Have you ever wanted to talk to an ex after a breakup to get “closure?” I’ve heard a lot of women say this, and while I don’t believe you should rely on another person for closure, speaking to an ex (after much healing and time apart) can be helpful in your own healing journey. But when it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, they will never change or mature, so it is absolutely imperative that you find a sense of closure within yourself, without your ex’s participation.
So what is closure and how to you get it when breaking up with a narcissist?
Closure means the wound has healed. Maybe not perfectly or completely, but enough that your energy isn’t pouring out of it on a daily basis. That takes work! The word closure actually comes from an Old French word meaning barrier, fence, or boundary. When it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, closure has a lot less to do with healing face to face conversations and a lot more to do with creating boundaries that keep you safe so you can find healing within yourself.
Closure comes from within. If you are relying on someone else to get closure, it’s likely never going to happen. Image someone stabs you and you have a huge bleeding wound. You know you should go to the doctor to have it sutured, but instead you say you are going to wait until the person who hurt you goes through medical school and learns wound care before you get medical attention. That’s kind of like what relying on your ex for closure is like, especially when that ex is a narcissist.
Narcissists often use “closure” as an excuse to reenter your life, so it’s important to have a plan in place for your safety, healing, and closure. Read on for a detailed 5 step plan for getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist.
Go No Contact
When breaking up with a narcissist, it’s important to understand closure and what it really is, because your illusion of closure can easily be manipulated by your ex to keep the door open on your relationship.
One of the aspects of narcissistic abuse that makes the relationship so exhausting and damaging, is that narcissists are experts at getting you to let them back in, no matter how much they have hurt you.
Remember in the beginning when they bombarded you with love and gifts? When you thought, wow s/he might just be the one. When you were bragging to your friends about how you were dating the most romantic person ever? That was the fairy tale before the nightmare. But when it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, they will pull out all the stops, and then some, to get you to let them back in. They will tell you they are addressing all their flaws, they’re in therapy, they will tell you a sob story about their childhood trauma. They will promise to never hurt you again and threaten to kill themselves if they do. They will say all of these things and more all while buying you expensive jewelry and making you the most romantic dinner you’ve ever seen.
But how did you end up back at dinner with your narcissistic ex? Maybe they wore you down. Maybe they begged. Maybe they said something like, “I don’t want to get back together, I just want to talk. I’m in therapy and my therapist thinks we could both use some closure.”
That makes sense! Closure is healthy, right?
When it comes to breaking up with a narcissist, you need to know that closure is an illusion. Closure is the crowbar they use to pry open the door back into your life. Closure is something you are going to have to find on your own.
That’s why it’s so important that the first step of getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist is going no contact.
Set Up Safety Precautions
Think of it this way. A narcissist is an addict, validation is the drug, and you are the supply. Have you seen the crazy things addicts do when they are cut off from their supply? You need to think of the narcissist as a dangerous junkie who wants to use you to get their fix. It is important not to downplay the fact that leaving a narcissist and going no contact can become a dangerous situation.
It’s hard to focus on closure and healing when you are afraid for your safety. You need to put safety measures in place for your peace of mind, as well as your physical and emotional safety. Here are a few suggestions.
–Change your number. Even if you block a narcissist, they will find ways to contact you. They will buy burner phones or have friends reach out. To really cut off contact, you might need to change your number completely.
-Set all social media to private and change your handles. The narcissist will create new profiles to digitally stalk you and leave hateful comments on your posts. Set everything to private and don’t approve people you don’t know. You may also want to change your handles so the narcissist can’t find you and continue to keep tabs on your life. Also keep in mind geotag usage. You don’t want to tag yourself at a location if you are still there and you don’t want to tag yourself at the same place multiple times. The narcissist may start hanging out at that place hoping to run into you there.
-Alert security. If you live in a neighborhood with security or an apartment building with security or a doorman, let them know. Share with them that you have an unstable abusive ex. Show them the person’s pictures. Ask that this person not be allowed in under any circumstances. Many security professionals have dealt with this situation before and may have some added insights or security precautions they can recommend.
-Get an alarm system. Easy, not very expensive, and will help you sleep better at night. You can also ask the alarm company if they have any additional recommendations.
-Move. I’m not saying you should sell your house and move to a different state, although some women do end up doing that. But it may be possible to move. If your lease is up, don’t renew. If you live in an apartment community you may be able to move to a different unit. Ask your management company if this would be possible. Explain the situation, share any documentation including letters from your therapist and paperwork from the police. They may be able to help you out and let you move into a different unit.
-Consider a restraining order. You will need to work with the police on this and you will need evidence. Do not delete any messages your ex sends you, as tempting as it might be. A restraining order is not a foolproof strategy, but it will set a very serious tone to your ex and provide the evidence you need to carry out some of these other strategies. It can also enrage your ex and cause them to lash out, so please be sure to have security measures already in place.
These strategies may seem time consuming and even expensive, but you can’t put a price on your safety or peace of mind. You have been making the narcissist the center of your world; it’s time to put your wellness and safety first in a concrete way.
Work With A Domestic Abuse Center
You may think that sounds dramatic and unnecessary. Maybe your ex was only emotionally and never physically or sexually abusive, so why would you go to a shelter? It’s a misconception that abuse shelters are just for those who have been physically abused. A domestic abuse center assists men, women, and children, gay or straight, who have dealt with any kind of intimate partner abuse, whether that be physical, emotional, or sexual.
Contacting your local abuse shelter or domestic violence help center is a huge step towards getting closure. Having been abused by a narcissist, you likely have been gaslighted. That means there is a small part of you that may still be wondering, “What if I am crazy. What if he really is just trying to love me?”
Talking about your situation with a professional is going to be one of the most validating experience of your life. It will knock that self doubt right out of your head. When I was trying to leave an abusive relationship with a narcissist, a friend’s mom put me in touch with a counselor she knew at our local abuse shelter. The counselor called me and asked, “Does he tell you he loves you to death?” “Yes.” “Then you better believe him.”
Never before had someone voiced and validated my fears so clearly.
Her saying that changed everything for me. She then walked me through how to leave, the plan I needed to make on how to escape, and how to do so with the least amount of risk to my safety. I truly would not have been able to leave without this support.
Your local domestic abuse center is also going to be able to recommend resources to you for your physical safety, as well as emotional healing and closure. Most can provide therapy with one of their counselors in house, often at a free or reduced rate. But if they are unable to do so, they will be able to recommend the top experts in your area.
If you are unsure of who to reach out to or are unsure if you are experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
Again, this comes back to validation. Validation is such an important part of the process because being in a relationship with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a profoundly invalidating experience.
Educating yourself, whether that be through reading, working with a therapist, or attending a 12 step group, will help you close the door on this relationship by creating space between your emotional involvement and your psyche. By understanding NPD through a clinical lens, the next time your narcissistic ex tries to use a classic tool of manipulation, you will be able to recognize this behavior as a symptom of his/her disorder. You will have the insights of renowned experts and therapists validating your experience. You will be able to breathe and seek out one of the tools you learned through your research, rather than getting sucked back in. This isn’t a perfect practice, but overtime you will be able to use your research to shift your perspective and your response.
Educating yourself isn’t just validating, it is also going to help you better understand your ex, yourself, and your dynamic. When you really integrate the understanding that your ex isn’t just manipulative or flawed, but actually suffering from a personality disorder that most therapists agree is incurable and nearly impossible to treat, I promise it will be a lot easier to have compassion for the both of you and walk away.
I recently put together a list of books I recommend to my clients who are breaking up with a narcissist. You can find that list here.
Go All In On Healing
One of the most important aspects to getting closure after breaking up with a narcissist is learning to put yourself first. The narcissist likely demanded your undivided attention, guilted you for having friends or hobbies, and made their emotional outbursts the center of your universe. Your relationship with the narcissist has likely robbed you of your relationship with yourself.
Maybe the most healing thing you can do right now is vow to fix that. Take a moment to promise yourself to put your wellbeing first now, no matter what.
I have seen women who due to a lack of awareness, education, and healing have dated narcissist after narcissist. Truth is, I have been that woman. And if your attraction to a narcissist stems from unresolved childhood trauma, there is a real risk that could happen.
That’s why the moment you realize you are in this dynamic you have to go all in on your healing. Many women are pulled into this dynamic with a narcissist due to childhood trauma. Many were raised by a narcissist or co-dependent parent. Sometimes people who tend to be more empathic are easily drawn in by a damaged narcissist. The point is, you not only have to heal from the trauma of this relationship, you also have to be willing to turn inwards and find out if there was any trauma that drove you to this relationship.
By no means am I trying to blame the victim here. What happened to you was horrific and not your fault. What I am saying is that the process of self discovery and healing that can come after leaving a narcissist can be deeply empowering especially after such a disempowering experience. It may be painful, but looking inward with ultimately free you from this dynamic and open up space for life altering healing.
Ultimately, the tools you use for healing will vary depending on what works for you and it will take a lot of experimenting. For me, I found hypnotherapy, Theta Healing, and homeopathy to be my go to strategies.
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The truth is, more women than I would like to admit are recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship. Sadly, some of these women don’t even know their relationship was abusive. Too many women are left with the emotional wounds of abuse and PTSD, but don’t understand what’s happened to them. It’s not their fault; too often abusers make the victim believe they are crazy, dramatic or even the perpetrator themselves.
All breakups are hard, but ending an emotionally abusive relationship can leave you feeling like you have lost your sense of self and sanity. You may be feeling completely broken with no idea how to recover because you have completely lost trust in yourself. You may be wondering if you are crazy, if you were wrong to end the relationship, or if it would be easier to just give in to your ex’s demands.
As women, we are woefully uneducated about emotional abuse. So when it comes to recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship, the first step is awareness and education. You need to learn everything you can about emotional abuse not only to reclaim your sanity, but also to heal the patterns so it never happens to you again. That’s why I recommend these five books to all of my clients who are recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship.
This book is an epic game changer for ANYONE, but if you’re recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship, it’s required reading. Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that causes you to question your own sanity. The seeds of gaslighting are usually sown slowly overtime, encroaching on your sanity inch by inch until you find yourself completely doubting your memory and experience of reality.
For example, your partner constantly flirts with other women in front of you. When you confront him, he blows up, berating you with examples of your “pathological jealousy” he tells you you are weak, needy, crazy, and destroying your relationship. “You are sabotaging our relationship with your jealously because you can’t handle being happy.” A gaslighter will use yelling, aggression, and below the belt insults until you are willing to accept their version of reality, which is that you are crazy and they are always right. It may get to the point where you are quite sure he is cheating, but you convince yourself you are wrong, it’s just your irrational jealousy and fear of being happy.
Being gaslighted can make you a zombie completely controlled by your abusive partner, making it near impossible to leave the relationship. This book will not only help you identify all forms of gaslighting, it will also give you step by step guides for facing gaslighting in all aspects of your life. In short, it will help you recover from the emotional abuse and reclaim your relationship with your self.
Not only is the book so well written you’ll want to binge it in an entire weekend, it’s one of the best you’ll find about understanding narcissistic abuse. Not all emotionally abusive men are narcissists, but many are. If you aren’t sure what narcissistic abuse is or if you think your abusive ex might have narcissistic tendencies, you can read the first chapter of Dr. Durvasula’s book here.
Dr. Durvasula, one of the top experts on Narcissistic Personality Disorder, categorizes a few types of narcissists. But the thing they all have in common is a pathological lack of empathy. Infidelity, stalking, gaslighting, and love bombing often go hand in hand with narcissistic abuse as well.
Everything starts out great with a NPD partner. They’re charming, treat you like a princess, the sex is great. It doesn’t hurt that they are usually handsome, well dressed, and successful. In the beginning, your relationship will be the envy of all your friends. Which is part of what makes it so hard to admit that you’re living in a nightmare and leave once the narcissists shows their true colors.
I highly recommend diving into Dr. Durvasula’s book, but if you can’t wait for your book to arrive, check out her fantastic episode on Red Table Talk.
If you’ve been in an abusive relationship of any kind your boundaries have been systematically violated, worn down, and dissolved. Maybe your ex insisted on having all your passwords and access to your social media account so he could keep tabs on you. Eventually, you got so sick of the fighting you just gave in and let him have your passwords and anything else he wanted. Now, you can’t even remember the last time it felt safe to say no to someone. Maybe saying no has never felt safe to you.
The problem is, we don’t really teach children healthy boundaries. We are taught sacrifice=heroic and that putting others before ourselves is how we show love. As adults many of us don’t have a healthy understanding of boundaries. Narcissists and other predatory or abusive personalities almost have a sixth sense for women with poor boundaries.
Developing healthy boundaries is not only the first step towards severing the ties between yourself and your abusive ex, it’s going to help you create healthy relationship dynamics in the future. Side effects of healthy boundaries include: more energy, higher income, more free time, healthier partnerships, richer friendships, greater compassion for self and others.
Education is one of your best weapons when it comes to healing from an emotionally abusive relationship. But if your education doesn’t include better understanding yourself, it’s falling short. The fact is, abusive men, psychopaths, and narcissists are attracted to certain personality types. They tend to be drawn to empathic women, women who are sensitive, giving, and often don’t have the best boundaries. Introducing the highly sensitive person (HSP) a term sometimes used interchangeably with “empath.”
HSPs have sensitive nervous systems which makes them a target for abuse. They will often quickly cave to the demands of their abuser because they can’t handle the stress and drama of fighting. HSPs are often shy, struggle with intimacy, and feel they may never find someone. This makes them particularly vulnerable to the “love bombing” so common at the begging of emotionally abusive relationships.
Turning to the empath side of the highly sensitive person spectrum, empaths identify strongly with the feelings of others, often losing themselves, their needs, and their own perspective in their partner’s. As a result, they find themselves putting the needs (or demands) of their partner above their own. This means far too many empaths end up in toxic or abuse relationships.
If these dynamics sound familiar to you, you might be an HSP or empath. This book will not only make you feel seen and understood, it will give you the tools you need to create healthier relationship dynamics in the future. You can also check out, The Empath’s Survival Guide by Dr. Judith Orloff.
Are you a caretaker or people pleaser? Do you have a need to be needed? Do you have a history of being romantically involved or friends with emotionally vulnerable, needy people? Alternatively, you might feel that you need someone to take care of you, feeling totally lost and vulnerable outside of a relationship. If so, you might have codependency issues and those issues might be a reason you ended up in an emotionally abusive relationship.
Codependency often goes hand in hand with emotional abuse. The codependent finds it almost impossible to walk away from a relationship, especially one where they have taken on the care taking role. That’s why codependents tend to stick around longer than is healthy or safe.
Codependency usually comes from a place of low self worth. You may feel that you are unworthy of love and therefore caretake others. If they need you, they can’t leave you. The problem is that makes you vulnerable to people who will take advantage of your care taking, lack of boundaries, and empathy. These people will leave you depleted (& far worse) then manipulate you into staying in the relationship.
Codependency is a pretty common dynamic, not just in romantic relationships, but in family dynamics and friendships as well. Codependent no more will go a long way towards helping you develop healthy relationships in all areas of your life, while helping you to make yourself a priority.
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Here are some scary facts for you. Autoimmune disease is on the rise, especially among women, and more than 50% of Americans are diabetic or pre-diabetic. Depression and mental illness are epidemic. And for too many women, our hormones are a hot mess of imbalance. The fact is, a lot of us Millennial a dealing with unseen, chronic illness, and it ain’t fun. But by and large, we also want to travel more than any generation before us.
I know from experience, the stress of traveling with chronic illness can ruin the best of holidays.
I have a condition called Reactive Arthritis. It means that a few times a year, usually triggered by illness or inclement weather, my joints get achey. Sometimes it’s annoying, sometimes it is painful. Luckily, I can easily manage it with Aleve and lifestyle choices, but it is still something that’s on my radar while I travel.
It hasn’t prevented me from traveling, but it certainly has impacted the way I travel. Long days of partying and nights in crowded hostels are not really my thing nowadays. Trust me, I’m not upset about that part! But in the past I’ve let the stress of worrying about my arthritis impact my life more than the arthritis itself ever has. Now, I like to think I have a system down for managing chronic illness and stress while traveling.
So after years of traveling with chronic illness, I had a few words to say on the topic.
Bring All Of Your Medication
Duh, right? Packing for a trip to Mexico City, I was so stressed about bringing every gluten related supplement (I was on a gluten free kick) I totally forgot to pack my inhaler. Luckily, I didn’t need it, but Mexico City is not a place you want to visit without your rescue inhaler if you have asthma.
Get Your Own Room
I know at a certain age there is a temptation to do the whole hostel thing. And even when traveling with friends it is tempting to share a hotel room to save on cost.
It is so not worth it.
Whatever condition you might be struggling with, chances are there are going to be moments when you need privacy. Whether your stomach is upset, you’re feeling a wave of depression coming on, you have a migraine, or you just need way more sleep than the average person, knowing you have your own private, safe space to retreat to is going to bring you so much relief. Sometimes you just need to be alone and that’s especially true when traveling with chronic illness.
Travel can be stressful. Scratch that, travel is usually stressful. Stress triggers flare ups, mood swings, and autoimmune disease. It can also fuck up our hormonal balance. That doesn’t mean you can’t travel, it just means you should consider your stress tolerance when making travel arrangements.
Here are a few ways I recommend for reducing stress while traveling:
- Pay for your seat assignment ahead of time
- Do NOT book basic economy seats (normal economy is fine)
- Yes, it is worth it to pay for lounge access (I have Priority Pass Access with my Chase credit card)
- Pack ample snacks so you know you have something you can eat on hand
- Consider splurging on business class seats
- Get to the airport early
- Consider cruises instead of flying
- Use a travel agent, specifically a travel agent for the differently abled if you need extra help
- Make your hotel aware of your needs beforehand (there are actually agencies who will do this for you)
- Consider leisure travel vs. adventure travel
- Only travel with compatible travelers
Be Comfortable Doing Your Own Thing
One night on a group trip to Krakow I decided to stay in while everyone else went out. I relished in my personal space and spent the night journaling about the experience I was having traveling around Central Europe (also writing angry letters to my ex boyfriend, but that’s a different story!) It was quite literally my favorite night in Krakow.
If my friends want to go out drinking, that’s awesome for them, but I will probably opt out. Alcohol has a big impact on my mental and physical health. I also really love sleep. Likewise, my friends might want to get BBQ, while I don’t eat meat. I am certainly not offended if the group wants one thing, while I go do my own way. I won’t hold a group of people hostage to my dietary restrictions, but I also won’t sacrifice my comfort to please other people.
Know Who Is On Your Team
Even though I am totally comfortable doing my own thing, not everyone I have traveled with is. I once went on a trip to Vienna with someone who had no understanding of personal space or alone time. She also really couldn’t handle the planning and coordinating of travel, so every Uber, every subway ride, every museum ticket, ended up on my plate and I was a total grump about it. We also did not plan our days of travel the same way. She also wanted to wake up at 7 blow dry her hair, and get rolling. Whereas I like to take my sweet time to wake up, eat a huge breakfast, and take the day at more of a leisurely pace.
Another time, I went to Mexico with a guy I was dating. Likewise, he wasn’t much of a planner (or doer) so I ended up having to plan every detail of the trip while he played video games. He was also super indecisive about everything and got to the airport 30 minutes before our flight. I needed some privacy to have a meeting with a client and ended up having to bribe him to leave the Airbnb for an hour. It was all wildly stressful for me, but totally normal for him. We weren’t not compatible travelers and I learned the hard way that I can only travel with people who can share some of the responsibility and respect personal space.
I have also traveled with people who just don’t understand the literal needs of something with chronic illness (avoiding certain foods, less alcohol, more sleep) and that was a frustrating problem for both of us.
No judgement intended to other types of travelers, but it’s important to travel with a compatible traveler otherwise both parties be stressed out! You have to know that whoever is on your team is on the same page and supports what you’re going through.
Do Your Research
If you have dietary restrictions, come prepared with a list of safe restaurants nearby. Know where the closest pharmacy is and how late it’s open. If you don’t speak the language, at least learn or write down the name of your condition (in their language, duh), names of foods you need to avoid, and any other words related to your condition. I can’t tell you how many times I said GLUTENMENTES?! (gluten free) while I lived in Hungary. It was one of the first words I learned.
Remember to Enjoy Yourself
On my trip to Mexico City I was having a horrible time because I was sooo stressed about needing to know every ingredient I was eating while hoping and praying it wouldn’t make me sick. Then I said fuck it. I went to an incredible bakery and ate whatever the fuck I wanted. Seriously this bakery was out of this world. Even Gwyneth Paltrow thinks so. They have an open kitchen and I have NEVER seen so many sticks of butter in one place <3
So I ate some pastries. Guess what? Nothing happened. The gluten gods didn’t sweep down from heaven and damn me. My stomach and joints felt fine. I actually felt BETTER than I had the whole trip because I wasn’t obsessing and stressing about every small detail.
Here’s the thing, whatever you might be intolerant to or what might be a trigger, stress is way worse for you. It is so damn easy to spend your whole vacation worried about what could go wrong. Yes, so many things could go wrong when traveling with chronic illness. But you’re on vacation for a reason, to experience a new culture and get outside of your comfort zone. So eat the damn pastry and enjoy your trip.
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I used to be the most ballsy solo traveler. In fact, my first solo trip was spending a month alone in Israel when I was 19. There’s just something so magical about being completely alone with yourself in an unfamiliar environment. You learn a lot about yourself, and get to spend that time doing whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it.
Recently though, I’ve stopped solo traveling. I haven’t wanted to deal with the stress of a solo trip and I’ve been super busy at work. But the honest truth is, I’ve gotten complacent. I haven’t wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone, talk to strangers, deal with culture shock, etc… The problem is, that also means I’ve been holding myself back from so much fun and tons of personal growth.
Which leads me to today’s interview with Melissa Byron, creator of A Single Woman Traveling.
Melissa is traveling the world as a single woman, and blogging along the way. Her platform, A Single Woman Traveling, is all about her travels, as well as useful guides for women travelers, since we do tend to have different needs and concerns when traveling.
Talking to Melissa reminded me why I started this platform, to inspire people to live the lives they really fucking want to be living. Not the lives that seem safe. Not the lives other people want for them. The lives they really fucking want.
So let’s dive right into this super empowering interview.
What inspired you to travel?
10 years ago I visited Ireland for a friend’s baby christening. Since I would be staying in her family home, keeping costs low, I decided to go. It was my first international trip. As soon as I arrived and saw all the beautiful old villages and countrysides, my interest was peaked to start traveling.
Why single? What inspired you to create this platform?
After visiting Ireland I knew I really wanted to see Rome & the Greek Islands. I tried so hard to find people who would join me on the trip. Sadly, I was unsuccessful, I decided to go alone. I learned so much on that trip on what not to do when traveling abroad, it stuck in my mind I should tell others. Not only did I make silly mistakes when booking hotels and transit, but I really didn’t like being alone. I looked at it as I was failing in life because I didn’t have someone to go with.
At the time, I was measuring my success as a woman, on whether I was alone or not. I focused so incredibly hard on trying to find a relationship, I lost touch with who I was.
It wasn’t until I gave traveling alone another chance, and this time in a country where English was the official language, did I start to look at things differently. I did bike tours, walking tours, made some connections with people on the trip that I otherwise wouldn’t have met, unless I was alone.
I really looked within and decided that only enjoying my life fully being a happy version of myself would attract the right person.
Now, years later after traveling alone and knowing all the fears of what might be holding others back, I started my blog, designed to encourage and inspire women to travel. That is how A Single Woman Traveling was born.
What has been the hardest things about traveling solo? The most rewarding thing?
The hardest part would be not having that other person to spilt the hotel costs with. But, these days there are so many options with Airbnb or higher-end hostels, with some planning it can be a non-issue. The most rewarding is when you get yourself through a mini travel mishap. Maybe you get a little lost, but thanks to the data phone plans and Google maps, you find your way.
Visiting a foreign country on your own is a brave act, and it can feel quite rewarding when you go alone. I find that the time you spend with just yourself in a place you know not a soul, you get closer to you.
What is the hardest thing about being the center of your brand and in front of the camera all the time?
This is a great question. Having to even answer it is part of what held me back for years from starting the blog in the first place. Being so public about who I am, opens me up to criticism and negative feedback.
You have to be very confident in who you are and what you have to say to get in front of the camera. Recently I’ve started to do IG lives, talking to the camera, and that has been a huge challenge for me. I worry constantly, how do I look, do I sound stupid? I realize that if I want people to believe in what I am telling them, I have to believe in myself and just get out there. Unfiltered…ok, maybe a light filter, haha.
Your favorite destination for solo travel?
I would say my all-time favorite is Copenhagen. It’s hard to make just one choice, as I love Amsterdam very much as well. Copenhagen is so easy to navigate. It’s safe, and has the best restaurants!
Are you open to a relationship? What happens if you meet someone?
I am open to meeting someone, though I am not actively looking for someone. The work I continue to do on myself and my self-worth is still very much the most important thing to me.
I will say, that I think that I am emotionally healthy enough for a relationship. I am solid in who I am as a person, and what I can contribute to a relationship. I am no longer viewing it as the only important thing in my life, which is key to a healthy relationship.
Someday I will meet someone, and when I do, I know that my experiences of getting to know myself through travel will have made me ready. I plan on always staying true to my passions, and if I felt like I needed time to connect with myself, I would still take a solo trip.
Have you noticed different cultural perceptions around being a single woman?
I am always expecting that I will encounter some disapproving locals or onlookers. I’ve only ever received more praise for my bravery than anything else. Some people will be quick to tell you that they could NEVER travel alone or don’t want to. I respect all people’s views of solo travel. I only concern myself with how I feel. If I feel ok with, great, they can feel however they want.
What advice do you have for single women out there?
I’m going to give the advice that I truly wish I had in my younger years. Get to know yourself. Really let yourself enjoy EVERY moment that makes you happy. Please don’t waste a minute in any moment thinking it would be a bit more special if you had someone there with you to share it with. You are ENOUGH. The kinder and more forgiving you are to yourself, the more you can evolve and grow. Don’t get stuck in seeing what others have and think what you have is nothing compared to them.
If you want to go to Rome, go to Rome, eat the whole pizza. The only thing getting in the way of making that moment special is your perception that it should be different. It took me so many years to realize this.
My promise to you is the more you celebrate yourself the more others will take notice and join in.
All photos courtesy of A Single Woman Traveling.
“Why are you still single?”
A client once fired me for asking him this question
I know this questions can be painful. And it’s definitely loaded.
Loaded with shame for not being “coupled.” Loaded with the pressure of family, friends, people from high school. Fuck, even Facebook ads might be subtly letting you know it’s time to get married.
But here’s the thing, why ARE you still single?
I mean you’re probably a total catch, right? I’m sure your friends assure you the right guy will magically come along eventually. It’s just not the right time yet!
I’m sorry to tell you this, but your friends are wrong. The right guy is not going to magically appear in your life “when the time is right.”
The right guy will only appear in your life after you have done the hard work to love yourself and to heal beyond the patterns that are keeping your trapped in chronic singledom and toxic relationship patterns.
“Why Are You Still Single?”
To manifest your dream relationship, you need to seriously ask yourself this right now.
“I’ve been busy.” “I haven’t met the right person.” “Maybe when work gets less crazy…”
These are not acceptable answers.
The answer I want, the answer that will lead you to your dream relationship, is in the place where you don’t want to go. The feelings you’ve been trying to outrun.
What if I told you that the relationship of your dreams (and your emotional freedom) are in the parts of yourself that you are afraid to visit. The memories you’re afraid to touch. The parts of yourself you really really don’t like acknowledging. What if everything you wanted was behind the door you’re most afraid to open?
It is. That’s what healing your way to love is.. going where you don’t want to go to bring healing to the part of yourself you have been trying to ignore and outrun.
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” FDR
I know your triggers are extremely visceral. I know trauma is probably living in your body and unconscious. I know you have good reason to be sad, angry, wounded…
But you don’t have good reason to stay where you are. From where you are you will just keep reaching for relationships and finding the same dysfunctional patterns instead.
You do have good reason to face your fears and do the hard work to heal.
The path to your soulmate starts today.
But it doesn’t start on dating apps, at a bar, with a makeover, at the gym… it starts in one place and that is in the moment you decide you love yourself enough to admit that it’s time to heal.
And that you may need some help to get there.
It starts with loving yourself enough to ask the one question you’ve been avoiding all this time.
So why are you still single?
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June marks my anniversary of working as a matchmaker. Let me tell you, it has been a crazy, rewarding, and deeply challenging ride. I have touched the lives of hundreds of people and curated almost 200 dates!
Whenever I share with someone that I’m a matchmaker, their eyes go big. Telling people you’re a matchmaker is kind of like saying you’re a fairy god mother! The instant follow up question is, “How do you even get into that line of work!?”
I usually just tell people, “Oh, it’s a long story,” because it is, and came at the climax of a long personal, academic, and professional journey that I usually don’t want to go into. But now, in honor of my matchmaker-versary I’m telling the whole story.
There are so so many reasons I became a matchmaker. In fact, falling into this profession was so kismet I know matchmaking is a huge part of my life’s purpose.
First things first, education.
I got my BA in Religious Studies. People thought I was NUTS to major in such a “fringe” topic. More on why I made that choice in a later article. But the fact is, Religious Studies was the perfect background for matchmaking.
While studying religion, I had become weirdly obsessed with the field of Nationalism Studies. The idea of getting a job out of college sounded soul crushing and I didn’t want to continue working in non-profit because I was deeply burned out, so I decided to give academia a chance. I moved to Budapest, Hungary to continue my study of nationalism at Central European University.
The entire time I was in grad school, I was sick with anxiety. Because yeah, graduate school is fucking hard, but also because I was sure I would never find a job.
What kind of job does a person with my background get???
Surprisingly, there were a few options on the table for me after grad school. One of them was even seemingly a “dream” opportunity, exactly related to my field of study and background. I would have made great connections and lived in New York City. But when my would-be future boss called to ask when I could fly into New York to meet the Executive Director and take a writing test, my stomach dropped and time stood still. I couldn’t imagine a future for myself in New York. I looked out at the sun coming through my window and somehow knew there was no way I was going to be leaving Budapest. I had zero desire to live in NYC and frankly, I really couldn’t afford it. I told him I had decided to stay in Hungary, and he said he couldn’t blame me.
But suddenly I was unemployed!
I figured I’d live off of my savings for a few months while applying for jobs in Budapest. In the meantime, I could pick up some freelance writing gigs here and there.
Pretty soon, I was making more money as a freelance writer than I would working an office job in Budapest. And I loved the freedom of it, the ability to control my income month to month. I had full autonomy over my life! I loved all the random gigs I got that forced me to learn something new every day. But pretty soon, I burned out on writing. Something that was once a relaxing hobby became the source of my anxiety.
I hated the solitude of my work; there was no team backing me up. Finding my own clients was exhausting and my income was always uncertain. Over the course of a year, more and more writing jobs got outsourced to Kenya and the Philippines. My wages dropped, I felt like I was fighting for every gig, editors treated me terribly, including sexual harassment, and the once well written essays on international politics I had been contracted for became a gig churning out the fakest of the fake news. Living with a deadline always hanging over my head started to feel like the sword of Damocles. I had constant anxiety.
I was spent and I knew I needed a change.
Thanks to an organization called Remote Year, I knew that more and more organizations were hiring fully remote teams, which meant being able to travel AND work. I started stalking a job board called We Work Remotely. I had no idea what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I wanted to help people and I wanted to be able to work from home (or anywhere). Partially so I could continue traveling the world and partially because I had a really painful autoimmune disease that sometimes would prevent me from being able to work or drive a car.
In the meantime, I had picked up a badly paid job writing about relationships and dating. The pay was embarrassing, but it published with a byline and a gut feeling told me to accept it because it would lead to other things.
On a personal note, I had just gone through a TERRIBLE breakup. I mean truly, I had hit the rockiest of rock bottom. My personal life was a complete mess. I had temporarily left Budapest to come back to the US so I could work with a hypnotherapist and fix my relationship with myself and with men. Most of my free time was spent learning about relationships and making sense of everything I was going through.
One night at 3 am I saw a job posting for a matchmaking company on We Work Remotely. A MATCHMAKING COMPANY. I had no idea that was a real thing AND they hired remotely!!! My dream in high school had been to be a matchmaker, but I had no idea it was a real thing outside of reality television.
I stayed up until 4 am and completed the application mostly just because I thought it was funny. I remembered to include some of my recently published articles on dating in my cover letter. I submitted my application pretty sure they wouldn’t hire me, then fell asleep.
By the time I woke up in the morning, I had been invited to a group interview. I got hired 6 days later.
During my one-on-one interview I spoke candidly about my experiences in abusive relationships and that I thought I could really help women who had been through abuse and were hoping to date again. I reflected on my experiences learning about religion and how it might help me understand my clients better. I led with my heart and was honest about who I was and what I could deliver.
As it turns out, my background in Religious Studies, Nationalism Studies, and politics was perfect for matchmaking. 99% of my client have ethnic, political, or religious preferences, usually, all of the above. If I didn’t have my academic background, I probably wouldn’t be able to serve my clients the high level, bespoke experience they expect. And I certainly wouldn’t be able to understand where they were coming from.
I have the freedom to set my own hours and to work from wherever I want. I help people every day. I get to be creative and to bring more love into the world daily. I actually use my degrees, which are luckily in subjects I care about deeply. I got here by following what I was passionate about and what interested me. I said no to opportunities that looked great, but felt wrong. I dreamed big and believed in myself. And I make the crazy leaps other people might have shied away from. I trusted my gut.
Sometimes late at night I think, “Where would I be if I had listened to all of the people who thought they knew what was best for me?” and shudder.
Whether you know what you want your dream life to look like or not, you can get there. It’s about listening to your inner voice, focusing on your own healing, and taking risks. Never in a million years did I ever think I would be living a life this easy and this magical.
So tell me, what does your dream life look like?