On The Mend’ Episode 3 Featuring Mereki, Artist & Founder of Be Kind

In this episode of “On The Mend,” Elle interviews singer and founder of Be Kind, Mereki Beach. Elle sat down with Mereki in 2016 to discuss the heartbreak upon heartbreak of losing her father, long-term boyfriend, and grandmother all within a matter of months. It was a rough year, to say the least. The two reunite in this podcast, years later, to reflect on her growth since then in a touching and vulnerable discussion.

Mereki and Elle agreed that grief is a multifaceted beast. It never leaves. The singer discusses how grief has continued to creep up on her when she least expects it, even years after the death of her father. She reveals that post-traumatic growth opens up wounds she thought she already healed from in order to present new ways for her to grow and learn. But there is a silver lining. Grieving and heartbreak build a path of resilience that leads to a stronger person with the ability to build more authentic connections.

This touching story of growth and transformation is one we can all either relate to or learn from. We don’t learn how to cope with grief in school, but we can learn from each other. Mereki gives advice on how to help loved ones who are grieving and also touches on how her grieving process has affected her music, the importance of her friendships, and her fiercely independent reliance on herself. We are so grateful for Mereki’s vulnerability and wisdom, and we know that our Menders can benefit from this episode of “On The Mend.”

You can listen to “On The Mend” on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts. We’re so excited to bring you more episodes full of life-affirming advice and stories to help you mend.

LILAP Episode: Is Social Media Ruining Your Love Life?

Should you unfollow your ex on social media, block them, or neither? In this episode of “Love is Like a Plant,” Elle and Sarah discuss how to break up with your ex’s social media. It’s best to limit exposure to your ex as much as possible, and although you don’t need to keep them blocked forever, following them definitely hurts your mending process if they’re active online. 

To take it a step further, Sarah even suggests asking your friends not to mention to you when they’ve been tagged in someone else’s posts or like something suspicious. The two also discuss how social media can affect relationships, and really, this applies to all relationships, not just romantic ones.

Is it time for you to take a social media detox for a bit? Listen in to see if it would be something you’re interested in trying to help you mend. You can listen to the episode on iTunes or on Soundcloud. Follow and share if you like it, and be sure to send it to a friend who could use some time away from social media.

Understanding How The Stages Of Grief Relate To Heartbreak

There’s no doubt you’ve heard about the five stages of grief sometimes talked about in pop culture and the media. It’s called the Kubler-Ross Model, and was actually meant to describe a dying person’s way of coping with death (think terminally ill patients), but was commonly used to instead explain how people grieve over loved ones that have already passed. All the research that Kubler-Ross conducted was on the dying, so there’s no actual research that backs the five stages of grief as they refer to grieving a loved one. That being said, take these five stages with a grain of salt. Grieving is not a one-size-fits-all model, and these stages aren’t linear. You can jump from one to another, but you don’t have to experience all of them. How often you think about the loss is a larger predictor of what stage you are in than the passing of time.

After a breakup, you may be grieving too. You may not have permanently lost someone, but in a way, you kind of did. Here’s how the five stages of grief relate to heartbreak.

Denial:

This is where you pretend the breakup didn’t happen, that it’s more of a break than a breakup, or that it can still be worked through. In this stage, you will continue to talk to your ex and check up on them on social media. You will still expect them to care for you and meet your needs. You will still fall into old routines and traditions you had together (like continuing to read the book you were reading together, and dog-earing pages you want to talk to them about). This helps you temporarily cope with the loss that you are denying.

Anger:

When you reach this stage, you can’t believe how little your ex cares, or you may start to doubt the relationship entirely, or you feel guilty over things you’ve done or didn’t do and get mad at yourself. You can be angry at your ex, yourself, God, destiny, the universe, whatever you think is responsible for this. Maybe you hear news you would have rather not heard and get frustrated by it. This anger is just a release of all the pain you are feeling. This is likely where you’ll start thinking about the “should haves,” “what ifs,” and “if onlys.”

It’s also worth noting that acute grief, which is the most difficult part of grieving, is when you experience physiological symptoms like not being able to fall asleep or not wanting to eat. This generally only lasts 3-6 months.

Bargaining:

This is where you try to strike a deal to get back what you lost. This may look like trying to find “closure” by talking to your ex and convincing them you should get back together. This could also mean using the Law of Attraction to try to get your ex back, or praying to be reunited.

Depression:

When the reality of the breakup sinks in, you just get really, really depressed. You realize that you really did lose this person, and will not be getting them back. It hits hard and can come with loneliness and/or hopelessness.

Acceptance:

After theoretically going through the previous stages, your pain becomes more familiar. It may not necessarily be gone, but you have learned to live with it. You accept the loss of your ex as a part of your life and work towards rebuilding a life without them.

There are so many factors that have an effect on how someone grieves when heartbroken, such as the nature of the breakup, personality, and other stressors or life transitions. Don’t worry if you aren’t grieving in this exact order. Understanding that these various stages exist and happen for some people may help you understand your feelings and your own grieving process.

Four Communication Styles That Predict A Breakup

Relationship researcher John Gottman was able to predict whether a married couple will divorce with 90% accuracy by studying the way they communicate. He found that people are very stable, 80% stable to be exact, in the way that they discuss conflict over the years of long-term relationships. Since people are so consistent in how they communicate, Gottman was able to identify four communication styles that will ultimately lead to a breakup if they’re not eliminated. He calls them the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness.

Criticism

Criticism is critiquing your partner’s character. This happens when critiquing something a partner did goes too far. An innocent complaint becomes an unnecessary snide remark about who they are as a person. It’s when “you didn’t call” becomes “you never call because you only care about yourself.” It’s natural to try to rationalize and wonder why someone is doing something that bothers us, but try not to overthink it until you get a chance to discuss. It’s unhealthy to make assumptions about them because this often turns into a very personal attack. Always make sure to give your partner a chance to explain before you throw out accusations or use words that harm their character, such as calling them dishonest, lazy, or unfaithful.

Contempt

Contempt is acting with hatred towards your partner and is the greatest predictor of a breakup due to the lack of basic respect. This happens when instead of talking about issues as they arise, disappointments build up until they turn into anger that you can’t hold in any longer. It can easily bring out the worst of us and reveal everything we hate about our partner that we never got a chance to tell them. So we figure, “why not tell them all at once?” Sarcasm, name calling, and taking a position of superiority fall under this category. It’s when “you didn’t call” becomes “what the hell else were you doing? You don’t do anything all day except sit on your lazy a– and play video games. You’re worthless.” To avoid this, try bringing up your complaints as they come, from the very beginning. In a new relationship, you may not want to rock the boat, but it’s important to set a foundation for communicating problems in a timely manner and in a healthy way.

Stonewalling

Stonewalling is removing yourself from an argument physically or mentally. It’s when eyes glaze over or stay very still, the face tenses up, and the rest of the body does with it. Then, you just detach. You freeze, or stare out the window, or obsessively clean, or leave the room entirely. The physiological response that the body takes to the argument is overwhelming, so in this scenario, it’s critical to give each other some time to cool down before returning to discuss within the hour. If you need more than an hour, that’s cool too, just be sure to communicate those needs to your partner.

Defensiveness

Defensiveness is trying to protect yourself in a way that invalidates your partner’s complaints. This is one of the most common responses during arguments because it is very natural to try to insist upon your innocence when someone has a complaint. This happens not only in relationships but also families, friendships and workplaces. It’s when “you didn’t call” becomes “well I was doing [x] and [y], which I already told you I’d be doing, and don’t you forget to call me too, sometimes? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?” This is when you hear the “it’s not my fault” responses. The desired effect is that your partner realizes that you are not in the wrong and they apologize for blaming you, but the actual effect is an implication that your partner is the one in the wrong, that they should have known your unique situation and acted or forgiven accordingly. An unfortunate downfall of defensiveness is that it is easily paired with criticism. Make sure you let your partner feel heard by owning up to your mistakes and taking the responsibility to repair that. Isn’t that what you would want to be done for you? You can still explain why you messed up while also acknowledging that you messed up.

If you express any of these communication styles, know that they’re often very natural reactions. The silver lining is that you can learn healthy communication styles to better express your emotions and complaints. Read “How to Communicate When Something Bothers You” to gain more insight on how to address concerns in a healthy way, which is an amazing general life skill that goes beyond romantic relationships.

How Men Are Affected Differently By Breakups

Is there any evidence as to which gender a breakup is actually harder on? I studied exactly this and came out of it with a few reasons as to why breakups may hurt women more initially but are actually harder on men in the long run.

Young men are socialized out of social support.

According to this study, male babies are more emotive than female babies. They are not only more likely to cry and show negative emotions but also more likely to express joy. This means that, naturally, males are actually more social than females, which is true up until they reach school age, about 5 years old. Niobe Way, a researcher on friendships between boys as they mature, found that up until their early teenage years, young boys develop very deep connections with their friends (just like girls!). These friendships are based on secrets and respected vulnerability, up until they begin to believe secrets and vulnerability are “girly” in their mid-teens when their focus shifts to romantic relationships. With romance to worry about, they don’t want to come off as if they are interested romantically in their male friends, and they don’t want to be teased for expressing closeness or vulnerability. These are fears they carry with them, maybe even subconsciously, into adulthood. So, they just sort of stop these deep friendships and drift into loneliness and sometimes, ensuing depression.

Social support carries with it an immense number of benefits!

It enriches your life in so many ways, such as a boost in mental health, confidence, validation, affirmations, reminders that you’re hilarious and fun and amazing. Often times, a man’s partner is his only source of social support, so after a breakup, he doesn’t know who or how to reach out. Women are far more likely to vocalize their feelings to their social network and have their whole squad come to vent, cry, wallow, and gossip with them. When men don’t seek out social support, they bottle in their emotions without truly working through the breakup, sometimes carrying unresolved baggage with them for years. This can happen to women too, of course, when they don’t have friends that support them, but women are much more comfortable being vulnerable because there is less social stigma against it.

So, men, maturity does not mean independence, and strength does not mean emotional apathy. Think of strength as the ability to find resilience in not just yourself, but by letting those around you help you to build it. Think of maturity as the ability to disregard unsupportive, judgmental opinions about your feelings, because everything you feel is valid and important. Needing friends is not a sign of weakness, rather, admitting you need them is a sign of immense strength

Men use different coping strategies.

Another research study found that women are able to recover more fully from a breakup than men. The study found that men feel a more intense desire to jump right back into dating so they can “replace” what they lost in order to prove that they can. This doesn’t mean they are over the breakup, but it may be the only way they know how to recover from it. This might be because their partner was their primary, and possibly only, source of social support, so they feel the need to find social support romantically or sexually to replace that loss of intimacy and closeness. While dating or hooking up may help them to feel better in the short term, eventually residual feelings resurface and they are still left to deal with unresolved reactions to the breakup.

Dating can be great for the mending process, but to make sure it’s not just to use someone as a replacement, rebound, or a distraction, try to make connections with potential friends rather than love interests, first. If you’ve reflected on the breakup and have been allowing yourself to feel all the emotions it brings rather than pushing them aside, and if you feel ready to date in order to find love again, go for it!

Overall, we all feel very similarly.

According to a psychologist, the sense of loss and identity conflict that men and women feel is the same. However, we assume it’s different simply because we handle breakups so differently. Men prefer action, like working out and rebounding, while women prefer connecting-verbally explaining or showing what they feel. I believe a large part of this is because men almost feel like they’re not allowed to show emotions, and don’t have the social support necessary. So, they take to physiological release rather than emotional release. But the feelings are still there, and will only persist the longer they are shoved away, which is why it may seem like men have a delayed reaction to breakups. When the distractions fade away, the realness of it will come pouring in. The coping strategies they use simply delay having to face the pain, while the coping strategies women use have them on the mend from square one.

To the men reading, hopefully this research shines a light on the need for social support and allowing emotions to be felt rather than pushed aside. It all boils down to the fact that women are more familiar with their feelings and able to work through them more quickly and in a healthier way than men who experience heartbreak. A good place to start is by seeing a best bud and actually talking about how you are dealing with the breakup. Tell your friend what you need (advice, a listening ear, affirmations), because he may not know how to respond. Setting aside time for daily journaling, like we do on Mend after you listen to a training, will help to make sense of your feelings.

How to Communicate When Something Bothers You

“Communication is key.” – Everyone ever, in every book, movie, and real-life situation.

That piece of advice is constantly reiterated so why do we have such a hard time communicating about our problems? Why do we bottle things in rather than hash it out? Why do we hate confrontation so much that we would rather stay upset inside and play pretend that everything’s cool?

No one likes being uncomfortable. No one likes awkward situations. No one likes putting themselves in a position to be rejected or undermined. Instead, we try to ignore red flags by blaming ourselves, making excuses for our partner, and lying to ourselves and our partner. We like consistency and hate rocking the boat, but hey, communication is key, and lack of communication is the lock that you put on your heart. It’s essential to discuss with your partner anything that doesn’t sit well with you, especially the red flags in your relationship.

Here are some ways you can address your concerns with your partner in an amicable way.

1. Avoid blame. 

Examples: “Now we’re late because you’re taking too long to get ready.” “The dishes are piling up because you should have done them yesterday.” “It’s your fault I didn’t text you today, because you were supposed to call last night but never did.”

Blaming is insinuating that someone is responsible for something bad happening. It is okay to state what someone did that bothered you, but blaming them is just a way of making sure you come off as innocent. There is a difference. No productive conversations start off with blame, however, lots of fights do.

Instead, show support, while still addressing the problem.

Example: “Is there anything I can do to help you get ready? We’re running late.” “Hey babe, can you help me clean today? I’ll do x if you do the dishes?” “I thought we were gonna talk last night. What happened?”

Acknowledging the issue in the form of a question is a good way to show that you’re not okay, but you’re also not throwing blame. Do you see the difference? If their response doesn’t show any concern, make sure they know that you wouldn’t have brought it up if it wasn’t important to you so hopefully in the future they can, for example, get ready an hour earlier, wash dishes sooner, or apologize in the morning or better yet, stick to their word.

2. Avoid universal statements (i.e. always/never).

Example: “You always take too long to get ready.” “You never do the dishes.” “Every time you say you’ll call, you don’t.”

Those are some fightin’ words! While your partner may have a habit of doing these things, saying words like “always” and “never” instantly puts them on the defense which soon becomes an offense, usually with another always/never statement about something off topic directed at you. We are prideful people and this really shows in relationships when we get defensive and protect ourselves by throwing blame back at them. So, not only will this kind of statement be hurtful, but also unproductive about the original issue.

Instead, suggest what you would have preferred. 

Example: “I know I’m rushing you now, but would it help if I remind you to get ready an hour earlier next time?” “I know you hate doing the dishes, but when you wash them each time you use them, there’s not a big pile.” “I know you just forgot to call me, but I don’t want this to become a habit. It’s important to me that you either remember or not get my hopes up in the first place.”

When suggesting what you would have preferred, make sure it sounds like a suggestion, which means, don’t use the word “should.” This comes off more like a demand or a judgment. Wouldn’t you hate to be told what you “should” have done as if you upset them on purpose for no reason? Example: “You should already know how much I hate being late.” “You should have done the dishes yesterday.” No one likes being told what to do, and no one likes when others make assumptions about their intentions.

3. Always use “I” statements.

Example: “I feel like my priorities aren’t being respected. Being punctual is important to me.” “I feel like my priorities aren’t being respected when the dishes pile up.” “I feel marginalized when I have to wait for a call that never comes.”

Rather than focusing on what someone did, acknowledge how it made you feel and your reaction to it. This will make your partner feel much more comfortable because you are not blaming them, but simply stating that something bothered you. There is a huge difference in the way people react when you don’t activate their defenses. The goal should always be to discuss how their actions affect your relationship, not making them feel bad, guilty, or anything else. Focus on how you feel and how they feel because we all love being seen and understood when something isn’t right.

Using “I” statements gets at what really matters. Whether or not they are punctual doesn’t mean anything. Whether or not their punctuality hurts, offends, or disrespects you means everything. It’s likely they already know that their punctuality is a problem, but they probably don’t know how it affects you, and therefore, hinders your relationship, and that is what’s really important here. In a healthy relationship, you shouldn’t ever feel afraid to talk about your feelings.

Bringing up something that bothers you is never easy but it is so incredibly important. Good communication, openness, and honesty about your feelings is the only way you can find happiness in a relationship. Your partner can’t fix something that’s broken if you hide it away.

The Power of Saying “No”

Saying “no” is incredibly important during the mending process because it teaches you to set boundaries. Boundaries are all about having the discipline to do more of what makes you better and less of what makes you worse. During a heartbreak, these lines can be blurred. We find ourselves saying yes to everything that has even a minor potential of making us feel better, leaving us with hours of social media stalking and a schedule full of distractions that make us feel empty and unheard rather than on the mending journey. Instead of overwhelming yourself, try to say no sometimes, too. Heartbreak makes us feel terrible, and the only things we should be spending resources on are those that grow us and help us mend.

Setting boundaries are one way to increase your mindfulness (no meditation required) because you become much more aware of what you invest yourself in. Here’s how saying no and setting boundaries gives you a deeper appreciation of your three resources: time, talent, and treasure.

Time

Think of some things that waste your time. For example:
1. Rereading texts with your ex.
2. Social gatherings with people who you have outgrown.
3. Checking social media impulsively rather than for a purpose.
4. Going on dates with people who have different intentions than you.

When you start saying no to wasting your time, you will come to value it so much more. Your time is a non-repleting resource and the most valuable one you’ve got. You can build skills and make money but you will never get back the time that you waste. Instead of sitting at a lame social gathering and checking your phone out of boredom, you could be doing something fun or productive with people you admire. You don’t have to say “yes” everytime people invite you out. Make sure you especially don’t say yes to something you don’t care much for if you already promised yourself you’d get something else done during that time. The more you learn to say no to wasting time, the more you will learn to respect it, and the more careful you will be about how you spend it. Setting boundaries around how you spend your time starts a chain reaction of saying no to things that also waste your talent and your treasure.

Talent

Think of some of your strengths. For example:
1. Patience, empathy
2. Painting, sketching, drawing
3. Sports

When you say no to doing things that will waste your time, you find yourself doing things that you are drawn to, with people who appreciate your talent. Pay attention to what those things are because when you cultivate new skills, they can become strengths. This self-growth and self-awareness are awesome for your mending process. When you know your strengths you will have a deeper appreciation for yourself, and a deeper awareness for what you can contribute to the world. If you are very patient, you can volunteer with crisis counseling or family mediation. If you are good at visual art, you can make it a side hustle, or volunteer to teach others to embrace their creativity. If you are good at sports, you can help kids release aggression by cultivating this skill. Talents can often be exploited just for money or fame. But, when you truly appreciate your own talents, it becomes more than just a job. It becomes a way for you to grow and to help others grow as well.

Treasure

What are some things you spend your money on? Maybe:
1. Lunch “dates” you felt obligated to go on.
2. Supplies and books for school/work that you know you won’t use or read.
3. Groceries, because the produce went bad before you could eat it.

When you say no to spending your money frivolously, it teaches you to make the most of what you already have, which helps you to build gratitude. Gratitude is super helpful for mending your heart and leads you to a more joyful life. You might even learn new skills in the process, like cooking new dishes to make sure your produce gets used up, and meal prepping to save on lunch money. By creating boundaries on your budget, you have to ask yourself “will this item actually help me in a way nothing else I own can?” This definitely helps you to grow in creativity with how you use what you have and helps you to build new life skills. It also builds a deeper appreciation for all the resources you are responsible for: your items, your money, your time, and your talents.

“No” is such a powerful word. It sets boundaries that keep you on the track of self care and self-discipline. Boundaries can be hard to stick to, but it takes discipline to take care of yourself and always choose what’s best for you in the long run rather than what you would prefer to do right now. It helps you to realize who you want to be, who you want to allow into your life, what kind of energy you want to maintain, and what kind of habits will help you to grow and to mend. Hopefully, this guide helps you to appreciate your resources a little bit more.

Emotional Minimalism: Declutter Your Heart

Emotional minimalism allows you to be intentional with your thoughts and the way you fill the space in your time and in your life. Right after a breakup, it can be tempting to distract yourself with too many commitments by drowning in work or outings. An overloaded schedule is an overwhelmed and neglected heart. However, we can often wobble between wanting to do everything to wanting to do nothing at all. If you’re experiencing the latter, what’s crowding and cluttering your heart might be emotions you can’t seem to process and overthinking the breakup. In both cases, we can help you create space in your schedule and life so that it can be filled by the right person or thing at the right time.

Here are some tips on how to declutter your heart:

Set Boundaries

Boundaries involve being firm about doing more of what makes your life better and less of makes your life worse. Boundaries take self-discipline. Examples of good boundaries include no contact with your ex, making sure you set aside a half hour every day for your hobby or Mend monument, and sleeping for 6-9 hours. Sometimes heartbreak makes you want to sleep for 12 hours, which is fine once or twice but making it a habit will make you feel lousy. Also, instead of overloading your schedule with work or social outings, say no sometimes. This creates space in your life by opening up your schedule.

On the contrast, if your heart is cluttered by spending too much time alone and constantly replaying the breakup over and over again, make sure you get out and socialize sometimes and find a hobby that channels your energy. This creates space by clearing out rumination and negative thought processes. The important thing is to have some alone time, but not too much alone time, and setting boundaries will help you find the right balance!

Solitude

Once you’ve set boundaries, you’ve created intentional space in your life and heart. This space doesn’t need to be filled. Allow it to exist without clutter (distractions). To embrace emotional minimalism, be intentional about this alone time and let this space be whatever it needs to be. It will be filled with the right thing at the right time. At first, that might mean doing nothing, staring into space, taking a walk, doing your daily Mend training, reading, or taking a nap. It might be a different thing every day. You’ll know what you need to do when the time comes, but don’t think you need to do anything. This is your time to just simply be alone. Get in touch with you. Check in with yourself. Alone time is very important for mending. Creating this space allows it to be filled with the right person at the right time.

Silence

Many people listen to music or podcasts on the way to work, or during work, on the way home from work, and then watch television. Students walk around campus with their headphones on, then go to the gym with their headphones on, do homework with headphones on, and then come home and watch YouTube videos with their headphones on. We’re very in touch with the outside world, but not very in touch with ourselves. So many of us feel the need to fill silence from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed because it has been ingrained in our society that it’s a waste of time or it is “awkward.”

When going through a breakup, it is important to check in with yourself, and that’s hard to do when you don’t have any time for silence. Declutter your mind by minimizing the distractions. It can definitely be uncomfortable at first. Start by walking to class without your headphones, turning off the radio on the way to work, or noticing the moments you already spend in silence, like maybe your morning routine. Silence always has a way of revealing what’s on our hearts. By learning to sit with silence occasionally during the day, it will be less daunting when all those thoughts you’ve been ignoring come flooding in when you try to go to sleep. Silence will also train you to choose which thoughts are welcome and which thoughts you need to send away because they will only cause you pain

When you create a balance between silence and solitude vs. work and socializing, you will find that you feel more in touch with yourself and that you’re better able to control your thoughts and how you spend your time. Emotional minimalism will definitely teach you to be more intentional about creating space to allow your heart to breathe and mend.

Why You Should Take Probiotics When You’re Heartbroken

What do probiotics have to do with a broken heart? Actually, a lot! We already know that probiotics support our immune and digestive health, but did you know that they can improve your mental health as well?

Probiotics are live bacteria and active yeast that can be found in our bodies as well as our food. People in developed countries don’t have as diverse gut bacteria, or microbiome, as we should. We have an obsession with cleanliness and often times consume antibiotics in our milk, meat, and even organic vegetables, which can absorb antibiotics if the soil is treated with manure from cows that were given antibiotics. The good bacteria help our immune system to decide what is good and what is bad for us. The more we kill the good bacteria in our bodies, the more susceptible we are to all sorts of health conditions, including depression and anxiety.

Thankfully, there are some really awesome probiotic supplements we can take, like Seed Daily Synbiotics, and food we can eat to improve our gut health. Some sources of probiotics include yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, sourdough, and sauerkraut.

Probiotics decrease negative thoughts and feelings.

The gut and the brain communicate with each other. The brain sends hormones and enzymes down to the gut to help with digestion and the probiotics in there thank it by producing neurotransmitters and sending them upwards to aid in mental health. When multistrain probiotics were taken every day for four weeks, researchers found less tendency for rumination, which heartbroken people are prone to. They make the parts of our brain that process negative emotions less active. Probiotics are being used to help people with depression and anxiety, but they are even more beneficial for people without a clinically diagnosed mood disorder.

Probiotics change our behavior!

So now we know that the gut and the brain communicate, and it would naturally make sense that as our mental health improves, our behaviors change. It’s been proven that probiotics change the behavior of mice. When researchers gave fearless mice the microbiome of more anxious mice, they became more timid, and vice versa. Researchers even found that healthy people and depressed people have different strains of bacteria in their guts.

While consuming tiny micro-organisms might not seem super appetizing, just know that if you stick with a daily intake of probiotics for at least a few weeks, your mending heart will thank you for the tiny bit of relief. You will ruminate less, be more active, and see an improvement in mood and behavior. Just make sure you’re getting various strains of bacteria, as the key to a healthy and happy gut is a diverse microbiome.

Post-Holiday Rut? Here’s How to Get Out of It

The most wonderful time of the year. That may be true for some people, but for others, the holidays are laced with connotations of anxiety and depression caused by comparing ourselves to others, perfectionism, lack of communication, family conflict, and breakups. It doesn’t help that seasonal affective disorder, a subtype of the mood disorders, might have us feeling the “winter blues” due to a lot less sunlight and therefore a lot less literal warmth of temperature and metaphorical warmth of hearts. Not having your ex with you anymore to cuddle, calm you down, and look at the lights is just icing on the cake making us all the more worked up and hopeless. If you’ve found yourself in one of these holiday ruts, we feel you, and we’re here to help you through it.

Sunlight is very limited during the winter months so it’s important that you use your daylight wisely. Wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier so that you have more time in the sun. It is very possible that your body has started to produce more melatonin, the sleep hormone, due to the surrounding darkness. If you ignore your body telling you it’s time to sleep, then you will spend the rest of the day feeling lethargic and drained of your energy, which definitely affects your mood! When it is time to wake up, stand outside for a few minutes to soak in the sun’s rays. No, really, you get less Vitamin D when you have less exposure to the sun, so make sure to get out there because Vitamin D is necessary to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves cognition and mood.

No one is perfect, and no one cares that you aren’t, either! We want to impress during the holidays. We want to have great decorations, cook an amazing dish, give the best gifts, but think about it. How often do you drive by a house with great lights and think “wow, that family really has their stuff together”? Never! You’re too busy admiring the lights. How often do you drive by a house without lights, or with kind of lousy lights, and judge them for not being perfect? Never. You don’t care if your neighbor pulled out the ladder to put up their lights, and they don’t care if you did either. No one cares if your food isn’t good. They probably don’t even know who made it and are just grateful to be eating anything. No one cares if you got everyone the same gift card. They are too concerned with themselves and their gifts to even notice. Really, this stuff doesn’t matter, and trying to be perfect might impress some people, but the majority of people won’t even notice. So, what really matters here is yourself. The holidays may have gotten you overwhelmed and stressed, but moving forward, take time to breathe, and stop caring what people think. Just do what makes you comfortable. Don’t be afraid to return gifts that you hate. Don’t feel like you have to take your lights down as soon as possible. Don’t feel obligated to communicate with or spend time with anyone that brings you down.

Family/friend conflict is a big source of holiday ruts. If something someone said or did during the holidays leaves you feeling uneasy even days or weeks after, speak up. If something needs to be said, say it, even if you think it might “ruin” someone’s holidays. Both parties are already feeling tense and ignoring that tension just makes everyone uncomfortable. Communication is key, and bottling things up just brings you down. Not speaking up is one way to ensure more anxiety, and not communicating your needs is one way to ensure they won’t be met. Look out for yourself, because no one else is. No one can read your mind. 

Feeling left out? If you aren’t close to any family or friends, the holidays were probably a tough season for you. Everyone is stressing the importance of being with loved ones, and you’re feeling lonely and left out. Well, the obvious answer is to make friends, but clearly, that’s not the easiest thing to do. Instead, do things that used to make you happy. Become friends with yourself again. Start to enjoy your alone time by filling it with interesting activities, books, and self-exploration. Depression makes us feel isolated and detached, unable to take interest in anything anymore. So you may not want to do anything, but you really do need to. Go out hiking if that’s something you enjoyed once, go to coffee shops to browse the internet rather than doing it at home, play video games, or exercise, or whatever it was that you enjoyed before the depression kicked in. It will help to engage your mind and body. The change in scenery and being in the presence of others, even if you are not with them, will definitely help.

Check out our blog post “How to Refocus Your Love This Holiday Season“. It has plenty of great tips that can last you even after the holidays and help you get out of this rut. Having something to work towards brings us motivation and positive energy, so check out How to Set New Year’s Resolutions Using the Law of Attraction and SMART Goals. It’s not too late for hopes, dreams, and New Year themes.

How to Set New Year’s Resolutions Using SMART Goals

It’s the holiday season and New Year’s Day is almost upon us! What a time for new beginnings.

If you’ve read “The Dreams and Realities of New Year’s Resolutions”, you already know why they are so hard to stick to. What if we rethink New Year’s resolutions? What if we learn to perfect our goal setting techniques and use the energy around us in our favor to manifest a better reality? Get out your pen and paper, because curating goals that work will require work. Are you ready to create a better New Year’s resolution?

Theme:

Once you’ve reflected on the previous year and decided in what ways you’d like to grow and improve, it might help to set a theme for the new year. Some examples would be confidence, money, health, self care, productivity, spirituality, love, relationships, creativity, organization, boundaries, and positivity, among others. This theme will be kind of like a mantra and sort of like a guiding light, but it is not a goal in and of itself. Instead, you’ll create goals that capture the energy of the theme.

SMART Goals:

Next, make sure your goals are specific. You need to be able to envision your goal as a reality. If you can’t do this, it may mean your goal is not realistic or attainable. To make sure you are setting proper goals that you can stick to, use the SMART method of goal setting. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

Specific: How will you be healthy? What does healthy mean? Health of mind, body, or soul?

Measurable: How many times will you work out in a week? How many meals will you eat? How many glasses of water will you drink? How many servings of vegetables will you take each day?

Attainable: Do you have the financial means to buy these vegetables? Do you have the freedom in your schedule to go for a run every day? Do you have the physical means to work out this much? To make sure your goal is attainable, start small and then push yourself harder when you see what you are capable of.

Realistic: Is this goal something you can actually work towards and achieve in the near future? Is it even possible? Is it healthy? It is okay to dream big, but goals need to be small, realistic steps. Don’t try to lose five pounds every week!

Timely: At what specific time and on what days will you work out? For how long? At what time of day will you eat your daily salad? By when will you lose the weight and exactly how much? By when would you like to start seeing results? Goals work best when they are daily because you build a more steady routine, but do what is realistic and attainable for you.

I can’t stress the importance of SMART goals enough. Without them, how will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? How will you know when you have become “healthy” without a specific way to measure that? How will you be able to hold yourself accountable for working on your goal every day if you don’t have a schedule and expectations set up for yourself? How will you be able to envision your life as someone that is “healthy” if you cannot define it?

Write out your SMART goals in a statement or series of statements in the positive present tense. Remember that once you make the goal, you start to make it your reality, so it is not strange to put it in the present tense. Examples of SMART goals within the theme of health would be:

“I go for a fifteen-minute jog every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I eat a salad for lunch every day around 12 p.m. I am losing 20 pounds this year, which means I am losing 1.6 pounds every month.”

You will know you have written your goal correctly if you can check off on whether or not you did what you needed to do. You can’t check off “be healthy” but you can check off “15-minute jog.”

You can become more confident, healthy, financially stable, or whatever your dreams are for yourself just by changing your mindset, envisioning that goal, and willing it into existence. Your thoughts become your reality. What will be your reality in 2019? Picture it in detail using the SMART goals you created. We’re excited for you!

The Dreams And Realities of New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is seen as a fresh start, a chance to grow, an opportunity to start over and work towards a goal. Unfortunately, though, those goals are abandoned by February and the fresh start we all waited for comes and goes as our old habits kick in and our subconscious goes into overdrive. Sound familiar?

It’s good to dream, it’s good to want more for yourself, and it’s certainly good to set goals. Self-improvement is self care. But the harsh reality is that unless you are setting your goals correctly, and working towards them consistently, it may be better to not set any goals at all. A better thing to do would be to practice gratitude and come to enjoy where you are, which is also a form of self care and self-love. When we fall short of our goals it can be very discouraging and cause us to engage in negative self-talk, which is detrimental to our mental health and prevents growth and transformation. In order to avoid this, it is important to understand why there is a difference between what we expect to happen and what actually happens when we set New Year’s resolutions so that we can be better prepared when it comes time to plan for the coming year!

What we expect to happen: lose weight.

What actually happens: loss of motivation after realizing how much work it takes.

What we expect to happen: save money.

What actually happens: inability to turn down dinner with friends and morning lattes.

What we expect to happen: wake up at 6 a.m. every day.

What actually happens: snooze until 7:30.

Why are we unable to stick to goals like this? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

1. We have not properly reflected on the previous year.

Please refer to our article “How to Conduct A Self Care Year in Review” to learn how to reflect on the previous year before setting goals for the new one. Without reflecting in some way, you won’t know what helped you grow and what caused your stagnancy. It is so important to reflect and review your behaviors and your lifestyle before you try to adjust it so that you already know what works for you and what doesn’t, what you need more of and what you need less of. Reflection is a necessary step for transformation.

2. We are not setting goals the right way.

We wish goal setting was as easy as saying “I will lose weight” but this goal will not get you anywhere without a plan. In order to see a goal through it needs to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. It needs to be a SMART goal. Be specific about how to lose weight and how much weight you want to lose, stick to certain schedules so that you know how often to work out, and how much weight you need to lose in a certain time frame. Be realistic though. Start with small goals, and when you know how much you are capable of, push yourself even further. That way, you don’t get discouraged because you don’t meet impossible goals.

3. We are scientifically engineered to choose the easy way out.

Old habits die hard. Very, ridiculously, hard. That’s because when the brain gets certain stimuli, such as a message from the belly saying “feed me,” there is already an ingrained response, “let’s eat,” that is constantly reinforced. The response takes a pathway, one that our brain paved long ago, every time we respond to this message. So, something called myelin sheath is created around our nerve cells to make the pathway faster and easier for the response. When responses like this are suddenly challenged by a different response, like, “no, let’s stick to our diet,” the brain has to make a brand new pathway, which the brain doesn’t want to do.

The brain likes to be the boss. The brain likes to stick to old patterns and old habits because they are more efficient than new patterns and new habits so it will automatically default to wanting to take the old pathway every single time. But new pathways CAN be created, they can be reinforced, and eventually, they can be the default for the brain. But they take time. Be patient and know that at the beginning you will need to work very hard to be the boss of your brain, but it will learn to listen to you as long as you are stern and persistent about always taking the new pathway, even when every other neuron is telling you to take the easy way out. This is the only way you will build new and healthier habits that you can stick to.

You can restructure your brain if you try hard enough, but consistency is non-negotiable. You cannot reach goals and break bad habits unless you are consistent from the very beginning. They say it takes 21 days to build a new habit. If you fail once, you start over.

I hope you feel empowered now to make the most of the New Year! Set goals the right way and show your brain who is boss. I can’t wait for you to reflect and transform your beautiful self.

How to Conduct a Self Care Year in Review

Reflection is a key factor in improvement. You can reflect on your day, your week, and your month, but the entire year coming to a close has a certain sense of finality to it that marks a very clear ending and beginning. It is an exciting opportunity to look back and identify areas of wonderful growth and to recall what made you feel light, healthy, and whole and what made you feel stuck, sad, or stagnant. Reflection is not the same thing as setting resolutions. Rather, it’s a necessary step to take before you set your carefully crafted goals.

Following a heartbreak, these reflections might be nostalgic, or they might be anger-inducing, or probably a difficult blend of the two along with many other emotions. Allow these sentiments to exist. Let yourself reflect on what you are feeling, but do not spend too long dwelling on the “whys” and “what ifs.” In fact, when those thoughts come, send them away like clouds and return back to this reflection. Remember to be kind to yourself while conducting your year in review. Don’t think too hard about the good times with your ex unless you are recalling lessons you learned and how your character has developed.

Thank yourself for getting you through this past year, and also thank everything that served you along the way. Then, acknowledge that it is finished, and let it go in order to let the New Year in. Right now, let’s take out a pen and paper and remember this past year before we set goals for the new one.

1. Think about who you spent your time with.

Friends, family, coworkers. Let’s avoid exes, for now, don’t worry we’ll get to that later. Let it be a stream of consciousness, writing every name as it comes to you. When you’re done, think about each person. Do they serve a positive purpose in your life right now? Cross out the ones that don’t anymore or never did, thank them in your heart for what they taught you and how they grew you, and let them go. You don’t need to need to be investing your free time in them anymore.

Circle the ones that continue to serve a positive purpose, and invest in them more in the coming year. Thank them in your heart as well, and remember how their hugs and smiles lifted your spirit and lightened your load. You may not be able to write their names but in your mind identify people you briefly met that inspired you and showed you kindness and write down how they showed you their light.

2. Think about what activities you did.

Make a list of what you did, read, watched, and listened to. Did you discover a new hobby that you love or a new book that helped you grow? How did you spend your free time? Remember the lessons of that one book, and reflect on how to continue implementing what you learned. Recall how you felt watching and listening to certain things. Did anything particularly make you feel on top of the world? Circle that. Did anything make you fall into memories of the good times, nostalgia, and questions of what went wrong? Yeah, let’s go ahead and cross that out. Multiple times.

What hobbies did you love doing? Hobbies can be time-consuming but it is important to spend that time with yourself to do something you enjoy. You will be more comfortable in your own company and more careful about how you spend your time in the future. Always think, “is this activity going to be a good thing for me, or am I just doing this because I’m bored and it’s readily available?” Watching TV or scrolling Facebook can definitely be cathartic and just what you need to unwind, but other times it might be better to read, write, bake, paint, or whatever it is that you can get lost in, in a good way.

3. Think about your work or school life.

Do you feel fulfilled by what you do or what you study? I hope the answer is yes, and if so, you are lucky. Write down what you do/study and circle it. Thank yourself for putting in the hard work and dedication to get to where you are and write down what strengths and passions got you here. Reflect on how you could have built your skills even more, and what goals you may have fell short on.

However, if the answer was no, that’s okay. I know working on something you don’t want to do is difficult, so thank yourself for your fortitude and dedication. Go ahead and write down what you do and cross it out. More likely than not, the reason you haven’t left your unfulfilling job or college major is that you can’t, or you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t. So let’s work with where you are right now. I challenge you to think about the work you do as an act of service towards others. If you can’t find happiness in the work itself, strive to find happiness by helping people. So now, write down “serving others” and circle it.

Whether you enjoy your job or not, when you put good energy into the world, you get good energy out of it. If you come to work determined to work hard and work well, you will build up your character. Look at it as an investment in yourself, because by cultivating patience, responsibility, and endurance in the workplace, you craft yourself into a better person, and that may help you land your dream job someday. Now, whether your first answer was “yes” or “no,” write down three character traits your current job has helped you build, like work-ethic, patience, and responsibility.

4. Think about your health and well-being.

What was your diet like this year? Did you exercise? Did you cultivate dynamic relationships? Did you practice self care? Write down what you did and ate this year that was conducive to your health.

Health and well-being are multi-faceted, but thankfully, these different aspects build upon each other. When you exercise and eat well, you are doing your mental health a favor, and when you feel mentally well, you are better equipped to build healthy relationships. What you eat and how you exercise are small but mighty ways to make your life more creative and exciting. So, remember those meals you ate this year that you actually had fun cooking, and that time you didn’t even realize how much you were exercising.

Thank your body for the work it has done for you this year, and make sure to take good care of it moving forward because it’s the only one you’ve got.

5. Menders, it’s time to think about your breakup.

What progress have you made this year? Now, this isn’t a free pass to indulge yourself in the “what went wrong” questions. Remember to not let yourself go there. Rather, write down how long it has been since the breakup. Then, write down when you stopped crying about it. Then, write down when you started to feel okay again. Write down what was going on in your life that helped you to reach these milestones. Smile, because you’ve come such a long way.
If you haven’t reached them yet, that’s okay. Instead, you can celebrate the small victories, which are often the hardest. Write down when the last time was that you contacted your ex, viewed their Instagram tags, or stalked their Facebook. If you don’t remember, that’s awesome! Write that. If you have dipped into any of these habits, write down what you were doing that made you want to check up on them, then cross it out.

6. Celebrate!

Menders might already be familiar with the idea of the breakup ritual. This won’t be a breakup ritual per se, but a similar way of letting something go: a release ritual. In the episode of “Love Is LIke A Plant” titled “How To Get Your Ex Back,” Elle and her co-host Sarah May B discuss ways to do this ritual: have a beer and a cigarette, take a hike and throw something, shout loudly into a canyon, sing a song at the top of your lungs on the freeway. Make it yours. Do something cathartic as a way to celebrate all the work, pain, emotional exhaustion, physical exhaustion, people, good memories, bad memories, anthems, and events that made this year what it was. Maybe write down “2018” on a piece of paper and tear it into hundreds of little pieces. Allow your reflections to manifest into a transformation, and as your release ritual crescendos, allow it to fizzle out with the old you, and with a great, big, cathartic smile, let the new you shine.

Congrats on coming so far. You’ve done great this year!

How to Refocus Your Love This Holiday Season

We are in the peak of breakup season and I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of love to give and no longer have a significant other to give it to. The love in your heart is a beautiful, wonderful, amazing gift and it should be given freely for others to treasure. This treasure doesn’t belong to your ex anymore, and you can’t force them to keep something of such incredible value. If they don’t care for it like the treasure that it is, find other ways to give your love this holiday season. It may be awkward at first because the people around you are used to you being MIA, off with your significant other somewhere. But once you make the effort, it is usually appreciated and returned. Thankfully, this is the best time of year to do that because there are so many opportunities to show love!

Here are a few ways to refocus your love on something other than your ex throughout the holidays:

1. Family

There’s nothing as unconditional as a mother’s love. If you are on good terms with your parents, they will be absolutely thrilled that you want to spend time with them this winter. Help them cook, bake, decorate, and/or clean. Watch TV with them. Laugh at how crazy it is that your politics are so different instead of arguing about it. Just soak up these moments with your parents and family. They won’t be here forever.

2. Friends

Friends are the family we choose. It can be hard to find your tribe after a breakup. You spent so much time with your ex, you’re not really sure who you’re close to anymore. Why not get closer to all of them!? Invite them all over for a dinner party, or gift exchange, or pajama party complete with Netflix and beer or wine. Try to get a group together for karaoke, drinks, or dancing. Karaoke is so much fun. Don’t hate on it until you try it, and tell your friends the same! Just soak up these friendships. If you ignore your friends, who will give you biased, unqualified relationship advice when you start dating again? You need them!

3. Coworkers

If you think about it, the people you work with are the people you spend the most time with. You see them every single day for nine hours. If it’s not appropriate for you to befriend them, you can show love by showing you care. They seem overwhelmed? Ask if there’s anything you can take off their plate, or if not, encourage them to do head rolls while taking deep breaths for two minutes. They haven’t taken their lunch? Ask if you can heat it up for them and bring it to their desk. Bake cookies for the office. Say good morning. Ask about weekends. Ask about dogs and kids. They will appreciate it and they will feel less alone. Build each other up. This is your team!

4. Strangers

One universal way to show love is by providing an act of service. Charity work is a beautiful thing, but it’s not the only way to give love to strangers. Let the dude next to you in traffic pass into your lane. Thank the people behind you with a wave when they do the same for you. They didn’t have to do that. Help people grab something out of reach. Push the floor for your elevator buddy. If you see someone crying, don’t pretend you can’t hear them. If they don’t want to talk, they will tell you, but at least you tried to be there for them. Soak up this helpful energy. It will make you a better and more humble person.

5. Hobbies

These next three are more personal. When you’re trying to refocus your love, make sure you don’t run out of it by forgetting some self care! Hobbies get your creative juices flowing and put you in the zone, which is an ideal place to be! Make your hobby a habit by doing it every single day if you can, after all, your schedule did just clear up a bit. Take that time you usually spend with your ex and replace it with something like drawing, writing, reading, etc.. Your hobbies will help get you in tune with who you are as an individual, rather than part of a pair. Learn what hobbies you like and what your interests are. Start dating yourself, for once. You’re pretty cute.

6. Your Body

Love your body! You know the five love languages? Give it some physical touch with a physical workout. Give it some words of affirmation because confidence can be hard to find after a breakup. Give it some quality time to rest overnight. Give it the gift of healthy food. It will be so, so grateful for the nourishment! Give it an act of service by serving yourself some cookies, too. Soak up all that your body has to offer you and take good care of it. It’s the only one you’ve got!

7. Spirituality

If you are religious, spend some extra time getting in touch with your spiritual life through prayer this holiday season. Remember why you celebrate what you celebrate and make sure that meaning doesn’t get lost to you. Send some extra love to whoever or whatever you serve. If you are not religious, you can still embrace your own spirituality by practicing mindfulness. Meditation is a way to show love to yourself by clearing your mind of the thoughts that no longer serve you. Inward exploration will reveal your true self, which you can practice by sitting in silence and solitude.

In all the ways you choose to love yourself and others, soak it all in by being present and practicing gratitude. Being grateful for everything you are surrounded by and how everything in your past has shaped you into your amazing self will reveal new ways to show love in the present moment. It will make refocusing your love away from your ex a slightly easier process and a heartwarming challenge.

The Number One Rule About Attraction

There’s this thing in relationship science that we consider to be the most important reason behind attraction. Let’s call it the Attraction Rule.

I want you to think of someone you are or have been attracted to. Just one person. Got it? Now we both know there are a lot of people you could have chosen, but you didn’t, you chose the one. I’m willing to bet that you thought of this person not because they are physically attractive, although I know you think they are. You chose this person because you’ve shared a laugh with them, and they’ve smiled at you or something you said. You like their smile. It gives you the warm fuzzies or whatever.

We Are Attracted To What We Find Rewarding

The Attraction Rule is this: we are attracted to what we find rewarding to us. That doesn’t just go for people, but also your choice of hobbies and reading material. The reason you’ve continued reading this article is that you need to know what the attraction rule is because the answer will give you a personal reward: a satiated curiosity. But what exactly do we consider to be rewards?

Direct Rewards

There are direct rewards, which are benefits someone else chooses to give, though they could withhold them. The 5 Love Languages are all direct rewards: physical contact, gifts, words of affirmation, acts of servicem and quality time. These can all be given out in small amounts from people you don’t know very well and will still make you feel those warm fuzzies we talked about earlier. There’s also interest, as in, if you find this person interesting, that interest is rewarding to you, like there’s a mystery you need to solve, a question you need to answer. There’s also approval, but I don’t think I have to explain how rewarding it is to feel approved by or interesting to someone else. Then there’s the two most effective: laughter and smiles. Seeing someone physically attractive already activates a reward center of your brain, but it activates it even more so when they smile. And when the two of you share a laugh, forget it. You’re hooked and already mentally stalking them. Seeing a cute person smile activates one reward center, but laughing at something they say activates several.

Indirect Awards

Then there are indirect rewards, which have more to do with the circumstances rather than how you interact together. These are things someone else can’t really control. Examples of this would be having the same name, birthday, or associating them with a place that you like. These are rewarding merely because they offer you a sense of connection to them without having to actually connect to them. Physical attraction also falls into this category. For example, you subconsciously (okay, maybe not so subconsciously) find their appearance rewarding because they would make cute babies with you. This is indirect because how their face looks is out of their control and would benefit your future offspring, not necessarily you. There are plenty of people we find physically attractive without actually being attracted to them. The reason you chose that one person earlier is because they gave you direct rewards, which are much more emotionally salient than simply seeing an attractive person.

How Attraction Relates To Your Breakup

What does any of this have to do with mending? A lot! There are reasons why we’re still attached to our exes after a breakup. The Attraction Rule is just one of those things. Now that you know how it works, you can analyze what it was about your ex that you found rewarding. Those things used to activate your reward centers, so part of why you’re still holding onto your ex is because you want to continue feeling those rewards. The good news is that there’s a whole world out there ready to give you all sorts of rewards too. The key is to find what rewards you associate with your ex (seeing their smile, physical touch, and approval are common ones) and go get it from somewhere else. Granted, at first it won’t compare to the reward you felt from your ex. No one smiles quite like them or hugs you just the way you like to be hugged, but the important thing is that you try. Get used to your friends’ smiles. Get used to your families’ hugs. And get a lot of them. Start to associate these rewards with other things and people, rather than your ex.

Finding Other Ways To Feel Rewarded

Right now you feel deprived. Your main source of rewards may not be around anymore, but that doesn’t mean you need to be deprived of them altogether. There are plenty of other sources, be it people (they give love, smiles, laughs), pets (who give love, unconditional approval), plants (service, gifts, interest), or projects (interest, quality time). All of these can be rewarding! Try and you’ll see for yourself.

Why Are We So Quick To Forgive Our Exes?

We previously shared an article about why we stay in bad relationships. A research study showed that we’re quick to have a positive view of people who do good things but are much more hesitant to have a negative view of people who do bad things because we’re forgiving and prefer to focus on the good in people. When people don’t show this goodness, we still give the benefit of the doubt that they have the potential to be good somewhere deep down.

But let’s go deeper. Why do we forgive? Why do we hold on to the hope of a potential good in people, despite bad actions? Is it for ourselves, so that we don’t harbor unnecessary grudges which harm our mental health? Or is it actually out of good will for others, believing it’s not fair to them for us to hold anything against them?

Let’s start by saying forgiveness is an act that happens within yourself. It’s not a conversation. The other person doesn’t need to know you forgive them in order for that to be true. That being said, it’s hard to decipher whether we forgive for our own self care, or because we genuinely believe it’s unjust to hold a transgression against someone else.

If your partner cheats on you and then tries to make up for it, you can not forgive and either stay with or leave them, or forgive and still either stay with or leave them. If you truly believe that they know they made a mistake and are sorry for what they’ve done, you’re more likely to forgive because it wouldn’t be fair to hold that grudge. In this case, you’ll probably stay with or want to go back to them, especially because they tried to make up for it, so you cling to the good rather than the bad. The simple act of forgiving does increase your level of commitment, so this is why we stay in unhealthy relationships and may even want to return to an unhealthy relationship once we’re out of one.

When you can’t overlook the bad in favor of the good, which is our natural tendency, there is a serious rift. If you know they wronged you and do believe it’s fair to hold it against them despite their effort to make up for it, you’re more likely to forgive for the sake of your own self care, as letting go will give you the ability to move forward. In this case, you will probably not stay with them. This requires an unwavering adherence to boundaries, because it takes a lot to not be swayed by a partner’s apologies. This is an act of self love rather than love and good will for the other person.

A great adaptation of this is the show “Love”, where the two characters turn a blind eye to every red flag in favor of the few good things about the relationship, and how continuing to forgive each other keeps them more committed, though the relationship is clearly on thin ice. It really shows that relatable tendency to stay in relationships we know aren’t right.

Clearly, forgiveness is very nuanced, highly affected by circumstance, personality, temperament, and religion. I can’t tell you whether you, specifically, forgive out of good will or self care, but I can tell you that we have a social predisposition to forgive. Despite our motives for forgiveness, there’s an even deeper reason why we do. Social connection is in our bones. We’re created by social relationships and from the moment we’re born, we begin forming them. We know the importance of social connection deep down, and therefore, we don’t want to miss out on the wide array of benefits that come with social support by judging a person as “bad,” which is also likely why we’re quick to judge people as “good.” We hold on to hope that anyone who transgressed us will eventually redeem themselves. And that’s why we’re so quick to forgive our exes. We want them to redeem themselves.

Forgiveness, like empathy, is a skill. It can be learned, built upon, and improved throughout your life. Even further, this research study explains how forgiveness is a coping mechanism for stress. It can help our physical and emotional wellbeing by reducing stress, depression, and anxiety. This study found that young adults who have experienced more severe stress but are less forgiving have worse mental and physical health. If you are having a hard time finding forgiveness, read our expert advice on 9 Steps to Forgive for Good from Forgiveness Expert Fred Luskin or 4 Tips For Healing, Forgiving, And Loving After A Painful Breakup. You may also benefit from this University of Texas professor’s self compassion exercises.

When You Speak Different Love Languages

If you aren’t familiar with the 5 Love Languages, you can read our breakdown here. It’s essentially how you prefer to receive love, which highly influences how you give love, too. When you and your partner speak different love languages it can literally be as much of a block as speaking a different language and can definitely (but not always) lead to a breakup.

Picture this: I only speak English and my partner only speaks Spanish. We don’t understand each other’s words but we can understand each other in other ways. Sounds crazy that we’d be able to love each other, right? Well, we do. A lot. Only, I hate the way Spanish sounds and he can’t stand English. So instead, I start speaking to him in Chinese and he starts speaking to me in French. Doesn’t make any sense, right? We may be able to pick out bits and pieces, but we won’t fully understand it. If I’m not willing to learn Spanish and he’s not willing to learn English, it’s just not going work. We will never be able to communicate our love for each other.

In reality, my ex and I spoke opposite love languages. His was quality time, which is my lowest. Mine was words of affirmation, which he hates. We fundamentally could not express our love in a way we were each receptive to, and it really was the fall of our relationship. We just couldn’t communicate.

There is hope, though. You absolutely can learn to speak another love language, but they must learn to speak yours as well. Our problem was that neither of us was able to learn the other’s language because they were polar opposites, instead we opted for something in between, like physical touch and acts of service. But as in the above example, it doesn’t really matter if we try to speak some love language that’s in the middle. If I only speak English and he only speaks Spanish, French and Chinese aren’t going to help. Despite how much we loved each other, we can’t translate languages we don’t know, although we can, to some extent, understand what is being said through body language and tone, and that’s how we got only a glimmer of how much love there really was.

When you can’t speak each other’s love language, there can be so much love that gets lost in translation. Here are a few tips for when you and your partner seem to be having some inexplicable communication issues that go deeper than words:

1. Both of you must take the Love Languages test if you haven’t already.

2. Disregard each language other than your number one for now. Your number 2 and 3 are like the high school French and middle school Spanish you learned but aren’t fluent in. 

3. Likewise, only focus on your partner’s number one, for now.

4. You and your partner should both discuss how you prefer to be loved. It doesn’t have to be too specific, but this is your chance to hear them give examples of actual ways you can love them better, straight from the source.

5. After hearing their descriptions, read the actual descriptions of each others’ Love Language on the website.

6. Don’t be afraid to say what you want. I used to want to be told how much I meant to my ex, but obviously, I didn’t want to make him tell me that. I wanted it to come naturally, and shouldn’t he want to do that, anyways? Nope. That’s my love language, not his. He had no idea that that’s what I needed, so please, don’t make my mistake. Say what you want, and say it more than once, because people are forgetful, even if they love you. It may feel like you’re nagging, but at least if you state your needs, you’ve done all you can do and the rest is up to your partner.

7. Speak to your partner in the language they prefer, not the language you prefer. What I mean by this is that my preferred language is words of affirmation so I expect my partner to speak them to me, but that doesn’t mean I need to give my partner words of affirmation if they make him uncomfortable. I need to instead focus on his preferred language. He speaks my language, and I speak his.

8. If you’re really struggling to see the beauty in another love language, ask them to help you translate. I really, fundamentally just don’t get quality time. I don’t see the beauty in merely being next to each other in silence. But I always spent that time thinking about how uncomfortable I was, rather than asking why my ex enjoyed that. Maybe if he was able to explain the beauty of quality time to me, I would have understood, and could translate in the future. But I never even asked for help.

9. Don’t assume you are speaking their language correctly. Just like with verbal languages, you may think you know what to say but are actually pronouncing it all wrong. Sure, the thought counts of course, but it doesn’t actually express your love. Never assume a simple “I love you” will suffice as words of affirmation. What do you love about them? Never assume simply being there will suffice as quality time. Are you even paying attention to them?

10. Practice, practice, practice! Don’t just speak each other’s languages on occasion. Speak them all the time. Check-in and make sure both of you are receptive to your partner’s attempts. Make sure your needs are being met. Talk to each other.

If you were to ask them “how do you know I love you?” and you’re doing it correctly, their answer should be something about their love language. For the words of affirmation person, it may be “because you always support me and tell me how much I mean to you” not just “because you tell me.” For the quality time person, it may be “because you always make time to be alone with me and are present in the time we spend together” not just “because you hang out with me.”

Good luck loving each other! Speaking each other’s love language is a lot harder than it seems and does require an honest effort and sacrifice on both sides.

Marriage And Happiness: Can Getting Married Make Me Happier?

For the most part, we have a consistent sense of well-being. It’s our baseline. The degree to which we are satisfied with our lives is mostly stable, and even major changes like a broken heart or winning the lottery will only change that temporarily. Or at least, that’s what the “hedonic treadmill theory” suggests: we inevitably always return to the same baseline of life satisfaction. We do see peaks and dips, but we eventually stabilize. We adapt. We don’t stay in a peak or a dip forever.

Previous researchers, Headey and Wearing (1989), found that in general people have positive baseline moods. After a major life change, we return to “differing baselines” based on our personalities. Happy people tend to experience more happy events. Unhappy people experience more negative events. The events we experience and our personalities, affect the baseline we create/return to. So Lucas et al. (2003) set out to see if in fact we do create a new baseline or if we return to a pre-existing one.

To study this, they composed a longitudinal study of thousands of random people in Germany in order to measure their levels of life satisfaction before and after marriage. They began to collect this data long before the participants knew they would be getting married, though not all participants actually ended up getting married. Marriage is associated with positive levels of subjective well-being, which is partially measured by life satisfaction. There are a wealth of benefits to getting married, but also an abundance of stress to losing a marriage. When marriage events happen (weddings, divorce, becoming widowed) they can change our overall life satisfaction quite a bit. So do we adapt to these changes and return to the same level of life satisfaction we had before, or does it stay higher or lower?

These researchers found that your long-term baseline after getting married depends on how you initially react to the marriage. Those that react positively create a baseline of a more satisfying life and well-being for years to come. Those that react negatively to a marriage (it is after all quite stressful and can put a lot of pressure on you) create a lower baseline than they did before getting married.

So, no, not everyone adapts to marriage by going back to their baseline before marriage. Some continue to increase in life satisfaction, some increase and then create a baseline somewhere in the middle of where they used to be and where they were immediately after marriage, and others are significantly less satisfied with life. Taking an average line of these will make it seem like adaption does occur, and that marriage is simply a blip on our baseline, but humans are much more complex than merely taking an average. The average person actually doesn’t return to the same baseline after marriage. 

This study disproves that we always fully adapt to important events. The truth is, sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t. True, the peaks and dips don’t stay peaks and dips forever, but it wouldn’t be correct to say our baseline cannot change. Getting married absolutely can make you happier, if your initial reaction to marriage is positive.

When You Know You Don’t Make Them Happy Anymore

Have you ever felt like you were slowly drifting apart from a friend or a significant other? It’s one of the worst feelings in the world because it’s not actually over yet, nothing actually happened. If it were over, you would know, and then you could begin taking steps to accept it and heal from it. But no. It’s like they started to get to know you, and then once they did, they decided they don’t like you anymore. What do you even say? When would you even bring it up? That is if you bring it up. Maybe you can’t even bear to say anything for fear that that actually would end things.

You’ve already developed an attachment to your partner where you find their approval to be rewarding, so your first instinct might be to try and make things better by doing what you can to avoid having that conversation. You’ll try to fit their mold of the perfect partner or friend, to be everything they wanted. But in doing that, you lose yourself. You become less you and more of what you think they want you to be. You don’t fight them when they express opinions that bewilder you. You don’t speak up when they cross your boundaries. You act like it’s no big deal that they forgot your birthday, didn’t come to your graduation, didn’t congratulate you on your job offer or promotion, and literally never ask you anything about you. 

When this doesn’t work, it almost doesn’t seem fair. Despite all your efforts, why are they still unhappy? When someone you’re attached to disapproves of you, or withdraws prior approval, you feel anxious, concerned, and scared of the unknown. To stifle yourself so much for someone else and realize it’s still not enough for them, that’s heartbreaking. Not only does this not help your relationship, it breaks your relationship with yourself.

Instead, if you are in a place where you think you don’t make them happy anymore, tell them. I know it’s a risk because you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you could break up, but staying together can be just as heartbreaking. Being alone is sometimes a better option than being in a relationship where you feel alone. You need to assess your needs, not just theirs. Are your social, emotional, and physical needs being met? You can pretend that everything is fine for months, even years, and still nothing could get better, but it will hurt more the longer you let it go on. There is no good time to say you feel unloved or like your partner isn’t happy. The perfect moment won’t come. It’s something you’ll probably have to rip it off like a band-aid.

Healthy relationships require you to be true to yourself, to feel accepted for who you are, not who you pretend to be, and to accept your partner for who they truly are, not who you want them to be. They also require openness when feeling distant, and honesty when drifting apart. The best option is to honestly and thoroughly assess if this relationship is growing you as a person or not, ask your partner to do so as well, and then discuss. If you’re both trying to hide unhappiness, then your relationship becomes a facade for two broken hearts. It’s actually pretty normal to be in a broken relationship simply because staying together is more comfortable than letting them go. It’s understandable. It’s what you’re used to. That doesn’t mean it’s fair to either of you. 

It’s much better to lose someone you’re dating than to lose yourself. Be true to who you are. Stand by your beliefs and convictions. Never, ever, lessen yourself to appease others. Be relentlessly you, and don’t apologize for it. Be so you that you radiate. Be so you that you glow. This requires you being honest about how you feel and what you need and don’t need in your life right now, and something you don’t need is people who don’t see your worth.

If you don’t make your partner happy anymore, that’s fine. It hurts, but you will be fine. Love shouldn’t feel like you are walking on eggshells. You shouldn’t have to feel constantly afraid of offending them. By letting go of that tension, by letting go of the need to please others, by letting go of trying to be the perfect partner all the time, you can be perfectly you. And then you can start to heal. We’ll help you to pick up all the broken pieces because you deserve a whole heart.

Is It Better Longterm To Date Someone Who Is Similar To You?

Have you ever been attracted to someone that’s completely different than you? What about someone that’s nearly the exact same as you?

When it comes to attraction, we do like a little mystery. This is where opposites come in. It’s true that extroverts and introverts intrigue each other and compulsive planners and spontaneous risk-takers benefit from each other’s tendencies. Quiet people and sociable people can’t wait to unravel the mystery behind each other. In this sense, opposites attract. We find that our weaknesses are complemented by the strengths of others. Things that don’t come naturally to us are balanced when someone who is the opposite comes in to show us new ways of life.

That’s all true, but there’s more to the story.

While we do like mystery, there’s just something uniquely special about feeling understood without having to explain. When it comes to attraction, mystery can only go so far. We like it, but if we can’t find enough common ground to understand each other, there’s really no basis for a substantial relationship, because what we most long for is to be seen, accepted, and valued as we are. Opposites only really attract when they are complemented by having similarities.

There are a number of factors that attract us to someone. Today we’ll only discuss two. One of them is how close we are to them (literally), and another is how similar we are.

Mere Exposure Effect

How close you literally, geographically, are to someone has a large effect on how often you see them, and how often you see someone has an effect on how familiar you are with their presence. Familiarity breeds liking. This is called the mere exposure effect, where merely being exposed to someone more frequently makes them more attractive to you. It also likely means you have some things in common. If the way that you spend your time leads you to constantly see a specific person, that person, though they may seem to be the opposite of you, must be similar to you in some ways by the sheer fact that you are in the same places at the same times.

Similarity Can Be Practical

Having things in common with someone you are attracted to is, first and foremost, comforting. It makes conversation easier and having reassurance and validation makes us feel accepted and more secure. Secondly, it’s practical. If you have similar values, demographics, and personalities, it will be a lot easier to compromise on plans as small as choosing a show to binge watch, all the way to large career goals that will affect your current or future family.

I did mention that extroverts and introverts pair well together in that they keep each other balanced, but a couple of extroverts can pair just as well together in that both can go out without having to leave an introverted partner behind. Introverts can stay in without feeling guilty for not going to an extroverted partner’s friend’s party. Whether we prefer opposite or similar personality types really depends on a lot of factors. There’s no right or wrong answer, except that there must be some similarity in order to understand each other’s choices and backgrounds.

Finding Balance

One challenge to be aware of is that dating an “opposite” can make decision-making a lot harder. Sure, the mysteriousness of someone that seems totally different than you may attract you at first, but it’s your similarities that even allow you to be in the same place and time as they are, and it’s the similarities that will help you to understand each other and keep the relationship going. So yes, opposites attract, but the attraction is just one element of a larger picture. It doesn’t always mean opposites make good partners long-term.

There’s an important balance to strike though. While it may seem intriguing to date someone who you have a lot in common with, to make things easier, there have to be enough differences to maintain novelty in the relationship. There is such a thing as being too similar. Finding a balance that works for you is the goal.

Jackie Fernandez On Heartbreak And Therapy

In this episode of our podcast, On The Mend, Elle is joined by showrunner Jackie Fernandez. Jackie is an Emmy Award-winning television host. She opened up about her devastating first breakup, how it affected her during a vulnerable period of her life, and how she recovered. This happened as a student in her early twenties, so she gives advice to her 21-year-old self, who may or may not have been a completely different person than who she is now. We think our younger menders would definitely want to hear what she and Elle have to say about young love and college relationships.

She goes on to tell us how she avoided therapy at all costs at first but now sees how incredibly beneficial it is, and what made her change her mind. Listen in to hear the biggest lesson she’s learned through heartbreak, and what her go-to breakup vices are. You can find the episode on Podcasts or SoundCloud. If you like it, be sure to share it with a friend and subscribe to get future episodes.

10 Influential Women From History Share Their Take On Heartbreak

In honor of International Women’s Day, We gathered some quotes from some of the most influential women in history and the modern-day so our menders can be empowered by their wisdom, leadership, and ability to create incredible things out of adversity and heartbreak. Here are some words that can help you mend, from some amazing women that have gone or will go down in history for their contributions to the world.

Frida Kahlo

She was a prolific Mexican artist who explored pain, passion, race, gender, class, and postcolonialism in her art. Her life and art later became more involved with politics, and she is now considered a Chicano, feminist and LGBT icon.

On overcoming heartbreak from a tumultuous relationship:

“There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the train the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”

“I am that clumsy human, always loving, loving, loving. And loving. And never leaving.”

“I think that little by little I’ll be able to solve my problems and survive.”

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”

“Perhaps it is expected that I should lament about how I have suffered living with a man like Diego. But I do not think that the banks of a river suffer because they let the river flow, nor does the earth suffer because of the rains, nor does the atom suffer for letting its energy escape. To my way of thinking, everything has its natural compensation.”

Jane Austen

She was an author who provided social commentary on the English gentry of the 18th century. She critiqued female dependence on marriage with humor and irony, and though her novels were successful while she was alive, they were published anonymously.

On the importance of social support:

“The composure of mind with which I have brought myself at present to consider the matter, the consolation that I have been willing to admit, have been the effect of constant and painful exertion; they did not spring up of themselves; they did not occur to relieve my spirits at first. No, Marianne. Then, if I had not been bound to silence, perhaps nothing could have kept me entirely—not even what I owed to my dearest friends—from openly showing that I was very unhappy.”

“Elinor, in spite of every occasional doubt of Willoughby’s constancy, could not witness the rapture of delightful expectation which filled the whole soul and beamed in the eyes of Marianne, without feeling how blank was her own prospect, how cheerless her own state of mind in the comparison, and how gladly she would engage in the solicitude of Marianne’s situation to have the same animating object in view, the same possibility of hope.”

“Friendship is surely the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.”

Whitney Wolfe Herd

She was a co-founder of Tinder before starting Bumble, which is changing the world by changing dating. She was a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree and has worked with legislators to make unsolicited dick pics illegal.

On creating Mend monuments:

“They say that the greatest companies in the world come out of someone’s personal heartbreak.”

“Don’t let something hurtful from your past hold you back from what you want to do. Be brave.”

Anne Frank

She died at the age of 15 as a Jewish victim of the Holocaust. While hiding for two years before being discovered, she kept a diary that has touched the hearts of people throughout the world by revealing her hope and persistence.

On gratitude and resilience:

“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.”

“It’s a wonder I haven’t abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart.”

“Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!”

“I know what I want, I have a goal, an opinion, I have a religion and love. Let me be myself and then I am satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inward strength and plenty of courage.”

Oprah Winfrey

She was born in poverty and rose to become the richest African American in history. She’s a media executive, talk show host, and producer that has been ranked as the greatest African American philanthropist in American history and the most influential woman in the world. 

On personal growth:

“Think about any attachments that are depleting your emotional reserves. Consider letting them go.”

“Turn your wounds into wisdom.”

“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”

“Pushing against the need to forgive is like spreading poison in your veins. Surrender to the hurt, loss, resentment, and disappointment. Accept the truth. It did happen and now it’s done. Make a decision to meet the pain as it rises within you and allow it to pass right through. Give yourself permission to let go of the past and step out of your history, into the now. Forgive, and set yourself free.”

Mother Teresa

She was a Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity and devoted her life to serving the poor, lonely, and vulnerable. She was canonized as a Saint for her work in Calcutta and many other countries and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

On spreading love always:

“The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.”

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.”

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.”

“There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force when there is suffering, too much pain. Then suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.”

Jane Goodall

She changed the way the world interacts with and views animals by being the first person to closely study chimpanzees. She famously taught us about their human-like qualities: they create and use tools, they engage in war, and they experience heartbreak over loss.

On finding solace in nature:

“Chimpanzees have given me so much. The long hours spent with them in the forest have enriched my life beyond measure. What I have learned from them has shaped my understanding of human behavior, of our place in nature.”

“I think the most important thing is to keep active and to hope that your mind stays active.”

Michelle Obama

She is an attorney, author, philanthropist, and former First Lady of the United States. She used this position to influence fellow politicians and began campaigns to fight childhood obesity, childhood hunger, education of young girls worldwide, and empowerment of young girls.

On going through hard times:

“You should never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead, it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”

“Do not bring people in your life who weigh you down, and trust your instincts. Good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don’t hurt. They’re not painful. That’s not just with somebody you want to marry, but it’s with the friends you choose. It’s with the people you surround yourself with.”

“When you are struggling, and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember something that my husband and I have talked about since we first started this journey nearly a decade ago—something that has carried us through every moment in this White House and every moment of our lives—and that is the power of hope. The belief that something better is always possible if you’re willing to work for it and fight for it.”

Hua Mulan

She was a Chinese warrior who dressed up as a man to take her father’s place in the army and fight for her country. The following quotes are from the film Mulan.

On fighting inner battles (rather than ignoring them):

“The General Hua you see before you is actually terrified of battle. I had been afraid and hiding all along. But I never thought my fear and hiding would cause the loss of the most important friend in my life. His departure lets me understand fleeing from the endless battles only makes us lose even more!”

“Someone once said, go too far from home and you will lose your roots. Kill too many people and you will forget yourself. If you die in battle, your life will sink into the ground like rain and vanish without a trace. If at that time, you fall in love with someone, hope will blossom again from the earth and embrace life with passion. Wentai, thank you.”

Gloria Steinem

She’s a social-political activist and a leader of the feminist movement. She founded “Ms” magazine and Women’s Action Alliance information center.

On letting go of the familiar and embracing growth:

“The art of life is not controlling what happens to us but using what happens to us.”

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn.”

“Once we give up searching for approval we often find it easier to earn respect.”

Top Red Flags for Dating in Your Twenties

Too often, we view red flags as challenges or warnings rather than the deal breaker that they should be. We want our relationships or flirtationships to work out so badly that we rationalize, we make excuses for our partner, and we keep grievances to ourselves so that we can stay together. It’s important to discuss the things that make you uncomfortable because unfortunately, red flags don’t just go away by themselves. Staying quiet and trying to ignore them just magnifies their amplitude and creates tension and distance between you. Imagine marrying someone and thinking “red flag” for the rest of your life! Yikes. You deserve better. We compiled a list of some big red flags to look out for, in no particular order.

1. Not Communicating

You don’t have to have something to talk about all the time. There is certainly beauty in silence, but if your silence is awkward rather than soothing, you will feel uneasy. Sometimes, instead of silence, you’ll fill the void with subjects that distract from what you’re really not communicating about and trying to hide from your partner. Other times, you stay silent, wondering why they don’t want to know more about you. Either way, if the way you communicate feels like a red flag, then it is. Others will be comfortable in silence.

2. Lack of Support

If your partner doesn’t praise you on your achievements or share in the excitement about your hopes being formed, dreams coming true, and accomplishments being recognized, they will not appreciate you in the little everyday things you do for them. Imagine texting your partner that you got a 4.0 and they don’t even congratulate you. Been there. Red. Flag.

3. Doesn’t Follow Through

Sure, sometimes someone may make an honest mistake and forget to call after telling you they will, or arrive two hours late because they took a nap without telling you. This really should only be allowed once or twice. Make sure they know you are upset if it does happen. If it repeatedly happens, it’s time to let them go lie to someone else.

4. Doesn’t Adjust When You Acknowledge A Red Flag

If you’ve already discussed that something bothers you and yet it still comes up every once in a while, that’s a problem. If someone you’re dating doesn’t learn from their mistakes or express any interest in improvement, move on.

5. Doesn’t Celebrate With You

You don’t have to celebrate every relationship milestone, but if they know you like to celebrate monthaversaries and they pretend it’s stupid or not happening, that’s a red flag. If they suck your joy in any way, especially by not helping you celebrate something important to you, let them go rain on someone else’s parade.

6. You Feel A Drop in Your Self-esteem.

Something feels off and you feel like you have to be better to get their attention. They don’t affirm you, and it makes you feel insecure. They break you down rather than build you up, even if they don’t know it and don’t try to. This is not healthy. Healthy partners make each other feel competent and appreciated. Great partners make each feel like they can conquer the world!

Some other red flags include:

7. You get anxious about what they are doing and who they are with.

8. They attempt to make you jealous.

9. They degrade your morals, culture, race, religious beliefs, or spirituality.

10. They belittle you, your family, your neighborhood, your job, or your belongings.

11. Puts your safety in danger.

12. There’s a lack of openness on their end.

13. Doesn’t encourage you to be open.

Why A Long-Distance Relationship May End When They Stop Being Long Distance

Choosing to maintain a long-distance relationship is common among high school students, college students, and recent college grads. Maybe it’s because you met online, or you stayed with a high school sweetheart that went to a separate college. Maybe you graduated and moved away for work but want to keep a relationship you had while in school. Whatever the case, why is it that these relationships seem to end when both partners are living in the same place, whether that’s again or for the first time?

There are many benefits to long-distance relationships that ultimately cause the demise of the relationship when they’re no longer long distance, but there are three key benefits-turned-barriers that really stand out: novelty, independence, and idealization. There’s a surplus of each of these when you’re apart, but they all go away when couples move close to each other.

Novelty

Long-distance relationships thrive on novelty! It’s a key element in any relationship, not just long-distance ones. However, for most couples, novelty is high while you are falling in love, and fades pretty quickly unless you put in a conscious effort to do new things together or learn new things about each other. People in long-distance relationships can keep up the novelty much longer, which is a huge advantage for them. However, when they go from long distance to living in the same area, the novelty soon fades. They learn about your town and the nuances of your life quickly. They start to adapt to idiosyncrasies that made them fall in love with you. Those things are no longer so special. Without having to schedule in time to talk and time to visit and explore each other’s towns, you feel like something is missing, like it’s less exciting and less fulfilling. In large part, that’s because, well, it is. There used to be a surplus of novelty, and now it’s gone. As your relationship becomes routine, you start to miss the excitement of long distance.

Independence

Long-distance relationships allow for a lot of simultaneous independence and connectedness, which is really good. You don’t communicate as frequently as people in proximal relationships, so when you do, it’s considered special together-time. You don’t feel the need to be constantly texting them or being with them, and this independence makes you less likely to need your partner’s approval or presence in order to feel good. It’s a great thing to have, and you appreciate it, but you don’t need it. You’ve learned to live without your partner there, but really enjoy special together-time when you do have it. When you start living near each other, the relationship might feel like “too much.” You’d think that you’d love to have your partner around all the time because you miss them and enjoy their company, but in reality, you will start to feel like your bubble is being crowded in on, and that you’re losing a lot of the independence you used to have. You’ll start having to compromise on more decisions, and special together-time stops being so special. You have less time for your friends and more importantly, for you, and you’re not sure if that’s time you’re willing to sacrifice.

Idealization

When your partner is so far away, you miss out on learning the details of their lives. You know, the things that might annoy you and make you feel uncomfortable. Since you have very limited time together, you idealize your partner. You see everything they say and do with rose-colored glasses, which is pretty typical of a new relationship, but this can persist even in long-term, long-distance relationships due to limited exposure to your partner. When you live close to each other, you learn more and more things about them and begin to realize they’re not as great as you had thought after all. Their faults become readily apparent pretty quickly. As you spend more time together, you don’t get a chance to “miss” your partner, which caused you to think about them more while they were apart from you, and also caused you both to do good things for the relationship.

When you and you’re partner begin living in the same area again, it won’t take long for your sense of independence to take a hit. It also won’t take long for you to wonder why this relationship is less thrilling now, and why your partner seems less ideal and more….normal. These three together really damage your relationship. When couples don’t work on making together time novel and special, maintaining boundaries, and having “me” time, what helped your long-distance relationship could easily end up breaking it when you’re no longer long distance.

10 Women Who Advocate For Mental Health

Broken hearts clearly affect your mental health, but it’s something not many people talk about because they feel ashamed or guilty, or simply don’t know how to talk about it. No matter what you’re going through, whether you have a mental illness or not, mental health is of the utmost importance. We’re super grateful for these amazing actresses, duchesses, and executives who are trying to make mental health a priority rather than a stigma.

1. Jennifer Lawrence, Founder of Jennifer Lawrence Foundation

“I don’t think that we’re going to stop until we get rid of the stigma for mental illness, I know David [O. Russell] won’t. And I hope that this helps. It’s just so bizarre how in this world if you have asthma, you take asthma medicine. If you have diabetes, you take diabetes medicine. But as soon as you have to take medication for your mind, there’s such a stigma behind it.”

2. Lady Gaga, Founder of Born This Way Foundation

“[Speaking out] made me very nervous at first…For me, waking up every day and feeling sad and going on stage is very hard to describe. There’s a lot of shame attached to mental illness. You feel like something is wrong with you…You can’t help it if in the morning when you wake up you are so tired, you are so sad that you can barely think… I feel like we are not hiding anymore, we’re starting to talk, and that’s what everyone needs to do, really…Even though it was hard, it was the best thing that could come out of my mental illness was to share it… If you are feeling not well in your mind, you’re not alone, and people you think will never have a problem, do… We have to make the strongest, most relentless attempt we can to normalize mental health issues.”

3. Kate Middleton, Founder of Heads Together mental health awareness campaign

“No one of us can make a difference alone. I feel so passionately about working together… Thank you to all of you who are prioritizing the importance of mental health and…child development as a whole. I look forward to hearing how your discussions will lead to proactive steps and to an ever more resounding commitment to mentally healthy schools, teachers, and children.”

4. Demi Lovato, Spokesperson of Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health

“The more that you’re vocal for yourself and also others, the more that people can help you. That’s why it’s so important that you speak up. I suffered from bits of mania and bipolar depression. I was lonely, I was sad, I was miserable and I couldn’t figure out why because I was on top of the world it felt like…What I would love to see is comprehensive mental health reform in our government. It’s really important that mental health treatment is more accessible than it is.”

5. Emma Stone, Board member of The Child Mind Institute

“It’s so normal. Everyone experiences a version of anxiety or worry in their lives and maybe we go through it in a different or more intense way for longer periods of time but it’s not- there’s nothing wrong with you. To be a sensitive person that cares a lot, that takes things in in a deep way is actually part of what makes you amazing and is one of the greatest gifts of life… Even when there are really hard times, there are so many tools you can use to help yourself in those times and it does get better and easier as life goes on and you get to know yourself better, your triggers…Don’t ever feel like you’re a weirdo for it because we’re all weirdos.”

6. Cara Delevingne, Model and author with depression and ADHD

“For me [the turning point] was realizing that I shouldn’t be ashamed of feeling these things and that I wasn’t alone, and that everyone kind of goes through these things, and being vulnerable is actually a strength, it’s not a weakness, and showing your emotion and being honest about it. More and more mental health is such an important thing to talk about. It’s exactly the same as being physically sick. When you keep all those things inside, when you bottle it up, it makes you ill… I didn’t know how to communicate my emotions, I was so ashamed of the way I felt because I had such a privileged upbringing.”

7. Marsha Linehan, Founder of Dialectical Behavior Therapy

“The bottom line is that if you are in hell, the only way out is to go through a period of sustained misery. Misery is, of course, much better than hell, but it is painful nonetheless. By refusing to accept the misery that it takes to climb out of hell, you end up falling back into hell repeatedly, only to have to start over and over again.”

8. Carrie Fisher, Actress famous for demystifying addiction and mental illness

“I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.”

9. Jen Gotch, Founder of Ban.do, host of “Jen Gotch is OK…Sometimes” podcast

“I created a brand that’s based on an emotional workplace because we’re all emotional, so there are certain things about Ban.do that really don’t translate into a lot of other businesses. So the hope is that if you start a dialogue, in 10 years, you can easily take a ‘Mental Health Day’ and it won’t impact your job.”

10. Nancy Lublin, CEO and founder of Crisis Text Line

“I don’t think of myself as a mental health activist. I think of myself as a national health activist.”

Eleven Women Share Advice for Staying Friends with Exes

Parting ways with a significant other is like losing your best friend. You spend the entirety of your relationship sharing interests, dislikes, and secrets with one another. They’re the first person you want to vent to about how someone in the office totally threw out your leftovers without asking. And when you discover the latest trendy city hotspot, they’re who you want to go with.

That all changes when you’re no longer together. Your built-in best friend is gone. You start having to do a lot of things solo or reconnecting and rebuilding friendships that have been lukewarm since you got cuffed. This makes you desperately crave the comfort of that friendship with your ex.

But can exes really be friends? 11 Menders share their thoughts on staying friends with an ex.

Only if you don’t get triggered…

“I have always believed that love doesn’t necessarily go away once you are broken up…It will always be a little weird at first, and new boundaries need to be put in place, but I am still friends with some of my exes who I care deeply about as beautiful souls that I was lucky to cross paths with at some point on this adventure. If you find yourself stalking your ex on social media and getting triggered, then I highly suggest to stop following them. Only positive vibes.”

Rachelle Tratt, Creator of The Neshama Project & Yoga Teacher

It all banks on maturity…

“I think it depends on the maturity of both people. I do think it’s possible, though. I am very close friends with some of the people that I have dated. Then there are some I just don’t keep in touch with, while there are a couple in which there was a friendship but when they came into a new romantic relationship their partner wasn’t comfortable with the friendship so it became distant. That definitely sucks.”

Mary Shenouda, Founder of Phat Fudge

Not when the breakup was one-sided…

“This is hard. I would love to say that yes, exes can be friends, but unless it was really amicable and both people were really done, that is really hard for people to do because it is typically one-sided. Especially if you want to move on and you want your next partner to feel comfortable, because that invested time you have in the other person and that closeness with them doesn’t really go away. You can not talk to someone for 10 years, but you knew so much about them that it is definitely not just a friendship. I don’t think it’s possible, but who knows.”

Éva Goicochea, Founder of Maude

Some can be lifelong friends…

“I do think that some exes can be friends. I stay in touch with a few exes and I consider them lifelong friends. I still even talk to the brother of an ex. He’s like a little brother to me and I love him.”

Aurielle Sayeh, Writer & DJ

It’s not worth the problems…

“Honestly, it really depends on the situation. Every once in a while it can work, but I’ve seen it cause more problems than it’s often worth.”

Daniela Tempesta, Therapist

It’s definitely possible…

“I’m friends with my first ex. Just him. I saw him last week and he’s still with the girl he broke up with me for. Apparently, they’re doing fine, and I’m happy for them. I still give him shit for dumping me when we hang out. Having an intimate relationship with someone and then backpedaling from there is weird and hard, but definitely possible.”

Lena Fayre, Singer

Sometimes it’s too soon…

“There is definitely a “too soon” zone, and I recently found myself in one such zone. On a recent trip to New York, I was excited to visit with an ex from last year, thinking we would have a great time as friends since we had so much in common when it came to music and food. We both seemed happy with our current situations, so I assumed that it would be a natural meeting of two old friends, which we never really were. What I neglected to realize is that a year is pretty recent when you’re talking about a healing timeline. It was a really awkward visit. He was nice and took me to a café he thought I’d like, showed me his favorite kitschy bar and we ate 99 cent pizza. During the latter two outings, we were accompanied by his roommate, which eased the tension, but the time we spent alone was filled with a palpable awkward strain that, if it had a voice, would say, ‘Why are you doing this to yourselves? You don’t know how to treat each other.'” “Needless to say, it was a mistake, one that I was surprised I made. Aren’t we supposed to be a little wiser in our late twenties? Not sages by any means, but at least wise to obviously damaging traps that are sure to be a one-way ticket to Bummersville? Usually, I would beat myself up for a misstep like that, but this time I chose right away to forgive myself. I guess we’re always learning. If wisdom hasn’t entirely arrived in my late twenties, I’ll settle for a readiness to forgive.”

Vanessa Labi, Style Blogger on Babesicle

Only when your feelings are neutral…

“I think it depends how long you’ve been with the person. You just have to let enough time pass. I think it can be problematic if you’re still single and you’re searching. As long as you’re at a neutral place inside.”

Patricia Echeverria, Founder of Creative Futures

Romantic history doesn’t just disappear…

“You know, I’ve tried. I’m on amicable terms with a most of my exes, and even better terms with their families…it’s funny how that works out. But you can’t erase that shared romantic history. I think that makes it hard to get back to a true, honest, hang-up free friendship.”

Juliana Richer, Musician

There’s a difference between friends and friend-ly…

“I think exes can be friend-ly… and generally it’s a good idea to get or at least feel on good terms to heal. Can they be friends? Only if one is not really giving someone new a chance, or if you never really developed feelings for them in the first place. But if it was a real partnership, no – out of respect for the new potential partner. It’s hard to compete with months or years of intimacy. It’s hard to see those inside jokes and that closeness your partner still has with someone they loved, but maybe that’s just me. I personally can and like to catch up every once in a while with an ex, but bottom line is I want them to be happy, and that means me getting out of the way and letting go of wanting them in my life so that I can grow something with someone else, and they can too. It’s important to leave an empty space in your heart and life, trusting it’s making room for something better.”

Leanne Mai-ly, Founder of VAUTE

Long-Distance LGBTQ Love In Kevin Tyler Norman’s Book ‘Shelter’

“Shelter” is a poetry book that follows the rise and fall of author Kevin Tyler Norman’s passionate, long-distance romance. Kevin takes us through his process of falling in love, having that love shattered by infidelity, and mending the pieces of his broken heart. It’s gripping in a way our Menders can relate to more than most. A must-read for everyone going through heartbreak, the poems remind you that mending is messy, raw, and anything but a straight line, and yet it is still universal. Heartbreak is so unstructured yet everyone experiences similar things. Kevin puts into words feelings we can hardly even form into thoughts. As you read, you’ll find yourself processing his story in terms of your own, using his poetry to make sense of your own mind.

Kevin, a young man from Burbank, fell in love with a man who lives in Australia, and yet the way he wrote about it makes you forget about both distance and sexual orientation, it’s simply a love story. Long-distance relationships can be incredibly uncertain. Though insecure and anxious about it, Kevin was certain the distance between them was only a matter of intimacy, not miles. He was certain this love would last, only to come to find out his love interest loved two people, leaving him absolutely broken. Walk with Kevin on his mending journey to see how he mended and how to find shelter in the body that you are given.

I imagine the book is called “Shelter” because it is about how love makes us build shelters in crazy places, like within the love or even merely the arms of someone else, and how heartbreak forces us to leave and seek out a new shelter within ourselves. To me, this book is largely about coming home to yourself, after making a home out of another human being. Mending is about giving your love, your soul, your heart and your musings a shelter inside of you, finding this home, and filling it with love and peace that build your self-esteem until you are able to treat your self and your body as a sanctuary and demand the same of anyone who wants in.

Definitely journal in the margins as important thoughts surface and feelings begin to make sense. It’s important to not only read but also reflect because reflection is a prerequisite to transformation. We hope Kevin’s beautiful poetry helps you find shelter in yourself while you mend.

Why Single Young Adults Aren’t Getting Married

A recent article from Axios titled “The new rite of passage: Young, busy, and still single” shows that young adults throughout the world are delaying marriage and children. According to this research, the percentage of adults who have never married has been steadily increasing since around the year 2000, and people are getting married and becoming parents later in life.

There are several factors contributing to this trend:

People are marrying for different reasons now (love) than they did in the past (economic)

As we discussed in “What Drives People to Marriage”, people want to fall in love and then get married. The financial support that marriage offers used to be a necessity for women and love was a luxury, but as women have become more educated, joined the workforce and become financially independent, marriage isn’t necessary anymore. This gives people the chance to really fall in love. They don’t want to settle for a marriage of convenience anymore.

Marriage feels like an inconvenience to many people

In fact, it’s almost like the idea of marriage itself has become an inconvenience. You have to sacrifice a lot of things and make a lot of compromises, and the data shows us that people would prefer to not compromise on things like building their career, finding financial stability, finishing their education, or making a life in a new town. People are choosing to do these things independently, even if it delays marriage. Once they have all of this figured out, they’re more ready for marriage. Samantha Fishbein, co-founder of Betches, told Axios “many people are choosing to settle down after they have…their life in check.”

There are more choices, coupled with less pressure to choose

The cultural pressure to get married and have kids isn’t so strong anymore, which likely contributes to us being single longer. Dating sites set out to help our dating lives. Actually, one-third of all new marriages between 2005-2012 began online. Dating apps, which seem more millennial-friendly, have tripled in revenue in the past couple years. However people choose to start dating, whether online or offline, the possibilities seem endless. With so many people to choose from, we expect to fall in love and know everything about a person before getting married. Maybe this is so we don’t make a mistake we’ll later regret, or maybe it’s to minimize the chances of divorce, or maybe it’s just because we want the best kind of love out there for us and are willing to wait until we find it.

With all of these changes, it’s no surprise that the traditional markers of adulthood are changing. The average age that a mother had her first child in 2017 was 26, and in 1980 it was 22. The average age when a woman got married in 2017 was 27, compared to 22 in 1980.

Ultimately, we all want different things and make different choices. And while it’s interesting to see the trends, there’s no reason to subject our lives to society’s timeline. After all, we’re people, not analytical trends!

How Neuroscience Can Help You Fall Out of Love

Dessa is a musician with a self-proclaimed “professional niche in romantic devastation.” What this means is that she’s particularly skilled in writing depressing love songs, which is what she did for nearly a decade. She was ashamed to admit, however, that all of these songs were about that same guy. So what does one do when you can’t figure out how to unlove someone after so many years of heartbreak? Well, you hire a team of neuroscientists of course!

In this amazing TEDTalk, Dessa describes how she set out on a quest, inspired by another TEDTalk led by Helen Fisher, to map the exact coordinates where love lives in her brain and eradicate it. With the help of some neuroscientists and incredible technology, they pinpointed her love for this man to a single mark, which she, like an assassin, was on a mission to annihilate. To do this, they used neural feedback to resurface benevolent feelings, like respect and understanding, and get rid of negative ones, like fixation and jealousy.

Listen to this incredible process that, by the end, had the scientist saying: “Dude A’s dominance of your brain seems to have essentially been eradicated, I think this is the desired result, yes?” Yes! Dessa’s mesmerizing way of storytelling will keep you hooked.

On The Mend Episode 4 Featuring Jerico Mandybur

In our newest episode of On The Mend, Elle sat down with Jerico Mandybur, award-winning author, coach, and former Editorial Director of Girlboss. They discuss the importance of taking care of yourself in the limbo period of your twenties to find what works for you and what doesn’t, particularly in terms of self care. Jerico teaches us about a self care practice she found really works for her, Reiki. She describes it as a sort of magical transfer of energy for calming and healing. Elle also has experience with Reiki, so definitely listen in to learn more about it!

The two also chat about Jerico’s move from Australia to LA, her interest in spells, magic, and tarot cards, and how she built resilience from homesickness when she left her home country to start a new life. You can listen to the episode on Podcasts or Soundcloud. If you like it, be sure to share it with a friend and subscribe to get future episodes!

What’s An Aftershock Breakup?

An aftershock breakup is like a post-breakup breakup, or a re-breakup if you will. It’s what might happen if you or your partner reach out to discuss the breakup months later. It usually means someone is still emotionally attached and might be trying to get back together, find non-existent closure, or just see where they stand if you’ve kept contact and boundaries are vague. Whatever the reason, you find yourself essentially going through the breakup again, and it’s difficult for both people.

If you’re the person that’s thinking about initiating a discussion about the breakup:

Sometimes you really don’t know where you stand, or you really can’t get over them, or you really don’t get why and you wonder about it so often it becomes debilitating. You might feel like you need to have this conversation and I’m glad you’re listening to yourself. If you really think this is going to help with your mending process, I’m not going to tell you not to do it. But think carefully. What’s your goal here? Are you holding out hope of getting back together, or do you want a better understanding of why the breakup needed to happen?

You probably still have feelings for your ex, and you hope they do too. But let’s break this down. Either they do have feelings for you or they don’t. If they don’t, it will be hard to hear and you will have to deal with the aftershock, wondering why they don’t, or how they could have possibly gotten over you so quickly while you’re still hanging on. It’ll be hard, and you’ll basically have to start your mending process all over again.

If they do, and yet they haven’t already contacted you about a reunion, they will probably stand by whatever reason they gave for breaking up with you in the first place. It’s possible to have feelings for someone and still know that it won’t work. So, even in this scenario, you are basically going to redo your breakup and it’s going to be painful.

If you go into the conversation wanting closure rather than a reunion, it’s going to hurt. “Closure” really just means you are not ready to let go, and that’s something that happens within yourself, not something that an ex can provide for you. Sure, you might get your questions answered and finally make sense of all the little details, but it’s doubtful your ex will actually give you any new information that you weren’t already suspecting. Closure shouldn’t mean getting them to say what you already know but in words that you want to hear. If the breakup was because they said they were feeling emotionally unavailable or distant, do you really need them to reword that to “I just lost feelings for you”? That would not make you feel better. It’s going to hurt, and there’s really no point because closure happens from within. Instead, analyze what you’re missing that you used to get from them.

If you’re the person that’s summoned into this conversation:

Whether or not you’ve moved on, having this conversation will force you to revisit old feelings. It might feel like you have to break up with them again, which will suck if you’ve already mended through the breakup and have finally felt better. If your ex tries to have this conversation with you and you haven’t fully processed your emotions, it might make you curious about the idea of a reunion. If you genuinely want to, go for it, but don’t let them pressure you into it after you’ve worked so hard to finally be okay without them.

Having this conversation is definitely going to complicate things, and you can refuse to talk about it if you choose. You do not owe your partner an explanation, as doing so can set you both back. It also might pressure you into doing or saying things you don’t want to do or say, or don’t really mean. It might pressure you to console your ex, but you are under no obligation to. You have to look out for you and your future, while also keeping in mind how certain words or actions might give them hope. But hope of getting back together is the last thing they need right now if you know it’s not what you want. Be honest and blunt about your feelings and expectations right now, and don’t give them hope for a future when the “time is right”, because that is unfair to both of you.

How Breakup Cliches Miss The Mark

At Mend, we’re constantly reading stories about heartbreak, listening to how you mend, and paying attention to all the advice out there on how to recover from a breakup. We know that after a while, it’s hard to tell what’s cliche and what needs to be said, which is why our Facebook group for Menders is such a special part of our community. We know what the cliches are, and it’s a space where we can avoid them. Sometimes cliches are genuinely helpful, and sometimes the people trying to help miss the mark completely.

“Just get over it.”

Thank you so much for this groundbreaking expert advice! Why didn’t we think of that? Sarcasm aside, this is terrible advice and a very unfortunate cliche. Clearly, if we could “just get over it,” we would. This is a pretty insensitive thing to say, and don’t be afraid to tell that to the person who offers that tip. There is no magic pill, but our blog post “How to Get Over Your Ex” is a good place to start. Also, check out Elle’s post-breakup tips in The Chalkboard Mag, “I’ve Been Through Nine Breakups, Here’s What I’ve Learned.”

“Time heals all wounds.”

What a brand new concept! If we had a minute for every time we’ve heard this one, maybe enough time will have passed to finally get over the breakup. Right? Apparently, that’s how it works, according to everyone. In reality, time does not heal all wounds. If you take away everything that helps you recover and only leave time, you will definitely not recover. Mending is absolutely not a passive process that only takes time, it takes a whole lot of action. Action takes time, so in that sense, yes, it takes time to heal. Time itself, however, does not do the healing.

“Love yourself first.”

We already do love ourselves, thank you very much. We also happened to love this other person and are having a difficult time learning how to stop loving them. Loving ourselves doesn’t magically make the love we have for someone else go away. We know this cliche essentially means that you should not rely on love from other people to make you feel whole, but rather, love within yourself should make you feel whole. While that is absolutely true, this cliche offers no practical tips on what loving yourself actually means or looks like, or why it’s necessary. Simply telling someone to love themselves will make a confident person roll their eyes and an insecure person even more insecure.

“If it’s meant to be it will be.”

The implication with this cliche is that you need time apart “right now” to “work on yourselves” but in the end “if it’s meant to be it will be.” While this cliche may be true, it’s essentially telling us that it’s okay to hold on to hope for a future reunion because maybe they will come back. This is super unhealthy. It is nearly impossible to mend while also holding on to the hope of getting back together.

“I never liked them anyway.”

While this cliche is meant to be funny or lighthearted, it just makes us want to defend our ex, which means we have to think about all the amazing qualities our ex did have. One of the many perks of seeing a therapist is that they can’t insert their opinions on your ex because they never met!

“Focus on yourself.”

Similar to the “do self care” cliche, this is perhaps the only helpful one. This heartbreak is a time for reflection, growth, and transformation and those all occur within yourself. So, focus inward. You will learn more about yourself every day if you keep a journal and learn to process your thoughts and emotions. Figure out who you are without your ex, what you like, what you don’t like, try new things, meet new people, journal, exercise, meditate, find a hobby, read. What a wonderful time to explore your own mind! Here are 22 tips on how to practice self care.

Sometimes we don’t actually want advice, we just want our thoughts to form verbal words. Check out How to Comfort a Friend Who’s Heartbroken. It’s important to tell your loved ones what you need: advice, a listening ear, opinions, or other. They mean the best.

Research Shows Why People Get Married

Pew Research conducted a survey to find out why people get married. The top reasons include love, commitment, and companionship. They provided the statistics, and we’re here to explain them.

The number one reason people cited for getting married is love (88%). While this may seem obvious, this actually hasn’t always been the case! In fact, love has only recently become viewed as an essential prerequisite to marriage. Many couples throughout history have loved each other but that was not the primary reason to get married. Nowadays, we fall in love and then get married. Throughout history though, love was just a bonus, and if it occurred at all, it was typically after getting married. Marriage was always kind of a trade deal. You help me with my finances, I help you raise your kids. You provide a house for me, I provide support for you, etc.. If love happened, wonderful! But that wasn’t the objective.

In recent years though, love is at the forefront. The dating pool has increased, more women are financially independent, and technology has changed the scope of who we can communicate with and how. Since there are so many potential partners out there, a trade deal isn’t going to cut it. There are more requirements than just being a good provider or a good parent. We want to choose the best person for us, the person who makes us feel on top of the world, and we are not willing to settle for anything less. If we are going to spend our entire lives with someone, we expect them to make us feel passion and fulfillment.

Behind love, Pew Research stated that a lifelong commitment is the second most cited reason for marriage and 76% of people want companionship, putting it in third place. These can be hard to differentiate in terms of marriage, but to understand, think about the fear of commitment. Maybe you’ve dated someone who just “wasn’t looking for a relationship right now,” and so begins the millennial’s non-relationship relationship. It’s companionship, without commitment. But lots of people, 81% of people surveyed to be exact, really want a lifelong commitment. They don’t want to have to wonder where they stand with someone. They don’t want to be alone, and they don’t want to keep dating around. And they don’t even need to be in love in order to be committed. They just want to have stability and promises and someone to rely on, someone to grow with forever, someone to challenge them. They want someone to share life with and all the stressors that are less stressful with another person.

Companionship is different. Companionship is more about liking someone and the intimacy that comes from it. In this case, it is because we enjoy their company that we want to be married to them. We don’t necessarily have to love someone to like them. We just want to enjoy their company forever. In a committed marriage, companionship is what keeps two partners together. Romantic, passionate love will fade, but it will turn into companionate love: being best friends with a partner.

Without even intending to, we have just discussed the triangular theory of love! On three sides of a triangle are passionate love, companionship, and commitment. Altogether, they bring consummate love. But marriages always have pitfalls where one or two may exist without the others. Here’s some love math for your life:

Passion + companionship = romantic love

Companionship + commitment = friend love

Commitment + passion = fatuous love (think, love at first sight or moving “too fast”)

Check out the super helpful graphic at the end of this article (and read more about the triangular theory of love by Dr. Robert Sternberg of Yale University. Really interesting stuff!).

Since these are the three components that make up consummate love, it’s no coincidence that they coincide with the three components that drive people to marriage.

Dealing With Heartbreak While Starting A New Job

Making a major life change that coincides with a heartbreak, another major life change, can either be a great monument for you to focus your energy on or, it can strip away all sense of stability and leave you feeling so, so lost. We’ll discuss some pros and cons and how to deal with them.

Focus On The Positive Side

The biggest perk of starting a new job is all the doors that it opens to bring newness into your life. You will meet new people, learn new tasks, take on new projects, and start a whole new work routine. This can be amazing for your mending process! It is so great to have something new that you can focus a lot of your energy on. If you use the app or follow our podcasts, Love is Like a Plant or On the Mend, you may already be familiar with Mend monuments. Mend monuments are a project or process that help you to grow as you mend, such as a new job. Jobs take up so much of our energy, and it is an awesome feeling when you can look back on how much the energy has helped you grow in your job and how that growth has helped your personal life and mending process! It brings so many new things to set your mind on, new relationships, new objectives, new challenges, and newfound transformation.

Be Honest With Your Feelings

However, starting a new job after a breakup can be very detrimental if you do not find it fulfilling, do not feel challenged, or feel as though you have lost all sense of consistency or stability. The biggest downfall of starting a new job is the same as the biggest perk: all the newness that it brings. You may miss your old friends, your old city, your old job, your old problems, and your old work routine. It can feel extremely isolating during a breakup because while you are going through all the motions of this new job, not only can you not talk to your ex about it, but you have also lost the coworkers you have established a relationship with. If you have some healthy relationships with other people, this may not seem like such a big deal for you. But as you know, relationships have a way of ostracizing us from our friends and family, and these relationships can be hard to reestablish after a breakup, so many people will not feel comfortable calling their old friends and family to discuss your feelings and experiences about the new job. This can feel so lonely.

Establish New Connections

In order to combat that, you’re really going to have to put a lot of effort into establishing new connections. Your new coworkers are a great place to start, but that may not be a great option for everyone. If you have tried connecting with them and simply, just can’t, well it is time to get involved in the community. This article highlights a couple of ways that can be done, such as starting a new hobby or volunteering. If you already go to church that can be a great place to build community, or if you already love to hike, find some hiking trips to go on through a gym or online group. Building a support system can be so difficult when it feels like you are starting from scratch, with a new job and no more significant other to go to these things with you. It is so worth it to put yourself out there because it’s important to have people to talk to.

Tip: If you are shy, try striking up a conversation in small ways as often as you can. This can be done with a brief compliment on the elevator or asking to pet someone’s dog on the street or asking an employee for recommendations. This will build up more and more confidence to strike up a conversation with people you actually want to be friends with!

If You Don’t Feel Challenged

New jobs that do not challenge us will start to get old very quickly. When the routine only really takes a week to get used to, work will start to feel mundane again and as you get used to the work, your mind will start to wander, often to your breakup. In fact, if your job doesn’t require a lot of mental energy, you will likely focus most of your energy on thinking about your breakup while you perform your tasks and it can begin to feel like you can’t escape this breakup.

Try Productivity Games

To combat this, you can try to play productivity games with yourself. How much can you accomplish in one hour? Or you can focus on the details of your work, trying to learn as much as possible about it. Or, you can simply listen to podcasts or music to get your mind off of it. While it is good to allow yourself to feel the pain of a breakup, it can become extremely overwhelming if that’s all you do all day, every day, at work and at home, so make sure you set boundaries around how long you will let yourself wallow. Maybe you can refuse to let yourself wallow in the workplace, in which case, these distractions will be your best friend.

Remember You Have Options

If your new job isn’t working for you, there is only so much time you can spend hoping it will get better. It may take a while before you realize how much this new job regressed all of your progress in mending. We so desperately want new things to work, but sometimes they just don’t no matter how long we wait for them to. Many people find that new jobs are tremendous ways to mend, but sometimes, you have to try a couple before you find the one for you. But it’s out there, don’t worry! Just keep trying!

The Pain of Heartbreak Won’t Go Away Unless It’s Felt

Pain that comes from heartbreak comes with so much emptiness and intensity, and we have the choice to let it damage us or make us stronger, but either way, the pain demands to be felt. It’s like our hearts are enduring a very difficult workout. Nothing about it is easy. Workouts never are. They are painful but we push through and exercise to become healthier, stronger human beings. But as with any exercise, this pain has the potential to damage us if we don’t use proper form and technique.

In her mend story, Carilyn P. described her heartbreak pain, writing: “‘Sister Miriam, everything hurts: my brain, my body, my heart—my whole being!’ She paused, then said, ‘That’s because you loved with your whole being.’”

When we love someone with everything we have, everything we have hurts. It means everything we have is going through the mending exercise with us. Not only will our hearts get stronger, but also our bodies and our brains, unless we choose to be damaged instead. Either way, the pain demands to be felt.

People approach the pain in very different ways. Some may try to distract themselves so they don’t focus on it, some may pretend it doesn’t exist, and some may face it head-on. Many people will try to keep busy with obligations and commitments to get their mind off of the breakup, which is only helpful to an extent. While it is certainly good to try new things, get out there, and start living again, the purpose of this shouldn’t be to overload your schedule with obligations in order to not face the pain. The fact of the matter is that even if you distract yourself or lie to yourself about it, at the end of the day, literally, when you are in bed with nothing to distract you from being alone in silence with your thoughts, it will slap you in the face to give you a hard wake up call, because it demands to be felt. Constantly distracting or deceiving yourself is merely prolonging the pain, because the truth will always reveal itself loud and clear when you’re alone and in silence.

Be honest about the pain that you feel. It will not go away until it has been properly felt because it is there to make you stronger and if you don’t let it, then it will damage you. The pain must be felt in order for you to move on. So, how do you feel it in a healthy way?

Basking in your pain can be done either in a productive way or a non-productive way. It’s productive if you focus on reflection, purging, or growth. When you’re hurting, you’re allowed to feel sad and let yourself cry, but you’re discouraged from essentially forcing yourself to hurt and cry. This means that you’re going to wake up in the morning crying some days and that’s extremely healthy. Get it out, because that pain demands to be felt. However, much of the pain we feel is self-inflicted, for example:

1. Having hypothetical conversations with your ex or others about how it should have gone and what you should have said or done.
2. Thinking about what went wrong and why and how come you were not enough.
3. Stalking an ex’s social media and getting sad.
4. Reviewing old photos and text messages reminiscing on the good times and bad times you wish you could redo.
5. Holding onto things they gave us, which unfortunately includes the really good memories.

You see, these are all things we can avoid. These are all unnecessary pains that damage us rather than make us stronger. We have the power to not ruminate over these things. A general guideline is that rumination is wallowing that goes too far. Wallowing is good, healthy, productive, even. But rumination is the opposite. It is merely a way for us to prolong the pain by thinking too long and too hard about our heartbreak.

Wallowing is productive. Wallowing is allowing yourself to feel the pain that demands to be felt in a healthy way that makes you stronger. It is crying when you need to cry, seeking comfort in ice cream or friends or movies or all of the above. But when you continue to find reasons to cry, when you specifically pursue thought processes you know are damaging, is when you’re letting it go too far. That would be rumination.

“Suffering is the fire that refines the gold that is your character.” – Matthew Kelly

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between productive pain and non-productive pain but we hope this helps you to understand how to make the pain less damaging and more transformative. Mending is a very hard process but you will come out of it stronger. As Elle mentioned in this article about what she learned from 9 breakups, set boundaries on your wallowing time, such as a specific day or time frame. Allow your emotions to let you grow. This can’t be done if you are denying they exist or distracting yourself with a million obligations to hide the pain. The pain must be felt.

This Episode of “The Why Factor” Explains Heartbreak Syndrome

Heartbreak is not in your mind. It’s not merely a societal mirage for hit songs and blockbuster movies to bank on agony. It is a very real, visceral sensation that is felt in the chest, stomach, and shoulders. We’re familiar with the addiction-like psychology of heartbreak. What about the cardiology? A cardiologist, neuroscientist, relationship counselor, and life coach discuss the science of heartbreak and the irrational things it makes us do in this episode of “The Why Factor.”

“My heart felt like someone was physically holding it, squeezing it, and wouldn’t let go. [It] was literally making my physical body tired….I would just lay there and just cry, and cry and cry and cry.”

The Effects Of Heartbreak

When heartbroken, just as an addict longs for their fix, we do things we wouldn’t normally do out of sheer desperation to get our drug. We resolve to a state of begging. We spend hours reviewing old pictures and messages, stalking social media, replaying and replaying all the words said in good times and bad, and sending pages of texts. We are obsessed. We are literally driven by compulsions to get what little fragments we can of our ex, through visions of memories, pictures on phones, and glances at their car in front of their driveway. These senses of hope, hope that we’ll see them again, talk to them, be involved in their life again, be an object of their desire again, these give us a fleeting remnant of relief from the cravings we are having for an ex. We do this not to feel good, but to feel better – anything to relieve the pain of not having what we so desperately need. The same thing happens with drug addicts. They stop using their poison for a high, and start using it just for survival, just because they can’t bear to live without it.

A Cardiologist Explains Heartbreak Syndrome

Cardiologist Judith Goldfinger defines “heartbreak syndrome” in this episode of “The Why Factor.” It is a temporary heart condition with the signs and symptoms of a heart attack: chest pain, irregular pumping, and yet completely normal arteries. The only explanation for this combination is “takotsubo cardiomyopathy,” otherwise known as “heartbreak syndrome.” It is a dysfunction of the heart that has nothing to do with blood supply, but rather, abnormal beating. It is associated with heartbreak because, in 75% of cases, there is a trigger like the death of a child or partner or end of a close relationship. When one life partner dies, there is an increased risk of death for the other partner within the next six months. However, the majority of people recover from the syndrome with time.

Isn’t it extraordinary that heartbreak has the potential to actually change the beat of the heart? You can listen to the entire episode to learn more about how heartbreak shapes our lives, helps us to relate to others, and how to focus on healing in a healthy way.

When You Have A Trip Planned Together, And They Break Up with You

When you are searching for the best airline prices, finding an Airbnb, and planning a rough itinerary with your special someone, one thing you leave out is plans for a breakup. When they cancel your relationship, does that cancel your plans? You’ve already got tickets. You can’t get a refund. You didn’t buy the insurance to cover unexpected breakups. So, what now?

Option One: Go alone!

Countless books have been written about solo travel after a breakup. “Eat, Pray, Love,” anyone? I moved to Ireland after mine, and it completely transformed my heart. While long-term trips are a very different story than short-term, they will both lead to growth. Even merely deciding to go and planning out what you will do will bring some much-needed hope and excitement.

On short-term trips, you don’t settle into a routine long enough to come face-to-face with your soul for an extended period of time, as you would on a long-term trip. Rather, short-term trips get your mind off of all the heavy stuff. Short-term trips are a vacation, a distraction. They’re supposed to be fun! Have fun on your solo short-term trip, and get to know the culture that surrounds you, and get to know yourself while you’re at it. Spending time with yourself doesn’t always have to be a deep, brooding soul search. It can be more like a date. Engage in the local activities, go to those beautiful markets, dance as often as you possibly can, and leave your heart wide open to take in this experience. Read these 10 reasons why you should travel after a breakup!

Option Two: Go with your ex?

Yikes. Bad idea. This will be a very complicated and messy state of affairs that puts you into a state of limbo. Chances are, the breakup was not mutual. So going on a trip together will probably mean one person is trying to get back together while the other is emotionally unavailable. This might lead to using each other, one for pleasure, the other for emotional validation. No one really gets what they want in this situation, unless what you want is to get hurt and leave with more questions than answers.

While I advise against going together at all, the only way this trip could possibly work is if the breakup was mutual and you are both over it. The most important thing you can possibly do in this scenario is to set boundaries. Under no circumstances should you be sleeping in the same bed, holding hands, or any other form of affection. This will just prolong the mending process. If one partner used to always pay for dates, make sure you’re not doing that on this trip. Make it clear that these are not dates. It can even help to discuss the breakup in this sort of situation but only do it if you’re sure you’ve detached emotionally.

If you both go on this trip together mutually wanting to get back together, that might happen, but it should be a red flag that the only way to get back together is by traveling. Traveling ignites emotions, passions, and behaviors that deviate from your day to day routine and this can present a false sense of closeness. If getting back together was really a good idea, you’d be going on this trip as a couple, not as two people who still have feelings for each other and don’t know what to expect or what boundaries to set.

Option Three: Have your ex sell and transfer the tickets to a friend or vice versa.

This is a bold move. It really says “forget you” in a unique and powerful way. It tells your ex that you couldn’t care less about them going on this trip, and that’s really incredibly liberating. You’re going to have so much fun with your friend! Or if you’re the one who decides to stay, take a coinciding trip to go explore a nearby town or be a tourist in your own city. Just make sure you are doing something stimulating so that you don’t get tempted to watch your ex’s IG stories. Maybe even leave your phone at home, and just use your friend’s if you need navigation.

Whatever you decide, remember that you’ll grow with who you go with, and if it’s an unhealthy dynamic, it may be an unhealthy growth. Yourself? Yes! Your friend? Yes! Your ex? Absolutely not.

How Divorce Affects Adult Children

When grandparents get divorced, it has an effect on the entire family. They are often seen as a fountain of support and wisdom, and the force that binds the family culture together. When they separate, it puts a lot of stress on their adult children, especially those with kids. But our older population is seeking freedom from lifestyles that no longer work for them, or never really did. While overall divorce rates have been decreasing corresponding with changes in marriage trends, “gray divorce,” divorce between couples aged 50 and older, is on the rise.

The Interdependence Theory

There is an algorithm called the Interdependence Theory, which states that someone will stay with their partner if the “outcomes” of their current relationship are higher than their “comparison level of alternatives,” which is the potential of a different lifestyle. Older women are used to having a low comparison level of alternatives due to financial reliance on the husband, limited opportunity in the workforce, and lack of alternative partners. However, recent years have opened up incredible opportunity and growth for women in the workplace, which gives older women an entirely new sense of financial freedom. This boosts their comparison level of alternatives. Online dating has also opened up new doors for both women and men with potential partners on the other side. This boosts their comparison level of alternatives as well. An increase in life expectancy has also contributed to couples wanting to leave a relationship that isn’t working for them.

How “Gray” Divorce Affects Adult Children

So now that their outcomes are falling behind their comparison level of alternatives, they are more willing to divorce. This article on Fatherly focuses on how gray divorce affects adult children. It states that while older women may be working, many are still left in a panic over finances because their husbands typically took care of their money, so the divorce comes with discovering financial problems they weren’t fully aware of. In addition, both parties are paying for the divorce and any attorneys while also working towards their retirement. Some adult children who still expect financial support from parents will now have to cover funding for things like tuition, weddings, and down payments on houses entirely on their own so that their divorced parents may individually take on the financial responsibilities they used to share. This may particularly cause stress with childcare. Grandparents are often a reliable and willing source of free childcare but they may not be able to babysit alone or with new work hours.

Increased Pressure On Adult Children

Financial assistance aside, adult children are also faced with the struggle of feeling they have to keep the family together. They have to go to two different houses for their kids to see their grandparents, which takes twice as much time out of their busy schedules. The pressures of orchestrating family gatherings may now rely on them. The divorcees may lean on their children for temporary housing or support, whether financial or emotional, which is particularly stressful for parents of infant children. This may lead to the adult children making decisions they otherwise wouldn’t have, such as sticking through their own bad marriage just to have a sense of stability, or not having children because their financial responsibilities are elsewhere.

Gray divorce is clearly an extremely stressful time for the whole family. Please read How to Comfort a Friend Who’s Heartbroken to comfort both the divorcees and their adult children. Also, consider breaking up the tension with a divorce party, which sheds light on growth, maturity, next steps, and why this divorce needed to happen. As always, make sure you are practicing self care throughout this incredibly stressful time.

What Happens In Our Brains When We Fantasize About Someone

I was once on an airplane where I spent the entire three hours talking to the professional Greek fútbol player next to me about love, religion, and dreams. We most certainly did exchange social media info and I absolutely did stalk him and fantasize about a life together. Would we live in America? Greece? Ireland (we were both on our way there for work)? Would we have a traditional Greek wedding? What language would our kids speak? What would be our first travel destination as a couple? Does he use Skype? Okay, okay, I got a bit carried away, but he was the first man I could see a future with since the breakup. The truth is, we all do it to some degree.

We fantasize about people we are particularly attracted to. When we meet them or even just see them from afar, we make judgments about what they must be like, wonder about their lives, find their Instagram and Facebook for visual aids, and then we use those visual aids, assumptions, and our own romantic ideals to imagine what life would be like with this person in it. The human mind is the perfect incubator for an ideal partner. Sometimes we forget they are just a figment of our imagination. We project this fantasy onto the person in front of us who looks like our new imaginary friend.

If you think it’s worth it to make the fantasy a reality and you have the courage to actually reach out to this person, well, you won’t exactly have an unbiased first date. Since we’ve already imagined a beautiful life, say, in Greece with a really big family and an endless bucket list, anything they say on the date that contradicts this fantasy is a threat to your potential relationship. Therefore, you try to rationalize, forgive, and stretch the reality so that maybe things will change, the person will change, and your fantasy can come true. This is not healthy.

The Role Of Mental Shortcuts

Our brains use “heuristics” to make sense of the world around us without having to interact with it, and they can be strongly influenced by what we are feeling in the moment. Heuristics are mental shortcuts that cause us to make immediate judgment decisions based on information we have previously learned about people, stereotypes, and the way the world works. These heuristics go haywire when browsing through social media or only taking tidbits from a conversation without fully listening and communicating. You see what you want to see and hear what you want to hear.

Confirmation Bias

Ultimately, these heuristics cause us to make cognitive biases such as the halo effect and confirmation bias. Using the halo effect, we take every unattractive thing someone we are interested in says or does and spin it in a positive way, because this person is attractive and therefore must be an angel, right, especially since you’ve already pictured getting married and having a big family? After fantasizing, we steer the conversation in a way that confirms our preconceived notions and assumptions, and then we only remember the info that validates our fantasy. That’s the confirmation bias.

“What do you mean you want to settle down? I thought we were going to be nomads together. I mean, I guess we can only go backpacking once a year. Compromise, right?”

Basically, your brain is doing all these things for you and it continues to jump to conclusions in order to make your life easier. But you can train it to jump to a better conclusion, one that always says “we’ll know more if we ask,” and a healthier fantasy, one of you two, on a first date, getting to know each other without any preconceived ideas that you expect them to live up to. You can tell your brain that you want to start getting to know people the hard way by not giving it any information to fantasize over.

The Power Of Listening

Don’t stalk their social media. Don’t ask friends for information. Let them tell you their story themselves, that way, when you listen, you will actually listen. You will not only be able to listen to them better, but you can listen to your instincts much better as well because you’re not trying to prove to yourself that this is the one. If you already had a date and still find yourself fantasizing, kind of like me, if you can call that airplane ride a date, it just means that you really do like this person. That’s beautiful! Just make sure to take it one step at a time. I should have thought about a real date first rather than a marriage.

Avoid Assumptions

Don’t assume that just because you know enough to have real feelings for someone that you actually know them. In fact, this is even more unhealthy than making assumptions about someone you don’t know and have no intention of talking to. When you assume things about someone you are actually dating or intending to date, they are affected by your judgments, too. They will be able to feel that you are looking at them through a certain lens and it can make them feel very misunderstood. I’ve been there. I felt like my ex expected me to always be the joyful, happy girl that I appear to be and I could feel his disappointment every time he realized that I’m not actually that girl. It broke my heart each time I couldn’t live up to his fantasy of me.

Save yourselves the drama. Make every effort to not assume anything about a person. The only conclusion you should be jumping to is that the only way to truly get to know someone is by communicating better, in real life, not in your imagination! Ask questions, listen to answers, and if something confuses you or rubs you the wrong way, don’t make excuses for them! It’s not fair to yourself or your partner to pretend they meant something else. So next time you catch yourself assuming things, remember: “I’ll know more if I ask!”

How to Stop Checking Your Ex’s Instagram

When you are mending after a breakup, it’s natural to wonder what your ex is up to. You used to know everything about them, and suddenly you have no idea what they are doing. It’s weird. Remember that your body is essentially recovering from addiction, and even a tiny dose of your drug (your ex) will cause you to relapse. When the forceful drive comes in all too strong, demanding that you check up on their social media, you have the power to say no. Social media stalking just prolongs your mending process. As long as you are checking up on your ex, even in the smallest ways, you are preventing yourself from mending your broken heart. So how do you stop?

Assess How You Used Social Media Before

1. The first step is to assess what you used each social media for in terms of your ex. If you tagged each other in memes on Instagram and funny videos on Facebook, one option is to have a designated substitute. This will likely be a close friend who you can tag instead of your ex. This won’t be a quick fix, you might still think about your ex for a second before you tag your friend, but eventually you’ll build a new habit. When you catch yourself browsing through something that makes you think of your ex, close the tab, and check a different website or read a book.

Bonus tip: It’s unlikely you’ll run into your ex on Pinterest, so it’s a great alternative if you are looking for visual stimuli!

Limit Your Exposure

2. The second step is to realize where you had the most contact with your ex and limit your exposure to that outlet. If your ex posted a lot on Facebook, you may want to mute them. In fact, Facebook has made breaking up with someone a whole lot easier. Essentially, you can make them invisible without unfriending them: tags in photos are removed, timeline posts will not include those from your ex, and you can even hide your updates and posts from your ex’s timeline. Of course, you can unfriend them too, that’s up to you! If you can’t help but view your ex’s stories on Instagram, it’s time to unfollow them. If you constantly check to see if your ex viewed your Snapchat story, it’s time to delete them. Deleting, unfriending, and unfollowing are cathartic ways of choosing self care over disappointment and anxiety.

Understand Your Triggers

3. The third step is to understand your triggers. Every time you get the urge to check your ex’s social media, ask yourself what just happened that made you want to do that? This will be easiest to do if you don’t check often. For me specifically, I know I get curious about my ex every time I anticipate having a conversation with a friend about the breakup. I will think about what I want to say beforehand, but this just leads to a downward spiral where I ultimately lose all my self-control and stalk every social media outlet. Thus, I have stopped thinking about what I want to say when I catch up with old friends, and instead, I let the topic of the breakup come up naturally, if at all.

Define A Replacement Activity

4. The fourth step is an important one: have a replacement activity! If you live in a perpetual state of wanting to check up on your ex, we’re not judging. Breaking an old habit requires a new one. Maybe you’re the opposite, maybe you never check up on your ex. I used to be that way, and my most important piece of advice would be: don’t start! If you ever get the urge to see what they are up to, nip it in the bud. The only way to do this is with a whole lot of self-control and a replacement activity. This replacement needs to become your default. As soon as you want to type their name into Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, close the app and go straight to Mend for your daily training or visit Do This Instead. Make it an instant reaction. Don’t think about it, just do it. Otherwise, you’ll end up typing in their name and getting lost in their tags from 2014. Don’t do it.

Do A Digital Detox

5. If you still find yourself checking up on your ex, step five is to do a digital detox. Block their number, unfriend, and unfollow on everything, delete all texts, and give yourself an incentive to maintain your no stalking streak.

Get Support

6. If you’ve unfollowed and unfriended your ex, you might still be checking up on them if they are public on everything. It may be time to take your digital detox up a notch. Uninstall social media from your phone and block these websites online using the SelfControl Mac app or Chrome plug-in. This is an extreme measure, but it is one that will reap so many benefits. Not only will it help you to move on, you’ll also feel more present by disconnecting from your social media entirely. Let it be a good thing, because it is!

Bonus tip: With the SelfControl app for Macs and Google Chrome, you can block your ex’s Facebook URL, Twitter URL, and Instagram URL without blocking those websites entirely. And it’s completely free!

We know breaking up with your ex’s social media is very hard. In some ways, it feels like you are losing the very last thing that kept the two of you connected. That’s all the more reason why it needs to be done. This facade of a connection keeps you stuck and prevents you from really moving forward with your life. Once you stop checking to see if they viewed your story or liked any new tweets, you will feel that last tie come loose, and it will set you free to focus on what really matters here: you.

What to Do When You See Your Ex on A Dating App

You’re swiping for a new love interest on a dating app when suddenly you see your ex. It almost feels just like bumping into your ex in person. You see them, your heart stops and then races and you can’t decide whether or not you want them to see you, but you know your trip to the market has just taken a very exciting turn. So, what do you do?

Scroll Through Or Swipe Left?

I, for one, am terrified of seeing my ex in person, but I would still be fascinated if I did see them. After you stop in your tracks and try to appear cool, calm, and collected, your natural instinct when you see your ex in person will probably be to watch them. What are they doing? Who are they with? Do they seem happy? Likewise, seeing your ex on a dating app is just as unexpected. It will take you by surprise, but don’t panic. Take deep breaths. Be cool. You’re going to want to check their profile, and that’s natural. In person, you can’t help but look at them. They are right there in front of you. On a dating app, however, it’s not that easy. Either you scroll through their profile, or you swipe left without a look. It’s a tough decision, and ultimately only something you can decide, but scrolling through your ex’s dating profile is something I would highly advise against.

I know I would want to see my ex’s profile, but the wounds are still so fresh, I doubt I can handle seeing him put himself out there on a dating app. I would pass because I know that I would overanalyze everything he wrote, compare myself to their ideal match, and wonder what kinds of people they’ve been connecting with. I would much prefer to keep swiping and focus on what kind of people I can connect with. This isn’t about your ex!

Curiosity Is Natural

No matter how long it has been since your breakup, it’s natural to be curious about what your ex is up to, but this curiosity prevents you from letting them go and moving on. Much like social media, checking your ex’s profile on a dating app would just be an excuse to get intel on them without actually talking to them. Don’t do it! Check out this article about how and why to do a digital detox of your ex. Whatever they post or write could just end up hurting you and causing more questions than answers. Practice self care by preventing yourself from letting this happen. And if you want to, reward yourself for maintaining no contact, which includes not checking up on them.

This isn’t about them, and swiping left past their name and face will feel liberating because it is! It’s a very tangible way of proving to yourself that you don’t care what they are up to. It means you’re one step closer to letting them go. So, when you see your ex on a dating site, don’t click on their profile. Instead, just keep swiping for a new potential partner and be proud of yourself for not checking up on your ex. I know it’s hard, but you’ll save yourself a lot of energy if you don’t peek at your ex’s dating profile.

What Tinder’s ‘Year in Swipe’ Reveals About Dating

Tinder has become one of the millennials’ go-to dating apps for so many reasons. It’s fun, functional, mindless, and it works! We all know someone who is dating someone they met on the app. My former roommate even got married to a guy she met on Tinder! The reason why it works is that it’s a screening device, not a dating site. On the app, pictures are the main attraction. You can only add so much information which keeps it surface level and light-hearted. On dating sites, you could argue that too much information gets lost in translation (literally!). Information overload causes idealization, unmet expectations, miscommunication, and misinterpretation on many levels. The thing about Tinder that we all love is that it’s more or less an “I’m attracted to you or not” list that you can swipe through in your sleep. It’s fast, it’s efficient, and it’s fun.

Tinder recently released their “Year in Swipe” where they reported worldwide trends on the app. Some are very random, some are very interesting, but mostly it’s just a fun analysis of how Tinder users like to communicate with each other. For example, the most used GIF in the US, UK, and Australia was the “Friends” How You Doin? GIF. The most used emoji was the laughing-crying one, which is honestly no surprise. That emoji is the new “lol” which is the new period.

You can check out the “Year in Swipe” here.

Tinder’s “Year in Swipe” reveals three key things about dating nowadays.

We’re all very similar, which opens up our dating pool.

“Adventurous, fun, The Office, *dog emoji*, pizza, Drake on repeat, hmu *wink emoji*”

Wait, did I just read your own Tinder bio back to you? Yes, but don’t feel too violated. “Fun” and “travel” are the top two most popular terms used in Tinder bios. The laughing-crying, wink, and dog emojis are the top three. Drake’s “In My Feelings” was the #1 anthem for every country in the world. Everyone also loves pizza, beer, The Office, Friends, and Game of Thrones.

Statistics show that you’re probably guilty of describing yourself the same way most other people on Tinder do. This information is quite fascinating, actually. It tells us just how like-minded millennials are on a surface level. Your personality and characteristics can be totally different from the guy next door, but odds are, you both like to travel, you both like dogs, and you both think those things are important enough to add to your Tinder bio.

Familiarity breeds reciprocity which is just a researcher’s way of saying having things in common causes us to like each other more. If you have pizza and Netflix written on your bio, you’ll want to talk to someone who also has it on theirs. This sort of info doesn’t reveal anything special about the person, but it does make them more likable to you. Even though they’re pretty universally adored things, you’ll end up connecting with people you wouldn’t have thought to swipe right on otherwise, just because they jot it down. More likely than not, you will find lots of people who have those interests, but rather than getting bored of repetition, it opens up your dating pool because keep in mind you will not find every person that likes Netflix and pizza to be physically attractive. So you can pass on this one, you’re bound to find an Office loving cutie soon.

We speak the same language, which isn’t English.

Not only do we describe ourselves the same way, but proper English is a thing of the past. Emojis, memes, gifs, acronyms, and slang words have become commonly accepted as a new form of communication. You don’t actually have to type any words in order to communicate because not only do emojis save us the typing energy, they allow us to express ourselves in ways that would be awkward to type. “You can’t see me right now, but I’m giving you a suggestive smirk,” said no one ever.

In addition to emoji use, Tinder users date other Tinder users that can understand their lingo. I guarantee you that Tinder USA’s Top Slang Terms make absolutely no sense to your parents. In fact, “deadass” is so important, Tinder decided to make it a Top 11 list rather than a Top 10. These are the “words” that made the cut:

HMU
Extra
Foodie
Lit
Low-key
Bae
Woke
Goat
Salty
Savage
Deadass

Men stan* a hard-working queen. (*Stan: a slang word meaning “to admire or idolize.” Tinder users know that.)

Potentially my favorite fact to come out of this compilation of information is that women with “engineer” in their bio get the most swipe rights. ”Scholar” and “doctor” also made the Top 5 list. Isn’t that awesome? Men seem to really admire intelligence and girls who work hard. This info tells us that men don’t find high-achieving girls intimidating at all. It’s something they are looking for in a date!

So there you have it. Who’s feeling ready to swipe?

Elle Talks Heartbreak History, Starting Mend, And More On ‘That’s What She Said’ Podcast

Get ready to get up close and personal with Elle in the most recent episode of “That’s What She Said,” a podcast by Therese Barbato where she has conversations with women about love.

When she recently joined “That’s What She Said” podcast as a guest, Elle got personal about her own background and current love life. In the episode, she talks about how she’s always been fascinated by people, opens up about her parents’ divorce, and even discusses the break up that started it all. The history and science that she cites answer interesting questions, like what coping mechanisms she used before building Mend, what coping mechanisms you need instead, and why older couples pass away in eerily close time proximity to each other.

In the second half of the conversation, Elle and Therese talk about whether or not to wallow after a breakup, the dangers of “sharking” (which means to always move forward and never look back), the birth of Mend, and how her own app actually helped her through a breakup earlier this year. If you’ve ever wondered why our culture likes to hide heartbreak, how to know when you’re in a peak relationship that helps you transcend into the best you, and what people have inspired Elle’s education on romance, this is for you.