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

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xx,

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

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Paula

Intimacy is About More Than Sex

Intimacy is something all human beings desire, and it is part of each person’s psychosocial development. Intimacy vs. isolation is a concept based on Erik Erikson’s psychoanalytical theory. This is an important stage because it is the time in which adults meet someone they can connect with and commit to. With this, one is able to set themselves up for meaning in life, which is pertinent to success in the following stages.

The meaning of “intimacy” has shifted overtime, as many psychosocial ideologies do. Intimacy, specifically for millennials, seems to now have a varied significance. Sex appears to be a primary marker of intimacy, whether or not an emotional attachment is incorporated.

So can sex be intimate? Yes. But is it the only form of intimacy? No. Can we be taught how to be intimate, just like we’re taught about sex? Think about it—from the time that teens hit puberty, education on safe sex, how not to get pregnant, and how to avoid contracting an STI are part of the curriculum. What about learning how to be intimate? Or learning what intimacy is? There is such an emphasis on sex, and I find that society, and especially media, have displayed sex as the prime form of intimacy.

Is it possible that sex is a way for two people to convey their level of intimacy? Absolutely. Sex is simply a physical act, and anyone can engage. However, intimacy is something very special, and it takes a lot of time and effort to develop such a deep connection with another individual.

Let’s talk about some other forms of intimacy…

7 ways to be intimate:

1. Trust

I cannot express how important trust is in a relationship. The first step to building a strong bond is to trust and feel safe with your partner. Without trust, there is no intimacy.

2. Love

Just like trust, love and care are vital components of intimacy. To see the best in a person, and choose to share your life with them says a lot. Building upon your relationship day by day allows for the constant strengthening of that connection.

3. Communication

Sharing pieces of yourself that are either meaningful or difficult to talk about allows both of you to become more intimate. Learning about one another, especially when discussing hopes, dreams, desires, or traumatic experiences, will further expand on your relationship. Trust is crucial in instances such as these.

4. Physical touch

Sometimes the more basic aspects of physical touch, such as cuddling, holding hands, or hugging, allow two people to feel closer to one another. It contributes to intimacy, supports your relationship, and keeps the novelty alive.

5. Spending alone time

Spending alone time together as a couple, whether engaging in an activity, or just hanging out, also provides an opportunity to increase intimacy. Something as simple as lying on a blanket in the park while holding hands and watching the leaves blow in the wind is romantic and warrants a deeper connection.

6. Peacefully sharing space

Many couples cohabitate, and this too can increase intimacy. Peacefully sharing space and a life with someone else exhibits a great deal of trust and love. This allows for a deeper level of understanding about your partner and their needs, as well as your own. Compromise and respect will most likely play a significant role here. Learning about one another in a brand new setting will surely improve your relationship.

7. Being yourself

Being your true self with another individual is the highest level of intimacy. Letting your guard down, opening up, trusting someone, and sharing some of the most private parts of yourself takes a great deal of courage. If you and your partner have a connection that allows you to be fully unfiltered versions of yourselves, know that you have reached an incredible place in your relationship, and an extraordinary degree of intimacy.

There are many layers of intimacy, and yes, sex is a part of that, but don’t sell yourself short and miss out on the incredible, loving, and trusting bond you and your partner can have together…

intimacy | relationships | bond | connection | love | trust

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xx,

Paula

How to Keep the Novelty Alive in Your Relationship

The Novelty can wear in any long-term relationship. That doesn’t mean that your love is fading, but rather, that the honeymoon phase is long gone. You two have fallen into a routine, and even though you still enjoy each other’s company, that spark seems like a distant memory. That flame doesn’t burn as bright. And the romance is beginning to dwindle.

Relationships, no matter how long, can always maintain a sense of novelty. That sense of newness and intense desire doesn’t ever need to fade. The secret to keeping the novelty alive is being present.

Be involved in your relationship. Be open, be interactive, and keep the flame burning bright. If you and your partner don’t create a nurturing environment for your relationship, it will wither.

As in all aspects of a healthy relationship, communication is also important. Tell each other what you need, find new ways to expand your love for one another, and make plans to keep your relationship alive.

The earlier you start this process, the better. If you build this concept into the foundation of your relationship, you will thank yourselves later. My boyfriend and I plan something special for each monthaversary because it gives us a reason to celebrate our love, be romantic, and spend quality time with one another. We also take a few minutes to chat before bed every night. This really helps us stay connected to one another…

What will you and your partner do to maintain the glimmer in your spark??

10 ways to keep the novelty alive in your relationship:  

Say I love you everyday

This is a super basic concept, but it makes a huge difference. Remind your partner that you love him or her each and every day. It will allow you to keep the lines of communication open, and it is also a way to nurture your relationship and let your partner know that they’re an important part of your life.

Schedule date night

Life gets busy and time escapes us, so make sure to regularly plan date nights. Whether it’s going out to dinner, having a Saturday picnic at the park, or staying home and playing board games, you and your partner will get to spend some quality time together.

Laugh together

Engage in activities that allow for a lot of laughter and fun. This is also a way to provide your relationship with a re-boot, especially if things have been a bit rough. With this, you and your partner will be reminded of why you love one another so much, and it can also provide you with a fresh perspective on your bond.

Engage in new experiences

Try new things together. Whether it’s bungee jumping, traveling to a new country, or taking a cooking class, this too will help keep your relationship alive. Engaging in new experiences will allow both you and your partner to learn new things about yourselves and each other. It also provides a lot of room for excitement, and to support and care for one another if needed.

Get physical

Hug and kiss each other every day, even if you’re mad. Physical touch is a way for couples to connect and be intimate. Also, who doesn’t love to be cuddled? I sure as hell do…

Say thank you

Day to day life becomes so normal and tedious that we forget to say thank you. Your partner makes breakfast every morning, which even though may be an obligation, is also very kind. Saying thank you can truly make all the difference.

Give positive feedback

Similar to saying thank you, tell your partner when they’re doing something you like, or something that makes you happy. Positive feedback will reinforce this behavior. Also, it will help your partner see that you’re aware of, and recognizing his or her efforts. That’s really important.

Communicate

Talk to each other. About what? Anything. Pass time chatting—it’s such a great way to connect. Regardless of your conversation being that of a serious nature, or making silly jokes, just talk to one another. Feeling comfortable sharing things with your partner will absolutely help strengthen your bond. With this, you and your partner will be able to jointly embrace the joys of life, and also lean on one another in times of hardship.

Just the two of you

Whether you have kids to care for, or it’s just the two of you, make sure that there is something that is just yours. As a couple, have a special TV show you watch before bed, or have a quick phone chat each day at lunch, or a coffee date before work every morning. Whatever the situation, this mini-date every day will provide you with an extra opportunity to connect and know that you’re thinking of each other.

Be present

Being present is vital to keeping the love alive. Be there. When you’re together, be involved, be aware, be part of the conversation. If you’re engaging your phone instead of your partner, you’re sending a very clear message that he or she is not important. When spending time together, be conscious of where your mind is. When not present, there is a clear distance that will begin to tear apart your relationship.

Be kind, be loving, and be supportive. Love is a such a beautiful thing, and we need to care for it as best as possible…Keep the love alive!

novelty | keep the love alive | love | relationships | hope

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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

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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

Love is Not Created Equal

Love is one of those things that comes in all different shapes and sizes, and it’s never the same. Each piece is different, and definitely not created equal.

Have you ever been in love? Or thought you were? Where you feel like your heart is going to burst because you love the person standing by your side so much? Yeah, I’ve been there. Been there, and done that. Twice. The difference, however, is why one relationship lasted and the other didn’t. One was corrupt, and the other wasn’t.

Love can be an evil-eyed monster sometimes. It can be so intense that it literally feels like you’re dying inside. It’s the kind that makes you sacrifice your needs, your happiness, and your wellness just to make the other person happy. A love that is miserable and viciously demanding—it’s simply the worst.

That was the first kind of relationship I had. Where I loved so much that it turned to hate—eventually some of that was me hating myself.

I took so much away from who I was and what I wanted. What I thought was me “loving” someone else was actually slowly chipping away at me.

Now, I’ve been lucky enough to find a love that is the complete opposite. A love that I gladly give, unconditionally, because I know I will receive the same. A love that makes me smile, and feel full, and laugh uncontrollably all the time. One that is so selfless and passionate, that my heart feels like it’s going to burst.

A love that provided me with the support and care I needed to be a better human being. A love that gave me the hope and courage to pursue my dreams. One so strong that it would stand by me no matter what.

This is my definition of love. This is what I expect and need to have a successful relationship. How I was lucky enough to find it? I have no idea.

So take time to think about what you need in a relationship. Is it the type that will make your heart feel so full that it’s going to explode from all the joy? It could be the type where you and your partner just can’t bear to be apart? Or the type that will allow you a great deal of space and the ability to be as selfish as you need? Each person requires something different, and as long as you and your partner are on the same page, it will fit.

Love is like a puzzle. Once you find your missing piece, it literally feels like your whole life has come together.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d always felt very fulfilled: I have great friends, a wonderful career, and an abundance of adventures to look back on. But still…something was missing.

I came to find that my missing piece was sharing my life with someone who wanted the type of loving feels I was able to give, and vice versa. A person who has the same values and goals. A person who enjoys the same lifestyle.

Basically, it’s all about that puzzle—when it fits, it fits. When you know, you know.

Don’t settle for anything less…

xx

-Paula

To learn more about how I found my love, click here!