I Said ‘I Love You’ First

I’ve got a little dating advice, especially for you ladies out there that are often too scared to speak your mind. We live in a word that demonizes those who wear their hearts on their sleeves. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a time and a place for emotional reservation, but we have to remember that there are times that emotional honesty is far more important and can tell you a lot more about a person.

At the end of this month, my boyfriend and I will have been dating for six months. I can’t help but feel a sometimes overwhelming sense of HOLY CRAP I DID IT. I made it from serious break up, through several aimless (and oftentimes questionable) dating prospects, to meeting someone unexpectedly, and maintaining an even more unexpected romantic relationship. Just goes to show how very unpredictable life is. If you asked me a year ago, I would have told you that I would never trust anyone ever again, never allow someone into my heart, for fear that they would tear a chunk out and leave me all nasty and shriveled. Again. Oh, right, for those who haven’t been following my blog for a while, I have a penchant for melodrama. Fair warning.

Can’t really say I have a single serious complaint with my current relationship. However, with six months approaching, the so-called “honeymoon phase” is nearing its end. Supposedly we’ll stop thinking the other farts rainbows and actually begin to recognize all the terrible flaws that make each other disgustingly human. Joy. But the thing is, I don’t think we ever had a honeymoon period in the first place. Ours was a relationship a lot of people warned us was moving too fast, what with me practically moving in (months ago), cooking most meals together, sharing grocery bills, and adopting a pet fish (which has since gained a cat friend). I can’t count how many times my friends told me, “I’m glad you’re happy, but please be careful…” because they all knew another devastating break up was the last thing I needed, no matter which side it came from. Not that I listened or anything. (Sorry, guys)

And here’s where we come to the title of the post. “I love you.” Such a sweet, innocuous set of words that can spell disaster for even the most well-meaning of partners. And I said it first. After about a month of dating.

I bet a lot of you out there are just like…

ani_btch_you_crazy

And a bunch of insecure single dudes/dudettes are picturing me like this…

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I’ll be honest, the “I love you” was a complete word-vomit moment. Actually, come to think of it, the last time I told a boy I loved him was word-vomit as well — though that time was far more dramatic and included much screaming and crying at each other in the midnight darkness of a parking garage (maybe that should have been a hint as to how our relationship might eventually deteriorate, but let’s not go there). This time, the Significant Other and I were cuddling (gross.) and the words just spilled out of my mouth all unbidden and shit, and it took me a second to realize I’d actually said it, not just thought it (like I’d been doing for the past several days).

So naturally I panicked.

If I’ve learned anything from terribly cheesy romantic comedies, someone saying “I love you” too early is a death-knell for a relationship. I mean, come on, an ill-timed “I love you” is as bad as getting matching tattoos… Perhaps not that bad, but close. Sure, I’d been mulling my feelings over, but I hadn’t meant to say them out loud!

I have no idea what was going on in the Significant Other’s head, but at the time I figured it was a little something like this:

https://i2.wp.com/24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7idbfJcFi1ryj6qoo1_500.gif

Ironically, the S.O. also has blond hair, blue eyes, and can talk a little funny.

And silence. Literally nothing from him in the wake of my then crushingly embarrassing admittance. More panic from me.

“Well, are you going to say anything?”

“I mean, I’m not going to say it back unless I’m 100% sure it’s true.”

Oh. Well then. Looks like I actually do live in a cheesy romance novel, just like my Little said. I’m dating a blond, blue-eyed firefighter with a stutter that just so happens to also be a goddamn decent human being. He didn’t lie and tell me what I wanted to hear, but he didn’t reassure me that he was completely comfortable with what I’d said either. He actually reacted the way I wish every partner would react when caught off-guard by something potentially relationship-ruining.

And now the moral of the story, dear readers. We need to stop being so afraid of telling people, especially those we love, how we truly feel. In a moment of “weakness” I allowed my emotional barriers to slip and that gave way to honesty from both of us. That’s all a relationship really needs to stay healthy for all parties involved. You hear it all the time: honest, open communication is the key to a successful relationship. It’s true though!

We have to stop being afraid that honesty will ruin things. Legitimately, if I’d told my boyfriend that I loved him and he lied and told me he loved me too (at the time) then I’d bet you anything that we wouldn’t be together right now. I can’t prove it, but I can speculate that since he waited and gave himself time to not word-vomit or lie about it, he knows that the first time he said it, he meant it with sincerity.

And who cares who says those little words first? It doesn’t matter! I’ve heard stories of people (especially women) waiting and waiting to tell their partner that they love them, just because they don’t want to appear weak and say it first. Just freaking say it! If you say it and your partner lies, or gets scared and won’t talk about it to the point of ending the relationship, then screw ’em and move on. It’s not worth getting hung up on and redundantly questioning yourself over. I’ve found that people respect you far more if you tell them what you actually feel, even if it hurts them, than if you just keep everything to yourself. We must all learn to be honest without being cruel, because brutal honesty is just laziness.

Seriously, we need to all just stop being so scared of things just because movies and tv shows tell us to be. I dare you to tell someone you’ve never told before that you love them, especially if you’ve been waiting around for them to say it first. I don’t think you even realize how liberating it can be.

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Your Mind is a Temple

 

I’m willing to bet that every woman reading this in their teens, 20s, and 30s was told at some point during her childhood that she was beautiful, unique, special, worthy, important, and/or had the ability to change the world. Whether you heard it from your parents, teachers, or other adults responsible for your upbringing, chances are that you’ve been told one or more of these things. Some girls believed it. But I’m also willing to bet that a lot of us didn’t.

You know what I think has to happen before we can achieve true self-confidence? We have to get let down enough times that, not only do we have to learn how to pick ourselves back up again, but also realize that the reason we keep getting let down is because we let our lack of self-confidence impact how we view other people. Take a serious, relatively healthy romantic (even to some extent platonic) relationship for example: If one individual has little-to-no self-confidence, she will be constantly looking for validation from her partner. When she doesn’t get that validation (because no one is able to provide that emotional support every single day – it’s draining) she starts to resent her counterpart. Resentment breeds contempt, and that’s where relationships wane and can even ultimately fail.

We learn from our mistakes, or at least that’s what they say. But I think for me I have to make the same mistake a couple of times before I get it through my thick skull that I’m doing something wrong. You gotta get your heart kicked in the ass a few times before you understand anything about love. The same holds true for understanding our own behavior, which is directly linked to our perception of ourselves.

Self-confidence is something inherent in a few people, hard-won in others, and never attainable in the select few who refuse to try. Women are generally more introspective than men (Science with a capital ‘S’ said so!), and suffer from depression more frequently. Of course those statistics could all be skewed by reporting, but I can say from my experience that I know a greater number of depressed women than men. And, as I’ve always found boys easier to get along with than girls (until I joined a sorority) I’m friends with a pretty even number of each. Women over-analyze every situation, which is the source of our confidence issues, or at least, that’s always been the source of mine.

Ladies (and I suppose gentlemen), listen carefully. No one is paying attention to the crazy shit tumbling around in your brain. You have to deal with most, usually all, of it on your own. You may one day find a partner you can share it with and who can help you deal with it (I hope we all do!), but you have to learn how to shore yourself up against your own insecurities. For me, it can’t be about getting validation from others, or even success at the things that I do. An A in a class or a job promotion isn’t going to help me overcome insecurities because I’ll constantly be looking for someone to pat me on the head and tell me I did a good job. It has to be about yanking out each one of my crippling flaws and overcoming them. I haven’t overcome every one of them yet, it’s a huge work in progress, but I have faith that one day I’ll get there. Not only will I have picked myself back up, but I will have also built something inside myself that I can look at with pride. A sort of internal temple to my awesomeness. Christian theology will tell you that your body is a temple. Yeah whatever, the body is secondary, the mind is the true temple.

 

 

Feminist Sexism

***BIG EDIT: WATCH THIS NOW

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a happy reader of Cosmopolitan magazine. I think that it broke a great deal of ground on openness about female sexuality. I have a year’s subscription that I got for just $5 off Amazon during a sale. I generally enjoy reading Cosmo, but there are certain aspects of the magazine that I just can’t stand. The fact that a great portion of it only caters to straight women is just one of them (come on Cosmo, grow a backbone like Oreo!).

At any rate, I was finishing up reading the July issue (does it irritate anyone else that magazines come out the month before the date they’re labeled for? It’s like new cars that are called the next year’s model), which had Demi Lovato (yeah I’m gonna be honest I didn’t know who she was until now) on the cover in a hideous yellow zipper dress with cutouts, her obvious hair extensions blowing in the breeze. Headlines include “SEX SUN FUN,” “Sex He Craves,” and “Cosmo’s Weird Little Love Rule (It Works!).” I have to flip through four pages of ads before I get to the contents. Let’s turn to page 108, shall we, the “Weird Little Love Rule,” or, why I’m so pissed off right now. All quotes are directly from the article.

“Why He Should Love You – This Much – More Than You Love Him” (This Much in smaller type)

What. The. Fuck.

Excuse me, what did you say? My man should love me more than I love him?

First of all, Cosmo always, and I mean always, assumes that men who are complete assholes are the most attractive to twenty-something-thirty-something women. It’s “a lot easier to fall for the guy who doesn’t acknowledge your existence.” I’m sorry, but I actually enjoy being treated like a human being as opposed to a piece of ass, so stop encouraging us by including the topic in every article. This article apparently needs to assure the readers that a man who loves you more than you love him is still attractive and totally “doable.” Strike one for double sexism.

Secondly, it assures the readers that a man loving you more than you love him is putting the woman in a position of power. It assumes that women think men who are into them are clingy and needy, instead of just falling for them. Even when the article discusses how relationships fluctuate, having less feelings for the other person is considered having “the upper hand.” Like you’re competing with your partner and whoever is more cold-hearted wins. Ever heard of equality in a relationship? Strike two for double sexism.

Also, “experts agree that picking a guy who digs you about 10 percent more than you dig him is smart.” Smart. As in, if we don’t we’re doing it wrong. It must be true because “experts[!]” say so! Strike three for sexism against women, IN A WOMEN’S MAGAZINE!

The last, and perhaps the most frustrating issue I have with this article is that it emphasizes that men who are more into you than you’re into them let you be yourself from the beginning – instead of hiding your true self weeks, months, years before you’re comfortable around him. Did it ever occur to the writer, or the editors, that you should be authentic from the get-go regardless of whether he likes you more or not? If you’re authentic and he doesn’t like you, well sucks for you but at least you didn’t have to waste your time pretending. Strike… four(?) for double sexism again!

If you’ve read the article you may agree with me, you may not. You might feel that I’m oversimplifying it. Yes, it’s true that relationships ebb and flow with time. But authenticity is the most important thing. Cosmo fails in its mission to empower women with some of its articles, like this one, and promotes treating men like cattle. Sex tips are great, health and gynecological information is also awesome in Cosmo. But they should stay away from love because…

Who cares who loves who more in the beginning, the goal is to be happy, healthy, and in-love. It’s not a game. It’s not a competition between men and women. We cannot remove sexism from our society without acknowledging that men and women are EQUAL because they are HUMAN.

Thank you for reading!

Incurable State of Being (?)

So, I have a problem. I admit that there is something in my life which I have little or no control over. This is a condition for which there is no medical treatment. It’s something I have to conquer personally, for you see…

I am a bitch.

Don’t worry, I’m not alone. Many women (and men) suffer from a similar affliction. But I, my friends, am a survivor. I will not let this diagnosis bring me down!

What I’m really trying to say is that bitchiness, being overbearing, even straight up bossiness is a disease of the heart. It gets into your system through poor parental mirroring, insecurity, and a cynical worldview and firmly takes root as a result of a constant need to feel more powerful than others.

Strong, independent women are often accused of being bitches, but in reality, that’s impossible because strong, independent women do not suffer from the insecurities that overtly bitchy women do. I want you to understand that being a strong, independent woman is exactly what I want to be, and being a bitch is not helping me get there.

So I’ve made myself a to-do list. I do well with lists.

1) Take a look at my bucket list I made so long ago to remember why I wanted to do all of those things and figure out whether or not they are still important to me.

2) Scrap and rewrite bucket list.

3) Read all of The Lost Art of Listening by Nichols (surprisingly helpful, as self-help books go)

4) Turn my phone off – for more than 60 seconds

5) Write here more

6) RELAX

Last night, I was told that I need to learn to let things go. I think what that means is that I need to learn to relax. I feel an overwhelming desire every moment of my life to live up to an arbitrary standard that is both amorphous and exponentially growing. I’ll never be able to reach it simply because if I keep attaining one level after another, it’ll just keep increasing to god-like proportions. And I’m enough of a bitch now, imagine if my standards for myself where that high! No. What I need is to just get happy with myself and what I CAN do.

Which is where the last and most important item on my to-do list comes in:

7) Rediscover my personal identity

No one can be happy without a good, coherent concept of themselves. So I’ve accepted the fact that I’m a bitch. In order to change that, to become a strong independent woman that won’t take bullshit from anyone, I have to understand myself. It’s a difficult proposition! Do I even want to change? Being a bitch has its advantages, namely: no one fucks with you. But there’s a way to let people know you aren’t meant to be fucked with, without demeaning the identities of all around you.

Recently I was in my sorority house and heard a sister crying loudly downstairs. My first reaction was one of rage and protection. I came downstairs and quietly asked another sister, “Whose shit do I need to fuck up?” That is one of those moments in which I felt, not like a terrible bitch who just wanted destroy a source of discomfort, but an invincible protector of my friend’s emotions. It was a natural reaction, not something I had to conjure out of thin air in an attempt to get some validation. It was real.

I have to realize that I can be powerful without exerting power over others. I can have a personal understanding of how beautiful I am without flaunting it and fishing for compliments. I don’t need to recognition, as long as I get it from myself. What a happy world I could live in if my life was lived for the pleasure of my own personal validation.

Moral of the story: be a Catwoman, not a Poison Ivy

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