WE ARE ENGAGED!!!!!

Hi Single in The Suburbs family!

You might have noticed that I’ve been gone for a little over a week now… Well that’s because I’ve just been busy getting engaged! Robert asked me to marry him last week in New York City, and I have been so excited since. I wanted to share the news with some of my close friends before announcing it to the world, but now that everyone knows I can’t wait to share some of the story with y’all.

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Two Christmases ago I would’ve never guessed that I would be spending the end of 2017 engaged. Actually, I kind of take that back, because two years ago was the first time Robert and I said we loved each other. All my friends knew from the start that my relationship with Robert was different than anything I’ve had before. Our hearts combined are a once in a lifetime love, and I’m so excited to have him by my side for forever.

This weekend is a little crazy because it’s my mom’s birthday and then mine, but I’ll be doing a lot of writing next week to give you guys the scoop. ❤

There Are More Than Four Seasons In Life

Our mid-twenties are kind of a crazy time. Something I find so interesting is the incredible difference between people’s lives. Up through high school we all had so many similarities. We were all in school, spent our free time studying or doing some sort of hobby or sport, and we all relied on our parents to take care of us.

Once we graduated, most of us went off to college and had pretty standard experiences. There was more room for difference, but we all worried about similar things and had the same goal — to graduate and get a job.

Becoming an adult and trying to figure life out has been a new ballgame, and our Facebook newsfeeds are filled with such different journeys. Some of my friends are already married with kids, while others have crazy nights similar to those we saw in college. I see pictures of short skirts and clubs, and photos snuggling with babies in pajamas early on a Saturday night. There are other girls like me who are doggie moms, and then those who hope to be one day when they have enough time to spend on a pooch.

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Macy and I spent a Saturday night in watching a Taylor Swift concern on TV.
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One of our favorite activities on the weekend is going to get ice cream together! Macy usually ignores the dog treat and goes right for the vanilla cream.
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Jax is my little teenager and loves going on adventures at the dog park or around the lake. 

So many of my single friends are tired of being in a dating rut. Being in your mid/late twenties and trying to sift through dozens of guys on dating apps is hard work. Our hearts are made to love, and built for companionship. It is absolutely normal to desire a partner in crime to battle the trials in life with and celebrate the little wins you have every single day.

Just because you are seeing more and more engagements and marriages on social media does not mean that you are behind others in life if you don’t have a partner to spend it with yet. You may not have met the right person or finished everything you need to do as a single person. I believe that God’s timing is perfect, and that He often works in mysterious ways. Loneliness is one of the most difficult feelings to sit with, but if you try to learn from it and be productive throughout every season, in life you will reap the benefits in your future relationship.

Whether you are in a season of singleness or in a new season of partnership, make sure you try to live each day with a grateful heart. We always have something to be thankful for in life, and temporary loneliness can often create a new appreciation for companionship. Remember that feelings are fleeting and are not permanent. This is something that can be hard for someone who’s heart is led by feelings to realize, but it makes life a little easier when you know that a difficult season will eventually come to an end.

If you are struggling in a new season of companionship with someone — guys, trust me, I don’t have personal experience but I know the beginning of marriage can be a difficult adjustment too — know that this will pass, too. Learning how to live a life together and not getting to make decisions on your own can absolutely be trying. There is a reason so many people say the first year of marriage is the most difficult and I believe it’s because of all the new changes you must adjust to. There are little differences that you guys have which can get annoying — dietary needs, cleanliness in the home, and work schedules to name a few — and there are big life decisions that need to be made as a team. You will not see eye to eye on every single thing — after all, some of your differences are probably what united you in the first place and make you a better unit! You will, however, work through things together and continue to learn how to communicate with one another and grow from your disagreements. As long as mutual respect is kept in the relationship, this season of marriage will one day be in the past and have created an even stronger bond than you had before.

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Today’s lesson: Your story is unique, and everyone has a different time table for how their life is going to go. Just because many of your friends are experiencing one thing right now doesn’t mean you will today, too. Enjoy every minute of every day. Whether you are super-single and figuring out how to navigate the world by yourself, or are busy creating a family of your own, remember that life comes in seasons and as quickly as this one came to you it will one day be gone and you will be in a new season of life. 

June Is For Weddings

I’ve been incredibly busy the past couple of weeks because I’ve had to save all of my energy for weddings! It’s crazy how I had only been to a couple of weddings before this year — now I’ll have been to four this year alone.

26 is a funny age because half of your friends are engaged or married, the other half are super-single. I wanted to write a little note of encouragement to each type of person, as I know there are highs and lows associated with each.

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To my married friends: I am so happy that you found your person! I always hear that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I’m no expert on this, but I would assume it’s a huge adjustment suddenly sharing everything with your significant other. Having to re-budget finances and learn how to save together, sharing living quarters with someone new, and fighting for the last cookie in the pantry are a few that come to mind. Be kind and patient with one another — and to yourself — and always remember why you choose to love each other first every day. It takes time to adjust to big changes, so it’s normal that you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed after the excitement wears off. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough, but in the meantime make sure you still have the time to go out on dates and continue to speak your spouse’s love language to them.

To my engaged friends: Congratulations! I’m sure you’re incredibly excited and overwhelmed with planning a wedding, but remember that your wedding is just one day out of forever. My hope is that you are incredibly excited to celebrate with your friends and family because you just cannot wait to spend the rest of your life with the most special person you’ve ever met. Try to enjoy your time being engaged and don’t stress too much over the little details for your big day. Remind yourself that this time is such an exciting one to bond and continue to learn about your fiancee, and make time to enjoy one another amidst all of the chaos wedding planning ensues.

Remember, though, that marriage doesn’t fix things. Signing your name on a piece of paper with another human being and moving in with them or having children won’t make you closer or communicate better. If you feel in your gut that the decision you’re about to make isn’t right, please take a minute to reevaluate. Seek counseling if you need to get an outsider’s opinion on your relationship. Breakups are tough, but it’s so much better to have a few months of grieving the loss of a relationship than spending your life with the wrong person — or going through an incredibly painful divorce in the future.

To my single friends: You are not alone. I know sometimes it feels like everyone around you is having a really easy time navigating the dating/relationship world, but always try to keep in mind that although you may see a million and one social media posts about great relationships, the other singles out there are just quieter. People don’t typically post things like, “I’m currently not in a relationship!” or “Doing nothing in my PJs by myself this weekend!” If you want to get married one day, your time will come. Celebrate healthy relationships with your friends now, and one day they’ll be excited to celebrate with you!

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I’ve felt so lucky having such a great date to take to weddings this year.

Today’s lesson: We are all on different schedules in life and you can’t always plan when people come into your life. Try to enjoy each stage to it’s fullest. One thing I’ve learned is that time is something you can never get back, so try to look at the positive things about today so you can feel like you fully appreciated each stage in life.

You. Are. Strong.

I was just watching the final episode of Ben And Lauren: Happily Ever After? (Can we all please just act like I’m supposed to watch things like this since I write primarily about dating?) and it inspired me to write a new post.

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Photo Credit: Jose Perez/Splash News

Don’t settle for someone who isn’t certain of you. It broke my heart when I heard Lauren say that she felt like she wasn’t sure what she’d do without Ben, that she couldn’t imagine a life without him, but that she still wondered whether or not he thought she was good enough for him. This comment hit me hard because I’ve been there before, and it sucks. The overwhelming feeling that you have wondering if you really could go on without your partner while simultaneously realizing they may not want you in their life is one of the sharpest pains your heart can possibly feel.

You know what I learned in my life, though? I can survive without him. I can survive without the next him, and the next. Of course I want a man who I don’t want to live without, but the reality is that I am a strong and resilient human being — even when I am hurting — and I can absolutely walk away from a relationship if I am not being treated well. If someone is treating me poorly or stepping out of our relationship, I have a wonderful support system of people who will get me through the breakup and help me back onto my feet until I do find the guy I’m supposed to be with.

It took years for me to learn so many of these life lessons, but now that I’ve realized all of this there is no way in hell I am going to stay with a man who is unsure of his feelings about me once he really knows my heart. The beginning of a relationship is the time where you get to know someone and after you get comfortable with them you see whether or not you really are compatible in everyday life. No, I wouldn’t want every single guy I date to be sure he wants to marry me right off the bat, but once we decide we do want to spend forever together, statements like, “I love you, but I’m just not sure if we are right for one another…” are a really, really big deal.

Someone I once thought was going to be my forever finally told me he loved me, but wasn’t sure whether we were really supposed to be together, and instead of leaving I stayed… And stayed… And stayed…

By this point in our relationship we knew each other like the back of our own hands and honestly, in hindsight, he was very right. We weren’t right for each other. I still respect this person and want nothing but the best for him, and I do hope he finds a girl he never has to wonder about. That’s the kind of love I am going to wait for, and I know I’ll have it one day. No matter how hard things get it won’t be a question over whether or not we want to be in each other’s lives, rather it will be a matter of how to get over the hurdles life throws at us together.

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Today’s lesson: Once we take anxiety about being alone out of the equation I believe we can often think so much more clearly. Instead of settling for someone because you just want to find “your other half,” wait for the person who will be your partner in crime and a costar in your story. Until then, learning how to be strong while you’re single will help you wait for the love you really deserve.

Feature Friday: Kalika, Ben, & Trina

Kalika and I have been good friends since my freshman year of high school and I feel so incredibly blessed to still have her in my life today. She is one of the most creative, empathetic, bubbly, and thoughtful girls that I know. Kalika loves dogs as much as I do, and is currently the mother of one adorable crooked-tailed pups out there.

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Single In The Suburbs:
Where did you and Ben meet? What were your first impressions and how might they have changed over time?

Kalika:
Ben and I were both interns with Campus Special during the summer of 2012. We met at a training conference in Atlanta while waiting for the elevator. I immediately thought he was handsome and particularly liked his blue eyes. His nametag showed that he was the University of Delaware rep, and I know a few people that went there (thanks, Kate!) so I struck up a conversation.

We went to my first NBA and MLB games that weekend where I learned pretty quickly about Ben’s schemes, like sneaking down to better seats that were still available on StubHub right before tickets are taken down before the game (he’s only gotten better at scheming since I’ve known him).

My first impression of Ben was that he was shy and quiet, but that is not the case! As we got more comfortable with each other, he’s shown his true colors as SUCH a goofball. He makes the most ridiculous faces, sings along to songs with the wrong words or in goofy voices, wears collared shirts with sweat shorts in public, and makes me laugh all the time. When we had been dating no more than 2 weeks, he showed me a video of him singing “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz that he made for a high school class. It was so ridiculous (and a little cringeworthy) – I couldn’t believe he showed it to me that early in our relationship!

I should note that it was not all sunshine and rainbows and dates immediately after meeting. I visited Ben and my friend/his sales partner Eva at the University of Delaware a few times during the summer and liked Ben more than he liked me. We fell out of touch during 4th year (that’s UVA speak for “senior year”). Ben moved to DC after graduating in 2013. Eva was visiting me in northern VA while I was home for a month before moving back to Charlottesville to start my job. We were at Mellow Mushroom in Adams Morgan when Eva suggested we meet up with Ben. I was reluctant since it had been a while and he wasn’t interested in pursuing a relationship with me but thankfully, Eva insisted.

Ben met us at Maddy’s for drinks and we hit it off again. Surprisingly, we continued to hang out after Eva’s visit, going to a few Nationals games and on our first real date in Arlington. In September, Ben came down to Charlottesville for the first time to attend the annual Top of the Hops beer festival. Once we arrived and started seeing many of my friends and coworkers I asked Ben, “How should I introduce you?” He replied with a smile, “You can introduce me as your boyfriend.”

SITS:
When did you first know Ben was the one you wanted to spend your life with?

Kalika:
I can’t think of an exact moment but I’d say sometime in the first half of 2015. I was already in love with Ben and really excited for him to move down to Charlottesville in May. I knew that living together would confirm that we would never be apart again!

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“One thing that affirmed that Ben was ‘the one’ is the way he is with Trina. He is such a great dog dad and I love how he snuggles with her and loves her so much.”

SITS:
What is your favorite memory with Ben?

Kalika:
Oh gosh, I definitely don’t have just one: our first first kiss on a bench at the University of Delaware when he finally opened up to me; our second first kiss after our first date in DC; relaxing in romantic hot springs in Costa Rica; hearing him say “I’d be down to come back next year” on day 2 in India; enjoying Valentine’s Day dinner that Ben put so much work into (see below); waking up next to him (which I really appreciate after 2 years of long distance); and feeling so at home while snuggling on the couch with him and Trina.

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Also, this isn’t a memory with Ben, but I love how he’s made friends with my friends and can hold his own with my family without me present. When Ben lived in DC, he didn’t have a car, so he would ride down to visit me in Charlottesville with my friends and get to know them one-on-one. He stayed an extra day in San Fransisco with my cousins and has gone out to dinner with my dad without me. He’s come a long way from the “quiet” guy I thought he was in 2012!

SITS:
How has your life changed since you got engaged?

Kalika:
1. Our day-to-day life is pretty much the same but with the addition of wedding planning!  In the spring we took venue tours, and now we are going to meetings and doing vendor research (and bugging Ben to fill in his addresses for the save the dates). I think we’ve done a good job of splitting responsibilities, for example, Ben’s managing our relationship with our caterer while I’m working on save the dates and photography.

2. We talk about our future more often and talk about long-term plans now that we know we will always be there for each other.

3. I get scolded if I forget to put on my ring (I don’t sleep with it on since that’s when the chance of a stone popping out is highest, and it doesn’t happen often, I promise!).

SITS:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR ENGAGEMENT CELEBRATION IN INDIA!!

Kalika:
What a whirlwind of a day… First let me explain that I had been expecting a pretty casual ceremony at one of my relatives’ houses, just involving a quick blessing by a priest. After traveling for over 20 hours, we arrived in Jaipur the morning of our engagement celebration and immediately went to my aunt’s house for mehndi. We were greeted by a loud traditional drummer and thrown into a dancing circle with several of my cousins. We had lunch, got our mehndi done and relaxed until it was time to get dressed. My dad and uncle whisked Ben away to get his outfit while my aunts dressed me up like a “Rajput princess” (warrior class), in an outfit very similar to what a bride would wear for an Indian wedding.

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Photo credit: Erin Kwon

We all drove together to the venue (an event lawn outside my uncle’s restaurant) but the car stopped on the side of the road before we were quite there. We were instructed to get out of the car, and into a horse-drawn carriage! After making a dramatic entrance, we were seated on a throne/couch/bench? in front of all the guests. Traditional dancers performed for us, spinning around with jugs of water then flaming pots on their heads. A CRAZY guy danced on nails and swords sharp side up with jugs of water on his head. He also breathed fire while Ben and I looked on in disbelief. I asked my dad if this performance was planned to ensure we stayed awake! After greeting many, many relatives, the night ended with dinner and fireworks. Ben said “if we had to turn around and go home right now, I’d be OK with it, but I’m glad we have 7 more days.”

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Photo credit: Erin Kwon

SITS:
How do you manage having time for your calligraphy, work, a relationship, and friendships? What tips would you give girls for creating balance in their lives?

Kalika:
This is not easy. I still struggle with this all the time. I’ve learned to not try to do everything every day; balance is much easier for me when I allot one evening to grilling with friends, one evening to riding, and one evening to calligraphy, for example. I’ll even use my Google calendar to block off time.

Ben is really good about helping out around the house when I’m hustling to meet a deadline, but encourages me to make sure it doesn’t happen too often. So, after a few stressful nights, I’ve learned to give myself more time to complete a calligraphy order than I think I’ll need.

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Can’t get enough of Kalika? Neither can I!! Check out her amazing calligraphy work on her Facebook page or Instagram (She designed the Single in The Suburbs logo on my Twitter and Facebook!). Check out her website for beautiful wedding invitations, decorations, and pretty much anything paper-related you could ever dream of.

If you’re like me and love dogs more than anything, follow her pup Trina on Instagram. She is one of the most adorably quirky gals I know. 🙂

Feature Friday

I am a huge sucker for romance.

That’s what makes running a dating blog such a joy for me. So many people have reached out asking for dating advice or just to tell me about a great date or love interest in their life. I genuinely love hearing about it all, so please keep writing me!

Anyway, I had noticed a friend of mine from high school got engaged and started a countdown of 100 Kylie Selfies dedicated to his fiancée until their big day, so naturally I had to reach out and see if I could hear their story — it must be great, since it was clear he just adored her.

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Kylie and Stephen met about three years ago at a Christian organization called Cru at James Madison University. They both played in the worship band and started dating shortly after they became friends.

Single in The Suburbs:
How did you come up with the idea for “100 Kylie Selfies?”

Stephen:
Honestly, I’m not sure how I came up with the idea. I have been saving these selfies basically as long as I’ve known Kylie and figured that one day I would use them or go back through them. About two months ago I was thinking about how she and I are close to being under 100 days until we get married and the idea just came to me as a funny way to celebrate the countdown.

SITS:
Did she know that you were going to do the countdown or did you just start posting the pictures?

Stephen:
It’s funny because when I came up with the idea I was really excited about it, so I texted her something like, “I just the had the BEST idea!” Then I realized I didn’t want to tell her what it was until the countdown began.

She was upset with me because I teased her with that text, but I was just excited and wanted to share the idea until I realized it would be more fun to wait. On the first #100KylieSelfies post, Kylie was actually playing with the Cru Band (which she took over leading after I graduated). At the end of the meeting her friends showed her the post and she loved it.

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“Over the last few years Kylie has taken my phone when I wasn’t looking to leave surprise selfies for when I would next look through my photos. I’ve been collecting those pictures for a long time but haven’t been sure what to use them for until now. Today marks 100 days until I marry this beautiful woman and to celebrate the countdown, I’ve decided to post some of my favorites from the collection along with reasons why I love her. Here’s to ‪#‎100kylieselfies‬. I love you, Kylie.”

SITS:
What is the sweetest thing you have ever done for Kylie?

Stephen:
I suppose the sweetest thing I have done for Kylie is proposing to her. I am really particular about the word “love” and actually waited until our engagement to tell Kylie that I love her. I know that withholding might sound extreme, but to me love is not a feeling, it’s a choice. I feel like saying “I love you” is as strong and committed as saying “I will choose to love you no matter what.” So getting to propose and finally say, “I love you” was the biggest/sweetest thing I can think of in our relationship.

That said, I feel like the sweet things we do for each other aren’t necessarily big, stand-out things. For example, I call her every morning on my way to work to wake her up and say hi. That’s a small thing, but it means a lot to her. She always just says “Mmmm” because she’s half asleep and I tell her that I hope she has a great day. I think it’s the little things that add up in our relationship.

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“These just get better and better. Kylie is persistent and extremely hard working. She is equally persistent in leaving selfies on my phone. I love her. ‪#‎100kylieselfies‬”

SITS:
That’s adorable! What is the sweetest thing she has done for you?

Stephen:
Kylie does a lot of little sweet things for me… Things like surprising me with my favorite coffee — triple tall americano black — or sending me funny memes over Facebook. She is also just generally an awesome supporter.

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“I love the notes you leave behind. #100kylieselfies #notaselfie”

SITS:
Do you have a favorite selfie?

Stephen:
Man, I’m not sure if I have one in particular, but my favorites tend to be the sillier ones that capture our goofiness in small ways. Like the post I made yesterday about Kylie’s obsession with pillows — we have had serious conversations about how we need to limit the number of pillows on the wedding registry because we don’t want to end up with all the pillows we are asking for, haha. When we go to Target together I have to steer her out of the bedding section or we’ll get lost in it. I like posts like that because they remind me most of the quality time she and I spend together — especially when it is a fun, not overly serious thing like exploring the pillow section in Target.

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“I love your strange obsession with pillows. On our wedding registry, I have put a thousand unnecessary coffee-related things and Kylie has put a thousand unnecessary pillows. Your excitement over different colors, textures, and fluffiness has not gone unnoticed. I love you even though we won’t have enough room left to sit on a couch at this rate. ‪#‎100kylieselfies‬”

SITS:
Describe as best you can how excited you are to marry Kylie.

Stephen:
Kylie is truly perfect for me in every possible way. I feel that we are perfectly compatible with each other in all the big ways as well as the small ones. Everything this year has been building up to when we will finally get to be together and continue our relationship into some exciting life changes. The anticipation is huge and I am excited for just about everything that is to come very soon.

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“I love our adventures ‪#‎100kylieselfies‬”

Come back next Friday to hear what Kylie thinks about being featured on her fiancées Facebook every week.


This is the first of several “Feature Friday” posts to come. If you ever want to be featured, send me a message or leave a comment on any of my posts; I would love to share the story of you and your boo!