Confessions of a Confidante

Life. Analysed.

Category: relationships

A Filtering Process

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When it comes to love, life tends to take the following course: early adolescence – first crush > first boyfriend/girlfriend> first kiss >> high school – first love > heartbreak > despair >> university – experimental years > open mindedness/ambivalence/uncertainty>> young adulthood – the great search for something real and meaningful > looking at your friends in a different light > putting yourself out there > (occasionally) falling on your face.

It’s in that final phase that people start to take risks. They’ve reached an age where they can’t let too many more moments pass them by. They jump on opportunities and put themselves out there in a way they never thought they would. They’ve reached a new level of honesty with themselves, aren’t afraid to ask for what they want and make few apologies for having done so.

But when things don’t work out their way, it’s easy to regret having said or done anything at all. ‘Oh, I wish I could just go back in time and take that back. I wish things could just be as they were.’ Putting yourself out there is NOT the problem, it’s a great thing. Yes you might be faced with some disappointments, but isn’t it better to know the truth? After all, what we’re really looking for isn’t just someone who is nice and bright and attractive, we’re looking for someone who deals with situations in a way that makes us comfortable, who doesn’t shy away when times get awkward or hide at the mere sight of a bump in the road.

The person we’re looking for would never make us feel uncomfortable for having expressed romantic feelings even if they didn’t feel them back. They would recognise the courage that took, feel flattered by it, and embrace us even more as a friend. The person we’re looking for would never turn a short sexual fling into a reason to end a friendship. They would have enough consideration to be honest and say ‘this isn’t what I am looking for at the moment, but I think you’re an amazing person and quite frankly I feel closer to you for having been through this together.’

At a distance we can romanticise almost anyone. But are they made of the material we need them to be made of? Putting yourself out there and not getting what you thought you wanted isn’t something you should feel badly about, but instead take comfort in. Because you’re that much closer to finding the person who can offer you all of the things you need.

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Accepting people for what they have to offer

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We all have such high expectations of life and people and ourselves, sometimes we forget that not every experience is going to live up to them and nor do they need to. Take love for example. We are all in search of it. Some of us have found it and kept it, others found and lost it, and many of us have never found it at all. The idea, as far as I understand, is that you’ll only probably ever find it once – maybe twice if you’re lucky. Why then do we expect everyone we meet to be that person? And moreover, why do we come down on them when they’re not?

I was talking to a friend last night. He’s just moved to a new city and recently met a girl. He boldly asked for her number on a night out and they’ve gone on a couple of dates since. While both dates went well, there seems to be one reason after the other as to why she hasn’t been able to meet him in the past couple of weeks. He’s been messed around in the past and feels like the same thing might be happening again. ‘But you’ve only just met her’ I said, ‘maybe she legitimately IS busy.’

Instead of focusing on the fact that she’s not ready to jump into a relationship with you, enjoy what she has offered till now, I tell him. For starters, she accepted your offer and gave you her number = compliment. She’s been on two dates with someone she doesn’t even know = flattering. You’ve just moved to a big new city and got to go out with the first girl you asked = ego boost.

What happens with my friend and the girl is to be determined, but the point is why does everybody have to mean everything to everyone all the time? If a person fancies you take it as a compliment. Put that positive energy back into yourself and use it towards building your confidence or enjoying your day more. Not everything is always going to work out exactly as you planned, life is a series of moments, a series of connections, each with its own unique experience, lesson and memory. Try not to be so demanding of people and instead enjoy them for who they are and what they have been able to give you.


The old man who power walks down the beach in a track suit and ski poles

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The other evening I was having a lovely dinner in my garden with a good friend. She recently started seeing a guy who she’s really falling for – despite the fact that she doesn’t think it’ll go anywhere. ‘Why’ I ask her ‘if you’re falling for him, can it not go anywhere?’ To which she replied, ‘well you know, because he’s just not the right one.’ She gives me a few reasons why ‘he’s not the right one’ – job, travel, ambitions… all very important things to consider when choosing the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. But what about loyalty, sense of humour and having a moral compass that’s pointing in the right direction? Don’t these things matter? To illustrate my point I tell her a little anecdote.

This past Christmas I was in Puerto Vallarta with my family. There I was sitting on the beach one beautiful afternoon, sun beating down on my skin, staring out to sea when a man of about 95 years power walked by me with ski poles and a head-to-toe tracksuit. Considering it was about 100 degrees, you can imagine how funny this looked. I had a little giggle and thought – one day we’re all going to look like this. And when that day comes, the person I wake up next to better make me fucking laugh, because at the end of the day, nothing else really matters.

We often focus too little attention on the things that really matter – how someone makes you feel, how closely they listen to you, how special they think you are. Do you have to worry about where their eyes (or hands) are wandering when you’re not with them? Do they care when you come home upset, and if so, how much? What do they do to actually make you feel better? How many days, out of a hundred, are you actually having fun together and enjoying each other’s company? Because I will tell you one thing, a love of galleries, looking sexy in a suit, and a good job as a banker, does not a life partner make. But a compassionate friend, a loyal partner and a concerned and aware person does.


Be Thankful for Your Experiences

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We all have regrets. We’ve all experienced pain we’d rather forget and have behaved in ways we’re not proud of. But having had these experiences isn’t such a bad thing – after all we wouldn’t be the people we are today without them. We all know this, yet somehow we still come down on ourselves, wishing we had the strength to react more maturely and be in better control of our emotions.

Here’s a little thought that might offer you some reassurance.

For starters, we are all people who make mistakes. We each have a set of resources that help us deal with tricky situations, most of which we learnt when we were young and have been using ever since. These resources might tell us to yell when we’re mad, cry when we’re jealous or run away when we’re not being heard. Recognising that these reactions aren’t ones you wish to exhaust any longer is a necessary step for change. But instead of looking back and feeling embarrassed or ashamed, just thank your resources for having helped you cope in difficult times and move on and get some new ones.

Relationships are tricky for this one. People who have been hurt or feel like they’ve failed, often look back and feel angry. They resent the person for having taken advantage or for having made them believe there was a future when there wasn’t. The smart ones get themselves out and keep busy until the past feels like a distant memory. Sure that’s one way to approach a break-up and maybe not even a bad one, but perhaps I can suggest another.

Try to remember that not everyone on earth was meant for everyone else. Relationships are beautiful things that allow us to, even for a brief moment in time, experience another person and enjoy their company in an intimate way. If in the end they weren’t for us, then that’s okay, we will find someone else who is. If instead of looking back and feeling anger, you look back and accept that while your love was strong, it had too many flaws to evolve any further, you might have an easier time moving forward.

I always say, relationships are like outfits, we’re just trying them on until we find one that fits perfectly. Even if a jacket looks great on the hanger it doesn’t mean it’s going to look great on you. In fact, it might look best on someone else. And that’s okay.


Change The Subject

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For those of you who love Sex and the City as much as I do, I’m sure you remember the scene when Miranda, in her feminist way, stands up amongst her girlfriends and demands that they talk about something other than men for once.

Whether you’re obsessing about guys, body image, money, work, or friends, it doesn’t matter, it’s all unhealthy. It’s time for you to change the subject. And I don’t just mean the conversation you’re having with your friends, I mean the dialogue that is on repeat in your brain. It’s time for you to remember who you are and all the things that you have to be grateful for. It’s time that you do the world a favour and get off your self-pitying butt and go out and be your best self.

Am I suggesting that you never allow yourself the time to reflect? That you never allow yourself the time to mourn or sleep or articulate how you feel? No, absolutely not. I am the first person to acknowledge that not every day is filled with sunshine and rainbows, that there are times when even the brightest stars find themselves behind a dark cloud that is taking forever to pass. And in those times one should allow themselves to vent and they should expect their friends to listen. But there is a fine line between feeling a bit weak and allowing ourselves to fall into a hole of self-pity and loathing, and it’s the latter we all need to avoid.

Try to think back to a time when things were simpler. When you were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and looked forward to every morning. Make a list of the resources at your disposal and take advantage of them. Surround yourself with the people who make you really really happy, and make the decision to do things that will make you feel good about yourself more often.

Summer is around the corner and it is high time that we all put a spring back in our step. It won’t be long before the sun stays up till ten, dinners are eaten outside every night, and you look absolutely stunning with a great tan. Look out world- she’s coming back!

Broadening Your Horizons

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Life is busy, plain and simple. You might be someone who lives a fabulous existence, in a great city, with wonderful friends and still you don’t always get to enjoy it all. When 50 hours of your week are spent at work and 50 asleep, you’re only left with 68 hours for yourself. And even those are reduced by things like getting ready for work, commuting and going to the gym. Which leaves roughly 5 hours (sorry for all the math!) per day to kick back and unwind. For most people that time will be spent with their nearest and dearest or doing an activity that they know and love. While this is completely reasonable, it sometimes feels like a shame to not spend more time meeting new people, trying new things and really take advantage of what’s at your disposal.

But entering the world of the unfamiliar is not just about setting the time aside to do it. It’s about having the willingness and courage to try new things. Here are a few scenarios to help exemplify my point:

1. THE ASPIRING WRITER:

Current predicament: Loves to write, doesn’t have enough time to do it, no one to share it with and, like any artist, fears anticipated reactions.

Desire: To meet other writers with whom he/she can openly share work and improve.

Must be willing to: Join a free workshop in the city, take a few classes.

Must have courage to: Start a blog or self-publish in some way and brave the idea of opening up and sharing their work on a public platform.

2. THE HOPELESSLY SINGLE PERSON:

Current predicament: Single and not meeting the right people. Social but typically with an insular group of friends.

Desire: To meet new people but reluctant to step too far outside of comfort zone.

Must be willing to: Accept being fixed up by friends, join online dating sites and social groups where there’s the potential to expand their social circle.

Must have courage to: Actually put themselves out there and take a chance on something new- bearing in mind that it’s only one way to meet people and that their other approaches will still be relevant and necessary.

3. THE JOB SEEKER:

Current predicament: Working at a job that’s comfortable but under stimulating.

Desire: To use their brain and energy in a creative and stimulating environment.

Must be willing to: Network, use contacts, put themselves out there- ie. circulate CV, create a bit of an online presence, do something bold and brave (depending on the specific job).

Must have courage to: Go above and beyond, differentiate themselves in some way, apply for their dream jobs.

So you see there is a trend here, which is that it is fine to have the desire, but there needs to be a willingness as well. And with that willingness, the courage to take action. Because it’s the willingness and courage that separates those who achieve what they want in their lives from those who just dream about achieving it.

Turning Tables


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It is truly amazing how quickly the tables can turn in a relationship. How much power can shift, and roles become confused. Grown ups say that they don’t want to have to play games, but that is exactly what they always end up doing because, when vulnerable, we all want to come out on top. We want to be the challenge, the more sought after of the two. People aim for equality in relationships, but it appears that’s not the case during the chase.

So how does it happen? How do we go from being the desirable one, the one they’d be lucky to have, to being the one making all of the effort?

One possible answer is that we can’t get enough of the attention. It is most certainly true that distance makes the heart grow fonder and that people want what they think they can’t have. So it’s only normal that when we’re all cool and unavailable they are going to be jumping through hoops trying to get us to notice them. And once we recognize what they’re doing it’s hard not gloat in it all. Problem is, sometimes when we allow ourselves to stand in the spotlight for too long, they get tired of looking. Suddenly our biggest admirer appears indifferent, which in turn makes us the one suddenly jumping through hoops.

Another possibility is that we are looking for love, but have just had our guard up for so long, it seems like we’re unobtainable. Again, the initial intrigue is there for them. Our guard is up, making us seem uninterested and therefore more desirable, but as we start trusting them more, down comes our guard and the playing field levels. In fact, it might even tip slightly, as we, for the first time in a while, are starting to open up and show some love, which- given that we’re awesome- is probably more than most people are capable of giving.

In the end it feels like we’re playing a big game of snakes and ladders, where one second we’re climbing to the top and the next second we’re falling down. I am convinced that there is no way around this. Love is a dance after all. Sometimes we lead, sometimes we follow, sometimes we support and other times we’re supported. So try not to over-think it too much, just close your eyes and dance.

When, if ever, is it okay to cheat?

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Before I find myself on the receiving end of scoffs and eye-rolls, let me preface this entry by saying that I am a believer in monogamy and I choose to surround myself with honourable people. Of course, we have all heard stories or found ourselves in situations where we or the friends we respect are doing less than honourable things. Here I will outline a few scenarios where one might easily find themselves going against their morals. The question is, is it okay?

Scenario One: When you’ve gotten too comfortable:

Last week I wrote about comfort zones and how they can sometimes hold us back. While I would like to believe that a person tired of their current relationship and ready to move on with someone else, could do just that, it tends not to be that simple. Most of the time people want to believe that things in their relationship will change, so they hang on to it. Or they’re committed in other ways- children, house, lease, family, friends- the list goes on. Maybe the relationship is over, or maybe they just need to reignite their flame.

Scenario Two: Self-destructive behaviour:

I generally don’t buy it when I hear this one, but I suppose it is possible that some extreme type personalities like to challenge the limits of every good thing that comes their way, including the relationships that they find themselves in. They feel themselves growing closer to a person, get scared and then do the exact opposite of what one should do in that situation- they come close to ruining it. It’s as if by being with someone else they will know how they feel about their partner. Or that by knowing how their partner would react when they find out they were cheated on, makes it easier to move forward with the relationship.

Scenario Three: When someone unexpected walks into your life:

I would say that many of us have found ourselves in the situation where we are happily involved and then all of a sudden someone new comes into our life and we’re immediately drawn to them. Perhaps they remind us of something or someone we used to know and we can connect with them on a level we can’t with anyone else. Or maybe they ignite something inside of us that we cannot ignore, or maybe they’re just so different, it’s a little bit exciting. It can be tough when our world becomes derailed, but I believe that those who want to stay on track, will.

Scenario Four: The Ex-factor:

For many people, some of their greatest loves were experienced during high school, at a time when you probably thought you might be together forever. And sure enough, you still kinda are, because these people just keep popping up at every stage of your life. Whether you’re single or not, it almost doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to this particular ex, because your relationship isn’t real, it’s a shoulder to cry on. Trouble is, sometimes the strongest shoulders are attached to the arms of our best friend, and if you couple that with amazing sex, you’ve got yourself a tricky little affair.

So what do you think? Is it ever okay to cheat?

Love Hurts

The opportunity to love is a tremendous one. Those who have loved, even if they have lost, should consider themselves lucky. These are the types of phrases recently split up people hear all the time. I’m not saying that they’re untrue, what I am saying, is that if love is such a great experience than why can it hurt so bad?

People who are happily single or happily involved tend to forget how tough things can be. How that feeling of butterflies in your stomach isn’t something to get excited about, but in actuality is something that makes us want to throw up. It is these people who tend to be the ones delivering, broad, blanket, hokay poaky sentences about love. I’m not criticising them, I am one of them- or at least have been.

But like most sweeping statements and generalities, they overlook the harshness of the real situation. They don’t consider the pain, the worry, the hurt, the blow to our egos.

A friend called me the other day. She’s just started dating someone and really likes him. The vulnerability that she feels because of it makes her sick. She doesn’t like it. “Everyone’s vulnerable at the beginning” I tell her. “It’s this feeling that you’ll miss when you’ve been dating for seven years and nothing exciting happens anymore” I continue (see- I can be one of those people).  But the truth is, she’s worried, because she’s been hurt before and she doesn’t want to get hurt again. “It’s inevitable” I say.  There is no amount of control that you can place on yourself when it comes to these situations, because ultimately you’re going to feel what you feel, whether you keep it to yourself or tell someone else.

Another friend of mine told me that she recently went home with a guy who had a girlfriend. She never does this she said, but he led her to believe the relationship was open. She tried to tell herself it was just sex, but now she wants his attention, which of course, she’s not going to get. Why do people cheat I wonder? Is it because they are bored, stupid, or trying to spice up their uneventful lives? Maybe all three. My friend is still hurt though. Because no matter how cool she plays it, she’s still left with nothing. Even though she is the ‘other girl’, she’s still a girl who likes a guy, and is currently being ignored by him because he’s too scared to face her. Afraid of what he might do or say.

So to all of you hurting lovers, I am here to say that I get you. I know that you know that ultimately this feeling, this experience, this time in your life will wash over you and you’ll be the happily single or coupled person who can pass on vague advice to friends. But for now, love hurts. So give yourself the chance to have a little cry and listen to sappy music. We all do it. We’ve all been there.

This is a TedTalk I watched on the power of vulnerability and how it leads to human connectedness. I strongly recommend it.

When It’s Okay To Lower Your Standards

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“If you’re betrayed, release disappointment at once.
By that way, the bitterness has no time to take root.”
— Toba Beta (My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut)

It would seem pretty evident that one should not accept less from people than what they themselves give, yet this is a problem many of us face.

How many times have you found yourself fuming with frustration when feeling let down by someone you thought you could count on? I know it’s happened to me countless times. Surprisingly the advice I often get is to lower my bar and not expect so much. What kind of advice is that? Why should I have to lower my bar just because someone else is too inadequate to reach it? The truth is I shouldn’t, and neither should any of you.

Unfortunately though, these situations usually lead to greater grief experienced by us than by the disappointing friend/colleague/parent/lover/// which is most likely why this otherwise terrible advice has been passed on to us- it’s a quick fix to a big headache.

An alternative to lowering your bar of course is to find yourself some new friends, better, possibly more honourable people capable of reaching your standards. This is something you should probably be working towards regardless. However, some relationships are too important, too old, too meaningful to abandon completely and a call to readjust your expectations might be in order. If you choose to do this, then don’t do it with bitterness because that really won’t help improve things. Do it understanding that you’re doing it for yourself, to help you move through things with less stress and to see the positive qualities in your friends again, instead of always focusing on their shortcomings.

Presumably those you surround yourself with have something redeeming about them. Perhaps they’re fun to go out with or always up for anything, or maybe they have a non-judging character and a tolerant personality. Whatever it is, try to find it again and remind yourself that that is why they’re your friend. In other words, know who you’re dealing with. I promise that as soon as you do you will notice that your relationships are improving and the reason for that is because you’ve taken the pressure off of them.

With that said you must acknowledge that as you grow up your needs and interests change and the friends you had in high school might no longer be heading in the same direction as you. It is important for your own growth that you find people with similar interests, both professionally and personally, because it is those people that will help push you to where you want to go. I believe that we are all looking to be inspired in some way, and those doing exceptional things tend to be the ones we most want to be like. Find them, learn from them and direct your life in a similar way.

As for you disappointments, step up your game, people won’t always be so forgiving.