9 Things A Narcissist Won’t Let You Do

9 Things A Narcissist Won’t Let You Do

One of the biggest red flags that you may be in a relationship with a narcissist is that you have an ever growing list of things you aren’t allowed to do. Either because he has directly told you aren’t allowed to do those things, or because you doing those things always leads to an argument. There’s also a growing list of topics you can’t broach because you’re afraid of causing a fight. More and more you silence your thoughts and your needs, because it just isn’t worth the potential argument. But the list of things the narcissist won’t let you do is so long you inevitably slip up.

Being in a relationship with a narcissist is like living your life walking through a minefield. Any wrong move and everything could explode all around you. Your fight or flight response is always activated and you can’t even remember what relaxation or safety feels like. You are constantly exhausted, afraid to speak up, but you just can’t manage to leave the relationship.

If your partner doesn’t let you do any of the things on this list, either through direct order or through sabotage, that is a big red flag for a toxic relationship. If you have already left your narcissist or are in the process of leaving, keep reading! This article will help validate some of the weirder aspects of your experience. Validation is one of the most important elements of healing after narcissistic abuse.

Note: I use “He” to describe the narcissist in this article. This is just to make my life easier when writing. In reality, there are plenty of abusive narcissistic women in romantic relationships, gay or straight, and even in friendships. Don’t be put off by the gendered or even romantic language; this article can help you better understand all of the narcissists in your life.

1) Have Any Privacy

If you’ve been dating a narcissist, you probably know a thing or two about projection. Projection is when the narcissists accuses you of doing the exact thing they are actually doing. Most commonly in relationships, the narcissist will accuse you of cheating, when, in fact, they are the one who is having an affair. He will then become obsessively paranoid and jealous. The narcissist will go to incredible lengths to get access to you computer and cell phone. He will likely manipulate you into sharing all of your passwords with him, “I knew you were hiding something from me!” he’ll say if you refuse.

The narcissist will go through your phone, email, social media, journals, trash, work notes, absolutely anything to erode your sense of privacy and to maintain his sense of control. Whatever he finds he will punish you for and hold against you. A picture from Halloween three years ago with a male friend? “I knew you had sex with him. You’re such a liar! I forbid you from ever speaking to him again!” Compromising pictures? Gossip about a friend? Emails about your boss? He will forward them all to himself and threaten to release them if you ever try to break up with him. Of course, he’ll frame himself as a hero, claiming he just wants people to know the truth about who you really are.

breaking up with a narcissist

2) Find Career Success

The narcissist always needs to be the center of attention. As a child, he likely suffered neglect from his parents and their love was doled out based on his achievements. If he had siblings, his parents encouraged competition instead of bonding. When the narcissist sees you, or anyone else for that matter, receiving attention or success, his wounded inner child registers it as a threat to his ability to have his needs met. He will lash out at you accordingly. The narcissist will humiliate you in front of your colleagues, get too drunk at the Christmas party, have an affair with your coworker, sabotage you before deadlines, pretend to get sick right before you have a big meeting. He will do anything and everything to prevent you from finding success and fulfillment outside of your relationship.

3) Have Friends They Don’t Approve Of

Control is the name of the game for the narcissist and having people in your social circle he can’t control is a threat to his power. What if they identify his behavior and tell you to leave? It’s not a risk he is willing to take, so he will slowly start to wear down your friendships. He’ll talk badly about your friends to you and start ugly rumors about them. If you still insist on being friends despite the lies he’s told about them, he’ll say, “I can’t believe you would be friends with someone like that. I guess birds of a feather flock together!” Then he’ll threaten to break up with you. He’ll delete messages they sent you before you see them, then convince you they don’t actually care about you. He’ll throw a birthday party for you and only invite the friends he approves of and tell you your other friends never responded to his invite. In reality he never invited them. He may even threaten your friends if they don’t stay away from you. And wow, you can forget about having opposite sex friends. When you’re dating a narcissist, everyone in your inner circle becomes a target.

friends helping you leave a narcissist

4) Feel Confident

The narcissist’s control over you relies on your total lack of confidence and self worth. You may have entered the relationship a confident, secure woman, only to have your self worth slowly eroded through abuse, lies, and manipulation. Now, you’re a shell of your former self, afraid to voice your opinion, doubting yourself and your sanity, and allowing the narcissist to make all of your decisions, including what you eat and what you wear. Any time you find success, develop renewed confidence, or act like your old self, he has to shut it down. He will tell you how fat you are, that everyone thinks you’re a bitch, that all your friends talk shit about you behind your back, that you only got your job because your boss wants to sleep with you (and you led him on, of course).

He’ll tell any number of lies and invent any evidence needed to convince you that you are weak, pathetic, mental ill, unlovable, and unattractive. He wants you to believe that you need him around in order to function and that he is your only chance of finding true love. In reality, he is an energetic parasite sucking all of your life away. You were better off before you met him and you will be far better off when you are finally able to leave him.

5) Enjoy Intimacy With Family

Anyone the narcissist can’t control is a threat to him. Anyone who has influence over you is a rival to his influence. Anyone who you have established intimacy with is a threat to him having his needs met. So is it any surprise the narcissist doesn’t want you to be close with your family? In some cases, he will try to alienate you from your family entirely, similar to how he will handle your friends. Other times he will try to manipulate your family against you. Of course, this will all happen while he is playing the perfect boyfriend/husband/son-in-law. I’ve heard too many cases of a woman going to her family and saying, “I think I need to leave, Greg.” Only for their family to say, ” How can you say that?! He’s the perfect husband! Why would you want to break apart your perfect family?!”

“Perfect” is always the red flag. No one and no family is perfect. The narcissist creates the smoke screen of perfection to hide his abuse. If you try to leave him, he may turn to your family and manipulate them against you. He may try to convince them that you’re having a mental breakdown. He’ll accuse you of cheating, developing a drug problem, abuse, things which he himself is guilty of, not you (projection). He may even create and plant false evidence. He’ll become their knight is shining armor, swearing to save you. When your whole family is a party to the gaslighting, it’s almost impossible to actually leave the narcissist.

6) Lose Weight

Don’t get me wrong, he’ll tell you he wants you to lose weight. Right as you’re about to leave for a party or walk down the aisle at your sister’s wedding. He’ll take food out of your hands and humiliate you in front of your family on Thanksgiving. But when it comes down to your diet and exercise, he’ll sabotage it at every turn, bringing home treats you can’t resist, making you late for yoga, and refusing to let you go to the gym because there are too many “creepy guys there who just want to hit on you.”

Why? He doesn’t want you to have any success. He’s painfully jealous of every one of your accomplishments. He also doesn’t want any other man to notice you. He may even try to convince you to cut your hair, stop wearing make up, and dress more conservatively. But most importantly, he doesn’t want you to have any self worth. The stronger your sense of self, the weaker his grasp is on you. If you get too strong, too confident, too self assured, you might wake up to his tricks and leave him. Abandonment is his biggest fear.

losing weight after a breakup

7) See a Therapist

Again, the narcissist does not want you to have intimacy with anyone aside from him, this includes your therapist, heck, it even includes your doctor, your boss, your college professor. But why he really narrows in on your therapist, is because deep down he knows his behavior is wrong and that a professional will be able to spot it. The very last thing he wants is for a professional to call him out and help you to leave. The narcissist will do everything possible to stop you from going to therapy. He’ll pretend to be supportive and offer to take you out to lunch before your appointment, only to take you to a busy restaurant and get stuck in traffic on the way home so you end up missing your appointment. He’ll park outside your therapists office and beg you not to go in.

If your therapist is of the opposite sex (or same sex for same sex couples) he will try to convince you that your therapist is trying to sleep with you. He’ll try to convince you that your therapist has it out for him and just doesn’t understand the love you share. Actually, your therapist understands exactly the love you share, which is poisonous, and that is what he is afraid of.

The sad truth is that not all therapists will be able to see through his games and manipulation. If you opt for couples counseling, be wary of the ways he tries to manipulate your therapist. If you find that your therapist has become a party to the gaslighting (known as a flying monkey), leave immediately and find an abuse counselor. Most narcissist experts will tell you that Narcissistic Personality Disorder is almost impossible to treat and that narcissists never change, so don’t expect therapy to fix your relationship.

8) Go Out Without Them

He’ll bombard you with horrific stories of women being kidnapped, then install a tracking app on your phone so he always knows where you are. It’s for your own safety, he’ll tell you over and over. Don’t you see how much he cares about you? How could you go on that bachelorette trip to Cabo when you know he’ll be crazy with worry about you while you’re gone? Still plan on going? He’ll tell you a sob story about his abandonment issues. How could you leave him when he’s in this vulnerable state? He’ll even invent a beloved aunt who died while on vacation in Mexico. Don’t you have a heart? Really, you STILL plan on going?! He’ll feign sickness right before you leave and beg you to stay and take care of him. If you still go, he’ll break up with you just as you get to the airport, telling you how abusive and neglectful you are. He needs a REAL women, with a heart, who knows how to take care of a man. No man could ever love a heartless woman like you.

The truth is, the further you get from him, the more his grasp on you weakens. He also doesn’t like the idea of you being alone with other women who you may talk about your relationship with. Inevitably resulting in someone pointing out how dysfunctional and unsafe your relationships actually is. It’s common for narcissists to forbid their victims, ahem… girlfriends, from even speaking to other people about their relationship; he claims they’re too jealous of your relationship to trust. Actually, he doesn’t want anyone to see behind his smoke screen. He also knows that the less social support you have, the harder it is for you to leave him.

narcissists wont let you have friends

9) Escape

Ultimately, the narcissists biggest fear is that you will leave him. All of these tactics listed above all come down to him trying to prevent you from escaping his clutches. In order to leave, you are going to have to seek professional help from an abuse expert, set up safety precautions, and seriously educate yourself about the dangers of narcissistic abuse. Leaving the narcissist will likely be the hardest thing you ever do, but it will also be the best thing you ever do. And it might just save your sanity… and life. Check out my blogpost here on how to safely leave a narcissist.

Ready to start dating again? Working with a matchmaker is a safe, easy way to get back into the dating world. Join my free database here to be considered as a match for one of our clients, totally free to cost for you. 

The Anatomy of a F*ck Boy

The Anatomy of a F*ck Boy

Fuck Boys: Where the fear of intimacy meets the need for validation. 

As a matchmaker, and a woman, I have come across many so called “fuck boys.” But what is a fuck boy? My definition is “a man who craves your validation, but fears intimacy with you.” Some people describe a fuck boy as, “a guy who wants boyfriend privileges, but not boyfriend responsibilities.” In my opinion, the core of the fuck boy is the duality between his fear of intimacy and the validation he craves which can only be received from intimacy. That is why being with a fuck boy is so fucking confusing! But better understanding the fuck boy and what causes his fuck boyish ways will help you to avoid the emotional traps of the next fuck boy you encounter.

It’s important to know that the fuck boy’s fear of intimacy doesn’t begin or end with you. It isn’t even contained to his love life. He has likely created an entire lifestyle that allows for isolation. Maybe he is a workaholic or works remotely. Maybe his day is so regimented with diet, exercise, work, etc… he has no time for deep friendships or a relationship. His friends & family likely complain for lack of attention & birthdays are often forgotten. The fuck boy isn’t afraid of loving you; he is afraid of being seen & nearly every person in his life is included in that fear. The point is, his inability to love you, has nothing to do with you and everything to do with his own dysfunction. 

What’s the best way to deal with a fuck boy? Not to. His fear of intimacy is deeply ingrained, likely stemming from withholding parents or other childhood trauma/neglect. It is not your job to heal another person. It isn’t even possible or ethical to heal someone against their will. Actually, the fact that you’re drawn to the fuck boy implies you have your own wounding that desperately needs attention. The best thing to do when you find yourself attracted to a fuck boy is to go deeper into your inner work and figure out why you are drawn to someone who is emotionally unavailable to you. 

understanding emotionally unavailable men

Being pulled into the dysfunction of a fuck boy will only cause pain & existential distress. With the fuck boy you may experience the most intense emotional & physical intimacy of your life. This is their suppressed need for intimacy bubbling up. The intimacy feels far more intense exactly because it has been suppressed and therefore holds a deeper emotional charge. Intense does not necessarily = good.

Once the fuck boy realizes intimacy has occurred, he will use insults, physical distancing, ghosting & other distance creating mechanisms to squash any connection & attachment that he has accidentally let slip through. This will likely be combined with a desperate need for validation. He will ask you for compliments & reassurances & in doing so project his insecurity & need for parental validation onto you. Although the fuck boy may claim he doesn’t believe in monogamy, his need for validation will likely make him jealous, wanting to know where you’ve been & if you are seeing other people. He needs you to chase him & only him in order to feel good about himself. Anytime his self worth is feeling low, he will push you away just to watch you chase him again. It’s a sick game in which your pain is required for his ego pleasure.

The cycle of intimacy & distancing can occur every few days or every few minutes. But the end result is always emotional torture for you. When the fuck boy tells you he doesn’t want a relationship, you better believe him, because doing otherwise is committing to a cycle of dysfunction that will leave you emotionally bankrupt & doubting your own sanity. In this case, the fear of intimacy, may very well be contagious.

Why This Is the Best Time to Find Your Soulmate

Why This Is the Best Time to Find Your Soulmate

Have you read 1984 or Brave New World? Something that caught my attention as a matchmaker is in both of these dystopian realities, romantic love is illegal. What is so scary about love to Those Who Seek to Control that both Orwell & Huxley made it major plot points of their novels? Why would love need to be illegal in totalitarian societies?

Why do you think the media is constantly berating us with images of failed romance & broken marriages? Why do you think we are told that monogamy is unnatural & impossible? Why has dating been gamified? Why are we so jaded about love? Because falling in soul deep love shatters our allegiance to false realities. Mind control is always based on fear. Love & fear cannot coexist. When we are in love, we are far less susceptible to fear based mind control.

Being seen & loved fully is the ultimate revolution. True love is an ascension into a new way of being. It is a stepping stone to better understanding the Divine. Falling in love is accessing our greatest power as humans, our ability to connect.

In a monogamous soul bond, we create our own world with our partners, which becomes a practice in crafting our own realities, in creating paradise on earth. When we trust in our ability to create our own worlds, we can’t be controlled. Is it any surprise Those Who Would Keep You Small, want you to stay single, swiping, sleeping around & empty?

how to find your soulmate

Right now, we are in a moment of global shift towards a Love centered reality. Because of that, more soulmates are reuniting now than ever. The vibration of soulmate reunion, shifts not just their lives, but the entire collective. It was never meant to be a challenge to reunite with your beloved & as the days go on it is going to get easier & easier to manifest them. This is literally the perfect time to set you intention towards calling in your soulmate & the transformative powers of love.

If you are single, now is the time to melt the blocks of false programming & open your heart to love. Revoke your consent fully & completely from any programming that says you are unworthy of love & that finding a mate will be hard. Revoke your consent from the FALSE programming that all men cheat. Revoke your consent from programming that makes you cynical about love. Soften. Open the space in your life to reunite with your Beloved because I assure you, it is coming.

finding true love

How To Actually Find A Relationship On Dating Apps in 6 Steps

How To Actually Find A Relationship On Dating Apps in 6 Steps

In the matchmaking world, dating apps are definitely vilified. I get it. Dating apps can be dangerous. And they can be a massive waste of time. Plus, some people are just too sensitive to deal with the exposure and rejections. So, yeah, there are a lot of downsides to dating apps. But the truth is, most singles are using them. And I know from my own personal experience, as well as the experience of my clients that it is still possible to meet someone on apps. I’ve spent literally thousands of hours on apps recruiting potential matches for clients, so at this point, I basically have a PhD in dating apps. But why do some people seem to rock dating apps and always find a relationship, while others are just wasting their time? If you’re interested in learning how to find a relationship on dating apps, read on because I’ve broken it down for you in 6 simple steps.

1) Know What Your Dealbreakers Are

To get what you want, you first have to KNOW what you want. It’s amazing to me how many singles I talk to who literally have no idea what they are looking for in a partner. I call this the spaghetti method. They throw a bunch of spaghetti (or swipes) at the wall and just go with whoever sticks around.

This is not an effective strategy for finding a long term partner and it’s the number one reason you and all of your friends are burned out from dating apps.

To actually be successful online dating you need to be laser focused on what you are looking for. I know a lot of people haven’t really thought about dating this way and are probably scratching their heads. If you have no idea what you’re really looking for, the easiest thing to do is to start with what you don’t want.

Let’s start backwards. Think back on your last relationships. Why did they end? What didn’t work? What are the aspects of those relationships you are absolutely not under any circumstances bringing into your next relationship? These are your dealbreakers, Know them. Own them. Do NOT bend on them.

Some examples of dealbreakers might be:
-Heavy Drinker
-Poor relationship with money
-Lack of work ethic
-Atheist
-Narcissistic qualities
-No passions or dreams

Now do your list!

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2) Be Honest About What Your Want

A huge trap I find women falling into is that they want a relationship but they don’t want to own that fact. When did it become uncool to be honest with people about what we want? 

This is what I see happening. A woman knows she wants a relationship. She does not ever tell the guy she is dating this fact, assuming that he knows what she wants and that he feels the same way. Eventually, she stops seeing other people. Friends ask her if they have had the talk about exclusivity. She says, “No, but I know we are serious and he isn’t seeing other people. Why would we need to talk about it?” He is, in fact, seeing other people and has no desire for a relationship.

Broken heart ensues.

Here’s the thing, we are all adults. And dating apps are a mixed bag. If you want a relationship, you need to be honest about it. And you need to actually ask people what they want. Personally, I recommend having this discussion before you meet someone. A lot of singles tell me that is too awkward. Sometimes being an adult means pushing through awkwardness in order to be true to yourself and get what you want. If the person you are chatting with is also looking for a relationship, they will be honest and you can move forward with more comfort. If they are not, they will be honest and not go out with you.

If someone decides not to go out with you because you aren’t looking for the same things, don’t look at it as rejection. They just SAVED you time and potential heartache.

Another trap women fall into is they want to date someone but that person does not want a relationship. The woman for some reason thinks, “Oh, well if we start having sex he will eventually want a relationship with me.” No, he won’t. And you will end up heartbroken, having wasted more time & energy on a dead end.

The truth will always come out in the end, so let’s set the tone for all of our relationships and start being honest up front.

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3) Don’t Try To Impress Anyone

Oh man, I was sooo guilty of this in the past. Some of us treat every date like a job interview. We are on our best and most polished behavior. Sure, we blur the lines and fudge details a bit, but who doesn’t in a job interview? We smile, nod, fake laugh, then go home hoping we get an offer.

But wait, where was our real personality? Did we take the time to figure out if we even want the job?

So many women see a relationship as the end goal and will do anything to get there. But being so focused on their goal, they forget to play the field. They forget to test the water to see if they could actually be compatible and happy with the person they are on a date with.

You aren’t trying to impress anyone here. You’re trying to see if your authentic selves can create joy and harmony in a relationship. Pretending to be someone you are not will not lead to a lasting connection. When the truth comes out, it will just leave both parties confused and disappointed.

Be yourself.

4) Keep An Open Mind

While having no deal breakers or standards is a huge problem on dating apps, the opposite can be just as much of an issue. I have worked with a lot of clients who had obsessively specific requirements and absurdly high standards.

Some examples:

“Must be 5’2 or below, brown hair, brown eyes, dark skin tone, Jewish, good sense of humor, works in medical field, size 2 or below, great in bed.”

“6 foot or above, makes more than 300k a year, lives in the city, but prefers country living, eats all organic, prefers to eat at home, but also appreciates fine dining, likes to cook, but lets the woman do most of the cooking, must have a spiritual practice, but not a religious background, only flies first class, works remotely, philanthropist, aware of current events, does not hunt or own guns, no strong political leanings, but still follows politics.”

There is more wrong with both of these list than the fact that they are obsessively specific. The main issue is that these attributes have nothing to do with whether this person with make a good partner. Both of these lists are so specific and focused on the superficial they will inevitably rule out great matches who are partner material.

Both of these people will be disappointed by anyone they meet and are likely using their absurd requirements to cover up an avoidant attachment style and pain from previous relationships. I mean really, how many people can actually meet these standards.

One of the dangers of dating apps is that it’s easy to rule people out based on the superficial. But those aspects do not tell you whether or not this person will be a good long term partner for you. Focus your energy on getting to know people and what they bring to the table as a life partner. Sure, maybe he is 5’8, but he also invests his money wisely, has a great sense of humor, works on himself, and will make a devoted father. What is more important to you?

For more on putting together an authentic, soul based list, check out my article here.

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5) Be Willing to Walk Away

So you’ve invested a few dates, or even a few months in someone, only to realize they aren’t really what you are looking for and violate one of your deal breakers. What do you do? Without hesitation you walk away. Saying no to what you do not want is a huge step towards manifesting what you do want.

So why do singles struggle with this step so much?

For one they are already emotionally involved. Attachment happens just through spending time with someone, but if you’ve already had sex your bonding hormones have kicked into overdrive and are telling you to stay put. It’s one of the major reasons I tell my clients to wait to have sex until they have established exclusivity. The reality is, it’s harder to walk away once you have had sex. But if you are serious about finding a long term relationship, you have to walk away from anything that does not serve you.

6) Set Boundaries

Yes, of course with the people you are dating. But I also mean with yourself. If you are on dating apps for hours every day and responding to messages whenever they pop up, you are going to get burned out. Plus answering messages after 10 pm starts to send the wrong message to potential suitors.

One tool I recommend in my free ebook, Mindful Dating in the Digital World (download here to learn more on how to find a relationship on dating apps) is to set office hours for when you are available on dating apps. Limit yourself to one hour of swiping a day. And while you are using the apps, actually give them your full attention. There’s nothing worse than watching a movie or grabbing a coffee with a friend only for them to spend the whole time swiping and responding to messages. That’s just shortchanging your friends and the guys you are messaging.

Set aside limited time to swipe and respond to messages. Trust me, this will help keep you focused on the task at hand, i.e. finding a partner, rather than using dating apps as a way to fill your time when you’re bored or make you feel good about yourself when you’re feeling down. Both of those things are tempting distractions that will get in the way of finding a relationship.


How to Find a Relationship on Dating Apps: Making it Work for You

It might seem like I’m laying out a bunch of rules here. And trust me, I know there’s already hundreds of books and articles filled with rules for dating. But the main point I’m trying to make here (and in all my work) is self worth. All of these rules are about putting yourself, your needs, and your heart first. When dating, it’s easy to put your desire for a relationship before everything, but that will never work when it comes to manifesting in a high quality, serious relationship on dating apps. That’s how you end up losing yourself in a relationship.

Put your needs first, set clear boundaries and communicate them, take the time to learn about yourself and figure out your needs in a relationship. Be a person who values themselves. Be honest. Be authentic. That’s all you really need, despite the hundreds of books out there.

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How Justine Paid Off 66k In Debt While Traveling

How Justine Paid Off 66k In Debt While Traveling

I am super excited to share this interview with my matchmaker friend and colleague, Justine! Like many of us, Justine was saddled down with 66k in debt after finishing her Master’s. Too many of us end up in debt after finishing school with no idea how we are going to pay it off while working an office job and living in an expensive city. It can start to feel like a burden we’ll never escape from.

Justine was able to pay off 66k in debt in under a year while traveling. I think what’s so amazing about Justine’s story is she shows that you can make smart financial decisions, not despite the fact that you’re traveling, but because you are traveling. Justine paid off her student loans because she was able to use travel to reduce her cost of living, while creating a life of more freedom for herself.

Read on for more about Justine’s travels and how she paid of her student loans while living as a digital nomad!

1) Tell us a little bit more about you! What do you do?

Hi! I’m Justine Luzzi, I do a few things! I am an Intuitive Reader + Teacher, helping awakened and sensitive souls navigate this crazy world! I also just started a new coaching venture focusing on Conscious Love & Healing from Toxic Relationships. I’ve been a virtual matchmaker for a long time now, but my bigger mission involves teaching the world what authentic and universal love feels like.

2) What inspired you to travel for 4 months? Why South East Asia?

I have always dreamed of being location independent. Traveling has always been a passion of mine. Needing permission from someone to physically do my work elsewhere felt really limiting. Four years ago I had a corporate job in digital marketing, that could have been done 100% remote and they wouldn’t let me work from home one day a week. I felt trapped.

I began to do some healing work on myself, and realized, I needed more freedom. I quit that job, and looked tirelessly for remote work that would suit my new venture in life. I found it with virtual matchmaking and intuitive card readings. When my lease was up in NYC, I threw out most of my stuff (it was old anyway) and booked a flight to SE Asia. The plan was Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, and Malaysia.

My connection to SE Asia was solidified when I took my first trip to Thailand in 2013, so I made the decision to start my digital nomad journey there. As my fellow travelers know, not all travel plans pan out exactly the way you envisioned it. While in South East Asia, I made it to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam and Siem Reap + Phnom Penh, Cambodia, but after two months in Asia, trying to accommodate my clients in EST timezone started to take a toll and I knew I needed a change.

I decided to spend the remaining months of my trip in Europe where the time difference was much more doable. I spent most of my time in Athens, Greece and Belgrade, Serbia.

I had planned on spending more time as a digital nomad, but the greatest city in the world, NYC, was calling me home. I also started to feel unsettled being in a different time zone, different language, different currency, every few weeks.

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3) A lot of people think spending 4 months traveling sounds like a bad financial decision, but you were actually able to pay off all of your student loans (66k!) that year. How did you make that happen?

I lived so cheaply! As a New Yorker, I’m used to a high cost of living. Living in South East Asia and Eastern Europe was actually super affordable! I’m also a travel hacker. I used my credit card points for great deals, ate a lot of street food, and checked travel blogs for the best deals.

The idea that traveling is expensive is just a limiting belief. I lived like a queen and most of my expenses for the month were not more than $500 USD. I was able to save a lot of money and throw it towards my 66k in debt. 3 months after I got back from my travels, I was able to pay everything off!

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4) How did travel change your outlook about your life or career?

It changed so much of my outlook. As Americans, I personally feel we have an obligation to leave the country and live how others live. To me, this creates a lot of empathy, gratitude, and inclusiveness. I love feeling like I’m the minority, and not fitting in. It teaches me a lot about humility.

It has also taught me a lot about work-life balance. I’ll admit, I did work a lot while I was traveling, so it was challenging. Some days I had a 10 hour day and never left the Airbnb, except to grab food. But it is important to understand that you don’t have to be in a cubicle being micro-managed to do great work. We’re not caged animals. If a company has hired you to do their work, they need to trust that you will do it. I had a lot of trust from my employer, and that’s one of the things I loved about my company.

I also want to add, it’s OK to get sick of this lifestyle. I found myself beating myself up a bit when I wanted to come home. It’s hard being on the road so much. It’s OK to crave stability. Just lean into what feels good.

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5) What advice do you have for anyone who wants to become a digital nomad?

Sooo much. First, don’t make plans so far in advance. You don’t know what’s going to happen. Let it flow. Be realistic within 2 weeks time, but you can’t be that rigid. You don’t want to book an entire place for a month to find out they have bed bugs (that happened to me in Ho Chi Minh). Be alert- pay attention. I tried to cross the Vietnam border by bus with an expired passport- not pretty- I owe everything to the English-speaking bus driver who sorted everything out. Book enough time in a place that allows for a 40-hour work week AND exploring. Oh, and have fun and be curious 🙂

Feeling inspired? You can learn more about Justine and connect with her at her Youtube Channel.

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paying off student loans while traveling