50 Things To Do When You’re Single on Valentine’s Day

It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I think, at this point in my life, I actually find Valentine’s Day more fun when I’m single than when I’m dating someone.

See, when you’re in a relationship, the dreaded V-Day can feel like an obligation. But when you’re single, it’s an invitation. An invitation to step up your self-love and look for the potential fun in the day. Here are 50 suggestions for how to do that…

Take yourself out for dinner at your favorite restaurant. Make a reservation if you want; you’ll probably need one. Solo dinners out are a scary thing to do on any ol’ day, let alone one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants, but this is exactly the kind of self-love challenge Valentine’s is perfect for. Bring a book to read or your journal to write in, order your favorite dish, and revel in your own company!

Alternatively, order your favorite takeout and eat it someplace cozy. Your best friend’s living room. A blanket fort constructed in your own bed. A secret hideout you happen to know about on your local university’s campus. All of these are excellent places to eat delicious food, alone or with a friend.

Re-read your favorite book from when you were a teenager. The twists and turns of a familiar plot are so comforting in their predictability. And you may get a visceral glimpse at that idealistic kid you used to be, and how you can be more like them now.

Go out with your single friends. A bar, a movie, a party, an impromptu scavenger hunt… It doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as you’re with people who make you laugh and feel like you belong.

Do a witchy love ceremony, whatever that happens to mean to you. For me, it’d probably involve meditating in a pink bubble bath while clutching pieces of rose quartz, slithering into a pink negligée, slicking on some red lipstick, and yawping some loving affirmations at my beautiful reflection in the mirror. What kind of romantic magic feels most needed and nourishing to you now?

Soak in warm water, whether that means your bathtub or a local heated pool or a friend’s hot tub. Pondersome soaks relax the body and allow the mind to wander. Bonus points if you pull an Oprah and accessorize your bath with scented candles, a glass of wine, a bath pillow, or whatever other little luxuries bliss you out.

Masturbate elaborately. Use as many toys as you want. Make as much noise as you reasonably and pleasurably can. Do all the things you can to yourself that you wish partners would do to you.

Choose a quality you miss about one of your exes and figure out how to embody that quality yourself. I often wish I was as funny as some of my exes; I could work on that by upping my comedy podcast intake and learning a few good jokes to tell! If you admired well-read exes, check a few new books out of the library. If you miss an ex’s kind, supportive heart, look for ways to support and help a friend today. You get the picture.

Write a love letter to a future partner. I love any mental exercise that helps me focus on what I want without making me feel bad about not having it yet, and this is one such exercise. Tell your future lover all the places you want to take them, the stories you can’t wait to tell them, the things they should know if they plan to love you. Let yourself get excited by the knowledge that there are so many hot, interesting people out there with tons of love to give, and some of them will give it to you.

Try something drastically different with your look. Sometimes a new makeup technique, clothing silhouette, hair color, or tattoo can be just the thing to remind you of what a babe you are.

Take a nap while cuddling something – a pet, a stuffed animal, a friend who consents to cuddles. Hell, I’ve even cuddled my Magic Wand before. A mid-day nap is such a lovely gift to give yourself.

Do an at-home spa routine. Yes, even if you are not normally the type of person who does stuff like this. You can give yourself a manicure (with clear nail polish, if you insist), slather on a face mask, soak and pumice your poor neglected feet, or just moisturize your entire body. Anything that makes you feel nourished and cute.

Journal about your feelings. Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to check in with yourself about your attitudes, beliefs, and hopes around relationships and sex. Sit somewhere cozy with your journal and pen (or a writing-centric web app, if you prefer), and ask yourself: how are you feeling about being single? What would you like your next relationship to be like? What do you need to work on or do differently to make that possible? What have you learned from your past relationships? How important is sex to you? What kind of sex do you wish you were having? Dig deep and follow the feelings that come up. Afterward, you’ll feel better and clearer.

Watch your favorite rom-coms. My recommendations: Hysteria (vibrators! science! a flustered Hugh Dancy!), Just My Luck (so stupid, and yet, Chris Pine is charming in it), High Fidelity (John Cusack’s snobbish mopeyness is counterbalanced by Jack Black’s silliness and it’s wonderful). Bonus points if you yell at the TV every time something sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, etc. happens, or if you devise an (alcohol-optional) drinking game to go along with the movie.

Watch dramatic romantic tragedies. Okay, comedies are great, but sometimes you just need to have a cathartic cry. Try The NotebookTitanicThe Great Gatsby, or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Settle in with a box of tissues and some comforting snacks and get ready to weep.

Invite some friends over and take turns dramatically reading dating-themed articles aloud. Cosmo and Glamour are excellent source material for this activity. Sometimes mocking the silliness of dating can make you feel better about your singlehood.

Do a Tinder experiment. Look, I’m not saying the people browsing Tinder on Valentine’s Day will be the cream of the crop, but that’s not the point. Change your profile or your approach, for science, and see what happens. Some examples: Change your first photo to a picture of you winking and see if it affects the messages you get. Instantly delete any messages that don’t specifically reference your profile, and only respond to the ones that do. Put a line in your bio that asks matches to tell you the funniest joke they’ve recently heard.

Write or read fanfiction about your favorite pairing. Yes, even if you’ve never delved into fanfic before. It’s fun! It’s also a way to get into a romantic headspace without stressing yourself out about your own romantic situation. If you’re not sure where to start, look up some of your favorite movies, books, or TV shows on Archive of Our Own and see what’s out there.

Finally get rid of your ex’s stuff. You know, those old T-shirts they left behind, stuffed animals they gave you, framed pictures of the two of you together, and so on. Only keep these things if they actually “spark joy“; otherwise, donate ’em or toss ’em. You’ll feel better without that psychic clutter clouding up your space and your brain.

Get extremely high. If intoxicants are your jam, that is. Choose something that’ll perk you up rather than drag you down (so, if weed is your substance of choice, probably a sativa strain). Then do whatever High-You wants to do: eat delicious snacks, lie in bed watching that show you love and have seen six times already, masturbate furiously, or just ponder the universe.

Visit a sex shop and pick something out, even if it’s just a small thing like a bottle of good lube, an erotic novel, or a pair of nipple clamps. Be pleasant to the salespeople; they are probably overwhelmed by desperate, haggard customers making last-minute purchases, and you being sweet and reasonable could brighten their busy day!

Listen to your favorite music. Really get into it. Maybe wail along to Elliott Smith by candlelight, or have a dance party with your dog to the dulcet tones of Walk the Moon. Listening to music is a visceral, often joyful experience, and is actually good for your brain, so this is a good thing to do any day of the year but especially on a day when you need a lift!

Try on clothes that make you feel babely as hell. You can go to the mall to do this, or shop your own closet, or peruse a friend’s wardrobe (with their permission, obviously!). It’s amazing how much good lingerie/shapely dresses/sharp-lookin’ blazers can tune up your self-image sometimes.

Engage in a platonic sexual activity, if you have a friend you’d like to do this with who would enthusiastically consent to such things. I have been known to spank and be spanked by my friends, cuddle and kiss ’em, and sometimes even masturbate side-by-side. It’s a way to find some intimacy and sensual pleasure even when the societally sanctioned avenues for those things (i.e. romantic relationships) are not immediately available to you.

Go to a local cultural event, like a gallery show, a theatrical production, or a stand-up comedy night. Bring a friend, if you like.

Hire a sex worker, if you can afford to. This could be a really lovely treat to give yourself today.

Contact someone who might be lonely today – your widowed aunt, your recently-dumped friend, or anyone else you know who’s going through a tough time. Chat with them and try to inject a little cheer into their day.

Dress up and take selfies. I am particularly partial to pink-and-red outfits on Valentine’s Day. They make me feel romantic and adorable. Bonus points for plentiful heart-shaped accessories!

Make yourself an elaborate, nutritious, comforting meal. It feels good to put effort into taking care of yourself and then feel that effort reflected back at you in the form of increased energy and overall well-being. Some of my favorite meals to cook for myself include risotto, steamed broccoli, and pasta salad.

Work toward one of your goals you’ve been putting off. Write some of that book proposal you’ve been meaning to get to, set up that Etsy store you’ve been hoping to start, research that city you’ve been wanting to move to… When you put time into what you want to achieve, you feel so good and accomplished, and that feeling is a great gift to give yourself on this day.

Re-read your old journals/blog entries/emails, etc. This can be a charming way to spend some time with your younger self. And when you reflect on how you used to be, it can make you feel grateful for how far you’ve come.

Tidy and reorganize your space – your whole house, or just the room you spend the most time in, depending on how much ambition and freedom you have! – so it contains fewer things that stress you out and more things that make you smile.

Go to the movies. If being alone in public at a certified “date activity” makes you anxious, a movie theatre is one of the better options you could choose, because you’ll be swathed in darkness so few people (if any) will even notice you’re by yourself. Ideally, pick a movie that appeals to your inner quirkiness so deeply that you probably couldn’t even drag a date along if you tried. Revel in the weirdness of your own tastes!

Write love letters to your friends, whether publicly on social media, or privately via email, or even in the form of a literal (snail-mail) letter. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of love, right? So celebrate the love in your life.

Tell someone you admire that you admire them. Email that indie musician who fills your earbuds with glee on the regs, leave a comment on a blog that lights you up, compliment that bookstore employee who knows everything about everything whenever you ask them for help. Spread some love and happiness around!

Clean your selfie mirror. (Idea via Durga Polashi.) Selfies are an expression of, and sometimes a boon for, our self-love and self-acceptance. You owe it to yourself to have a squeaky-clean mirror that helps you capture yourself in all your glory!

Imagine what your heroes would do if they were single on Valentine’s Day, and then carry a little of their flair and panache into your day as well. I suspect Jane Lane would order a pizza and watch bad TV with her bestie, Alex Franzen would hole up with a mug of tea and write sexy fiction all day, Rosa Diaz would drink whiskey at a biker bar and make out with a scruffy leather-clad stranger, and Sara Quin would obsessively write and re-write a quirky new song until it was both catchy and devastating. What would your heroes do?

Donate money to a cause you believe in, like you’re giving a Valentine’s Day gift but your “valentine” is good nonprofits doing good work. Some recommendations that are especially important in our current political climate: the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. (More options here and here.)

Declutter your digital systems, as a favor to yourself. Go through your hard drive, Google Drive, or Dropbox, and delete some shit you don’t need. Run a virus scan and/or a defrag. Organize files into folders. Ahhh. Doesn’t that feel better?

Give yourself a long, slow genital massage without the expectation of orgasm. Think of it as an experiment in pleasure and mindfulness. (Coconut oil and natural oil-based lubes are great for this!)

Teach yourself a new skill with the help of the internet. Few things make me feel more accomplished than learning to do something new! Think of some things you’ve always wished you knew how to do – leather boot care, page layouts in InDesign, spelling in sign language? – and get thee to Google, stat.

Get clear about your “hard yeses and hard nos” for future partners. It’s good to have a list like this to refer to when you’re in the throes of infatuation with someone new, to make sure your beau is actually aligned with what you want and need. My hard-yes list says, “Feminist, makes me laugh, thinks I’m funny, at least as smart as me, libido and kinks roughly equivalent to mine, vocally enthusiastic and optimistic, creative in some way(s), socially competent, loves and supports my blog/writing.” My hard-no list says, “Doesn’t believe in oppression/privilege/racism, etc., noticeably not as smart as me, humorless, low or no libido, negative/jugmental/pessimistic, anger issues, wants only monogamy now/ever, toxically masculine, staunchly religious.” What would yours look like?

Go on a mini creative retreat. This can be as simple as turning off your phone, closing your social media tabs, and choosing to focus on one beloved creative project for an entire afternoon – or it can be as elaborate as booking an Airbnb in another town for a few days to work on your passion in an unfamiliar environment. What a blissful gift to give yourself!

Spend an hour or two in a bookstore or library. Preferably one with ample seating, and which lets you bring in your hot beverage of choice to sip while you peruse and read. I can imagine few things cozier than an afternoon at Indigo or Glad Day, flipping through glorious tomes over coffee.

Cull your social media lists. Unfollow the people whose tweets add no value to your life, and unfriend the people who make you feel stressed out or indifferent. Life is too short and too precious to fill it (even just digitally) with people who add no brightness to your days, or actively sap your emotional reserves.

Put together a file of the best compliments you’ve ever received. I’ve done this for years, in various forms: I have a “flattery” folder in my Gmail account, a list of meticulously copied-down compliments in a notebook, and sometimes I document my best compliments in tweets or Tumblr posts. It’s a fantastic favor to do for yourself, because on days when your mood and self-worth are frighteningly low, you can refer to your compliment file and remind yourself (even just theoretically) of your value. If you need help building up your collection o’ compliments, ask your ten closest friends and family members what they think your three best qualities are (and then tell them theirs!).

Bedazzle or jazz up something you use regularly. Plaster your journal in sparkly stickers, put some cute pictures on your fridge, give your desk a new paint job, etc. You deserve beauty and comfort in your life!

Stay offline. Unhappiness often stems from comparing your insides to other people’s outsides (to paraphrase Anne Lamott), and social media facilitates this bad habit all the damn time. Valentine’s Day is a day when we’re particularly susceptible to envying other people’s situations, so maybe avoid the internet (or just social media) today, to the extent that you can. While I don’t begrudge anyone who finds comfort and joy in their online life (I certainly do!), sometimes taking an internet break can be affirming and recalibrating.

Use your body in ways you normally don’t. Yoga, stretching, sports, swimming, walking, running, hula-hooping, dancing, having an orgasm in a ridiculous athletic position… Challenge your body and see what it can do.

Give yourself permission to do nothing, if you want to. You are inherently valuable and loveable, regardless of what you do or don’t do on Valentine’s Day or any other day. Don’t forget that, babe.

 

How are you spending Valentine’s? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Here’s Why I’m Not Setting Sexual Goals For 2017…

I’m a sentimental person and I don’t like to break traditions. They’re both grounding and buoying to me. Every year in the first week of January, I write about my sexual goals for the year, and then I go through the rest of the year trying to achieve those goals.

But these past few weeks, my gut has been telling me to back off of sex and dating, and to do less of those things, not more. Here’s a journal entry I wrote about my swirling thoughts on this subject recently; I present it by way of explanation. I only have one “sex goal” this year and it’s more of a resolution, an intention, a self-care-oriented promise.


I have been rejected twice in one week. [Redacted: a detailed explanation of what happened, and how sad I was about it.]

This kind of bullshit is EXACTLY the reason I want to prioritize dating/sex less highly in 2017. I have what sometimes genuinely feels like an unhealthy addiction to romantic stimuli. It lifts my mood and my self-esteem, but at what cost? I just end up feeling like I can’t possibly feel happy or valuable or successful in life if I am not actively flirting with/dating/banging someone. And that leads to dating people who are wrong for me, pining over people who don’t want me like that, having bad sex with people I barely like, and leading people on with false flirtations I have no intention of following through on.

Yes, it is exciting to want and be wanted, but it is not everything; there are plenty other potent and viable dopamine triggers available to me. Spending time with friends, working on creative pursuits, even reading good books. I am SICKENED by how much I’ve relied on men to somehow magically solve my mood troubles this year. I am better than that. I have not spent 9+ years working on my radical self-love only to give away my personal power to other people.

There’s this moment in High Fidelity when, after Rob’s been persistently pursuing his ex Laura to try to get her back for ages, his sister Liz asks him, “WHY do you want Laura back so badly?” You see the confusion spread across his face as he ponders this question. He’s never even considered it before. He’s pursuing Laura because he’s never entertained alternate possibilities, and because Laura has been in his life for years so what else would he do? I feel like that about men. I need a sad-eyed Joan Cusack to shake me by the shoulders and ask me, “WHY do you want men to like you so badly?” And I don’t know how I would answer. “It makes me feel good about myself. It makes me feel like everything is going to be okay.” But those feelings are temporary. And I can conjure them without men’s assistance.

This week has felt to me a lot like that week in February when [a boy I liked] left town and [another boy I liked] rejected me on Valentine’s Day: a compound whammy of sadness, insecurity, rejection, the fear that no one will ever want me and I’m destined to be alone forever. In February I believed that story, and it led me into one misguided romance after another, because I felt so desperately and fundamentally unlovable that I jumped on any and every opportunity to see that myth disproved. But this time I will not react that way. When the universe sends you versions of the same challenge again and again, it’s because there’s a lesson in there somewhere that you still have not learned. I think the universe is telling me to nix my addiction to love-or-the-idea-of-love. This year has sometimes slammed that lesson over my head like a frying pan, and other times gently slid that lesson in front of my face like a note passed in class. I have not been listening. I have not been paying attention. I want to apologize, to repent, to fix it. I can’t believe I let myself treat myself this way.

It almost feels like I need to go cold-turkey… No sex, dating, flirting, or sexting for maybe the first 3 months of 2017. That feels unreasonable, impossible, but it’s not. In all honesty, I may not need to impose strict rules on myself for them to get followed: I’m not currently seeing anyone, I’ve promised myself no more one-night stands in 2017 because IMO they’re always bad, and I’m currently feeling so wounded that I can’t imagine wanting to flirt with anyone for quite a while. Maybe I’ll read this over in a few weeks and laugh at myself, I don’t know. But for now it feels good and right and manageable and necessary for me to take some time away from the thing I’m addicted to, so that hopefully eventually I can come back to it healthier and better-adjusted. I don’t want to have a toxic relationship to love and sex; I love those things. In 2017 I want to pursue them much more mindfully, less desperately, and LESS overall. That’s hard and good and good and hard.


Have you ever taken a break from dating/sex/etc. for mental health or self-care reasons? How did it go?

Want to hear me read this post aloud? It was kind of a tough one to get through, but I did it! All $5+/month supporters of my Patreon get access to audio recordings of me reading all my new blog posts as they go up. Come join my crew!

What Gala Darling Taught Me About Self-Love, Mean Boys, & Magic

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When I initially discovered Gala Darling online, I thought she was self-absorbed. She was always posting outfit photos and linking incessantly to her blog, and I thought, “Wow, she really thinks highly of herself.” Hypocritical, for sure, since I was also posting outfit photos and blogging at that time. What an oaf I was.

Little did I know, this kind of snap judgment about women’s right (or lack thereof) to proudly love ourselves is exactly the kind of thinking that Gala seeks to dismantle in her work on radical self-love. And it’s exactly the kind of thinking I badly needed to dismantle in myself at that time.

At age 14, I was a surly, snotty, deeply insecure dork. I believed with certainty that I was ugly and unloveable. I felt awkward in my body, hiding away my curvy femme flair in baggy, masculine clothes. I hated most people I met, because I projected my insecurities onto them and that made me perceive them as shallow, mean, boring, and stupid. I thought I was smarter than everyone – my friends, my family, even my teachers – and that made me feel desperately alone, like no one understood me. Classic teenager, right?

Worse yet, some part of me believed this negative viewpoint made me special and unique. My bitter façade felt central to my identity. I thought my sarcastic snark was all I had to offer, because (I thought) I wasn’t pretty, sexy, or worthy of love. If I could be dark and sharp, hardened and smart, at least I’d be something.

Oh, I was “something” alright. If by “something,” I mean “miserable.”

When curiosity finally got the better of me, I clicked through to Gala Darling’s website after seeing her link to it in many an outfit photo description. And as I read page after page of her blog – first begrudgingly, then perplexedly, then rabidly – I felt something once-solid inside me start to break down and shift.

Gala wrote about positivity, loveliving a celebratory life, unconventional personal style, treating people well, kissing, blogging, confidence, and embracing your inner nerd. She wrote about getting dressed up for the sheer joy of it, courting yourself like you were your own cherished lover, and making your daily life lovelier. She wrote about sex appeal, magic, and knotted pearl necklaces. I loved her, immediately and profoundly.

In the days after combing through Gala’s entire blog archive, taking fervent notes in my Moleskine the whole time, something remarkable happened to me. I found myself starting to feel happier, lighter, more self-loving and self-accepting. And to my immense surprise, that feeling didn’t go away.

A lot of Gala’s writings about self-love resemble a framework I now recognize as cognitive-behavioral. That is to say: she addresses your tangled thoughts, in all their maladaptive disarray, and your actions, encouraging you to actually go out and do things differently.

I did a whole lot of things differently in the months after devouring Gala’s blog. I started making gratitude lists, began dressing how I actually wanted to dress, and set concrete goals for myself that I started moving toward, little by little, day by day. All of those habits are still with me today, and they’ve completely transformed my life. I honestly don’t know who I’d be right now if Gala Darling hadn’t entered my world.

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So, needless to say, I was over the moon when – after almost a decade of following Gala’s adventures like her writing was gospel – I finally got to meet her in person this past May.

I was visiting New York for a threesome, because of course I was. Gala had mentioned, on numerous occasions, her love of witchy East Village shop Enchantments, where you can buy all manner of occult treasures: incense, essential oils, herbs, tarot cards, and talismans. I tweeted about wanting to visit Enchantments while I was in town, and Gala asked if I wanted a “witchy date” to accompany me. Um, yes, I very very very much did.

We made plans, and met up on my last day in New York in the dark, cozy, half-underground front room of Enchantments. I was nervous, but I was also surprised by how easy our rapport was, right off the bat: it felt like I’d known her for years, because in some sense, I had. We hugged, and chatted about our lives, and I couldn’t stop smiling.

tumblr_o7z5xme1qq1qzigipo3_1280Enchantments’ most exciting offering, if you ask me, is their custom-made spell candles. They’re enormous pillar candles, colored and carved and anointed and blessed according to whatever specific concerns are troubling you in your life. I told the shop’s resident witches about my romantic situation at the time: a hopeless crush on someone who would never love me back, and a string of recent bad relationship decisions that probably stemmed from the distraction caused by that endless crush. They listened to my tale of woe and determined I’d be most benefited by a “Love Uncrossing” candle, which can help clear psychological blocks around love and promote clarity in that area. The witches asked me for some other details, like my name and astrological sign, and had me taste some ceremonial honey as part of the process. Then Gala and I absconded to a café to sit and chat while my candle was being prepared.

After she bought me a frozen hazelnut latte with almond milk (the yummiest, and such a sweet gesture), we sat down and talked for ages, about blogging, boys, sex, Tinder, goals, and so much more. I felt like I was in a dream – one of those dreams where you inexplicably get to sit down with your hero and ask them all the questions you’ve always wanted to ask them. It was weird and wonderful and I couldn’t believe it was real.

The aforementioned romantic situation was very much on my mind at that time, so I may have sliiiightly talked Gala’s ear off about it. But she was so gracious and kind. She told me she thought I should cut off contact with the boy whose lack of affection for me was hurting me every day, even though my poor smitten heart wanted nothing more than to be with him all the time. He was just taking up space in my life, she said, that could be better filled by people who actually would love me and treat me right.

It’s funny how you can read about a concept at length, and understand it on the theoretical level, but still suck at actually implementing it. That’s how I am with self-love, sometimes. If a friend of mine told me she was stuck on some dumb boy who didn’t like her back, and it was breaking her heart every day, I know exactly what I’d tell her. I’d tell her she deserved better, that he didn’t know what he was missing, and that her time and energy would be better spent nixing him from her life and moving on than pining and obsessing. It would be tough advice to hear, but it would be rooted only in my love for her. And of course, that’s the same advice I want to give myself, when I’m truly radiating and living self-love.

Gala is my idol, so when she told me I should phase that dude out of my life and move the fuck on, I listened. I’m not saying I cut him out of my social sphere entirely, or vowed to tell off anyone who mistreated me from then on, or announced a dating hiatus while working on my self-love; after all, I’m only human, and I’m prone to backsliding like anyone is. But Gala reminded me of what she’s been teaching me all these many years, over and over again, in so many ways: that I am worthy of love, even (and perhaps especially) when I’m the only one who’s madly in love with me.

I’m so lucky. This year I got to meet two of my heroes, two of the people who shaped me for the better at crucial times in my life: Kidder Kaper, and Gala. In both cases, they taught me things that made me want to do better, live better, and be better.

I realized recently that now, at 24, I’m as old as Gala was when I discovered her blog and it changed my goddamn life. And if that doesn’t make me want to be a beacon of light every day, writing helpfully and openheartedly for the people who need to hear what I have to say, then nothing will.

I Wear My Heart on My Belly: My First Tattoo!

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Way back in February 2015, I wrote this in my journal:

I want to get a tattoo this year. Maybe a heart on my lower belly. Something meaningful and sweet and pretty.

Seven months later, I finally made it happen: my external G-spot is now emblazoned with a red heart for all time. And I love it so much.

The day before getting inked, I did a marathon journaling session where I unpacked all the reasons, symbols and meanings behind this tattoo, to make sure that I really, really wanted it. And I did. Below, basically unedited, is that journal entry.

 


 

My “external G-spot” is an erogenous zone I discovered when I was with [my ex]. It likes firm pressure, especially when I’ve just had an orgasm. I wrote a blog post about this spot earlier this year, and for the post photo, I drew a red heart over the spot as a visual guide for readers. But I grew to like it so much after that that I wanted it tattooed.

I liked the idea of having a small tattoo there as a sort of “press here!” guide for sexual partners, and I toyed with the idea of making it a flower or even a 3D-looking button of some kind, but I just kept coming back to that red heart.

I’ve been made fun of by some friends for feeling such a deep connection to the symbol of the heart. It’s a little obvious, like saying your favorite band is the Beatles. But I just love it. It feels peaceful and encouraging and juicy and joyful and optimistic and romantic. It reminds me of first loves, first kisses, exciting crushes, youthful optimism about love. Hearts show up in my gratitude lists and happy journal entries a lot; drawing them in the margins of a notebook is like a little ritual that affirms: thank you, universe, for this blessing. I see it and I appreciate it and I love you.

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Having a heart in this particular spot would symbolize a number of different things. Like: I love my sexuality, my desires, my pleasure. I love my femininity, my vulva, my powerful babeliness. I love my belly, that little dip where it meets my mons, my chubbiness, my Venus de Milo-esque voluptuous foxiness.

Also, in the sense that the tattoo idea originated with me wanting it half-jokingly as a visual aid for partners, it is sort of an ode to sexual assertiveness and a reminder to always ask for what I want and to not be afraid to be specific, bossy, and slightly selfish in bed. It is okay to want things and to want a partner who will give you those things!

It’s difficult to be entirely coherent about this, I’m finding. But something just feels viscerally right about having a red heart at the literal centre and sexual centre and fertility centre of my body. As if to say: this body, this life, is dedicated to love. Love is at the centre of it, now and forever.

2015 feels like the right year for this heart to be branded on me. I’m 23: a woman, but still becoming an adult. Started on a trajectory that seems it’ll take me where I want to go, but unsure where that is, exactly. This has been SUCH a big year for me in terms of professional development, mental and emotional healing, relationship upheaval, gaining romantic and sexual confidence, and so much more, and it feels right to commemorate that.

I used to have a lot more tattoo ideas… Symbols and illustrations and phrases that I found meaningful at the time. But I can’t think of one more enduring and timeless than a red heart. I will always be committed to love and to self-love. And even if one day I’m not, it’ll always be something of which I ought to be reminded. Love is the most important, powerful touchstone, the fuel of my life, my guidepost and beacon and motivation. I want it on me, tangibly, visibly.

I was considering getting said tattoo on my left ring finger – a self-love reminder in the very place where a conventional symbol of love would go if I was engaged or married. But more and more things felt wrong about that, the more that I considered it. Finger tattoos fade more quickly; they are more difficult to conceal, should I ever need to; and I think it might take up weird psychic space if I were to have a pre-existing symbol in a place where a love symbol ought to go. That’s not to say I definitely intend to get engaged or married, but it feels sacred and proper to reserve that real estate on my finger, just incase. Hold space for what you want and the universe is likelier to deliver it.

Besides which: the origin of all the love and romance in my body feels intuitively much closer to my belly than it does to my finger.


 

Do you have any tattoos? What do they mean to you?

You Do Not Have to Be “Fuckable” to Be Valuable

(Quick note: this post deals with body image, weight, food, exercise, and insecurity. If those topics are triggering or troublesome for you, I encourage you to skip this post. Take care of yourself!)

I’ve been struggling with body stuff a lot lately, and it’s not fun. Counting my calories alternately seems to keep me sane or make me want to tear all my hair out. Looking at my naked body in the mirror feels unbearable some days and totally neutral on other days. My feelings toward food oscillate from toxic resentment to pure sensual love. It’s… confusing.

When I have feelings that trouble me, on any subject, I always do my best to get to the root of them – to figure out where they’re coming from and what can be done about them. Like most people (especially most women), my relationship to food and exercise is about so much more than just food and exercise: it’s about gender, and self-worth, and past emotional traumas, and bone-deep insecurities. So there’s a lot of excavating to do if I want to work it all out. But I think I came up with an important insight recently, and I’d like to share it with you.

Women are socialized to understand our beauty as our most important feature. More important than our intelligence, humor, interests, professional pursuits, or even our sexual talents, our beauty is supposed to be our ongoing project and most crucial prize. Our total value as human beings is ascribed to our appearance, and that does a lot of damage.

I have internalized the idea that not only am I required to be beautiful (meaning: conventionally pretty and thin), but I am required to be beautiful all the time. Just look at the beginning of practically any fictional hetero romance: whether it takes place in a cheesy rom-com, a staid period drama, or a twisted YA novel, the “meet-cute” typically hinges on the woman looking pretty and the man noticing.

I’m an avid consumer of romantic storylines, so it’s no surprise that this trope got so deep into my head, I guess. But it sucks, because now I go through life with the sinking feeling that any moment spent looking less than beautiful is a moment wasted, an opportunity squandered. As much as my higher intellectual self tries to squash this irrational feeling, some part of me is still constantly wondering if the lover of my dreams is somewhere in my vicinity, and if, were they to see me right now, they’d be interested or just walk right by me.

It instills a scary desperation, a constant uncertainty. The last thing I ate becomes a statement on my entire morality. The time elapsed since my last workout defines what kind of love I deserve. My ability to attract the attention of some handsome suitor becomes the single most important measurement of my value as a human being.

Of course, I know this isn’t really true. I know there is more to me than my face and my body. I even know that I’m capable of love no matter what size I am, because I’ve dated at my fattest and at my thinnest and no one has ever run screaming out of the room at the sight of my naked body. Far from it: I’ve had my curves praised, lusted after, worshiped.

But I’m single now, and shy, and anxious, so the worries creep in. And the result has become all too clear in recent months: food has lost its joy for me, because it mostly makes me feel guilty; I exercise out of obligation instead of genuine desire; and my guard is always up when I’m out. What do these people think of me? Do I look good enough to be in public right now? Am I performing “beautiful femininity” well enough?

Well, fuck that shit. I am valuable whether or not I’m “fuckable” and so are you. No matter how much your silly brain might try to trip you up, the fact is that different people are attracted to different things and so if your hygiene is acceptable and you’re a basically pleasant person to be around, someone out there will be into you. Promise.

But, beyond that, it also has to be said that being loved romantically is not the most important thing in the universe. Sometimes I get so caught up in desperate romantic wishes that I forget about the love I already have in my life: family, friends, passions, excitements, even my love for myself (which does exist, somewhere under all the layers of self-criticism).

Sometimes I watch the way men interact, and the kinds of things they talk about, and I realize that men are valued – and value themselves – for who they are and what they do, not what kind of mate they can or cannot attract. I need to reject the patriarchal paradigm which says I am only as valuable as the number of dudes who want to get in my pants. I do so much cool shit and I am so smart, funny, kind, clever and delightful. That should be enough. That is enough.

It’s still a daily struggle to figure out how to live comfortably in my body without upsetting my mind (or vice versa), but these revelations have been helpful to me. I breathe a little easier knowing my fears are unfounded and silly.

Have you battled similar thoughts and concerns around body image or romantic/sexual desirability? How did/do you deal?