Is Unrequited Love Really Love?

Most of us have felt it. That horrible, gut-wrenching feeling, where we love someone who doesn’t love us back. Some of us have even been in full blown relationships where unrequited love has reared its head. What I’m wondering is: Is this ridiculously maddening kind of unrequited love actually love?

There’s a lot of debate on this subject (google it), but here’s my hunch: it depends. Whether your unrequited love is actually love depends on how well you  know the person you’re deeply in love with- not just how long you have known them for or how much you’ve heard about them, but how much you truly know about who they really are.

When unrequited love occurs in situations where you only know a person on the surface or haven’t known the person for very long, it’s usually not love, but lust or attraction.

A counter thought to this that is more of a paradox: if you feel deep love for someone who does not love you back but you feel joyful simply loving them without receiving their love in return, this is true unconditional love. In this case, the type of love where you feel pain from not having love in return is actually not love, but attachment. Therefore a type of love needing no love in return wouldn’t truly ever be unrequited love because it wouldn’t need to ever be requited. In fact, the object of your love wouldn’t even need to know that you love them for you to reap the benefits of this love. You could simply let the love blossom within yourself and enjoy all its benefits on your own.

 

 

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Would You Use A Relationship Contract?

Last week, there was an column in the beloved Modern Love section of the NY Times in which the author Mandy Len Catron described the ‘relationship contract’ she has with her boyfriend. The name pretty much describes what it is, but basically, the idea is that you create a contract between you and your significant other that details terms of your romantic relationship.

Here’s a bit from the article:

The terms range from the familiar (“We will take care of each other when one of us is sick”) to the fanciful (“If we’re both sick, it’s all up to the dog”). In fact, Roscoe gets an entire section, detailing his walking schedules, vet visits and even how sweet we think he is.

We have a houseguest section (guests can stay for up to two weeks but must be mutually vetted) and an item that deals with Mark’s sweaty running clothes (“He agrees to hang these up in the spare room or on the back of the bathroom door but he wants Mandy to know that this may be a fairly common occurrence”).

We agree to split the bill when eating out with one exception: “Special meals (date night, celebrations, etc.) will not be split so one person can treat the other.”

Most couples would probably tackle these types of issues in their contracts:

  • Sex
  • Cleaning
  • Frequency of date nights
  • How often they see other friends alone

I love the idea of this! So much can go unsaid in a relationship, and these unexpressed feelings can eventually cause resentment and even worse – a breakup.

So. Would you create a relationship contract?

At this very moment, it seems a little too formal for me. It’s not even that I find it unromantic. It’s more that I tend to fluctuate in what I need from month to month. And I hate the idea that I don’t have fluidity in my relationships, especially one of the most important ones. But I realize I also have a problem in firmly sticking to plans; I like the idea that I can change my mind if the mood strikes (maybe that’s selfish, I don’t know?).

While the contract idea seems a little too rigid for my taste, I LOVE the idea of creating a couple mission statement. In the article, Len Catron writes:

Our contract addresses much of what must be negotiated in any relationship, especially when cohabitating. It begins with our reasons for being together: “We aspire to help each other be more ethically-minded and generous friends, community members and global citizens.” I know it sounds idealistic, but I’ve had relationships that left me feeling lonely and small. This time I wanted to be more intentional about looking outward as much as we look in.

This is beautiful. I often wonder what my boyfriend and I can do together to make the world a better place. As in, what benefits do we bring to the world when we are united?

In my relationship, my boyfriend pushes me to reach out to people more. In fact, just this afternoon, I was feeling lonely and depressed about my life in LA, and explaining to him how I don’t have the same connections I do in NY, and he reminded me that I’ve met a few women who I really liked and thought had close-friend potential. But I didn’t reach out enough to make that connection blossom. He encouraged me to reach out to them which is something I might be too timid to do on my own. Because of our relationship and his values that prioritize family and friends and loyalty, I’ve made a stronger effort to overcome social insecurity and connect more with people.

So, our mission statement would probably include helping each other foster connections and build a community in Los Angeles.

What are your thoughts on relationship contracts and mission statements?

 

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Fear of Loss in Relationships

When it comes to sustaining peaceful romantic relationships, I’m not the best. I try really hard, but I have bad anxiety, and that makes me fear the worst. My brain can get caught in a negative thought loop pretty quickly — “Will this last?” “Does he love me enough?” “What if he learns more about me and doesn’t want to be with me anymore?” Or worst, I place too much emphasis on the micro-moments of the relationship (like, what does it mean that he normally texts me around this time, but today he didn’t?) that I forget about to be present.  GAH! It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

So, basically, I’m terrified of losing, to the point where I may self-sabotage myself to subconsciously have the relationship end. Stupid, right?

I’m not sure how to get rid of this nagging feeling, other than the normal things, like going to therapy and obsessively googling self-help websites for fixes. I’ve read a lot of Buddhist teachings about how you need to recognize that you can’t be attached to anything forever. And by truly accepting that, you won’t suffer. But still, it’s hard to not feel deep attachment to someone you love.

I just know that I can’t act from that place of fear – from the fear of the relationship ending at any point. I have to remind myself that acting out of fear is destined to cause problems in any relationship I may have, because I’m not present.

One mind trick that helps me when I’m feeling anxious about my relationship is to think about the absolute worst case scenario. And when I think about how it’s not life or death, I know I will be okay.

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Can the 5 Love Languages Help Me Live Happily Ever After In My Thirties?

Have you heard of the 5 love languages? If not, you might be wondering why you’re having trouble connecting to certain people. Dr Gary Chapman, author of the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Laststalks about 5 languages that people ‘speak’ when it comes to feeling loved and expressing love.

These languages are:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

Dr Chapman, a marriage counselor for over 30 years, says that the love language that you speak to experience love is usually the same language you speak to offer love. So if your love language is ‘acts of service,’ you might feel especially loved when your partner does the dishes for you when you’re tired or when he or she cooks you dinner. And since your love language is ‘acts of service’ you might express love to your partner by driving him to work in the morning, or helping her carry some heavy boxes, or fixing his phone.

But issues can arise if and when your partner doesn’t speak the same language as you. So if your language is acts of service, like above, and you’re showing your partner how much you love him or her by doing tasks like the ones above, your partner might not feel the love if his or her love language is ‘words of affirmation.’ A partner whose love language is words of affirmation would want to hear you say nice things out of the blue- such as ‘I love you’ – and would want you to tell him or her all the happy things you’re feeling regarding the relationship.

This is where wires can cross and you or your partner can start to feel unsatisfied. If you feel love physically, obviously sex is important, but so are other acts of touch like hand holding and hugging. But again, if you’re with someone who feels love through quality time spent together, they might spend time with you and concentrate on you, but not give you massages or put their arms around you or kiss you enough for you to feel loved.

And quality time is an interesting one, because Dr Chapman differentiates between time spent together and QUALITY time spent together. Someone whose love language is ‘quality time’ likely saddens if their partner is constantly looking at a cellphone during times together, or isn’t making eye contact or actively listening during a conversation.

I definitely feel that love languages are real, but that there are love language combos, and that most people have more than one love language, though one might be stronger than the others. Here’s a test to take to find out what your love language is: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

My main love language according to my results is ‘quality time,’ followed closely by ‘words of affirmation’ and ‘physical touch.’ I was surprised that Words of Affirmation or Touch weren’t the highest ranking ones, but I think all three are up there. The love languages don’t have all the answers to relationship communication issues, but there’s definitely some wisdom here.

What’s your love language? Do you agree with the love languages? Do you think the love languages help you with your relationships?

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Turning 35 and A Great Relationship Analogy

Today I’m turning 35. I can hardly believe it. There’s something substantial about this age. It feels like I’m a real adult in the prime of my life. And the government must think so too, because, guys, I’m eligible to run for President now. Ha!

Anyway, birthday aside- I wanted to share something my co-worker told me yesterday that resonated.

I work in the film industry as a website editor, and my passion is screenwriting and television writing. Yesterday, my co-worker made an amazing analogy between what makes a successful film and what makes a successful relationship. Here goes the gist of what she said…

A film is ultimately art, right? The end goal is to make the audience feel something, touch their hearts in some way (even if it’s terrifying someone, as in the case of a horror movie). When I write, it’s to make people laugh and understand our shared humanity and maybe make them feel less alone. That’s what a good movie or TV show does for me.

But making films is also a business. You need to make money to be able to continue making films. The whole art and commerce thing…

So my co-worker’s analogy was this – the relationship between art and film is similar to the one between your heart and your head in a romantic partnership. Your heart may love the person you’re with, but your head may say that person is unhealthy for you. Ultimately, you want to find someone that you both love and is logically right for you.

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Will Male Birth Control Become a Thing In Your Thirties?

Let’s face it- the thirties are a time when we think about babies. If you haven’t had babies yet and want some, you might be thinking, ‘hmm, how old is too old to have babies?’ or ‘when can we get started?’ or ‘when will I find someone to get started with me?’ If you don’t want babies, you may be thinking, ‘wow, all my friends are having babies- how do I hide everyone I know on Facebook?’ or ‘what would happen if I accidentally had a baby? Would it ruin me financially?’ or ‘what’s the best way to stop from ever possibly having a baby? (Besides abstinence, duh).’

Whether you’re female or male, and whether you want kids or not, babies seem to pop up all around you during your thirties. I bet you have at least one friend who recently had a baby and at least 5 Facebook friends who are posting pictures of their little ones right now (I probably have at least 30 proud new parent Facebook friends…and no, I don’t mind. If any of you are reading this, I like it, seriously, post away).

If you’re female and don’t want to have kids- at least at the moment, there are many types of birth control options, including a pill that you annoyingly have to remember to take at the same time every day. This pill, a popular form of birth control, puts the responsibility of avoiding pregnancy squarely on the woman. The same can be said of BC options such as IUDs and Nuvarings, and patches and the like. But soon there might be another option.

I was reading an article just yesterday about a male birth control study done with human males (as opposed to mice males in the past), that used a new form of male birth control in the form of an injection. The injection was given to the males at set 8 week intervals for a certain amount of time, and after a few months, couples relied solely on the injections for birth control. The subjects were followed for about a year, and in that time about 2 in 100 women got pregnant. With regular, correct and careful use of condoms, about 3-5 out of 100 women will get pregnant, so the male birth control injections in this study have proven to be more effective birth control than condoms.

The problems the researchers are still dealing with are the side effects of the injections- some males complained of acne and mild depression…although female birth control methods like the pill can also have side effects- including crazy mood swings and weight gain- and those are out on the market anyway! 75% of the males in the study said they’d continue to use the method despite the side effects, so that’s promising, at least. And it’s nice to know the guys are into it.

As of now, there are bound to be many more studies before this form of male birth control will actually be out and useable. So maybe we won’t all still be in our thirties by then. But technology moves fast and I’m optimistic- so who knows?

If you’re a male reading this, would you take male birth control? Why or why not? If you’re female, do you feel like the burden of birth control rests too squarely on the woman? Or are you perfectly happy to be in charge of birth control?

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How Would You Answer This Question?

What would you say if someone asked you if you agreed with the below statement?

“I’m confident that eventually I will get what I want out of life.”

I would say yes. But I happen to be a pretty optimistic person generally (if, anxious).

In a study at Clark University completed by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, 655 thirtysomethings were asked the same question – if they agreed with the above statement.

And guess what percentage said yes? 87%. Not only that, but more than three quarters said they still feel like “anything is possible.”  That’s pretty impressive, especially considering how many thitysomethings feel like they aren’t where they want to be career-wise or personally (That’s my informal, completely un-researched opinion after talking to my friends).

Arnett, the researcher, was surprised by these results, and while he said they are admirable, he also felt they were unrealistic. That’s because he also asked these thirtysomethings if they have gotten as far in their careers as they’d hoped to be by now. And 56% of respondents (born between 1975 and 1984) said they haven’t gotten as far in their careers as they’d have hoped to by now. And 17% said they are not in a relationship now but would like to be.

Maybe it’s because we may not feel like we’re at the ‘destination’ of where we want to be, but we’re enjoying the ‘journey’ a heck of a lot. Personally, I do love the fact that I have more time and freedom right now than people with children or very demanding jobs. That time has allowed me to explore screenwriting and TV writing as a career.

We also might not be settling for less. We’re realizing that it may take a longer time to get exactly what we want, but it’s way better than settling for a mediocre career or relationship situation that society tells us is what we should have in our 30s.

If You Make A Lot of Money In Your Thirties, You Don’t Have to Spend it All (or, Did You Hear How Much Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutchers’s Wedding Bands Cost??)

Now that you’re in your thirties, it’s possible that you’re making more money than you used to. Maybe you’re making a lot more money, or maybe just a bit, but hopefully you’re getting to enjoy that difference in pay.

When I used to listen to Suze Orman’s podcasts- alas, she sadly retired from the podcast/TV scene recently- there was a segment called “Can I Afford It?”. In this segment, people would call in and tell Suze about something they wanted to buy. Then they would ask her if they had the money to afford the item. Suze asked them all the same basic questions about their financial situation, the most important ones being what their monthly income and their monthly expenses were.

The answers people gave to these income versus expenses questions were always enlightening. Sometimes people would call in with an income of $11,000 a month, but had monthly expenses hovering around $10,950 a month! And then there were people who would report an income around $3000 a month, but their expenses averaged  only $2,000 a month. Who do you think was better able to afford what they wanted to buy? It was weird to see the juxtaposition between the two.

Of course, it’s not always like this. Sometimes you can make a lot of money or a good amount of money, and simply not spend it all. I read an article today about Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher’s wedding bands. In an interview with Conan O’Brien, Mila was talking about how she saw that the wedding bands at Tiffany’s were ridiculously expensive. So she went on Etsy and found a nice wedding band for $90 and bought it for herself. Then she found Ashton’s wedding band for $100. So their grand total wedding band expense was $190! I’d imagine that’s a huge savings from the average cost of wedding bands today! And this wedding band was for one of the top paid actresses in Hollywood, who can absolutely afford one that was way more expensive!

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But a more expensive wedding band wasn’t worth it to her. This is an extreme example of how just because you make money doesn’t mean you have to spend it all. It’s also an example of how people cut costs on their wedding when they didn’t even have to, simply because some of the costs weren’t worth it to them. Of course, you don’t have to be cheap and hoard all your money either- being insanely cheap isn’t fun, and Suze Orman approves lots of purchases. After all, life is to be enjoyed! However, you can pick and choose which items and experiences are really worth spending your hard earned money on. And when you only purchase things that are worth it to you, you’ll end up making your purchases more special and exciting- even the little ones!

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 Click here to see the Mila Kunis interview about her Etsy wedding bands

 

The Sunk Cost Fallacy; Or Why It’s Never Too Late to Change Course

You know that psychological phenomenon called the sunk cost fallacy?  Basically it’s when you refuse to abandon something (a job, relationship, money investment, etc.) because you’ve already spent so much time or money on it.

As I head into my mid-30s (GULP), I talk to a lot of folks my age who are dissatisfied with their careers or certain aspects of their lives. But they’re hesitant to make a big change because they’re already invested on that path.

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And I get that. I mean, what if you’ve spent a decade being an expert in one field only to realize you really don’t enjoy working in that field? Do you just abandon all that? Or what if you’re in your early 30s and you’ve been in a relationship for six years but realize you’re unhappy but you desperately want kids and you feel the burden of your ticking clock. 

Well. I’m hear to give you permission to completely scrap something you’ve been with/at for years if it makes you unhappy or no longer calls to you. It’s OK. That’s the beauty of life. We are supposed to be constantly in flux.

And if you don’t leave something/someone that in your heart you know isn’t right for you, you’re simply wasting more time – because I guarantee – if your desire is strong and real enough, you will end up going a new direction towards that place anyway. It’s like psychological, subconscious magnetism. 

When I’ve made big decisions in my life – like moving to LA and committing to writing, I would remind myself of the quote “Fortune favors the bold.” And I’ve found it to be true. Moving here and deciding to go to graduate school was the best decision of my life. More opportunities have come my way than I ever could have imagined.

You’ve got to make moves (metaphorically, but literally in my case) to accomplish big things.

 

Does Getting Older Make You Like Romantic Comedies Less?

I saw Notting Hill a few days ago for the first time and I didn’t like it. To be fair, I was working on something on my computer at the same time so wasn’t giving it my absolute undivided attention, but I figured with a romantic comedy like Notting Hill, I probably wouldn’t need to. But maybe I actually did need to.

When I went through the online lists of everyone’s favorite romantic comedies, Notting Hill was on every list. I used to love romantic comedies but hadn’t watched many in awhile so I thought I’d get caught up this summer. Yet, everything about Notting Hill bothered me.

In a nutshell, Notting Hill is about an extremely famous actress played by Julia Roberts who walks into a bookstore in -gasp!- in Notting Hill and ends up meeting the owner of the store- a shy, very bookish (of course) and very single beta male played by Hugh Grant. They would have had a brief encounter and then would have never met again except that Hugh Grant’s character- by insane coincidence- literally runs into Julia’s character the next day and spills orange juice on her blouse, forcing her to go to his apt to change shirts. Thus begins their love story, with a first surprise kiss at his apt.

I don’t know why I found this whole tale so hard to swallow, or at least why it annoyed me so much. Many things about the movie bothered me that I don’t think would’ve bothered me in the past. The biggest issue I had was this:

Julia Roberts’ famous actress character pursued Hugh Grant’ character almost THE ENTIRE TIME. That’s why I called Hugh Grant’s character a beta male earlier- he never really took initiative to pursue her until the absolute very end. First of all, I don’t really believe this- the famous actress goes completely out of her way to pursue the bookish bookstore owner who doesn’t seem that into her? Also, I just can’t see this working in real life- is Julia going to mainly pursue him the entire relationship? Is Hugh ever going to take action? Especially if he couldn’t even take action most of the movie when a famous and funny and beautiful actress makes it ridiculously clear how into him she is. She even says one of the most famous lines in movie history to him:

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“I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her”…Swoon…

But Hugh still rejects Julia! To be fair, he’s hot. Maybe you get a pass if you’re hot. I guess he can meet anyone he wants even though he doesn’t seem to want to date and seems to prefer reading books to getting on Tinder. And it’s 1999 so he doesn’t have access to Tinder, to be fair.

But Julia is hot too. And famous. She can also presumably have anyone she wants. Maybe she only wants what she can’t have? Okay I guess I can understand that. Dammit, the ultimate quandary of women everywhere- wanting what we can’t have. Don’t we all, Julia. Don’t we all.

Also, another annoying moment occurs where Hugh’s sister suddenly announces to her family and friends that she’s getting married- even though she’s single and hasn’t been dating anybody. Everyone is shocked and no one can figure out what’s going on. But then the sister leans over and whispers to Hugh’s roommate (who has otherwise been shown in the movie as an annoying drunk nutcase who wanders outside in his underwear) that she has picked him to marry. He bravely says okay. This could be cute if it didn’t seem like the relationship would end so badly in the long run. It would start off as another case of the woman taking complete initiative and then would more than likely be that way the entire marriage…which might not last that long at that rate. Because in this case the future groom doesn’t have the ability to take care of himself never mind the ability to be in a long term relationship with another person.

Could my analysis of this movie be way too harsh? Am I just more into fairness in relationships now that I’m older? Am I cynical because of all my past relationships? Am I too aware of red flags..so now seeing them, even in romantic comedies, causes me to squirm? (and not in a good way)? Could these be the main issues I’m having with Notting Hill? …None of this actually being the fault of the movie?

Come to think of it, while I was writing this blogpost, I actually felt tempted to rewatch Notting Hill, even though I just saw it a few days ago. I remember some of the funnier moments now that most of my annoyance and cynicism is out of my system. Notting Hill has been growing on me with time and a bit of distance- and I think some distance and possibly a healthy love of escapism are what’s needed for movies like this to work. You see, I really do like romantic comedies.

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Le sigh

 

 

Dating in Your 30s When You Want Children

How do you date when you’re 34 and you know you want children? Not when you have the feeling of ‘well, if I find the right guy and the timing lines up,’ but the unexplainable feeling deep in your gut that motherhood is a life experience that is a very much a part of you, even if you haven’t gotten close to experiencing it. Well, I’m 34, I know I want children, and I can tell you it’s tough.

It’s tough to keep this deep desire hidden, closeted away because you know that  rationally, it’s weird/awkward/too soon and quite frankly, somewhat unfair, to bring up kids and family in the first six months of a new relationship. That’s a huge question to bring to the table when you’re just starting to get to know someone. Obviously, the very basic question of if you both want to marry and have children should be addressed. But you can’t quite talk about it at length without feeling like an intense weirdo. At least I can’t.

So how can you let the natural evolution of getting to know someone happen? How can you just play it cool? Is there even a point to playing it cool?

A few of my close friends have children or are pregnant, and for so long, our life paths were linked up – we could commiserate when we hated our jobs, or celebrate when one of us got engaged – but now, things have shifted in a big way. I can’t understand what it’s like to be married for a few years and perhaps hit a snag, or what it’s like to experience that fugue state, first year of new motherhood.

Sometimes I wonder where I went wrong – how did I get to be 34 and so close to that danger zone when I know I want children? Thirty-seven is when fertility seems to decline in a major way (according to a good old Google search). Okay, let me be honest with myself. I do know what happened. I was in a six year long relationship and I let time slide, not quite realizing how all that time spent would affect my life down the line.

While people say “You have time!,” they don’t really get it. Sure, I have time to have a baby, but there’s all that other stuff that comes before baby – getting to know someone, letting your relationship evolve and finally getting to that point. And then, you hopefully want a year or two of experiencing married life without a new baby…so no, there isn’t time.

So, what does one do? All I know is that motherhood will be a part of my life. And if I don’t make it naturally in time, there are other options. Adopting and fostering are the two that come to mind.

I think about the idea of motherhood as a concept a lot lately. It can mean a lot of different things that aren’t conventional. It’s about taking care of someone – imparting knowledge, helping bring someone to their highest potential. And there’s a lot of ways to do that.

Togetherness and Continuing to Find Yourself In Your Thirties

One of my favorite new HBO shows, Togetherness, just got cancelled a few weeks ago. It’s a darn tragedy, because the show was brilliant and touching and all about the thirties.

Togetherness features four thirty-somethings all in unique places in their romantic and career lives. Two of them are a married couple with a house and kids. The other two are single, with one’s career (as an actor) taking off and the other’s (as the bringer of blow up castles to parties (really) ) stalling.

Throughout the two season series, the marriage of the main couple shows some slow-building cracks and begins to fall apart. The husband quits his job as a sound designer for movies and starts driving an Uber. The wife adds a volunteer job of starting a charter school to her stay-at-home-mom life and finds some happiness and power in doing that. Hook ups happen, cheating happens, drugs happen,  moments of intense clarity happen, kick the can in the park happens, characters grow into new jobs, characters find new parts of themselves, characters find new friends, characters fight, characters crash on couches, characters crash cars. Basically, a lot of the tumult and highs and lows and crazy and silly of the twenties happens here… in a more…grown up way? It’s hard to explain it except that I recognize it, and it’s amazing how this show has managed to capture it. Characters have already grown into themselves, but they’re growing into themselves again and again and again in their thirties.

What this show captures is what Jane and I have been trying to figure out here on this blog, but haven’t ever completely been able to pin down: that feeling of starting to know who you are and then using that knowledge to go with the new version of yourself that’s already begun to develop and will develop differently again and again. There’s a fluidity to a thirty-something that grows out of a solid foundation already built earlier. Meaning: you’ve already found a lot of yourself during or right before your thirties, but that self changes and grows and shifts and then is found over and over again. The thirties are about recognizing, from the self that you’ve already found, the changes that are happening to you. A thriving thirties decade is also about being able to communicate those changes with both yourself and with others. Also it’s about recognizing that you can’t compare your life with the lives of your friends and relatives- some people will have their careers laid out, some people will be switching around. Some people will have kids, some will stay single, some will get divorced. Your road is your own.

What makes the characters in Togetherness amazing is their ability to communicate with each other (eventually) throughout the series. Sometimes it takes a complete breakdown in communication, but the ‘togetherness’ of Togetherness stems from each fiercely independent character equally fiercely wanting to reach out to one another. The early marriage breakdown in the show stemmed from very slow communication breakdowns- nothing huge or obvious, just slow cracks. The show begins with shedding light on the cracks, which have to be revealed in order to be repaired. I feel like a lot of finding yourself in your thirties is about shedding light on slow cracks that have built up, tending to them, and rebuilding again and again.

Hopefully, there will be other shows this good at capturing the thirties decade. Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen Togetherness, what are you waiting for? Go watch it and enjoy!

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How Many Serious Relationships Did You Have Before You Got Married?

518903791_c_570_411Did you see the recent NY Times article 13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married? Basically, the gist of the article is that you and your partner should sit down and ask these questions before you say “I do.” The questions are interesting and different from what you might expect. The first question surprised me: Did your family throw plates, calmly discuss issues or silently shut down when disagreements arose? That doesn’t seem like a question I’d think to ask, but I guess it makes sense. Having similar communication styles seem to be one of the most important barometers of if a couple will stand the test of time.

The most interesting question to me was: Will our experiences with our exes help or hinder us? 

I was a bit confused by this question. Personally, I would assume all relationships with exes would help a couple – because you’d have all that past experience that you’ve hopefully learned and grown from. But, apparently, it’s more complicated than that. Some research points to the idea that if you’ve had more serious relationships before getting married, you have a higher risk for divorce and lower marital quality.

As stated in the article:

Bradford Wilcox, the director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, pointed to research his organization has sponsored that indicated that having had many serious relationships can pose a risk for divorce and lower marital quality. (This can be because of a person having more experience with serious breakups and potentially comparing a current partner unfavorably with past ones.)

I can kind of understand it though it strikes me as counter-intuitive. I guess the idea of divorce isn’t as scary if you’ve already had a breakup for a relationship that was years long. Last year, I ended a 6+ year relationship and it felt like a divorce, without the added stress of having to have a legal separation. Maybe the logic of the research is that people who’ve survived many breakups of serious relationships understand that we are malleable as people, and can come out the other side, so divorce becomes a less scary option.

How many serious relationships did you have before you married? Since I’m not married myself, I can’t answer this question yet. But if I look at my friends’ marriages, it seems to me they all had about 1-2 serious relationships before they got married. I wondered if that’s considered “many” by the researchers.

Baby Fever in Your Thirties

Baby Fever in Your Thirties

I’ve always been a fan of cute things.

I love little animals, especially baby animals, and can watch cute cat videos for quite awhile- sometimes over and over again. When people talk to me about their dog or cat or any cuddly pet really, I always want to see a picture. Or two. Or three.

And I think I’ve always kinda loved really cute babies too. Cute human ones, I mean. But although I’ve always found some human babies cute, I’m quite particular, and I never really liked kids, even when I was one myself.

Lately though, I’ve noticed my love of cute little things increasing even more. I’ve always loved cute animals, but now I’m absolutely obsessed with them. I squee out loud when I see an adorable puppy in a sweater, and photos of baby pigs and pandas can bring happy tears to my eyes.

Today at work I saw an adorable baby with tufts of crazy hair sticking out everywhere. He/she made me really happy. I pointed him/her out to my coworker, a male in his late thirties, and he said ‘awww, so cute’ and then asked, ‘Do you have baby fever?’

I immediately said no, and felt embarrassed and even ashamed, weirded out by that question, especially from a guy. Baby fever seems like such a cliche in your thirties. But then he informed me that he thought HE was having baby fever- not only noticing cute kids way more, but getting obsessed with his nieces and nephews like never before.

So that was shocking. Maybe baby fever isn’t just a cliche woman thing, but can happen to guys too. He’s in his late thirties, so perhaps it happens to guys a bit later? Is baby fever even a real thing? Does being in your thirties cause this for some people?

I don’t know if I have baby fever, really. At least, I won’t admit it just yet. But I love cute things, for sure.

And so I conclude with a video of a cat building an igloo in the snow. And just in time for easter: some of my favorite very cute bunnies. And all of their friends. 🙂

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30 Women Around the Globe Reflect on Life at 30

International Women’s Day was just last week- March 8th. In honor of that day, Stylist magazine interviewed 30 women, all age 30, from all over the world. Here’s the link to that article: This is what 30 looks like: women across the world share their experiences. 

The women talked about their careers right now, whether they were single, married, or in a relationship, whether or not they had children, whether they were where they thought they’d be at 30, and more.

The biggest thing I noticed about the article was the discrepancy in the experiences and the voices. Every woman was at a different point in their life- some were 30 and worried about being single, some were 30 with 3 kids. Some were 30 and stay at home moms, some were 30 and running their own business. Some were 30 and worried about money. Some were 30 and worried about going outside at night because in their country they might be raped or killed. “Women aren’t safe. I can’t walk the streets for fear of being killed or raped; this is the product of patriarchy in my country.” – Sandra de la Cruz, Lima Peru.

Some were super happy with their lives while single, some super happy while married with kids. Some seemed unsatisfied while single, some seemed unsatisfied married with 3 kids. I feel like reading about all these different experiences for women at 30 really fights the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) issue that I sometimes have. I want to do everything at once. I want to experience life with my own business, and also maybe have a life learning at another company. I want to experience being pregnant and having a child, but also experience being happily married into my fifties and sixties without a child interrupting, and without the life-changing responsibilities of a child.

It’s hard to want everything at once, and to want everyone else’s experiences too. This happens to me sometimes- I’m in a happy vacuum alone, enjoying my time, but then someone will tell me about something they’ve done, and I’ll want to do it too.

The article really brought home how different experiences can all be valid and happy-making, and there’s no one portrait of what a thirty-something’s life should be like. Follow your own happiness and make your own life and you won’t miss out on anything.

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Where Do People Meet Their Significant Others?

I’m currently reading comedian Aziz Ansari’s “Modern Romance” – a book about how modern relationships form and grow with all the new online dating technology at our disposal. It’s pretty fascinating to see how things have changed.

One of my favorite sections of the book so far explores how people meet their husbands/wives. According to the research cited in the book –

In 1940, the two biggest ways heterosexual Americans met their spouses/significant others was through family (24%) and friends (21%).

Now however, things have changed because we’ve got the internet. Between 2005 and 2012, one third of couples who got married met online. Wowza.

The most interesting surprise for me was that in 1995, the portion of people who met through friends – 40% –  fell drastically in 2010 to 28%.

Personally, I’d much prefer to meet someone through friends than online. And I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling. So why is there this big drop? We all still go out with our friends, right? We’re all looking to set our friends up, right?

Maybe it’s that we’re so absorbed in our phones when we go out that we’re not paying much attention to the people at the bar, or at the music or sporting event we’re at. Our little online bubbles provide us with much needed stimulation, but they’re taking away the opportunity to really engage with ‘friends of friends.’ What a shame.

Maybe we’ve become too cynical – and we think we have a better chance online than meeting a new friend at a bar. Or maybe our friends just assume we have our little online dating bubble and they don’t want to interfere.

Whatever the case may be, I say meeting through friends of friends can be one of the best ways to meet a future partner. So if you’re hosting a night out, why not play matchmaker and send some good karma out into the world?

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