Remember those few AMA (Ask Me Anything) posts I published? Well, I want to bring them back. I shared an Insta Story with the questions function on Monday and received so many surrounding love, sex and relationships, so instead of minimising my answers to fit neatly on a single frame, I've shuffled a few over to this blog posts and given myself more freedom to ramble and elaborate. By way of a quick disclaimer, I'm no more qualified to give relationship advice than the next person, but I'll always be honest and share what I think in a way which I hope is helpful to the original asker. I hope you enjoy!
How do you work through being in different places in life when in a relationship?
This is such a useful question and one that is particularly pertinent to my own life and the women around me at the moment. I’ve mentioned this before, but one of the ways I frame my outlook on relationships - both mine and the relationships of others - is to always be conscious that as much as you become a pair and a partner, you still exist and move through life as your own person. You’re still on your own trajectory, and every hope and desire that you had as a single person continues to live on. This means, naturally, that there are times when you start to move in different directions. One of you could be seeking security and stability whilst the other one is holding on to youthful abandon. One of you could be confused about your sexuality and open to exploring, whilst the other person may not be ready or feels certain that it isn’t for them. One of you may be chasing a career, whilst the other is happy to simply plod along.
It happens. It’s normal. When you enter into a relationship your ambitions don’t automatically merge into one, and they don’t stop developing either. You are constantly changing and adapting as part of a wider world, and so the people you are when you first meet and decide to tangle genitals isn't necessarily the pair that exists 2 and a half years later. That’s also okay. It doesn’t mean that the relationship is over, it just means that you have to be open-minded if you think it’s worth working on.
Firstly, it’s important to recognise and communicate that you’re in different places. You have to be honest about it - there’s no point scratching around the itch. I feel in these circumstances people often ache along slowly because they’re trying to avoid either a bust up or the possibility that it might not work out, but in doing so the tension becomes even more fraught and open conversations become more difficult because they’re so heavily weighted by emotion. Have a proper conversation with your partner and be prepared to say things which they won’t necessarily want to hear. Maybe you’ve been together from a young age and the thought of never shagging anybody else ever again scares you; if that’s the case, you have to say it with your chest, because chances are that feeling will sit there and fester and grow into something bigger and uglier and harder to contain. Then listen to their response, be empathetic, but stay firm in what it is you know you want. Especially when the other person becomes upset, it can be all too easy to filter the original sentiment until there isn’t much left apart from the small thing which makes them feel better, but then in a few months time you’ll find yourself right back in the same place, so speak with conviction even when it’s uncomfortable.
Ultimately, I think the key to making it work when you’re in different places is to be open-minded and accepting. Accepting that both of you are separate people, adapting in ways to nurture the relationship; accepting that you’re working to different timings for different reasons; accepting that your partner is entitled to move at a pace which makes them happy, just as you are; accepting that you might have growing pains for a little bit as you both adjust, but with honesty and commitment, you can use this imbalance to better the relationship.
Nobody ever wants to hear it, but you might also have to accept that your different places are simply too far apart. If that’s the case, there’s no reason to say that you won’t find your way back to each other in the future. It’s just that you need some room to satisfy your own soul first.
Have you ever been confused about your sexuality and been scared to tell others?
I wouldn’t say I’m confused, necessarily - more unexplored and flexible (wahey). I’ve been in a relationship with one boy or another since I was 18 so I’ve never had the opportunity to experiment outside of the “norm”, and last year I started to understand with more clarity that ignoring my curiosity wasn’t making it go away. I find myself attracted to people regardless of their gender. My as-yet-open sexuality has never felt like something to announce so I don’t mention it unless someone asks, but I come from a liberal family and I surround myself with open-minded friends, so I have the privilege of not worrying about their reaction. I’m just a greedy person: why have one when you could have them all? If you’re feeling fluid, don’t suppress it.
Do you ever feel insecure if your boyfriend finds other women hot? Any tips to improve self esteem?
It’s entirely natural to feel that initial pang of jealously when you know your partner is attracted to another person. 3 years in I still feel it myself, followed by 51 questions about what it is that’s attractive about them and a Venn diagram highlighting all of the ways that those hot properties do not apply to me. However, I always remind myself that my partner chooses to be with me, and does so because I have a lot to offer. I know the value in myself and I treasure that as much as my boyfriend does; I respect who I am and I trust both of us not to waste that or each other’s time.
I think it’s good to have a simmer of healthy jealousy - knowing you “have” something other people want encourages you to keep the spark alive. However, if that jealousy is coming from a place of insecurity rather than pride (more ‘he fancies her because she’s better looking than me’ rather than ‘he fancies her and still chooses to be with me because I’m sick’), then it starts to become damaging for you both. I suppose you have to reframe the way you think about it; rather than seeing your partner finding someone else hot as a slight against you, understand that a) him finding other people hot does not automatically diminish your own hotness, and b) some people are just really fucking hot - probably hotter than me or you - but that isn’t more valuable and shouldn’t be more valued than the myriad of other qualities you have to offer.
Being funny, being intelligent, being ambitious, being insightful; you are more than your physicality and being attractive should never be your most sought after attribute. The more you can accept that looking good is not the most important factor and that there is unbelievable value in every other aspect of who you are, you'll begin to feel less insecure about the superficial things.
Rihanna is obviously a thousand times hotter than me. So is every girl on Love Island and a lot of the women I see on nights out. So wut? I’m a really cool person and if somebody doesn’t recognise that, then they don’t get to be with me. The same applies to you. We live in a society where we’re constantly wrapped in cotton wool and told that we’re the most beautiful this and the most beautiful that, and do you know what? It’s not true. We’re not all the most beautiful. But we shouldn’t be reducing ourselves to that anyway. We have to appreciate the worth of everything else.
To be clear, the above doesn’t apply if your partner fancies your best mate or the person who sits next to them at work. That’s treading a little too close to home. But if they fancy Kendall Jenner or someone they walked past in the street or even if they still find their ex hot because they are admittedly very good-looking: it’s okay. You’re not going to go through your life in a relationship without ever having a crush on someone else; it doesn’t mean you love your partner any less or that you have to act on it, it just means that you’re a person with eyes and the ability to be turned on by someone fit. The moment we stop idolising our looks and bodies as the most important element of our attractiveness is the moment we start to feel more secure in understanding the thousand brilliant reasons that our partners want to be with us.