships. Don’t hide your past away – choose to learn from it. That way, when true love finds you, you won’t mess it up the same way I did with Number 8.

I hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day! Even if you’re not able to spend it with someone you love, I hope you spend the day loving yourself.

XO Denise