Tinder Dating Among Teens: When Swipe-Right Culture Goes to High School – Part 2

Terry downloaded Tinder when she was 17 and it was legal to be on the platform. She was looking to have “random, meaningless sex” after a bad breakup. Like the others, Terry, who is now 22, says that all of her friends were on the app. Unlike them, she listed her real age and ultimately regretted it. Before she abandoned the apps, she had run-ins with men who lied about their age or who wanted to pick her up and take her to an undisclosed location.

“I had horrible experiences,” she says. “I had a lot of guys that wanted to like, pick me up, and meet me in a place that was secluded, and didn’t understand why that was weird or just expected sex right off the bat.”

Terry’s most concerning experiences involved older guys who said they were 25 or 26 and listed a different age in their bio. “Like, why don’t you just put your real age?” she says. “It’s really weird. There are some creeps on there.”

Although there’s no public statistic on fake Tinder profiles, avoiding Tinder scams and spotting fake people on the app is fundamental to the experience of using itAdults know this. Teens don’t. Many see a fun app for meeting people or hooking up. And it’s easy to feel concerned about these minors posing as legal adults to get on a platform that makes it so easy to create a profile — real or fake.

Amanda Rose, a 38-year-old mom and professional matchmaker from New York, has two teenage boys, 15 and 17, and concerns about the way that social media and tech has changed dating. To her knowledge, her kids haven’t dated anyone they met online and they don’t use Tinder (she has the passwords to all of her kids’ phones and social media accounts.) But she’s also had many talks with them about the problem with tech and her concerns.

“We’ve had the talk that the person they are talking to might be posting pictures that are not really them,” she says. “It could be someone fake. You have to be really careful and mindful about who you interact with online.”

Amanda’s also concerned about how much teenagers — and the adult clients with whom she works — resort to the digital in order to repair their relationships or remain connected to the world.

“I’ve noticed, even with my clients, that people go to texting. They don’t pick up the phone and call someone. I talk to my kids about that: about how important it is to actually, pick up the phone and not hide behind a phone or a computer screen,” she says. “Because that’s where you build relationships.”

If you just stay behind text messages, Amanda says, you’re not going to build stronger relationships. Even when her oldest son talks about issues with his girlfriend, she tells him: “Don’t text her. You need to step outside if you don’t want anyone to hear the conversation and pick up the phone and call her.”

Still, certain teenagers who ventured onto Tinder have positive stories. Katie, who asked to be referred to by her first name only for privacy, went to an all-girls Catholic school and had a conservative family. She used the app as a way to figure out her sexual identity and credits it for helping her navigate a new and burgeoning sense of self in a way that didn’t leave her open to hostile teenagers, school staff, or disapproving family members.

“I was not out. I was very, very in the closet,” she says. “It was one of my first ever moments of letting myself kind of even acknowledge that I was bisexual. It felt very safe and private.”

On Tinder, Katie says she saw women from her high school looking for other women. Seeing this helped her feel less alone.

“I was 16 and had no idea that they felt that way,” she says. “They didn’t know I felt that way.”

Katie downloaded Tinder at a volleyball tournament. She was with a bunch of friends. They were all women and all straight.

“I was dealing with having queer feelings and not having anyone to talk to about it. I didn’t feel like I could actually talk to anybody, even my close friends about it at that point. So, I kind of used it more to just figure out what being gay is like, I guess.”

Her experience was freeing. “It didn’t feel threatening to flirt with women, and just figure myself out in a way that involved different people without having to feel like I exposed myself to people who would be unfriendly toward me,” she says.

Katie’s story is both unique and not unique. The trend of queer people using dating apps to enter relationships is well-known. Twice as many LGBTQ+ singles use dating apps than heterosexual people. About half of LGBTQ+ singles have dated someone they met online; 70 percent of queer relationships have begun online. That Katie got on the app when she was 16 is maybe not typical, but she found her first girlfriend on the app, and within a few years, came out to her family. Being able to safely explore her bisexuality in an otherwise hostile environment without coming out publicly until she was ready, Katie says, was “lifesaving.”

To find love and acceptance, one must put themselves out there. For teenagers, those whose lives are basically based around understanding and seeking acceptance, this can be an especially daunting prospect — especially so in an age when digital communication is the norm. So why not jump on Tinder, which requires one-minute of setup to help them sit on the edge of  — or dive directly into — the dating pool?

“There’s that whole thing about not looking like you’re trying, right? Tinder is the lowest effort dating platform, in my opinion. Which also makes it harder to meet people,” says Jenna. “But it doesn’t look like you’re trying hard. All of the other ones don’t seem like that.”

Still, while stories like Jenna’s and Katie’s highlight how the app can provide a useful outlet of self-acceptance, neither young woman used the platform as intended. As Tinder seems to suggest by it’s tagline, “Single is a terrible thing to waste,” the app is for those looking for sex. Fostering connections may be more bug than feature. It’s not reassuring that the best stories about teens using the platform tend to emerge from edge-case scenarios, not from the typical function of the app, which is designed as a sexual outlet, but may also condition its user to accepting certain types of sexual experiences.

“You don’t want industry to be the decider of teen sexuality,” says Dines. “Why would you leave it to a profit-based industry?”

That’s a profound question and not one teens are likely to dwell on. Teens will continue to experiment because, well, that’s what teens do. And if they don’t receive guidance from adults in their lives, their early experiences on platforms like Tinder will shape their approach to adult relationships going forward. More than anything, that may be the hazard teens face on Tinder: the morphing of their own expectations.

“You don’t want to leave it to the [profiteers],” says Dines. “We want more for our kids than that, no matter their sexuality.”

 

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Sabrina – Surprise Visit – Part 1

Sabrina texts me out of nowhere and wants to cash in her free spray tan.  She lives out-of-town but works down at Penn’s Landing at a marketing company. She loves her job and is doing great. I’m happy she’s doing well and has been sober for over 9 months.

She sees her kids every Saturday and is trying to get on better terms with her sort of ex husband. (They’re still legally married but have been split for over a year. But she refers to him as her Ex) According to her their marriage was toxic and she can’t be with him anymore. She lives in the house they own together but he pays the mortgage and I’m assuming some sort of support.

This is a woman I met at the salon with Jill. (See Jill – 2016 to Present – Client) Jill is an ex stripper/escort that can’t stop drinking. Sabrina met her in a halfway house and they have remained friends. Jill is a full-blown alcoholic and Sabrina is a drug addict. Jill told me Sabrina’s drug of choice was heroin but she’s done an amazing job rising from the ashes of her own destruction to live anew as a sober person.

Sabrina once told me that if she even took a sip of beer she’d be right back into it again. That’s addiction. But I know a few addicts that come in the salon that have been sober for decades and they are incredibly great people who have risen above and sustained their lives. Many are professional people like doctors and lawyers. Addiction doesn’t care who you are. It just tries to steal who you are and sledgehammer your life.

Jill is the one that told me that Sabrina wasn’t an alcoholic. She was heroin addict. But like I said, addiction is an insidious force that doesn’t choose between nationality, race, or social status. It just takes some of them.

I can drink wine every day and not lose my shit. It loosens my mind to write, kills my anxiety and depression, helps me sleep and is a social lubricant. But some people’s wiring just can’t take any foreign substances.

I could drink with someone who is an alcoholic and drink the same thing pound for pound all night long. I will maintain my buzz and go home and go to bed after a fun night.

They will in turn change in mood and personality. Lose their sense of time, sense, verbal ability, motor skills, and eventually black out and do bad things and never remember them. They will not destroy themselves. They’ll destroy everything and everyone around them. That’s addiction.

We’re all different. We all have the same chemical make up that makes us human, but all of our chemicals react differently to introduced to outside forces. Sometimes stimulation… sometimes absolute destruction. Booze is probably the worst because it’s legal and beloved by so many. Nobody high on marijuana ever aggressively hit a cop. A drunk guy who’s losing his shit with his wife would. The worst thing that happens when I’m around people who smoke pot is a boring endless story and I want a drink to get through listening to them.

Here’s the difference between weed and booze. I was friends with a great sensitive drummer named Rich back in the 80’s. He loved weed. I like booze. Here is the conversation when we’re banged up on our substances of choice walking down the street:

Rich: (Stoned) “Hey man… what if the color blue to me isn’t the same color blue to you?”

Me: (Whiskey) “I don’t fucking know. Check the crayon box, asshole.”

See the difference?

 

Anyway, my girl Sabrina wants to come in and get a spray tan. She’s middle eastern and is as brown as a penny and hot as hell, but her legs need color. I tell her we can help her. We can help anybody!

I’ll make all of you girls beautiful and tan. Leave it to me!

She says her legs are always covered and she wants to even out her look. I tell her the best way to do that is to go in a UV sunbed. Cover up the parts you don’t want tan and bake up your legs to match the rest of your delicious self.

Long term that would work for her. Her legs could catch up with the rest of her pretty brown skin.

But Sabrina wants to do a spray tan to just to even herself out and look good. I tell her it’s a temporary fix, but she’ll look great.

She comes in and we have a lovely chat. I tell her about my recent date with Bailey on Christmas Eve and how I’m seeing her again tonight  for some wine and Gelato when I close the salon. Sabrina is surprised and delighted that I’m going on a second date with Bailey. (See: Bailey – From Texting to Connection) 

She doesn’t know about Cherie so I tell her I adore her. “I can’t wait forever for you, Sabrina.” (Only half joking because I would totally love to date Sabrina and haven’t completely ruled out accomplishing that goal in the near future.)

“You’ll have to text me how it went! Have you kissed Bailey yet?”

“No. I hope to this evening.”

“You’ll have to text me if you do!”

She looks amazing and gorgeous. I wish she lived closer to the city so I could spend more time with her. I tell her how great she looks and how amazing her luxurious hair looks. She thanks me and attributes it to being sober.

I love that.

She tells me that Jill is about to be kicked out of her current residence because she’s drinking oceans of vodka and sleeping around. Jill is out of control. Sabrina tells me that Jill wants to come live with her.

I tell Sabrina the following: “You’ve been sober for 9 months. You see your kids. You have a great job now. You’re doing well. You can not bring Jill, the broken drunk into your house. EVER. You have to cut her off.”

Sabrina tells me that she can’t bring that shit into her house after finally getting clean and moving forward with her life. She’s going to have to have the “Talk” with Jill.

It’s sad because in Sabrina’s phone, Jill is still listed as “Roomie” from when they were in a halfway house. Sabrina has been an elegant Phoenix that has risen from the ashes of her own destruction, whereas Jill started drinking and whoring once she got out of rehab and the halfway house.

Jill is being kicked out of her present living situation because she can’t stop drinking and whoring.  Jill plows vodka and jumps from guy to guy. Screwing them and staying at their cribs until they kick her out. I’m sure she cares for her son but her behavior screams she doesn’t give a shit about him because she’s always loaded and riding cock somewhere, blackout drunk.

“The best place for her is to go back to the halfway house.”

Sweet Sabrina’s words ring like lovely bells on New Years day. The words from a mother that is struggling everyday to make her way in this life.

 

I’ll continue this story tomorrow…

 

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Murder Mystery Weekend – Chapter 24

I walked away, trying to figure out how ‘tea’ could be in the 12-letter clue. If I didn’t know their positions, the order they came in, then it wasn’t a lot of help. I re-played Teresa’s words. Redbeard captured it … whole cargo … French merchantman … French! Teresa spoke better French than I did, and sometimes teased me about it. But I knew enough French to figure this out.

Why not a Spanish prize? Or English, or Dutch? She specifically said French. Redbeard would be ‘Barbe Rouge’. Ten letters, one for each player, except her. And the Bible, of course, had something to do with it. I needed to consult it.

I went to the den, and locked the door behind me. I compared ‘Barbe Rouge’ with the verses in the ‘Bible’, and got nothing. Then I realized that I was still holding the teabag she had given me. Why? Eureka! Tea is ‘the’ in French (if you add a little accent over the ‘e’). T-H-E. Could that be part of the code? In that order? I still had no idea what the code said, but it felt like a big piece of the puzzle had just fallen into my hands. Thanks to Lena’s skill at pool, and to the impulse that made take her as a partner. See, sometimes virtue is rewarded.

I unlocked the door, and re-entered the main room. That is, I attempted to re-enter the main room. Ben was right outside the door, and he pushed me back into the den. Barbara was right behind him. She closed the door behind her.

Ben pointed a finger at me. With his other hand, though, he showed me a piece of paper. It clearly said ‘PISTOL’, just like mine. Barbara came to stand beside me, and poked me in the ribs with her finger. Then she showed me another piece of paper. Written on it, with Teresa’s calligraphy pen, was the word ‘KNIFE’.

I wanted to laugh. I mean, it was pretty funny, the two of them standing there with their fingers pointed at me. But they looked serious, so I decided to humour them and play along. Slowly, I raised my hands.

“Do you have a weapon?” said Ben.

– “No.” I answered, truthfully. My ‘PISTOL’ was under the corner of the rug.

– “Give us the Bible, and we won’t hurt you – much.” said Barbara. She did look a little sinister, with the eye patch. But I could see down her cleavage, and it was more than a little distracting.

– “I don’t have it.” I answered. That was also true. It was under the opposite corner of the rug.

– “He’s lying.” said Ben.

– “We could search him.” said Barbara, wistfully. Something about her tone made me think that she was envisioning a strip search.

– “He has it.” said Ben. “You have to give it to us.”

– “I would if I had it, but I don’t so I can’t.” I replied. Try saying that fast three times.

– “What did you do with it?” asked Barbara.

– “I read it.” No point in lying. Claire had to have told them that I had it. That meant that she was in cahoots with them.

– “Then what did you do with it?” asked Barbara, sweetly, prodding me with her finger.

– “He has it.” said Ben. “He’s cheating.”

– “I have an idea.” Barbara stepped away from me, and went to whisper in Ben’s ear. He scowled, but when she whispered some more, he handed her the piece of paper. Barbara pointed her finger at me, and showed me that she now had the pistol. Ben opened the door, and then slipped out of the room, closing the door.

“You never came to visit me yesterday, Colin.” she said. “I was so disappointed. It made me think that you didn’t like me. Or was it that you were afraid of me?”

– “You do have a knife. And now a pistol.” I observed.

– “I would have put down them down, for you.” she said. “We have so much to discuss.”

I wasn’t sure how to answer that, so I chose the better part of valour.

Ben returned, with Teresa in tow.

– “He won’t give us the Bible.” Ben complained. “We know he has it.”

– “Colin, do you have the Bible?” Teresa asked me. “I’m here as the referee, not the Captain.”

– “I do not have the Bible.” I repeated. “I did, but not anymore.”

– “Can we search him?” asked Barbara.

Teresa studied my face for a few moments. “Alright, I’ll handle this.” With that, she ushered Ben and Barbara out of the room. “As far as the game is concerned, you are still in the room, weapons drawn. If he has it, I’ll get it for you.” Ben protested, but Barbara pushed him out. She blew me a kiss before leaving.

– “What are you doing?” asked Teresa.

– “I don’t have it.” I said. “Can I put my arms down, now?”

– “Yes. Claire says she gave it to you.” said Teresa.

– “She did. I didn’t want anybody to find it, and I was afraid that she would want it back. So I hid it. That way, if she asked for it, I could honestly say that I didn’t have it. Just like I told them.”

– “You really hid it?”

– “And my pistol.” I said.

– “Where? Never mind – I don’t want to know. You are either very clever, mister, or very lucky.” said Teresa. She had that enigmatic smile on her face. God, I loved that girl.

“Alright.” she continued “I will tell them that they struck out. But from here on in, you had better find some friends. If they catch you alone again, they could kill you.”

 

https://lapetitemort17.wordpress.com/?p=308

 

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Tinder Dating Among Teens: When Swipe-Right Culture Goes to High School – Part 1

Jenna created a Tinder profile when she was 17. Using the dating app’s toggling age form, she chose “18,” the youngest available option, and wrote “actually 17” on her profile. This was common practice at the New Jersey high school where she was a senior and her best way into a swipe-right culture that promised access to intimacy and acceptance. Jenna was a teenager. She had never been kissed. She wasn’t very popular. This was a no-brainer.

“Why did I do it?  So… my friends had boyfriends. And I didn’t. I mean, no one at my school seems like worth it. And it’s like, an easier way to find other people in the area. I was also considering hooking up with people,” says Jenna, who is now 19. “Was it useful? That’s debatable.”

Jenna joined Tinder in 2016, shortly after the company announced that the platform would be excluding the 13- to 17-year-olds it had previously welcomed. Though Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen had defended providing young people with access, saying it was a way to make friends, the company caved to public pressure. It was clear, after all, that teens weren’t just using Tinder to find friends. For many, it had become a place to find random hookups and validation. For others, it had become a safe place to experiment with their sexuality. Perhaps for most, it offered a rough introduction into the adult sexual economy.

“I got close to hooking up with one person, and then I backed out real hardcore,” recalls Jenna. ”He wanted to get a hotel. I was like, ‘My guy, I don’t have money, I can’t pay for a hotel.’”

I downloaded Tinder in April of 2019 to search for underage users on the platform for this story (I’ve changed the names of the users I interview for the sake of their privacy). The process of downloading the dating app took me less than a minute. Tinder didn’t ask for my age or require me to link to my Facebook or other existing social media accounts. I just had to verify my email address. For my first profile, I used an actual photo of myself as well as my real name and actual age. Thinking I might find more under-18s if I posed as an 18-year-old, I deleted my account and made a new one with the same picture, same name, and a different email in the same span of time. I also pressed Tinder on their age verification standards, but they did not respond to requests for comment. (The app allows users to report on people not using it properly, but that seems to be the extent of the monitoring.)

Launched in 2012, Tinder has long been the most popular dating app in the world. Used in about 200 countries, it boasts 10 million active daily users and 50 million total users. At the time Tinder announced new age restrictions, three percent of its daily user base was underage, amounting to some 1.5 million minors. But many didn’t leave. They pretended to be 18 and stuck around for the thrill of it. Scrolling through the app, dozens of profiles surface of users who are ostensibly 20 with “actually 18” written in their profiles, which suggests these users signed up at 16 and aged up with the app rather than creating new profiles. For better and mostly worse, the teens are still there.

How many underage kids are on Tinder? It’s impossible to say, but according to research by Monica Anderson at the PEW Research Center, 95 percent of teenagers have a smartphone. More than a few is a safe guess.

Dr. Gail Dines, President and CEO of Culture Reframed and Professor Emerita of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Wheelock College, argues that teens retaining access to Tinder exacerbates a major cultural issue. Dines studies the way that the easy and ubiquitous access to pornography on the Internet affects romantic dating culture and argues that Tinder and other such dating apps have changed the teenage years by providing teens with a reason to obsess over their sexual presentation.

“What we’ve done is we’ve compressed their childhood,” says Dines. “Now, teens are meant to be sexual at a much earlier age, because those are the messages that are coming at them all the time. Especially for girls.”

The key message coming at them, Dines said, is that they’re either “fuckable” or invisible. She explains that this incentivizes teenagers to try to make themselves “fuckable in order to be visible” and that this dynamic effects children of younger and younger ages. Young girls have long been sexualized. Now, they are self-sexualizing to an increasing degree. And Tinder gives them a platform on which to practice being objectified and objectifying each other in lieu of developing strong social bonds.

“You cannot replace social media with actually being in a group,” Dines says. “The things you learn from being in a group, in real time, are not replaceable with social media. How to act, how to get cues from people, what works and doesn’t work for you — all of those things.”

Adolescence, Dines adds, is a time for experimentation on every level. It’s a big world out there and teenagers are trying to locate themselves in it. By moving away from the physical, teens are missing out on a very crucial experience.

 

 

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Kita – Chapter 19 – The Sun Queen

I worked all weekend. Of course Summer who I love is off in Syracuse with family and I’m stuck running the salon. I have no life so I take her shift. I love using words like “I have no life”, because my life is so rich with friends and attractive women.

The salon is so dead so my partner has basically paid me to write my blog all weekend.

The last time I tanned my baby was Tuesday.  She had an amazing dinner with me  at Gran caffè l’Aquila after that memorable night.

I haven’t seen her since then.

Saturday is a financial bust. Sunday is even worse. There’s nothing going on and it’s been raining all day. I go to Macdonald’s for breakfast which is always amazing despite the homeless factor out front. The black girls working there are always pretty and I want them all just like my girlfriend who used to work there.

Despite the controversy Macdonald’s continues to generate a solid product despite what my vegan daughter, Lorelei says about it.

Lovely Kita appears and charges at me with a hug.

Apparently after our date thing are different. You don’t hug awkwardly around the face and shoulders. Kita gives me fuck body and leans her firm slender thigh between my legs and gives me a kiss on the cheek.

“Today’s the day!”

“Yep! Twenty minutes in the sunbed. You’re the only one we’ll let do it.”

“Thank you so much. I really appreciate it, Charles. I feel so pale.”

“Are you ready?”

“Yes!”

“Okay. You go into #2 and have your regular session, and when it’s finished, I’ll send you again under the house account so it doesn’t look like you went two times in a row. It’s all been approved with Achilles.”

“Yay! Can’t wait.”

Off she goes to tan. She closes the doors to the room. I think about how there’s been no talk about JR the ex and Steve the new potential beau. I like that. I also think about what she said about feeling pale. She has a better and darker tan than almost any other client that comes in here. I can only think of three other people who are as dark as she is. I really believe people can become addicted to anything. I think Kita is addicted to tanning. I wonder where that comes from? Is it like an eating disorder? Is it a beauty thing? I can never be tan enough. I can never be pretty enough. I don’t know but I definitely think this chick is addicted in some way to this activity. She eats well. She can’t drink. Doesn’t smoke. She’s very fit. That’s a clean vessel. I’m going to look into this subject.

Her session ends and I send the second one in after it.

“Hit the start button, Kita!”

I hear the bed awaken and the lights come on again. Off she goes for another ten minute session.

I finish cleaning up and folding the last of the towels. The place has been dead today, so everything is done. Dusted, swept, and mopped.

When Kita emerges I’m sitting in one of the chairs in the waiting area. She immediately goes to look in the mirror down the hall. I’ll have to say something complimentary about what she just did when she comes back up here.

She pops from around the corner of room one. “Do I look darker?”

“Come closer. I can’t really tell from here.”

Kita takes two steps toward me. “Now?”

“I don’t know if I can tell if you got anything.”

That’s when Kita approached me and sat down in my lap and put her hands on the back of my neck. She put her pretty little face up to mine. Her nose a few inches from mine.

“How about now?” she purrs…

I instinctively kissed her ripe lips. Our tongues swirl together for the very first time. Her mouth is sweet and her body yields to mine. I run my hand through her soft locks. It’s a deep passionate kiss that is needed more to break the tension than anything. I knew if she got close enough to the lion again I’d surely bite this little lamb.

She draws back from me, smiling and licking her slick lips.

“I needed that.”

“Me too!” I hiss.

She stands. My hands slide along her slender tan thighs.

“You working Tuesday?”

“Y…Yes.”

“Cool. I’ll see you then!”

“But…”

She simply turns and puts her index finger to her lips.

Then she’s gone.

I’m left sitting here alone in the silence of the salon with a stunned look on my face.

That, and my pants are feeling a little bit tighter.

That little Minx!!

 

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Is It a Bad Idea to Get Back With an Ex? Here’s What Relationship Experts Have to Say

I’m back with my ex, Mack. But it actually feels like we just met.

I originally met him when I was 21 years old and living far away from the West Coast in Chicago. That was the first time we dated. We reunited almost a year ago in San Francisco. It turns out, a lot changed in the time we were apart. Our bodies were different. Our personalities were more evolved.

When we were younger we spent hours together, listening to music and lounging at my apartment, talking forever. He would wait for me to finish my college newspaper job and walk me home from the office in the middle of the night. I remember feeling flattered when he asked me to meet his father and step-mother.

Then, he went on tour. He came back and he didn’t want to be in a relationship anymore. I was graduating early and moving to Los Angeles in a few weeks. It wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t super dramatic, just sad. We broke up in a cafeteria.

We said goodbye at a party months later. My friend had thrown the party for me during my final hours in Chicago, and it was a pleasant surprise to see him there. I didn’t know that I wouldn’t see him again for nearly 10 years.

I was the one who initially reached out a decade later. I sent him an email and asked him how he was doing.

I was hesitant to reach out. I didn’t know if he had the same email address anymore. I figured he probably had a life going on, but I felt optimistic about catching up with him and having a conversation again. I asked him how he was doing. I told him I was coming up to San Francisco on a work assignment, and that I’d love to see him. He responded the next day and said he’d love to see me, too. When it got closer to my trip, we started texting. Then we didn’t stop texting until I stepped out of an Uber and saw him again.

He was still hot. Same big smile. Same big eyes. Same scratchy voice and hairy chest. He was so warm and welcoming. I immediately knew I was in trouble, and that this was a real crush. He watched me eat a taco. He kept staring at me. We talked about all the things that happened during the last decade.

The good thing is, years later, we were able to find humor in all the messed up stuff we did the first time around. But we were also honest about it. It was raw. It was the sexiest, most real conversation I’d ever had with a man.

We’ve always had a lot in common, from our Arabic names to the fact that we’re from the same tribe and religion in Lebanon. We have a background that connects to who we are both spiritually and culturally. Our culture, in so many ways, is an important bond, from the food we eat to the way we speak Frablish—English-French-Arabic in our own language together.

The next day, I knew I wanted him to be part of my life. He wanted me to be part of his.

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So… Should you get back with an ex?

“It depends, and it’s not as easy as if it’s a good idea or bad idea,” says Hillary McBride, a psychotherapist and researcher.

While McBride cannot provide advice to people she is not in a therapeutic relationship with, she did suggest stepping back and asking yourself a few questions:

“I recommend asking: Who is the ex? Why did you break up? Have the issues that caused the break up been resolved? Are you getting back together because you learned something about yourself, and feel differently? Or because you’re lonely? Do we feel pressured? Do we actually want to be together, or is it just hard to meet someone new? Do we know how to sit with our sense of sadness about the relationship ending, or not?”

If you’ve answered these questions honestly and feel like you’re approaching the reunion with a healthy mindset…

Start with communication.

“Ask yourself and the other person what’s different between now and when you were together last, and what the plan is to make changes if that is necessary,” McBride says. “If need be, it could be a good idea for each person, if appropriate, to take ownership of the mistakes they made previously. Think about being able to identify how you want things to be different this time.”

This was something really difficult to discuss: how our breakup hurt my feelings, and how we never truly talked about what had happened between us. Those were tough conversations, but we had them—even though they were deeply painful. Each discussion has helped us build more trust and a stronger relationship.

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“It can feel so good to be with someone who understands us, who we have a history with, but we end up getting stuck in the same old patterns, and it’s not healthy for us to be together,” McBride says. “So, having intentional, thoughtful, sober, conversations about being together can help mitigate some of the pull we feel towards people who we have some measure of comfort with.”

During those difficult conversations, focus on “I” statements about your emotions, and don’t sling judgments or accusations, she says.

Saying I feel fear about what could happen instead of I feel that you’re going to hurt me again “can help us communicate in ways that don’t trigger the other person’s defensiveness,” McBride says.

She recommends counseling to help work out the kinks and set new goals. That way you can create something different than what you had before.

Listen to the people around you, too.

“I would definitely check in with a friend or family member who may have been familiar with the previous relationship and get some feedback about whether they think it is a good idea or not,” says Shane Birkel, LMFT and Host of the Couples Therapist Couch podcast.

In my case, I checked with a best friend, my college roommate Elaina. Her impression was that I was happy with him back then.

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On making your relationship work with your ex:

Here’s some good news: Timing may work in your favor.

“Sometimes when couples are younger they just aren’t mature enough yet to have a serious, adult relationship,” Birkel says. “Meeting again when they are older might be better timing for them.”

That was the exact case with Mack and me. When I talked to my boyfriend before writing this article, that continually came up. We weren’t ready for each other. We had family messes and traumatic events we needed to heal from that truly prevented us from having healthy relationships at that age. We weren’t where we needed to be until now.

“After so many years, I would look at this situation as though you were starting a new relationship,” Birkel says. “Just because you might have dated for a year in the past, don’t expect the other person to be ready to dive right back in. Show up and act in ways that are trustworthy, respectful and kind.”

In my case, we’ve been together almost a year. He’s lived in San Francisco. I’ve lived in Los Angeles. We see each other about every six weeks or so. We make it work. It feels new. And in June, we won’t do long distance anymore. Almost 10 years later, we’ll be together in the same place again. No goodbyes, just goodnights.

Nicole Charky Nicole Charky is a journalist and producer based in Los Angeles, California.

 

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Tales of Rock: Moby’s Most Outlandish Claims, from ‘Dating’ Natalie Portman to Spilling CIA Secrets

Wikipedia calls Moby a pioneer of electronic music in the aughts, but today’s headlines confirm Moby is now a three-time, eye-roll-inducing author adamant that, no really guys, he actually, like, really did date Natalie Portman.

In his newly released memoir (his second in four years) Then It Fell Apart, Moby reminisces about a supposedly brief relationship with the actress in 1999 when he was 33 and Portman was 20. He claims they met at a gig in Austin, Texas, which led to attending parties together and even a trip to see a day in her life as a student at Harvard University. “For a few weeks I had tried to be Natalie’s boyfriend, but it hadn’t worked out,” he writes, according to The Guardian.

Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar this week, Portman disputed that they dated and called Moby “a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school.”

“He said I was 20; I definitely wasn’t. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18. There was no fact checking from him or his publisher—it almost feels deliberate,” Portman told the magazine. “That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn’t the case. There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact check.”

Upon hearing her side of the story, Moby decided posting a shirtless photo of himself with a young Portman (wearing a t-shirt with the words “Milk Fed”—it’s a big week for milk) was just the proof he needed after that “gossip piece” in Harper’s Bazaar to show not only that “we did, in fact, date,” but also that they even “remained friends for years.” He then goes on to characterize Portman as an intelligent activist misrepresenting the truth, before plugging his book. “The story as laid out in my book Then It Fell Apart is accurate, with lots of corroborating photo evidence, etc. Thanks, Moby,” he writes

According to Stereogum, Moby also writes in Then It Fell Apart about a brief romance with Lana Del Rey, then known as Lizzy Grant—another anecdote that comes across like an overestimation of his own romantic prowess. Since she refused to go home with him after the two had just met, Moby doesn’t wait a full day before wining, dining and again inviting her over to his five-floor New York penthouse. From Then It Fell Apart:

“Floors in an apartment.” She shook her head. “Moby you know you’re the man.”

“Ha, thanks,” I said.

“No, not like that. You’re a rich WASP from Connecticut and you live in a five-level penthouse. You’re ‘The Man.’ As in, ‘stick it to The Man.’ As in the person they guillotine in the revolution.”

I didn’t know if she was insulting me but I decided to take it as a compliment.

After he kissed her, Del Rey dodged Moby, saying “I like you. But I hear you do this with a lot of people.” Moby writes that because it’d have been a lie to call himself “chaste, sane, and ethical,” he said nothing and walked Del Rey to the twenty-ninth floor, kissing her in front of the elevators.

This wasn’t how I imagined the night ending. I’d assumed that we would end up christening my new apartment with vodka and sex. But to my surprise, this was almost nicer.

Apart from unrequited affairs with female celebrities, Moby spent the 2000s writing prolifically in his blog about a number of subjects. With over 414 pages of posts dating from October 2000 to June 2018, Moby has imparted his thoughts on everything from the “sprawling hydra headed monster eating everything in it’s path” that is Los Angeles to George W. Bush being a “moron.”

Foreign policy is a favorite topic for the musician. Five days after 9/11, Moby outlined his strategy for how to handle Osama bin Laden. If the United States government would just hire the best graphic designers to create a pamphlet depicting bin Laden “drinking, gambling, and having sex with prostitutes” and distributed the piece of propaganda throughout Islamic countries, then bin Laden’s “reputation would be destroyed,” he insisted, adding, “please don’t laugh. This really would work.”

In recent years, he’s taken aim at Donald Trump. In a February 2017 Facebook post, Moby claimed his friends in the CIA told him they were working on establishing Trump’s connection to the Russian government, saying the infamous pee tape was “100 percent real.” Nearly a year later, he told the Kentucky radio WFPK that his CIA friends asked him to share the information publicly.

“So they passed on some information to me and they said, like, ‘Look, you have more of a social media following than any of us do, can you please post some of these just in a way that…sort of put it out there,’” he said, according to The A.V. Club. The CIA has 2.59 million Twitter followers, while Moby has 1.2 million.

Moby is on his book tour through the beginning of June. Expect more bold statements.

 

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