Relationships

Do You Have Any Dating/Relationship Questions?

Dating and Relationships Column

Recently, a reader named Beth reached out with an idea…

Would Cup of Jo ever consider doing a dating advice column? I have loved hearing insights from Joanna over the years, and more recently Caroline, and truly find myself wanting both of your reactions to other, real life situations. As a professional woman in her early 30s who lives alone, I’m overwhelmed contending with what dating is going to look like for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic – and yet, some of the same old challenges haven’t seemed to change a bit. Just thought I’d ask!

The answer is an enthusiastic YES!

Since we love talking about relationships, we’re excited to roll out a regular dating column. In the coming weeks, Joanna, Caroline and Kim will take turns weighing in on dating, marriage and relationships (and all those gray areas in between). And we want to hear your thoughts, as well!

Do you have a question about creating a dating profile? How to deal with a person sending mixed signals? Communication struggles with your partner? How to keep the sparks alive? Whatever you may be wondering, we’d like to hear from you.

Please leave your questions in the comments below. Or, if you’d prefer to ask us privately, you can also email hello@cupofjo.com with the subject line “Dating Column.”

Thank you so much!

P.S. A helpful piece of dating advice, running into an ex, and how to know your partner is the one.

(Photo from Insecure.)

  1. Theresa says...

    I’d like to hear more about how middle-aged women (45+) are successful dating. I’ve found that as we age, we’re more solid in our sense of what will work for us and what won’t. We’re also more complex as people, and I wonder how it is this age bracket fares in online dating, where it seems a swipe mentality favors those whose stories and faces are slick, young, beautiful and uncomplicated.

    Another curiosity I’d like to read about: how relationships are evolving during and coming-out-of the pandemic. This will really rock even those thought to be rock-steady pre-pandemic.

  2. janet says...

    I’m a 42yo single woman who has never been married, nor do I have any kids. Sounds alarming to most. I feel very comfortable being single, and have never made it a priority to be in a relationship. Although, I have had some wonderful relationships I haven’t been close to considering marriage. I have experienced a broken heart but many years ago and I believe I have healed. I wonder if I am an anomaly – are there any other single women my age out there that are comfortable being alone?

  3. Marniep says...

    I’m wondering how you would cope with Living with someone who has very different ideas of what is appropriate protocol for Covid 19 safety? I’m 100% following the guidelines and my husband is pretty lax which really defeats any extra caution I’m taking.

  4. Kate says...

    This isn’t so much a dating topic, but for years I have been meaning to write to CoJ to ask for an article on engagement ultimatums.

    A few years back on January 1st, after four years of dancing around the topic, I told my boyfriend that by the end of the year he needed to decide if he was ready to commit to a future together. I didn’t need an engagement, just the decision to continue on that path or not. I was hesitant to issue an ultimatum because I would never want to force anyone into anything, however I started discovering many women I spoke with issued some sort of marriage ultimatum to their partners. These were women of all ages, length of marriages, and personalities. I was completely shocked to learn both my mom (married to my dad for 36 years) and best friend gave ultimatums! No one talks about ultimatums and I think we should. It seems like they can be a helpful way to get a partner to address any commitment issues, fears, think long term, all those pre-marriage thoughts you know? I know there are wrong ways to go about ultimatums, but it sounds like there are some right ways that I would love to hear about from the CoJ community.

  5. Kayla says...

    How do you know if you want to get a divorce? Or if your marriage is harder than it should be? For those of you who got divorced without some sort of big inciting incident: what was the thing that made you realize you wanted to do it? Do you regret it? Does every married person think about getting divorced? Can I reprogram my mind or is this telling me something big?
    I’ve been married for ten years to a great man and we share a child together but things just feel hard most of the time. I’m no stranger to hard work but when I look back at the entirety of our relationship it feels like it’s been harder more than it’s been easy. There hasn’t been any cheating or any sort of betrayal that would feel like a deal breaker but we have had difficult things happen to us seemingly since the get-go: losing jobs, financial struggles, deaths in the family, depression, difficulty getting pregnant and things just sort of always feel stressful. We push each other’s buttons. I’ve always questioned our relationship off and on and even considered calling off our wedding but I also suffered trauma in my childhood and I know that it deeply impacts my connection to partners. I’ve done a lot of work in therapy and at times have realized how we are a really great match. In so many ways he’s a wonderful man and husband and father but how do you know if you really want to divorce and blow up your life? Or is it just that we’ve gotten into negative patterns and we need a deep reset? Is that even a thing? Can divorces just result from a slow burn of unhappiness?

    • J says...

      My divorce hearing is tomorrow, and I had every feeling and thought you are going through now. Our marriage of 14 years just phased out. I was unhappy for a long time and felt alone in our relationship. There was no big incident. My soon ex-husband is a good person, but we are not good together anymore. I went back and forth many times but in the end you have to choose what is best for YOU. Wishing you all the best!

  6. B says...

    I’d like to hear more about dating when you come from a verrryyy dysfunctional family. I have somewhat strained relationships with some family members and none with others. I’ve done a lot of personal work to be emotionally healthy and therapy, but I’m afraid of being judged, dismissed, or not believed. I know that it has and continues to impact how I approach relationships and am not sure how to bring it up in the event that a relationship progresses to being more serious or the timing when to do so. Particularly how to explain my limited ability to be entirely myself around my family (no longer believing in God for one example, but not able to have productive conversations with family about the topic, so I avoid it entirely).

    • M says...

      Hey B, I get it; families can be complicated. I used to tiptoe around conversations or try to make family members understand my point of view, which often resulted in conflict and made me feel bad about myself.
      I think with time I came to the conclusion that I didn’t choose my blood-related relatives but I decided to accept that it’s okay to have different views, beliefs, opinions, religions and to still love each other (even if they don’t believe that). I decided that I was good enough and you are too.
      You might never get the validation from the ones you love like your family but just know in your heart that you are the person you are today for a reason; you deserve love, compassion and respect.
      For me it’s hurtful sometimes to not have the support of my family, but I know that I have my back in the end and I can stand up for myself and love myself. Don’t let the fear of judgement stop you from being amazing, you don’t need anyone else’s opinion, you just need to believe in yourself! Having this belief engrained in me has hugely helped to develop healthier friendships and romantic relationships, and allowed me to reveal myself when the time is right and have people respect my boundaries.
      I hope this helps! Sending my best! :)

  7. AM says...

    I wholeheartedly support this team’s views and advice on dating! You’ve covered so many tough topics so elegantly so I know it will be thoughtful, honest, and helpful. It’s very much an area of my life where I could use more guidance.

    I am in my early 30s and experienced a horrific breakup when I found out my fiance was cheating on me 6 months before our wedding. We had been together for 10 years and this broke me to my core. I was 100% caught off guard and I walked out immediately (cross country move, new job, and no communication). I have 0 tolerance policy for infidelity.

    It’s been over a year since the break up and I’ve worked hard on myself to put most of my life back together. However, now I am struggling with the issue of meeting great men who are interested in me but I’m too scared to move forward with them. So I end it to avoid stronger feelings by finding excuses of why they don’t make sense for me. I haven’t dated many people as my last relationship spanned my 20s but now I’m not sure how to date going forward, how to assess what I need, and how to let go of the fear. The pandemic/getting sick makes it extra scary. Ugh!

  8. Cousa says...

    I appreciate advice on dating as a woman who doesn’t want to commit to anyone!

    I’m a working professional in early 30s, I’ve been married before and had serious relationships. At this point in my life all I want to do is enjoy the good things without putting myself under pressure/responsibility. I slip into a completely different mode when I partner up, and I hate it.

    All I expect from the opposite sex is good company, good sex, decency and respect. How do I convey this in a flirty and playful way while not coming across as obnoxious or blunt?

    • Toni says...

      Hello Cousa,
      I relate so much to your post..
      I wonder if good company, good sex, decency and respect is attainable??
      If you get, please let me know…..

  9. S says...

    I was supposed to get married this spring, but it got postponed for obvious reasons. During the quarantine, my fiance and I have had an awful time, fighting and arguing at every turn. I am wondering if it’s a sign that we just aren’t meant to get married at all. How do I know if it’s simply the stress of the pandemic, or if we aren’t meant to be at all?

    • Susan says...

      I would ask you *how* you’re fighting. Are you still kind to each other? Do you listen to each other’s point of views? Is there humor and compassion even when you’re disagreeing? How do the fights get resolved? Is one of you always the one to apologize and make up or do you do both do that work?

      I don’t think arguing is the sign of an unhealthy relationship. It’s how you do it that should tell you if this is the person for you.

  10. Linda says...

    OK, so here goes…
    The husband and I were on a rocky road, slippery slope, you name it; but it was not yellow and not made out of brick. This was right before Covid-19 hit our country (end of February/ early March).
    Back then, I was talking to a friend about how I had been thinking of getting a divorce, how I found myself flirting with other men more than before, and how I just felt unhappy in my relationship.
    Then Covid-19 came around and we had a lockdown from half March onwards.
    I felt so worried and really did not want to be quarantined with my husband for so long.
    But, I found out very soon that I was so wrong. We really bloomed as a couple, our kid had a great time, and we really were like a great-working team. Our thoughts were often aligned, there was no argument about if he would come with me somewhere since we couldn’t go anywhere anyway, my ever-ongoing wanderlust and his forever-after homebodyness weren’t in a struggle, and we had so much quality time.
    I honestly felt like we were who we used to be. He saw me for who I was again, and I could see myself again, and feel like myself after soooooooo long.
    Then, once the quarantine measures were lifted for a big part (which they did slowly from about a month ago), I felt worried again. Worried how we, as a couple, would proceed. Would we go back to where we were before Covid, or would we continue where we were now, on that wonderful path we had taken. Then at one point, it truly did feel like I was being closed in again by so many things; leading to how I feel now, about the same as before quarantine.
    I know that our flame is still there between us. We still have it inside us. But it is hidden pretty darn good. And that thought alone makes me so stressed again. I’ve lost sight of myself again. I have no idea where I went to. And I have no clue where the husband is (besides, right next to me).
    It would be so wonderful to hear from other people who – maybe – are dealing with the same emotions or have advice for how to get back to that feeling which is still present somewhere between us. Thanks so much ❤️

  11. kd says...

    I always love reading about how couples met and when they *knew* they were in a longterm/forever situation! So maybe the tried and true “How did you know?” post. They never get old. Sometimes I go back and reread the COJ comments… Readers always come through with incredible insight! :)

    • Tara says...

      Yes, to a “I knew when” post!!

  12. heather b says...

    Does anyone have advice for the awkward 1-2 years of dating where you aren’t sure if your partner sees it as serious or is on the same timeline? I’m 25 and have been with my BF for 1.5 years. I’m ready to take some next steps such as moving in and potentially even getting engaged in the next 2-3 years. He gets nervous whenever I talk about moving in and expresses he isn’t ready and I’m just confused if I should take that as a sign that I’ll be waiting around for commitment/a proposal and may not get it; or if he genuinely is just on a longer timeline. Our relationship otherwise is truly amazing-he’s loving, has the values I want in a partner and we are honestly best best friends. I don’t want my anxiety over “timelines” to cause me to end this prematurely; but I also don’t want to be waiting around and wasting time. What do you all think?

    • Tori says...

      If he isn’t even willing to talk about what his timeline looks like and what would make him comfortable to take those steps…then that does not inspire confidence. Two people can be wonderful personality matches and love each other, but not have the same long-term vision and therefore may not be suited to be together. (I say this as someone who was in a 7 year relationship where we talked about marriage as a far off thing. I was ready and he was not, but I felt if I pushed him I would scare him away. It ended with him finally admitting he didn’t want to marry me. I think if I had pushed him we would have gotten to this conclusion much sooner.)

  13. Lisa says...

    Hi! I’m so excited about this :) Here’s my situation –

    I’m in my late 20s and have a pretty good, stable situation I’m incredibly grateful for. Job I love, wonderful friends, my own apartment, adorable dog. I date sometimes and have dated a couple people semi-seriously, but I’ve mostly been single, and it’s fine!

    So, started seeing this guy about 8 months ago – totally my type in all the ways. Kind soul, creative, similar interests, sweet, very cute :) But things have been casual the whole time, and I struggle with it. Casual made sense in the beginning because we were getting to know each other, we were both out town a lot, and only hung out once or twice a month. He’s not a big texter, so not much communication. A few months in, I realized I really liked him, and we talked it out and he just wasn’t ready to be in a relationship (still getting over an ex + mental health concerns). We parted ways amicably and he respected my space.

    But ugh! Then quarantine happened, and I, like so many others, reached out to my him, my sort-of ex. We started seeing each other again, and he was honest about still not being ready for a relationship. I enjoyed the company, appreciated his honesty and communication, and felt comfortable continuing on, with managed expectations. The sometimes difficult emotional stuff felt worth the fun stuff! Plus, what else am I gonna do right now.

    We’ve started hanging out a bit more often and it feels like we’re getting more attached. We also confirmed that we’re not seeing other people (because of COVID health precautions, mainly). Recently, his anxiety/depression struggles took a turn and he’s starting to test out meds and talk to a psychiatrist. I feel for him and I think it’s a great move and I’m proud of him.

    My question is, should I keep waiting around? Because if I think I’m being honest with myself, I do hope for something more serious at some point. That’s not an answer he’s been able to give me, and I really do respect that he’s trying to figure out his own issues. (Also, I’ve dealt with f***boys before and I trust my gut that he’s not one). It’s not like I’m able to go out and meet anyone else anyway, and dating apps feel pointless right now, so I don’t feel like this is hindering me from meeting other people. Also I really do have feelings for him, and I don’t experience that often. Plus, he’s my friend and I want to be here for him while he goes through these mental health struggles. This has just been going on for a while now and sometimes I wonder if I’m wasting my time, or lying to myself about my expectations… Or maybe this is the perfect distraction! I don’t know! I would love some insight!

    • Sophie says...

      Lisa,
      I’m in a similar-sounding bind, but we’ve just broken up after trying again. I’m learning that I need to try to stay neutral to his journey and focus on how positive my own can be. It’s easy to fall into inconsistent and codependent patterns…the inconsistency makes it possible for you to recharge and the codependence makes sure you’ll stick around. Check in with yourself and have firm boundaries, at some point he will want to catch up or you will move on by evolving beyond where he can go. It can be both natural and messy. It’s half on him and half on you, but if you strive for acceptance then even if he doesn’t handle it well you’ll be more centered.

    • Christine says...

      Dear Lisa,

      I was in a “situationship” with a man for 2 years when I was in my late 20’s. We saw each other almost every day, dates, sleepoevers at each other’s homes, traveled together, met each other’s parents…everything said that we were eventually going to end up together. But he had stated that he wasn’t ready for a relationship in the beginning, and that held true at the end as well.

      I was there for him through his layoff, through his depression, and helped him eventually start his own company, when I could have been using that love and energy into bettering myself.

      I think there are just men who come with those disclaimers–they make it clear that they’re not going to give you more (no matter how much they act like a boyfriend), so if we decide to stick around, that’s on us.

      I think you deserve a man who knows that he wants to be yours, without hesitation. Good luck xx

    • Susan says...

      Hi, Lisa!

      You sound like such a thoughtful, caring person. Something about your question brought up a situation I had in my early 20’s, except I was the partner who wasn’t “ready for a relationship.” The guy I was with (“Z”) was probably the smartest person I’d ever met, talented, kind, funny. And I liked being around him. We should have just been great friends, but I let it drift into a romantic entanglement even though I wasn’t into it. He wasn’t the man for me for a few key reasons. I knew that I didn’t want to be with him for the long term, but I didn’t let him go because I liked him so darn much! So I kept telling him that this wasn’t a committed relationship, although we spent so much together and met each other’s families and when he told me that he loved me, I said that I loved him too. I kept seeing other people. And eventually it ended with him being badly hurt. And I lost from my life someone who could have been a great friend.

      I rationalized my behavior by telling myself that I was always truthful. I never lied to him about where we stood. It took me years to realize that I wasn’t being honest with him or myself. I knew what he wanted – a committed relationship – and I knew that I didn’t want that with him. The loving thing to do should’ve been to back off. But I used his devotion to make myself feel good (after some pretty traumatic times) even though it was painful for him because he was always hoping for something more.

      I met my now husband shortly after that relationship. I was still dating a lot, but very soon into that relationship, I knew I wanted to be with him. And even though my mental issues were still the same, I didn’t do the push-pull thing. It wasn’t a conscious choice, it was because it felt right.

      It’s been many years since then. Z’s happily married and so am I. I no longer have him in my life, and that loss I still mourn.

      All of this is to say, that when someone really wants to be with you, they will not leave you in doubt. If a guy is making you doubt his relationship with you, the kind thing to do (for yourself and maybe even for him) is to move on.

    • Lisa says...

      Thanks for these super thoughtful responses! Especially Susan… what a powerful and helpful perspective.
      We actually ended things a few days after I posted that… even after so many months of doing whatever it was we were doing, he STILL couldn’t give me any inkling as to whether he thought things could progress in the future. I told him I couldn’t wait around anymore, and he was sorry and we ended things amicably. I know we could’ve ended up hurting each other much worse if things continued on the same way, and your comment made me even more grateful that things didn’t end like that. <3

  14. Cara Mills says...

    My husband and I live in Colorado and have a 3 year old who is signed up to attend preschool next month. We both work from home and we’ve been lucky to have my Mom helping us with childcare M-W (I work part-time and am home with my daughter TH/F).

    Although my husband and I share left-leaning political views, we vary on our opinions regarding my daughter going to school. I think the school is taking appropriate precautions and will shut down if infection rates get out of control. After registering my daughter, my husband now things sending her back is dangerous. This has been causing mega-tension. While I am a big believer in taking every measure necessary (wearing masks, washing hands, staying at home when possible), I think he is overly anxious. He thinks I’m not cautious enough. It is causing mega tension in our relationship. How do we reach an agreement and get over this hump? Every night, he’s combing through the news and building up his anxiety. I believe in thoughtful scientific research and have even consulted with a CDC epidemiologist friend and fellow Mother. The viewpoints vary even among the professional group (check out the NY Times article about it). Need help!!! We are arguing about this constantly – but it is just a bigger issue about our differences in our approaches.

  15. Catherine says...

    What happens when the ‘honeymoon’ period of the relationship is over? How to get over the (if any) rough patch that might follow?

    I’ve been in a relationship for almost 2 years, and we have always been very happy, gotten along super well, on the same ‘wavelength,’ and very intimate and close, and I have felt very loved. When the coronavirus hit, we went to the same school, but have now been doing long distance for 4.5 months. We’ve done long distance before when I studied abroad, but this time around feels different, and I can’t help but think that it’s because all the excitement of a shiny new relationship/ person is wearing off. I find myself getting irritated at little things he does, feeling critical of ways we behave around one another/ ways I am treated, and overall how much love I feel. I know that the end of the honeymoon phase brings more comfort, but does this mean that the active shows of love have to diminish, in order to have this comfort?

    This is my first long-term relationship, but it has been so amazing in terms of how well we get along, can talk about anything, and communicate. I can see us being together for a long time, but I just have a lot of relationship anxiety during this time- is this normal too? I have also talked to him about some of this, but I still feel like I am missing the early stages of our relationship, the giddiness, excitement, and how much care/ thought was put into everything!

    • Anon says...

      Every relationship will evolve. There is no relationship where you will maintain the giddiness etc of the first few months/years. It is hormonal. That is the reality of a mature relationship. I guess that is what people mean when they say that they are ready/ mature enough for a long term relationship: it means they are ready to move beyond the easy initial phase with someone.
      Long-term, you can maintain a strong physical relationship and enjoy the comfort, trust, and shared history built through long-term love. In the bedroom, you might have to get a bit more creative as the years pass, let your imagination spice things up, and perhaps also adjust your expectations a bit. You also have to get into the habit of focusing on and enjoying the positive aspects of your partner and your relationship, and accepting your partner for who he is.

      If you just want that initial giddiness, you will have to change partners every few years… which I imagine is a situation that gets old, too. But if you are not ready to settle down, that might be the best option for you.
      Ask yourself these questions: Are you ready to settle down? How Compatible are you two? Can you accept him for who he is? Will you regret letting him go just to start something ‘new’ with someone else? Are you able to adjust your expectations of the relationship to long-term mode? There is no right answer. Just the answer that is right for you.
      .

    • Anon says...

      Oh, and one more thing! Remember that your relationship with yourself is the most important. Is this a relationship where you can grow? Because that is the best part. If you feel accepted and supported to grow. Both of you can explore and grow through life together..

  16. Tara says...

    2020 was the year I decided to move forward on having a baby on my own via a sperm donor. I got pregnant through IUI, then weeks later there was no heartbeat during my second sonogram in the first few weeks of Covid.

    My ex and I broke up six months ago due to my desire to become a mother and he did not want another child. A month ago he asked to talk after running into each other at a Protest. (2020 tho). He said he was still in love with me, missed me, his life is hollow without me and wants us to be a family (he has an 8 yr old) and to have a baby together.

    What? Is this Pandemic him? What in the actual fuck? Where ya been? Are men really this slowwww to process? I’m over here taking two-hour baths and eating nachos for one happily. I love him, but how can I trust this is really what I want, what he wants? How do you know? I had come to a place of peace of mothering solo. HAAAALPPP.

  17. anna says...

    im struggling with getting back “on the apps”. i live in austria where the quarantine has been lifted again, so meeting in person is relatively safe and possible.. but just filtering through all of those profiles and dealing with awkward first dates that lead no where hasn’t left me feeling very motivated. :-(

  18. Erma says...

    I’m a newly divorced single mom (100% custody) to a young toddler. I’d love to learn how other women have navigated this. One part of me is itching to date, while the other half is hopelessly confused at how I will ever have room in my life to nurture a new relationship.

  19. cece says...

    love and need this!!!!

  20. mimi says...

    something I’m struggling with right now, ending a relationship that has been on-off, better as friends, but now… I don’t know. I’ve realised I have some deep rooted issues from family trauma that have shaped how I relate to men, but he is a wonderful person, and I would dearly love to keep a platonic friendship. We’re taking some distance while we clear our minds, but is it possible do you think, to build a good and genuine friendship out of the embers of a romantic relationship? Or just a bad idea?

    • Rue says...

      Just here to say I’ve been here too, and I feel this, Mimi! I’m currently in a relationship that *doesn’t* feed my personal & family trauma history, and it felt scary for the first few months because it was unfamiliar, but now I’m thankful every day that it’s different from my other relationships.

      I am still friends with someone who was my… exactly what you describe here. And someone else who might have been that, had we lived closer to each other, but distance got the best of that as a romantic relationship. In truth, I am not close with either person now that my current relationship is solid. They both knew I had started dating my current person, and they’ve given me space in a neutral, kind way, once it was clear I was in serious relationship territory.

      While I was single, the friendship that’s most like what you describe was absolutely valuable and healthy for me to have, as long as I was *maintaining it* the right way, by being very aware of my boundaries with him, and being honest with myself about what felt like friendship-interactions and what felt like romantic-interactions. I didn’t get that 100% right. There were a few painful moments. But also, plenty of friendships have uncomfortable or painful moments. As long as it’s not hindering your ability to grow a future healthy relationship with a partner who’s a great romantic/personal/life fit for you, then I think it’s such a salve to have a good friend who knows you well, knows what you’re going through, and you don’t have to sensor your trauma history or relationship history with when you’re talking to them. That’s a blessing in the mean world of dating.

      Wishing you well!

  21. Jenna says...

    hey COJ – love this series or relationship/dating idea – as a middle age female I struggle with re-entering the dating/relationship scene as I attempt to balance my personal chronic health diagnosis and supporting my aging parents. I feel this gap in my life – but don’t want to only give crumbs to a dating/relationship when I’m being torn in other directions that require so much bandwidth. would love if you could include this perspective in your column as I’m sure I’m not the only one attempting to find balance.

  22. JS says...

    Hi Cup of Jo! I love that you are putting together this column. Please consider inviting Shani Silver (shanisilver.com) for a guest post at some point. She is a Brooklynite and has a great perspective on the single life (wants to be partnered again in her life, but isn’t sitting around bemoaning the single life in the meantime). She is a much-needed empowering voice in the single space. She hosts the A Single Serving podcast and writes columns for various outlets too. Her perspective on everything — dating, travel, joy, everything — is very refreshing!

  23. Alexandra says...

    When my mom died, her best friend’s son comforted me while I was grieving. He was so charming, and very funny. It got to a point where he confessed his feelings for me, at the same time confessing he is still in a relationship with somebody else. He told me he’d break up with his girlfriend to be with me, I refused. I wanted someone who’s honest, and he wasn’t honest with me about his relationship. He made me think it was just me and him. Now I did reject him but I’m still pining for him. Should I accept him if he breaks up with his girlfriend? Or should I just let him go? Please advise.

    • Danielle says...

      Alexandra, that is a tough place to be in. My advice would be to let him go. If he’s willing to break up with his current girlfriend for you, the chances are high that he’ll be willing to break up with you down the road for a new girlfriend. You deserve someone who is honest with you right from the beginning, and who you can trust is telling the truth without reserve!

  24. Kat Mila says...

    Mother of three young children and functionally single. I don’t have the energy to date, especially with all that I am juggling these days. Any support or ideas welcome.

  25. Jenna says...

    Hi COJ team! Love this idea so much. Here’s my dating question, and I’d love your advice.

    Years ago, you posted on instagram a quote from a reader that described two types of relationships: “For some people, it’s like a light switch. Boom, light! Boom, you know! And for others, maybe it’s more like a sunrise. Indistinguishable at first. Light coming so gradually that you almost don’t notice until all of a sudden, you find yourself in the full bright sun” (COJ reader, Meg).

    I’m 31 years old, and unexpectedly single after a very difficult heart break earlier this year. Getting back into dating again, I’ve found myself really hung up on this concept of a “slower burn” type of relationship. I’ve been seeing someone new for about two months now and haven’t really felt any fireworks yet, although I do enjoy his company and spending time with him very much. On paper he’s everything I want, but I’m wondering if there’s that elusive spark that might be missing. These words about more gradual types of loves have kept me powering through and waiting for some glimpse of light – but how long do I stick it out, waiting for the sunrise that may or may not materialize?

    (Ps. here’s the instagram post from 77 weeks ago! One of my favourites of all time: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs8teoLAmfB/)

    • EJC says...

      YES — I remember this quote too, and second this question!

    • E says...

      Jenna, I am in the same situation! Except I have been dating this guy for about 7 months. He’s kind, patient, and I really enjoy his company, but I often wondering if I will ever have that spark or ‘in love’ feeling that I’ve experienced before. I would love to hear others thoughts on this.

    • Bec says...

      I was talking with a girlfriend recently about this. She was always looking for a ‘spark’ but with the help of a psychologist she recently discovered that she had misidentified the exciting/delving into the unknown feeling of being kept on her toes by an emotionally unavailable man as a ‘spark’. A ‘spark’ for her always ended in disaster and heartbreak. She’s much happier now with her sunrise man!

    • Amanda says...

      I agree with Bec. Seeking out a spark is often a signal that you maybe have some limiting beliefs about yourself in relationships or the nature of relationships. Perhaps there is some emotional addiction to unhealthy partners at play. When you’re used to dating people who activate strong emotions, your brain sort of looks for that “reward” automatically even if those strong emotions weren’t ones you liked feeling. When these strong feelings are missing in a healthy partnership, security and safety can feel like boredom because you’re not getting a regular, recognizable hit of those neurochemicals you have relied on to propel your relationships.

      I recommend following @the.holistic.psychologist on Instagram and checking out Episode 109: The Four Qualities of Natalie Lue’s Baggage Reclaim podcast. (Her whole podcast is helpful and someone in the CoJ comments posted about this years ago! I think about it all the time.) I know the feeling you’re describing and when someone new doesn’t provoke strong feelings in you (good or bad), it’s very easy to doubt whether it’s viable. There’s also the added pressure of not wanting to string someone along if it’s just really not the right option for you, but secure people can handle rejection.

      And honestly, you could meet the love of your life and just not be ready so do the intensive self-work knowing that some is independent and some healing can occur within the context of a partnership. Gaining this sort of self-awareness will give you clarity and can make any partnership you want to build that much stronger.

    • My relationship with my husband was definitely a slow build. He was my first date after I got out of a 7 year relationship that started when I was 18. I definitely did not have that spark moment where I was like “This is my future husband!” He was very smart but could be condescending, funny but weird, and socially awkward. I couldn’t quite figure out how I felt about him, and never believed I would meet my husband on my first internet date, but I just kept asking myself “Do I want to see him again?” and the answer was always yes. We even broke up because I wasn’t sure I was ready for a relationship and I still didn’t stop talking to him. Over time I asked deeper questions to myself “Do I feel loved? Respected? Valued? Appreciated?” and the more questions I said yes to….well we’ve been together for 6 years, married for 3, and basically have only hung out with each other for the last 5 months and I love him more than ever. Don’t think about what he’s like on paper – think about how he answers the questions in your heart (I know this is very cheesy but I don’t know how else to say it!!!).

  26. Hannah says...

    I’d love to hear about others in relationships with significant age gaps. I’m in one myself with an age difference of 25 years. I’m so in love with my partner and have never connected with anyone else like him. We have big future plans together. I would love to see and read about those who are navigating similar relationships and what they are going through with family, health etc.

    • Eli says...

      I would love to hear about this as well. My ex-husband and I were 9 years apart. (For reference, I am 32). My family never showed any qualms about our age difference but I am now dating someone who is 17 (!!!!) years older than me. He is literally only 6 years younger than my Dad. And 12 years younger than my mom. My parent’s do not know about the relationship and I have a feeling they may struggle with the age gap of us, as well as the opposite for them and him. Would love to hear from others with significant gaps and how they have faired in life – the positives as well as the difficulties inherent in it.

      Hannah – much love to you and yours!!

    • Geena says...

      I’m 30 now and in my early 20’s i dated someone 27 years older than me.
      I wish i knew then that there is absolutely no future and i have (had) so much more growing to do.
      He is a forever friend now.

    • Anon says...

      Personal story: I dated someone 15 years older than me when I was 23. In hindsight, I can see Clearly that it was not a healthy relationship. I also realize that it was kind of weird that he was dating a much younger woman. He had issues. I dodged a bullet leaving that relationship, even though I was “crazy” about him, and even though I was the younger one, he had a lot of growing up to do.

      Another consideration: when you are 55 he will be 80.

    • Anonymous says...

      My husband is 13 years older than me, and the age gap affects our day-to-day life very little – maybe because we’re older to begin with (late 30s and early 50s)? I actually think it makes things more interesting because we have such different perspectives on/experiences of things like music, movies, and current events. I feel like I learn a ton from him, and it’s part of what makes him so attractive to me. The hardest part is knowing that, because of multiple factors, I will most likely outlive him. I would never choose not to be with him for that reason, but it’s also something that keeps me up at night, knowing that we’re not a couple that’s going to get 50 or 60 years together. That at some point, he’ll be gone and I’ll still be here. It’s also difficult to decide how much that should affect how we live our lives now. Sometimes, I think, “What are we doing wasting time on work and dishes and laundry and car repairs? We should quit our jobs, blow our savings, and travel the world with whatever time we have left together!” (That was pre-COVID, of course.) But then we’ll have a night watching Seinfeld reruns, drinking wine and eating takeout pizza with our dogs laying on the couch next to us, and I think, “I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything in the world.”

  27. M says...

    How to navigate having feelings for a close friend, who is in a long-term relationship. A man came into my life over a year ago, when I was in the depths of grieving the end of my last relationship. Since then, he has been a steady presence in my life. He calls me every day; helps me with any house projects requiring two people (or just someone tall enough to change the lightbulb!); and loves me exactly as I am… in all my dimensions: when I’m goofy, when I’m happy, when I’m frustrated. At the beginning of our friendship, I never for a moment thought of him as anything more than a friend. Something shifted more recently and I’m concerned I may have to end this friendship that has kept me buoyed through a breakup and this pandemic… to be fair to him, to his partner, to their relationship. Advice?

    • Been there says...

      End it. And keep your distance. Then focus on yourself and growing your own life.

  28. Kate says...

    I’m a young person (22) in an extremely committed relationship of several years. This is both of our first long term relationships. I love my partner and our relationship, and feel comfortable talking about the future (house hunting, marriage etc.) with him. However, our current dating culture and subtly people in my life have told me that I am the point in my life where I should meet someone I want to be this committed to. And I now have questions like: are we going to wake up one day to find we missed major life experiences? Should we try dating other people just to say we did? Will we get bored of each other?

    • Kate says...

      *not at a point in life

    • Anne says...

      I related so much to your question! I am now 28 and got married at 26. At 22 and younger, I was told all those things and I had myself all those doubts. I don’t have a straight answer to your questions, but I thought I’d share some thoughts. First of all, no one can predict the future and no one can answer those questions with certain for you. Those are questions you will have to answer yourself with your partner, as challenges will appear (because they naturally will). For me, I also felt that this was a time of exploration, of meeting the unknown, of experiencing new things. So I decided to do that with my partner. We grew together! I also had times when I did that by myself (study abroad, travel alone) and I thought that made me grow and made us stronger as a couple. My point is: you can explore all you want and be in a committed relationship. Also: feeling comfortable with someone and feeling like you belong with that someone is not always easy. As long as you feel that and that is what you want you can cherish it. Make decisions based on what you think and feel is right for you and don’t fear the future. I also think that any age needs exploration and confrontation with new things (according to research that is one of the ingredients to a lifelong happy marriage, and in my opinion, of personal growth). That said, I think cup of jo will have insightful thoughts about this. :)

    • Maria says...

      Hi Kate!
      I’m 27 and single, but I asked myself those same questions at 21, too, while I was very committed in a 4-years relationship.
      I am not much older now but what I would tell to the 6-years-younger-me is:
      – Always go with your gut. If you do what you truly *feel* is the right thing for you in every moment and every chapter of your life, at the end, you will not regret the choices you made.
      – Everyone has their own timing. Don’t compare your life to others’. And yes, listen to your family/friends/mentors but, eventually, follow your own intuition. It will be you dealing with the consequences of the decisions, later on.
      – Never quit your own dreams. Envision yourself in 10 or 15 years: if that’s the person you want to be, pursue it like there is no tomorrow. This applies to career, love life, motherhood, lifestyle, whatever.
      – Life surprises you, and it may also make you rethink your priorities. Embrace every step of the journey – good and bad – and learn from it.

      It’s been only recently that I’ve put into words these principles I have lived by in my 20s. Of course life happened: broke up with that first boyfriend, had another serious relationship, now single; graduated in Psychology, now studying my second masters degree; lived abroad in Paris and Amsterdam, now back at home working in a very close version of my dream job… I experienced fantastic, good, bad and worse episodes. Like everyone else.
      But all in all, I couldn’t be happier to be where I am today – slowly building the life I envisioned and following my gut :)

    • Ingrid says...

      I can’t speak for every relationship, but I started dating a guy when we were 15. We’ve been quite happily married for 51 years now, and are hoping for many more. Has it always been perfect? No. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I never felt like I missed out, and I don’t think he did either. Sending you best wishes for a long and happy relationship!

    • Jasmine says...

      Hey Kate –
      I’m 20 years older than you… met this cute guy when I was 16, stayed together through college, then got married when we were 22 (20 years ago). It’s going great. We aren’t bored of each other or feel like we needed to date around to figure out of the other person really was the right one for us. This is certainly not true of every couple in a committed relationship in their early 20’s, but I don’t believe you’re doing anything wrong ;)

    • teegan says...

      When I was 22, I met a 30-year-old and fell in love. He was divorced and felt like he was already “behind,” so he confessed to wanting kids right away. And I knew he was a catch, a once-in-a-lifetime guy, so I dove in.

      Eleven years, two kids, and a mortgage later, I totally have moments where I feel like I missed out on all of the fun, wild things my friends were doing in their twenties. But I also reaaaaaally look forward to being in my mid-forties when my kids fly the nest and we’ve almost paid off our house and I’m young enough to adventure (hiking! kayaking! travel!) but old enough not to make too many regrettable decisions when I do. And I have never for one minute wondered if I married the wrong person.

      You two will obviously change and grow and evolve. It’s about committing to each other through those changes and remaining curious and invested in the other person. Once a year or so, when we’re out on a date, I like to pretend we’re meeting each other all over again and ask my spouse to tell me about himself. Sometimes parts of the answer are surprising!

    • Suzy says...

      Hi Kate, I started dating my husband when I was 22 and was married by 24. All my friends thought I was nuts, five years later we are still the only married couple in my friend group. At the time I went with my gut, but couldn’t quite rationalise what I was doing to others. Five years later, we’ve finished degrees, lived abroad, followed our dreams. This year my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. I’m forever grateful that we have had the time to build a solid foundation for these tough times, and to have made the most of our years together (whatever happens) ! Life isn’t a cookie cutter pattern, do what is right for you.

    • a.n. says...

      hi, Kate! i got married at 23. i had been with him for about a year and a half, and we are now 11 years in to our relationship and damn, it’s the best. it is just the best. i don’t feel like i missed out on ANY major experiences…i will say, i “lived a lot” prior to being with him – i went on many big trips to other countries with just girlfriends, lived on my own and with roommates, dated other people, had another long-term (3 year) relationship, etc. but never once in 11 years have i woken up and thought i missed out on anything. and for the record, even after 2 young kids at home, things are still…ahem…steamy? for us, haha. and wonderful! and i still learn about him and his ridiculous stories from childhood that I’ve never heard, and we still laugh together every single day.

  29. P says...

    Loving and accepting love when you struggle with depression

    • Anita says...

      Oh I think this is a great topic and also how to navigate things like depression/anxiety/illness (both mental and physical) in a relationship

    • Leah says...

      This is a good one. My husband struggles with depression but it’s hard on us both.

      It isn’t easy being with someone who falls into such negative thought spirals.

      He has low grade chronic depression, but has also experienced more extreme episodes, like around the loss of a parent, and those have been very hard.

  30. Fay Kane says...

    I am an older woman (70’s) and have been with my boyfriend for fifteen years. We live separately but get together often to golf, watch tv, eat out, go to the movies or out with family and friends. Since COVID, we have not done nearly as much as we did pre. John sees the virus situation like I do and says we have to practice distancing, masking and washing. However, with his large family and close, friendly neighborhood and friends he is uncomfortable asking for six feet of distance, etc. In fact, family and friends are routinely in his home to stop by, visit, or stay over. So, the result is he is in contact with many, many more people than I and I am as a result uncomfortable with that reality. I believe he appreciates how dangerous the virus is but his actions belie that. His actions jeopardize our get-togethers and tension results. How to handle?

  31. Alex says...

    Couples who have been together 30,40,50 years always say marraige is hard… there are rough patches. I want to know details- what did they chose to get through rather than leave each other for… I would love those stories.

    • Kelly says...

      Yes! I would love to hear specifics too.

    • Rosanna says...

      I love this idea! Fascinated by what makes relationships work over time

    • Kylie says...

      Such a great idea!

    • teegan says...

      I’ve only been with my spouse for eleven years, but we realized pretty early that (unlike in our previous relationships) “hard” shouldn’t be banging-your-head-against-a-wall hard. It shouldn’t be trying to ignore or accept things that you can’t ignore or accept. Instead, it should be learning-a-language hard, or climbing-a-mountain hard. You know you can get to the next level, but it’ll take developing your skills and learning and adapting to get there. That’s my two cents, anyway.

  32. Meri says...

    I have so many questions about being in a relationship. I currently separated after deciding I needed to be solo for now. How do I overcome worrying what my friends/family think of a boyfriend? How do I know when he/she is the “one?”

    • Tara says...

      I have those same questions. Help!

  33. C says...

    I recently turned 30, and have been single for a couple of years. I always get asked why I’m not married/attached or colleagues/acquaintances nag me and tell me to find someone soon as I’m not getting younger. BTW, I’m from an Asian background so it’s normal to hear such things.

    These things add pressure to me, and I used to get upset but after a few years, it just gets annoying. How can I tell them fend off such remarks or to tell them to stop asking me these questions in a polite manner?

    • C, I second this question! I also just turned 30 and get asked all the time why I’m not in a relationship by acquaintances and even colleagues (!). I think it could be meant as a compliment (e.g. ‘How can you not be taken?’), but…the pressure is so much that I get anxiety before going to office holiday parties or anywhere I know this question is going to come up. Anyway, I’m so right there with you on this.

    • Sunrise says...

      Same! I’m currently in the market for a new job and I’m already dreading this question for when I eventually land a job. How do I respond to these questions

  34. Jenny says...

    Maybe this is an unanswerable question, but I’m flinging my arms open wide and asking anyhow: How do I not take dating so personally? Recently, I went on some socially distanced dates. One was a picnic and the other was just a park hang on not-too-adjacent blankets. Neither of those guys ever contacted me again. It made me feel Gregor Samsa-esque, especially during this time when I haven’t been perceived by people and have had the whole festival of body image issues, freedoms, and questions that brought out. I was like have I lost my magic? Am I too pudgy now? Too old? But why would I want to date anyone who would rule someone out for being at home in her body and an adult? That tiny sting (even though I didn’t want to date them either!) made my medusa snakes retreat right back into my follicles and now your girl is not dating.
    Sub-question: Do you know any sweet, single duderos in the Bay Area who would wanna date a medical student in her 30s who is a total, ferocious goofball and loves a good pair of coveralls? Must be dog-positive, have a sickness for the thiccness, will not try to tell me what to do.
    Sub-sub question: Should I just give up on dating? My life is pretty full and interesting. My friends are like family. My education is DAUNTING and ongoing. Dating hasn’t brought me a lot of goodness or frankly enough free meals (and I’m a student and these are tech dudes).

    • Kristina says...

      Hi Jenny!!

      I am also a single lady in the Bay and fully understand and *feel* your struggles. These tech bros are not it. The point you made around dating not bringing a whole lot of goodness really connected with me. I also want to really commend you for getting out there during these covid times and trying. And trying is all that we can really do.

      I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year thinking about what dating brings. And my general conclusion is that dating is just rough if you’re not just looking for a good story to tell your friends aka the story of my early 20s haha. But!! The hope that keeps me going is finding a person (you just need one!) that you can really connect with.

      When I’m feeling frustrated and angry about dating in general, I try to remember that it’s not about being “too” anything. It’s just about finding someone that connects with you as much as you connect with them. Because you are not too anything! You’re exactly the right amount of you.

      I hope this helps a little. And I’m always down to chat and make new friends if you want to reach out on instagram @kristinaalford

    • L says...

      Jenny! I feel you to a T. From a fellow Bay-area gal- I DID give up. Dating in the Bay is ROUGH.
      Can’t tell you how many first dates I went on with guys who would pour on the charm and then never contact me again. I assumed it was because I didn’t sleep with them immediately after the charm-splosion on date 1. (Also, to be sure, also went on a lot of totally cringe first dates with zero charm at all) I noticed a lot of single straight guys in the Bay don’t want to settle down (even if “settling down” just means “dating only one woman and planning to marry her before you both turn 80”).
      When I saw that term “the boyfriend cliff” pop up earlier this week in reference to Gov Cuomo, I assumed it was actually about how once you turn 30, the amount of men who show up on your online dating profile shrinks in half (seriously, are there studies on this?).

      My therapist told me dating in the Bay is actually a real challenge for most women, and the majority of her clients are amazing single women who cannot meet a man for the life of them in the Bay area. She even advised me to look outside the Bay.
      For now, thanks to COVID, I’ve just stopped entirely (although tbh I hadn’t been on a date for several months before COVID either… just couldn’t bring myself to try anymore). I wish I had better advice or a success story for you, but if nothing else I can offer validation that it’s NOT YOU! <3

    • Britt says...

      I needed to hear this, so thanks Jenny and to everyone else commenting. Knowing that this happens to some amazing ladies makes me feel not so alone or bridge troll like when I don’t hear back from most guys after the 1st date.

    • Stacey says...

      It’s helpful to see all of these other responses from ladies in the Bay Area! It is super hard to date in a place where so many guys meet a certain mold. I always tried to meet guys who were in a different field than tech, until finally meeting my amazing engineer bf who is very smart but also emotionally astute / available! Glad I didn’t go so far in the other direction away from tech to end up missing this gem! Keep up the hope, and good for you putting yourself out there during a trying time. It’s true that all it takes is one person to connect with…or moving to Oregon, which I considered at some points during the single journey…

    • Lana says...

      I can’t say this will help you for sure Jenny, but what I find useful is to think about how I feel on a date with someone who is perfectly lovely but not what I’m looking for (for whatever reason). I mean them no ill will but no, I won’t see them again. Just like not everyone is for you, you will not be for every person, and that’s okay! I try not to read into anyone’s decision making early on in dating since I’ve found their inability to follow-up with a ‘thanks but no thanks’ text says so much more about them than about me anyway. Xx

    • N says...

      Hi Jenny!

      First of all, you sound like you life is very full but also like you are SO MUCH FUN! It really sucks that dating hasn’t brought you a lot of goodness.

      After an extremely long-term relationship (15 years in all), and 1-and-a-bit year(s) of marriage, my partner and I decided to separate.. While part of me was devastated, another part of me was hugely relieved. What I had tried so hard to make work for so long just wasn’t, and I think it’s best for both of us. All of this is to say, that we separated in February.

      In May I decided to download Bumble just for fun, expecting absolutely nothing. I chatted with a lot of men and ‘clicked’ with just a few. After chatting with the first two potential dates for over a week, very consistently, through Bumble (thankfully covid brings such a good excuse to extend that getting-to-know-you phase via online chatting), I decided to meet them for socially-distance dates. Both dates were good, and I saw both men again. Though while they were lovely humans, they just didn’t seem like people who could easily become MY human.

      I retreated to the world of texting with them, but continued to swipe. Shortly after, I met another man I clicked with, instantly. From the get go, he has made it so apparent that he makes me a priority. He is so kind, consistent, thoughtful, hilarious, honest, and intelligent. We chatted three times on video chat (for over three hours each time) before we met in person, and within 2 weeks of knowing each other we started dating. It makes it super easy that we’re both high-risk, and are therefore both extremely careful with everything COVID-related. We’re both introverts who don’t click deeply with other people often. so this was new to both of us.

      Needless to say, 7 weeks later, we still video chat every evening we don’t see each other (often for several hours at a time), and it feels like we’ve known each other for over a year. Time-wise it’s been super quick, but it feels like our souls have known each other forever. We’ve been scared about the intensity of our feelings, we’ve fallen in love, met each other’s parents, and are starting to plan our future lives together. I NEVER would have thought I’d be truly dating right now because of COVID, yet somehow it’s brought me a man who I am so incredibly thankful for. I love that our current times allow people to get to know each other more online.

      This was long, but hopefully it brings you hope. Sometimes people surprise you in the best of ways, even in the most bizarre of times. Sending you all the best of vibes, and so much love!

    • Rue says...

      Highly highly recommend the book “It’s Not You,” which I read like a sermon as often as I needed to for the (many) years I was dating.

      I dated while finishing a PhD and then for the first several years of a demanding professor job, before meeting my current partner on a dating app. It is a slog, and there’s not really much to “get better at” exactly, other than remaining true to yourself and your wants despite how bleak it can be. I’m in a region of the country where my wonderful qualities are not likely to show up on many mens’ lists, and it was exhausting to remember it wasn’t my responsibility to do or be anything different. So I just kept going back over my profiles and trying to make them as “me” as I could, hoping it would send away the people who weren’t interested, and interest the people who might get it.

      My current partner told me the minute he saw my profile, he was floored someone like me existed in the (rural southern) place we live, and he figured he’d never get another shot to meet someone like me, so he took time to craft this beautiful first message. It took a few months to feel secure in the relationship, but it felt hopeful from the very first date.

    • JJ says...

      Jenny, L, Kristina, or any other Bar Area ladies out there, I moved to San Francisco 3 years ago thinking that there would be a plethora of great guys but I have also struggled to find a quality guy on the apps…maybe we need to create a Bay Area dating anonymous group to commiserate or strategize. haha :)

    • Natalie says...

      @Rue – “… it was exhausting to remember it wasn’t my responsibility to do or be anything different. So I just kept going back over my profiles and trying to make them as “me” as I could, hoping it would send away the people who weren’t interested, and interest the people who might get it.” This is perfection!

  35. Gillian says...

    How the heck do I find a male partner who is self-aware and able to manage his emotions in a healthy way? I find this so difficult! It makes sense, because men aren’t conditioned in our society to acknowledge their emotions (let alone process them in a healthy way), but I’m a therapist and it’s really important to me to find a partner that knows how to communicate and manage emotions effectively.

    Also looking for a partner who loves dogs, reads for fun, and is liberal, but those are easier to find here in the Twin Cities. :)

    • Jess says...

      I have no idea, but stumbled into meeting one and we’re still together 13 years later. They are out there! We had a lot of mutual friends; I think it helped to know that he had good, supportive, fun friendships with all genders, not just dudes.

    • Lindsey Rose Graham says...

      Hi Gillian – just want to echo this, especially the part about communication. I have met few grown men who are good at asking questions, rather than being stuck on the mode of talking about themselves/their opinions. As a teacher (and I’m sure for you, as a therapist) I am well-versed at drawing people out, listening closely to their responses, and remembering what they have said, and it can be so painful to give someone many opportunities to ask you questions and have them not do so! I worry that most men are not socialized to have deep conversations with their friends (including about their feelings) and thus do not acquire these important listening skills.

    • Emily says...

      yeah. honestly the most stable relationship I’ve had was with someone who was close with his mom and took therapy seriously. And he was still kind of closed off, but SO MUCH BETTER at talking through feelings than other guys I’ve dated.

    • Meghan says...

      Lindsey Rose Graham, your comment spoke to me so much!!! I’m a social justice education facilitator and remember leaving some dates thinking, “well, OF COURSE you had a good time – it feels great when someone asks you questions and makes you feel like you’re wonderful and interesting…and if I had also had that experience, I might want to go on another date with you too!”

      For what it’s worth, a major green flag in my current relationship was when I found out he was in therapy :) We both have our issues, including with communication, but it really helps to feel like we’re both working on them, together and separately.

    • Rue says...

      My partner’s dad died several years before we met, but my partner is also very close with his uncle, the dad’s brother. I met the uncle for the first time when we were staying at his house for my partner’s grandmother’s funeral, so the uncle’s mom. My partner and I had been dating for a few months. From that first meeting, his uncle was so upfront even with me about his emotions, so honest and communicative in a healthy way, all while grieving, hosting people as overnight guests, and being the point-person for everything about the funeral. I was like, OHHHH, THIS is where my communicative and supportive partner comes from! From other men who are also emotionally healthy!

  36. Christiana Fortune-Reader says...

    COMMUNICATION strategies for when we are both grumpy, stressed about the state of the world, and most unhappy with ourselves

    • A says...

      yes please!!!

    • margaret says...

      I don’t know if this will work for you, but I truly believe one of the main reasons why my decades-long relationship has been so happy is that we appreciate each other every day. I say thank you even for little things that he does all the time (like making the bed), I don’t take it for granted. And I tell him why I love him all the damn time. This practice changes both of us; I’m always looking for the positive, and he always hears positive things from me, which encourages him to do more positive things. A virtuous cycle!

  37. Kate says...

    Best tips and suggestions for making long distance work?

    xx

    • Madi says...

      Long distance is so hard! My now-husband and I were long-distance for three years and I would never wish it on anybody. I don’t have any special tips- for us, it was just about communication and being committed to pushing through until we could be together- but I did just want to say I’m sorry that this is part of your story and good luck!

    • Ellie says...

      Yes! Long distance during COVID is such a struggle. I’m in a relationship with a 10.5 hr time difference (India / US), borders are closed so we can’t be reunited, going on 5 months now.
      Our relationship is solid but it is no. fun. Especially not knowing when we will be able to get back together..

  38. Claire says...

    I’d like to hear something about the case for couples partnering rather than marrying. It seems like the default when a relationship has been established over time is marriage. I’m so torn about this. I’m currently married, and have been through a divorce, and I’m very happy in my marriage. But there’s a part of me that wishes that I hadn’t tied myself to another person for life legally. I always push others to just wait and be together for as long as they like, but there’s something so ingrained about marriage in society. I wish that my default wasn’t marriage, but partnership. Does this resonate with anyone else?

    • Joy says...

      You are not alone, Claire! I’m torn about this too. I’m constantly battling the decision not to marry, and it sounds selfish, especially if you come from an Asian family. I’m happy with a person I love, and I can’t be any luckier! Sometimes I get bouts of emotions of what would happen if we do get married, or when I hear news of my friends getting married, that I am missing out something special – and I feel that there must be something wrong with me to choose not to get married. I wish there are more stories about normal couples out there that have been together happily for a long time without getting married to prove that I am not an anomaly.

    • Amanda says...

      Claire! Yes, I wish more people felt this way because the pressure to not only find a partner, but then marry that partner within a “reasonable amount of time” is immense in our society. I just turned 35 a month after breaking up with a long-term boyfriend and honestly, while we were together, it was hard to focus on just being with each other sometimes. Our well-meaning family and friends asked constantly about the status of our relationship and when we would hit certain milestones and did I think he was The One? And now that we’re not together, the new question from everyone is “when are you going to get back out there?” Should I just tell them to STFU or what? Marriage is not the actual goal for me. Partnership is. A lot of people don’t seem as willing/able to wrap their heads around that. Like can we just normalize partnership that exists outside of marriage?

    • Angela says...

      YES! Thanks for posting this question, and I would love a post about this. My partner and I (not married) have been together for four years and I don’t know if we’ll ever get married. I think I’m okay with that, but still am not sure for multiple reasons, including how society treats married couples and the default benefits for married couples. My partner and I don’t live together, and while this may change in the future, it currently means that we can’t be domestic partners and therefore don’t have the benefit associated with domestic partnership. I’m 41, never married, and at this point in my life I think about the practical reasons for being married – we can be on one another’s health insurance, if something happens to either of us, our spouse will be the default beneficiary/ decision maker.

    • Allie says...

      My aunt and her husband got fake-married SEVEN times one summer! Marriage is very important to him, but she’s against it, so they compromised with getting fake married:)

      Why seven times? They had seven different gatherings planned throughout the summer with various clusters of friends and family. Instead of making it a huge deal, they’d just announce the night before getting together, “Hey, during our beach hang-out tomorrow, we’re actually going to have a small wedding ceremony before we get in the water. Please wear a sundress or aloha shirt over your swimsuit.”

      We honestly thought they were bonkers, but everyone felt included, the ceremonies were intimate, the cost was basically nothing, and it aligned so well with their seemingly-opposing values.

    • C says...

      My partner and I have been together for ten years, have a child and a house, and are happily not married. It’s just not something that either of us value or feel strongly about, I often forget it’s a thing until a coworker or relative awkwardly bumbles about it. Lately I have been wondering a little bit if our young child will find it troubling that we aren’t married when he is a little bit older but it seems like if anything it would be a minor issue we could talk through. Very curious to hear other experiences and thoughts on this.

    • Sarah says...

      I was a family law attorney who worked with victims of domestic violence. My clients always talked about how much harder (YEARS!) it was to get divorced than married. BUT, if you and your partner decide that you’re going to take a lower paying job or a job with fewer paths to advancement for the kids or because someone needs to do more of the household labor (or even that only one of you will contribute to a 401(k) because of an employer match), then I would consider marriage. Spousal support and communal property rights can be huge. Many women think that it’s being anti-feminist to think of these things, but in divorce, women’s standard of living decreases by 50% while men’s increases by 25%. When you make decisions together about your (plural your) lives and one person gives up financial opportunities for the sake of the family, than you want to make sure that you’re protected in the future if anything happens to the marriage.

    • margaret says...

      A good partnership story: My father figured out he is not the marrying type after two divorces. At the age of 59, he met the love of his life. They each have kept their own houses, about 3 miles apart, but they almost always have dinner together, go on vacation together, share a gazillion interests, and help each other out when times get tough. Twenty years later, they are still going strong and I have no doubt that they will happily spend the rest of their lives together-ish.

    • E says...

      I’d like to hear more about this topic as well. My partner and I have been together for 7 years and have talked off and on about marriage and have each had various feelings about it. I think part of the problem is that marriage originated as a business deal, and our legal system still thinks of it that way (taxes, property laws, child custody, inheritance, etc) but socially it’s become much more about emotions.

  39. Jess says...

    I love this idea! I could use some advice… I am 25 years old and I’ve not really had any experience with dating. During university I went on three dates with one lovely guy but it didn’t go any further than that. I feel insecure about my lack of experience going into the ‘new normal’ of dating, especially the physical side of dating, I’ve only every kissed two people and never had sex. I feel like I’m too old to be this inexperienced. How do I move forward with my feelings of insecurity? Any advice would be appreciated!

    • Anon says...

      Hi Jess – I hope it’s OK if I share my story, as it’s a bit similar to yours. I’m 38 now, but I didn’t have my first kiss until after college, and I’ve only ever dated two men. I was SO freaked out about my inexperience when I started dating my now-husband (I think I was about 33?), but he was so completely kind and understanding and patient and gentle. Due to past physical trauma, I had to go super, super slow every step of the way, but he never got frustrated or upset. I always felt so loved and safe, even when I was at my most vulnerable. So, 1) I think our experience is a lot more common than we think or than pop culture reflects back to us, and 2) I think despite messages to the contrary, there are so many warm and caring men in the world for whom this doesn’t even figure in to how they feel about a potential partner. Good luck – our paths may be unique, but we all deserve to be in happy, healthy, loving relationships!

    • Daniela says...

      Honestly, I’d say that any guy worthy of you won’t care. I was very insecure about my lack of sexual experience. I had sex for the first time right before I turned 27, with my now husband, who didn’t care one bit (beside maybe being smug that he’s my one and only sex partner, lol!). Don’t compare yourself to others, which I think in a way we do when we look at our dating experience compared to others!

      And trust me – I’m now 29 and I don’t think my sex life would be any different had I lost my virginity 10 years early. At this point it is like I’ve been doing it forever (pun intended!).

    • Daniela says...

      Earlier*

    • anon in texas says...

      phew, thank you for this thread. I’m in a similar boat. At age 28, I’ve had maybe 2 kisses in college, never been on a single date in my life, and never had sex. I am really insecure about my body/weight and general inexperience. I am not dating (lol) but wouldn’t know how to bring it up or explain to a date/partner why I’m so inexperienced at this age. Most of my friends had sex ten years ago haha so they don’t relate…
      Anyways this thread makes me feel better!

    • Allie says...

      I was in a similar boat! When I fiiiiinally kissed someone for the first time, it made great material for playing that game “two truths and a lie.” For one of my truths I could say that my first kiss was with a 28-year-old, and no one ever believed me. Ha!

    • Kristin says...

      I think it’s true, what Daniela said! Someone who truly cares about you and about getting to know you will not mind. I didn’t kiss anyone until I was 26, and my now husband and I (who I met at 26) were together for close to a year before having sex. When you meet the right person, all of those insecurities will just not matter anymore. I spent a large part of my teen and early adult years worrying obsessively about this, and now I wish I hadn’t been so anxious.

    • M says...

      I second Anon’s comments, and want to share my story in solidarity, esp. because it’s so similar to yours, Jess. Despite a few dates in college I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 25 and didn’t lose my virginity until I was almost 28. I was also dealing with trauma, which caused me to have a full-on panic attack during my first kiss…which might have been because it was a total stranger from a dating app and I was desperate to just get it over with, haha. I was convinced I’d die a lonely spinster virgin because everything felt so scary. Here’s the big BUT: a good friend of mine asked me out, and I realized I wasn’t scared of him at all. He was so patient and kind with every “weird” quirk (aka normal trauma response) of mine and I was finally confident to experiment. I can’t stress enough how different it felt with the “right” person. TL;DR – IT’S COMMON, NORMAL, and OKAY to wait for a person you feel safe with, respected by, and attracted to. Looking for a partner (exp. during quarantine!) can be frustrating and lonely and so difficult, but I swear that by putting yourself out there you’re on the right track. Love and solidarity to you, Jess!

    • E says...

      My story is similar too! I had never been on a date until 23 years old – I felt unattractive because no one had ever asked me out. When I first kissed my now partner, I just told him – we started kissing and then I stopped and said “I’ve never done this before!” He has been very patient and always made sure I’m comfortable with everything I’ve done. I think communication is the key. If I hadn’t been comfortable telling the other person I’d never done something, I wouldn’t have been comfortable actually doing that thing with him.

      One other thought – one of my friends got married a few years ago. She and her husband are both religious so I figured she hadn’t had sex yet. I called her and offered to talk about sex. Not that I’m an expert, but I remembered how anxious I was. I know there are books etc, but it seems nice to talk to a friend instead. Are there friends you could talk to?

    • Emily says...

      Daniela – for a minute I thought I wrote your comment! Same, same, same (except I’m 35 now). Jess, I didn’t come here to say anything unique, but just to add to the chorus of voices saying, it doesn’t matter when AT ALL, it just matters who.

      And in no world is 25 too old for LITERALLY ANYTHING.

  40. Kalin says...

    How to date during a pandemic. In the pre-times, I loved meeting up with people really soon after matching. I figured an hour and a drink was a better way to see if there is chemistry rather than endless messaging. And even if it wasn’t a match you always learned something from these encounters. What made dating kind of fun was the cute flirtations that require physical proximity, like leaning in because the bar is loud, googly eyes, an unexpected kiss.

  41. Megan says...

    I decided I was looking for *the relationship* and a girlfriend gave me life changing advice. She told me to make a list of all the essential, non-negotiable qualities I was looking for in a partner. Mine were things like, curious, kind to strangers, funny, ambitious, dog lover. I ran this list by close friends and my mom, and started using it to evaluate dates. It was SO empowering! There were a number of nice, handsome men who had a lot of the qualities, but not all, and it made it so easy for me to say “thanks and goodbye” rather than passing months investing in a relationship that was doomed to fizzle. When I met my now fiance about 4 months into dating with “the list”, I felt empowered to ask him all the hard questions very early, and to ask for exactly what I wanted out of the relationship. His friends had also advised him to make a list and we were engaged less than a year after meeting. At 35 after several years long relationships he is truly the best partner I can imagine.

    • ANDREA says...

      I used my list of five qualities to network for dates and it really improved my dating life! People had a specific list of qualities and could sort through their acquaintances to see if they knew anyone. It led me to finding my husband. He is intelligent, funny, kind and has a sense of integrity and a spiritual life.

    • JJ says...

      Andrea, how do you network for dates?

    • Andrea says...

      JJ—I made a list of the qualities I was looking for and let my friends and acquaintances know that I would go on at least one date with any guy they thought had those traits. I did this over the course of 18-24 months before a new friend introduced me to my now husband.

      I like to think of it like a certified pre-owned car. Friends and acquaintances knew me and what I was looking for. They could then act as a quality filter for the guys they knew. It really turned around my dating and increased the quality of the guys I met.

      You can only tell so much through dating profiles. Networking for dates allowed me to harness the power of the good judgement of friends to see the values and personality of a guy.

    • Erin says...

      A dear friend gave me similar advice after a painful divorce. I took her advice and wrote a list and kept it. Just the process itself was interesting and I realized it was also a prayer of sorts, putting out to the universe what was important to me in a partner. It later became part of my vows! I even wrote “tall” on my list and my husband is 6’4”. :))

    • JJ says...

      Thanks Andrea, I live in SF and it has been hard finding quality guys on the apps, so I like this idea better! Thanks again!

  42. Audrey says...

    I love this idea and always read your relationship posts and comments for this very reason! I’m divorced and now in a long-term, committed partnership and we are considering blending households (I have 2 kids, he has 3 – ages 8-13) in the next year. This is uncharted territory for us and feels really ominous to move in and take on seven sets of personalities, habits, preferences, moods, etc. What are some tips and best practices for blending families? How do you deal with the many unknowns? How do you make it successful and beneficial for the kids, let alone continuing to maintain and grow our adult relationship?

  43. Chrissy says...

    I am very extroverted (want to leave the house, try new restaurants, go downtown, do new things, etc.), and my husband is a social person but less inclined to go out of the house and try new things. My friends used to fill this need, but now with the pandemic, I feel less fulfilled by him and even question our compatibility. We have very few off days together (he works nights and on a weekend), and the weekend we do have together, we’re not spending it together the way I want to (hike, beach, walk downtown, go on a drive, picnic). How do couples on a different extraversion/introversion scale make it work and stay content?

    • Daniela says...

      My husband and I split our time up. On one day off together, we just relax at home (my preference) and on the other we go hiking, pickup food, etc (his preference). If you only have one day off together maybe you could split the day up?

    • Hannah says...

      I love this! For us, it’s a couple with different risk tolerances, which is important during covid. I’m completely risk averse and even stepping out of my very suburban house has been a challenge during this time. I have not gone to any stores, done restaurant pick-ups, etc. I try to limit food deliveries to once every few weeks, and I almost don a full on hazmat suit for those. My husband, on the other hand, wants to go about his life with a mask and social distancing and wants to have similar family experiences with our 5 year old. I would love to hear how others are dealing with this since living together during covid means that I can’t just tell him to do whatever he wants on his own.

    • Eva says...

      Totally echo this question! My husband is very introverted and doesn’t enjoy socializing much, it’s honestly more of a chore for him. I’m the more extroverted one and more willing to meet new people/make plans with people. Our relationship is very solid in most aspects, but I would say our weakest aspect and the area that usually causes the most tension is the aspect of socializing and making plans with other people. Would very much appreciate advice on how to better respect his needs/accommodate his personality while also not always feeling so burdened when it comes to trying to make social plans.

  44. Allison says...

    yes! always love all the insights here, would love to get some communal thoughts on dating in this pandemic! How do we do it while keeping our social responsibility? Do you ONLY date digitally when you live in a high risk area? Rely on evolving testing / science?

  45. Riley says...

    I’d love advice about how to continue to get to know someone and keep moving forward. I started dating someone about 2 months ago and the first 6 weeks were really good but now it seems like we’ve plateaued a bit. I’ve never had a serious relationship and this is the longest I’ve continued seeing someone without getting bored. I definitively am not feeling bored or disinterested but I just don’t know how this is supposed to go next. It’s not even needing to define anything specific about whatever the relationship is, but more about making sure we are emotionally growing together. Thanks!

  46. Arianne says...

    I’m so excited for this!! If you ever decide to have guest advice-givers, I’d highly recommend Shani Silver (https://www.shanisilver.com/about), a writer and podcaster who covers life as a single person . Since Jo, Caroline, and Kim are all partnered, would be fun to hear from a single person as well :) plus Shani is so smart and funny and refreshing and she’d be a great addition to the CoJ world <3.

  47. jane says...

    I just binged two seasons of the trashiest – literally the worst British dating show, (“Celebs Go Dating” – cringe – on par with Love Island which I just couldn’t watch it was so bad), but I since I’m not dating right now I just love watching social interaction even though this last one could barely be called that. I LOVED the Netflix ones because they at least featured people who were fairly normal and not “reality stars”. I wish these shows would feature a better class of people.

    • Bee says...

      Dating Around on Netflix I think very watchable. Cringe moments but mostly quite ‘real’. And if you can find the early few series of First Dates (a UK Channel 4 series) this could be quite ‘real’. The later series are a bit contrived.

  48. Em says...

    In case it’s helpful to someone here, I wanted to share the blog post (of all things) that helped me figure out mixed signals! I truly recommend it: https://www.adammaynard.co/blog/2017/5/1/the-key-to-never-wondering-about-mixed-signals. The gist is that mixed signals are actually sending a clear signal — that the person is conflicted or inconsistent. We can decide from there what we want, how to communicate with them, and when to move on if they can’t figure out what they want within a reasonable timeframe!

  49. EG says...

    Yes to this.

  50. Kasey says...

    I am so excited for this! Long time follower here and newly married (1 month!) after several years of long distance. I love soaking up wisdom from others – particularly how to build a strong foundation and how to infuse humor and “lightness” into heavy, serious seasons like the one we are in now.

  51. Sally says...

    My boyfriend is the weirdest/sweetest/funniest person I’ve ever met, but the poor guy had a horrible childhood and so much baggage from past relationships that he (in his own words) “has never had a healthy relationship role model” in his entire life. I grew up with very good relationship role models in my parents and my best friend, so it’s difficult for me to understand what my bf feels. He’s finally in therapy for his trauma, but when it comes to our relationship, communication can be disconnected or he’ll assume I know what he means and he feels weird telling me what’s on his mind. I don’t take it personally, and he’s become better at communicating his feelings with me, but do you have any advice on what people with relationship trauma need? I want to be a supportive partner, but it’s sometimes difficult to be patient with him when he doesn’t know how to say what he means.
    In the same vein, he is certainly lively in the bedroom, but when it comes to talking about sex, he clams up. I, on the other hand, am very open about my sexuality and desires. I don’t know how to help him open up… I feel like I”ve tried everything.
    Looking forward to your relationship advice column!

    • CS says...

      The first part of your comment resonated with me so much! I too would welcome advice on building a strong relationship when your partner has significant trauma.

    • Anon says...

      Tip:
      We cannot ‘fix’ or heal another person.
      They can only heal themselves by doing the hard work.
      We can choose to stand with them on thrir journey, but it’s not our job or duty to think we can even try to do it for them.

    • B says...

      Second this. Would love to know how to support a partner as he copes with a past trauma (especially past trauma that he hasn’t completely identified or come to terms with yet).

    • A says...

      Sally I really appreciate this question. Can i offer my own perspective? I’m the damaged one in my marriage – my husband has a ridiculously great family and is annoyingly emotionally healthy. And even though he doesn’t understand it, he treats my work to heal from trauma like a new sport I’m learning, instead of treating me like I’m damaged. Like I’m learning to play tennis and some days tennis practice goes badly and I need to cry in the tub. Or sometimes I have to pause an argument because my old tennis injury is acting up. It’s such a gift to have it treated like a strength I’m building rather than a flaw i’m covering up.

    • Rebecca says...

      “Like a strength I’m building rather than a flaw I’m covering up” That’s beautiful, A. The sports analogy sounds like an incredible useful system of thought.

  52. Regina Mareglia says...

    How to navigate childhood trauma in a new relationship. (I have been in therapy but recently lost my insurance due to the pandemic.)

    I very rarely meet men I feel chemistry with. In my early 20’s I had incredibly poor mate selection thusly ignoring my better judgement and value. Now at 25 I’m focused on my boundaries and responding appropriately to red flags but the creeping voices of my abusive past are becoming incredibly distracting. I struggle to be in the moment, to quiet pessimistic voices. After each perfectly successfully date, I prefer myself for heartbreak.

    So excited to follow as this column evolves!

    Regina ✨

  53. Aly says...

    Navigating and choosing where to live. Do you follow one’s career who makes more money? Etc. etc.

  54. Sarah says...

    One word for anyone and everyone: THERAPY. Find a therapist you click with and talk to them about what’s on your mind! I’m looking forward to the advice that the CoJ team offers, but therapy is such a useful tool for processing, getting to know yourself, figuring out what you want, dealing with hard issues, etc. You can be perfectly “normal” and still incorporate that into your life. I believe it can help every single person here who is figuring out their next steps. Telehealth has been a great resource :)

    • j says...

      YES!!!!!

    • Gina says...

      Yes!!

  55. Liesl says...

    My question is whether you still stick by your advice in this post!:
    https://cupofjo.com/2011/08/do-you-ever-worry-that-you-wont-meet-your-soulmate/

    I feel the exact same way you felt in that post! All through my twenties, I’ve lived in NYC, worked my way up in jobs, and met lots of people…just no one I’ve really wanted to date. And the guys I liked were either married or just not that interested. I mean, it’s like I might as well have written that post, it speaks so much to me.

    Now, I’m 30, and as the last of my friends partner up, I’m envisioning years more of long days of work and lonely nights ahead. I feel like my choices are:
    – Be lonely
    – Partner up with someone who isn’t right for me

    Does anyone out there relate?

    • celeste says...

      The last part of that post is enjoying what you have right now. Sounds pretty great to me!

    • HH says...

      Me! I relate to that last part! I’m like your West Coast counter part, minus the fact I did find someone and we dated for 2.5 years but now I’m on the precipice of 31 and sometimes it very much feels like those are the only two choices. I do remind myself that I am my third choice and that is infinitely better than the second option. It’s tough, though, especially during a worldwide pandemic……

    • DT says...

      I so relate to this, but was on the husband hunt for much of my 20s and wish I dedicated more time to understanding myself and how to build a fulfilling career (not just about the paycheck) worrying less about when I’d find “Mr. Right.” If I were to do it all over again, I would focus more on what makes me happy in my life – hobbies, interests, values, etc.

      I am fortunate to have found a wonderful partner – my husband is my best friend and was a close friend for a long time before I realized he was the one. It just came in a different package than I was “expecting.” (I always equated love with the chase/drama/za za zsu).

      Turns out, for me anyway, a happy and peaceful marriage is about finding a partner who is there for you and supports you every step of the way in building a life together. It’s not just about the sexy stuff – it’s about finding someone who will be there when the dog has tummy woes, or the toilet is on the fritz. Someone who has their own interests and passions, but you share some of the bigger stuff like values and goals. Someone who wants to work through stuff with you and will genuinely hear you out and respect you.

      I think the biggest part of this though is understanding your non-negotiables – do you want a best friend or a lover? Do you need someone who you can talk to for hours? Financially responsible? Is a sense of humor imperative? Know your musts and the things you can either work on (wardrobe, etc) or live without. You can’t change a person – believe them when they show you who they are.

      This book was recommended to me and it really helped me pivot out of the romantic fairytale we’re brought up to believe in (rom coms are not real!) Some find Lori polarizing, but as a trained therapist, her advice really spoke to me. Good luck and don’t worry about finding your guy – it will happen, and you will know when it is the right time/person – you don’t need to force it. :)

      https://www.amazon.com/Marry-Him-Case-Settling-Enough/dp/045123216X

    • K says...

      Celeste what you said 100%! I’m already worrying about my future children– what if they’re boy/girl crazy too early? I don’t want them to be cuffed or perpetually looking for The One when they could be learning about themselves…which in turn helps them develop enough self-worth to find the perfect one, anyways!

      Talking about relationships is so fun but at the same time, life is also so much more!

  56. Sophia says...

    One thing coming up for me right now is figuring out the right balance of being picky, but also accepting that people are human. I am dating a guy right now and feel like there is something special, but I am concerned about the way he communicates and it’s only been a few months. Is it something we work on or do I run because no matter how deep of a connection I feel, I don’t want to be with someone who has a tendency to be reactive? (Would also love to hear from anyone in the comments…)

    • Vero says...

      Communication is so malleable! Working with a good therapist, doing reparenting and inner child work, etc is SO helpful. We have patterns of communication and subconscious beliefs we learned from our family units that we unconsciously repeat until we decide to become aware and undo them. Those patterns picked up / recreated from childhood are not our fault but they are our responsibility to work on, especially if we want to be in relationship with another person.

      I speak from personal experience. I was a highly reactive person who has changed my communication and ways of moving about in the world so much. So much more inner peace and better for my partner too!

      If you have a connection with someone, I wouldn’t let them go for something as changeable as communication. Talk to him about what feels like it’s not working for you. It can be hard for people, esp men, to wrap their heads around therapy especially if they consider themselves “normal”, but if he’s entirely opposed to working on his communication style and essentially saying he isn’t willing to change, that’s a different conversation.

    • KK says...

      This reminds me of the book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough by Lori Gottlieb. It’s an easy read and it might help you feel convicted in either direction! Then you’ll know :)

    • Anne says...

      I can provide my 2 cents into your situation – I would suggest sticking it out for longer, if you do feel a special connection. I nearly dumped my husband a few months into dating (who is the perfect match for me) because he was emotionally closed off. Over the years (and it took about 5-6 enjoyable years) I realized that our connection and compatibility was so important that I could deal with his poor communication, being an introvert, his extreme tidiness, etc. When you wonder if your BF’s communication style is “something we work on” – I would suggest working on your own acceptance of his current communication style, because it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to change it. After 10 years of being with my husband, I know that I need to ignore 95% of the things I could bring up, and select only the MOST important topics, then patiently and painfully pry a conversation out of him. Not ideal but it works, and it’s SO worth putting up with the bad if you end up with someone you have a true connection with.

    • Lara says...

      Sophia, this is so so pertinent to me right now (and to those who responded to her thread, loved reading your insightful experiences). I’m in a similar boat of being super picky because as women, we feel we deserve the best, nothing less. I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 6 months and just had a large argument and I was thinking the same thing about the way we resolve conflicts. Reparenting is a big thing — we learn so much more from our parents that we realize so maybe consider probing into his mom/dad’s styles and determine how they handle communication. Could shed a bit more light.

  57. Sophie says...

    I keep dating guys in their 30’s who after a few months (or years!) have an identity crisis and melt down, ending the relationship. I see my friends and myself blossoming in our 30’s and I feel like my partners crack under the pressure of becoming themselves? What is that about??

    • Heather says...

      Ohhhh girl, you NAILED it! Wow. And we are not only blossoming, but becoming the most dynamic, bad ass women/people I know. I am constantly asking myself “what gives?!”

  58. Emily says...

    Love this idea! Online dating seems to really bring out the best and worst in people, and although it’s been a couple of years, I’m slowly considering going back to it, especially in a pandemic when I won’t likely just chat with strangers or meet people randomly.

    The problem I had with online dating in the past is that people don’t interpret it the same way. I always took the route of stating what I want and who I am, and being honest if I want to meet up or not. But it seems like a lot of men (in my case) were saying what they thought they should, like it was a game. Such a waste of time for everyone! How to get people to be honest/recognize when they aren’t being?

    I’m also recently out of a really significant relationship, and I am afraid that no one I meet will measure up to the person I loved before. How to stay positive and open, instead of feeling cynical about the number of *bad apples*?

  59. Neela says...

    Joanna, it’s not entirely on-topic, but how did you and Alex meet? Would you share the story? As a non-american, I feel like the stories about NYC and dating seem to insinuate that finding a long-term partner there is tough. I’d love to hear how you two found each other in the NY dating scene.

  60. SHANNON says...

    This isn’t so much of a dating question for me, but a question about how to be a supportive mom during difficult dating times. My daughter is starting college in the fall. She has chosen to live at home and take classes online due to Covid. Her boyfriend, who is currently in our family bubble, will start college in-person in the same city in a few weeks.
    We are all being very careful about exposure and have medical reasons to do so. We also want to keep our sanity during all of this and balance what is “too much risk” and what is “risk worth taking”.
    Dating your high school boyfriend during college is tricky and trying to do it with a pandemic raging and some states acting like nothing is happening is very challenging for the people caught in the middle.
    I’d love to know how other families are guiding their young adults in these issues and what sorts of resources they’ve found to support themselves and their loved ones as they try to navigate this time.

  61. Nicole says...

    I hit one year of dating my boyfriend on September first! I have a little over a month to prepare. I’ve never dated a guy for a whole year before (not sure why, but I digress). I’m not sure what the etiquette is. I know marriage anniversaries have like, traditional gifts around them (paper, cotton, leather, etc.) While we are not married, one year of dating in your late twenties still feels significant enough for a celebration of some sort. Gals, anyone out there have some gift or date advice who has been through this one year milestone with their man?

    • T says...

      How exciting and congrats on your milestone! My best advice would be to bring it up with your partner and talk about how you feel about the milestone, and give space for each person To share what they expect.
      It took a few years of me being with my now-husband to be able to say “I expect a flower and card and dinner date for every milestone, I don’t care about gifts”. My head tells me, “it’s not romantic to have to ask and talk about it”, but you know what is romantic, having my expectations fulfilled.
      Good luck!!!

    • Nicole says...

      Thank you, T! What about to your man, do you give him a card, etc.?

    • T says...

      I do give him a card as words are part of his love language. My guy is very low-maintence and will usually just want to pick a dinner and dessert spot (:
      But ask your partner what celebrating would look like to them!(:

  62. F says...

    So excited for this column!
    My question is about how to move from “dating” to relationship. I met a great guy on tinder, texted daily for almost a month before meeting, and have now been seeing each other around twice a week for the past six weeks. (There are no current covid cases where we live, and we’ve been taking turns cooking meals for each other at home.)
    I’m so into him intellectually, emotionally, physically, and I think he feels the same way about me. But while I got rid of my dating profile a while ago, he doesn’t hide that he’s still active on the tinder app. I’m conscious about not seeming overbearing or moving too fast, but is it too soon to have a conversation about exclusivity/app use? I need a script!

    • liz says...

      no expert here but i’ve been in this situation a handful of times. It’s not too soon imo. I would just ask him if he’d consider it. See what he says, and if you like the response.

  63. Anonymous says...

    YES! What is your advice for a one sided emotional relationship? I love my husband so so much, but he never says I love you, never “comes on to me”, and would rather play video games than talk to me after work each day. Our relationship is truly awesome otherwise, but I am left feeling like I hold up that romantic side of our marriage.

    • SF says...

      Hi – have you voiced this to him? No one is a mind reader – perhaps he doesn’t realize he isn’t giving you the attention you would like. If you have voiced this and he is simply not putting in the work, maybe this is a conversation you can take to couples therapy. You deserve to have someone tell you they love you! The romantic side is not just up to you – he needs to give that back.

  64. Leyna says...

    Timely – My fiance (we’ve been together 3.5 years and would’ve been married this summer were it not for the pandemic!) and I are on really different spots of the risk-adverse spectrum. We didn’t fully understand this until now! He thinks I’m overly cautious when it comes to COVID-19 and is trying so hard to defer to me, but he’s struggling between worrying about my being so worried and feeling like he’s more deprived of normal life than is necessary. We keep bumping up against this with every little decision about what’s safe to do outside the house and what isn’t. Any advice??

  65. VVeronika says...

    Matthew Hussey is THE dating coach, check him out. Wish I had him on hand 15 years ago! :-D

  66. J. says...

    This is a really hard thing to articulate, as it’s recently become a tension point in my relationship, but long story short I think I want kids and my fiance doesn’t. 
    A bit of background on us, we’ve been together to 8 years, I’m 27 and he’s 29. We met when we were in uni (college) and at that point we were both a bit “maybe” on kids in the future, we both work demanding jobs in the performing arts and live sport with lots of international travel on his side, and national tours for me. We got engaged last year in september and honestly I love our relationship, our life and I really love him. But one week ago he brought up that he doesn’t want kids, and that he doesn’t think it will change. While we’ve had conversations through our relationship about this, this is the first time he’s expressed anything but a “maybe”. The reason it’s come up is both that I have some hormonal problems that might impact fertility and that we’re supposed to get married next year (covid permitting). It was a really hard conversation and I appreciate him coming forward with it, but I really don’t know what to do. I go between feeling like I want to work through it and find a way to be happy in the relationship and being extremely sad and heartbroken that we won’t be having kids together and wondering if it will ruin our relationship. 
    His reasons are mainly that he doesn’t want the kind of life that kids entail (fostering and adopting older children isn’t either in the cards), he’s worried about his mental health that he already is managing and that he simply doesn’t want to. 
    It’s obviously hard to advice on something like this as there isn’t any compromise, but what do you think?

    • Sarah says...

      You have to decide if not having kids is a dealbreaker for you. If you want them badly and your partner doesn’t, and you don’t think you will ever fully adjust to being happy with a childless life and relationship, then maybe you need to go your separate ways. Sorry for the bluntness, but I’m a realist :)

    • Rusty says...

      Believe him.
      If he’s being that clear about it, he means it.
      Don’t wait around thinking he will cgange his views.
      Find someone who hasthe same fundamental values as you.
      Believe him.

    • Maria says...

      My partner of 2 years (we’re both around 30) and I broke up recently because of this. He wanted kids and I didn’t. It was the only point of contention in an otherwise idyllic relationship. I am heartbroken, but feel like a weight has been lifted now that we can both pursue lives that are more authentic to our values. Just my two cents.

    • J. says...

      Rusty; I definitely belive him, it’s not a question of that, it’s more a question of it’s important enough to me or not.

  67. Sas says...

    Oooh this is so good. I’m 47 and have been with my partner since I was 20! I’m wondering if anyone has any wisdom on how to keep the romantic spark flying after so long?! Any advice from anyone in navigating long term relationships?

    • margaret says...

      I wonder if part of the secret to success is thinking about it a little differently. Not a spark but a deep deep warmth. Way back at the beginning, the sparks were constant and amazing. 26 years later, we don’t have the sparks but we have something different that we didn’t have then – this incredibly rich relationship that brings a different kind of joy, in part because we know so much about how to make the other person happy; things that it takes a lot of years to learn.

  68. Kimberley says...

    This seems like something that we’ll definitely need Jean’s advice on too! #momofjo

    • Em says...

      Yes, please could Joanna’s mom be one of the advice-givers, if she feels so inclined? I have found her kindness and perspective truly helpful over the years (including in building up my inner ‘kind mother’ voice after a challenging childhood)!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes!!! Great idea!

    • Jenny T says...

      #momofjo – hahaha love it! And love this idea.

  69. Hannah says...

    Ooooh that sounds like a great idea!

    How about also – once in a while – adding a post about dating (customs) around the world? Because I sometimes find there are different approaches to dating even when comparing European countries.

    There could be a topic for each post, like “first dates”, and people from different country can be featured instead of focussing on one country.

    • Liz says...

      Yes!!! This would be so interesting !

    • Laura says...

      Great idea!!

    • Eva says...

      Yes please!!! Like Motherhood around the world :)

  70. Michelle A says...

    I am currently 26 and have been reading your blog since it blossomed. Now in my mid-20s, I find myself in a rut with dating. My parents found each other early on in life- my father was my mother’s first relationship and I always expected a similar outcome for myself. I dream of being in a long term relationship where we’re both comfortable and my significant other puts on my socks for me before I go to bed. I have an idealistic view on love and am hoping for a meet-cute or a great fairytale love story, one for the books as I’d like to say.

    Unfortunately, I’ve been ghosted far too many times than I can count, each time damaging my self esteem and crippling my dream of finding the one. I’m currently seeing someone, but he’s very hot and cold in the send that at one point he wants me to meet his parents and then I’ll go hours or a whole day without hearing from him. I can’t tell if he truly has an interest in me or just doesn’t know what to do. He’s never had a serious relationship and has only had casual/friends with benefit type relationships. I really like him but I fear of getting hurt, and I just don’t think I can take one more heartbreak.
    I need advice on how to manage the ebbs and flows of dating, ghosting, and how to value my self worth in dating. Should I give this guy a chance? We have great chemistry and he makes me laugh and makes me feel beautiful, but I just don’t want to end up hurting. I’ve never written a comment on your blog, but feel so inclined to ask for help. I’m at a loss and don’t know what to do with my dating life.

    • Sarah says...

      First, I think it might be helpful to let go of the “idealistic view”. We are no longer living in our parent’s times where there was no social media and people did meet easily in person. Not to say that can’t happen, but I think you may be making it harder for yourself by fantasizing about that :) Second, if you can’t figure out where this guy stands with you, you either need to ask him straight up, or end it. It sounds likely that he will hurt you unless you are honest with him. Lastly, dating sucks and you are not alone! If you need a break from it, take it. Spend time with yourself and friends and enjoy your freedom. The grass is not always greener on the other side, and you could end up wishing you enjoyed your single time more ;)

    • k says...

      idk if this question seems random, but to backtrack a bit, who are you? what do you like to do, what do you like to talk about with anyone, your friends? what do you like about a person when you completely remove the romantic part? imo someone effortlessly becomes swoon worthy anyways when they genuinely care about you.

      and fwiw, no advice, i feel like it’s a common thing to come from parents from a dream marriage and assume that it will just happen when you’re of the same age, also.

    • Gillian Webb says...

      Michelle!!

      We must be living parallel lives because this situation exactly describes mine! Down to the idealism and fear of getting hurt, parents who were highschool sweethearts and currently dating a guy I love but who doesn’t sweep me off my feet in the way I thought love would (and he also had the interesting dating history of just casual hookups, I’m his first real girlfriend). I decided to give my guy a chance but even still, I think that parent/ideal relationship haunts me. I wonder sometimes if something better is out there, or if I expect too much out of a normal relationship, but I also know that for right now, this makes me happy.

      As a fellow 26 year old I don’t truly have any advice to give you but I just want you to know you aren’t alone out there! We will both figure it out and we have the time to do it, we are lovely kind people and this is what I tell myself when I get a bit lost or start to question things.

      Joanna, would love to hear more about this period of dating. When you really go well with a person, but you’re not sure. One of my favourite articles (which I return back to often when in the dating world) is the one where you ask readers “How do you know your partner’s the one?” I would love to follow that up with: “How do you know what to do when you don’t know?!”

      Thanks (and also a long time lover of this blog! Don’t know what I’d do without it).

      Gill

  71. Stacey says...

    I’d love to hear what‘s something insightful you learned about yourself during the dating process? I think that’s one of the most interesting parts of people’s stories. Not just about finding your partner, but what’s a way you grew or evolved that made it work better once you found that person?

    • Lauren says...

      Love this idea!

  72. E says...

    So many good questions here.

    Here are mine:
    My partner has an interest that I don’t share. This interest is a fetish for some people, although he doesn’t engage in the sexual aspect of it. We talk about it and he’s been open about what he does and who he interacts with. (He’s very big on communication in relationships, which I 100% agree with.) Sometimes I feel bad that I don’t fulfill that need, but he reminded me that one person can never fulfill another person’s needs completely, and I agree. I’d love to hear from others who have navigated/are navigating similar situations. I can’t talk to friends about this, since I can’t/won’t reveal his interest to people who know him.

    My partner has a job that is politically and socially fraught, especially now. I believe that he is a good person and tries to do the right thing every time. But I agree with a lot of the criticisms of his profession as a whole. We’ve talked about this also, and it’s difficult for us both emotionally. I know I’m being vague here, but I guess I’m asking how others navigate this conflict between a partner as an individual versus as a member of an organization. I think this could apply to other relationships as well, not just romantic/life partners.

    • Hannah says...

      E,

      It’s OK to sit uncomfortably with questions on your mind. Even after 20 years of marriage and 25+ years together, there are times when I have what feel like *big* questions/concerns. I’m sure that most couples do. What has helped me is therapy, figuring out how much discomfort/unknown/why I am willing to live with in my own life and the kindness and boundaries that go with that. Especially if you cannot speak with a friend or family member, I would highly recommend speaking with a therapist who has to keep your conversations private. There is freedom in even articulating some of your thoughts.

      On the professional front, especially, figure things out now as much as you can and be prepared for new challenges in the future. Again, speaking from personal experience, there have been *many* life decisions we’ve made over the years regarding my husband’s career that have affected me personally and professionally. Truth and trust are always foremost and must be exercised regularly by both parties. Figuring out your own boundaries now and communicating them clearly with your partner can help you tremendously in the future.

    • E says...

      Thank you, Hannah. Therapy is a good idea. I tried once a while ago for a different issue but disliked the therapist (provided by my school) and then put the idea of therapy aside.

  73. Alexan B. says...

    I’d love a post exploring same-sex relationships for those of us past the coming-out, talking to the parents stage. How do established same-sex couples (married or not) manage relationship expectations, gender norms, etc. We’ve been together for years and don’t need more advice on how to come out to our parents and just want the kind of relationship advice heterosexual couples would receive, with the nuance and perspective needed for LGBT+.

  74. Ali says...

    How to get excited about online/app dating. Or maybe not excited – but at least how to navigate it without wanting to give up. I don’t have any truly horrible experiences from dating apps – but the whole process feels very blah and often has me feeling more hopeless than if I had just not even tried swiping. Do others feel this way? I try not to have a pity party for myself, but sometimes I struggle not to grow resentful that I’m going on yet another date with a stranger, while all my close friends are at home with their spouses.

    I’m one of just a few singletons in a large social circle, and most of the couples in the group met over a decade ago in college and through mutual friends – so almost none of them have been through the experience of online dating. When I chat about dating with them a bit, I often get well-meaning comments that it should be fun, and it seems exciting… but that is just not my experience. Am I alone in feeling that way? How do you get excited for app dating?

    • Allison says...

      Days late, but I feel this! Every couple months I download The Apps, but I always delete them, sometimes a week later and sometimes literally ten minutes later. My combination of shyness and pickiness just makes the whole thing boring, stressful, and depressing. I’ve really come to think that if it’s either online dating or eternal singleness, I prefer the latter, and I’m annoyed when people are appalled by that.

  75. Irene says...

    I would love to know just HOW TO MEET PEOPLE. I’m 26, living in a city in the Midwest and it feels like apps are my only dang option. Where are my friends with other single friends? And then everyone I do meet on apps end up being …. less than promising. How do I separate the wheat from the chaff!

  76. CS says...

    All of the questions that you suggested at the end of this post sound very interesting!

  77. S says...

    Advice about what to do when your partner expresses interest in polyamory and you are… not so sure about it. Open relationships, ethical non-monogamy, etc. it would be interesting to hear others’ experience in this area.

    • Sarah says...

      Take time to think about what YOU truly want, aside from what that would mean for you as a couple. If this is something you are not interested in, you don’t have to stay together. It’s okay to be selfish and do the right thing for yourself. However, if you are willing to explore it, both of you might find some common ground or you will learn how you truly feel about it, which will enable you to make the right decision for yourself.

    • Stef says...

      I did this for a partner (he wanted it and I wasn’t sure) and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Looking back, I only agreed because I loved him and wanted to make him happy. I was not truly interested in this type of relationship. It wreaked havoc on my self esteem like you wouldn’t believe. I did learn, however, that I want to be in a relationship with someone who wants ME and only ME and I want the same for myself. I didn’t want to be in a relationship where both of us are constantly looking outside of it. I now have that with a wonderful partner – we are engaged and expecting our first child in December :)

  78. Liz says...

    Yes!! Kim’s article on her first date at 30 was one of my absolute faves, I would LOVE to hear more from her on dating! Particularly online dating… what should my dating app bio be?

  79. Daisy says...

    OK, here is a problem I am working on. I love my boyfriend of almost 3 years. He is so sweet and thoughtful and he is warm and loving and caring. He prioritizes my pleasure when we have sex and he communicates well. When we fight (which is pretty rare) we air our grievances and then let them go—we don’t bring them up again and again to fight about. He’s truly great. The one area he really needs to work on is his appearance. His clothes are too big on him (he used to be overweight and I guess he’s still wearing his old clothes). His pants are way too big and his underwear (big boxers) as well. I know this sounds dumb, but how do I talk to him about dressing better (or at least wearing his size) without hurting his feelings? Why is this a hard topic for me to talk about with him?

    • Sarah says...

      It’s a sensitive topic and you understandably don’t want to hurt his feelings! The thing about weight loss is that people often see themselves the same way in the mirror, even though they know they have physically lost weight. Perhaps you can bring it up by kindly saying, “I think you look awesome and I’m so attracted to you, but I’ve noticed your clothes seem bigger now that you’ve lost weight and don’t fit as well. Is that something you’ve noticed too?” Use “I” statements and give him a chance to respond with how he feels – perhaps he just hasn’t bothered to buy new clothes!

    • DT says...

      This guy sounds wonderful. What about using flattery? Something along the lines of seeing some clothing that he’d look amazing in and that you’d love to get it for him. Gauge his reaction. Make him feel special about it and he will be happy to let you take over his wardrobe.

      A few years ago, I took this tact with my husband – I told him I really liked the look of one of his favorite British soccer coaches and that I could see him looking great with that same style. He was totally on board and now seeks out clothes in line with the look or I buy them for him as gifts. Sometimes you just need to show them the way. You could also try ordering something online that you “just saw” and see how it goes over. Start small. Good luck :).

    • ANDREA says...

      Hey love, your current clothes don’t show how cute you are and seem too big. Can we work on getting you a better wardrobe?

    • Kristy Lin says...

      1. if you’re not comfortable just telling him, i think it may help to backtrack and see if there are any holes in you guys’ communication style in general?
      2. make sure you only want this superficial to change about him (fair! we should be able to tell our SO’s what makes them attractive to us, and vice versa!) and that you don’t feel anything like, embarrassed for him or how he comes off to the rest of the world, or that there are any deeper implications to his appearance.

  80. Carla says...

    I’m 30 and…. (wait for it)…. I am a virgin! I have never really dated before because I’ve been such a nerd/focused on school and work.
    But I long to get married and have kids someday, but intimacy feels so shameful and scary when I have 0 experience and everyone else has a lot more! Plus, I am in medical school now and have no time to meet people and sort through tons of people on online dating website.

    As a separate and related question, matchmakers?! Are they worth it? Are there more affordable options? Alternatives?

    Thank you!

    • SF says...

      Hey Carla! I’m 34 and a virgin as well :) It was previously for religious reasons, though now I am coming out of that phase of life. First – the shame and fear you feel is TOTALLY normal. One way to work through that is to get comfortable with your own sexuality – a great book to read is ” Come As You Are” by Emily Nagoski. Since you are in medical school, you might enjoy the science and brain based research in it! And remember that just because you haven’t had sex does not warrant you feeling shame or embarrassment with your first partner. If they are truly a good person, they will be gentle, communicative, and walk you through it well! If you do have strong anxiety about it – I would find a therapist to talk to :)

    • Olive says...

      I hear this. I’m a grad student, always prioritized school over dating, and then found myself in your exact situation. I really tried to stop being scared and just start dating to see where it would go and luckily met people organically through different clubs/activities/friends. I dated one guy for a month and when I told him I hadn’t had sex he acted like it was fine, but then freaked out and ended things within a few days, and that hurt. But I also realized he wasn’t worth my time. This repeated itself again. I found that these guys tended to have more hangups about the social construct of virginity and its meaning than I did. I then started dating a third guy, told him a few weeks in, and he didn’t freak out or make a big deal about it, just acknowledged it and waited till I was ready, and it was a pretty ideal situation. The boys before weren’t meant to be, and with the right person there’s no shame. Just try to start dating and trust yourself.

    • K says...

      1. get to know your body and what you like
      2. find a really nice boy (i know easier said than done) but really, if you find one that you truly want to be best friends with, he’ll find your virginity the least interesting thing about you.

    • HEH says...

      Carla, I’m 40 and the same! Originally, for spiritual reasons, and over time for self-respect. It’s not that I didn’t have opportunities; it’s that I didn’t want to share that level of intimacy with someone who I knew I wasn’t really committed to me or vice versa. I spent most of my 30s in graduate school so meeting a life partner just wasn’t a priority. Now, I want to work on this aspect of my life. While I don’t have any regrets about remaining a virgin, it does make for an awkward conversation when you start dating someone. I learned that if someone I really liked who really liked me fled when I shared this, then that was not going to be the right person for me. This was hard when I felt so attached to one person in particular. I think the right life partner for me will be the man who values this as just a part of who I am as much as he values other things about me. In fact, maybe he will respect me for being true to me in a world that would call me weird or worse. I’m not afraid of sex and I look forward to it with that special someone.

      I’ve wondered the same thing about matchmakers!

  81. E says...

    I’m a child of a messy divorce. Now as an adult in a loving and committed relationship, but still have this awful feeling that most/all relationships will become unhappy over time. Any advice appreciated :)

    • Emma says...

      Agreed! Also a child of divorce here. I’m curious about Jo’s thoughts here. Her parents’ divorce appears to have been respectful but am curious as to how it has come to play in her marriage :)

    • ChildOfDivorce says...

      Yes, another child of divorce here. My question is about “good enough” marriages. So many marriages are challenged when kids enter the picture. As a child of divorce I’m pretty committed to staying married and not inflicting divorce on my kids, but I often wonder if that’s the right decision—I certainly see some parents thriving after divorce and wonder when it is better for everyone to move on and when it is better to just stay married and find ways to be happy despite feeling unsatisfied. Obviously when things are short toxic or unsafe the answer is clear, but what about the rest of us, how do we decide if we have a “good enough “ marriage? I don’t think this is talked about enough. Also would be helpful to set up expectations ahead of time as young people begin marriages and contemplate having kids.

  82. Brianna says...

    Yay! So excited for this :)

  83. Sarah says...

    Navigating income disparities in relationships!

    I’m a 29-year-old female, my partner is a 30-year-old male. When we first met two years ago, I was making $90,000, double his salary. Last fall, after a tough stretch of unemployment, I unexpectedly got a job in a new field—one that is less fulfilling but more lucrative and equally as intense—paying $300,000 (plus an annual bonus of $50,000), putting my salary at about 7.5 times his.

    We are both generous people, and we’re always happy to spend money on each other. We’re also not the types to track finances on a spreadsheet. When we go out to eat, which we both love to do, generally one of us pays one night and the other pays the next time we go out. I always jump in on the more expensive tabs, and I cover mostly all groceries/trips to Target, travel for the two of us, and rent (he has more or less moved in with me in Brooklyn during the pandemic, but he has an apartment in his dad’s house where he does not pay rent).

    How do modern couples manage income disparities like this (in both the nuts and bolts logistics but also the emotional components)? Are there equitable ways to split bills/rent/everything outside of a basic math equation? I don’t want to grow to resent my boyfriend for not contributing more than he does/can (I don’t resent him now, and would like to keep it that way) or finding a job that makes more money (he is not the most driven/career-focused and I can live with that for now; I fell in love with him for many other reasons).

    • S says...

      How would you want him to handle this if the finances were flipped? Do you expect to stay at your current job forever?
      Since you are the one with the money, I think you have to accept that if you want him to contribute “equally” (whatever that means for the two of you), you may sacrifice in some areas. (where to live, how many trips to take, ect). If, for example, you want to move to a more expensive neighborhood that he could not afford, he can contribute the amount that he can, and you make up the difference because it is where you want to live.

      My boyfriend and I live together in a house that I own, though we have very similar salaries. He pays me half the mortgage. I pay for our electric bill & he pays for internet. We buy our own groceries (I’m vegetarian, he is not). We alternate who pays the bill when we go out to eat. I manage our cat food/toilet paper/laundry detergent subscriptions, he gets the hand soap/toothpaste/cat litter. When we do projects around the house, we split the cost of the materials, or if a pro is doing the work, 1 pays for the materials, the other for the labor.

    • DT says...

      What about contributing based on income? You can cover much more because you make more, but he covers what he can based on his income. When my husband and I were dating and newly living together, he made twice what I did, so I contributed 1/3 to the rent. We were less formal about groceries, vacations, and dinners out (oh…pre-COVID life…) but he is also a really generous guy. He generally just picked up the tab more, but I made sure to cover things as much as he would let me. I probably did most of the grocery shopping. Our spending money was separate.

      Treat your guy how you’d want to be treated. If you end up married…if might matter less if you combine expenses and share everything. It’s really a personal choice. The fact that you are thinking about how to do this right is awesome – you will get there. (PS – being able to chat about this with your guy is a good prep for marriage – it’s helpful to be open about finances and your money values early on).

    • mari says...

      YES!! my boyfriend makes over 100k more than I do – we went to the same college, but he was a computer science major and I was a liberal arts major so naturally my field is a lot lower paying. I have since switched fields but it is hard to not resent him sometimes or wish that we made the same amount of money so I don’t have to “keep up” is how I feel sometimes. helpppp

    • Taylor says...

      So my husband and I do not have an income disparity like yours but our system is super one-size fits all. We automate everything because we both receive biweekly paychecks on the same day. So, our system is this–we each put 70% of our paychecks into a joint checking account, 20% into joint savings, and 10% into our own personal “fun money” accounts. Feel free to adjust the numbers to your needs–but because it’s based on percentages it feels equitable. We set up automatic transfers so we don’t have to think about it. I have more “fun money” than he does but I also buy more stuff, and most of the time we use our fun money to get gifts for each other anyway.

      I will say I wouldn’t have combined our expenses until we were married or engaged, (I think we officially combined everything once we got engaged, we got tired of venmoing each other back and forth, and our money was “ours” mentally at that point anyway.)

    • Jess says...

      My boyfriend and I met when he was in grad school. After he graduated my salary was about 2x. I think it helped a lot for me to envision a real partnership together knowing that he was an adult in more ways than financially and could make life beautiful on a budget. He could make delicious picnic meals, he’d set the table for our dates in his giant shared student house, he wrote amazing letters for our anniversaries, he planned awesome hikes. He is quite focused on a meaningful career; we both find it unfair that my field defaults to paying a lot more.

      About 3 years into dating I moved to his side of the region (I wanted to leave my area, and we considered splitting the difference, but that would have just landed us in no-mans-land) and began a year of 90-min commutes each way. We split rent 50/50, but then I put another 50% into a joint Vanguard savings account. At his suggestion he cooked dinner every night while I was commuting back.

      We’ve been together 13 year now, married for 7. My income has also fluctuated wildly from 75% to 300% due to entrepreneurship, and I have taken a couple months at a time off work which also had me reliant on his health insurance. Over the years there have been several more instances where his presence, perspective have helped me grow my own work. Keeping track of specifics has become a lot less important.

      Everyone’s situation is unique. I think you are well on your way to finding what right for the two of you. Just keep in mind that 2 years is not terribly long in the scheme of a life together, and that the policies you choose now can evolve over time.

  84. jax says...

    Our marriage works a lot because we recognize we each have our areas (domains, if you will) and our respective strengths and weaknesses. That’s how we’ve divvied up responsibilities (he cooks, I vacuum, etc.) and even how we help our kid out with homework. But now that we’re both her home-school teachers (teaching not our own curriculum but her online teacher), we’ve been arguing more about what the right method is, or I’m on top of him and his needing to be on top of her schedule (as I have the more aggressive meeting schedule with work). And he’s doing more of it, but also being sensitive about my input (he views it as criticism).
    Generally, we get along great and we haven’t fought really even in lockdown. But I also worry about how we each get some space and time from each other and our kid but without the usual outlets beyond a walk or working out — we’re not seeing friends (aside from random facetime happy hours), esp. not him.

  85. suki says...

    I can’t date a man if he does not first prove himself to be my friend, (meaning on my side, willing to stand up for me, etc), but men are so put off by being considered a friend, which simply baffles me. I need to know how to determine if he likes me as a human before we go anywhere as a couple. But how?

    • virginie says...

      Yes! Great question !
      If I look back , I was always attracted to guys that I was actually friends with ( not all of them, of course!) but some people seem to find it odd…. “friend zone” issues ?
      I guess that could fall under the mixed signals category ?! Anyway would love to read something about this !

    • JS says...

      This is such an important point!

    • Sarah says...

      Suki – I would consider the idea that friendship can develop alongside a romantic connection. The two often walk hand-in-hand. It seems like what you are describing (and I could be wrong) is trying to strictly be friends first until you are ready to move forward romantically. Instead of focusing so much on the friend piece when meeting someone new or going out on dates, why not just get to know the person and see if there are feelings there, they meet your needs and let it all happen naturally? Perhaps the pressure you are putting on the man to be friends is the off-putting part for them, if they would prefer it to flow naturally. Not saying you do this – just a mere assumption from your description!

    • K says...

      Sarah, that sounds like great advice!

  86. Jean says...

    Tips for improving your relationship (or not repeat fighting over the same old topics) when you’re now together all day long- and you’ve been married many years and you never get alone time cause you have young children at home all day long too. :-) Seriously!

    • El says...

      Word

    • Alex says...

      THIS!

    • Laura says...

      Seriously! I feel very much like, how can I miss you if you won’t go away?

    • Katrin says...

      This, yes!

    • K says...

      YEP

    • K says...

      some possibilities:
      1. scheduling alone time even if it starts out as the bare minimum, even if it’s just mentally tuning someone out by putting headphones in because there’s not enough physical space
      2. acknowledge that you’re having the same fight, and that you want to stop. get down to the root of the whys instead of saying “you never/always do this!” be genuinely curious why your SO is doing the things they do to understand their thought process. is it dirty dishes? are they really just forgetful (does a calendar reminder help, putting up a post-it) or do they genuinely just not see it as a priority? are you still running into a problem after you compromise, after you divvy up the dishes? Do you need to reassign roles for this new situation?
      3. acknowledge that these are prolly extraordinary circumstances and decide between how many “get out of jail free cards” you wanna give the other person
      4. are you being impatient, resentful, oversensitive? is it really your SO driving you crazy, or is it something deeper? Is it really just the sound of him clipping his toenails?

  87. Deanna says...

    Ohmigosh YES i am *SO* into this! I’m not one to post much on websites, but I’ve always just felt so welcome here, especially when it comes to the recent relationship questions. (I’ve really loved the discussions Kim has sparked!)

    As an almost-40-something single woman living in NYC, I’m really interested in some discussion of navigating all the various available apps. I’ve done some and generally found them terrible and a total waste of my time. I swore off them and instead opted to join some groups and try and meet people more actively that way, but then this pandemic hit and threw a wrench in that. UGH. How are people navigating dating at this weird time? I have so many more questions! Can’t wait to read these columns!

  88. M says...

    Love this column idea.

    Here’s a question I have:
    My parents have been a sore point in my marriage/relationship from the very beginning. Any tips for protecting your marriage and maintaining boundaries with your enmeshed parents? :)

    Currently my answer is not having a relationship with my parents at all… It’s that bad.

    • CS says...

      I’m interested in this too! How to be respectful of both parties?

    • Juliet says...

      Read the chapter called “Islands” in Glennon Doyle’s ‘Untamed’. It’s life changing!

    • Brie says...

      Holy cow! SAME SAME SAME. You and I need to be friends. I am in the same boat.

    • Sarah says...

      Step 1: Therapy (for yourself) to navigate the issues you’re facing.
      Step 2: Don’t be afraid to put up whatever boundaries you need to. Your self-protection (mental, physical, etc) and the protection of your partner is the most important thing.
      Step 3: Try to voice your concerns with “I” statements if you are able to talk to your parents about certain issues. If not – separation and lack of relationship is not always fun, but it can be the answer. I currently do not have a relationship with my mother and it’s the right choice for me. It’s hard to go against society’s view of “blood is thicker than water”, but you have to break the mold sometimes ;)

  89. Emily says...

    I’m so excited for this! I have a few questions:

    1. How do you know you’re with the person you should marry? Is lack of ‘knowing’ a sign it’s not right, or is it really just a choice people make? (With a long term, serious partner who is loving, kind, smart… a great partner.) Especially: how do you make this choice when you’re each others’ first really long relationship, and relatively young — mid 20s?
    2. How to navigate ‘where to live’ when your home cities are FAR from each other, and you’d both like to be near home and family?
    3. How do you keep the relationship feeling sexy and romantic when much of the relationship day to day is how is work, what’s for dinner, who’s doing dishes, did you feed the cat…?!

    Sorry — I know that’s a lot! But sorting through all 3 right now, AHH.

    • Andrea says...

      A stab at 1–I knew the night I met my husband that he was my future (I literally heard a voice in my head that said that phrase). It was like peace descended and my stomach did flip flops, simultaneously.

      Beyond that, as we dated I had this strong sense that I always wanted to know him. Imagining a future where I didn’t have him in my life was so upsetting.

      Hope that helps!

    • Liz says...

      I feel like you read my mind with all 3, especially the first! So far for that I’m I’m trying to not force anything (this does not come naturally to me at all) and just see how I feel as things progress naturally. Easier said than done :)

    • Emily says...

      Emily! Another Emily here. I just want to offer my perspective on your first question, having just divorced my wife of only a year and a half. In my opinion, it is *not* enough to simply choose a good, loving, wonderful partner. It is really, really important to “just know” it’s right in a deeper sense. Not to “just know” that this is a loving relationship, mind you – but to “just know” it is the ONLY ONE you want for the rest of your life. That is a huge and specific thing, and I do believe our hearts and minds and bodies make it clear when it we encounter that person. I think culturally we are not comfortable with the idea that we might deeply love a bunch of people who aren’t right on the way to meeting someone who is, and that discomfort can cause us (especially women) to commit prematurely to someone we genuinely love but is not our “fuck yes absolutely no question” fit.

      I told myself marriage was just about choosing a wonderful partner, and that it was silly and impractical and juvenile to want the overwhelming, soulmates, just-knowing thing. But it was a really unsustainable lie, and in the end, I couldn’t keep telling it – and I broke my wife’s heart and my own.

      Tl;dr, if you have to ask the question re: whether you should marry someone, you probably shouldn’t.

    • E says...

      +1 to all of these things – especially #1!!

    • E says...

      I know you didn’t ask readers but I thought about this one a lot when I was dating my now-husband. I’m an overthinker and found it freeing to acknowledge it is impossible to 100% know that I’ll want to love my husband (and the man he becomes, or even the woman I become) at every point over the next week, year, decades, but I loved him enough that I wanted to commit to him and accept his commitment to me.
      I also knew that we aligned on core values, especially with regards to faith, ethics, family and commitment. And I knew that he was loved and respected by people I loved and respected. It’s much easier to commit to a man you know is a wonderful man.

    • Carrie says...

      I think the idea that you will “just know” can be harmful and suggests that there is a perfect “the one” out there for you. But my own take is that the world is wide, and there are probably dozens of people out there who align with me and with whom I could happily spend a life.

      But it’s not just about compatibility – I think it IS a choice. My husband and I actively choose to love each other & work on our marriage every day. Even when it’s hard. Even when I have no warm & fuzzy feelings towards him. Even when we’re quarantined in a 1BR and our apartment is insisting on doing fire alarm testing while we are both trying to work from home with a 6 month old puppy who can’t stand the sound. But no matter what, we choose each other, and there is something so beautiful in that commitment. Love can (and should!) often stir deep feeling within us, but I’ve always believed that love itself is not a feeling – it’s a choice.

    • Anne says...

      I didn’t “know” for about 5 years, whether I should marry my first ever long-term partner. It worried me, but never to the point where I actually wanted to take action to break up with him. Finally after 5-6 years I just knew he is the one. We’re now it it for the long haul. You can’t ever know if you’ll love someone forever, or if they’ll love you forever, so you aren’t making a decision of whether you’ll be together forever. It’s a choice of whether you want to commit to each other for the long haul, and actively every day choose to commit and honor your spouse.

    • Sarah says...

      I believe it’s a choice. You are going to have to go through your best and worst with this person. Love emotions run high at the beginning of relationships, but will evolve, change, and perhaps disappear at points. If you’re young – make sure you know who you are and what you want. You can never predict what the future will bring, but you do have the ability to choose a partner that you feel confident will support you through highs and lows. As far as living location, why not choose somewhere in the middle? It would be a new adventure at the very least!

    • K says...

      ah it’s hard to answer the question on behalf of someone else because i do believe that perhaps everyone has different criteria for making a marriage sustainable.
      but for myself, it was like i had a strong subconscious intuition that this was the one for me within weeks, and then working backwards to feel in the gaps of knowledge of each other. whereas when i met other people in the past, it felt like i was trying to put in the effort, the quality time, in order to fall in love.

      whether we will both love each other forever and ever no one will know, but for now it feels like a pretty strong likelihood that we want to be on the same team, no matter what. I think it starts with involuntary chemistry (not just physically), and then as time goes on, is the chemistry enough to push you to voluntarily choose each other over and over again?

  90. m says...

    Readers, HELP!

    Would you fly right now to be with your partner? This has been my dilemma for the past 4 months. I’m racked with so much guilt about flying during a pandemic. Seems like seeing my partner is such a trifling matter when so many are suffering. But I also miss my partner and haven’t seen him since late last year. What to do?!

    • AG says...

      How does your partner feel? Maybe he should fly to you!

    • Carly says...

      I would do a road trip over flying, if that’s an option.

    • Amy says...

      Hi M! I really feel for you on this one. I’m in the same boat – haven’t seen my partner since late December and struggling with deciding what the right thing to do is. Sadly, the virus won’t go away anytime soon, and we need to find ways to continue living our lives that are smart, backed by science, and considerate of risk exposure for others.

      We decided that I would travel to see him, taking all the possible precautions: face masks, hand washing, and physical distancing while traveling and us both self-quarantining for 14 days upon my arrival. Wishing you and your partner all the luck!

    • Isabelle says...

      I think you should fly! If you wear a mask and apply the recommended barrier gesture, you should be safe.

    • Berni says...

      go!

    • Julia says...

      I would probably do it if it was for a longer stay and I could make sure not to put other people at risk to an unreasonable extent, for example by being really careful a couple of weeks before the trip and once you arrive at your destination.

    • K says...

      i’ve seen more and more people fly lately, i think being as protected and clean as possible really helps!

  91. Micah says...

    I guess my question would be, is it okay to have some bigger, reoccurring communication problems going into marriage? As in, I know married people fight, but do they fight about these sorts of things or did they figure them out before they got married?

    • Andrea says...

      Can you live with it, if it never changed? Can you live with the worst version of this person/your relationship? You marry both the best and worst versions of your partner.

    • Kathy says...

      Good question! I‘ve had these problems, long before marrying my partner, and no, we hadn‘t figured them out. I think it would have been better if we had. This pandemic isn‘t making it better. I feel like the communication problem is doing some slow, but steady damage to our relationship. I just bought a self-help book about it and am hoping that my husband will read it too, and take it to heart.

    • Chrissy says...

      I read and heard in relationship books/podcasts by different psychologists that certain conflicts can’t or won’t get resolved. The key is, can you manage them? That’s been a helpful guide for my relationship.

  92. Danielle says...

    How do you meet people and date when you spent all of your 20s in academia? I’m 33, single, and feel like I missed out on learning how to date as an adult since I was in med school and then residency for all of my twenties. Especially as a woman, I now have enormous amounts of education in science, but no idea how to navigate a world full of men who often seem intimidated by my degrees and certifications.

    Do you have to use dating apps to meet people? Are there other ways?

    • V says...

      second this one!!

    • Anne says...

      Oh man do I sympathize. PhD ate my 20s, and now I’m 32, very very single and all of my friends are partnered up and having adorable babies.

  93. Veronica says...

    Hi COJ team,
    I’ve noticed that your relationship posts all imply sex before marriage as a positive and exploring one’s sexuality as a single person as a necessary step to self acceptance. How about offering a different perspective on this? I understand that those who choose to wait often do so for religious reasons, and that COJ shies away from religion. However, I can attest that some people choose to wait because they treasure other parts of relationships. Or, perhaps, they have had bad experiences in the past with premarital sex or solo sex and are healing. Or even, they find power in saying no. (I certainly do!) I’d love to see something fresh on this, and I know COJ would do it in a nuanced way! Thanks in advance.

    • CL says...

      As someone who has had comments deleted here for (I think) having a different perspective than most other commenters, any actual differing perspectives would be so nice. Beginning to feel unwelcome here…

    • Kat says...

      Veronica, regardless of COJ, please please please write this article. It is so important!

    • K says...

      yes! I felt like i was only given the “liberal” version, especially that hookup culture was normal and that anyone against it was suppressed. but (and esther perel mentions something like this too) sex can be really emotionally sacred and we don’t tell young people that enough. we often give them the tools for physical safety but don’t mention emotional safety. Often, having sex is the easy part, it’s doing it with someone you care about that can be kinda magical.

      Not to shame anyone that hooks up (I know there are various reasons), I just have friends who have tried to treat sex like no big deal, and got emotionally hurt when they realized they weren’t as “chill” as they thought.

      I think the drunk hookup culture thing is actually just numbing and avoiding vulnerability, and i don’t think it gets talked about enough still, i think it’s treated as cool and carefree.

      Anyways, there is a balance. we can remove the shame of sex without treating it like it’s whatever.

    • Emma says...

      Hi Veronica – I’m so curious about what you mean by a bad experience with “solo sex.” Wouldn’t that just be masturbation? I’ve always thought of that as quite safe/healthy. Would you be willing to elaborate?

  94. R.A. says...

    How do you deal with fighting/arguments in relationships ? Does anyone have any advice on how to stop fighting a lot and just to have normal, calm, discussions if something’s bothering you? I’ve tried to talk stuff out with my boyfriend but he’s always getting very defensive and that’s what normally starts the fight and he just ends up becoming mean. Maybe I’m communicating the wrong way to where he feels like I’m attacking him when I’m really not. It would be really helpful if someone had any advice on how to deal with the boyfriend being mean, how to communicate my problems and his problems to where neither one of us is becoming defensive, and just any tips on how to deal with fights/arguments/discussions about things that are bugging us that need to be talked about in the first place. Thanks!

    • AP says...

      I just want to say it’s never ok for your partner to be mean to you. That’s not poor communication skills, it’s something else and its not on you to fix it. You are strong and fabulous! And obviously interested in being a good partner.

    • K says...

      Oh, this is a good one that I’ve navigated my way through. Honestly, I meditated and read a lot about buddhism, which helped me with this. For me, the key was realizing that I wanted a productive conversation with change. Voicing grievances wasn’t going to get us anywhere. So, when we have entered into these discussions, I have come prepared knowing that I won’t raise my voice, I will stay calm, I will listen and truly try to understand, and I will have empathy (and you know what, when he hears all of that in my voice, he responds the same way…we mirror each other a lot in arguments, I think). Honestly, me going in with this attitude has changed everything. In the past several years (12 years together), we have only had conversations (no fights, though, to be fair, we didn’t argue a lot before, but when we did they would be big ones every couple years). Yes, sometimes we are sad or expressing frustration, but raised voices are gone. I have been looking for both of us to improve through these conversations — where are we faltering for each other, how can we improve that? It’s amazing how in the past and past relationships the arguments were probably about wanting to express how I felt slighted or whatever. This marriage is with my best friend and I want it to last forever, so I needed to not respond to him being defensive with me being defensive too (or me starting there either), but getting to the other side of it through empathy.

    • K says...

      Sorry…should add….that said, if he’s being mean, that is also on him. These are tactics that have worked for me, because I think I tended to get mean too…but you should definitely try to stay tuned if this is one sided, because I’d hate to suggest you remain calm while someone is being mean.

    • Liz says...

      Put him in therapy. I dealt with this in my last relationship and it was exhausting. It doesn’t change unless they want it to and put in the work and my ex didn’t. I couldn’t accept that until I was out of the relationship. I hope yours goes better!

    • Anon says...

      I know i’m not COJ team, but MEAN is a very big warning sign. Meanness is inexcusible and that behavior is an alarm/alert for you. “Maybe I’m communicating the wrong way…” NO It’s not on YOU. It’s on HIM. If this is his method he chooses to employ in a disagreement or discussion, think about that. And what that would mean for your future. If there is not even the base level of caring/respect for you at this point … YOU must care for you and prioritize you.

    • Meredith says...

      The book “What We Say Matters” helped me enormously in improving my communication skills. It helped me recognize and improve unproductive communication patterns in myself, as well as recognize communication patterns in others and identify the underlying need that they may be trying to express.

      The methods and approach in the book are rooted in Yoga and Buddhist teachings, so if that isn’t your bag, it may not resonate with you, but I found it very practical, actionable, and effective.

    • Sarah says...

      As someone who has lived with defensive roommates before, it is helpful to use “I” statements and let them know how their response makes you feel. “I really want to work out this issue, but I feel upset when you get defensive because I want to have a calm talk.” Or, “I feel upset when you say ‘XYZ’ because that hurts my feelings.” Therapy would be a helpful tool. You can’t control the other person, so if he doesn’t respond well to you calmly saying how you feel and wanting to talk through – then maybe he isn’t the best partner for you. Also – everyone gets heated in relationships and fights, but if he’s consistently being mean to you, belittling you, etc. that is a form of emotional abuse and isn’t okay.

  95. S says...

    I’m going through a break-up during the pandemic and it’s proving to be even harder than I thought it would be. Normal coping mechanisms – going to the bar! flirting! – are out of the question right now and the roller coaster of emotions is very real. Would be grateful for any tips/advice/commiseration on seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and feeling hopeful for a future relationship amidst such an uncertain dating environment!

    • Lea says...

      Yes please. I need advice on how to deal with heartbreak. It’s so all-consuming I don’t even know how to narrow down the question. Just some comfort in knowing I’m not alone, please.

    • Berni says...

      Dating apps! Flirt away through texts. It helps!

    • S says...

      Lea – you are not alone! (as evidenced from my comment above). The all-consuming aspect is unbearable, especially as positive distractions feel so difficult to come by these days. I have found long walks with a podcast to be a good brain break. I’ve been super into Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast for something both fun and educational. Sending you love <3 — S

  96. MG says...

    How to be a good friend to single friends when I’m in a very happy relationship!

    • S says...

      Yes! Without having to go to the bars and stay out all night!

    • J. says...

      As someone early 30s who has been single for the past 4 years and has four best/close friends who are ALL happily married/engaged (and, sitcom style, three of those couples + me have all been very close with all of the others for years and years now), I LOVE THAT YOU ASKED THIS QUESTION THANK YOU SO MUCH. I am so grateful that my friends have really worked on this and been so immensely helpful and wonderful to me, though the pandemic/quarantine definitely caused a swerve in the road re: being a good friend to a single friend that was hard to navigate but led to really rich, beautiful conversations and even stronger friendships now. I am so appreciative of you asking this question, and I know your single friends (and all of your friends!) are so lucky and love your thoughtfulness and care.

    • Corina Cucutianu says...

      This is such a beautiful question! I’ve been struggling with the same problem for the past few months (to the point I didn’t tell my friend I was in a relationship out of the fear of hurting her). We used to have these rituals of calling each other at any hour of the day and we would drink wine over a video call, or just generally spending time talking all sort of things, and now, since I am living with my soon to be husband, I am really struggling not to let down any of them. But the day has only so many hours for me to go to work, cook, do some home stuff and chill a bit with my boyfriend. How do you fit in your friend without feeling like you let them down? How do you enjoy being happy next to them without looking like your happiness is a constant reminder of their solitude? Oh, questions and guilt, questions and guilt…

  97. Rachel A. says...

    How do you know when to have a second date? I go on so many first dates and just feel “meh” about them and so I don’t pursue a second date. How do you decide when to have the second date?

    • Sarah says...

      My friends tease me because I am a serial “one date only” person. I always write them off after the first date haha there is no right answer for your question, but if you simply don’t feel it – you don’t have to go on the second date!! But I will say nerves, etc. can get in the way on a first date and maybe you want to give them a second chance to see if it’s the same or different.

  98. Riza Miklowski says...

    I love the idea of this series. I would like to know how to approach dating as a really really quiet and shy person. I just turned 27 and I thought I would have dated by now but no and with the world right now I feel as though I’ll never date and am getting hopeless. I have avoided dating apps because I always believed that someone had to know me as a close friend before having a relationship because I am so shy and have a lot of social anxiety. I do better with people I know than with complete strangers. I’m not sure which way to turn and could really use some advice. I would also love to know how to date when you are not open to hookups and are only dating to end up with a serious relationship. Thank you so much for this column. I love reading your dating/relationship posts.

  99. Rachel A says...

    I was married for 8 years and together for 11 years total. We’ve been divorced for two years, and my ex is already remarried. I’ve dated since the separation with little success, but I’m struggling to be motivated to date. I want a partner but the idea of having to talk about my relationship history (and specifically dropping the divorce bomb) is so intimidating. I feel like a 30-something divorcee stereotype. Any recommendations on how not feel so intimidated?

    • Emily says...

      Hi Rachel, I was in your shoes many years ago. My experience was that someone men were scared away and others took it in stride. If you are ready to date and don’t feel like your divorce is the center of your life and conversations I think the only thing to do is to try.

      I dated MANY duds and then met my now-husband 3 years after my divorce.

      I wish you all the best!!

  100. Meghan says...

    I LOVE THIS. cannot wait to read you guys’ insights!

  101. Emily says...

    Navigating dating and personal politics in these very fraught times?

    I just rejoined Hinge and have been noticing people incorporating their views on BLM, appropriate pandemic behavior, and all the injustice laid bare right now into their profiles. I’m doing the same, but match with plenty of people who don’t really acknowledge what’s going on even after we start talking.

    I’m struggling w/ how to tell where someone’s at and what’s an appropriate compromise with someone who isn’t exactly on the same page as me. What kinds of difference do I just live with? I know how I feel isn’t going to change because it’s rooted in my experience of the world. But is there room for them to grow and respect how my life is different? Is this gap just part of the territory when you’re a woman of color who mostly dates men? This also extends to SO’s friend groups, like when I meet a boyfriend’s friends and notice they talk over women all the time.

    • Jay says...

      This is such a huge and important topic that I second xxx a million right now. The SO’s friends and family are relevant to folks who are dating as well as married for 20 years. As a white person who no longer feels like I can let my in law’s comments slide, the discussion with my partner about that is relevant too.

      So YES to all of this, Emily.

    • Anne says...

      I am so interested to hear what people have to say about these topics. I have thought a lot about this, especially from a feminist perspective. How do we deal when the men in our lives don’t recognize injustices that we are facing daily? I am coming to the conclusion that if we are dating someone and can’t put up with their behaviors we have to either ignore/accept it or part ways. I’ve never seen a woman change a man’s outlook (or change a man, period!) I have seen a lot of my friends try very hard to talk with their partners and try to expand their world views into a more feminist outlook and been so frustrated. My own husband gets defensive in any feminist conversation and I have yet to convince him that micro-aggressions are seriously harmful. I’ll admit – I rarely engage in the topic with him and prefer to talk to my more sympathetic friends. I’m interested to hear other people’s stories and perspectives!

    • Linn says...

      Emily, such an important question. I wonder this too. I’ve dated people before who really were unaware of racism when we started dating, and through the course of our relationship evolved to eventually show up as an ally in police and prison abolition work. Now as I’m dating new people, I wonder how much I need their politics to align with mine. It’s so incredible to have a partner who you can be comfortable around because you know their worldview is similar to yours, but sometimes other parts of the connection can be so strong that I’m not sure how much to cut corners with this level of compatibility, especially if someone is open to learning or showing up in new ways.

    • Lauren says...

      Some of my friends and family who live in the country have very little first-hand experience of city life, academia, or the internet. Long story short, I expect them (and know them) to be decent people, but I don’t expect them to conform their thoughts to mine, more than I conform my thoughts to theirs. Maybe less–after all I’m a visitor when I’m there now.

      As an undergrad I’d come home and critique and implore and even yell at them to basically adopt my new way of thinking–secondhand. Then I realized they weren’t getting any younger, time is limited, and I don’t want the last thing we talk about to be contentious! Say you do finally convince them to respect people they’d previously held in contempt: once they do ‘see the light’ they could turn around and ask why you weren’t practicing what you preached.

      Imagine what you’d say to a passionately pro-life friend who said that until abortion was 100% eradicated, that was all they were interested in talking about.

      I’d suggest distinguishing between language and attitudes, especially when it comes to people who are your one-and-only family, not your political representatives. A person can use singular they/them and never say ‘lady doctor’ and still be a jerk, and same with the opposite. If you want to have a more open mind when dating, maybe consider what each person is like and how they compare to others in *their* context, not yours. It’s not very impressive if the only reason your thoughts are orthodox is because you’re a conformer.

      I hope that was ok to say.

    • K says...

      I agree with Lauren! I wouldn’t get caught up on specific political figures and buzzwords, but rather see if the guy’s actions are up to par for you. Do they read any sort of news, are they kind and considerate to their family, friends, anyone they meet? To the waiter? Are they patient when the waiter messes up their order? What do the people around him think of him? Does he ideally have a diverse social circle? Is he the same kind considerate person regardless of social setting, or do you see him turn on and off? Oftentimes we use certain things of the zeitgeist as shorthand for whether a person is good or bad, but it might not always tell the whole story.

    • Emily says...

      hey Lauren/K–appreciate your comments! I’m revisiting this thread a week or so later because this excerpt from Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow’s new book, and their discussion of the trapdoor of racism in close relationships, speaks to what I’m struggling with. I wanted to drop it here in case it might help anyone else think through this. But I hear what you’re saying on paying attention to actions and consistency and I think they’re fair points.

      https://www.thecut.com/2020/07/book-excerpt-big-friendship-by-aminatou-sow-ann-friedman.html

  102. Lulu says...

    YES! Thank you! Love this!!

  103. Mac says...

    I love this idea! Recently was using the search bar to scour the archives for any CoJ + CoJ community wisdom that might apply to my current situation.

    Just a year and half into marriage, my husband was in a debilitating bike accident. It has been a year of navigating doctors, hospitals, recovery, and relapses. We are both working hard to navigate the changes in our relationship and grieve the loss of how we just so recently pictured our life with our own therapists but I would love to hear wisdom about how to navigate caretaking for a spouse while keeping romance alive and maintaining my own inner view of myself as an attractive woman.

    • Cristina says...

      Mac, that sounds so tough! Definitely not your same situation, but your note reminded me of a couple interviewed on the podcast “Death, Sex, & Money” who experienced a devastating accident early in their marriage. Their initial interview was really beautiful, and some of it may pertain to what you’re going through, but I think the follow-up was more focused on those relationship dynamics you’re mentioning. sending love <3

      http://www.wnycstudios.org/story/death-sex-money-rachel-hiroki/
      http://www.wnycstudios.org/story/rachel-hiroki-update-death-sex-money/

    • Angie says...

      This sounds so hard and I hope you are finding the support you will both need. Hugs.

    • Phillipa F. says...

      Mac, I am in a similar situation and second this request.
      My husband has quite advanced progressive MS, and within 18 months from diagnosis moved into a permanent wheelchair, which he can steer with the aid of his one functional hand. He has the most aggressive case his two neurologists have seen.
      I am now his primary carer, work full time, and also do all the physical aspects of caring for my teenage step-daughter (so, not a lot of appreciation!). Coupled with a two-bedroom apartment and Covid, it’s a lot.
      The carer/partner balance is very subtle and most of the advice typically relates to older couples (I’ve just turned 40). I’m five years in the role, which will get much more demanding, and would love insights from someone who has navigated this for longer.
      I would also add that, relatedly, a post on being in a relationship with someone with a terminal condition would be invaluable. I have found that grief isn’t reserved for death. It’s an ongoing process and anticipating loss can be truly difficult to balance with the daily challenges of caring.

    • Jo says...

      Thinking of you, Mac!
      Yes to this: living and loving with disability. My husband’s chronic health problems have deteriorated hugely since we fell in love. This puts us both under real pressure: it means that he is too sick to work, which has been so hard for him and that kids aren’t an option for us and that I’ve had to cancel so many dreams. The pandemic has been weirdly good for us because it has made us forget for a few months that actually he can barely leave the house. I’d love to hear more from people who have weathered these brutal storms.

  104. Ivy says...

    I’d consider it a gift – these guys are , in the words of Mary Angelou, showing you who they are.
    Dust it off, move on, and keep your mind and heart open for those that are able to follow through with such a small commitment. Reliability is not something you should compromise on :)

  105. Kim says...

    Gosh I really love this idea!

    I’m in a 7 year long relationship to a man who is kind-hearted, intelligent, spontaneous, and really wants to make me happy. We’re the kind of people who enjoy experiencing the world together. However with the pandemic we haven’t had the freedom to be as adventurous was we’d like and really don’t have much to talk about now! How many times can I ask “how’s work going”?

    • Annie says...

      I’ve been having fun talking to my partner about our dreams! We are not having adventures during the day to talk about, but so much interesting stuff happens when we are sleeping!

    • michaela says...

      I second this! While I love the increased time together, I’ve been telling my husband that I just feel like I don’t have as much to bring to our relationship anymore now that we’re hardly ever spending time apart moving through the world as individuals. From big things, like how rejuvenating it was for me to visit my yoga studio or to go to dinner with a friend, to all the tiny interactions with coworkers or strangers on the bus or the little things I’d notice being out in the world—it just feels like I have less of “me” and my unique perspective and experience to share with him now.

    • Angie says...

      Yes! We had an epic trip planned which we had to cancel (not a real problem) and the great love of my life insists on everyday telling me the weather for wherever we were meant to be. I want to poke him with a sharp fork.

    • J. says...

      Hi Kim! I love this question!!!

      I spend a LOT of “unstructured” time with my team at work (traveling, meals, etc.) and we play a game often (…daily, in quarantine!, via video conference) that always ends up in interesting conversations, even for people who have known each other (and worked incredibly closely) for 5+ years now, where we’ll start with one of the below questions and each answer it, and then either go to another one or someone else will ask a following question that built off of the first one.

      Of course you will know more about your partner than most coworkers know about one another, but I find that these questions often go off on a course of their own and end up in a conversation I never expected! Maybe a few of these will help at the dinner table– I’ve found myself using them over and over again in quarantine when I just couldn’t do “sooooo…how’s working from home?” on the 500th Zoom happy hour.

      This is a lot!! (Some of these are kind of similar or built off the idea of that ’36 questions to fall in love’ thing — no plagiarizing intended!)

      What is the thing you miss most about elementary school?
      If you could only drink one non-alcoholic beverage for the rest of your life (in addition to water), what would it be?
      What was your first CD/tape/record?
      What is the strangest food you’ve ever eaten?
      What was your favorite toy or game/activity growing up and why?
      If you could magically overnight become excellent (not professional level, but amazing!) at one skill/talent, what would it be and why?
      How many people would you say you text/speak to on the phone in an average weekday? Who are they/how spread out are they from you geographically?
      What was the best birthday/Christmas/Hanukkah/holiday gift you ever received and why?
      What is your favorite month of the year and why?
      What is the most used app on your phone?
      On your own Spotify/Apple Music/etc., how do you organize your music and/or name your playlists (if you create them yourself) and why?
      What non-work-related website do you spend the most time on?
      On a weekday, what is your favorite time of day and why?
      If you were on a 6+ hour flight by yourself (i.e. not with friends/family), how would you spend the 6 hours and what is your preferred seat (aisle/window)?
      Which book/movie series was your favorite as a child and why?
      If you could have dinner with a fictional character from TV, who would it be and why?
      If you were a desk/office supply, which one would you be and why?
      What is your favorite body of water in the world and why?
      If you were a piece of fruit, which one would you be and why?
      If you were a tree/plant/flower, which one would you be and why?
      What is your favorite book of all-time OR a book that you think everyone should read and why?
      If you weren’t named your name, what would you like to be named and why?
      If you had a ‘walkout song’ in baseball, what would it be and why?
      If an actor/actress were to play you in a movie about your life, what would it be and why?
      What show or movie have you rewatched the most times in your life? Why?
      If you had to go back in time and exclusively enjoy the fashion/music from one decade (not many/most facets of politics, society, general injustice, world crises, etc.), which decade would you choose and why?
      What is your family’s most unique holiday tradition? (can be any holiday)
      What is your ideal weather outside and why?
      Where in the world are you the calmest?
      What did you do to celebrate your 16th birthday?
      If you were stranded on a desert island, what is the most unique survival skill you would bring?
      What age is your soul?
      What is your strangest ‘superstition’ or good luck charm/routine?
      What is your favorite brand of packaged chip/snack and why?
      What is on your bedside table/nightstand and why?
      What is the very first thing you do when you wake up each morning?
      Where in the world do you feel the most at home, and why?
      What was your favorite thing about your favorite high school teacher/college professor?
      What’s the worst airline delay/travel mishap you’ve ever had?
      If you could re-do a vacation or trip you’ve been on all over again, keeping everything exactly the same, which would you re-do and why?
      What’s your favorite board/card/dice game and why?
      What three unique things (other than your phone/wallet/keys) do you never leave home without?
      If you were a key on a keyboard (computer, not piano) what would you be and why?
      When/where/how do you feel most connected to nature?
      Does thinking about the size of the universe make you feel insignificant/anxious, or calm/expansive? Why?
      What is your favorite type of journey?
      Who, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with and why?
      What is your ideal restaurant atmosphere/ambiance and why?
      What character from a TV show or movie would you most like to have dinner with and why?
      What was your very first job?
      What is something that you have always wanted to learn or understand (non-work related) and why?
      How do you organize the apps/icons/folders on your phone, and why?
      What is the environment (time of day, location, noise level, etc.) where you feel your absolute most productive and why?
      What is a food that you wished you loved, but you don’t?
      What is the last song you got stuck in your head?
      What song reminds you most vividly of high school?
      What has been your favorite single day of work in your life so far?
      Which band, living or dead, would you most like to see perform live? Which song?
      What show have you watched or rewatched the most number of times on Netflix/Hulu/etc? Which show/movie do you never, ever want to see again?
      What scene from a movie has stayed with you for your whole life?
      What’s your lucky number and why?
      What is a song you like to listen to when you are feeling sad?
      Who is your greatest role model?
      What is your most controversial opinion?
      What is the biggest or most marked thing you have learned you were wrong about?
      What is your most detested physical sensation? (e.g. heat, cold, nausea, headache, tight clothing, small space, bad smell, etc.)
      What is the hardest thing you’ve ever had to learn about yourself?
      What is a belief you hold that you think most people would be surprised to know?
      What is the quality/characteristic you value most in teammates at work?
      If someone were to spend a few hours with you in meaningful conversation, what three adjectives would you want them to use to describe you?

      Hope you enjoy!

  106. What are the ways to understand that a girl likes me? It’s really hard to understand girls

  107. Emma Galloway says...

    I’m right there with you Cristina. We moved last summer and after a long/dark winter (hello scottish highlands!) I was so excited to start meeting people and trying to make friends. It feels like such an impossibility now.

  108. AO says...

    We’re newlyweds (1 year on August 9th). Between moving in together, Moving cities/ states (me), finishing residency (also me), and the pandemic (during which I was deemed “an essential worker”/ still saw patients and during which he was furloughed), it feels like the wind has gone out of our sails which feels way too early! How do we keep things fun and how do we stay connected? It feels like everything is happening all at once we both have been buried under it all, at the detriment of our union!

    • AVR says...

      oh man! i feel you. i don’t think this year has been what any of us expected. we got engaged a month before the pandemic – all of our celebrations, engagement dinners, and wedding planning dissolved in a matter of weeks. i know there is SO much more going on in the world that sometimes it feels selfish to mourn for the loss of our celebrations – so we’re trying to find all the things to be grateful for – including above all our health! thank you so much for all you do as a healthcare worker, i can’t imagine what this has been like for you.

      we’ve instituted friday date nights – we dress up (read: no sweats/leggings, maybe some eyeliner), order takeout to support our neighborhood restaurants, pour some good wine, pick a new movie or play board games together – it’s now a night we look forward to every week, and often reminds me in all of this chaos, why we picked each other.

  109. hallie says...

    ADVICE ON DATING SAFELY DURING A PANDEMIC!!!!!!! (sigh)

    • Emily says...

      yes! please! I don’t know how to be safe and have it still feel romantic and exciting!

    • Grace says...

      Agreed! Are people actually dating, and if so, how? It feels pointless to me right now with numbers increasing in the country. But then I just wonder if I’m giving myself another excuse to not ~put myself out there~

    • Suzie says...

      One take: I have a covid relationship that will certainly end when this moment does. We are aligned on pandemic measures, which is basically enough at this moment. Nice to go on in-home dates with someone without the usual expectations or weirdness of meeting during pandemic. If you have any somewhat acceptable men in your life, maybe consider reconnecting with them to see if this adult friends-with-benefits might work? There are lots of lonely people out there. It’s a work-around that allows companionship while also being smart about risks.

    • CM says...

      Yes please! It’s been a year since my ex and I broke up and I was just starting to get over it when the pandemic started… but now that I’m ready to date again I don’t know where to start given the circumstances. I haven’t had much success with dating apps but am totally open to advice on them.

    • Erin says...

      I’d also love to hear others’ thoughts on making peace with the decision not to date during a pandemic, if others are in that spot, as I am. I’ve decided that the limited in-person contact I can have should be with people I *know* will be a delight to be around and whose company will emotionally replenish me for what could be more lonely times ahead — so that means dear old friends, not new dates. But I am curious to hear how others are navigating this, too.

  110. D says...

    My daughter is heading off to college and has never had a boyfriend before. She says she’s not seeking out someone to date but she’s not opposed to it either. When I think about what to say if she were to call me about it, most of my thoughts to go the generic, “be yourself” and “be safe.” I want to be actually helpful but I haven’t dated for over 25 years! I feel like any advice I might give her is absolutely ancient. I’d love CoJ and reader’s ideas for advice for her AND me.

    • Ali says...

      I’m 25 and went into college with a high school boyfriend (we went to separate schools, but he was important to me and my friends all knew about him). Looking back, that was the absolute best thing that could have happened even though we aren’t together anymore. The thing is, because I was “off the market,” I was able to develop amazing friendships with guys I met in my dorm, in class, at parties, etc. These men are some of my closest friends still. My best advice to anyone starting college is wait and don’t hook up with guys you see around often. I had so many friends hook up with guys and it immediately squashed any chance they had at a friendship and just made things awkward. Solid friendships with men are so wonderful (and can form the basis for a great relationship later on ?). I’m not saying it’s not okay to experiment and hook up with guys; simply that playing the long game so to speak is more fulfilling in the long run. Wishing her the best luck and sending you lots of love mama ?

    • Anna says...

      I didn’t have a boyfriend until a couple years into college at age 22 (I’m now 25). Don’t write yourself off too much! Times have changed but people are still people and good relationships are still built on the same things. Your daughter will have friends/ roommates/ peers to help her out with modern dating but only you can give her a mother’s advice. I remember calling my mom to talk about two guys I was interested in- one was outgoing, fun, cute but a little clueless about other’s feelings. The other was SO nice, thoughtful but pretty quiet and didn’t seem as FUN as the first. My friends pushed for the first but my mom said something along the lines of “No other quality can make up for being nice.” Shortly after, choice #2 became my first boyfriend and later my husband!

  111. c says...

    This is maybe a little deeper than a situational dating question, but how have you all learned/practiced finding yourself desirable and sexy? It’s something I struggle with, so then I feel SO insecure in situations where someone might be flirting with me! I always convince myself they aren’t or that they wouldn’t actually like me. I NEVER think that with friendships — I think “I am a great friend, we would be great together!”

    • Rachel says...

      Seconded! I’d love to hear people’s perspectives on this.

    • EJC says...

      This is so important to dating, long term relationships, and singlehood! I think this is a great question C — we could all use a forum to discuss ideas :) sending love xx

    • AY says...

      FOURTHED!! I’d love to see a response to this question. Similar to C, I feel strange and insecure whenever I am confronted with my desirability/sexiness outside of my existing relationship. I’ve been in a long-term, heterosexual relationship (10+) years, and I’m still young (early 30s). But I am ALWAYS blindsided when I’m out on a girls night and another guy flirts with me or hits on me. It’s like I never expect it to happen. And it always feels like I’m in middle school all over again…I turn beet red, flustered, and embarrassed. I never know how to respond (e.g. Is it all in my head?! Was I accidentally putting on vibes?!? What is happening?!). The fact that I get so flustered is also annoying, because I feel like the guy then interprets my reaction as if I am actually interested when I’m not! I never know how to react in a mature and appropriate manner to explicit/non-explicit flirting or “admiration” from men.

    • Britt says...

      Fifthed. Haha. Particular interested, as I’m just getting back out there again and don’t have too much dating experience to begin with – raised Christian evangelical/purity culture and didn’t leave the church until after college. I’m still navigating seeing myself as desirable and am not interested in casually hooking up.

  112. E says...

    I AM HERE FOR ISSA AND LAWRENCE.

    Also the column is exciting! But love them. Thanks for using their pic.

  113. Sarah says...

    Love this idea! Can’t wait.

    I really enjoyed the earlier piece on childfree women. In the same vein, a piece/perspective on how to handle conversations or express yourself with friends in your 30s when you’ve been the perpetual single friend (not always for a lack of trying) who has supported them through all of their big relationship “milestones” moving in together, engagements, weddings, babies. Its difficult to express how you grieve for something you’ve never had, and may never have, without being perceived as dramatic, jealous, or ungrateful. I’d like to know I’m not alone because in my circle I am the only one! As a society we’re getting better sharing & being more open about difficulties more specific to women.. sexual/domestic abuse, sexism in the work place, pregnancy, infertility, but not a lot out there to read for us single gals in our 30s+ who as Bridget Jones put it so eloquently, “underneath our clothes our entire bodies are covered in scales”.

    • AJ says...

      You are certainly not alone, Sarah! I hear ya… it can be tricky and I totally relate to that sense of grief and the exhaustion of being the ‘only’ perpetually single friend (I’m 38). I’ve worked hard to be fiercely single-positive and embrace the positives – but I’ve also learned to not be so hard with myself. Being single can be awesome – and it can also be really hard (like all things in life) and being happy single doesn’t mean I can’t still hope to find love. But what has REALLY REALLY been so helpful is creating a new friendship group that’s just for me, with fellow kickass single women. Don’t get me wrong, I adore and cherish my wonderful long-standing friendships and seeing them marry and raise families is amazing. But just as they need their new mum buddies, I needed my new crew. A bunch of women who know what it’s like to be living life totally independently and dealing with a very different set of dating dilemmas to the ones we all had in our 20s! It’s enabled me to fully embrace my single status and lifestyle, and fully enjoy my old friends without feeling, I don’t know, constantly aware of our different life progress. Making new friends isn’t always easy, I know, but I threw myself into social hobbies and Meetup groups and discovered there were actually lots of us on the same mission!

    • S says...

      Fellow perpetually single 32 year old here!! Would love any and all words of wisdom :)

      You are not alone, Sarah.

    • Liesl says...

      Fellow perpetually single girlfriend here, Sarah! (I’m now 30.)

  114. Cristina says...

    A non-dating question, but could be a side-note to questions about meeting people. How do you go about making new friends in this new world? This was something I’d been gearing up to do this summer, and I’d thought about using Bumble BFF or meet-up groups. As if that wasn’t already scary enough, now there’s COVID! Would appreciate any and all advice.

    • Britt says...

      I used Bumble BFF – moved between states and didn’t know anyone outside of work. I’ve met some great gals on it who are responsive and interested in making new friends. Even during covid, some people are up for making new friends virtually or for socially distanced hang outs.

      And I can’t recommend Meetups highly enough once those resume – I’ve met most of my current social circle through those, or indirectly through people that I’ve met in them.

    • Meg says...

      I second this question!

    • AJ says...

      Just posted a reply to Sarah above on this topic – I have made a great circle of friends through MeetUp groups and also social hobbies. I find it’s handy to make ‘buddies’ specific to hobbies. For instance, made a climbing buddy at a climbing course, some dancing buddies through dance class. Then you have social elements and connections linked to activities you enjoy, it’s a great way to mix up your calendar and have lots of different types of friendships (which I love), alongside your core besties. I’ve never tried bumble for friends but have heard of others using it. Meetup groups appeal more to me as they are group activities, and friendships can evolve naturally over time if the connections are there. But we’re all different! It’s funny (well, it’s not funny at all ?) my love life is disastrous but making friends is something I feel I’ve hit many jackpots with. Friendship is such a blessing ❤️

    • Erin says...

      I have been making friends with my next-door neighbor. We live in condos and have a shared backyard, so we’re occasionally sitting outside to chat (with plenty of distance between us) and each bringing our own cup of tea. I have always been shy about initiating this kind of thing, but a long period of lockdown led me to really want in-person adult interaction. (I’m a single mom, and don’t have a partner to chat with in person right now. Turns out the same is true for my neighbor, so that’s been a good starting point for our friendship.) I’m also smiling and waving at my other neighbors a lot more than I used to. Tiny bits of reaching out can turn into nice friendships, and I think we can all assume that most people will welcome some friendly overtures right now when we’re all probably extra-stressed. At least that’s what has nudged me out of my shyness!

  115. Louisa says...

    Do Millennials wish they had been born before the internet? Because the world of online dating looks like 5% fun and 95% exhausting!

    Love, someone who met her husband in the last millennium :)

    • HB says...

      YES. YES I WISH THAT. Online dating sucks and I wish I could meet someone in person but it seems that just doesn’t…happen anymore???

    • Genevieve says...

      Haha :)
      Yes I think so. I tried dating apps for a while, hated them and stopped using them but still managed to meet people in real life. Helped that I was happy to be the one to ask guys out/make a first move.
      My theory of watching friends is that people end up in relationships about as often whether they use apps or not, but those who use apps go on way way more dead end dates in between.

  116. .S. says...

    I love this! Mine isn’t a dating question, so it might be better suited to a separate post, but I wonder if other folks – single and partnered – are also experiencing a moral/ethical dilemma around whether or not to have kids, particularly for those of us who have always wanted to but now aren’t so sure?

    I’m happily married to the love of my life and both of us have always wanted to have babies, but the thought of raising kids (especially future digital teenagers) in a world of climate catastrophe, pandemics (this one and future ones), and rising far-right populism/authoritarianism around the world is giving us serious pause. I know we’re lucky to be able to decide, but it’s such a heartbreaking decision to make

    • Dayna says...

      I have also been struggling with this and would love to see a post on this topic.

    • Kelsey says...

      Yes, please!

    • Robyn says...

      YUP. This. I am 30 and single so kids might end up being an option for me anyway, but I am amazed when people are able to make the decision to bring children onto a planet heading towards something literally labelled a ‘catastrophe’. Does everyone consider this when deciding to have children? I haven’t asked this of friends who have children, because it sounds so fatalistic and I don’t want them to think I judge their choices (I don’t, but would like to genuinely know their thought processes). I would like kids, I think, and feel I could handle the other things you mentioned, but the climate outlook can sometimes seem hopeless – I can probably muster enough hope for myself, but do I have enough hope in the world to bring a new human into it? It changes day to day.

    • Sara says...

      I’m in a similar situation. We would love to have a third child, but for reasons you stated above (and more), think it would be irresponsible. Which makes me wonder if our two children hadn’t both been a surprise, would we have had children at all?

    • allison says...

      I would also love to explore this question! And maybe also to add a different layer to it – my husband and I were planning on starting to try to get pregnant this spring, but we have delayed that indefinitely given the pandemic and recession. (We are grateful to both still have our jobs right now, but know the economic impact is still playing out, and we live in a very expensive city so any income loss would have a huge effect on our ability to provide for another human.) I’m also 35, and the age pressure is real… I know there’s no “perfect” time to have a baby, but are others dealing with weighing these really hard questions? Is it ok to “mourn” (not sure that’s the right word) in a way for the baby we hadn’t even starting trying to have, because we don’t know when we will?

    • Sarah says...

      I had, and continue to have, fears around bringing a new person into the world. My husband and I greeted 2020 with the plan to try to have a baby, and when COVID began to change how we lived, I was so scared – not only about what the short term could look like (hospitals and medical support during pregnancy? Unknown risks of virus exposure to a developing being?), but also of what it meant morally and ethically to be trying to have a family this way.
      Call it selfishness or blind optimism, but I thought often about the lineage of strong women I’ve come from and those I’ve admired, who were never fearless, but faced incredible hardship during both World Wars, the Spanish Flu, and The Great Depression. Decades of dictators, war, financial hardship, and challenging unknowns. And yet? Babies. One way or another, babies.
      This time we are in feels like the scariest time in the world, I think in part because we are here now, living it. But I wonder if the women of my past felt the same about their particular moment in history. If they did, and they pushed on, to follow their wants and dreams – wow. I love those women.
      We don’t know entirely what’s to come, good or bad, and I know for myself I wanted a baby very much, and I wanted to live my life with the belief that I can navigate the hardship and the beauty of the future with rigour and a little tiny sliver of fearlessness.
      I am thirteen weeks pregnant. Selfish, blindly optimistic, scared, present.

    • Ann says...

      Yes! I have always wanted kids, and am experiencing a lot of uncertainty given the state of the world.

    • A says...

      This is on my mind too.

    • Robyn says...

      Wow, Sarah – what a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective, and huge congratulations on your pregnancy. What a lucky baby you will have to have such a strong, thoughtful mother.

    • Erica says...

      Yes to this!! My husband and I were very much struggling with the pros and cons of starting a family even before the pandemic hit. We also live in an expensive city, and with all the concerns you mentioned, we decided to “wait for a better time.” And then Covid strikes, making this decision even more challenging.

      These days, that “better time” seems non-existent, so we spent much of quarantine focusing on our marriage, our health, and strengthening our foundation since that’s all we are sure of. As it turns out, we realized that regardless of what is happening in the world, we have the ingredients to create a family – trust, commitment, and wildly beautiful love. I don’t know if it’s crazy or hopeful or just plain optimistic, but I’m off birth control now, trusting that we’ll continue to shift as the world shifts…like it always has.

    • E says...

      Yes. There was a similar comment and thread on another recent post. I don’t think I’ll have children for several reasons, but one of them is because of the state of the world. I just can’t see bringing a new person into it.

      One avenue I’ve thought about is adoption. I know it’s not the same, and can’t be thought of as a substitute. But those children are already in the world.

    • Unity says...

      Please consider: The world will need progressive thinkers In 15 years or so! If you truly want to have kids, have one or two (Rather than 4 or 5). Your children’s voices will be very important and necessary to the survival of life on earth as we know it! We don’t want to leave all the procreation to the religious far right.

    • Megan says...

      Yep! We had just begun fertility medication and they actually stopped prescribing it in April because the board who oversees that stuff recommended it. I was heartbroken. We’ve started up again but I know it could all end again any moment. Layer on top of that whether it’s even responsible to be trying at all right now, but I’m 34 and my husband is about to be 38 and we don’t want to lose more time after we’ve been at it 2 years.

    • Hannah says...

      I’m going to have our 2nd baby next month, which pre-pandemic we joked was our “perfect timing” baby because I was able to get pregnant at my “dream” time (a huge! privilege). Post- pandemic and everything else I’ve honestly struggled with feeling like the timing was a crapshoot. And I could’ve used a glass- or a bottles-of wine. But! My grandma was pregnant with my mom during the same 9 months- November-August, of 1969. Which, from everything I’ve understood, was also a pretty horrific year for our country. That has given me a lot of hope and perspective because, as Sarah mentioned, so many women have gone before us in this normal, hopeful act of bringing new life into a chaotic world & not knowing what the future holds. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m praying for a healthy baby to snuggle in my yard in about 5 weeks, glass of wine in hand, with the knowledge that for once our world won’t expect me to “get back to normal” or “bounce back” because nothing is normal anymore. ?

    • Rachel says...

      Like everyone on this thread, I was so nervous about bringing a baby into this world–was it a good, responsible choice? I had my daughter in January, and it’s been hard, sure, but it has been so, so beautiful as well. I just can’t get over her, and I’m thrilled every time I think about how I get to spend the rest of my life watching her grow up and teaching her everything good in the world. Also, having children gives you the opportunity to raise a difference-maker!

  117. Katie S. says...

    I am in a committed six-year relationship and consider myself a realist to the bone. The thought of marriage, or buying a house, or any other big decision made as a couple really scares me. My first thought is always, ‘But what if we break up??’ I love my partner and I’m not assuming that we’ll break up but it’s clear that it’s a realistic possibility in this world. Obviously no one (hopefully) goes into a marriage planning to get divorced, yet more than 50% of couples end up that way anyway. Even the ones who claim they are soulmates and will beat the odds! Is this a rational fear, or does it say something deeper about the relationship?

    • Sally says...

      I definitely struggle with this!

    • Lauren says...

      Same! My boyfriend wants to adopt a dog and my first thought was “but what if we break up?” Maybe its because I’m the child of divorced parents?

    • Susannah says...

      Katie, totally rational! I’m happily married for 15 years but still struggle with related questions like how to maintain independence – financially and in how I see myself – while in a committed couple. Something about how to “protect ” our sense of self and our future while still giving to a relationship maybe?

      I’m excited for this new series, thanks Caroline, Kim and Joanna!

    • Amy says...

      I say it’s a rational fear! What helped me and my partner was talking about how we’d handle a future breakup that hopefully won’t come to pass. He pointed out to me that if we do ever break up, we’ll still be ourselves, which means that we’ll still be kind and thoughtful people who could hopefully still behave that way even if things were to go south. His point was, we could figure it out, whatever “it” was – dividing assets, selling a house, moving out, whatever. I think if you’re good communicators and fair fighters now, you’ll bring those same qualities to a breakup or divorce and will be able to weather it together. I am also hopeful that being able to think realistically about these things in some way makes them less likely to happen, because you’re not deluding yourself into thinking that your relationship will be perfect no matter what, and so you are more careful with it.

    • Andrea says...

      My baseline is that I meant my marriage vows—I will never divorce my husband. I know that about myself. I also know him enough that he would never divorce me. That’s how I think about it.

    • marcella says...

      Retweet!! My boyfriend and I have been together for 6 years and marriage scares both of us even though we love each other a lot and are committed. We haven’t moved in together yet and that is my fear too like “what if we break up?” Which I can’t see happening but it is scary ? I talked to my therapist about it before like “well what if in 20 years we realize we don’t love each other anymore?” And she was like “well, people buy houses and they don’t know what will happen in 20 years, sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith.” But yes it’s def scary

  118. Emily says...

    If you ask an acquaintance out, how do you know if it’s a date or friends just getting to know each other? There isn’t always a difference but I’ve had situations where I ask someone out and we meet up a few times and I still don’t know if they have been dates or not! (Especially confusing for me when a guy keeps agreeing to meet up but doesn’t suggest plans on his own)
    I don’t want to put too much pressure on the situation because a date is just to get to know someone, but I do want to know if _they_ (it’s always he for me) also think it’s a date or if this is strictly a shy-new-friend-getting-pizza thing.
    Usually I just stop doing the inviting because I assume if he wants to see me he can invite me, but if it’s strictly friendly I’d be open to invite him to hang with my friends more – he might just be busy/bad at making plans or not looking to date, and I am open to making new friends, too.
    How do you navigate if it’s friendly or a date, but in a chill way?

    • Meghan says...

      I second this question too!

    • AJ says...

      Yes, this question please! Pre-pandemic, I came off dating apps and decided to rely on ‘real life’ encounters. Turns out meeting people and inviting them out is just the first bit… hardest bit is establishing whether it’s a ‘date’ date! (Altho not likely to be a problem in the near future ?)

  119. lo says...

    So excited for this! Would love any tips for keeping the spark alive, particularly in these weird times of seeing your live-in partner 24/7.

  120. Michelle says...

    I am looking forward to this!!
    I’m sure I’ll have more questions but my first is about online/app profiles. How do you write one that will capture some attention? I think a man’s input would be most helpful (because that is my audience). What do they want to know? I think it should be brief but what are the most important points to touch on?

    • E says...

      My take: write one to capture the attention of people you’re interested in, rather than some attention, and use it to start conversation. Not everyone will be the right person for you, so don’t try to please everyone. Think about what you like in profiles you look at. It is probably a combo of:
      – clear photos to show a) a real person who b) is comfortable enough with themselves to let a c) friend take a photo.
      – specificity but keeping it brief – obviously what brief means depends on the app. You aren’t trying to please everyone so details are nice, and help conversation ( “hiking fan” is less compelling than “Love smell of a breeze in the woods”. Ditto with “into music” vs “obsessed with [a certain artist]”)
      – probably skip saying what you’re looking for. You get to pick on your end, and it can come off more negative than you mean. You can always bring up/ figure out what someone is looking for once you start talking.

  121. Leah says...

    I’m struggling a little bit with how to maintain or achieve equality in a relationship when you have kids.

    I love my husband, but now that we have a child, I think often about all the stats about gendered division of labor in the home, about how much more housework women generally do than men. I look at how much down time my husband has, and I think about how much down time I have, and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t cause some resentment for me.

    And I feel this resentment even though my situation is much less drastic than the statistics indicate. I don’t do twice as much childcare and housework as my husband, we probably split it more like 60/40, and I’m still pretty choked about it.

    Would love to hear how other women are approaching this.

    • Sharon says...

      This is a great question!

    • L says...

      I second this question! I find the gap has widened especially with covid. I find it hard to point out the imbalance without feeling like it’s constantly exposing my partner’s “flaws” or weaknesses. I don’t want to make him feel like he’s doing a bad job as a parent- because he’s great- but I want to make sure we set an example of equality for our kids.

    • Emily says...

      Leah, this is the biggest struggle in my relationship too. We have a 7 year old and it’s only now juuuuust getting a tiny bit better since she is a little more independent. But I still feel resentment on a weekly (daily?) basis about how much more household stuff I’m doing. It’s an ongoing conversation we are having and I have to constantly be asking for what I need and it’s exhausting! I know my husband wants it to be equal but when it comes down to it, I just always end up doing more, as I have from the very beginning of our daughter being born. I’m sure part of it is that I have a lower tolerance for when things need to get done, so I end up doing them b/c they are bugging me instead of waiting for him to do them. One thing that did help was having a structured morning routine with assigned roles so that it’s not left up in the air about who will do what. Not sure if marriage/partnership questions will be included in this column, but I’m sure a lot of people deal with this issue!

    • Em says...

      Same!
      This is a large part of my indecision about having kids. I see it in so many couples and already feel like I do the majority of household/domestic life. So hard not to keep nagging when it is all. the. time

    • Sara says...

      THIS! This is my situation exactly. I often think, “well, we are a pretty modern couple and I am lucky to have a man that is an amazing parent, 100% there for me and my kids, and will clean stuff if I ask him too.” BUT I do resent that I have to ask! Who promoted me to General Manager of our household? And why isn’t the pay better? Also, yes. His down time compared to mine is ridiculous (but it’s because he is good at prioritizing himself and I am not). Phew!

    • Hilary says...

      Hi Leah! I went through something similar once earlier in my marriage and then again after our baby was born. A few rambling thoughts.

      1. Read the article “She Divorced Me Because I Left My Dishes in the Sink.” It was the first time that I was ever able to articulate why it drove me nuts when my husband didn’t do the dishes. It was also the first time he talked through his perspective (which is precisely the same one as the guy in the article!). The whole time I felt like Jennifer Aniston in The Breakup: I want you to WANT to do the dishes! That article and our conversations went a loooong way.

      2. Post-baby, I felt like I was doing way more especially around the house. I ultimately felt like I was suffering from decision fatigue; I always had to schedule our baby’s appointments, figure out the chores, decide on the meal plan, make the grocery list, tell my husband what needed to be done, etc. It was exhausting. My talk with my husband centered on how *I* was feeling (not “why are you just laying on the couch?!”) and I asked for some solutions. He suggested that we make a chore chart (I know, I know) for the fridge. There are a lot of articles online about how women just see what needs to be done and do it (as that’s been ingrained in us our whole lives). I identify with that: I feel like there’s always something to do around the house, whereas my husband would see that immediate things were taken care of so he’d go relax. The chore chart let him know what needed to get done without asking me (!!), and I knew that when the chores were done for the day then we were done. No jumping to the next day’s chores, etc. It also helped to talk over which tasks took longer. Meal planning takes me a long time, so he’ll need to do more around the house on those days. Things are running a lot more smoothly in the house and it’s easier for us to communicate about expectations.

      I’d love to read what other people come up with as well! I really hope to model these kinds of behaviors around our little one so they go into relationships knowing that people have these conversations.

    • A says...

      The thing that is KILLING me right now during Covid is the childcare responsibilities – I am still working about 30 hours a week, from home. My husband’s company folded and is not working. He is on unemployment with the extra CARES bump so its actually not too bad in terms of income (at least until the end of July). And we have no school or daycare or nanny situation right now. The thing that’s killing me – am still doing the majority of the childcare. I feel like he should be doing ALL of it during my regular work day except for maybe an hour or two when I can give him a break. But he says since he’s still bringing in money, that we should be splitting it 50-50. Am I insane??? Is this total bullshit?? He has NOTHING TO DO except go fishing and ride his bike and watch The Walking Dead again. He took a 3 hour nap today while I took the kids outside to play while I should have been working! So now I’m up until 11 or 12 everynight trying to get my shit done. If it was the other way around and I was out of work I know I would be doing 95% of the childcare. I’m so frustrated – I googled “how to get a divorce during a pandemic” yesterday.

      What do I do here. I don’t want my son to turn into another husband/dad who assumes their female partner will just take care of shit.

    • Madi says...

      This! Please answer this one!

    • Genevieve says...

      Great question , would love to read an article exploring this! I think things are very equal so far for me and my boyfriend but we don’t have kids and both get a lot of downtime atm so I’m sure there will be times in future that arguments over chores could come up and definitely it’s a feminist issue.
      Hilary’s suggestion of a chore board sounds like it could work.
      We have a whiteboard on the fridge that holds a shopping list. Either person can write something on this list when they notice something running low, and therefore neither PERSON is then the manager of the shopping list, the BOARD is the manager. We take it in turns to go shopping. So if something runs out prematurely, basically noone ever gets blamed because both of us had the same opportunity to put it on the list. None of this is spelled out it’s all unspoken by the way but I think if you analyse why it works (by works: in the context of this question I mean never any cross words exchanged about running out of stuff and no resentment about having to be in charge of the task) it’s because neither person has more responsibility than the other. Maybe this concept could be applied to other chores if you’re struggling with the “project manager” situation that is all too common!

    • Carlie says...

      Thank you for this comment and all the responses – I too am in the place with my husband where I get frustrated at being the Manager Of All. He will gladly step in if I ask him, but IS it my role to dish out chores? The other day I said, babe i’m so over making meals can you be completely in charge of dinner tomorrow? And he says “OF COURSE!” And he made a great dinner and all was well. But then it feels like he’s off duty again until requested, meanwhile there are 7 nights in a week, right? I’m with you Leah – I’d say my household is 60/40ish but that last 10% seems so heavy as its the organization/planning/managing/scheduling of all. the. things. I’d love some more insight into the “mental load” that we as moms lug around with us.

  122. Louise says...

    Am I going to be single for forever? I’m 30, been single for 3+ years (broke up with my college boyfriend after 5 years when I decided we weren’t long term compatible). I’ve been on over 40 first dates since then and I’m just feeling like it’s never ending.

    • B says...

      This ?. I’ve been on so many first dates since getting out of my last relationship that don’t go any further. I feel like I’m being repeatedly interviewed for a job. And the last guy who wanted to go out more than once (the only one in a 5 month time span) wanted to hook up in a public parking lot. How do you all keep dating without becoming jaded and having that come across?

    • Emma says...

      Echoing B – I’m in the same situation. I know we’re supposed to approach every person/new date with a “blank slate” but it gets so tedious over and over. I feel like every guy I meet puts in so much effort the first date (mayyybe the second date) and then ultimately just wants to hook up. This is all so rambling on my end but I feel like men (boys? lol) in their 30s still control all the power and it’s up to them when they want to settle down and date. I don’t want to become jaded either and would love to feel more open to meeting someone who wants a mature relationship.

    • Annie says...

      I’m almost 30, single for ~2 yrs, living in NYC and have the same “single forever” worry after too many bad first dates. Pre-pandemic I was using apps, but now the thought of virtual dating seems bleak/I don’t know how to get excited about that. I’d love any advice for not hating dating apps and/or meeting people organically (although I know that’s hard at the moment).

    • Allie says...

      Same. I’m 33, almost 34, and haven’t been in a “serious” relationship for over three years. I find apps exhausting and stressful and frankly gave up for awhile, but I’m also not necessarily willing to accept that I’ll be single forever. Tips on app profiles for those of us in our 30s and done with stupid games would be amazing!

  123. V. B. says...

    Excited for this series! I’d love to hear your take on toxic relationships: how to recognize you’re in one, how to get help especially once you’ve become isolated from family and friends, how to have the courage to believe in yourself, walk away, and start rebuilding your life, etc. Your team displays such humanity and wisdom in all you do, which is why I (and perhaps many others?) would really value your input on this topic.

    • Jen says...

      I also would love to hear more on this! I am walking away from an unhealthy relationship, and it feels hard to make this choice and continue to see myself as someone who values kindness, not giving up, grace and being brave. I always thought of myself as having a deep sense of my own true north and feel like I lost that along the way. I’d love to hear from someone who has truly forgiven someone else while also maintaining strict boundaries to protect their own well-being- what does that look like?

      Thanks for bring this up VB and thanks Cup of Jo team for asking!

    • Anon says...

      There’s a great, great book on this:
      “WHY DOES HE DO THAT?”
      It’s like a textbook and it helps you see what’s really going on and ehat to do about it!

  124. Emilie says...

    Ahh I cannot wait for this series!

    I feel like Caroline and I have been on the same(ish) timeline with our current relationships. Met around the same time, moved in around the same time, working from home together in close quarters at the same time(!!)

    This could be a long story, but in the interest of brevity: I’m trying to figure out my own and my partner’s thoughts about marriage and babies. HUGE questions – but I have never felt a strong pull about either subject either way. I know you have done posts on these specific questions in the past, which I go back and read semi-regularly, but I’m looking for some input on figuring these big questions out together with my partner. We are both go-with-the-flow, indecisive, conflict-avoidant people, but I don’t want to skate through the next few years ignoring these huge topics just because I never feel like thinking about it too hard or risking a tense conversation.

    Any help on conversation starters, the kind of questions to ask each other/ourselves, etc. to try to get our heads wrapped around this would be so so so appreciated. Love you ladies xxx

    • Katie S. says...

      Yes!! I feel this comment in my soul. My partner and I are also very ‘go-with-the-flow’ types but I don’t want to blink and suddenly it’s too late to make some of those big decisions.

    • A says...

      Echo this! I am totally avoiding those conversations – partly because of all of the uncertainty in the air these days with COVID. But I realize I am just being avoidant. Would love some tips!

    • KJ says...

      THIS! I feel so meh about marriage and kids…but will I regret not doing either when I’m older? IDK,

    • Alice says...

      Yes yes yes THIS!!! We’re quite go with the flow too, and definitely conflict avoidant. From abstract conversations we’ve had in the past, I know my boyfriend and I both want marriage and children out of life, but I have no idea how to navigate the “so is that what WE want and WHEN” conversation together. Any guidance on this would be MASSIVELY appreciated!

  125. Maria says...

    I love this idea so much! I’m in the same boat as Beth and am excited about the prospect of feeling less alone as I test the waters of dating in the current atmosphere and the mysterious future. Thank you Cup of Jo! And Beth!

  126. Betsy says...

    Inter-faith relationships! Do they only work if it’s more of a cultural association or can they work if they are deep beliefs?

    • M. says...

      YES! They can work beautifully if both parties 1) respect (and I mean truly respect to the point of defending them when they’re not around) their partner’s beliefs, and 2) prioritize their partner’s personal happiness (which includes “what makes me happy doesn’t have to make you happy”).

      It’s actually become our relationship superpower – becoming an expert at empathy and respecting your partner even (and especially) when you disagree.

      (Atheist/Unorthodox-Mormon couple)

  127. Julie says...

    Hi! My name is Julie, I’m 25 years old and my boyfriend and I have been together for 4+ years. We’d like to purchase a home in a year, but I don’t think he’s making the right financial decisions to make that happen. How do I broach the subject without sounding aggressive or bossy?

    • Tara says...

      Hi Julie, I’m 25 and when I got married 3 years ago I discovered my husband and I had very different spending habits!! One resource I like is You Need A Budget, the book, it has a huge section on talking about finances in a healthy way as a couple. Might be worth a read?? It’s A very shame-free view of spending.

    • E says...

      Some advice as the more financially responsible person in a long term relationship –
      – Sometimes “we’d like to” is actually “I want to” and the other person isn’t on board – even if maybe they have said they are. First of all, establish that this is actually a shared goal (and timeline).
      – I have a sense of what “the right financial decisions” look like, but I can’t assume that my partner also has the same ideas. Not everyone comes to the table with the same understanding of personal finance. So remember that sometimes what looks like knowingly doing something “wrong” is actually just not being aware.
      – Finally, just approach it from the shared goal perspective–if you’ve established that you both share the same goal, you can talk about what you’re doing to get to that goal and what you think you could both be doing. The conversation shouldn’t be about his decisions that you think aren’t sound, but rather about what you both want to do together and how you’ll get there.

    • Sadie says...

      If you can make it happen, I’d buy the house on your own. <3

  128. Steph says...

    I’d love some general advice on starting to date again after a long time (eg: 10 years ago there were almost no apps, so I’ve never used any – are there any especially good ones that feminists tend to like?) and now with 2 young children in tow (specific examples of how others have integrated new partners into the lives of their children or talking to them about parents dating other people would be amazing).

  129. Britt says...

    I love this! Looking forward to the series ☺️

    And do I have questions. Hah. This might be more of a West coast thing (certainly never encountered this when dating on the East Coast), but how do you all handle when someone asks you out for a specific date, but then doesn’t follow through to make a plan? Or if the guy “forgets” that you had agreed to go out after suggesting a day but keeps on talking? My inclination is to write them off, but it’s happened often enough that I wonder if it’s cultural out here in CA.

    Secondly, how do guys end a date when they are actually interested? Saying that they had fun and want to “do this again” seems to be code for not interested/good luck to you. I’m getting back into dating after ending a long term relationship that wasn’t healthy for me, and could use some help even if the pandemic wasn’t making this all more difficult.

    Thanks!

    • nadine says...

      Ugh, I have had the first thing happening a lot with friends, even before the pandemic. It really bothers me, mostly because I’m not sure how to handle it. I’m in Canada with friends from all over the world, so not sure if it CA related, but if anyone has advice to Britt I’m happy to take it too..

    • L says...

      oh my gosh! this happened to me when I lived in Colorado! maybe it’s a west thing??

    • Becky says...

      Oh my gosh I would write them off too!!! I really do feel that any person interested in you respects your time.
      Any time a guy was truly interested in me I noticed they didnt forget. But I am an east coaster so that may be the difference haha!
      Also the ending of a date with a guy truly interested would always try to lock up the next meet up that night either with a specific detail of a museum to visit or with a specific day. Just my experience. I imagine the pandemic has made dating much harder for people because of finances and closures. Just go with your gut and keep your standards!

    • Sophie says...

      If they don’t follow through, they are showing you they’re not event committed to meeting you once and giving you just a few hours of their time. FORGET THEM! THEY SHOULD GIVE YOU RESPECT AND STICK TO THEIR WORD OFF THE BAT. It will likely continue throughout the relationship.

    • Lo says...

      I live on the east coast, and this would happen quite frequently when I dated (3+ years ago)! After several blow-offs without a solid rain check (“I forgot!” “Something came up at work!”), I chalked it up to those guys just being assholes, but maybe that’s me :)

    • Emily says...

      That happened to me SO much in California (although I was in college last time I lived here and was dating). I was so relieved to go on actual dates that were followed through on when I got to New York. I’m recently back in CA though and was kinda hoping that was a maturity, not a CA men, issue!

    • Sadie says...

      I’m a west coaster :) I’ve kind of noticed that in the early stages it is more common to invite someone along for something you are already doing like fire on the beach with friends or a run. Maybe it is just the outdoorsy community? Maybe it keeps things more casual?