Let’s Talk About Sex

That’s a headline I’m sure grabbed your attention. I try my best to keep this blog very PG/PG-13. If you know me in person you know this isn’t at all difficult for me. I don’t usually curse (Unless I get frightened, stub my toe, or something bad happens in a competitive game of Mario Kart), and I throw around the word “inappropriate” for a decent amount of the shows you see on TV.

Sex isn’t something that I talk about very often, and although I am happy to speak to friends about it freely, it isn’t something I would typically like to touch on in my little corner of the internet. After logging onto SnapChat for the first time in months, though, I feel like I want to speak out to some of my younger readers. Heck, maybe some of my twentysomething readers will even be able to relate. I was certainly a late bloomer — I didn’t have my first real boyfriend until I was 19 — so if there are any other Krista’s out there, you are not alone.

I’ve been wary to write about sex for a few reasons. First, because just about everyone I know reads this blog — including relatives and people I haven’t spoken with in years. There are people who I would cringe if I knew they read this. The second reason is incredibly selfish, though. I’m afraid of being judged. I don’t want to lose my readers who disagree with me, and I also don’t want people to think that I believe it’s my way or the highway. I have friends and family from all walks of life, and I couldn’t be prouder and happier for each and every one of them, no matter how they’re choosing to go about dating. My Single in The Suburbs family has been one that I’ve grown to love and care about deeply, and I never want to hurt anyone by the words I choose to piece together for a post.

What I don’t want to do, though, is keep quiet about a subject that makes so many people feel so alone. I’ve had interesting life experiences that have left me feeling by myself on both sides of the spectrum. I think I understand each twentysomething’s heart, and I’ve felt broken enough that I want to be able to share my experiences to better other people’s lives.


Anyway, back to SnapChat… Most of you probably already know that there are a bunch of pre-followed accounts on your Snap homepage. Some of those include Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, Self, and Esquire, to name a few. More than half of the stories that are preloaded on my feed are about sex. Whether it’s something like, “The Drunken Hookups You’re Happy to Forget,” “Bringing Him Home, And Blowing His Mind,” or “how to” instructions, the articles all scream the same thing. Sex is meant to be casual, it’s everywhere you look, and there aren’t any consequences for your one night stand. The pictures to get you to go to the story take everything a step further. This once-PG-app now has women in Victoria’s Secret lingerie sitting on men’s laps or lying in bed with a sultry look on their face — and they’re just dying for you to click on them.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.50.32 AM.png

The media does a beautiful job of making sex look glamorous, carefree, and casual without taking note of the consequences that it can bring. It wants you to think that sex is purely physical, and there aren’t emotional strings that get tied up when you get that intimate with someone.

Friends and Seinfeld are two popular TV shows* a lot of us grew up watching, and though they are pretty mild, they are incredibly casual about the romantic encounters that take place. Jerry has dozens of girlfriends throughout the series, many of which have encounters with him that are later recounted to friends. There is an episode called, “The Virgin,” where the friends all discuss what it must be like for Jerry to be dating someone pretty who he’s not sleeping with. Someone on Reddit decided to count how many people the main characters of the beloved Friends slept with, and the number reaches almost 140.

Then we have shows like Sex And The City, How I Met Your Mother, and even Gossip Girl for young teens. Everything we watch has a common theme: most of the characters are having a lot of casual sex.

“Okay Krista, I get it, we watch sex on television. So what? Why are you so bothered? They’re all consenting adults and it isn’t even real.” This is what I’m imagining many of my friends are screaming back at me. I understand that sex is a very real, everyday part of the world, and I do like television shows I feel like I can connect with. My question for Hollywood, though, is where are the real consequences of casual sex in the shows we consume? Rarely do you see a character on the big screen going to get tested for STDs or worrying about being pregnant, and having the result be a little plus sign that changes their life forever. What about the emotional attachment sex creates with someone? When you really think about it, sex is an incredibly special and interpersonal experience that could actually end up creating a human life. It’s something that I believe connects most people with their partner in a much deeper way anything else in this world.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.49.40 AM.png


I recently heard about a reality television contestant I have always thought seemed cool getting a girl pregnant on a one night stand. He will remain nameless, but he was interviewed about his experience and told us that he was going to try to make things work with the mother so that his child could be raised in a home with a mother and father. Wouldn’t it be so much easier choosing a partner, then creating a baby, rather than the other way around? The thought of marriage and commitment scares a lot of twentysomethings — and rightfully so with the divorce rate pushing 50% in the United States — but raising a child is such a crazy feat that I can’t imagine doing it with a near stranger. Maybe it’s because of all my goofy first date experiences, but seeing just how few people make it to a second, then a third date makes potentially raising a child with one of them an incredibly terrifying thought.

Now, if I haven’t lost you yet, I’d like to leave you with this. What exactly is benefiting us by having such a heavily sex-saturated media? You’ve heard the phrase “Sex Sells” before. The media isn’t our friend, rather they are trying to make a living off of consumption. Sex is such an easy thing to sell, why not integrate it into their business model?

When I worked at Seventeen you would be shocked with some of the questions young girls sent in. The questions wondering about health and safety weren’t always answered, but the interesting ones sure were! Of course, this magazine is one of the “better” ones, since their goal audience is young women and their pledge is to help encourage and strengthen them. Magazines like Cosmopolitan take things a step further to boost sales and increase entertainment value. They don’t care about you as an individual. The media is out for themselves, and they prioritize sales above your health and wellbeing. Instead of putting your faith in the things you read online, find friends and family you trust to have open conversations about your love life.

So, I encourage you if you are young and feel alone in the world to know that not everyone out there is built for casual hookups, and you aren’t the only one who feels too emotionally connected to other human beings to have that as a healthy part of your life. I actually don’t think we’re the minority; I think we are just enormously underrepresented. This is why I decided to finally speak out on the matter, and I will continue to share my viewpoints so that others who feel like the minority will realize that sometimes people are just quiet about their choices if they aren’t what seem popular — you are absolutely not alone


*Friends and Seinfeld are two of my favorite shows on television, but I do cringe at the thought of youngsters watching them and shaping their brains to think that dozens of casual hookups are the norm.

Everyday People

You know what’s kind of crazy? We interact with broken people on a daily basis. Whether they are trudging through heartbreak or there’s something else they’re dealing with, these blank faces surround us. They’re shopping in grocery stores, standing in line at Starbucks, walking around the mall, and even sleeping in the homes beside our own.

It makes my heart hurt thinking about others in pain. People reach out to me on a regular basis about recent breakups or tricky situations with their significant other, and I always wish there was more that I could do to help than offer a hug, ear to listen, and a handwritten letter reminding them that they are not alone and things always get better.

alone.png

We all have different ways of dealing with sadness and loneliness. Some people go out into the world and try to distract themselves with a good time, while others struggle to get out of bed. Just because someone is smiling on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t feel broken on the inside. I have had times in my life where I couldn’t hold everything together, so I rushed to the bathroom to cry. A restroom — whether it’s public or in a home — is a private space that absorbs tears well. There are times where you are surrounded by people but couldn’t feel more alone.

My heart has been content and full for awhile now, but I am often reminded of how brokenness feels through friends and my beautiful readers. I can sense when something is off, and it isn’t difficult to spot emptiness in someone’s eyes. A damaged heart is something that everyone can relate to in some way or another, and I think it’s so important for humans to stick together in every way they can in this world. With things that cannot be controlled like sickness and death, there are already so many difficult things to deal with. Why not stand up for one another and choose to love each other every single day?

bright.png

Today’s lesson: Be a light for people in your life. Whether they’re strangers or your very best friends, leave each person better than you found them. Use words to build confidence, companionship, and joy, and realize that you absolutely can make a difference in someone’s life whether or not you’ll ever see them again. Choose to love people each and every day. Love and compassion are absolutely a choice, and they are so easy to freely give to people. Why not try to make the world a better place, one broken heart at a time?

Irreplaceable

One of the sadder parts of having a chronic illness is when you question your own self-worth. When you’re in your twenties and chronically ill it’s really hard seeing all of the people around you traveling the world, working towards their dream job, and having fun in whatever way they see fit — whether that is going out with friends late into the night, playing sports and working out, or taking a spontaneous road trip with a big group of friends.

Some days it’s hard for me to do anything other than rest, and sometimes I have to cancel plans at the last minute because my autonomic nervous system decides that I shouldn’t be comfortable enough to do an activity. This becomes especially heartbreaking when I feel like I’ve let my loved ones down by not being able to do something that they want to. It sometimes makes me wonder why they choose me to play the special role of “best friend” or “girlfriend,” instead of someone who can be carefree and fun all the time. My chronic illness is probably my biggest insecurity.

My cardiologist must literally be an angel, as he has been so kind and comforting since the beginning of my illness. Since we have gotten to know each other, anytime he looks at my heart on an echocardiogram he looks puzzled and then says, “Krista, your heart is too beautiful for this world” with the most genuine smile on his face. It makes me tear up because I know he’s talking about something different than my physical heart — as that often beats a little too fast for its own good. He is instead referring to the core of my being. This little comment serves as a reminder that just because I sometimes feel broken or like I don’t have an as important purpose in the world as others does not mean that it’s the truth. I know other people who are sick or have struggles that make them different, and they have become even more incredible because of what they’ve been through. During times of loss, we often gain a new sense of empathy, a new appreciation for life, and a great deal of strength we never knew we had. Hardship can make us bitter, or it can be something we use to connect with others and help make them feel less alone. This is the sole reason I write so openly about my own struggles.

God puts people on this earth and lets them have hardship sometimes, not because He doesn’t love us or has forgotten about us, but instead because He wants us to glorify Him in all we do — that includes using our own heartache to lift up others. Sometimes our purpose is greater than fulfilling our own dreams.

My heart was broken. Yes, now I have an awesome boyfriend, wonderful family, and friends I know care deeply about me, but at 22 years old I had to give up my dream to live in a big city and write for Seventeen magazine and begin the fight to get my life back. Since that day three-and-a-half years ago I have chosen to push forward, even when I don’t necessarily feel like it, and never give up hope. There are a lot of things I haven’t done that I would have loved to do. I wanted to live in New York City again and I wanted to have an incredibly fast-paced, spontaneous job because that’s what I have always enjoyed so much. I love interviewing people and learning more about their stories, I love keeping up with teen trends and offering my advice to young women, and I have always wanted to make a positive impact on the world starting with our youth.

But God has a different plan for me than the one I had for myself. I can’t handle the stress or physical pressure a job in journalism has, but I can handle being vulnerable and toss aside my pride to show people that they are absolutely not alone in the world. I can handle publishing my deepest thoughts on a platform like this, even though not everyone will understand everything that I write about. Perhaps most important, though, through my struggles I have learned to love others deeply — whether or not I am their cup of tea and whether or not we have similar beliefs or values.

I still have days where I feel insecure about the way my life is with POTS, and I wonder when it will be my turn to actually live like I’m in my twenties. When I start feeling like this, though, I try to take a look at the people around me and notice how many people choose to open up to me and choose to make me an important part of their life. It isn’t because we can go out and have a wild night together or because I am able to get them into exclusive VIP parties. The people I am important to love me because of the way I love, and because of who I am as a person. There are certain “Krista traits” that are unique and special to the world. My power is that I love in a way that is irreplaceable to those who receive it. I will do anything for the people who are closest to me, and I will never turn down an opportunity to show love to those who need it, even if it means sacrificing something on my end. I strongly believe each and every person on this earth has their own qualities that are absolutely irreplaceable too.

journal
My favorite way to show love is through writing.

Somehow I think a lot of people will be able to relate to this post. I think we all have our own insecurities, especially in a world where it’s so easy to compare. If I have learned one thing from having a chronic illness, it’s that people love those who are genuine and themselves. We are all so different from one another, but that’s what makes the world such an amazing place. People don’t have to have a chronic illness to be able to understand some of the things I have dealt with, such as insecurity and loss. There have been so many times where someone very different than myself has reached out to me and been able to relate to something I have written in their own very different life. We are all humans with the same basic feelings and a desire to love and be loved. Just because you feel broken sometimes doesn’t mean you are not valuable to this world and loved by so many people — some of which you haven’t even met yet. Never doubt your self-worth just because you are different. The best way to make a lasting impact on the world is often because of the differences that you have to offer.


Photo Credit: Audrey Denison

Break Up With Him

I stayed in a relationship that wasn’t meant to be far too long. Deep down I think I somehow knew it wasn’t going to end well — or rather, if we did end up together that we would have a long, rough road ahead of us.

After the smoke cleared I realized that although any relationship will have trials, every single decision doesn’t have to be difficult. Now I am with someone who thinks I’m worth making sacrifices for, and someone who is really excited about having a future with me. I have learned that there are people in this world who are beautifully selfless and know how to love someone with a chronic illness. There are people who are as fiercely loyal as I am, and who won’t give up on a relationship just because things get tough.

Here are a few behaviors that are major red flags in a relationship:

  1. Your significant other puts you down for things you can’t control. In my case this was my illness and the fact that I couldn’t physically work. I was a recent college graduate when I first got sick and had dreams of being an entertainment journalist. I had always been incredibly hard-working, but although I wanted more than anything to work, I physically could not have a normal job with my new chronic health condition. I was constantly told about how it “wasn’t my fault,” but that POTS was the thing keeping us in a rut. If I hadn’t gotten sick, we would be in a much happier place because there wouldn’t have to work through such a new, heavy road block.
  2. Your concerns are always your problem. When someone treats you like you’re crazy because of seemingly normal concerns, it is called “gaslighting.” It’s funny how I never knew what this term was until a few months ago, but if your significant other acts like you wanting some of his time every week is your problem and that you are being needy, this is not normal. Your puppet master will surely turn any conflict in the relationship back on your own insecurities until you really begin questioning whether what you are asking for really is too much (Take note: if what you want seems like a very basic need in a relationship, such as quality time together, it absolutely normal. You are not crazy, and you should get out as fast as you can so that you can find someone who understands the basic fundamentals of a healthy relationship).

    storm man.png

  3. Your well-being is completely your own responsibility. This is a tricky one. Although I do believe people need to be happy by themselves before they can add someone else into the picture, I also believe a significant other should want to take care of you, as you would do the same for them. I’ve always been very independent and balanced my boyfriend/friend time well, but my one of my exes thought that his actions shouldn’t affect the way I felt. He didn’t understand why drunk texting me then disappearing for the night made me upset, and said that the anxiety I felt was entirely on me.
  4. He is not a man of his word. No, it is not okay to leave you hanging for hours on end, and it is not okay to constantly break plans you have together. Yes, things sometimes come up in life that you cannot control, but if you feel like you cannot get excited about future plans with someone because they are unreliable, it’s time to find a person who will remember what they tell you and follow through in their actions.
  5. You no longer recognize yourself when you’re with him. My ex made me anxious, pessimistic, depressed, and short-tempered. None of these are typical “Krista qualities,” and I didn’t like the person I was when we were together. The first 75% of our relationship I was myself. When he decided to change the course of his life drastically,though, and leave our relationship in the background of his life, I became a complete mess. I hadn’t realized how dependent on him I had become and quickly fell apart.

Today’s lesson: Now I am with someone who is kind, patient, and wants to take care of my heart. My boyfriend wants to spend time with me, take me out, give me little gifts “just because,” and remind me that I’m special. If you let go of what is hurting you in life, you make room for new things that are better. It’s really, really scary to let go of something that is familiar and comfortable, but if you are brave enough to, you might just learn how strong you really are.

flowers man.png

Empty

Something I hear far too often is that people create online dating accounts not to form any sort of relationship with someone, but to create validation for themselves. This is a disturbing thought, as it puts your self-worth in the hands of others, rather than finding it in yourself or in God.

I am going to tell the stories of two different friends to show that seeking validation from the opposite sex is never a solution to finding your own value or self-worth.


Jenn* signs online and checks her messages.

157.

The number hovers over her little envelope like a little prize. Her heart leaps at the thought of a Prince hiding in her inbox — then drops when she doesn’t find him after searching in countless messages. Why don’t the good guys ever message her?


Mindy* signs onto the same app from her phone and holds her breath as the page loads.

zero.

There isn’t even a notification for this number; just a giant blue envelope with a glaringly invisible orange digit in the top corner. Disappointment creeps silently through her body, and she sighs as she swipes through the app in hopes to find a new match who will message her.


online-date

Jenn lets out a soft groan as she reads through her messages. Nothing is new or interesting; just the same old pickup lines and mundane conversations she is so used to. Where is the excitement in dating? Nobody captures her attention, much less can keep it. She doesn’t look forward to signing on anymore; she just wants the dozens of first dates and “getting to know you” conversations to be over. She wants a boyfriend; someone she can count on and actually have a meaningful connection with. There is an empty ache in the pit of her stomach.


Tears well up in Mindy’s eyes. Why don’t men desire her the same way they do her friends? Where are the floods of messages she was promised for being a female? Why does the gaping hole in her heart feel as empty as her inbox?

She quickly feels unwanted and undesired. This turns into a slippery slope and leaves Mindy to picture living life alone. She forgets about the friends and family who surround her and absolutely love her, and her self-worth rapidly depletes.


Jenn and Mindy both close their eyes in their respective apartments. They are experiencing the same overwhelming feeling — loneliness.

 online dating.png


Today’s lesson: The real truth of the matter is that happiness and contentment don’t depend on the number of people at your disposal. Honestly, even having a great boyfriend doesn’t make loneliness completely disappear. You can’t rely on others to bring you contentment in life because they may not always be there to give you the love and security you are longing for. Instead work on feeling secure with yourself and finding greater purposes with your life than being connected to someone else — that’s just a really great bonus when you do find the right person!


*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Failing The Stress Test

“Oh no!” he cried from the passenger seat. “That was our exit!”

“Hey, now we have more time to spend together,” I said as I looked at him slyly. I am directionally challenged, so making mistakes on the road wasn’t a new thing for me.

I took the next exit as we laughed cheerfully about some of the details from our date. We finally got back to campus, and he walked me to my dorm before saying goodnight.


A year later things had changed a little.

“Sweetheart, that was the exit we were supposed to take,” he scolded me harshly.

I rolled my eyes to myself. “Oh, it’s not a big deal, I’ll take the next one and Siri will re-route us,” I said calmly. It was strange that this seemed to be one of the many things we fought about lately. We weren’t on any sort of time constraint to get anywhere, so I didn’t understand the severity of my mistake. I was human, after all. He ought to know I am bound to mess up some… Right?

Why was it that every time the word “sweetheart” came from his lips I felt so low? It was supposed to be a word said with kindness for someone you love…


It was raining, but we decided to go out anyway.

“DAMN IT,” he cried in frustration. “You were supposed to turn there! Why weren’t you paying closer attention?”

The word “You” seemed to only be uttered when it was paired with harsh criticism. Sometimes “You are beautiful” would slip from his lips, but I had trouble taking the compliment. Did he think my heart was beautiful, or was this just lust? The timing of it always seemed too strange to be genuine.

Tears hid behind my eyes, but my body was used to working without my heart now. I knew how to turn off my feelings and shut everything down until I was home alone in my room and could cry if I still had the energy to. After all, I knew I would get scolded if I cried in front of him. It was the same cycle over and over again. I would make a mistake — even as simple as missing an exit or a turn — he would scold me harshly, and I would hold back tears. In his eyes I couldn’t do anything right anymore. I didn’t know why he still stayed with me, but he told me that I was lucky to be with a man who respected my boundaries — though I didn’t even feel this rang true anymore. I didn’t think our relationship was normal, but he claimed that we never fought and that most couples had far worse arguments than ours. A small piece of me believed him. That’s what made me stay.

road


He didn’t understand why I didn’t feel good when I was with him. It didn’t matter, though, as long as I could pretend I was okay. If I held it together just enough to make it through the day at least he had a chance at being happy. I would rather watch him be happy than feel that way myself anyway. I would do anything to make him happy — even when it was completely wrecking the cheerful girl who used to be so full of life.

I felt so empty; saying I was a shell of my former self would be an understatement. Calling me a robot might be a little more accurate, but at least they can be charged to have energy. I went through the motions every day, but wasn’t really living. Every decision I made was at a sad attempt to make him feel good. Why did he seem so miserable still? Why wasn’t anything I was doing for him making his life any better?

He told me how to make him happy. Sometimes it would be letting him live his life without me by his side, other times it would be compromising my values or my dreams for him.

“Compromise: Noun. An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.”

What the hell was his concession? I followed him to work toward his life goals. I was ready to give up all the people I loved in my life to start a new one with him. I gave away my happiness and I gave away pieces of myself for him. And what did I get in return? Scolded.


“Let’s say your best friend was dating your boyfriend and you knew how he treated her. What advice would you give her?” A close friend finally asked me.

“I would tell her to break up with him and find someone who would treat her so much better,” I replied without hesitation. My best friend deserves someone who loves her more than anything in the world. Someone who will take care of her heart and her well-being as best as he possibly can. He will hurt when she hurts, learn all of the little things that make her smile, and plan a future with her that they are both excited about. He’ll look at her the way my boyfriend once did — like she’s the most beautiful person who has ever existed — but her guy’s love won’t burn out like ours had.

Holy shit. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Instead of feeling pain from the blow, I felt like a heavy weight was lifted from my chest. This was a moment that changed my life. I knew I deserved the same kind of love I wanted for my best friend. After all, I consistently told her when she wasn’t treated right that she would find a guy who would be her best friend and love her the way that every human being deserves to be loved. What kind of example was I setting to the women in my life about what love should look like? To be fair, they only saw the nice little snippets of my social media with him, which consisted of few and far between #TBT pictures or dates, but most of the time the smile in those pictures was only painted on my face. It wasn’t the genuine light that used to shine from my soul.

After months of dealing with so much, this moment showed me exactly what I needed to do. Break up with him.

And that’s what happened. I broke up with the guy who didn’t care about anything except his own happiness and satisfaction in our relationship. As soon as I realized it wasn’t my job to make the most selfish human in my life happy, joy rushed back into my body. I could feel again, I could breathe again, and I even learned to love again.

girl alone.png



Today’s lesson:
Never, ever settle for someone who makes you compromise who you are for them. Be with someone who genuinely cares about your well being — and until you find that person, you can certainly be happier staying single and loving yourself than dating the wrong person.

A Date By Myself

pop. Pop. pop pop pop pop pop pop pop pop beeeeeeeeeep!

The smell of butter filled the kitchen so beautifully that the air felt yellow with artificial flavor.

I walked over to the drawer next to the microwave and grabbed a bar of Trader Joe’s 73% dark chocolate, and held it between my teeth as I snatched the bag of steaming popcorn from the oven.

Screen Shot 2016-11-06 at 7.40.30 PM.png

Friday nights sometimes just call for a night in by yourself, watching The Office and pigging out on junk food. Tonight was going to be a little taste of heaven.

I sit on the couch in my baggy Army t-shirt and boyshorts and enjoy the silence of an empty house while I select an episode on Netflix. Ten minutes later I’m laughing at Michael Scott with popcorn spilled on my lap and a half-eaten chocolate bar. I reach for the can of Ready Whip I had obtained and squirt a dollop on my tongue.

This is a beauty of being single that is often overlooked. You can pamper yourself with some of your favorite treats and spend an evening alone. I am one of the most extroverted people I know in that I love being around people most of the time. Sometimes I forget to take a break and enjoy my own company, but when I do, I have a really nice evening. Since Robert has been gone and most of my friends are in relationships I do find myself with more free alone time, and I am really glad that I’ve been able to learn how to feel content staying in on a Friday night.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-7-40-12-pm
Dogs also make wonderful company. Macy pouts when I eat popcorn because she loves it, but knows she isn’t allowed to beg. I always give her some in turn for tricks!

Today’s lesson: Cherish life at every stage, even while you’re single. One day you will probably be married and not have the chance to have the house to yourself very often!