Pay me what you owe me

I saw a hilarious tweet about having your ex pay you for emotional distress and how much one would ask for. It got me thinking if I would even want emotional distress money from an ex. I mean, I’ve moved on, right? But then, I could always use more money.

It is no surprise that some relationships sting more than others. And when they are over, the pain of recovery takes time. And worst of all, there are times you never get what you really want…closure. Sure, if a relationship ended, a check would be nice. But we put closure above anything when it comes to moving on from heart break.

I once asked a friend of mine if she felt she was “owed” closure. Meaning, do you deserve having your ex explain the cause of the end of your relationship? Or do you just want your ex to acknowledge it, and the actions that may have led up to it? At the end of the day, no one is owed closure. Even writing that I feel like a hypocrite. But when I take an honest look at even the most painful of breakups, the ones where I felt I “deserved” closure, I saw that over time, that need became less and less.

What we want is to put a pretty bow on the end of that chapter, in hopes that turning the page is easier. But that simply isn’t true, and isn’t real life. Sometimes you have to go through that pain to come out on the other side. And for some people this process prevents them from moving on to something better. We hold so tight on the “What if” of an ex, that we miss out on great future possibilities.

I asked that same friend of mine if she would feel better with closure, and of course she said yes. But I then asked her if she would honestly feel better without. Over time, won’t you have found peace and moved on? Yes. And in some cases, finding out the “Why” of the end of a relationship, can make things worse. So why put yourself through that?

Whether your ex gives your closure, or if we had the ability to get a fat check from emotional distress, moving on is the best reward. You can look back and see your personal growth. Sure, I can name at least two ex’s that I would easily request $10,000 in emotional damages. But let’s be honest, they couldn’t pay it anyway. Hence why they are an ex!

Temptation Island or bust!

Along with my love for “90 Day Fiance” quarantine also introduced me to another reality show gem. Temptation Island. This show has everything. Hot guys, gorgeous girls, beautiful locale, tons of drama, shots of tequila and of course…temptation. If you don’t know the show, let me explain.

Four couples set off to a private island to explore if their relationship is worth saving. The men and women are separated from their partners and put up in stunning villas. Now, here is where it gets tricky. Each villa has 12 singles, all vying for their attention. The idea is to see if you will be tempted, or if you will stay committed to make your relationship work. I know! It has hot mess disaster written all over it. It also has me wondering why a couple would ever put themselves through something like this?

Let’s be clear. Temptation is everywhere. It can be small, like walking past a cute guy. Or a girl sliding in your DMs to say she thinks you’re cute. To something bigger, where how you respond to temptation effects your relationship. Temptation can also be flattering. Someone asks you out not knowing you’re in a relationship, or says you’re hot, can be very flattering. You think to yourself “I still got it!” But what do you do after the message or the text or the comment?

Temptation is really an emotion in judgement and will power. When I think of temptation in relationships, I like to think about a cupcake. Many of us have been on at least one diet in our lives. If you haven’t you know someone who has. And you may have heard them or yourself say something like “I was doing so good until I went to work. They had cupcakes in the office and I was so tempted. I caved!” Sure. You caved and had a delicious treat, but it’s not like the cupcake was doing anything. It was just a delightful confectionary treat. You made the decision to eat it.

Now, this isn’t to say that real life works the same way. In many cases, the temptation becomes dangerous when we engage in it. Think again about the cupcake. What if it could talk? Or send you pictures of itself putting on icing. (Can you tell I really want a cupcake?). It then becomes harder to just walk on by. This is where judgement, has to outweigh will power.

When you are tempted, what deeper desire is it bringing you? Is it appreciation? Attraction? Adoration? Respect? If it is something that you can pin point that draws you toward the temptation, you can then look to see what it is you may be lacking that is drawing you away from what you currently have. Like the cupcake, the attraction is the dessert. You’re tempted because you don’t have it, and on a diet, you don’t get to eat it. So what do you do? You either recognize this, or your give in with some form of justification. “I’ll go to the gym and burn this off.” You can do that, but the act is done. In relationships however, it’s far worse. You can’t just talk about it and move on. You have succumbed to temptation.

So when this happens, what do you do? If you can’t recognize prior to the act what is drawing you toward the temptation in order to understand how NOT to engage in it, you need to then be honest. Honest with yourself and your partner. Countless couples are tempted and are able to hide what may have come from the temptation. But if you do cross that line, it may prove difficult to stay silent. And that’s where honesty comes in. Even if you didn’t cheat per say, being honest about being tempted is just as important. It shows your partner that you value them enough to speak truthfully. It also reminds you that you either had a choice to give in or not.

Temptation is hard. And some people make it harder by actively being the temptor. However, take the time to recognize what is really underneath the temptation. At the end of the day, loaded sugary carbs never really hurt any one, but diabetes kills.

The sexiness from within

When I was a young little thang, I remember wanting to be called “sexy” so badly. I felt that if a guy found me “sexy” I was doing something right as a woman. They desired me, they craved me. They really wanted to screw me! “Sexy” then became this term that annoyed me. I didn’t want to be an object, even though I was walking around like one. But I still wanted to be wanted.

It was only years later that I realized that “sexy” is more so a mindset that I need to convey, rather than an appearance to portray. I love asking people “What makes you feel sexy?” The key word in that sentence being FEEL. What does sexy feel like to you? Whenever I think about this in my own life, I have found that my answers don’t always involve the bedroom. I think I speak for several woman who would honestly say, they don’t necessarily feel sexy while doin the nasty. So it really is the moments prior to intercourse where we find our sexy.

For me, I feel the most sexy on stage. For those of you who don’t know me very well, I’m a former professional entertainer. Though most of my friends would tell you that I still perform in some way or another. But being on stage was me at my most sexy. And it all boiled down to one big element-confidence. I felt confident in myself, my talent, my ability to entertain and move a crowd. I felt sexy AF!

Anytime I find myself in my true element, it feels electric. That electricity is evident in what I do, say and act. And to me, that is what “sexy” is truly about. Finding that thing that makes you feel electric and alive. Sexy doesn’t mean SEX. Though for some, it just might. And if that’s the case for you, then let your freak flag fly. But what gives you that charge that shakes you up and makes everyone in the room take notice, just might be your sexy.

So my homework for you is to do something that you enjoy, I mean, really enjoy. Talk about it and engage with like minded people and challenge yourself to find what lights you up. And when you do, ask yourself “Is this my sexy?” Who knows? It could be. So shout out to all you future sexy stay at home moms and baristas. The world is so here to see your magic!

What I learned from 90 Day Fiance

I spent most of quarantine like a lot of you. Aimlessly walking around my house trying not to go slowly insane. I didn’t have the luxury of working from home, as due to COVID, my entire department was laid off. In between self pity and countless bottles of Jameson, I discovered a gem of a show called “90 Day Fiance”. I’m not going to insult you with the details of the reality show hit, but I will sum it up as follows:

Long distance and cross cultural, love meets tv cameras and national judgement.

This show has everything. From aspiring rappers, to sugar mama Karen’s, to sweet country boys, to more sugar mama Karen’s, to Ukranian women who may or may not be real, to you guessed it…more sugar mama Karen’s. For the life of me, I never understood why these women would send money and gifts over so freely to these dudes. But in reality, it’s like watching one of those Nigerian email scams in real life, only the guy on the other end isn’t a prince.

There is a lot to learn from a show like this, but the biggest thing I learned was compromise. Or in some cases, the lack thereof. In a recent episode, this lovely Ukrainian woman is engaged to this sweet simple country boy from Washington. They could not be more opposite. He loves beer, she doesn’t drink. Like me, he finds joy in a Tomahawk steak, shes a vegetarian. The latter came up recently when she watched him in horror devour this gorgeous piece of meat.

Side Note: I totally respect vegetarians and vegans, but I mean, a beautiful piece of medium rare filet in a garlic butter sauce? Chef’s kiss!

Any way, the woman asked if he would try giving up meat for a week. He sheepishly agreed as she says to the camera how doing this was a sign of respect to her and a good compromise. It caught me a bit off guard. My first thought was “compromise”? What are you giving up for him? He doesn’t have meat for a week and you get to sit back and enjoy not having the smell of bacon in your house? But then it hit me. Oh yea, she moved to another country for him. Big compromise.

The thing about relationships, is that they are chock full of compromise. Whether big or small. Women will look past the toilet seat always being left up, if you don’t judge us for eyelashes you find on the counter. You take out the trash, I’ll put away the groceries. But then there are the bigger ones. Where do we live in relation to our family members? Or different religious beliefs? Are you a smoker and your partner isn’t?

Learning to balance compromise in a relationship, rather than it being a punishment, is a huge part of making it work. Compromise, like communication, isn’t easy and doesn’t happen over night. It’s the basis of that tried and true piece of relationship advice “Pick and choose your battles.” You can either make something into a huge deal or stop and ask “Is this something that I can compromise for?” Because maybe, you are doing something that drives your partner up the wall, but silently, they haven’t judged you for it.

Compromise. It’s the name of the game.

Love and four legged friends

Sometimes the internet wins with pairing you with just the right content. I’m not talking about the heartwarming military homecomings or the kids who accidentally swear in front of their grandparents. Although if you send those to me, I will always watch them and laugh. No, I’m talking about something that crosses your social media path and make you say “Why didn’t I think of that first?” For me, that was meeting Sheryl Matthys, the Founder of FetchaDate.

After a few tweets back and forth, I asked Sheryl if I could interview her because I thought her app was brilliant. FetchaDate pairs singles with other like minded individuals who love their pets. You can either have a pet, or be in between pets. And it’s not just for cats and dogs, any pet is accepted. The gerbil, the hamster, the cute and cuddly python. Is that a thing? Well for another python owner, it is! FetchaDate acts like other dating apps, where you create a profile and matches can be found based on age, gender and geography. But what sets it apart from other dating apps is having your pet be the focal point and acting as your…wait for cuteness..WING PET!

FetchaDate originally started as “Leashes and Lovers” in New York City. Matthys, who is originally from the midwest, found NYC to be, not the warmest town in the world. That all changed however when Sheryl got her first Greyhound. She noticed that the city began to be a bit more friendly. People were more engaging with her and her dog. “Leashes and Lovers” then grew into meet up groups in trendy cocktail bars, a successful book: “Leashes and Lovers: What Your Dog Can Teach You About Love, Life and Happiness.” and to its current incarnation, the app FetchaDate.

What Sheryl noticed was that there was a market for singles looking for love, who also loved their pets. During our interview we laughed at how some people have to understand that as a single pet owner, your home may have poop in a corner, or hair on your jacket, or a four legged friend who sleeps in your bed. For non pet owners like myself, this was a hard part of dating for me. Meeting a great guy who would then go on and on about his Boxer, and how I could absolutely care less. But for singles who share a love for their pets, much like a parent to a child, finding someone who shares the same passion can be hard.

Matthys mentioned that some of her former “Leashes and Lovers” friends would comment that they wouldn’t bring a date around their pet until a few dates in. Almost to act as an emotional protector. If you don’t like my cat and my cat doesn’t like you, then its “Sayonara”! What sets this app apart from others in creating meaningful connections and having those connections made through your four legged friend. Or your winged, scaled, hard shelled companion.

I can’t tell you how many singles I know who are unable tell you the last great date they had, but can show you the last three videos of their dog doing the most hilarious thing in the world. That’s the beauty of pets, their unconditional love. It’s what we as humans are yearning for. FetchaDate recognizes that in this ever changing dating world, in order to find meaningful connections sometimes we have to take our phone for a walk. And hope he plays well with others.

You can find FetchaDate in the app store for iPhone and Android.

http://www.fetchadate.com

iPhone: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/fetchadate/id1523043155

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fetchadate

Ohhh Stop! No seriously, Stop!

Here’s a novel idea. If you don’t tell your partner what you want, it probably won’t happen.

Ok. That’s it. That’s the post.

No seriously. Let’s talk about sex, baby. It came to my attention that sometimes, we have a hard time vocalizing what we DON’T want in the bedroom. If you think about it, it almost comes natural to mention what you do want and like. It’s evident in our body language or a moan, or in my case as a singer, a very high F sharp. But how do you approach something your partner does in bed that you don’t like? Here are five tips to uhh…encourage different behavior.

Tip #1- Highlight their talents.

This is kind of a no-brainer. The best way to get what you want is to highlight, what they are doing well versus what they aren’t doing well. It’s almost like sex reverse psychology. “Ok, she likes her neck kissed on this side more. Ahhhhh! Noted” It’s much easier to go the route of what they are doing right, than attacking what they are doing wrong.

Tip #2- Timing is everything.

Depending on the act, I think it’s key to mention the transgression when it happens. Now, this works for a super responsive and very secure partner. Sometimes it’s hard to take constructive criticism while in the heat of the moment. For others, it works best to talk post coitus. “Hey, I know you like XYZ, but I’d appreciate if you did ABC.” This can sometimes lead to a deeper conversation about what you both need more or less of in the bedroom.

Tip #3- Be hands on.

Literally. Guide and direct your partner in the manner and space that you enjoy. I remember doing this once and he get so turned on because he for one, didn’t see it coming. And two, thought it was hot that I was taking charge. I wasn’t trying to take charge, I was just trying to guide you down the right way of the street, buddy

Tip #4- Be Honest.

I know. Another no-brainer, but perhaps one of the most difficult. Have an open and honest and I do mean, honest, conversation about what you enjoy in bed. Go deep and talk about no just the WHAT but the WHY. “I get turned on when you do this, rather than that, because..”. If you give some back story about your desires, it makes asking for it, or a change, more understandable.

Tip #5- Remember Mars vs Venus.

Finally keep in mind that we treat this conversation VERY differently as a man vs a woman. For most women, we hear the comment, make the adjustment and proceed. However for some men, it can come across as extremely harsh criticism. Especially if your “Alphabet Technique” is something you’ve been doing since High School and every girl loves it. There are also some women who could take addressing their short comings as personal attacks, and some men who might see it as a delightful challenge. Either way, recognize that you both may communicate differently and be open to listen.

At the end of the day, sometimes it’s time to teach that dog a new trick. You can only be entertained by fetching a bone for so long.

So Easy To Love

I am jealous of relationships that look easy. Then again, that’s surface level stuff. It’s like a duck on a pond. We don’t see him feverishly peddling under the water, we only see the grace and ease of him gliding above the surface. So maybe I’m not jealous of those relationships.

I am actually jealous of those couples who collectively work together to make it look easy. The ones who equal part sing their partners praise, then also help them when they fall. I am envious of the couples who also tell you “Honestly, it’s not easy. It’s work. But it’s worth it.” That’s because any relationship, is work.

We grow up with fairytales and Hollywood movies that make relationships look effortless. Correction, they make “Romance” look effortless. Romance is the scene in the movie when it’s raining and the guy is outside of the girls apartment waving to her to come down because he wants to kiss her…in the rain. Like, why? My apartment is rain free. Don’t you want to kiss me inside the house?

Relationships are different. They are complicated and messy. They have their highs and lows. Some days are perfect and some days you question why you are even with this person. You also question yourself…a lot.Relationships are work and anyone who tells you otherwise, is quite honestly, an alien…and you should run.

I had this thought a few days while enjoying one of my favorite past times, a cigar and whiskey. If I am being completely honest, my current relationship has me working harder than any other, and for a variety of reasons. I took a moment and thought about my past relationships. They were so easy. I mean, really, took very little work. Some great times, amazing times and of course some bullshit. But they were all…ALL…so much easier than where I am now.

Then I thought about the men in those relationships. Things did not end well. Two cheated and one just gave up. So what made them so easy? Why did I stay so long? What about them made me happy? What about the relationships do I miss? Ok, being super honest again, the thing I missed about a couple of them was sex. It was fun. It was silly, but there was very little intimacy. I have that now. My fiancee and I put in the work and the time to learn those things that turn us on more than just bedroom acrobatics.

So what else made those past relationships easy? There were a lot of laughs with all of them. Some more than others, but laughter was the key. I was happy on the surface, but I had no idea what was brewing underneath. I didn’t know that one partner was cheating for months, another got bored and the last never wanted to be in the relationship . How did I miss the signs? We had great times. There was laughter.

That’s where the work comes in. You have to look past the calm and the ease of it all to see if you or your partner, or both of you are feverishly peddling underneath. This is hard because in most cases, you don’t want to assume something is wrong if it isn’t. You don’t want to create a problem that isn’t there. But maybe, all you need to do is ask yourself, ask your partner what they need. Not what they need in their coffee, what do they “NEED”. Maybe they need someone to help make a path while they are paddling in that water. Maybe they need you to help them paddle, or just acknowledge that you are a rockstar wife or kick ass mom who is making it look easy.

Or maybe they just want you to be next to them in that pond, present in the tranquil moment, happy you found your duck.

You like me! you really like me!!!

Let me first start with a simple fact. I am an only child. When I tell people this, the stereotypical responses of spoiled and selfish are the first things people want to associate with me. Let me make this very clear, I am selfish…when it comes to food. And as for spoiled, I grew up with a grandfather who was raised during the Great Depression and therefore raised me as such.

But there is another common trait that us solo babies have. And that’s the strong desire to please other people. We take it on almost as a life or death challenge. For many, it’s a defense mechanism in order to protect ones self. For some, like me, it’s a wonderful way to feel validation. However, the people pleasers are sometimes the hardest and the worst when it comes to being in strong, healthy relationships. “Why” you ask?

Because we forget a cardinal rule when it comes to a partnership. Ready for your mind to be blown?

Sometimes, in a relationship…you have to be selfish, and put you FIRST.

Ok, so right now, hardcore people pleasers and only children around the world are freaking out at that statement. I get it! I’m almost shuddering at just writing it. But if I look really deep, like super duper deep in my past relationships, I very rarely put me first. And they all failed because I was so blinded by the idea of love, that I looked past my partners flaws, or because I put my emotions, desires and dreams aside for what I felt, was for the benefit of the relationship and the other person.

Here’s the thing about trying to keep the people pleaser mentality in a relationship. It never really works. You feel that what you are doing on the surface is being caring, compassionate, kind, strong and considerate for the other person. But what are you getting in return? And if you’re both people pleasers, I promise there are things you wish you could tell the other person, but you don’t. And you don’t because at least “they” are happy, and you feel that’s enough for you.

That’s not enough!

That’s a great start. But what if you can make sure your partners needs are addressed with just as much energy and passion as you would do if you took care of your own needs first? I go back to that first fact. When you meet someone who is an only child, you think they are selfish. But in their world, they are doing the one thing that is keeping them sane and helps them navigate the environment around them. They are protecting their interests by making sure that “self” is provided for, first. In theory, it is not selfish. It’s self preservation. A sibling allows you to bounce ideas, fun, tantrums, conspiracies off of each other. When it’s just you, you have to learn in very difficult ways, what is safe, fun, entertaining and most importantly, worth your time.

The emergence of the “Self Care” movement is one that I am huge fan of. But I think sometimes, we need to do the same in relationships. The next time you find you and your partner making big “WE” decisions, step back and ask yourself “Does this serve or help me in this relationship?” And answer that question honestly. Now, hear me out. I am not saying that this should be done with every decision in your relationship. There are for sure moments where you need and almost HAVE to put your partner, first. Areas of health, mental wellness, family, etc. However, in general, try to challenge yourself to ask what does that selfish little child in me need?

And don’t forget another crucial fact. Trying to please others before yourself, very rarely ever works. That whole “Love yourself, before you can love someone else” mumbo jumbo, is kind of rooted in fact. Simply put, it means: take care of those things that you love, the things that give YOU happiness and is deep in your truth, and you will in turn, find and have a partner who will work hard to make those things a reality for you.

Good luck, you selfish little brats!

Closer than Close

Every morning, shortly after I wake up, I can usually set my clock on two phone calls. One, from my best friend AKA “my sister” and the other from my mom. We chat, catch up on the previous evening, gossip about hometown news and discuss our dinner plans. Living in another state, I really appreciate these phone calls, because I can’t see either of them as often as I would like.

Then, around 5 or 6 pm, when my work day is over, I get another phone call from the Will to my Grace. We catch up on work, talk about hot boys, complain about getting old and break down the latest in politics. And even though we live in the same town, these conversations are almost a nightly ritual.

I never really thought about it, but my family and friends are very much a part of my everyday life. Which means, they are a part of my fiances life. He overhears the laughs, the cries and the screams. And while I am grateful he has a good relationship with all of the people I love, it is very clear that at times, he realizes that they are a BIG part of my life. Here’s the thing…that isn’t going to change.

As an only child, I have found that I am super close with a handful of people and they have become like family. I may not have a sister by blood, but I have one that I love as if we share blood. And my Will…well, he was in my life before any boy ever was, and our pack to grow old together and share a condo in Miami, still stands. If you’re like me, you might have those people in your life that you are extremely close to. And that’s a beautiful thing. Often times, I find they are a sounding board for my fiancee when he needs advice about us, or when he went ring shopping.

But it can lead to a tricky area of a relationship, where those people could be a bit too close for comfort. Sometimes, it’s important to remind all parties to respect distance, while at the same time, understanding that those people are an important part of your life. One of the arguments I have constantly found myself saying before in the past is “They were in my life before you and will be after you!” While this only sets you up for some epic fights, it’s not really a strong case to present to your partner.

Rather, think of your friends/family and your partner as a collective team. This came into play for me recently when I was hospitalized for over a week. My fiancee would send daily updates to my friends and call my parents just to explain how scared he was. I was so grateful that my circle was so tight. And it was moments like those, that he found an appreciation for the people that mean so much to me. This isn’t to say that at times he wishes I didn’t watch a full episode of the Real Housewives on the phone while he would much rather cuddle on the couch. What it does say is there are people who love you, in and outside of your relationship. You just have to be smart and know how to navigate and bring them all together.

Welp, 2020!

I won’t insult you by stating the obvious about 2020. What I will do is say, that we made it. I won’t even say that the dumpster fire is over. There could still be some burning embers coming to 2021. Sit your hot ass down and don’t touch anything.

But that’s not my main point either. If you’re like me, other than COVID, 2020 brought a lot of challenges and opportunities. Some of the hardest things, I had to go through this year, made me truly appreciate much of what I took for granted. I also learned to have more…what’s the word…PATIENCE. Patience in myself, my relationship and others. And I think in the learning process of this year, was where a lot of us found our strength. For some, that was learning how much work teachers TRULY do, if you had to home school a child. Or learning that a simple text to check on someone, really brightened their day. Because that was 2020 in a nutshell. Recognizing that we ALL had something to get through or go through and learning to be a bit more….wait for it…PATIENT.

So dear reader, the long and short of it, is this: it was one year. If you are fortunate…no…blessed…to see another or many more, let 2020 be the marker to remind you of what you have been through, accomplished, loved, loss, made new, learned and found….(one more time)..patience in. And treat 2021 like Drake said “Everyone dies, but not everyone lives.”