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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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Is becoming an expat or digital nomad the best thing you’ll do for your personal growth and career development? Probably! Does that mean it’s easy? No, why would it? Travel pushes you far outside your comfort zone, that’s how it forces you to grow. Living abroad as a lifestyle essentially means you are committing to be pushed on a near daily basis. But it is a lot easier with help from the DN who went before you! Read on for the most common mistakes new digital nomads make.
Wanting To See The Whole World Right Away
Of course, we all got into this lifestyle because we want to see the world! But when you first begin your digital nomad journey, it’s better to pick one location to call home for a few reasons. For one, when you move to a new country, it’s common to suffer from transplant sickness (read my post on transplant sickness and how to avoid it here) and too much travel makes it worse. Taking time to settle in somewhere will also help you move through the inevitable homesickness, while developing deeper friendships and connections (not making friends with locals is another of the most common mistakes new digital nomads make!)
Chances are you have never worked remotely or with little to no management before. It’s going to take some time to adjust and find your grove with work. Constant travel will interrupt you every time you start to get in a flow, leaving you feel fried and like you’re falling behind.
Finally, travel is expensive. Settling down, getting into a flow, finding an affordable place to rent or buy long term is going to save you money. When you first get started, cash flow can be inconsistent. Especially, if you are freelancing or starting your own business. There is nothing worse than the stress of travel, compounded by feeling pressed financially and the rigors of starting a new career. Trust me, I’ve been there.
So chill out and stay in one place for your first 6 months to a year. That doesn’t mean weekend trips and holidays are out of the question! It just means you should have one place as home base instead of moving to a new country every week. Sometimes you need to take the time to build a foundation for your dreams before you start living them.
Being Afraid To Invest
When I first became a digital nomad I was working as a freelance writer. I had some background in writing, but not in copywriting, WordPress, SEO, or social media management. All important skills that can help you make a CAREER as a freelancer. If you’re like me and went to a liberal arts college, these are not skills you were taught. I was super resistant to investing much time and money into learning those skills, which means my income basically plateaued and I ended up leaving freelance for a remote job. It wasn’t until much later that I invested money in learning those skills and as a result was able to improve my career & income and start this blog!
But investing doesn’t just mean investing in yourself. Living in an emerging market is a great opportunity to become a first time homebuyer, eventually creating a stream of passive income for yourself through short or long term rentals. As a DN you might find that you’re saving a lot of money compared to your lifestyle before. Make some of that money work for you to create passive income long term through investing in the stock market, both in your home country and in emerging markets.
Choosing An Expensive Location
Becoming a digital nomad is a wonderful journey, but travel is filled with stress, culture shock, and growing pains. The last thing you want to do is add financial burdens to the mix. I know a lot of us dream of London, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, but these locations are pretty expensive as far as expat life goes. Overburdening yourself financially is one of the most stressful mistakes new digital nomads make. My suggestion would be to find a location that is expat friendly, but with a much lower cost of living than where you already are. Some less expensive alternatives might include Cluj, Romania; Porto, Portugal; or Florianópolis, Brazil.
Long term, consider how you can invest the money you save back into your business, skill development, or even real estate, making your digital nomad lifestyle financially smart and viable long term instead of a crazy idea you had in your 20s.
Not Knowing Your Worth
So many people I know who take up remote work are so desperate to leave the 9-5 they settle for any gig that comes their way. Often this leaves them cash strapped and desperate, so they settle for another poorly paid position/gig again. Then again. It becomes a toxic cycle they just can’t beat.
Too many DNs have the wrong perception of remote work. They think if a company lets you work remotely, they are doing you a favor. Wrong. Companies save money by hiring remote because they don’t have to house them in office. Studies have found that remote workers also take far fewer sick days saving organizations big $$$. AND remote workers help companies save money and time because they require virtually no micromanagement.
A recent report from Gartner found that remote work has grown 400% in the past decade as companies realize hiring remote saves them money and helps them attract top talent. Gartner also found by 2021 companies will be able to hire 40% work employees thanks to the money and space saved with remote workers.
A company is not doing you a favor by letting you work remotely. Believing they are is not only a major mistake new digital nomads make, it will make you come across as desperate. Desperation is major turnoff for hiring managers and potential clients. Shift your mindset. Remote work is a win-win arrangement for both parties. 400% growth does not happen as a “favor.”
So all that being said, do not make the mistake of devaluing yourself. Know your worth and work constantly to improve it. Don’t settle for less than you deserve or need to make your lifestyle a reality.
P.S. If you’re struggling with under earning, this book was a game changer for me.
Truth is, being an expat can be lonely. You find that you can’t relate to people back home and new friends are constantly moving away. One of the really common mistakes new digital nomads make (especially before they move abroad) is thinking that being a DN is an endless party. It’s not uncommon to get depressed after the 6 week mark of moving abroad or near the holidays. But even if you are an introvert, don’t make the mistake of isolating yourself.
For me, a hardcore introvert working from home, it was so easy to isolate. It’s actually one of the reasons I moved back to the US. I felt that every time I got close with someone they moved!
But isolating will harm your mental health and your career. One of the hardest things about growing a career as a DN is networking. You need to get out there and meet people every week at events, coffeeshops, and informal meetups.
The best thing I can suggest is working from a co-working space. Not only will this provide a sense of routine and boundaries to your work day, it will also help you to build a personal and professional network. It’s a great way to land freelance gigs as well! When you feel yourself starting to slip into homesickness, depression, or isolation, using a co-working space to socialize and provide structure to your day can go a long way. In the end it is definitely worth the investment.
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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.
As a matchmaker, I plan 25-30 dates a month for my clients. Having planned literally hundreds of dates, I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a good date spot, and what definitely does not. I can’t guarantee that every date I set up is going to be a home run; chemistry is difficult to predict! But I can guarantee the date location is going to be great.
One of my favorite things about my job is planning dates. I have clients all over the country, so I feel like I get to explore all the cool nooks and crannies of new cities while I hunt for the PERFECT date spot. Seriously, I’ve been so surprised by which cities have it goin’ on.
Which brings me to Hotlanta. Turns out there’s more happening in Atlanta than filming scary TV shows, sweating, and eating brunch. Including good fucking food and cute ass coffee shops, making Atlanta date planning paradise for me!
Here are the tops picks!
Read Shop by the Merchant
Not all of my clients agree on this, but I am a big lover of a bookshop date. Sitting across from someone at a bar or restaurant can seem like a lot of pressure and quickly turn into a job interview rather than a date. Not sexy.
Bookstores make for a slightly more dynamic date without too many distractions. Plus strolling through the stacks is weirdly relaxing if you have anxiety and it takes the “who is going to pick up the tab” stress out of the equation. I tell my clients to pick out a book they think the other should read and buy it for them. Super cute! And don’t get me started on the importance of supporting independent booksellers.
Read Shop is hip and trendy in a minimalist way, with plenty of weird indy books to keep you intrigued and test your date’s taste. They also serve coffee and treats so you can transition into a more traditional sit down date if you find you have enough to talk about. Read Shop is located in Vinings Jubilee so there’s plenty of other shops and eats around to explore if you want to keep the date going.
Are you bougie af, but also like to help people? Then 1. same and 2. boy have I got a restaurant for you! Staplehouse is a bit hard to describe. An upscale, reservation only dining experience with a cause, in homey digs about sums it up. 100% of profits after taxes goes to the Giving Kitchen, a non-profit supporting restaurant workers facing hardship.
Staplehouse offers an acclaimed tasting menu experience in their main restaurant, if you’re really trying to knock someone’s socks off. But if that seems a bit too intense for a first date, they also have have a killer cocktail bar, Paper Crane Lounge, that can be found above the restaurant. Really kick ass cocktails.
Queen of Cream
I personally am not a huge fan of ice cream. What I am a fan of is the casual day date. So much less pressure and no need to get alcohol involved. Seriously, why do we assume alcohol has to be a part of every date or social encounter?! I digress.
Meet your date at Queen of Cream for coffee or ice cream. Their ice cream is made totally from scratch with locally sourced dairy, so it’s delicious and sustainable. Grab a scoop of lavender honeycomb and take a stroll with your date. I promise walking around eating ice cream will make your date feel a lot more natural. Because that is the most stressful thing about going on a date, being aware that you are on one.
Do you like fancy cocktails? Do you like farm to table eats? Do you like pretending to be a wealthy stockbroker taking your mistress out for oysters circa 1928? You can have all this and more at Kimball House.
Kimball House is a creative old timey cocktail bar with a raw bar, locally sourced dinner, and absinthe service. When I hear a place is going for that vintage aesthetic, I think, “Ugh, not another speakeasy.” But that’s not the vibe at Kimball House at all. It’s comfortable and kind of homey, like your favorite pub, but with incredible food, Old World level service, and one of the best cocktail programs in the city. So if you’re looking for a more traditional date with light bites and killer cocktails, this is your place.
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