How to Slow Down a Relationship That’s Moving Too Fast

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When you meet someone that seems to be everything you’ve ever dreamed of and more, it can be hard not to fall head over heels. Hold off on your “future wedding” board on Pinterest, though. The phrase “good things come to those who wait” is especially true in a relationship; if you feel like things are moving too fast, they probably are. Take these steps to slow things down and avoid ruining a relationship that could have great potential. Continue reading

I Don’t Care If It’s Petty; Being Social Media Official is Important to Me

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I can remember the first time my boyfriend posted a picture of us together on his Instagram calling me his girlfriend. I cried. That may sound overly dramatic and cheesy, so let me back up a little and give you some backstory. When my boyfriend and I first started dating it was meant to be something casual. Neither of us was looking to get into a relationship and we were more dating for the sake of why not. When it became obvious to both of us that this was going to be something a little more serious than a few fun nights out, I was in no way prepared for being in a relationship with a social media stoic.

To say he’s relationship reserved and I’m an all out there kind of girl is an understatement. As soon as I was sure I wanted this guy in my life on a more permanent basis, my natural reaction was to start sharing posts about him with my friends. Selfies from dates and status updates about cute things he did began dotting my social media. It was all fine and dandy until time began to pass without him ever doing the same. I immediately began to wonder, does he not want people to know he’s dating me? Is there someone on social media he wants to seem single for? Crazy thoughts went abound and drove me slightly batty for a few good weeks.

Now you may be saying to yourself, this still sounds dramatic, and if you are then you’re probably someone like my boyfriend; an individual who gives little thought to social media and is in fact not trying to do anything nefarious by not posting about their significant other. But if you feel me in the least bit, you’re probably someone like me who puts a certain level of importance on what gets posted on social media.

Let me be clear, I don’t think social media itself is important and realize it’s rampant with superficial posts and lies about how happy and beautiful everyone is. No, what matters to me is whether or not someone deems you important enough to share with friends, family and the world. If they think you’re so attractive that they can’t wait to show you off and so wonderful that they can’t help telling people about it, that’s what matters.

After letting his lack of posting drive me nearly crazy, I talked to my boyfriend about the many ridiculous scenarios I had worked up in my overactive imagination for why he hadn’t posted about me and explained it just like that. His reaction was mostly “Huh?” with a lot of “Why would you think that?” followed by “I’ll go post something.” He didn’t quite get why it mattered so much to me, but at the same time cared that it did and proceeded to post a picture with a sweet caption calling me his girlfriend shortly after. And I cried.

It meant a lot to me that although he didn’t see how being social media official how I did at all, he wanted to make me feel happy and secure in our relationship. It was a small gesture that many would find insignificant, but it was exactly what I needed at that point in our relationship.

Now I know there’s going to be someone saying if you had to ask it wasn’t worth it. But that my friends is one of the most dangerous sentiments you can have in a relationship. Our significant others aren’t psychics. We can’t expect them to know that we’re quietly sitting next to them coming up with a million different scenarios for why they’re not doing something we never asked them to do. So if being social media official is important to you, no matter how petty or insignificant other people tell you it is, don’t hold it in and imagine your significant other is not posting about you for every horrible reason under the sun. Talk to them about why it matters to you and hopefully you’ll find that your social media stoic is happy to post about you if it means making you happy in return.

How I Figured Out I Suck at Love: International Man of Mystery – Part One

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By the time I graduated college and had my first “big girl job” you would think I would have figured out the game of love, but that’s a big capital NOPE. I was just as clueless as ever and that’s how I wound up in a relationship with the International Man of Mystery. Let’s call him 0040 for short. Continue reading

How I Figured Out I Suck at Love: The Lost Birthday – Part Two

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My first birthday after breaking up with The One That Got Away was a doozy. I almost made out with Mr. Temptation (ok not almost, actually, but only for a minute…or five) at midnight, missed a birthday celebration with my roommates because of it, and was completely hungover for my actual birthday day. My roommates, none to pleased with me for disappearing, spending the night in Mr. Temptation’s room and refusing to talk about any of it, still intended on throwing me a formal birthday party that night, but first I had to make it through dinner with my family. Dinner with my entire family, who were driving up through a snowstorm come and take me out. Meanwhile, I couldn’t move my head without the room spinning too, and I looked like I had lost a fight with a tube of mascara and can of hairspray. Continue reading

How I Figured Out I Suck at Love: The Lost Birthday – Part One

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When The One that Got Away and I broke up, I was in a very weird place — about to leave college, and my friends and everything familiar and safe and go out into the real world. I made the unwise choice of drowning my fears and sorrows in a toxic mix of alcohol and other men…and that’s how I missed my own birthday celebration. Our break up occurred during my birthday week, yes you read that right, “birthday week.” Up until this point, I had always celebrated my birthday for an entire week and I wasn’t about to let a little break up with the man I once considered to be the love of my life change that. So on went the drinking and partying right up until the night where midnight would mark my birthday. Continue reading

How I Figured Out I Suck at Love: My First Love – Part Two

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Secret relationships are always so enthralling in the beginning. That element of having something just between the two of you that the rest of the world can’t touch makes it feel so special. And if it’s a relationship you know won’t be deemed socially acceptable, there’s the additional element of elicit danger adding excitement at every turn. You may even start to feel like it’s the two of you against the world, believing both of your feelings are stronger than what other people feel simply because you’re willing to sacrifice to keep the relationship going. That’s exactly how things were for me when I started dating My First Love. Continue reading

How I Figured Out I Suck at Love: If Things Were Different – Part Two

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It all had such a promising start. The boy from vacation, the one I would later call If Things Were Different, and I were both genuinely happy to be together at the start, happy to love and be loved. But we were also both damaged in many ways, and instead of trying to help ourselves, we tried to lose it all in each other. Later recounting this time in my life to my friend Charlotte, I tell her “We were crazy in love. I was crazy in love with him, and he was crazy in love with me, and unfortunately, there was a little too much crazy in that situation.” I have never come up with a better way to describe my relationship with If Things Had Been Different.

It’s a Friday night in my dorm room. I’m working on a paper that’s due Monday, when there’s a loud knocking at my window. I know who it is immediately, because no one else ever comes to my window. It’s If Things Were Different — and he’s not supposed to be here. I pull up the blinds, so he know’s I’m going to buzz him in and then go to my door confused by his arrival…because it doesn’t seem pleasant.

Before he’s even through the threshold he’s cursing and asking me what’s wrong with me. I don’t understand what’s happening, but I do know he smells like alcohol. I don’t even hear what he’s saying as my own inner monologue starts about how I can’t believe he’s driven all the way here after drinking. Finally I snap back into the moment as he tells me, “You know, I could have effin‘ cheated on you many times.” I’m still confused, but actually aware of the conversation now. I ask him what he’s talking about and he acts like I’m playing dumb. We do this dance for awhile and finally he tells me about how Indecision answered my phone earlier and told him I was sleeping and he wasn’t going to wake me up because I had a long night. Indecision’s statement was true. I had been up getting sick a lot of the night, and I must have been sleeping when If Things Were Different called, because I don’t remember it. But, I’m sure the was he said it implied much more and If Things Were Different was at the end of his rope with this kind of stuff. Did it justify his response? No not at all, but at least now I knew what we were fighting about.

I try to set If Things Were Different right, but he doesn’t want to hear it. Instead he begins to tell me about all the times he “almost” hooked up with other girls. My blood boils. At least two of these almosts count as actual cheating to me, and I can’t believe all this time I’ve had no idea that he was spending all this time with other women. Now I’m screaming too, and I have plenty of things I want to say in the moment about how he’s a cheater, and a drunk and a needy bastard who doesn’t deserve my love. And somewhere in all this screaming, Indecision hears us from upstairs, and comes bursting in just as If Things Were Different grabs a picture frame from my desk and throws it the ground smashing it at my feet. What happens next is a blur of chaos, tears and confrontation. The RA comes rushing in and threatens to call campus public safety if If Things Were Different doesn’t leave campus immediately. He storms out and Indecision comes toward me to comfort me, but I want him gone. In my mind, this is his fault. I send him away and cry alone this time as I pick up the shattered pieces from the floor.

“You definitely broke up with him this time, right?” you might be asking at this point. No. I suck at love and I took him back. I blamed my own time spent with Indecision for my boyfriend’s need to seek attention elsewhere, and after a long, drawn out reconciliation process where we both swore to be completely faithful, emotionally and physically, we were back together. And more so than ever, as my health declined and I was forced to take the next semester off from school.

I move back home with my parents to try and recover and get back on track from my recent relapse. And within a short amount of time If Things Were Different is having such bad problems at home that my parents allow him to move in, too. We all live together like a weird little family for awhile, and things are good. The only other person he has to share my time with is my friend Heather, the only true good thing If Things Were Different ever brought into my life.

Heather has health issues as well and it’s a comfort and a solace to have someone to discuss IVs, side effects and physical therapy with. She becomes one of the best friends I have ever had, and I become supremely loyal to her. As spring turns to summer, I get stronger and she declines. I drive her to pick up her prescriptions, sit with her through therapy and become the one who tries to make things normal for someone else.

If Things Were Different eventually moves back home, feeling unwarranted guilt for leaving his family, and with the separation comes issues once again. My willingness to be there for Heather when she needs me, even if it means cancelling plans with him, makes him jealous and he goes back to filling his alone time with reckless behavior. We try to make things work, but as Heather becomes more ill, I become more distracted and my priorities change. It takes everything he and my family have to convince me to go on our yearly vacation that summer, and I do my best to enjoy it, especially as I hear how Heather is doing better than when I left.

I check in with her in the few days between returning from vacation and moving back into school and things seems to be fine. And they’re fine with If Things Were Different, too. Being on vacation has made things good again between us, and since he starts school later than I do, he moves me in on a Saturday and stays with me the first three days. After classes Monday, we go to a bunch of stores collecting stuff for a care package for Heather that I’ll deliver to her in the hospital on Thursday. I spend Tuesday night  cutting silly construction paper flowers to put all over the box because I know she’ll think it’s cheesy, and therefore laugh one of her old man sounding chuckles, a sound I needed to hear to know she was really going to be alright.

On Wednesday morning, I get up late like any other morning and make myself oatmeal in my room with my semi in violation of dorm rules water boiler, bring my laptop back to life from its sleep, and then peruse people’s AIM away messages to entertain myself as I eat. And that’s when I see it. One after another, RIP. My heart stops. I check my dorm phone — no messages. But no one really has that number except my schoolmates, parents and my boyfriend. I get charged for using it so I prefer to use the cell phone I’m already paying for…except it rarely works in the dorms. I grab it and my keys and run outside shoeless to try and get service.

The messages on my voicemail shake me from my hope and denial. I go back inside, now soaked from rain and stand in the middle of my room in shock. I don’t know what to do. I feel like my heart has been ripped from my chest. I see the stupid box covered in flowers and I throw it all the wall. I must start to scream because a RA comes in my unlocked door and is so scared by how I’m acting that they call campus mental health services. They must tell them to bring me down there, but I don’t remember agreeing to go. I don’t remember anything except the heaviness of my rain soaked clothes, and the blisters the wet flip flops were giving my feet as I trudged along with an RA I barely knew to the office.

They make the decision to have my parents come get me. When my father arrives, he has no idea what to say to me and it’s ok because I don’t want to talk. There’s nothing to say. My best friend is dead.

Her death weighs heavily on me even now, but when it first happened it shattered me. The guilt of putting off that final visit to Thursday, when I could have gone sooner, should have gone sooner, broke me for awhile. Nevermind that I could have spent those final weeks with my friend, instead of on a stupid vacation, with a stupid boy who would never be able to get past his own demons enough to be there for me like he should have. But I suck at love, and not just romantically. I make bad choices and I have to live with them.

Losing Heather made me realize that life is too short to feel anything less than happy. And that realization made me leave If Things Were Different… because things never would be.

IF THINGS WERE DIFFERENT – PART TWO PLAYLIST

REALiTi – Grimes
9 Crimes – Damien Rice
School Night – Ani DiFranco
Hear You Me – Jimmy Eat World
I Don’t Feel It Anymore – William Fitzsimmons

 


How I Figured Out I Suck at Love

As Rebecca Wells so brilliantly put it, “There is the truth of history, and there is the truth of what a person remembers.” I’ll try to bridge that gap as I tell you the story of how I eventually figured out I suck at love. Come back weekly for new installments.

Check out more from How I Figured Out I Suck at Love on TDQ…


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How I Figured Out I Suck at Love: If Things Were Different – Part One

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When I was 13 I met a boy on vacation, and that moment, though I did not know it yet, would have an impact on the rest of my life. He was sweet and funny, and waited ’til we were at the tippy top of my very first roller coaster ride to take my hand and say “I like you.” No, I’m not about to tell you about my first kiss or teeny bopper romance. I’m going to tell you about If Things Had Been Different. Continue reading

How I Figured Out I Suck at Love: My First Love – Part One

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My first real relationship was doomed from the start. I was well aware of this fact and to be honest it just added to the romanticism of it all for me. The notion that it was a forbidden love that could never last only made me want it more. This should have been my first hint that my idea of love and relationships was a bit skewed and that I really, really sucked at love, but 15-year-old me with her wide eyes and minimal life experience could not think of anything more romantic than a man who would risk a jail term and more to be with me. And as screwed up as it may sound, I still reflect fondly on him. Continue reading

How to Tell if You’ve Made a Lifelong Best Friend

(Image Credit: Eugenio Marongiu)

(Image Credit: Eugenio Marongiu)

I will be the first to admit I’m spoiled. I was lucky enough to meet my closest friend, Jennifer, at five years old and to have maintained that relationship for the past twenty five years. I have always known she was my best friend, and never had to wonder if we were close enough for me to share my TMI stories, if I would be bothering her if I asked for a favor or if I could trust her with my deepest darkest secrets. There’s never been any question in my mind about our sisters by choice status, but it’s rare to have one, nevermind multiple lifelong close friends. We all eventually find ourselves making new friends, cultivating those relationships and then wondering are we BFFs yet? And more importantly, will we be in a month, year or decade from now? There is currently no app for that, so I figured I would lay out the three signs you’ll be best friends for life as decided by me. Continue reading

How I Figured Out I Suck at Love: The One That Got Away – Part One

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It was spring semester of my senior year of college when I met a boy who later would later be known as The One that Got Away. After having taken the time off I would still have one more semester afterward as a “super senior” to finish my credits to graduate, but at the time I tried not to think about that or the embarrassing moniker whenever possible. I had just returned to school after winter break and was looking forward to a night of pizza and booze with friends. My new friend Stacy had come to my dorm room to help me carry the alcohol I had acquired back to her room for the get together. On the way down the hall, she stopped in an open door and invited two boys to come over for the festivities. She clearly knew them and somehow I did not. The one boy looked vaguely familiar with his super friendly smile, I was pretty sure I had run into him and his cheery self in the hallway at some point, but the other boy I didn’t remember seeing ever before. His smile, decidedly less sugar coated happiness, caught my eye. I added an embarrassing aside about how I was bringing alcohol so they should come and then kicked myself for it mentally the entire way to Stacy’s room.

By the time we got back to her shared dorm room, most of our friends were already gathered. I squished in a spot in front of the bunk beds on a small pull-out pillow cot concoction I liked to take naps on Sunday mornings after brunch. We started making drinks and prepping for movie time when low and behold, the one who caught my eye arrives minus Mr. Cheery. I think I blush a little as I try not to stare too much. Since I’ve planted myself in the middle, he winds up sitting behind me diagonally. My only option for communication is to continually turn around and offer him slices of pizza from the box in front of me. Very smooth. Then the movie starts and I fall asleep before it’s over because I don’t drink often and whoever made my cocktail way overestimated my tolerance. I don’t wake up ’til the next morning and trudge back across campus wondering if I could have possibly made a stranger first impression on the one who caught my eye.

Never one to have much patience, I knock on his door later that day and begin rambling about how strange it is we’ve never met instead of waiting to inevitably run into the one who caught my eye again among mutual friends. But it’s ok, because we get to talking and he doesn’t seem to mind the intrusion. And the longer we talk the more I realize he’s incredibly smart and funny and generally everything I like in a guy. I wonder how he could have been living down the hall an entire semester without me noticing, and if I’m not mistaken, it seems like he’s thinking the same thing as his continues to smile at me.

Over the next few weeks we begin to pop in on each other regularly, laughing about random things our friends have done and sharing meals of Easy Mac. I think we would be perfect together, except I think he’s been in love with one of my friends, Jolene, since long before he’s known me. Seeing as I’ve been down this road before with Indecision, I decide to be content with friendship and begin causally seeing someone else. We even discuss my potential new relationship, and he’s surprised I’m interested in his fellow science major, joking about the type of guys he thought I would be into, guys more like his rich preppy roommate or jocky athlete types heavy on the muscle and low on the IQ. It’s said with a laugh, but I can tell he really believes that about me, and it hurts me a little. He seems surprised by my reaction, but I don’t give him a chance to ask about my change in mood before I fake a smile and say I have to be somewhere. I tell myself his poor opinion of me hurt because all this time I thought we connected as friends, but I know the truth. I’ve done it again, falling for someone unattainable.

I stop dating and try to concentrate on me…and ignoring my feelings for the one that caught my eye. But it’s not easy and in a moment of weakness I finally ask him about his feeling for Jolene. He tells me how he used to have feelings for her, but not anymore and he’s earnest, and honest, and I believe him. That night he sits a little closer than usual while we write papers on our laptops, but I try not to read into it, not until he asks me over to watch a foreign movie and he cuddles up next to me on the futon we’ve laid on the floor, making a ridiculous pillow and blanket fort with. It’s hard to read the subtitles as my mind runs through all the possible scenarios of what all of this could mean, and then suddenly the movie is over and I’m saying, “It’s late.” to ease my nerves and distance myself from the situation. He smiles at me and tells me I could stay; as if my room is twenty blocks away and not a mere twenty feet down the hall.

I look into his brilliant blue-green eyes and I know I’m completely safe with him. He won’t try anything more daring than the act of asking me to stay, which I can tell has him now embarrassed by my lack of response. “Ok.” slips through my lips and I find myself climbing the shaky bunk bed ladder and crawling under the covers, a resounding what the heck are you doing echoing in my brain. The pillow I lay my head on smells like him and when he crawls in beside me, I feel completely engulfed by him. Every feeling I had tried to avoid comes bubbling to the surface and for some reason it brings a tear to my eye that I bury in the pillow, pretending I’m already sleeping. He gently puts his arm around me, as if he’s afraid I might slap him away at any moment, and when I don’t he eases letting the weight of his embrace envelop me further. He gently places a kiss on the back of my shoulder blade before resting his own head, and I want to say something, anything about the way I feel for him, but I’m too afraid to ruin this moment…so I continue pretending to be asleep the rest of the night, only drifting off here and there.

The next day I slip out of bed while he’s sleeping, and grab the shoes I kicked off and sweatshirt I had discarded while Mr. Cheery the roommate gives me a thumbs up with his over enthusiastic smile. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what he thinks has gone on, but I rather make a speedy exit than try to convince him otherwise. When I return to my own room, I collapse in my bed wondering if he really did kiss my shoulder, of if I had dreamed it while I dozed in and out of sleep. Too tired to consider it further, I finally pass out from exhaustion.

I’ve barely slept when I’m awoken by a knock at the door. It’s the one that caught my eye, and he’s bundled to the nines telling me we’re going sledding with his friends. Sledding on no sleep…in the cold…without any time to process what just happened. I try to convince him I’ll go sledding another time, but his eyes are sparkling and his crooked smile is spread wide across his face so I go. We would later call it our first date. Later that day I tell him I have feelings for him and he kisses me in one of those moments that they play fireworks behind in a movie.

We decide not to tell any of our friends we’re dating at first, and it’s nice having the privacy as we’re just starting out, until things become slightly uncomfortable as both Jolene and another girl decide that he’s “boyfriend material” and start flirting with him mercilessly at group gatherings. Eventually we have to say something and everyone is shocked by the revelation, but by then we’re just glad to have it out in the open.

I fall madly, deeply in love with him. I truly believe, even to this day, that he did the same. For a long time things were good. Really good. We were that couple among friends that other people wanted to be like. Happy and secure, and looking like we would be together forever. But even good relationships take work, and over time we both got lazy. And as we did, doubts crept in for me about whether or not he was still the same boy who caught my eye and acted like he was the proudest man in the world when he first introduced me to his friends back home as his girlfriend. I was no innocent in the situation; the less appreciated I felt, the more difficult I became to deal with, and the more I looked for appreciation elsewhere. I began to spend more and more of my time with a friend of a friend who was more like the stereotype the one who caught my eye had first accused me of being attracted to: A handsome, rich, preppy type, with relationship issues of his own all too eager to spend his time with me.

Right before the end of my final extra semester at college, when I would be leaving for good, and everyone else would be returning in the spring, things became more strained than ever and when we had a fight where he slammed a door in my face and said he didn’t want to speak to me again. I took it as the absolute end. Even that night as I laid in bed crying, I knew that although he was wrong to say it, he hadn’t really meant “ever again” and it wasn’t a break up in his mind. But it was in mine. I had reached a point where I no longer felt loved by him…and was beginning to feel cared for by someone else. It led to the most miserable birthday week in the history of birthday weeks, including missing my own birthday party, and a reckless remaining few weeks at school that I would seriously come to regret. I began to date the friend of a friend who by then had ended his own messed up relationship, because I suck at love and always make the wrong choices. I pretended like my heart didn’t still belong to the one who caught my eye and he acted like I was his absolute dream girl. Acted, the most important word in the sentence, because he would later become known as the Sociopath. But that’s another story…

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY – PART ONE PLAYLIST

Kelly Clarkson – Heartbeat Song
The Postal Service – Such Great Heights
The National – About Today
Dashboard Confessional – The Brilliant Dance

 


How I Figured Out I Suck at Love

As Rebecca Wells so brilliantly put it, “There is the truth of history, and there is the truth of what a person remembers.” I’ll try to bridge that gap as I tell you the story of how I eventually figured out I suck at love. Come back weekly for new installments.

Check out more from How I Figured Out I Suck at Love on TDQ…


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How I Figured Out I Suck at Love: Indecision – Part One

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I didn’t even realize I sucked at love until I was sitting alone by a fountain in a foreign country trying to get my hopelessly useless international mobile to work. In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to hear a familiar voice, or even better yet be back across the ocean where I could try to make things right, but neither was about to happen, so I settled for a good ugly cry instead. While locals looked on with a lack of interest that seemed to suggest I was not the first American girl to pick this spot for a breakdown, I reflected on how I wound up there, feeling so very alone, a stranger in a strange place. And that’s when it hit me. I sucked at love. Not so much at falling in love – that came way too easily to me and way too often – rather at the act of maintaining it. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You see, I didn’t just wind up by a beautiful sixteenth century fountain having major life epiphanies overnight. No, it was a long series of events, right turns instead of left, makeups and breakups, what if’s and second tries that brought me to that moment. So let’s start at the most logical place… somewhere in the middle. Continue reading

A Single’s Guide to Surviving the Holiday Season

(Image Credit: Alliance)

(Image Credit: Alliance)

There’s no denying that the holidays are supposed to be some of the happiest times of the year. The lights, music and all around “cheer” are supposed to fill your heart with nothing but joy. The tricky thing is, that joy can sometimes be replaced with dread if you’re preparing to spend the holiday alone, or rather, single. Luckily, being single has advantages, many of which translate right into the holiday season. This year, I challenge you to catch yourself under the mistletoe. You may even realize you’re actually the perfect date to your own holiday party. What follows is a Singles Holiday Guide to surviving the holiday blues. Continue reading

(Image Credit: Nicolas Raymond/www.freestock.ca)

Broken Heart? You Have Nobody to Blame Except Yourself.

(Image Credit: Nicolas Raymond/www.freestock.ca)

(Image Credit: Nicolas Raymond/www.freestock.ca)

If I’ve learned anything from love, it’s that nobody can break your heart unless you let them. Every time you hang your heart out on the line, it’s liable to be left hanging. If you hold somebody else accountable for breaking your heart, you disregard the part you played in hurting it. It’s your heart, and it’s your job (and no one else’s) to guard it with your life. Continue reading