Breakup Advice from My Dog (She Is Not Certified to Give Anyone Advice About Anything)

Oftentimes, when I’m feeling a way about something I look over at my dog and become unreasonably jealous of her life. She never has to wake up early, she’s always cute, and on the rare occasion that she acts like an idiot she has the whole “dog” thing going for her, so I can’t really blame her.

Whenever I’m going through problems in my relationship I become especially jealous. Dogs never have to deal with romantic relationships and the bullshit that comes with them, and while I wish I could just adopt their “bag ‘em and tag ‘em” philosophy (I think that’s actually a fishing term?), I can’t. I’m a human that gets involved in relationships with other humans, and sometimes they end in heartache. Throughout my most recent breakup, my dog has unknowingly offered the greatest advice anyone has yet, just by being her.

1. Eat food and drink water. This seems like pretty common, staying alive-type knowledge, but I know that for me, basic self-care like feeding my body fuel in the form of calories and hydration is one of the first things that go right out the window when I’m grieving. So eat something, anything, even if it’s just pizza Combos, because it doesn’t have to be healthy/good/technically food,—just keep your blood sugar high enough to keep you from making any really bad decisions (crazy haircut).

2. Sleep. Make a nice little nest, watch the shittiest movies, and sleep it off, because the sadness/anger/remorse/anger/sadness/Googling 1990’s Madonna lyrics roller coaster can be really exhausting.

3. Go outside. Pull yourself out of bed, put even the bare minimum amount of clothing on that won’t get you arrested (they don’t even have to be clean!) and go outside. You don’t have to shit out there, just get out of your apartment for even one minute and breathe some fresh air, you can always go right back in.

4. Strrrrrrretch. Whenever I’ve shared with people that my clinical depression has led me to new lows, it’s been my experience that at least one asshole will offer me the infinitely profound wisdom of “move a muscle, change a feeling” or however the saying goes (I’ve never actually listened to the entire thing as my brain automatically defaults to an “ERNT ERNT ERNT, abort, leave this conversation, this guy doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about and clearly thinks depression is just being super bummed that they ran out of French toast sticks at the drive through this morning”, sound.) If you feel that your life has little to no meaning and you worry that you may hurt yourself or someone else, please seek guidance from a professional. It really, REALLY helps. If the thought of changing from your sweatpants into shorts is too much, resulting in a pair of uneven sweat-shorts that you managed to cut while still lying down because you’re “done with love and seriously, just FUCK EVERYTHING!”, maybe just find some yoga on the Internet? Or not?

5. Fake it ‘till you make it. You know when you tell your dog to sit sometimes and they’re like “ok, here I go, I’m sitting, give me food!!!” but when you look down you see that their ass is kind of hovering just off the ground in an attempt to get away with something? Well you get to do that for a little while! If you have a personal day, take it. If you’re like me and don’t have them, just keep showing up, do what you need to do to get your job done, then go home and repeat steps 1-4 until you start to feel better/cannot stomach another spoonful of peanut butter straight from the jar.

If this advice isn’t helpful you can also try getting sprayed by a skunk, as she seems to enjoy that too.

What You Should Know About Staying Friends With Your Ex

To remain friends, or not to remain friends? Depending on who you ask, the answers can sway in polar opposite directions. As someone who can’t seem to keep most exes around even as Facebook friends, going our separate ways has always been the route I’ve taken, and that’s perfectly fine with me. But after asking around, I’ve noticed most people have similar reasons for saying yes or no to remaining friends with an ex. Here are a few:

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1) They can provide valuable insight.
If there’s anything that might keep you from repeating the same relationship mistakes over and over, it could be the insight that only an ex can provide. This is usually a dynamic available after some serious time, distance and growth has occurred between the two of you, but your ex could be a goldmine of valuable information. Asking someone formerly on the receiving end how things you did made them feel could shine a light on how to improve communication with future partners.

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2) Their presence can become toxic.
If you see each other after the relationship ends and you can’t, at the very least, feign acting friendly, you two do not need to be friends. One of the best things about ending a relationship that isn’t working is moving on, so if you’ve torn off that band-aid and the drama left with it, enjoy it!

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3) They can be a great friend.
Chances are, if you dated each other for more than a few weeks, you probably have quite a bit in common. One of the most rewarding aspects of a romantic relationship can be the companionship, and if you’re able to remain friends, those good times don’t have to end just because your feelings have changed. If you guys were friends before you were dating, all the easier to keep that aspect of the relationship alive.

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4) They can create problems for new relationships.
Maybe you’ve decided you and a former partner can remain friends. While this can be mature and healthy, not everyone may be down with your ex being around – especially a new partner. If you truly have no lingering romantic feelings, then of course it’s not up to you to cut that relationship out of your life simply because it triggers someone else’s insecurities. But if you find yourself keeping your ex around for reasons you may not care to admit, it might end any new relationships before they really get a fair chance.

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5) They can actually help you move on. 

Sometimes the hardest thing about having a relationship end is a lack of closure. With so many things left unsaid, it can be hard to truly move on, and many people carry unresolved resentments and anger into their new relationships, unintentionally damaging them. If you are able to remain friends with an ex (even if that means taking some time apart), it can do a world of good to get some closure. Going into new relationships with the idea that they all end in heartache or that other people can’t be trusted can not only harm those new relationships, but it can really do number on our own self esteem. Of course, we don’t necessarily need our exes to reach this point, but having the option might it easier.

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6) If you’re vulnerable, they may be too close for comfort.
Before you broke up with your now ex, there was probably some amount of safety and closeness that was available as a result of your bond. If you haven’t given your separation enough time and distance, you might find yourself longing to be comforted by the very person whose absence is causing your pain, which can leave you in a confusing position. If you’re missing them or hurting and seek the comfort of being loved, it’s probably better to find that in safer places, even if those places aren’t as immediately gratifying.

When it comes to real life, nothing is as clear-cut as a pros and cons list. Everyone’s decision process will be different given the specific situation, so listen to your head and your heart, and make the decision that works for you. After all, you can always change your mind if it isn’t working out because the most important part of any relationship is taking care of yourself.

Why Unavailable Men Are Like Unripe Avocados

Tonight I got dumped. Aaaaagain! Maybe not “officially” dumped as we weren’t “officially” girlfriend/boyfriend, but when you’re making pies for a dude and reminding one another that you’re thinking about each other when they’re not around…aaaaaand maybe on more than one occasion putting said dude’s body parts in your mouth, something is up. I don’t care how desensitized and over-sexualized we are, what with these damned kids doing the Snapchats on their whoo-sie-what’s-its!

This is the third guy in a row to give me the ol’ heave ho. And I’ll tell you it doesn’t get any easier; it’s not at all like riding a bike. As much as I want to be mad about it and call this dude an asshole, the truth is he was a really sweet guy who was super cute and aghhhhh GOD I’m never gonna find anyone, EVERRRR (flails around dramatically).

The problem with me is that my type is apparently “emotionally unavailable.” Unavailable men are kind of like trying to make guacamole with under-ripe avocados; they look like normal avocados, but they’re just gonna end up breaking your chips, MANG.

I’m not sure how I keep attracting these avocados. I feel like my chips do a LOT of work on themselves and they’re pretty decent chips! They’re funny and kind of cute most days. They understand they can’t just keep using avocados to make themselves feel better and they really did practice new behaviors this time but, seriously, fuck, I’m just really fucking hungry right now AND I REALLY DON’T WANT TO GO BACK TO SETTLING FOR SOME OFF-BRAND DORITOS.

The thing about the unavailable ones is not only can you not tell just by looking but more often than not you’re getting a shit ton of way mixed signals. They hold your face in their hands and stroke your hair while they kiss you and they tell you you’re beautiful and they tell you you’re beautiful AND THEY TELL YOU YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, right when you need to hear it the most. And then they end up leaving, just as you’re starting to believe they might mean it.

Somewhere inside this whole time, as you’re learning to trust and let go and try all over again, some part of them remains unattached. I guess it just makes sense that it’s easier to jump when you don’t have that far to fall. It must make life SO EASY. It must be so easy to experience moments with other human people and just leave when the moment is over and be done. And not appreciate every little thing. And not look forward to every little thing. And not feel every single, awful little thing.

If I could learn to do that, I would in a second. Unfortunately, for me, I go all in way too easily. I trust and I try and I want to feel everything, and give everything, and take everything too, and I make mistakes and you see me cry and now the energy inside me that once felt electric now feels nuclear and I feel like the most fragile little flower on Earth.

It seems it would be so easy just to be the other guy.

It’s pretty embarrassing to admit, but I only dated this guy for a month. I realize this makes me sound like some insane lady-from-Fatal Attraction-type person, but just stop being judgmental. I’m learning the hard way that when you don’t allow yourself to grieve your last relationship because you’re too hell-bent on being pissed the fuck off about how it ended, that all that shit will come back to be felt in due time.

And if I may just be gentle on myself for a moment, it doesn’t matter how long you tried; when you give your heart, or even just a small piece of it, away to someone, and that person isn’t gentle enough or ready enough to take what you’re willing to give, that little bit can still break, no matter how small the piece, or how short the amount of time.

Sadness is a heavyweight. Grief and longing, regret, and that tiny sliver of hope you get when you notice you have a new message only to realize it’s not him (again) all pile atop one another, and we pull it around as we keep showing up for our work and our friends and our art and ourselves.

Sometimes the weight gets so heavy I think I can feel every nerve. But then I’m like, that’s impossible if you could feel every nerve you would be dead by going crazy from feeling all your nerves, or some scientific shit.

So for right now, my bed feels a little too big, and I probably won’t stop to take as many photos of the flowers in bloom. I know this feeling won’t last forever, as nothing possibly could, and until then I’ll be in my room listening to the same songs that got me through this when I was 16.

Four Breakup Movies to Watch on Netflix Right Now

When your heart has been broken, little else provides as much relief as the perfect movie, at the perfect moment. Because breakups are a process, full of ups and downs and an array of all kinds of different feelings from day to day, what we need from our cinematic picks changes with our mood. 

Luckily for us, there’s something for just about every phase of heartache, from crying into our pillows to laughing so hard our abs hurt. Here are 5 movies to watch at any point in the grieving process, all available to stream on Netflix, right now!

When you need a laugh: Along Came Polly

Risk-averse insurance actuary Reuben Feffer (Ben Stiller) is heartbroken when he catches his wife with their scuba instructor on their honeymoon. Down and dejected, he heads back home to mend his broken heart when he meets Polly (Jennifer Aniston), his total opposite. Along Came Polly makes for an easy watch when you’re feeling down and need a laugh. It also goes to show that no matter how calculated and carefully you play your cards, when it comes to love, nothing is certain. Hearts get broken sometimes, but life does, and will, go on, and may end up working out better than you could have ever planned.

When you need a cry: The Face of Love

While not technically a breakup movie (the main character was widowed,) this movie is still the saddest thing ever, so only proceed with this one if you’re looking for some full-on cathartic sobbing. A widow (Annette Bening) sees a man (Ed Harris) who exactly resembles her late husband. They start dating, she hides him from her family for fear of being judged, they run away together, she realizes the relationship was built on her unhealthy obsession, and he eventually dies. I know it seems like I spoiled it but I really think I just saved you from an evening of hysterical desperation. Maybe just watch Sex and the City again.

When you need to be just pissed-the-hell-off: Kill Bill

For me, breakups progress through many phases, from intense sadness and grieving to eventual acceptance. Somewhere in there lies a good bout of just being pissed off, which makes a solid revenge flick like Kill Bill just the bad medicine I need. A saga in two parts, the film invites us into the life of The Bride (Uma Thurman) as she sets out to avenge her attempted murder, ordered by her ex (David Carradine.) Kill Bill is pretty much just an all-out good opportunity to live vicariously through a scorned assassin as she kicks major ass to a killer soundtrack.

When you need your friends: Tangerine

Filmed entirely on an iPhone 5s (yup!), Tangerine tells the story of two trans sex workers making their way through LA over the course of one day. Having just been released from jail, Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) learns that her pimp/boyfriend cheated while she was locked up, who she spends the day searching for upon learning the news. Her friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) leaves Sin-Dee to search and offers support in the way only a bestie can when things come full circle at the end.

Honorable Mention for when you just need to turn off your brain and geek out on cuteness: Unlikely Animal Friends
Yeah, the name pretty much sums up what this series is about (that’s right! It’s a series! Meaning you can totally check out and just make a Seamless-filled weekend outta this one!) Featuring, you guessed it, unlikely pairs of animal pals, this show introduces viewers to insanely cute odd-couples, such as a donkey and a goat (aww!,) a dog and a polar bear (awwwwww!,) and more!

See more of our Netflix recommendations here. And also see how Netflix impacts your love life!

When to Stop Blaming Unavailable Men

How I’ve ended up dating unavailable guys is a question I’ve been asking myself for almost as  long as I’ve been dating. This is a question I have asked myself, my therapists, aaaaaaall of my friends, some of their friends…pretty much anyone who has crossed my path with a capable  sense of hearing has been subjected to my wails and queries on this subject.

After a lot of years spent wondering, filling journals, and writing articles on the subject, I finally had to take some time away from dating, come up for air, and call bullshit on myself.

Looking back, I can very clearly see some patterns I often fell into. It’s still a practice, but both my love life and self-esteem have  never been better. Here are three ways I’m working to improve.

I used to recognize red flags, only to ignore them.

For someone hell bent on protecting her own vulnerable heart, I sure can be forgiving when it comes to the men I’ve dated. My pattern usually looks a lot like this: meet guy —> catch feelings —> become willing to settle for less than what is truly important to me—> resent this person for the rest of my life.

Sure, this cycle of drama is highly entertaining to talk about with my friends over coffee, but crying in my room just fucking sucks. 

Guys tell me they struggle with intimacy, yet I convince myself that my love can change them. I’ve heard men refer to ALL of their ex-girlfriends as “crazy,” only to try extra hard not to be upset when his flaky ass stands me up for the third time so as not to appear “crazy.” I notice the red flags a-flyin’, I just tend to overlook them.

Now I… HEED RED FLAGS.

It’s a little tricky in the beginning, as getting to know someone new comes with its quirks, but if dude is straight up telling me he’s not looking to be exclusive, and I want to be, I SHOULD RUN. 

At this point, he’s been honest and upfront, so it’s up to me to take this information and use it in a way that won’t end up hurting me eight weeks down the road.

I used to not be upfront.

I like playing the “cool girl.” The girl you can bullshit with  and say anything to and just have fun with, which usually ends up looking like a lot of non- committal sex paired with just enough texting to make me feel as if my efforts are being  recognized.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard a guy say he wasn’t “really looking for  anything serious right now,” only to find myself responding that I wasn’t either, even when I was.  I would say almost anything to keep them from leaving, compromising my own worth and value just for a few more days or weeks of validation, time and attention. 

As confusing as mixed signals could be, there came a point where I had to own up to the fact that I couldn’t keep getting mad at dudes that didn’t pursue a relationship with me after they told me they weren’t interested in pursuing a relationship with me. Sometimes signals weren’t mixed at all. Denial is a hell of a drug.

Now I say what I mean.

This is much easier said than done, but I promise you this: practice makes perfect. Maybe not exactly, but practice does make less scary, and somewhere along the way we learn what we do and don’t want from our partners. Not what they want, not ‘who do I have to be for this guy to see how awesome I am?,’ but figuring out OUR deal breakers. We learn our worth. 

Self care is so often the first suggestion anyone makes; from your best friend to your Yogi tea bag, everyone is all about telling you what you need to do to feel good about yourself. Often times this advice comes in the form of long baths and yoga classes and chia seed smoothie bowls or
whatever the fuck the flavor of the moment fix-it may happen to be. In my experience, self-care begins with honesty – being honest with others, as well as myself. 

In my most recent relationship, I found myself asking a LOT of questions along the way. When he said he wasn’t sure if he wanted a relationship, yet both of us mutually agreed that this was something possibly worth exploring, I would check in every month or so. How are you feeling about us? I’m starting to feel (insert feeling here), what do you think about that? Rather than wait, I took responsibility for myself.

I used to refuse to accept nice things.

What I think a lot of this comes down to is some deeply-rooted belief that I don’t deserve to be loved, or happy, or heard, or respected. When I can’t accept a nice gesture from my partner without feeling like I owe them something, it ends up feeling a lot like scorekeeping, which is Unhealthy Relationship Behaviors 101.

Now I accept nice things!

This is the kind of advice I absolutely hate to read or hear, but learning to accept nice things from people ends up paying off tenfold in the areas of my life where I struggle the most. 

Be it accepting a gift, a job offer, or even a simple compliment, learning to receive is a constant practice, and one that dispels the lie that I am, for lack of a better phrase, a worthless piece of shit. Because that’s how I feel sometimes. And when I make another person, especially a romantic partner, entirely responsible for convincing me that I’m not, I set myself up for a lot of pain.

I am by no means a relationship expert. I am, for the first time in my life, at 34 years old, in a  healthy relationship. And I’m still learning. I think the key to the “success” of this most recent experience has been taking care of myself throughout the process. 

When I value myself, I just kind of end up developing a no tolerance policy towards unavailability and otherwise shitty behavior. I learn to stand up for myself, and not buckle under my own insecurities. 

Try to be kind to yourself. It’s easier said than done, but the worth in doing so is immeasurable.