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?

2e384a80aee08f80a1f6af069a703177

 

 

Advertisements

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!

togetherness-season-2_article_story_large

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.

Missing Out by Not Having a Wedding

The other night I watched the first episode of the Netflix documentary series, Chelsea Does. It’s a non-fiction show by comedian Chelsea Handler where she explores one topic in-depth each episode, including topics like racism, silicon valley and marriage.

The first episode is about marriage. Chelsea says she’s never been one to fantasize about weddings. And quite frankly, neither have I.  The idea of walking down the aisle and being the center of attention sounds very unappealing to me.

But you know what does sound appealing? The celebration of friendship that weddings offer. Think about it – your closest pals give speeches, they throw you a bridesmaid party, and they write sweet, sentimental things about you in scrapbooks. Also, sometimes your bachelorette or bridal shower is the one time in your life that all of your female friends will be together. How awesome is that? It’s pretty amazing. I love going to bridal events and meeting all of the other friends my friends have from different periods of their lives.

So when I think about not yet being married or having a wedding, I think about missing out on those friend bonding experiences.

Maybe there should be an alternate event for those non-married folks? Like a mandatory all-close-friend birthday getaway?

challenge_92_02.jpg

 

The Pressure of Being An Unmarried Woman in Your 30s

While the number of single people in the United States is increasing (it’s now 50.2% of Americans…wowza!), the stigma attached to being a single woman in her 30s has not lessened. This is according a study that was done at the University of Missouri in 2009.

Here’s one of the study’s authors explaining how the pressure feels for women:

“We found that never-married women’s social environments are characterized by pressure to conform to the conventional life pathway. This pressure was manifested in women feeling highly visible and invisible. Heightened visibility came from feelings of exposure and invisibility came from assumptions made by others.”

-Larry Ganong, co-chair of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences.

Apparently, unmarried women feel the pressure most acutely between the ages of 25 and 35. As an unmarried 33 year old woman, I can definitely relate. Nothing shocking in that study. But for me, the pressure is less about conforming to a conventional way of life, and more about these silent judgmental feelings I think that other, married or older, people are thinking about me – the big WHY of me not being married yet. WHY haven’t I been “found” yet? It’s like the first round of a football draft – and having this feeling of not being a first round pick.

It takes a lot of self-work to get over those feelings, especially if you are someone who consciously wants to find a life partner and get married.

Another interesting tidbit from the study is that after age 35, the pressure dies down a bit. I guess that’s when the hub-bub of engagements, weddings and  first babies dies down, and the collective societal pressure relaxes a bit.

If the trend of ‘singledom’ in American continues to increase, do you think the stigma will lessen? Or is the stigma biologically and evolutionarily ingrained in us so that we can continue desiring a mate and ultimately, children?

 

Are You Dating Someone You’re Simply Tolerating?

You know that excited feeling when you’re doing something you really want to do and you’re doing it really well?

Maybe you’re totally in the zone at work. Or you’re giving a speech and people are laughing, hollering and applauding. Or you’re working on an artistic project and your creative juices are absolutely flowing. Or you’re about to see your best friend and have a blast and you’re just like ‘hell yeah!’

That feeling of ‘hell yeah!’ is one of the best feelings ever! Things just feel so right. Wouldn’t it be amazing to surround yourself only with people that give you that feeling?

When you’re with people who give you that kind of excited buzz inside, time seems to fly by and even a cup of coffee together can become an adventure. I have lots of people like that in my life who I’m absolutely thrilled to hang out with- and I’m honored to call them my friends and family.

However, in the dating and relationship world, all of this excited buzz can sometimes become an anxiety-filled drone. The rules of the exciting buzz in the friendship world seem to warp in the dating and relationship world; It’s a funny gray area where the following stressful thoughts may become commonplace:

  • How come she didn’t text me for three days?
  • What does he mean when he says he’s scared of a relationship?
  • Why is he acting moody no matter what I do? Has he stopped liking me?
  • Why is she acting distant and cold for weeks?
  • Why are his texts so short and he asks me no questions about myself?
  • How come he was nice to me yesterday but seems to be ignoring me today?

Today, Jane forwarded me a HuffPo article called “What It Really Means When A Guy Says He’s Scared.” The gist of the article is that when a guy says he’s scared of dating you or having a relationship, it’s actually total BS. I already knew this fact, but it’s a good reminder. The HuffPo article was basically a one page version of the book “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Basically, the author says that only one out of ten guys saying something like “I’m scared of dating you/being in a relationship with you/marrying you” really means it (and you don’t actually want that one guy who really means it anyway- I’ll explain why in a second).

Okay, it’s been a second. Basically, the article references something I’ve written about before on this blog, but my post was over a year ago, so I feel the message (since it’s extremely important and useful) needs repeating. Here’s the message, in so many words:

If something is not a “fuck yes!” then it’s a no. 

That’s it. This is a mantra for most of life, but it’s especially true in relationships.

Mark Manson explains it best in his brilliant article, aptly titled “Fuck Yes or No.” Here’s the law of fuck yes or no, succinctly written by Manson:

The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.

The Law of “Fuck Yes or No” also states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.

That’s it. It’s simple. Live this law, and your dating/relationship life will get so much brighter.

So if someone hasn’t been texting you back for days, then they aren’t saying ‘fuck yes’ to you, so it’s a no. Simple. Move on.

If someone has been awesome to you on dates but then disappears until you stalk them down, it doesn’t seem like they’re saying ‘fuck yes’ to you. So say ‘fuck no’ to them. And move on.

If you’re constantly feeling anxious and stressed around a person you’ve been seeing, you’re not feeling ‘fuck yes’ around them. Cut ties. Go forward.

Most dating advice out there exists to fix a gray area: “what exactly can I say to make her like me?” “What should I wear to make him want me?” “How do I ‘play the game’ to make him call?” “What can I do to make him text more?”

But what if it’s simpler than that? If you’re uncertain for quite awhile, it’s a gray area, and therefore not a ‘fuck yes.’ Don’t you want to date someone who you know is saying “fuck yes!” to being with you? Don’t you want to have that wonderful buzz of “fuck yes!” when dating someone? Imagine NOT having to sit in that damn gray area where you’re trying to CONVINCE someone to say say ‘fuck yes’ to you! Or, possibly even worse, trying to convince yourself to say ‘fuck yes’ to someone who just doesn’t do it for you.

Here are some of the benefits of the fuck yes or no dating style, once again in the genius words of Mark Manson:

  1. “No longer be strung along by people who aren’t that into you. End all of the headaches. End the wishing and hoping. End the disappoint and anger that inevitably follows. Start practicing self-respect. Become the rejector, not the rejected.
  2. No longer pursue people you are so-so on for ego purposes. We’ve all been there. We were so-so about somebody, but we went along with it because nothing better was around. And we all have a few we’d like to take back. No more.
  3. Consent issues are instantly resolved. If someone is playing games with you, playing hard to get, or pressuring you into doing something you’re unsure about, your answer is now easy. Or as I often like to say in regards to dating, “If you have to ask, then that’s your answer.”
  4. Establish strong personal boundaries and enforce them. Maintaining strong boundaries not only makes one more confident and attractive, but also helps to preserve one’s sanity in the long-run.
  5. Always know where you stand with the other person. Since you’re now freeing up so much time and energy from people you’re not that into, and people who are not that into you, you now find yourself perpetually in interactions where people’s intentions are clear and enthusiastic. Sweet!”

Adopt this mentality, and reap the benefits of lots of ‘fuck yes’ time spent with exciting things and people who actually bring you joy!

Being Single Is the New Married

This month last year, for the first time in over 40 years, the percentage of single adult Americans tipped over 50% to about 50.2%.  This is in stark contrast to the 1950s, when about 22% of adult Americans were single. So if you’re feeling bad about being single in your 30s, or feeling like a third wheel when you go to another BBQ at your married friends house, remember that the majority of us out there are single.

Surely there are lots of reasons for this trend, and lots of interesting speculation from experts in various disciplines.  Eric Klinenberg, a sociology professor at New York University and the author of Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, had some interesting things to say about why people are choosing not to settle down.

“People are spending a big chunk of their lives — much of the 20s and even into their 30s, increasingly — becoming a grown up. They’re investing their time in their job, they feel anxious about their career and they’re having a very difficult time moving into that next stage of what we’ve traditionally thought of as grown-up life.” – Eric Klinenberg

I like that quote because it makes me feel better about the fact that often times I still feel like I’m clawing my way into adulthood.

Klinenberg also talked about how single people may be reluctant to give up living alone.

“People who live alone have a degree of control over their time and space that very few other people have. They have a chance for solitude, and kind of a productive solitude. We live in this moment of incredible hyper-connection and we’re always engaged with social life through social media. When you live alone, you have a little oasis in your apartment.”

Having lived alone for over three years, I can relate to that sentiment. While I also loved living with a partner, there’s an undefinable sweet joy about creating a “room of one’s own.”

So what do you think? Is this a trend that will continue to rise upward?

Are You Working Too Hard On Your Relationship In Your Thirties?

“Relationships are hard work.”

I hear this a lot. And I think it’s kinda confusing.

Many things are hard work. Sometimes it’s hard work to drag myself out of bed when it’s really early. Or to figure out how to fix a laptop when it’s broken. There’s a good amount of work involved in completing a marathon. Or confronting someone when you’re upset with them. Or asking for a raise. Or building the Golden Gate Bridge.

I guess what I’m saying is that hard work is hard to define.

What constitutes hard work? What amount of work does it take… to build a relationship? Or to build an actual ship? To build the pyramids of Giza?

There’s a lot of different degrees of hard work. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I’ve come up with a theory. I think it’s possible you’re working too hard in your relationship.

Relationships definitely take work. Most things that need to be built take some form of work. But there’s work that fits well with you and is flowing from a place of natural strength, and there’s work that doesn’t quite fit- the work of getting that octagonal peg in that frustrating triangular hole.

Let me explain. Think of the worst possible career you can imagine having. I asked a few people this question, and got some funny answers…I heard everything from embalmer to physics teacher to construction worker. One person even said ‘heart surgeon.’ Now, heart surgeon is a pretty complex and difficult career, and I can’t imagine doing it. It wouldn’t be exciting for me to have someone’s life in my hands like that on most days. I don’t think I’d be very good at being a surgeon because I’d be too anxious. I would dread going into work every day. I’d be downright afraid.

Now, if someone put a gun to my head and said “You HAVE to be a heart surgeon for the rest of your life or I’ll KILL you and everyone you know!!” I’d make the best of it. I’d work hard to make myself into the best doctor I could be. And it would be really, really hard.

However, there are people who very much LIKE being heart surgeons. It’s a competitive field! Those doctors go into the hospital everyday and are happy to work at their chosen career.

And get this- the heart surgeons who love being heart surgeons still have to do WORK….they can’t come into the hospital and go to sleep. They can’t eat Doritos in the corner after opening up a patient’s chest cavity. They can’t say “Eh, I don’t feel like it today. No surgery for you. I’m gonna go watch the Yankee game instead.”

There’s still hard work involved for a happy heart surgeon! But the work’s much easier because it goes with who the surgeon is and the career that fits with his or her personality.

Now, that same happy heart surgeon might feel like they’d have to do a ton more hard work if they were forced into a career as a model.

Do you see what I mean?

So, although it’s totally possible that you’re not doing enough work in the relationship that’s actually the right one for you (are you the happy heart surgeon eating Doritos in the corner while someone’s heart suffers?) it’s also possible that you’re doing way too much work (are you a physics teacher working your darndest to have a career as an embalmer?) Haha, okay, that’s weird, but you get the point.

Perhaps you’re following the good advice that relationships are hard work and so you’re working hard. But are you working too hard on the wrong thing?

It’s not an easy question.

valentinesday

Unfairness Ever After- Or ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding Divorce’

Tonight I just saw My Best Friend’s Wedding for the second time ever. The first time was probably back when it was in the theater, or somewhere around then. That was over 15 years ago!

I’m a big Romantic Comedy fan- chick flicks very much included. I enjoy their fluffiness and the guilty pleasure of them. Which is why I found My Best Friend’s Wedding to be very disappointing the first time I saw it. The ending was especially shocking. Spoiler Alert ahead! Stop reading if you want to watch My Best Friend’s Wedding and haven’t seen it for the last 18 years… It’s currently streaming on Netflix 🙂

Anyway, if you’re still reading, you know the end of the movie (or don’t care if it’s spoiled). Julia Roberts doesn’t get the guy! It doesn’t feel comfortable and fluffy at the end!

Even after THE WHOLE MOVIE is a set up for Julia (Julianne in the movie) to steal the guy (her best friend Michael) away from his sudden fiance (Kimmy- who gets engaged to Michael on a whim right when they first meet), Julia doesn’t get him to be with her! Julia spends the entire film plotting to tear the engaged couple apart and …fails miserably! What??! Even though it seems like Michael likes Julia and is secretly into her throughout the whole movie (there are A LOT of mixed signals from him…which I really noticed this time), at the end, when Julia FINALLY confesses her love to Michael, he’s just not that into her…even after acting like he was the whole time. He simply wants to go ahead with his planned wedding and marry Kimmy. WTF?

And Julia and Michael had been friends for 9 years and promised each other that if they weren’t married by 28 (!! That’s young!!), they’d get married! And they were 28! But he was marrying someone else instead..

I actually looked up “my best friend’s wedding ending” on google tonight and there are a bunch of articles going back and forth about the ending. Some people demanded a sequel where Michael and his ditzy new wife got divorced within ten years…some sequel ideas even called for Julia and Kimmy to become friends and forget about Michael. Approximately no one thought the marriage in My Best Friend’s Wedding was going to last. Michael was 28 and Kimmy was only 20 after all! And she dropped out of school to be with him!

However, both this time and the first time I watched the movie, I liked the ending, even though it felt somewhat unfair in Romantic Comedy world. I think the ending was ahead of its time… it didn’t pull the usual happily ever after story in the traditional sense, but may have set up an even happier life for the protagonist in a totally unforeseen way. This is true in real life. A lot of times the happiest endings come after a lot of heartbreak, are totally unforeseen, and aren’t really endings anyway….cause it’s not over till its over.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s what I took away from the ending of My Best Friend’s Wedding:

Lesson 1- You don’t always end up with the guy you love. (Or the girl you love). 

Sometimes they’re just not that into you. Even though they seemed to be.

Lesson 2- Sometimes you’re pretty sure someone likes you, but they don’t. 

Mixed signals suck. Additionally, it sucks to be sure your intuition is right, but then it’s actually wrong.

Lesson 3- Sometimes the one you love goes for the most random little hot ditzy person, instead of the amazing hot you. (Or maybe you’re the amazing hot little ditzy person, and you still end up with love unrequited. Damn.)

Lesson 4. Life is unfair.

Yep. Take a number.

Lesson 5. But maybe, honestly, when the person you love just wasn’t that into you and you ended up without them, you actually dodged a bullet and are ending up on a way better path. That guy (or girl) didn’t see you for the incredible, exceptionally hot person that you are. Your loved one didn’t appreciate you! Life’s too short to pretend to be someone you’re not, so find the person who is super into you. This is a hard lesson…

Lesson 6- “There may not be marriage, and there may not be sex, but by god there will be dancing!”

(Best line of the movie.)

Life’s more than just a search for romance. Enjoy life, enjoy your awesome time here, and everything is so much better. For this moment, there may not be requited love, and there may not be total fairness, but by god there will be dancing!

67802eda71fe80c41d4df55c41b43027

A Crazy Marriage Statistic Courtesy of Aziz Ansari

Comedian Aziz Ansari has partnered up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to write a book on modern dating titled Modern Romance. Ansari has been doing tons of press for the book, and in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, he shared a “stat that rocked his world” – about marriage. The statistic was that in 1967, a study was done that revealed that 76% of women would marry someone they were not romantically in love with. Is that crazy or what? At first I was blown away, but when I started thinking about it, in the 1960’s, wo41LaBpUJBHL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_men of marrying age would have been raised by homemaker mothers and influenced in many ways by the culture of the 1950’s, which were their formative years.

Playing the devil’s advocate here, maybe it’s not so crazy to marry someone you’re not romantically in love with. when you really think about it. Especially in light of the success of many arranged marriages. Sometimes, the passion grows over time. I know a few people whose first few dates with their future husbands were lackluster, but their relationships ended up evolving into something more passionate. I’ve been watching their stellar show on FYI (owned by A&E) called Marriage at First Sight and it’s highly addictive. Have you seen it? I’m only on Season 1, and I know there’s some major controversy in Season 2, but so far, I’m loving it. The premise is that strangers are paired up together by a sociologist, sexologist and a psychologist based on extensive questionnaires they all take before they are matched up.

M5A2vKrHp6E.market_maxres

I like the show because it feels real and more about the psychological principles behind making a relationship work, as opposed to cheap thrills reality entertainment. I’m going to have to keep watching to see if any of the three couples in Season 1 make it work!

Going back to the study Ansari referenced, what do you think about the statistic (the percentage of women who would marry someone they’re not romantically interested in).  What do you think the percentage would be if the study was done today?

Portrait of a Thirty-Something: Janna Davis

We’re extremely excited to share our fourth featured Portrait of A Thirtysomething with you: Here’s the fantastic Janna Davis!

Janna’s a Corporate Presenter like me, and I get to work with her all the time! I’m so lucky! 🙂 Jane and I have been looking forward to sharing Janna’s interview with you for awhile, as Janna’s extremely open and very articulate regarding the challenges of both the 20s and 30s. My favorite part is Janna’s musings about still not exactly knowing what she wants to be when she grows up.

If you’d like to be a part of Portrait of a Thirtysomething, please let us know! Just shoot us an email at omgimthirty@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you! 🙂

Without further ado, here’s Janna!

Name/Age/Location:  Janna Davis/33/Astoria, NY

Occupation: Dancer/Actor/Model/Corporate Presenter
FullSizeRender (1)

Janna Davis- photo courtesy of Abigail Classey at Tea for Two Photography 

What’s the accomplishment you’re most proud of in your 30s so far?  

 At 30, I had recently moved to Los Angeles, where I had wanted to live since I was a child, and was finally getting settled in my career, finances, social life, faith and living situation.  A friend set me up with my now-husband, who happened to live in NY, a place that scared me and that I despised from everything I knew of it.  After a month of saying no, I finally allowed myself to step out of my comfort zone and entertain the idea of a long-distance relationship, something I said I’d never do.  A year of back and forth travel and an engagement later, I moved to NYC- something I said I’d never do- to be with a boy, also something I said I’d never do.  Two years of marriage, a roller coaster ride of a move across the country and countless hours of hard work to re-establish all of the things I would have sworn I would never walk away from to have to start from the ground up was a doozie to say the least.  Yet, here I am and all of that hard work is what I’m most proud of.  Of course, what I am most proud of was something that was initially largely out of my control.  However, I’m proud that I wasn’t so stubborn to close the door on a relationship that has been -and God-willing will continue to be- so fruitful because I felt like I had to hold onto my present situation.  In my 20’s, I don’t think I would have had the courage and faith to trust that everything would have worked out better than I could have even hoped for.
 
What do you NOT miss about your 20s? 
 
I do not miss having low self-esteem.  I struggled with body issues since I was a teenager and they were the worst when I was in my 20s and living as an adult for the first time.  While I was not fat, I was overweight to be a dancer (the career that I had trained for as a child and teenager) and I truly felt disgusting and unworthy of love.  While the eating disorders that get the most PR are anorexia and bulimia, the oft-neglected cousin is overeating, or bingeing and purging, just without throwing up.  Indeed low self-esteem can take on many forms.  Mine took the form of trying to be anorexic, “failing” when I got hungry, bingeing on a days worth of food, sometimes stolen from a roommate, and then starving myself until I got hungry again.  Luckily, with maturity, some education and prayer, I no longer suffer from low self-esteem and am happy to say that I have a healthy relationship with food.  (Although sometimes I like pizza a little too much for my own good.)
Looking back, what shouldn’t you haven’t been afraid of in your 20s? 
 

I shouldn’t have been afraid of being too old to do certain things.  I trained to be a professional dancer since I was young, and at 18 I auditioned for several ballet companies.  I did not immediately get accepted by any of the companies I auditioned for.  However, I took that to mean that I wasn’t good enough and that I wouldn’t ever be good enough.  I felt like dancers were retiring at 22 and by 18 you should have already “made it.”  This thought of being too old and not good enough carried into many aspects of my life. I would quit things before giving them much of a chance or before even starting because I thought I was too old.  Looking back, it’s actually pretty ridiculous.

Any surprises about what your 30s are like? 
 
I didn’t think that I would still struggle with a question I’ve been asked since I was a child: “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  I only thought about being a dancer when I was a child and later realized that I would have to go to college and pick a major.  I still had no idea what I wanted to do as a career.  After college I started to pursue acting but still always felt that maybe there was something else that I should be doing as a career.  In my 30’s I’m dancing again, pursuing acting, working in the trade show industry and running the trade show networking group United Trade Show Talent.  At one point I thought that maybe I should abandon anything performance related and I got my cosmetology license and worked in the beauty industry.  Sometimes I still wonder what I truly want to do, or maybe I’ve found it and just haven’t realized it.  It’s certainly not a question I thought I would be asked and still asking myself at 33.
 
What do you find most challenging about this decade? 
 
It’s so trite to say, but I find it extremely hard to have balance.  As a 30-something, you’re supposed to have it all.  An established career, a house (or a nice apt if you’re in NYC like me), a significant other, time for new friends and old, time for family, and perhaps a family of your own.  I feel like I have less time than I’ve ever had and whenever I devote a good amount of time to one category, the others suffer, or I don’t have time to clean my own underwear.  I still fall asleep most nights on the couch and have to be woken up by my husband to take out my contacts, floss, and put in my mouthguard.  Life is hard (yet wonderful) and I only have my own life to take care of.
 
What are you most looking forward to? Be it tonight, next month or ten years from now.  
 
Once a week, I take a day off to celebrate “Shabbat” or the Sabbath-day of rest and get together with other like-minded individuals to thank God, sing His praises, and then later take a nap after eating Chinese food and watching The Breakfast Club.  I don’t think the second part of that is in the Bible, but it should be because it’s awesome.  I work hard during the week, so it’s necessary to be able to take a day off from all things work and realize that life still goes on.
 
What would you like to hear more about regarding the thirties. What articles would you like to read? 
 
I love learning about finance.  I feel like so many people in their 30’s already have a good grasp on finance-related issues and I’d love to start feeling like I’m confident to be able to start making wise investment choices.  Also, let’s face it, we’re not getting any younger and neither are our parents.  I’d love to be able to hear how people make time to spend with their families.  Finally, as people are choosing to have children later, I’d love to hear more about what makes 30 year olds decide to have children and their experiences after children.  

Read more about Janna below:

Janna Davis is originally from Virginia Beach, VA. After staging several full length ballets for her Barbies, it was decided that indeed, she wanted to dance.  She trained at the Governor’s School for the Arts and Academie de Ballet and at many summer programs including The Juilliard School.  She attended James Madison University and graduated double major in Theatre and Communication Sciences and Disorders.  She still had no idea what she wanted to do with her life.  So she waited tables all over the country, an experience that she does not regret as she will never take for granted the joys of eating out.  Once she embraced that she wanted to be a performer, she began dancing with ACFCLA and Keshet Chaim Dance in Los Angeles. She also danced and acted commercially and in film and television.  She is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and continually training at The Sag Conservatory.  Outside of performing, she is a loving wife, a licensed cosmetologist, and has a side career as a trade show model in which she founded the networking group United Trade Show Talent.  She currently dances with Pink Pig Ballet and sings at her synagogue, Beth El of Manhattan.  She aims to share her experiences as a performer with others through writing and vlogging to use her powers for good.

More to come!  In the meantime, feel free to follow her adventures on Twitter: https://twitter.com/JannaIsGreen or Instagram: https://instagram.com/jannaisgreen/ or Facebook: www.facebook.com/Jannaisgreen

A Different Kind of Marriage in your Thirties

Ellen McCarthy, a wedding and relationships reporter at the Washington Post, spent years interviewing hundreds of couples about what makes relationships work and what doesn’t for the paper’s On Love column. Her book, The Real Thing, is an insiders scoop into what makes some marriages work and others..not work..and possibly end in divorce.

According to McCarthy, there seems to be two major keys to finding a marriage partner to be with for (hopefully) your entire life. They weren’t what I thought they’d be. At first I found them way too simple. But simplicity can be deceptive…

The two keys are:

1. Comfort
It turns out that so many of the spouses in successful marriages used the word ‘comfortable’ when talking about their significant other that McCarthy began to get worried when couples didn’t mention that word.
Comfortable in this case didn’t mean settling or boring. It meant that both spouses felt very much themselves in the relationship. The couple still had to work on the relationship of course, but the marriage just felt natural and they didn’t have to second guess themselves or tiptoe around one another. Both husband and wife were comfortably able to express themselves without fear. One person even said that the marriage sometimes felt like being alone while together …in the best way. They both still felt extremely free and independent while together in the relationship. This is the best kind of interdependence, I think.

2. Kindness
When asked what the most important quality a potential life partner could have, the answer was kindness, hands down. The marriages that lasted consisted of partners who were kind to one another…and kind people overall. One respondent said that her significant other was kind to everyone- kind to her, kind to himself, kind to friends, kind to dogs. Kindness is everything in a lasting marriage.
And why shouldn’t it be?

If you’re going to be with someone for life- and in this day and age that means another 60 possible years from your thirties(!)- why wouldn’t you choose someone who’s kind and who you can comfortably be yourself with?

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t butterflies, super hot moments, and great chemistry, and it doesn’t mean that everything is boring and tranquil. It just means that when looking for a life partner, kindness and comfort are great places to start…and continue.

Are you in an amazing marriage with a kind partner who you feel extremely comfortable with? Are these traits valuable to you? I know that I never had them high enough on my radar before, and they’ve recently moved to the top of my list. I don’t want to be with a person who seems great on paper, but isn’t kind. I want to be with a kind person who makes me feel comfortable and good about myself. The rest can be figured out thereafter.

love_is_kind

Baby, Career or Both?

The “Ask Polly” column on NY Mag.com is one of my (and Laura’s) favorite places to find advice. The writer behind the beautiful, insightful words of “Ask Polly” is Heather Havrilesky. She writes truthfully and warmly and she reminds me a bit of Cheryl Strayed (Author of Tiny, Beautiful Things and Wild). The most recent “Ask Polly” column was especially resonant for me as a 33 year old woman in a relationship who feels behind in her career yet also feels the pressure to have children in the next few years.

The letter (email?) writer was stuck in a dilemma. She wants children but she also wants a fulfilling career (and the job she’s in is not satisfying, so she wants to start over and find a job that satisfies her). She feels it impossible to do both. I can relate! I desperately want to find success as a screenwriter (or some semblance of success) before I have kids. But time keeps ticking away and  while my writing is getting better, the paychecks and job offers aren’t rolling in.

Heather ‘s (Polly’s!) advice was beautiful, per always. She advocated for the life of “All.” The life of everything even though it will be damn challenging.

This was my favorite part of her reply:

Bottom line: I was so fearful. But throwing my energy into both my kids and my career turned out so much better than I ever thought it could. And I became much more focused and ambitious after I had kids. I valued my time more. I used my time more wisely. All of the time I used to spend questioning myself and worrying about the big picture is now spent doing dishes and folding little dresses. A lot of the working mothers I know feel the same way.

…Imagine a full life and be true to that vision. Defend it. And put fear aside. You have one person with a steady job in the house. Don’t panic.

You can have it all. You may have to adjust the particulars of “IT” but trust me, “ALL” is what you want. It’s exhausting and it’s a balancing act and it’s way too much for anyone to handle, ever. That’s also what’s so gratifying about it.

This was a refreshing advice column to read, because I think it addresses the “perfectionist” trap we can get into as women. That we must excel in our careers and excel as mothers and homemakers living from Instagram worthy moment to Instagram worthy moment. So we end up feeling the need to choose one or the other.

But it seems the best option is this: if you want it all, you should aim for it all,  and not pre-emptively  cut yourself off from options. And yes, your life of “ALL” will probably be imperfect and messy.

Your Marriage is More Important Than Your Wedding

This recent New York Times article , How to Avoid a Post-Wedding Letdown, is worth a read if you’re getting married or thinking of getting married at some point in the future. This article talks about the “post-wedding blues” that can sometimes occur after the wedding and how you can avoid that by going to pre-martial counseling to set expectations.

My boyfriend and I got engaged about two years ago. And no, we haven’t started wedding planning. It’s not that we don’t want to get married, but we’ve got a lot of other things on our plates – figuring out where to settle down, our careers, etc. that have taken precedence in our lives.

Sometimes I worry – is something wrong with me because I’m not foaming at the mouth with excitement about my wedding plans? But that worry quickly fades, because I know myself, and I know that I naturally don’t enjoy being the center of attention and that spending large sums of money gets me anxiety. I also know that when the time is right, we will marry. It also feels like there’s no reason to rush – nothing will fundamentally change after we marry – we’ve already been together for 6 years  and have lived together for more than half of that time. I’d rather wait until we have a little more money and life security so we can really show our friends and family a beautiful time together.

This was my favorite quote from the article.

“If the couple’s primary focus is on the wedding day itself rather than the marriage, then a crash is inevitable,” Dr. Charnas said. “However, if the emotional investment can be shifted from the wedding to the marriage and the couple’s partnership, then the perspective changes and the wedding is cast in a new light.”

Good words to take to heart. And to the altar.

What the hell, Tinder?! Blatant Ageism Towards People Over Thirty in the Online Dating Sphere

Tinder recently introduced a form of “surge pricing” for its famous dating app. They’re now charging American singles 30+ years of age twice what those under 30 will pay. The app will be $9.99 for those under 30, and $19.99 for those 30 and older.

In the UK, Tinder will charge the 28 and older single crowd more than FOUR times the cost for younger generations. Converted from pounds, this comes out to around $23 compared to around $6!

The price change comes as Tinder introduces it’s new Premium upgrade, Tinder Plus. If you use the free version of Tinder, it will still be free…for now.

Tinder can get away with charging whatever the heck it feels like because it’s owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp, which controls 27 percent of of the $2.2 billion dating-services industry. Included in IAC’s portfolio are Match.com and OkCupid. Heard of them?

Although I’ve personally never used Tinder (well, I’ve swiped through on a friend’s app), this price surging strikes me as blatant ageism. It’s discrimination pure and simple! Isn’t it difficult enough to be over 30 and single? Does there really need to be a dating app pointing out that you’re too old and therefore not as valuable to the online dating scene? There’s already a shameful age bias to being single over thirty – does Tinder really need to add to it?

Although it’s TINDER afterall, and you might expect them to pull a dick move like this, it’s still making a pretty awful statement. Tinder’s singling out older daters…just because it can. Even TechCrunch wrote an article titled New Tinder Charges Whatever It Wants. They say, “older users, who theoretically have less supply and offer less demand, pay a greater amount for extra dating tools.” Tinder’s excuse is basically that it’s courting the younger crowd, who “are more budget constrained, and need a lower price to pull the trigger.

I get the idea of this excuse (younger people are poorer), but the policy still sends a crappy message to quite a large group of “older” singles (who aren’t old at all). Plus, people in their 20’s aren’t necessarily poorer than people in their 30’s anyway. And the excuse just seems like a blatant marketing lie. Wired magazine says, in their article titled Yes, Tinder’s New Pricing is Ageist Pure And Simple, “why not just be honest: Tinder is charging us more because it thinks we are desperate. Desperate to find our last chance at love and willing to pay whatever it takes.”

I’m hoping that singles over 30 boycott the Premium Tinder until this price difference is adjusted. Possibly, we should boycott Tinder altogether for making such a biased statement. Hopefully Tinder gets the message and comes up with a middle ground price that’s equal for all ages.

Do I think this is likely? Nope. Do I think dating in your 30’s is fair? Nope. But one can dream.

download (5)

When I’m Married, Does My Spouse Get My Assets?

My head is spinning right now after researching this question. It’s quite a doozy. And I don’t use the word ‘doozy’ very often.

Writing the opposite article about whether you’re liable for your spouse’s debt was a much easier undertaking. The answers were wayyy simpler. I had no idea what I was getting into with this one. But I feel like it’s very important for those of us in our thirties, since many people I know are getting married or about to get married around this time.

So here goes: I’m going to use my very best simplification skills in order to make this as understandable as possible.

First, I want to preface strongly that I’m not a Financial Advisor, so this is a vast simplification. If you are truly worried about your assets being shared with your spouse, please contact a Certified Financial Planner. Here’s a website that will help you find one.

Second, Okay, so let’s repeat the question in its simplest state:

If I have an inheritance, a savings account, monetary gifts from my dear Aunt Myrna (all of these things are known as ASSETS) does my spouse automatically get half (or any of it) when I get married?

When I started researching this, almost every article I came across was actually about divorce. I couldn’t figure it out at first, and then it hit me: none of this asset stuff is really relevant legally unless you get divorced.

This actually means: Other than if you get divorced (and hopefully you will not), you won’t ever legally be forced to share your savings, retirement accounts and inheritance with your spouse. Not really. You will probably want to share some (or most) of it, but that’s between the two of you. 

Think about it: If you don’t want to share your savings or inheritance with your husband or wife, there’s no lawyer/judge/policeman/masked villain who’s going to suddenly barge into your house and FORCE you to share your savings with your spouse…I mean, unless your spouse sues you or something (and honestly, that’s the road to divorce right there), sharing money within a marriage is kind of a private matter…a verbal agreement between two spouses. I mean, you guys can fight it out amongst yourselves (a civil conversation is also an option), but no one from the legal system will get involved. Of course, you two are building a life together so you may want to commingle (share) money (The word ‘commingling’ is actually an important one. I will come back to the whole commingling money issue in just a bit, as it will soon take centerstage in answering our question).

Once you get divorced (again, fingers crossed against this), all the legal issues/headaches/major problems come into play. 

I mentioned in my last article about debt in a marriage that there are two types of states: Common Law states and Community Property States. I’ll review the Community Property states, since there are fewer of them. They are: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, the territory of Puerto Rico….and Alaska allows married couples to opt in to community-property status.

Basically, if you’re in a Community Property State (see above),AND YOU GET DIVORCED, almost all of your assets that you accumulated DURING THE MARRIAGE are divided completely in half. Even your own 401k, private savings account, or pension from YOUR job becomes half your spouse’s! Of course, there are exceptions, such as if you have a prenup where you’ve written down that you will NOT divide your assets equally, or you two agree to amicably divide the assets unequally (in which case, you’ll have to talk to your divorce attorneys and there will be a lot of writing to do.)

Two major exceptions to this rule are INHERITANCES and GIFTS. If you received a personal inheritance or personal gift, your spouse doesn’t necessarily get any of it in a divorce, unless you COMMINGLED THE FUNDS. Commingling means you used some of the funds to pay for a marital expense- this can get super tricky and involves lots of record-keeping and paperwork, so I’m not going to go into it here. My advice is: if you have an inheritance or personal gifts, try NOT to commingle those funds…yep, that might be hard. Once inheritance or gift funds that were specifically yours get commingled with marriage funds, you’ve made them fair game to be seized by your spouse during divorce proceedings. Eek.

If you’re in a COMMON LAW STATE (all the ones NOT listed above) and you get divorced, your assets won’t be divided strictly 50/50, but they will be divided in a “fair” way (read: complex). This will involve a lot of “if I take this, then you can have that” type of discussions. If discussions don’t happen, the courts will step in. It can get quite messy, especially if the whole ‘commingling of funds’ mentioned above has taken place.

Unfortunately, the main fact I came across in my research is: don’t trust your ex to tell you what you’re entitled to. They will possibly lie to your face…or they’ll honestly have no idea and make things up. If you’re getting divorced, DO YOUR RESEARCH. I know, it sounds harsh. I love to believe that people are good at heart too. But…the divorce experts who wrote the articles I read recently seem to believe more in greed than goodness. Sad face.

So that’s a lot. And not the happiest stuff I’ve ever written. If you’re still game for more, I’m attaching links to my research below for further reading. If your head is spinning, let’s review the absolute basics:

  • When you get married, you won’t be FORCED BY LAW to share your assets. You will probably want to share some or all of them.

  • When you get divorced, THEN you will likely be forced to share your assets.

  • After a divorce, Community Property states will divide most of your assets 50/50, with the possible exception of inheritance and gifts, unless the inheritance and gifts were commingled with marital money.

  • After a divorce, Common Law states wont divide everything 50/50, but they will divide things in what is deemed a ‘fair’ manner…and this can be very complex.

  • It is this very complex division of assets issue that solidifies the possible extreme importance of prenups. 

Oh man. That was a lot for a blog about the thirties. I swear, my next post will be about ice cream or something. Or maybe I’m just thinking about pints of Haagen Daaz because this was depressing.

Please let me know any questions or comments this brings up…or if you have more insight into this. Thanks for reading to the end!

References:

Managing Marital Property DO’s and Don’ts

401K division after divorce (this is complicated so I didn’t go into it here- these guys do it better.)

More retirement plan division after divorce

People hiding assets during divorce proceedings– eek!

Some good info on commingling

Sheltering inheritance

More sheltering inheritance

IMG_2431

 

%d bloggers like this: