Relationships: How to Know if it’s Real Love

Relationships are particularly tricky, especially when trying to figure out whether it’s real love or not. When we are in a new relationship, it’s as if the world is now made of chocolate chip coated cotton candy clouds. Everything is pleasant, and peaceful, and your heart is so filled with joy that it’s left your body and made its way up to heaven without you.

This initial stage of love, also known as the honeymoon phase, is so much fun. But once your cotton candy bubble pops, your love can look significantly different. The question is, however, is it the love that’s different? Or is it you that’s feeling different?

Being in love can lead to a skewed perception of reality. Feeling all the love can cause one to ignore possible red flags, potentially turn a blind eye to dishonesty, and even accept behaviors that aren’t okay. Once you’re able to make your way back down to planet earth from those cotton candy clouds, you may, or may not, like what you’re seeing.

There can be a wide-array of barriers when it comes to actually understanding whether the relationship you’re in is right for you. Is it healthy? Is it making you happy? Are you at ease? Every single person has a unique set of needs when it comes to finding the right partner, as well as the right kind of love. There are many things to consider, so what do you need to look for to discover if it’s real love?

How to know if love is real… 

Self-love

When you find the right kind of love, it becomes a lot easier to discover just how much you love yourself. I truly believe that self-love is part of the foundation of any successful relationship. Alongside trust, communication, and respect, the way in which you love yourself is also how you will accept love. When you love yourself, you have the insight and ability to know whether or not you’re not being treated appropriately, and you can better understand if this love makes you feel good about life and yourself. When it’s real love, you’ll feel it in your bones…

Boundaries

Being able to set boundaries with your partner, and make him or her aware of your needs is crucial to the success of your relationship. Anyone can set boundaries, however, it’s whether or not your partner respects those boundaries. If your needs aren’t being met, it possible that you won’t continue to be cuddled up in your cotton candy clouds.

Things are easy

Yes, all couples have problems and conflict can sometimes arise. But if at the end of the day things flow pretty nicely, and being together is easy and fun, you’re definitely on the path to a healthy relationship.

Relationships are not meant to be hard, they’re meant to be fulfilling and joyful…

Lifestyle and compatibility 

Do you two like the same things, and want to live life the same way? Are you able to complete your partners sentences? Do you know exactly what your partner is thinking when he sees the dog with the rainbow mohawk walking down the street? That’s great. You’re compatible, you want the same things in life, and you understand one another. Being able to engage in fun activities together allows your love to blossom and build a strong bond.

Compromise

When you and your partner are able to make decisions based on both of your needs without becoming resentful, you’re solid. Engaging in a discussion about potential life altering changes, and figuring out how to make those changes, all while respecting one another, has a lot to do with love. If someone doesn’t love you, they wouldn’t be willing to switch things up and make improvements.

Guilt be gone 

Guilt is something you don’t want in a relationship. Being able to put yourself first, whether it be for your career, schooling, or for the sake of balance, without your partner making you feel guilty, is pretty spectacular. Knowing that you are free to do whatever you need without worrying that you’ll come home to an angry partner is truly a gift.

If your partner understands you and provides you the space that you need to care for yourself, that is a selfless act. It’s kind, and it conveys a great deal of love…

Acceptance

Accepting one another, as you are, and not wanting to change a thing is a very loving gesture. It is hard to enjoy every single thing about a person, but if you are capable of doing that with your partner, it’s real love.

Love is all around you. How you choose receive and extend love is up to you…

real love | relationships | love | lifestyle

~Photo by Christian Gertenbach on Unsplash~

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Paula

Dating Should Be About More Than Instant Gratification

Dating has significantly changed over the years. While our parents and grandparents were meeting in high school, or at the local ice cream shop, or seeing each other from across the room, millennials are now meeting on platforms such as Tinder. All love stories are beautiful, but that’s just it—are they still love stories? Or has dating turned into a single-serving experience? Simply a way to get what you need for right now? 

Because of the new rules of dating, the value of building a relationship with another person has radically decreased. This is problematic for many reasons, especially because millennials are learning to degrade people; to cheapen their worth. People are people, and they should all be valued and respected, whether they fulfill your needs or not.

Dating should be about joy, adventure, and the excitement of learning about a new person. Figuring out how this person complements you, and what makes them special. To discover what they like, and what things you two have in common. To be friends. To be lovers. To be all that you need.

Not all relationships work out and head in that direction, however, it’s important to have fun. Each person will teach you something new, and it will be worthwhile in the long run.

Dating should not be about instant gratification. It should not be about using someone for your own selfish needs. It should not be about ghosting, and ignoring, and being hurtful. Dating should be about honesty. It’s possible you may not be interested after a few dates, so be honest. Just be honest—if not for the other person, do it for yourself…

Why dating shouldn’t be about instant gratification:

Socializing

With the way in which millennials communicate today, primarily via text, emojis, and email, it’s possible to lose sight of how to best socialize. Whether meeting your soulmate, or going on a single date with someone, be social. Ask questions, get to know one another, and most importantly, put your phone down. Dating well is something you can learn, so enjoy yourself and take notes—this may benefit you in the future.

Building relationships

If the date doesn’t work out, that doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with this person. Take time to build a relationship—you never know what you’ll find and how it can impact your life.

Figuring out what you need in a partner

If you don’t allow yourself any time to actually get to know someone, you won’t have the opportunity to learn what it is that you want, and don’t want in a partner. By engaging in single serving relationships, you are doing yourself a disservice…

Missed chances

According to Forrest Gump, life is like a box of chocolates and you never know what you’re gonna get—so try. Not getting to know someone can potentially cause you to miss out on finding your special someone.

Don’t judge a book by its cover

Society is so heavily focused on looks, money, and status, that it may prevent you from giving someone the chance they deserve. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Meet up with someone because they’re cool and make you laugh, not just because they’re hott. Although attraction is important, don’t be shallow.

Respect

Respecting others should always be a priority. If you don’t plan on seeing someone anymore let them know. Remember, there’s an actual person on the other side of the text box. A human being with thoughts, emotions, and a heart. It’s not appropriate to just ghost someone because you can’t be bothered to deal with it—would you want someone to do that to you?

Be yourself

Remember to always be yourself. Be the kind, cool person that you are. Let people in and allow them, and yourself, to see just how wonderful you are. Let them see why you are to be valued. Let them see what makes you special. Let them see you.

dating | millennials | respect | ghosting | relationships

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Paula

Why It’s Important to Travel with Your Partner Before Tying the Knot

Travel is such an important part of life. Travel allows for new experiences, personal growth, and the ability to really get to know someone else. Whether doing it solo, with friends, or with your partner, your joint travel experience can define that relationship.

 I’m one of those people who can’t travel with just anyone. Because of this, I was pretty nervous about taking a 3-week international trip with my beau. We’ve been together for over a year, and our local trips have been great. I literally can’t get enough of this guy. BUT, traveling across the world, while trying to navigate a new place, in a foreign language, with varying cultural norms, can create some friction. 

The primary question I got from friends when we got home was, “did you guys fight?” This was confusing to me—were we supposed to fight? Luckily, there were no arguments, and we had an amazingtime. 

Having had the opportunity to spend 24-uninterrupted-hours together each day for 3-weeks helped me realize just how much we love each other. However, if we weren’t compatible enough, many things could have gone wrong. And if they did, we may not have returned as two people in love…

Consider these 7 things when traveling with your partner before tying the knot: 

1. Making plans

Making plans is so important. Whether it’s for dinner, travel, your new apartment, or your future family, being on the same page is crucial. What’s your travel destination? What attractions will you visit? What type of food will you eat? Will you rent a car? Or utilize public transportation? Will you stay in a hostel? Or a fancy hotel?

Being able to weight the pros and cons, and make a joint decision that both parties are comfortable with is just the first step. If the two of you desire different things, making plans can potentially become a barrier to moving forward in your relationship. 

2. Compromise

Compromise is also part of making plans—can the two of you work together to settle on something you’ll both be happy with? It can be one person choosing hotels, and the other booking tours, or both of you planning everything together. Whatever it may be, make sure you are both happy with what’s coming. 

3. Lifestyle

Leading a similar lifestyle is vital when it comes to travel. Are you wanting to go on a foodie tour? See the sights? Visit the museums? Or climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Will you both agree on engaging in the same activities? Or will it become a battle? 

My beau and I decided early on that we wanted to eat our way through Europe. We wanted to get lost in each city, and take in as much of the culture as we could. We did not plan any tours, nor did we engage in the craziest activity that city had to offer. Our desire was to enjoy our vacation and go with the flow.

If we hadn’t agreed on the same things, it would have been totally possible for conflict to arise.  

4. Spending time 

I think spending an extended period of time with someone and not wanting to punch them is a reallygood sign, lol. Are you able to tolerate your partner 24/7 for several days and/or weeks? Are you able to remain patient? And kind? And not find something to bicker over? 

If you can handle constantly being in close quarters for several weeks, sometimes under difficult circumstances, you and your beau can really get through anything…

5. Having fun

Do you have fun with your partner? Does your partner suggest activities that you both enjoy? Taking pleasure in the time you and your partner spend together, even if you’re doing nothing, is crucial to the success of a relationship. 

You can’t always be happy, and life isn’t always fun, but there should be more good times than bad… 

6. Listen to your gut

Are you at ease? Or are you anxious? Are the butterflies in your tummy from excitement? Or from nervousness? Listen to your gut. Our bodies can sense things that we might not yet realize. Living a life where you’re constantly on edge is not healthy. Be aware of what your body is trying to tell you…

7. What’s next?

Will you come back from your trip knowing that this person is the one for you? Or will you return wanting to end things? Long trips can do that, and it’s okay. If you can’t tolerate two weeks with your partner, how are you going to endure a lifetime? 

Traveling with your partner before tying the knot can reveal a great deal about both you and your partner. If you’re both on the same page, and have the ability to work together as a team, your relationship is probably in a healthy place…

travel | dating | marriage | relationships | travel with your partner | compromise

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Paula

10 Emotional Consequences of a Dysfunctional Relationship

If you’ve ever been in a dysfunctional relationship, please raise your hand. Yup—my arm is definitely in the air…

The battle with dysfunctional relationships is that they may not seem so bad at first. The red flags are usually there, but they’re not severe enough to cause alarm until you’re in pretty deep. Or it’s possible that it was a choice to overlook those concerning behaviors all along. Regardless, they’re very misleading…

I decided to address this topic today because a reader recently reached out to me and shared her story. I think it takes a lot of courage to become aware of how dangerous some of these red flags are, and most importantly, being able to acknowledge that you deserve better. I personally went through something very similar, and experienced many of the emotional obstacles discussed in this article.

While undergoing the internal struggle between the madness of things eventually getting better, or you needing to make a run for it, it’s possible to suffer a great deal of psychological and emotional harm in the interim. With this, you begin to question everything and start to feel that you don’t deserve better. But guess what? You do!

That’s what a dysfunctional relationship does—it causes you to feel as though you are not worthy of love, and care, and happiness, and stability, and all other things that allow one to feel secure and safe. But you are worthy.

Dysfunctional relationships can cause a lot of damage, and whether you’re in a place where you’re contemplating a break-up, or have already walked away, there is a great deal to overcome once it’s over…

10 emotional consequences of a dysfunctional relationship:

1. Decreased self-esteem

It’s difficult to feel good about yourself when the person who is supposed to bring out the best in you makes you feel small.  Actions such as pushing you away, making you feel unwanted or unimportant, constantly placing blame, or only pointing out your faults, can absolutely cause a significant drop in your self-worth.

In situations like this, remember that you’re not the problem. This type of treatment is unacceptable. Be sure to stand up for yourself (if safe), and engage in activities that will your self-love on a daily basis. Constantly use this as a reminder of just how great you are…

2. Feeling at fault

Remember that the way in which your partner acts or treats you is not your fault. Each person is responsible for their own actions, and should be able to address matters in a respectful and kind way. If your partner makes you feel as though they need to treat you poorly, that is not on you. And you shouldn’t tolerate that type of treatment either…

3. Somatic symptoms

Sometimes our feelings can be so severe that they physically manifest themselves. Going through an emotional rollercoaster can literally make you feel sick to your stomach. If you start to experience physical symptoms that are out of the ordinary, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

At this point, it is important to consider the way in which your relationship is effecting your health. Your wellness should always be your top priority.

4. Lack of motivation

It’s really difficult to achieve your goals and focus on the things that matter when you’re distracted by your relationship. Not to mention, negative feelings and decreased self-esteem can strongly interfere in your successes.

5. All the negativity

Experiencing a plethora of negative thoughts and feelings over an extended period of time can be very unhealthy. Between the anger, resentment, sadness, self-doubt, and disappointment, it can feel nearly impossible to find some joy.

Try to keep your head above water by surrounding yourself with people you love—people that are supportive. Engaging in activities that make you feel good is also a healthy way to combat some of the negativity…

6. Inapt priorities

Our priorities shift due to life circumstances. When in a dysfunctional relationship, priorities become blurred, and what’s important can sometimes be placed on the backburner. Be sure to always put yourself first and maintain sight of your needs.

7. Isolation

Depending on the direction in which your relationship is going, it’s possible that you may become isolated. Whether you’ve become disinterested in socializing, or spend all of your free time with your partner and his circle or friends, this can be very serious. Try to remain in contact with your friends and family, and make time to see them.

Also, feeling isolated and unsupported can absolutely hinder you from walking away from a dysfunctional relationship, if you decide to. Your social network is a resource—keep the lines of communication open.

8. Learning to tolerate abuse

Abuse comes in many shapes and forms, including emotional, verbal, and physical. Being mistreated so often eventually starts to feel normal. This is extremely problematic, and being abused is never okay. If you need help, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

9. Tolerating dishonesty

Whether lying, cheating, or stealing, dishonest behavior should not be tolerated. Trust is an important part of any relationship, and you deserve better.

10. Losing yourself

Whether losing sight of who you are, or losing your voice and ability to stand up for yourself, this is the most difficult emotional outcome to recover from. Not being heard when trying to speak your mind is destructive and hurtful. Being with a person who is not interested in hearing your thoughts or feelings is a person that is not worthy of you

Dysfunctional relationships are exactly that, dysfunctional. Don’t allow yourself to feel that you are to blame for all of the misfortunes of your relationship. You’re not, and you deserve more

relationships | love | dysfunctional relationship | emotions

Not sure how to walk away from your dysfunctional relationship? Read up on how to prepare yourself here

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Paula

Why Millennials Are Choosing to Postpone Marriage

The concept of marriage is drastically shifting, and societal norms have a lot to do with the way in which Millennials choose to live their lives. Not only that, but there are also family expectations, cultural values to follow, and personal hopes and desires to consider. So how does one find a balance? It can be difficult, but possible to make it work.

I grew up in a family that was pretty set in their ways. I was the youngest, and the only one of my sisters to move away for college. And even though very out of the ordinary for my parents, they were able to see the value in my decision to relocate and step out of my comfort zone. Soon after, things began to slowly progress and they chilled out a bit.

Now that I’m thirty, the “when are you getting married?” question keeps making its way into every single one of our conversations. My parents absolutely adore my boyfriend, so they’re hoping the answer will be “tomorrow.”

Following the question of when, comes “why wait?” I always want to respond with the many reasons as to why my boyfriend and I are waiting, but I don’t think they’ll quite understand due to the generational gap.

I believe that, just like myself and those in my network, many millennials are choosing to hold off on marriage. This may not be because they haven’t met the right person, but rather, because life has so much to offer.

Couples can absolutely embark on a million adventures together, and many may prefer it that way, but I’ll be the first to admit that our generation is selfish. We like what we like, we want what we want, and we want it done in the best possible way.

Best looks differently for each person, so flying solo can ultimately be necessary. Doing things exactly as you want them can be difficult when there is an entirely separate set of needs and ideas to consider when making decisions.

So, millennials are marrying later in life. Clearly the definition and face of marriage has changed overtime. With this transition, people are marrying later for many reasons. Most of these reasons are different than why people married in, let’s say, 1950. Let’s talk about some of the changes:

1. The need for accomplishment

There’s really no need to rush into a marriage. As individuals, millennials have plenty of things to accomplish. It is a time to focus on establishing a career, and also embark on adventure after adventure. There is an abundance of opportunities to explore, and these are the life-changing experiences that can shape a person.

2. Self-actualization

There is now more of an emphasis on knowing who you are than ever before. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs includes self-actualization as one of the five human needs. Although it is the most difficult to achieve, it is one that involves development and growth, and allows one the space to truly become the best version of themselves.

Engaging in creative outlets and projects, and exposing hearts and minds to the world is such a beautiful thing. This is also something that other generations may not have had the opportunity to do. Living in a time such as this one is truly a privilege.

3. Shift in gender roles

Women and men are no longer confined to specific gender roles; these roles have become fluid. Women are no longer needing to marry for financial support, and men no longer need to marry in order to procreate and have a wifey to care for the family.

Women now have educations, careers, and are really living it up in what used to be a “man’s world.” Men are learning to cook and do laundry, and some are even stay-at-home dads. Bottom line, both men and women are independent and able to care for, and provide for themselves.

4. Procreation and the concept of family

Having children was relationship goals for centuries. Now, however, it seems as though less and less people are having children. According to the NIH, “the replacement fertility rate is roughly 2.1 live births per woman for most industrialized countries.” This quite low compared to the average of 3.67 in the United States between 1955 and 1960.

A recent study did find that more highly educated women in the US are bearing more children than in previous years, however, they are doing so later in life. According to the Washington Post, “the share of mothers with at least a master’s degree who have just one child fell from 28 percent to 23 percent [;] while those having three or more children rose from 22 percent to 27 percent.”

5. Taking time to find the right one

It’s now possible to link to literally the entire world. Millennials are able to interact with anyone and everyone, via a plethora of platforms, so why settle for a relationship that’s mediocre when one can potentially have an incredible love? Why settle for what’s right here when you might find exactly what you’re looking for out there? There’s really no rush, and settling shouldn’t be an option.

6. Cohabitation plus some

Due to this major shift in cultural and societal norms, couples are now able to live like married couples without actually being married. More and more couples cohabitate and have families without tying the knot. Society has allowed for a type of leeway that wasn’t available before, and millennials are taking advantage of it.

7. Freedom to love as one chooses

Millennials have the freedom to choose. Millennials choose who to be with, when to be together, at what capacity, and if marriage is the right thing for them. Love comes in a million shapes and sizes, and is no longer as simple as going steady, putting a ring on it, then getting married. Love is so much more than that. And I truly believe that millennials have been able to experience love at its’ best because of the freedom to do so.

marriage | millennials | relationships | love | dating

Not sure if you’re with the right person? Consider these ten things when dating someone.

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Paula

How to Say Goodbye to an Unhealthy Relationship

Being in an unhealthy relationship can break your spirit, but so can saying goodbye…

You’ve found yourself in a relationship that makes you unhappy. In a relationship that is no longer fulfilling. In a relationship that is unhealthy for you. Are you ready to abandon ship?

Sure, but how?

Living through the cycles of an unhealthy relationship is very familiar to me. Deciding to quit the person you love, or think you love, is a struggle that I wish on no one.  Not only are you internally battling yourself, but making your way out will most likely cause a scuffle.

The decision to leave the relationship, in and of itself, is tough. You start to look back at all the great times you’ve had together and wonder how you’ll survive without your beau by your side. You count all the months and years you’ve spent building a life together, and don’t want it all to go to waste. You reflect on all of the adventures you’ve had together, and just can’t imagine exploring the world with anyone else.

I know, I’ve been there. It’s hard to believe that you can wake up and not see your partners face. To hear a funny joke and realize that they’re not by your side giggling too. How can you live a day without the love of your life?

Guess what? Life goes on, and so will you.

Fear is not a valid reason to stay in an unhealthy relationship that makes you miserable and causes distress. Yes, you invested a lot of time. Yes, it will be hard to let go. Yes, you will heal and eventually find that life is better without this person.

You will be doing yourself a colossal disservice by staying in a relationship that is making you unhappy because you’re scared of the unknown. You deserve the best that life has to offer, and it’s up to you to advocate for your happiness and wellness…

10 Ways to Prep Yourself for Saying Goodbye to an Unhealthy Relationship:

1. Weigh the pros and cons

Make a list of all the good and bad things about your relationship. What aspects of your relationship are positive and give you happy feels? What aspects make you feel angry, sad, resentful, etc.? Are there things about your partner that drive you absolutely crazy? Or things that make you smile so hard your face feels like it’s going to fall off? If the bad things outweigh the good, you’ll need to reconsider where you stand…

2. Consider how often you’re happy

Once upon a time I thought that it was acceptable to be in a relationship where happiness was a distant concept. Now that I’m in a relationship where I feel happy at least 90% of the time, I know that happiness really isn’t an inaccessible notion. If you’re with the right person, in the right kind of relationship, you should be happy more often than not.

So, think about it: how often are you happy in your relationship?

3. Make final attempts

Know that you did everything you could to make it work. Improving communication, making changes and compromises, taking a break, going to counseling, etc. If after you’ve done literally everything to make it work, and it’s not—then it’s just not working. No regrets.

4. Don’t blame yourself

Relationships are a two-way street, and even though you may have done everything in your power, there’s a chance it still won’t work out. If someone really wants to be in a relationship, they will also do whatever it takes—you are not the only one to blame for the failure of your relationship. Remember—It takes two to tango.

5. Create a plan

Whether it’s looking for a new place to live, figuring out who gets custody of the dog, or deciding how to call it quits—have a plan.  Make sure that all of your bases are covered, especially if you two have any financial/legal ties.

6. Reach out to your support network

When in certain relationships, we become isolated or spend less time with friends and family. Reach out to the people you love. Rekindle those friendships and get together. If you feel comfortable doing so, let them know what you’ve been going through.

Break-ups are never easy, and you will need a tremendous amount of support during this transition. Know who to call, and who to count on. Be sure that you are well supported, because you’re going to need all the TLC you can get…

7. Know that you deserve better

Again, I know making a move as significant as this one is terrifying. You’re so doubtful, and fearful, and unsure of what the future will offer, but know that you deserve better than what you’re going through right now. Love is supposed to be a beautiful thing—and not just temporarily. Remind yourself that you deserve to be happy, even if that means finding happiness on your own first.

8. Take a trip to Muscle Beach

Always remember how strong and resilient you are. Regardless of the circumstances, you’ve made it this far. You’ve made it through a tremendous amount of hardship and struggle in life. You have what it takes to get through this—don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

9. You will survive

Initially, things are going to suck. But know that you will be okay. You will survive this, and it will only make you stronger—so cliché, I know. Most importantly, don’t believe your partner when they say you’re nothing without them. You are everything you’ll ever need, plus some.

10. Embrace life & love yourself

Along with knowing that you deserve better, give yourself permission to experience joy again. Do the things that you once loved, and find new things that bring you pleasure. Be free of criticism and hurt, and live life in a way that is fulfilling. Love yourself.

If you don’t love yourself, no one else will be able to love you the way you deserve to be love.

unhealthy | relationships | saying goodbye | break-ups

Not sure how to cope with the actual break-up? Check out these tips on how to move forward….

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Paula

7 Reasons to Be Fearless When Dating

Dating and fear—I can’t even begin to imagine how many times fear has held me back in life.

What is fear? I mean, let’s really break it down.

Fear is having concern about actions that will cause a negative consequence or emotion. Whether it be shame, rejection, failure, or loss—the bottom line is that fear is keeping us from living life to its full potential.

Fear, as an emotion, or as a possible consequence, is also keeping us from taking risks and experiencing some of the most beautiful things life has to offer.

Fear can also keep us entrapped in places we don’t want to be—whether it’s in an unhealthy relationship, a lame job, or an negative living situation. Unfortunately, these issues are all too familiar among us millennials…

I’ve had my fair share of dreadful relationships. Ending things was always difficult, regardless of understanding why I absolutely needed to. Why, you might ask? Because I was scared. I was scared of being alone. I was scared of “never” meeting anyone else. I was scared of really getting to know myself outside of that relationship.

Walking away was always such a challenging and frightening action to take. But I overcame the fear, and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. I was blessed with freedom, a clear path to walk, and the time to grow as an individual. Not to mention, I also had the opportunity to discover exactly what I was looking for in a partner.

Putting myself out there was terrifying. Letting my guard down, and allowing someone in was intimidating. Even though dating wasn’t always as pleasant as rainbow cupcakes, I learned something new on each and every date.

Before I knew it, I wasn’t scared anymore. I knew who I was, what I was looking for, and I became fearless. Once this happened, I found exactly who I was looking for.

There is nothing to be afraid of, and here’s why…

7 reasons to be fearless when dating:

1. There are no right or wrong answers

When dating someone new, there’s always the fear of texting too often or too soon, hanging out too often, or the concern with being rejected. But why keep the distance? If you know you’re into this person, why hesitate? There really are no right or wrong answers, just do what feels right…

2. Seriously, do what feels right

You always know what you should do, or what you want to do…you just choose not to because the fear is consuming you. If you want to text, or want to call, or want to hang out, make it happen. The only thing holding you back is you.

3. Put yourself out there

You are absolutely incredible. I know we all worry about what other people think, but at the end of the day, it’s all about how you feel about your decisions. Will you feel like you missed out on an awesome opportunity? Or will you feel so unbelievable proud of yourself for taking a risk and having the time of your life? It’s your call…

4. Be true to yourself

You should always be the priority. Do what’s going to make you happy. Your values are important, so honor them when making choices. Remember, it’s not about anyone else–it’s about you.

5. Have no regrets

Regret will forever burn a hole in your soul. You’ll never know if you don’t try, so give it a shot. There’s nothing worse than wondering “what if.”

6. Know when to call it quits

If you’re making an effort and taking mad risks, but that same effort is not being reciprocated, you may need to reconsider your dating choices. Relationships, as well as the initial stages of dating, are about give-and-take. Make sure to set limits and know when enough is enough.

7. Be confident

Be you and feel good about it—express your thoughts, opinions, and feelings openly and honestly. You shouldn’t fear being judged, and if you are, maybe it’s not the best fit. If this person is worth your time, he or she will not judge your actions and/or words, but rather, will find them valuable. Be comfortable, be confident, be honest, be you.

Nothing is sexier than confidence…

Let go of the fear and take risks. Allow your mind to be blown by the surprising, amazing, beautiful, exciting, and unexpected experiences life hands you…

Feel like you’re wasting time dating the wrong people? Consider these 10 tips while on your next date…

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xx,

Paula

Why to Appreciate the Lessons Failed Relationships Teach Us

What do you appreciate? It can be difficult to find value in the knowledge that lies before us…

A lot of people in my life continue to tell me that I’ve “never looked happier,” and it’s true. Happiness isn’t something that is just handed to us, but rather, something that we learn to recognize.

Why bad things happen usually makes zero sense—at the time. It can cause one to question life—to question why awful things happen to good people. Luckily, it is possible to find clarification overtime. Hindsight truly is 20/20.

My horrific story is one of love. Love is just one of those things that is so abstract, and each and every person has a different definition of love. The meaning can vary, and each individual receives love, gives love, and shares love in their own way. Sometimes the way we love isn’t compatible with who we think we love…

The vast majority of my love stories have been terrible ones. Stories of sorrow, and pain, and regret. From the cheaters, to the liars, and the controllers, it really couldn’t have been any worse. I always knew what I wanted in a partner, but I continuously found myself in relationships with the wrong men. Was I focusing on the wrong qualities? Was I doing something to attract these guys? I couldn’t quite understand how these men kept making their way into my life.

Although awful, if I hadn’t gone to hell and back, I don’t think I would appreciate my current relationship as much as I do.

My current relationship has been oh so sweet. Our love is one I never imagined could exist. I think I have been happier in the last year than in the last decade.

My current love interest and the men I dated in the past are different on so many levels, it’s insane. Don’t get me wrong—this is in no way a comparison, because there is no comparison. However, when I look back at past experiences, I cannot begin to believe that was the life I lived. How in hell did I put up with all of that bullshit for so long? Why did I do it? What was I thinking? I should have known better…what was wrong with me?

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to see how green the grass is on the other side, I have also learned to appreciate my past relationships. The hardship, believe it or not, was actually worth it. What I learned from those relationships, although temporarily painful, provided me with the permanent lessons that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

I find myself being more understanding, more giving, and sillier than ever before. The freedom that my beau and I have created in our relationship allows a level of comfort and joy that I have never experienced before. These joyful experiences make the horrible ones worth it. The terrible experiences I spent months recovering from, wishing them away each and every day, have forever changed my perspective on life and love.

Love isn’t about being with a person who seems to be a good fit, but rather, choosing someone who actually is a good fit. Choosing someone who fits you like a glove—finding your other half. Someone who can make you laugh uncontrollably. Someone who will push you on the swings at the beach. Someone who will rub your back when you’re not feeling well. Someone who knows what you’re going to say before you even say it.

Bad relationships absolutely have valuable lessons, and no matter how bad the pain, you will always learn something…

I had an unfortunate few years, and I initially wasn’t able to forgive myself for sticking around for so long. Now, however, I am able to appreciate my struggle and focus on the silver lining. Yes, it was a heartbreaking time in my life, but now I have the knowledge to avoid making those same mistakes again.

At the end of the day nothing is lost, but only gained. It is possible that sometimes the worst things aren’t the worst things after all. It’s possible to find beauty in our unfortunate and agonizing experiences…

appreciation | lessons learned | love | relationships

Going through a break-up? Check out our tips on how to best cope here

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xx,

Paula

10 Signs You’re in an Unhealthy Relationship

Making a relationship work takes a lot of effort, especially an unhealthy relationship.

When you first start dating someone, the sky is bluer than ever, and there isn’t a thing in the world that can bring down your feelings of pure euphoria. The world if perfect, life is beautiful, and all of the birds are chirping a song of love specifically written for you.

Being with the right person is meant to be an exciting adventure full of joy and laughter. It’s meant to make you feel so full and happy that your heart feels like it’s going to burst. It’s a love that is only read about in fairytales and seen in films at the theatre.

New love makes you feel so warm and fuzzy inside—kind of like you’re living in an ice cream castle with rainbow unicorns frolicking through a field of sprinkles. Knowing that this person decided to love you makes you feel an over-the-moon type of joy.

REALITY CHECK: In an unhealthy relationship, things may only seem this way at first…

Yeah, even with all the cotton candy and fields of flowers you notice several things that rub you the wrong way, but you choose to ignore them. Why? Because he’s too perfect to be bothered by things that initially seem so insignificant.

Over time, things change. The warm and fuzzies slowly fade, and the “amazing” person you committed to doesn’t treat you so well anymore. It’s killer—it literally destroys your heart and soul. 

So you start to realize that love isn’t enough.

I was once in a relationship that took a similar course—a seriously downhill course. And let me tell you, it got worse than I could have ever imagined…

As many millennial women are today, I am educated, outspoken, and opinionated, however, my voice was stifled and what I had to say “didn’t matter.” Nonetheless, I continually fought for what I felt was right. After a long and hard internal (and external) battle, I finally decided to end things.

I had a hard time believing, like many other people in my life, that the man I thought was so right couldn’t have been more wrong

10 signs that you’re in an unhealthy relationship:

The power struggle

No matter what the situation, there’s always a battle for control. Decisions are not made jointly, but rather, solely by one person—typically your partner. When you decide to stand your ground, you find yourself in massive, destructive arguments. Nothing is solved, and you most likely feel hurt, frustrated, and unheard. 

The insecure partner

This can have a very serious effect on the relationship. Being with someone who is not comfortable in his or her own skin, or even worse, intimidated by your success, can be detrimental to both individuals and the relationship.

To feel better, your partner might say or do hurtful things that will imply that you are small or insignificant. Not only does this destroy the trust in your relationship, but it can also cause feelings of shame, resentment, and decreased self-esteem. Healthy? Don’t think so…

Not being the priority

Always being last in line on the list of important people is hurtful. When it comes to your partner’s life, it’s possible that everyone and everything is put before you and your relationship. Relationships should be built collectively, with you and your partner walking through life side-by-side. You are not meant to be an added character in your love story—you should be one of the leads. 

Constant arguing

You’re constantly bickering over little insignificant things, and discussions aren’t even an option because things escalate so quickly. Constantly communicating in a manner such as this one is not healthy, by any means.

One-sided compromising

In order to make your partner happy, you compromise. You begin to give up too much, and before you know it, you realize that you’re the only person making sacrifices. You wake up one day and you’ve lost sight of what you want and need.

If your partner loved you and respected your individuality, this wouldn’t happen. It takes two to tango, and it’s always a two-way street.

Losing yourself

Think of the Venn diagram—you give so much of yourself because you think it will benefit your relationship, but rather, you’re only chipping away at the parts that make you who you are—your interests, your goals, your happiness.

Couples are meant to grow with one another. In order to build a strong bond, relationships aren’t meant to crush existing aspects of each individual’s life. It is important to always maintain parts of your own identity. Refrain from adopting your partner’s identity and way of life, although they might desire it. Be sure to find a balance. 

Lack of communication

You express yourself, but it feels like you never actually said anything. It’s as though your voice, opinions, and needs don’t matter. This is absolutely unacceptable. It’s possible that your partner may not care enough to listen, or that he or she is simply unwilling to consider your needs.

Your voice is who you are—if your partner doesn’t take the time to hear you, they don’t deserve you.

Walking on eggshells

You find yourself constantly walking on eggshells. You will literally do anything to keep the boat steady and avoid an argument. Love is about being open, honest, and feeling comfortable and trusting enough to rock the boat. Thoughts and feelings are meant to be heard, respected, and nurtured, not suppressed.

Questioning yourself

Everything you say is either ignored or questioned, so you begin to think twice about your choices. Whether needing to second-guess your words or actions, or wondering if you should even speak at all, you consider the possible negative effects and if an issue might arise.  

Resentment

Ah, resentment—the game-changer. Before you know it, you’re in a love-hate relationship—the kind that makes you feel stuck. Is it the love or hate that’s sticking? Which is it?

The take away here is that love isn’t enough. Know when to cut your losses and save yourself. If someone isn’t willing to make you a priority, hear you, and love you, it’s time to take care of yourself…

**Abuse or mistreatment of any form is not okay. If you ever need help or have concerns about a loved one, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline

Decided to walk away and end your relationship? Let’s talk about how to best cope with a break-up

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xx,

Paula

Don’t Waste Time: 10 Things to Consider When Dating

Dating can take up a significant amount of time.

Time is of the essence. Even though I’m not dating anymore, I remember what it was like to sift through online profile after online profile, and chat it up with all the fellas that approached me. I literally went on what felt like a million first dates. Needless to say, I met the love of my life when I least expected it, and he was totally worth the wait.

Even though I’m no longer on the market, I continue to support my friends that are in the dating game. When we talk about what they’re looking for, what questions to ask, and what they should consider when dating someone new, I always share my dating tips with them. What tips you might ask? The ten golden rules that will keep you sane and on track.

Time is valuable, and it is not to be wasted. So what is it that you need to ask yourself when dating someone new?

To avoid wasting time when dating, consider these 10 things:

1.Are they into you?

First off, you’ll know when someone is into you. If for some reason you’re not sure, ask. If you two are not on the same page, that’s okay—word on the street is that we only get one soulmate, and this person just isn’t it.

2. Go after the one who wants you

I cannot emphasize how important it is to spend time with someone who feels the same way that you do. The chasing game is not pleasant, so please don’t put yourself in that position. Spend time with someone who shows a mutual interest, and is willing to invest time and effort. Trust me, it makes dating so much easier and significantly more fun.

3. Communication

Communication can be super tricky at the start of something new. Unfortunately, there is such a negative connotation associated with being “needy” or “clingy.” Doing what feels right for you, regardless of it potentially coming off as “clingy” or not, is the way to navigate the waters here.

Reciprocate communication if it’s mutual, and remain responsive. However, if the other person isn’t making an active effort of contact, it’s probably time to move on. You definitely don’t want to end up have conversations with yourself via text…

4. Go with the flow

Sometimes you may not hear from someone you’re newly dating for a few days, and that’s okay. Being open-minded and going with the flow is the best way to handle a situation such as this. I’m not saying that ghosting is okay by any means, but sometimes things come up. Just continue to live your life as is, and if this person wants to be a part of it, they will find a way to make that happen. If not, nothing is lost.

5. Wondering if you’re good enough

Don’t ever question your self-worth. No one has the right to make you feel like less of a person, or make you doubt how awesome you are. If this person is going to make you feel bad about yourself, in any way, it’s probably best to say goodbye…

6. Be real

Always be yourself.  Open and direct communication when starting a new relationship is of the utmost importance. Honesty is the best policy, and this will allow you and your date the chance to see if you are compatible. Not to mention, you’ll be able to figure out if you two want the same things. Be the real you, and see how things flow naturally.

7. Time is of the essence

If you feel that there’s a special connection, take the time to get to know your date. But if after a few meetings you two are not seeing eye-to-eye on topics or values that are very important to you (i.e. human rights, politics, family, religious beliefs, etc.), don’t waste your time.

8. Is it a deal breaker?

Okay, so you like this person, and there’s an obvious connection. However, you notice some red flags. The question is if you can actually live with these differences. Compromise is crucial and necessary in any relationship, but some compromises, or “sacrifices,” are just too big. You’ll need to consider if it’s something you’re willing to deal with on an ongoing basis.

Remember, people don’t change. If you can’t accept a person and their flaws as is, things may not work out in the long-run… 

9. Calculate the risk

Dating can help you make an educated and calculated decision. Are you willing to invest in this relationship? Is it a safe bet? Or is it an investment that you expect to crash and burn? Sometimes things like needing to “chase” someone, or having different values, is an explicit sign that it’s going to crash and burn. 

10. Listen to your body

Listen to your gut—what’s it telling you? Are the butterflies due to excitement or anxiety? Is something off? Or is it just that you’re really looking forward to your date? Basically, do you want this person in your space? If you answered yes, that’s great. If you’re not looking forward to this person being around during the honeymoon phase, you probably won’t want them around 2, 3, or 10 months from now…

No matter what, have fun and don’t give up!

dating | time | don't waste time | love | relationships

Is dating burning you out? Check out these tips on how to give your body some TLC.

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xx,

Paula