As women, we’re taught to say “no” to things like mean girls, scary men, and carbs. Obviously, some have more difficulty saying it than others. Just as obviously, I’m not one of the girls that does.
My seventh grade year consisted of 400 panic attacks–one daily, and the occasional two-a-day. Food, along with many other things, made me anxious. This is mostly because it is very hard to chew, swallow, and hyperventilate at the same time. I hated this; if there was one thing I wanted, it was to be able to go out to eat and not worry about not eating. My parents tried to ease my stresses by telling me that I never had to eat if I didn’t want to. If I was hungry, I should eat, and if I wasn’t hungry, I shouldn’t eat, and that was that. I would never have to make an excuse to anyone, and I should never feel bad about anything. This is my first recollection of learning how to say “no.”
A more relatable example may be that of the typical haircut. You’re sitting in the chair, and a woman who smells really good but also borderline like the depletion of the ozone layer by hairspray asks you how you want to get trimmed. A little face frame? A little side bangs? Some layers? OK! OK! OK! Suddenly your hair becomes this crazy thing that you have the ability to change however you want to. But you also know that the change isn’t permanent, so a risk wouldn’t hurt. It sounds like the perfect storm–and it usually is.
Suddenly, you look in the mirror and realize how closely you now resemble a poodle with hair that awkwardly falls RIGHT in the middle of your boobs (you all know what I’m talking about). You didn’t want your hair this short and you just asked for a trim, but here you are, looking like Slash. And couldn’t it all have been prevented with a little, “no”? With a little “that’s short enough, thank you and please stop killing the polar bears with your beauty products”?
I’m still kinda bad at directing my hair stylist, but other than that, I’ve gotten good at saying “no.”
It’s a Saturday night, and I’m having a heated conversation with a guy who told me to relax because I wouldn’t dance with him. I didn’t want to dance, I didn’t want to kiss him, and I didn’t want to lead him down either of these undesirable paths. At first, he playfully teased me for having a stick up my ass. But then the tone changed, and I found myself being reverse slut-shamed. I was being prude-shamed.
“Look,” I told him, “I just don’t want to go there. I just don’t want to kiss you.” And it was true–not a bone in my body wanted to. I liked him, but not enough to go there. Not enough to go anywhere, really.
Then, shit hit the fan. He penalized me for saying no, telling me that he read my blog and he knew what I was “all about.” Then, he went on to say that my expectations of men were unrealistic, that I thought I was Taylor Swift, that I needed to relax, that things would never work out in my favor if I continued to believe in love the way I did, and ended the argument with a really solid closer: “If you just peck me you might feel something that you don’t even know exists right now,” essentially dissing every aspect of my being and then trying again, after all of that, to get me to kiss him.
In the most unintentional way possible, he proved all my theories true; I’ve never been happier about saying “no.” He made me realize that when I act with my own opinions and beliefs in mind, I win. So yeah, I’m still going to be a “relationships-girl” and I’m still going to not want to kiss you unless I actually want to and I’m still going to have high expectations. Because I woke up this morning not feeling like a shithead, and isn’t that the goal?
To people like that, we say “sorry-not-sorry.”
It’s believed that many years ago, mothers would chew food for their infant children and pass it to them via mouth-to-mouth contact. This ritual was not just built to establish family; it was not just to say “I am the mother and you are the child.” It was a necessity of life. It was something, while endearing, humans could not live without.
Today, we kiss not because we need it. Or, perhaps, we kiss because we do. But when I linger on the idea of mouth touching mouth, lip biting lip, I find it to be a strange concept regardless of its origin. Kissing is, in part, something we do because we’re told to. From a young age, we were drilled with the idea that all could be fixed with a simple solution of true love’s kiss. Kissing can wake up an unconscious princess, therefore, it must be able to alleviate all of my much more peasantly problems, right? But regardless of fairytale and fiction, why does something as simple as the connection of two orifices give us a euphoric feeling we wouldn’t experience otherwise?
Philematologists (the formal word for a kissing scientist) have come to the conclusion that we keep on kissing because of chemistry. Kissing releases chemicals and hormones in your body that trigger feelings in your brain. It helps us to judge how interested we are in somebody. I know you know what I’m talking about when I say that you can feel the difference between a kiss that means nothing–it just doesn’t do it for you–and a kiss that gives you that feeling. And, after all, kissing is (almost) as intertwined with someone else as you will ever be.
When I was younger, my grandma and I had a joint obsession with The Princess Diaries. We were convinced we were the nonfiction Jewish version of Princess Mia and Queen Clarisse (a.k.a. “Grandma”). Through my freshman year of high school, I would have sleepovers with my grandma once every month or so and we would alternate between watching the first movie and the second while eating frozen Cool Whip out of the container. We knew every word, every scene, every sound. I also had every book in the series–all sixteen of them. To most, Mia is known for her trademarked idea of the “foot-popping kiss.”
“You know, in the old movies whenever a girl would get seriously kissed, her foot would just kind of… pop.” My grandma and I watched each month as Mia figured out her true love via test of the foot pop over and over again. This was my exposure to sex and romance–watching a Disney-produced film with my grandma, who once wore white evening gloves on a day trip to the zoo with my grandpa.
One night, my grandma and I decided to sway from our routine. We rented The Kids Are All Right, now one of my favorite films, starring Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a lesbian couple whose teenaged children meet their sperm donor father. In a scene, Bening and Moore attempt to spice up their sex life by watching gay porn. Consequentially, this scene was graphically displayed on my grandmother’s oversized plasma screen television.
I had never seen my grandma cringe the way she did. Though we also shared a love of forward thinking girl power, I was primarily her Princess Mia, not her gay porn advocate.
“It’s okay,” I told her. “It’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”
Though I was getting older and more “aware,” I was still big on the foot-popping kiss. My friends starting kissing boys in the sixth grade. Though I had my fair share of opportunities–and by opportunities, I mean boys leaning in and me literally running away–I waited so that my first kiss would be perfect. I wanted it to be memorable so that one day, I could look back at the five minutes of my life I was closest to becoming a princess. My first kiss was a foot-popper. And, of course, I told my grandma about it the next time I saw her.
I understand why we touch each other. I understand snuggling, cuddling, sleeping together, even holding hands. Part of me still finds it strange that we have a compulsion to kiss. When you see someone you love, you want to kiss them hello, you want to kiss them goodbye, and you want to kiss them every second in between. I know I want my lips on someone else’s, but I’m not sure why.
To Mia Thermopolis, a good kiss is foot-popping. To Romeo and Juliet, a kiss is a prayer and a sin sweetly purged. And to me, it’s something I’m still trying to figure out (with practice, of course).
I have always wanted to be a guru of something. I’ve attempted many times, going through a guru of Polly Pockets phrase, guru of Dalmatians phase (don’t ask), guru of tye dye Soffe shorts phase, guru of anxiety phase, and even a guru of haiku phase. I finally feel like I’m a guru of something, though it’s something I neither imagined I would be a guru of nor one I ever wanted to be. Unfortunately, I am a guru at long distance relationships.
Being a guru of long distance relationships is really tough work. Ideally, I would have an ashram located in a TriBeCa loft space where teenaged girls wearing a strict uniform of bare feet, Lulu Lemon leggings, and vintage Grateful Dead t-shirts would come with the two most essential things in life (tissues and yoga mats). Then, we would sit in prayer circles and I would offer words of wisdom about topics like “She’s Not Just His Best Friend, She Wants His D,” “Obsessive Facebook Stalking Is A Disease,” and “Don’t Let Him Manipulate You, You Got This In The Bag Girlfriend!” Of course, I can’t afford the ashram just yet so for now I have a small group of Instagram followers that had a mild infatuation with my fairytale-esque relationship while it still existed.
I was in a full fledged LDR for seven months. Then, like everything else eventually does, it ended. Because of my obsession with cynical millennial-oriented thought-piece websites, I’ve read tons and tons of posts about LDRs. To my surprise, they seem to be a really popular topic. This is probably because writers like to tell the world about their failures in love. Clearly, it provides good material. I’ve read pro-LDR pieces and anti-ones. To be honest, most of them say that these relationships aren’t worth it. To be even more honest, I have to agree.
There is a strong argument in favor of long distance relationships: if you really “love” one person, and if you see a potential future with that person, then distance shouldn’t change the way you feel about them. But I didn’t stop loving my boyfriend because he was far away. Things changed because we did, and we changed because we are human. He probably claims I changed because I’m a bitch, but whatever.
I’m not anti-long distance, don’t get me wrong. If you can do it, then you should. But there is a serious problem in long distance relationships and it’s that people forget to put themselves first. Call me selfish, sure. But your relationship shouldn’t turn into an extracurricular activity. You need to do you. You can also do each other, but you primarily need to do you.
People keep writing about the crucial parts of a long distance relationship–talking every day, trusting each other. They say that when a long distance relationship fails, it’s because you’re missing one of these ingredients as if your love life can be written down in a cookbook and made by following a recipe. All of these cliché writers are neglecting to highlight happiness. LDRs have a tendency to break someone’s heart in half and then hold one piece hostage a thousand miles away. You deserve to have your whole heart, all of the time. You deserve to have you. My LDR didn’t end because I couldn’t deal with the four hour bus ride or because I wanted to be with other people. It was because I needed to have myself and my whole self to do what I wanted. We deserve to feel OK by ourselves because we’re fucking awesome.
Recently, my ex-boyfriend gave me a digital shout out, so I thought that it would only be fair to return the gesture. There was a lot of talk about my break up. Haters gonna hate, but what it comes down to is that my long distance relationship just didn’t work.
On long distance relationships, in summary: life is going to happen, so maybe we should let it.
Recently, I’ve read a lot of online articles about chivalry. Some argue it’s dead, others argue it isn’t, and many say women are, in fact, the ones who’ve killed it. As someone who believes that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities (and not as someone who doesn’t shave my legs, because I do, or as someone who is an unhygienic man-hater, which I am also not), I consider myself a feminist. But as someone who manipulated her first kiss so that it would be under a streetlight on New Year’s Eve, I also believe in classic romance and knight-in-shining-armor happy endings. Something I’ve struggled with all my life is figuring out where these two important and constant values find their balance.
Is it possible for me to be a feminist that believes in chivalry? Or am I, along with every other girl who was raised on a diet of Disney princess movies, the utmost contradiction?
First, I want to address the claim that chivalry is dead, because it definitely isn’t. It might be hard to find them, but guys who won’t let you open your own car door and pay for all of your meals still exist… they’re just really hard to find. We’re also at the age where girls aren’t looking for someone who is as chivalrous as he is attractive or as he is fun. And if we aren’t demanding it, guys aren’t going to go out of their way to do it. If we give ourselves to them and they don’t need to put in the effort to woo us, then why would they? It makes sense. Perhaps your guy is more chivalrous than you might think… he just hasn’t found his armor yet. He’s been too focused on riding the horse (haha).
When we get older and boys realize that we are god’s gift to planet earth, as we obviously are, maybe things will change. Chances are, actually, they will.
Chivalry is not necessarily degrading to women if it is done right. When it started, it was about the strength of men in comparison to that of women, displaying the qualities they have that we physically do not. I am definitely on the liberal side of most, if not all, social issues. Like, basically 100%. But it bothers me when feminists try to define themselves as feminists by saying that women are just as strong as men, or just as capable of carrying a 50 pound package from the mail room as a man would be. In truth, we are not. It’s simply not how we’re built. Men are made to be stronger, and that is a fact that, upon admittance, does not make me a bad feminist. It makes me someone that doesn’t ignore certain truths that some who refer to themselves as “feminists” often do. He isn’t holding a door open for you because he thinks you can’t do it yourself. He’s holding it open because, historically, and truthfully, it’s probably easier for him to do. Not a big deal.
However, the issue of paying for a woman is something completely different. My ex-boyfriend never let me pay for a single thing, ever. Rarely–and by “rarely” I mean once every couple of months–I was allowed to pay tip at a restaurant, and that was it. Concert tickets were split evenly–the only rule we agreed on. Of course, it’s nice to have someone pay for all of your shit. If one of my girlfriends paid for everything, it would be just as nice. But, in theory, he was making no more money than I was. We were both teenagers using our parents’ credit cards.
Once I started working, my views about this changed. Now, I don’t let guys pay for me. OK, fine, once in a while, I do. But I never let it happen unless I put up a real fight. Sometimes, guys are relentless. I think we have to realize that they aren’t trying to be degrading, and they aren’t trying to prove they are more powerful–fiscally or physically–than we are in any way, shape, or form. They’re just using a centuries-old tradition to show us that they’re worth it. Think of it this way: they feel like they have to prove something to you. They are men, not boys. Maybe we should take it as a compliment. Maybe I’m a shitty feminist. Thoughts?
When two people are interested in each other, they should be together. Right?
No, of course not.
Although that would make perfect sense, human interaction could never be that easy. Why not? Because if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. It wouldn’t be fun, it wouldn’t be exciting, and we would get bored even though we are in the ideal situation of mutual wanting. We’ve convinced ourselves that when we want someone too much, we don’t want them at all. If we wanted them at all, we would make them work.
Hence, the infinite game of “playing hard to get”: of making sure your friends don’t let you respond to that text message until 11:39pm and 46 seconds, of leaving the conversation in a terrifying cliffhanger by not answering the question “Did I tell you that I ran into ‘x’ today?” No you didn’t tell me, and I’m not going to risk my mysterious persona by allowing this conversation to get irrelevant and pointless. The beginning of a relationship is like writing a screenplay–every word has to have a significance. And if it doesn’t, then it isn’t worth saying.
I used to be and still am terrible at playing hard to get. It isn’t that I’m easy, and it isn’t that I’m a slut. In fact, I’m far from both of these things. Instead, I’m a premature yenta that can’t keep her mouth shut. I was born as a small fuzzy caterpillar waiting to turn into a social butterfly. (If you know my mom, you know exactly where I get this quality from). When I entered the fiery hell of high school girl world, I had trouble understanding how it wasn’t considered the rudest thing possible to play hard to get. I was confused about the bitchy aspects of the dating game; i.e., making a guy text you five times before responding, ignoring his physical existence unless he approaches you, and whatever else my American Girl book “All You Need To Know About Boys a.k.a. How To Get Guys With As Little Sluttiness As Possible” told me to do.
My fears were all legitimate. What if he thinks I died? What if I seem so rude that he’s not going to like me at all anymore? What if he thinks I’m not who he thought I was? Eventually, I became so frazzled that my friends would have to deal with my relationships for me. Every text I received was treated amongst my friends like a table read of Girls.
I eventually realized that I’m not the only one with hard-to-get/how-to-text anxieties. Last week I was snuggled up in bed with my teddy bear, blankie, retainers, and sleep mask. Click here if you want a nice image of what that looks like. As I was falling asleep, someone BURSTED through my door (which I obviously forgot to lock) and jumped on my bed. My first thought was that I was being recruited by Agent Cody Banks and the CIA. Momentarily, I came to my senses and realized that it was one of my best friends. She got a text message: “Hey, what’s up?” Then, the conniption fit initiated. Pretty standard.
My mom was keen at enforcing that I should play hard to get since I was in middle school. He should have to come to your house, she would say. Make him work for you. Originally, I thought that she was crazy. But now, I think she changed me for the better. I feel like I value myself (sexually) more than most of the girls I know do… even more than some of my feminist friends do. Impressive, right? I think that although I feel guilty ignoring a text, or making someone who wants me on the bottom of my priority list, it’s all in good reason. If we don’t make someone–anyone–work to get us, then we ultimately give ourselves less value. Sure, anyone’s daddy can buy him a LandRover. But your daddy will never be able to buy you love from a nice Jewish girl like me.
I used to be terrified of a few things: vomit, roller coasters, and PDA. This is something that most girls have in common. My fears were not of miscellaneous fruits or animals; they were reasonable. But with the passing of time, I don’t know if my fears would stand as “acceptable.” Yes, girls are probably still shuddering at the sight of bodily fluids. Some, like me, will never be too fond of adventure parks, either. PDA is a different story. The girls today don’t give two shits, and I’ll tell you why.
First, let me give some backstory. My freshman year of high school brought a lot of new and exciting changes. My boobs kept growing even after I thought they had stopped, and I was finally getting back into my normal routine of having a panic attack a day. It was really great. It was also the year that I would be start going to school with my first “real” boyfriend. Going to school with your boyfriend for the first time is like having a co-ed sleepover party in the first grade. It isn’t like anything is going to actually happen out of the ordinary, but because you’re in the same vicinity your mind plays a dirty little trick on you that it will. Every day had the opportunity for something amazing and wonderful to happen because I was “young” and “in love” and I was also, like, fourteen.
For him, there was no secret fantasy hiding in the janitor’s closet or the handicap stall of the second floor girl’s bathroom. It was much simpler than that–we were in school together, so when he saw me in the hallway, or when he walked me to class, he was going to hold my hand.
Hence, World War III commenced.
For some reason, I was OK with wishing that one day my boyfriend would get the school marching band to surprise me with a rendition of Weezer’s “Island in the Sun,” but I was not OK with any public displays of affection (for newbies out there, public display of affection = PDA). It wasn’t even that I was embarrassed to have a boyfriend. I was far from embarrassed. I felt like the luckiest girl in the whole school. For a reason I am still not totally aware of, I was terrified of any touching, hugging, kissing, groping, lap-sitting, etc. etc. in front of anyone else.
The two of us would get into bitter arguments over PDA. Why was it such a big deal for me to hold his hand? Why couldn’t we hug before class? Not even a kiss on the cheek? My defense was simple: no one needed to see it. I was always very prude and in the stubbornest of ways. I had heard so many people go off about how disgusting it is to see couples being mushy in the halls. I had even been blockaded from my locker many a time (a common occurrence at my high school) by couples going at it up against the wall.
My literal fear of PDA got so bad that my mom eventually had to say something to me about it. “You’re so cold towards [insert ex’s name here haha lol]. Why don’t you just be a little warmer? One day you’re gonna push him so far away that he’s not going to come back.” Since Mama always knows best, especially when she’s Jewish Yenta Mama, I took her advice to the best of my ability. Slowly, I eased by way into the nauseating hand-holding and the awkward-feeling-but-looks-cute arm around the waist. “See?” I would say to my boyfriend. “Look how good I’m doing!” You’d think I was going through psychotherapy (not to say I wasn’t, anyway) or that maybe he was teaching me how to ride a bicycle (not that he didn’t, either) by the way we would speak about it.
But enough about me. Let’s talk about the biddies in their prime–they can still eat whatever they want, they can still solely rely on Mommy and Daddy’s ca$h flow, they’re still naive enough to believe that a quadruple date with four senior guys isn’t just a quadruple booty call–and how these days, they are lovin’ themselves some PDA. Let me go back to where I started. Why do they love PDA? Obviously, I’m going to blame this on social media. Haha duh.
When I was a freshman in high school, I had a Facebook. But social media was not nearly as much of a “thing” then as it was now. My freshman year was when people learned how to put photos onto Facebook from their Blackberries (freshman now don’t even know what a Blackberry is) that were filtered into an album automatically titled “Mobile Uploads.” And just like that, my fave vocab word of all time–mupload, obv–was born into creation.
Now, there is no way to put photos on Facebook aside from through your iPhone… or at least that’s how we make it look. Facebook and its critical importance in the everyday life of a teenaged girl has built up PDA to become a normal thing. Everyone sees everything you do because there’s a mupload of you doing it already on Facebook. I’ve seen you hooking up, I’ve seen you grinding, I’ve seen you holding each other’s hair back, and I’ve seen you sitting on the toilet. So, you might as well go ahead and hold hands in the hallways. You might as well.
The weirdest thing is this: after a few years of high school, I started feeling a compulsion to chronicle my relationships on Facebook. Simultaneously, I found myself feeling more and more comfortable with a quick kiss or a hand-hold. Just some food for thought…
On the bright side of things, in case you were wondering, I’m totally over my phobia of PDA. Vomit… not so much.
“Let’s stay friends.” “You’re my best friend, and I don’t want to lose that.” “I miss having him as my friend.”
There is clearly a reason why someone put the “friend” in “boyfriend.”
In other languages, there is a single word for “male significant other.” In Spanish, it is novio. In Hebrew, it is chaver. But in English, it’s a compound word. Boy-friend. Girl-friend. English often seems to fail with its inability to be phonetic and its reputation as one of the most difficult languages to learn as a non-native speaker. Other languages have simple, direct words for phrases, human habits, and other occurrences that English does not. My favorite example of this is the Norwegian word forelsket, which explains the euphoria you experience when you are first falling in love.
Typically, English is more complicated than it needs to be. But then again, so are our relationships. When it comes to the words we use to explain the one we’re with, I think we are spot on. Boy-friend. Girl-friend.
In life, you will date many people. You will love a few. And if you are lucky, one of these relationships will last forever. Most of them will not. The possibilities of the ways that your relationships will end are endless and infinite. I’m not so old myself, yet I’ve already heard what seems to be 1,000 ways to break up. Even though we all have our own stories and secrets of how our once-lived fairytales came to a close, I believe in that in reality, there are only two ways things can end: badly, or well.
If it ends badly, then it’s obviously difficult to stay friends. If things end well–or just not so badly–then you should be able to stay friends. And unless a hellish, unforgiving act was taken by either person in the relationship, friendship (or at least mutualism, a term I learned in AP Biology but often apply to real life) should eventually occur. If you liked each other once, it seems silly that you wouldn’t like each other again. Because, in their lifetimes, humans date so many people, most relationships do not end horrifically, although I totally ruin that statistic. It would make sense that most of us should be able to stay friends. If you like someone as a human, that does not mean you would necessarily like them romantically. But if you like someone romantically, then you really should like them as a human. If not… then I don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe you’re doing it wrong.
So then why the hell is it so effing difficult to stay friends?
I’m just going to come right out and say it–the main difference between your relationship with someone when you are dating and when you are not is all the stuff with the birds and the bees, which I don’t have to delve deeply into because 1) you all know what I mean and 2) my mom reads my blog. So you take the kissin’ and the lovin’ out of your relationship, and suddenly, you stop talking. Not only do you stop talking, but you really don’t like each other. When I put it like that, doesn’t it sound kinda horrible?
If you love someone for who they are and not for what you do behind closed doors, it doesn’t seem like it should be so hard to look past whatever obstacles you faced in your relationship–given, a few weeks of personal space and separation have been taken–and enjoy each other’s presence and company as friends. And if you can’t even speak to someone after years and years of dating and months and months of silence, and the only real difference in who each of you is that you aren’t sleeping together anymore, isn’t there a huge flaw in that?
It’s a shame that recently, we’re taking the “friend” out of boyfriend. That word is in there for a reason. Isn’t it?