Founder Jessica Semaan's Advice on Tinder Heartbreak, Dating + Passion



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Jessica is a poet and author of Child of the Moon. Previously, she helped people find and launch their passions through her company, The Passion Co., which helped people identify and start their passion projects. You can follow Jessica at @jessicasemaan.

HER FIRST HEARTBREAK 

“The first one was when I was 15 and it was my first boyfriend. He broke up with me. He just wasn’t answering my calls. I remember not being able to get out of bed for days. He literally ghosted me. My mom saved me - at that age you think it’s the end of life, the end of the world. I met up with him this year to ask him what happened, 15 years later, and he said that he found out I was talking to another guy. I wasn’t cheating, but I did go to a concert with another guy and didn’t tell him. Of course I had moved on, but it was closure because I was always wondering if something was wrong with me. I was making stories that linked to other stories.”

MOST RECENT HEARTBREAK 

“I wrote about it. I had written a New York Times Modern Love submission, but it didn’t get accepted, so I posted it on Medium. It was someone I met on Tinder. We weren’t really together. It was one of those things where we met and, while we lived in the same city, we were in different countries at that time. We built this love that was long distance, without meeting. He upped the ante by saying 'I love you, I want to be with you.' He checked a lot of the boxes and we were in similar circles. But then when we met, it felt cold and different. It was over."

MOST RECENT HEARTBREAK 

"What’s fascinating is it was more of a heartbreak than the three year relationship that had ended six months before that. Daniel Jones [the editor of Modern Love] has written about how technology has changed the way we connect. I don’t think it’s normal because people hide behind the computer. It’s not as vulnerable. It’s not as scary. The internet makes it easier for people to escape truth.”

THE EVOLUTION OF DATING 

“I think we must look at online dating as another way of meeting people versus as something that’s better than other things. It’s just a means to an end. The most important thing is not to spend a lot of time getting to know someone online. Make sure you meet with someone in person. That extreme supply that happens with online dating tends to work better for men than women in my experience. As a man, if you want to just hook up, you have such access. For women, if they want a relationship, they find themselves at times having to go the hookup route. Guys get more and more spoiled with choice. Many men still want to court women. I think that’s not happening as much, but it’s still engrained. A lot of men need to go through courting to fall in love, but sometimes as women we forget about that. We’re like, oh of course I’ll hook up with you and then we’ll figure it out. And then you wonder for a week after you’ve slept together about what’s happening. Obviously this is a generalization, and there are exceptions. Now I’m being more mindful if I want a relationship to put a boundary at the beginning.”

HEARTBREAK DAYS 

“During the breakup I was still at Airbnb and starting my own company. It was really difficult. You’re not technically sick, but you are bleeding. You can’t tell your boss you have a heartbreak and you want to take a few days off, but it hurts more than being physically sick.”

HOW SHE MENDED 

“I did three months of no dating. I realized that heartbreak caused me so much stress, in the sense of questioning. How could I fall in love with someone I don’t know? That meant I was missing something. So I read books on relationships, I hired a relationship coach, I really went all out. One of my favorite books is the The 7 Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. I also read If the Buddha Dated and If the Buddha Married. I also read Calling in the One. I’m such a geek on this topic. I’ve done a lot of research. I also read this great book called How to Be an Adult in Relationships. I saw the therapist that wrote it speak at Spirit Rock, a buddhist retreat center in California. I wrote a lot. Writing was my biggest healing tool. Everyday I journaled. This breakup got me so many pieces of writing (laughs).”

MODEL RELATIONSHIPS 

“I have some friends that have beautiful relationships. There is a lot of respect and care and joy and humor, which is something I came to appreciate more in this past month. A couple can create a dynamic where some things are taken lightly.”

HOW SHE STARTED HER COMPANY 

“I was in business school at Stanford. At 24, I was killing it on paper, yet I was feeling very depressed and unfulfilled and didn’t know what was wrong with my life. That led me to ask questions about what I was doing. It became clear I was living life to impress others and be validated by others. It wasn’t sustainable anymore. I had lost touch with myself. That journey of getting to know myself got me to ask what I love to do. One of the big things was writing. I decided to start a blog called Passion Stories, with stories of mainly women who are pursuing their passions. It took me a year to actually do it - we always procrastinate on the things that are good for us. But I met this photographer at Airbnb and she offered to do the photography for the interviews, so I was then actually forced to do the interviews (laughs). So I said, how can I take what I’m learning in these stories, so that beyond inspiration, it gives people the tools and structure to make a change? The biggest learning from the interviews was to start a passion project on the side. Most of the people I interviewed started that way. So The Passion Co started as workshops in my apartment, and we now have an official five week program, The Passion Program, in San Francisco that graduates 30-40 projects every other month. They range from a new beer brand to a blog on dating to a book on body image."

HER MANTRA
"Do what you love."