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

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

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

you got this lighted signage

The Importance of Communication

Being empathic & intuitive runs in my family. My innate gifts definitely help me with my Oracle & Tarot readings. But being a “psychic” healer doesn’t mean that I automatically know everything that is happening, did happen, or will happen in the future. If I tried to channel the energy of every person on the planet, I’d be exhausted & overwhelmed all the time. I keep my energy protected. I don’t attempt to channel the energy of another person until I’m about to pull cards for a reading. Once in a person’s energy, I trust my intuition to create a narrative. I chronologically sort the messages I receive to help me give the best advice, depending on the person’s unique situation. But at the end of the day, only the person that I’m reading knows their truth & story. That’s why I always promote the importance of clear communication.

Communicate Your Needs Clearly

During a reading, I may pick up that someone is keeping secrets or doesn’t feel confident enough to express their feelings when it comes to their connection. I’m not a licensed therapist. But it’s general knowledge that keeping secrets & not expressing how you feel is detrimental to all relationships. A lot of women want their partners to read their minds without having to communicate their expectations. But that’s not realistic. Even my own father who is very intuitive needs my mom to tell him when she needs or wants something to feel appreciated & loved. After 37 years of marriage, it’s my parents’ ability to communicate their needs that make their relationship so long-lasting & successful.

Clearly communicating your expectations to your partner will ensure a happy & healthy relationship dynamic. If you need your partner to attend every social event that you’re invited to with you, say so. If you want them to make a huge deal about planning something special for your anniversary & birthday, tell them. The average person is not a mind reader. Expecting someone to cater to your every desire & wish, without telling them what you need, will only cause disappointment.

Release Your Expectations

My parents have always set a great example. My mom attends social events without my dad. While both of my parents are introverted, my mom is more of a social butterfly. My dad needs more alone time to rest & recharge on the weekends. Mom often goes to family gatherings with me & my sister or one of my aunts. My mom never drags my dad to a party because it’s “expected” as her husband.

Don’t get me wrong – my dad will still gladly attend weddings & milestone events with my mom with advance notice. My mom just knows her husband, so she sets her expectations accordingly. For example, my mom doesn’t expect my dad to surprise her flowers, take her out to fancy dinners, or plan weekend getaways. My mom has only received flowers from my dad three times, & each time was when one of my siblings or I was born. My mom prefers to have a fancy dinner as a family, & she prefers to plan vacations all together as a family as well.

Expectations without clear communication will always cause disappointment. But at the same time, expecting your partner to drop everything in their life to cater to your every need, is extremely unfair & one-sided. It is not your boyfriend or your husband’s “job” to read your mind. If you don’t clearly tell your partner what you need, it’s not a requirement for them to attend every social event, buy you flowers, or surprise you with gifts. If you’re upset that your partner can’t read your mind, that’s not their problem. It’s up to you to communicate your needs & wants. Then, it’s up to them to step up to fulfill it. And if it’s not something they’re able or willing to do for you, tell you.

What do you want?

The average woman doesn’t give out “gold stars” to their boyfriend or husband for doing what they’re “supposed” to do. Most women expect their partner to attend every party & buy them presents for every occasion. When pointing out that a partner feels under appreciated, most women are shocked. They often think that their partner could be doing much more to make them happy. But I always do my best to truthfully point out that no one likes to feel under-appreciated. I advise that what they may consider as “expected” behaviors, their partner may consider to be above & beyond anything that they’ve done for any of their exes.

In a relationship, I personally love good morning & goodnight texts, sporadic kisses, & bouquets of flowers, just because. I also consider a man cooking me breakfast, lunch, or dinner as the sweetest gesture. It’s also a dream of mine to be surprised with a trip to a new destination that I’ve never been to but have always dreamed of going to or simply being told to “pack a bag” & be whisked away for an unexpected weekend adventure. Since I haven’t had a man step up to give me these things yet, I choose to regularly give them to myself. My morning wake-up alarm says “Good Morning”. My pug, Pogi, gives me sporadic kisses throughout the day. I have a monthly fresh flower subscription from Bouqs. And I plan trips for myself within the US & internationally as often as I can.

Key Takeaways

It’s important for you to identify what you need & want in a relationship. Then clearly communicate those expectations with your partner. And when they do good, always show them your appreciation. Do your best to not let your expectations cloud your judgement. Especially if you haven’t communicated what you need to your partner at all, speak up. Until you do, you are the only one responsible for ensuring those needs are met.

Not even a “psychic” will automatically know how to cater to the needs of another individual. We’re all unique in our own ways, so what one person may want & expect in a relationship may be different from another. Take responsibility for yourself, express your needs, & communicate as much as possible to prevent any unnecessary conflict in your relationship. And when your partner can’t give you what you need, evaluate what’s a deal breaker & what you’re capable of giving to yourself, before starting a fight or threatening to break up with or divorce them. Take my parents as good example. If you know your partner & you know yourself, you shouldn’t have to worry about being happy & staying happy in your relationship.

XO Denise

white ceramic mug on table

Perfect Attendance

I’m a proud nerd, & I still love school. I cry when I’m forced to miss a day because I was sick. It was foreign to me how kids could fake being sick or dread going to school every day. I was proud of having perfect attendance, doing my homework, & completing my projects on time. Reflecting on my love of school recently made me see truancy in a new light.

If someone prefers to be absent, they obviously have their reasons. Maybe they have a bully, or maybe their parents shame them when they get bad grades. Maybe they actually want to like school, but they don’t have the resources to succeed. The choice to attend or not attend school is a simple decision for either side of the coin. Because you know when you love something or if you don’t. And that’s why I hate the proverb “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Absence Does Not Make the Heart Grow Fonder

I know what I like & dislike, which is why I knew at a young age that I love school. Similar to my love of school, after a first date, I know whether or not I get good vibes. After three months, I can see myself entering into a real relationship & falling in love. Absence & distance do not make the heart grow fonder. Absence & distance is more of a test. Because remaining faithful & loyal to your partner when you’re directly next to them or not is love.

I’ve had three long-distance relationships so far, & all three of them were terrible. That’s why I succumbed to the notion that long-distance relationships will never work out. If you’re currently in a long-distance relationship, hopefully reflecting on my past mistakes will help you navigate your current circumstances.

My 1st Long-Distance Relationship

My 1st long-distance relationship was with my boyfriend from college, who lived in Southern California. The majority of the year we’d be together, living on-campus. But little did I know that over the Holidays & Summer, he secretly wanted to break up with me. And if you’re wondering, he NEVER expressed this issue in the two years that we were together.

In the end, he broke up with me a week before I started my Junior year. He decided that he wanted to start dating his co-worker. Already hanging out with her all Summer, he wanted to be a “good” guy & end things before cheating on me. He even phrased it ridiculously too. “Let’s just be best friends, who no longer date.” It wasn’t until almost a month after we broke up that I learned about the other woman. The last time we spoke, I asked him why he started dating me with no intentions of marrying me. He finally admitted that it was because I was the prettiest girl on campus, & he wanted a girlfriend.

What I Learned

Take Your Time

Our relationship had no foundation. We only knew each other for about one week before we became “official” boyfriend & girlfriend. Unlike me, he wasn’t dating with the expectation of getting married one day. He chose me so that he could have the prettiest girl on campus as his first girlfriend. Even though we did discuss getting married during the 2nd year of our relationship, it was probably only because I was still a virgin, & I was adamant about not wanting to sleep with him, because I always believed that I’d wait until I was married to lose my virginity.

I also didn’t even want the possibility of accidentally getting pregnant while I was still in college. Over time, it became apparent that he didn’t want to change his life around to include me in it. He didn’t see himself moving to the Bay Area, & I honestly didn’t want him to be the father of my children. Even after breaking up with me to start dating the other girl, he called me a few days later saying, “If things don’t work out, I hope that we can get back together.” At that time, I still didn’t know that he was already dating someone new, but I listened to my intuition & told him “NO” outright.

Let Go

If someone doesn’t want to be with me, they can go. I’m not willing to let someone break up with me, just to come back, because the grass actually wasn’t greener on the other side. He lied to me throughout our relationship. He continued to lead me on with his lies even after he broke up with me, because he didn’t know his new girlfriend very well either. If things didn’t work out, he wanted to keep me as his safety net.

When we got back to school, I considered staying friends with him, because we lived in the same dorm building & worked together on campus. But instead, the Universe clearly placed his new girlfriend in front of my face, so that I knew the truth. In the end, I walked away & cut him off for my own peace of mind. He never genuinely apologized to me or made any effort to be vulnerable & prove that I could learn to trust him, & I’m fine with that. I gave myself closure. I forgave them both for sneaking around behind my back, & I walked away, because he was not my person.

My 2nd Long-Distance Relationship

My 2nd long-distance relationship was with my boyfriend that I dated on & off, during my Senior year of college. We were on opposing Dance Teams in college. It was a classic Romeo & Juliet story. My Dance team’s president hated that I was spending so much time with him & his friends. I didn’t allow them to control me. It became my obsession to win Romeo’s heart just to spite my Dance team’s efforts to stop me. While my intentions, in the beginning, weren’t the best, I still fell in love with him.

I was a month away from graduating when he asked me on a real date & officially called me his girlfriend. I still had one more class to take over the Summer, then I moved back home to the Bay Area. Over the Summer & during the Holidays, we did great. It was only once I was back in the Bay Area & he was back in school that the trouble started.

Even though I would come to visit him often, I could tell that our relationship dynamic was changing. In the moments that we’d previously feel close & connected, I could tell that he was starting to detach from me. After a terrible Valentine’s Day weekend together, I dreamt about a giant carton of milk chasing me. After evaluating my dream, it became clear to me that he was “milking” me. He broke up with me a week later. Then, I found out that he was already pursuing a girl that I suspected he was interested in within days.

What I Learned

Enter into a relationship when you’re truly ready. Don’t waste your time with months of on & off again turmoil. If someone is being wishy-washy when committing to you, it’s a sign that they’re not ready or possibly still healing. You want to enter a new relationship when both of your hearts are healed & ready to love again. No matter how much he wanted to deny it, he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend.

Communicate when you feel your relationship’s dynamic shift. There’s likely a reason that one or both of you are refusing to address. If you want your relationship to last, you need to have honest communication. Even though his ex didn’t want to repeat their past & get back together, the entire time that we were together his eyes were still wandering non-stop with the goal of finding someone who he considered to be an “upgrade” from his ex. Finding my replacement was more important to him than nurturing our relationship & appreciating me.

Don’t Ignore the Red Flags

He had absolutely zero regard to how his selfishness would hurt me in the end. He liked one of his friends who had just broken up with her boyfriend, & he also started to nostalgically consider “what if” he decided to date the girl on his dance team that he was interested in before choosing to date me. I was NEVER a factor in his decision-making. He was too wrapped up in his ego & finding a new “hot” girl to make everyone, including his ex-girlfriend jealous. Even though he kept telling me that he “loved” me, from his actions alone, I knew he was lying.

If your boyfriend is emotionally cheating on you with other people & already looking for your replacement, he is not invested in you or your relationship. He also definitely does not love you no matter what words are coming out of his mouth. You are worthy of a partner who is committed & loyal to only you.

Don’t Settle

Do not settle for mistreatment just because you don’t want to be alone. Have the courage to love yourself more than anyone else & choose to be alone over someone who is clearly being unfaithful to you & treating you like an option. I ultimately forgave him for hurting me, took some time to heal my heart, & moved on. While we did remain friends for a few years, we don’t talk anymore. I can honestly say that I have closure. I learned everything that I needed to from him, & I have no intentions of going back ever again.

My 3rd Long-Distance Relationship

My 3rd long-distance relationship was only for 10 months with a sniper in the United States Marine Corps. I first met him at a party when I was still with my 2nd long-distance boyfriend. We didn’t talk much at all that night. I made it abundantly clear to him that I was in a happy relationship & only have eyes for my boyfriend. After my previous boyfriend & I broke up, I took four months to heal my heart. I then found out through the grapevine that he had a huge crush on me.

Since we barely interacted at the party, he didn’t have enough confidence to try & talk to me again. So on a whim, I decided to message him late one night on Facebook. In Japan at the time, I asked what time it was over there. Chatting for months before meeting again in person, I assumed a long-distance relationship would work out this time. But I was WRONG!

When home long enough for us to go on dates, trips, or staycations, our online chemistry was all we had. It hadn’t occurred to me that it’s easy to be witty online, especially with time to craft the perfect reply. While I figured we’d at least have some chemistry, the excitement of finally spending time together in person turned bleak. The tiny spark we had fizzled out quickly. The more I got to know him, the more I knew that I needed to break up with him.

What I Learned

It’s easy for anyone to be charming & witty online, but nothing compares to in-person chemistry. Talking to someone for a few days, weeks, or even months online actually means NOTHING. You still need to spend quality time with someone in-person to know who they are, how they act, & how they carry themselves on a daily basis. If you feel like punching yourself in the face or need to be drunk or high to tolerate them, because you NEVER have anything to talk about, take it as a huge red flag & end it. There was no way that I could settle with our relationship. It got to a point that even thinking about having to be intimate with him repulsed me, & it felt like ants were crawling all over my body when he tried to touch me.

When I love someone, I enjoy & want all forms of intimacy. I want deep conversations with a man who challenges me to be better & do better throughout my lifetime, throughout our marriage, & as we grow old together. I’m in love when I can’t keep my hands off of them, & I feel irresistible to them too.

I was overly ecstatic whenever he’d get deployed to the other side of the world. His sense of humor was confusing, & I hated not being able to genuinely laugh anymore. He was smothering & obsessed with me. I was so much happier when he was gone, & I was alone. It was suffocating when he’d ask to spend more quality time together. In the end, since I wasn’t interested in being intimate with him anymore, I wasn’t surprised when he went elsewhere to get it. In fact, I was actually relieved that I finally had a reason to end it, because I didn’t want to dump him while he was still deployed. I forgave him for the choices he made that lead to our break up, & I forgave myself for not being honest with him or myself to end it before it turned into a huge mess.

My Advice

To anyone already in or currently considering getting into a long-distance relationship with someone, here’s my final advice:

1. Know who they truly are in-person, so you know that you can actually go the distance together.

You can’t deny whether or not chemistry exists in a relationship. After you’ve spent enough time together, the spark between you either fizzles out, or it ignites into an uncontrollable, passionate dynamic relationship. Trust your intuition – it’s clear when you like someone or you don’t. Don’t bother wasting your time staying with someone that you don’t even like. People can choose to change their toxic behaviors & bad habits, but who someone is at their core, including their personality, hobbies, etc. will not change no matter how much you want them to.

2. Discuss how & when the distance between you will no longer affect your relationship.

You cannot be separated from someone you love forever. If you’re actually happier when you’re not together, that’s a huge clue that the relationship is already dead in the water. Two people who truly love each other will decide how to change their lives around so that they can be together & stay together for good. One or both of you must decide how to compromise, move in together, & create a life that works for both of you.

3. Choose to always love, be faithful, be loyal, & be committed to your partner whether there is distance between you or not.

Your partner’s absence should not be an excuse to do whatever you want. If your relationship is truly meant to go the distance, an ex or another person sliding into your DMs or flirting with you at a social event will not affect your connection. As I said before, distance is a test. If you value your relationship, you wouldn’t let any outside factors affect it.

Key Takeaways

In a lasting relationship, your partner will ask you to text them when you get home. When you forget, they call you to make sure that you’re home & safe. When traveling, you ensure that they know where you are & that you’re safe. You want to FaceTime or Snapchat them when it’s been too many days apart.

If you love your partner, reject new & old love interests out of respect. Be willing to warn friends to go easy on their compliments because you don’t want anything to be accidentally misconstrued. If you love & value your relationship, you won’t want anything to mess it up. Especially not by a friend from college who likes to call you “Boo” under every selfie to hype you up.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you need to create distance between you & your partner to make them love you. Two truly committed individuals will reject anyone & anything that tries to interfere with their connection. They don’t need excuses, loopholes, or exceptions. Long-distance or not, someone who loves you will always be there to love you the way you deserve. When the right person comes along, you “show up” for them, bringing a new meaning to perfect attendance.

XO Denise

Hang the DJ

*SPOILER ALERT*
If you haven’t seen Black Mirror yet, I highly recommend you stop reading & go watch through Season 4, Episode 4 before reading this blog post.

Black Mirror is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a dystopian science fiction series that I highly recommend. My favorite episodes include “Black Museum” & “Nosedive”, but today I want to discuss “Hang the DJ”. Set in a future, dystopian world, where society has given up on conventional dating, partners are matched at random & told the exact duration of their relationship upfront. 

Just to be clear, in my personal opinion, DATING IS F#CKING HARD. Being thrown into the unknown is scary, but in order to find “The One”, you need the strength & courage to take a leap of faith. While being able to control the outcome of a relationship may seem great in theory, I will never buy into it.

I hate to admit that my dating life has never been perfect. I’ve lead people on & wasted their time knowing that I didn’t want them to be my husband or the father of my children. I’ve chased after people who made it abundantly clear that they weren’t the right man for me. I emotionally cheated on my boyfriend of two years with my TA in college. And my worst mistake of all was not telling the man I fell hardest for how much I truly loved him out of fear of another rejection, only to have my heart broken in the end anyway. 

The episode of “Hang the DJ” teaches us that being in complete control of the outcome of our dating life isn’t any better or less risky than conventional dating. Imagine meeting someone who you feel is your perfect match, only to be told that you’re restricted to a mere 12 hours together. You’re then forced to go your separate ways, to have a bunch of meaningless one night stands or end up stuck in a loveless relationship with someone else that you hate for an entire year.

Yes, the world is full of endless options. But at the end of the day, don’t you know when you’ve already exhausted your options? We need to listen to our hearts. We need to speak our truth & do what we believe will be the best for ourselves, while also taking into consideration the hearts of others. No one deserves to have their heartbroken, especially if we have the ability to be honest & prevent it. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes, & forgive others for theirs. Only then will you learn how to love with authenticity.

A reoccurring theme in “Hang the DJ” is that following their structured system will guarantee you a 99.8% love match. But what happens when you realize that you’d rather rebel against your circumstances? What if 99.8% isn’t good enough for you anymore? What if what will make you truly happy at the end of the day includes taking your chances on that 0.2%?

Even if taking that risk means losing all other options & hurting other people in the process, don’t be afraid to listen to your heart & don’t give up your happy ending because of the system & expectations placed on you by the outside world. Take responsibility for your past relationships to heal your heart. Then embrace your authenticity & risk it all, because we deserve to have 100% when it comes to love.

XO Denise