Millennial Love Column: #RomanceIsNotDead

 

Nearly 10 years ago, my very first boyfriend asked me out by recording a message on a mix CD that instructed me to meet him on the school stage the next morning. There, in front of the whole world (and by “the whole world” I actually just mean the kids in high school), he gave me my first kiss and handed me a box containing 143 folded paper hearts — which he had made during the nights we stayed up talking on the phone. Was I swooning? Yup. Was I turning a dangerous shade of red that only looks appealing on tomatoes and stop signs? You bet I was.

By the time I got home that night, I was practically exploding in giddiness as I told the story to my family. Now, I was prepared for my mom’s teasing, and I even expected my brother to throw up a little, but who could’ve foreseen my grandma’s reaction? She sighed in disapproval and mumbled something about romance being dead.

Have you ever seen a balloon deflate? That’s about the best description I have of how I felt in that moment. How could my grandma — my wise, sage grandma — think that romance was dead after the incredible day I just had?

After much prying, she finally explained that she was upset because the “rude boy” didn’t pick me up at the door on our first date, and those “scraps of paper” could never compare to roses.

I cracked a smile of relief. Of course she felt that way. This wasn’t the first time I’d been told Millennials didn’t know a thing about romance. You see, in my grandmother’s eyes, as well as many Boomers and Gen X’ers, boys these days lack chivalry, serious relationships are traded for casual “hook-ups,” and communication is only done through a computer or phone screen. Given that perspective, I completely understand why people think romance is dead.

But I’m here to let you in on a secret: Romance is alive and well. The naysayers simply don’t recognize it because they’re looking for the wrong things. Romance changes, grows and adapts. The way we show and perceive romance now may not look like it used to, but has it disappeared? Of course not. Here’s why.

 

Myth #1: Chivalry Is Dead
According to the old-school definition, the quintessential romantic gentleman should pay for my meal on dates, spoil me weekly with flowers and pick me up at my front door. But there’s a problem with that theory. First of all, I quite frankly don’t care how much a man spends on me. I know from firsthand experience that being a college grad drowning in student loans is no joke. So I have no intention of putting anyone through the extra pressure of paying for two if he simply can’t. Second and most importantly, it’s the 21st century. Who says I need a guy to pay for my meals?

And sure, not every guy knocks on my door to pick me up for a date, but I’m actually quite relieved when someone shoots me a text instead. Not only is texting a faster and more efficient way to get me, there’s also no need to freak out about that mess in the living room and I have time for my last touch-up in the mirror.

Believe me, I appreciate chivalry just as much as the next girl, but this does not equate to romance in my book. I know plenty of men who are still working towards financial stability and can’t afford flowers on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be romantic. On the other side of the spectrum, I know even more men who know everything about holding doors open and nothing about the kind of romance that gives you butterflies.

 

Myth #2: It’s All About Hooking Up
I won’t deny it. Our generation has mastered the art of keeping things casual, especially in college. And don’t get me wrong — I’m not trying to argue that hookup culture is romantic. I do, however, believe that fully understanding hookup culture (and why we partake in it) is important to seeing why romance is sometimes put on hold.

Hookup culture is one that encourages casual relationships and sexual encounters, while generally staying away from serious relationships. What some people don’t realize is that we keep our love life casual during the times that we need to take our career life seriously.

Decades ago, it wasn’t rare for a couple to get married right out of high school or college. Nowadays, ask someone in their mid-20s about marriage and many will say they’re nowhere near that stage of life. We live in a world of low employment opportunities, high competition and even higher stress and depression rates. Getting into college has become harder than ever and becoming financially stable after graduating is even worse. Do you really think our focus is on marriage right now?

We have not, by any means, traded romance for a culture of hookups. We’re simply making sure we mold the best versions of ourselves until we’re ready for a serious, romantic relationship.

 

Myth #3: Technology Killed Romance
This is simultaneously the most valid argument and yet the biggest misconception here. I say that because I can completely understand why older generations think texting, online dating and the Internet in general gets in the way of proper romance. After all, I’m sure they shake their heads at couples who spend dinner dates scrolling through Instagram instead of talking.

But I would argue that technology has actually helped make us openly romantic and sometimes extravagantly so. What are texts if not instant love letters? What is online dating if not the romantic pursuit of finding someone you may have otherwise never met? Yes, we are obsessed with taking pictures of our dates, but isn’t that just an effort to physically preserve our memories?

Men no longer are limited to dropping an engagement ring into a champagne glass. YouTube has allowed us all to see extravagant proposals using flashmobs, scavenger hunts and hidden cameras. We’re publicly displaying our love and doing so creatively and loudly. Yes, our methods are showy — another criticism we often receive — but spend an hour looking up wedding proposals online, and you’ll take back everything you said about romance being dead.

Want to learn how to play your crush’s favorite song on the guitar to serenade her? Go find a tutorial online. Want to tell her how you’re feeling but can’t find the words? Find the perfect song on YouTube. Want to get the perfect Valentine’s Day present? Check her pins on Pinterest. Want to reassure her that there’s no one else? Let everyone on your social media platforms know your heart is taken.

Flashmobs, texting and social media may not be included in the traditional definition of romance, but if my guy posts that embarrassing picture of us just because he knows I love it, then that sure counts for me.
Feature image courtesy of dailybruin.com
This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here

Mindy Kaling Talks About Her Dating Life on ‘Ellen’

Mindy Kaling is a successful OB/GYN but her personal and dating life is a mess. Oh wait, that’s Mindy Lahiri, the fictional doctor she plays on her show The Mindy Project. But according to Kaling, it seems as if many people in real life confuse her with the fictional character she plays.

Currently, Kaling is single and dating, but she’s running into trouble dating because she is a lot more conservative than Mindy Lahiri. During her appearance on Ellen, she says that she’s not someone who could “drink eleven martinis” or “have a one-night stand” because she has her medications to take at night. And she has to floss.

As you can imagine, that might lead to some complications. Ellen’s solution? A bedazzled pill box for all her (non narcotic) medications, complete with labels for every day of the week.

Watch the full interview clip below:

Grayson

Aziz Ansari’s Book ‘Modern Romance’ Explores How Technology Affects Relationships

 

We were all sad to see the cast of the Parks and Recreation say goodbye to their loyal viewers during the series finale last week, but when one door closes another one opens. That certainly seems to be the case for 32-year-old actor and comedian Aziz Ansari. Not only does he have a Netflix stand-up comedy special on its way, Ansari also has a book coming out soon. And no, it’s not what you expect.

Many comedians, such as Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler, release memoirs to give fans a look into their personal life. Ansari, on the other hand, is releasing a book called Modern Romance where he apparently recruits a sociologist to conduct studies on love and romance in this day and age.

“I had been starting to do this stand-up about dating and realized that the current romantic landscape is way different,” Ansari told TIME.  “All these very modern problems — like, sitting and deciding what to write in a text — that’s a very new conundrum.”

Ansari goes on to explain that while doing research for a stand-up bit, he realized he wanted the perspective of someone in the proper academic field to assess things like texting and how it can affect relationships. The result? A sociology book that has Ansari humor written all over it.

“I want to be clear: The book is not, “It’s crazy! We have phones now!” The changes are far beyond the technology,” Ansari explains. “And marriage, not that long ago, was an economic institution where two families would come together to bring their wealth together. The whole idea of finding a soul mate only became a thing in the past 100 years. So the whole redefinition of what marriage is — nobody’s really written this comprehensive book about this kind of thing. I think it’s really funny and very interesting.”

Needless to say, the book certainly shows plenty of promise. Modern Romance hits bookshelves on June 16th. You can learn more about the book here on the official website.

In the meantime, check out Ansari on The Tonight Show talking about how text messages have changed the dating game. We wouldn’t be surprised if this stuff shows up in Modern Romance.

 

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Millennial Love Column: She’s Just Not That Into You

 

You may be familiar with the popular 2009 rom-com He’s Just Not That Into You. Basically, the film taught us that a) Ben Affleck is absolute perfection, and b) there are very clear signs that indicate whether or not a guy is interested in you. One of the characters, Alex, very bluntly explains to Ginnifer Goodwin’s romantically naïve Gigi that if a guy wants to see you, he will make it happen. If he doesn’t contact you, then cue the film title.

Now I don’t know about you, but while Alex was confidently doling out this bit of advice, I caught myself rolling my eyes a little. Don’t get me wrong — what he said wasn’t untrue. I just couldn’t help but roll my eyes because I have personally come across waaay more men who are so determined to get a girl, they not only ignore subtle rejection hints, they’ll drunkenly keep pursuing you at a bar even after you tell them you’re not interested for the umpteenth time.

So since there’s an entire film dedicated to showing the various ways men reject women, let’s turn the tables, shall we? Fellas, if you happen to come across any of these signs, then I hate to break it to you, but she’s just not that into you.

(And ladies, if you’re trying to get that guy, or gal, to leave you alone at the bar, try the following techniques.)

 


 


 

1. The “Save Me” Look
We women utilize the “save me” look most often on the dance floor. Of course, men usually don’t see this look because rather than actually asking a girl to dance, the go-to method these days is to simply go up behind a girl and inch your way forward. Well, when you do this oh-so-romantic move, you probably don’t catch her giving the wide-eyed “save me” look to one of her friends. Instead, all you’ll see is her friend pulling her away or intercepting.

Now at a bar, you may actually be able to get the hint and leave before you make her uncomfortable enough to resort to the “save me” look. The key is to try to remember that if we’re interested in you, we would definitely pay attention to you. Our eyes wouldn’t desperately scan the room to find a friend to save us.

2. She’s Not Texting You Back
So you managed to get a girl’s number, but she barely responds to you. At one point, she may just stop responding altogether. Now some of you, the determined ones, will come up with reasons on her behalf. You’ll think she probably didn’t have reception all day. She probably didn’t check her phone since she was at work. Or maybe her dog ate her phone.

Now the crazy thing is, you may be right. You may actually be in pursuit of a woman who is bad at texting back. For most of you, though, those excuses sound like, well, excuses. In this day and age, people are practically attached to their phone, so if she happens to miss your calls and texts for an entire week, you probably want to rethink your pursuit.

3. She Abruptly Leaves Chats
Maybe texting didn’t work. So you added her on Facebook and now you spend your nights waiting until she signs onto Facebook chat, you big creeper you. Well, lucky for you, these conversations can tell you a lot.

If she’s taking time out of her night to talk to you, obviously this is a good sign. But one very obvious way to tell she isn’t interested is if she coincidentally has to sign off every single time you start talking to her. Can your timing really be that bad? Deep down inside we both know she’s signing off chat because she doesn’t want to engage in a conversation with you, but she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Go ahead and spare yourself the awkward interaction. Wait until she starts the chat with you first.

4. She Emphasizes Your FRIENDship
When you like someone, hearing the word “friend” can cut deep. Girls are aware of this. So when she emphasizes your friendship, she’s not trying to purposely hurt you. In fact, she’s trying to do the opposite. She’s trying to make you understand that she views you solely as a friend so that you don’t move forward and end up getting hurt. Trust me, it may sting to be called “a really good friend,” but this is a lot better than being led on. Now if you ignore this hint and move forward anyway, she may be forced to say you’re “just like an older brother.” Ouch.

5. She Talks to You About Another Guy
If she’s talking to you about a guy she likes, that probably means that you actually are a good friend of hers and she may not realize that you have feelings for her. Luckily, this conversation can spare you some heartache. If we say we like someone else right now, we genuinely mean it. We’re not trying to Jedi-mind-trick you into asking us out.

 

 


I know hints may be hard to accept when you really want someone, but there’s a line between romantic persistence and simply disrespecting how a woman feels (or doesn’t feel) about you. Make it simple. Ask her straight out whether or not she’s interested. Most likely, you’ll get a straightforward response.

In the film version, know-it-all Alex says that if a guy wants to see a girl, he will make it happen. Well, we live in a new decade, buddy. If a girl wants it to happen, you’ll know. If she doesn’t, you’ll know even more.

And if you’re one of those guys who goes through life thinking all girls want you and are just playing “hard to get,” then go ahead and get used to having drinks thrown in your face because I foresee a lot of that happening in your future.

I’m just kidding. Kinda.

 

This story was originally published in our Winter 2014-15 issue. Get your copy here. 

Audrey Column: Do’s & Don’ts of Wooing a Girl in This Day and Age

 

Gen X’s guide to wooing a girl may not apply in today’s dating world, where boys don’t bother to get out of their cars to pick you up on a date, let alone stand outside your window with his heart on his sleeve. So what should Millennial women expect in this day and age? Columnist Paul Nakayama tells it like it is.


 

I’m a product of the ’80s and ’90s, and John Cusack was the actor that captured the spirit of my ideas on romantic love. I mean, when Lloyd Dobbler raised that boom box up over his head in the 1989 film Say Anything, forget about it — I, too, wanted to win the heart of a girl with some grand gesture. And thusly inspired, I might’ve captured a few hearts, but I sure as hell screwed up the long game with them all on my own. Now I see my nephew, a young man influenced by the love stories of today, like (500) Days of Summer and Her, where love seems elusive, and then I see him trying to meet girls on Tinder and Instagram, where love is literally elusive. In the digital age, the world seems smaller than ever, but if these movies and dating apps are any indication, it’s still just as hard to make a connection with someone and just as easy to screw it up once you do. So I asked the younger female staffers and interns at Audrey Magazine to give me their list of Do’s and Don’ts of dating. For some, I’ll pass on to my nephew. For others, the women are going to have to modify their expectations. Let’s start with the Don’ts:

 

 

“DON’T play with your phone during a date. If your phone is more interesting than your date, you shouldn’t be on a date.”
Totally agree, but we should broadcast this to men and women alike. Nothing makes a meal lonelier than starting to eat by yourself while your dinner companion struggles to think of a clever hashtag for her food porn photo. Then again, I have a policy where I get to eat your food if you’ve taken a photo of it, and a minute passes and you still haven’t tasted it, despite having already half-written a Yelp review. Also, they say your cell phone has more germs than a toilet seat — why you bringing a toilet seat to a date, bro?

DON’T try to get to know me through text messages as opposed to in person. Or worse, try to have a serious conversation or an argument — you’re asking for miscommunication.”
Actually, I’m not sure if I agree. By getting to know someone via texts, it’s like the modern-day equivalent of knights and ladies sending each other poetically drafted love letters full of better intentions, but instead of squires making the delivery, you’ve got rapid-fire thumbs. And even back then, I’m sure the greatest of romances wouldn’t have survived if the heroic knight kept mistaking “your” for “you’re.” Also, nothing defuses a fight like a well-timed, innuendo-laced autocorrect.

“DON’T send me a text about a beautiful sunset or cute puppy and how it made you think of me, and then send the same text to your mom and a bunch of other people. I want to know you’re just into me.”
I completely agree. Two things about this one: One, never text anything to your mom that you’d text to your girlfriend. That’s just your therapy trying to undermine itself. And two, do you guys know how to eavesdrop on text messages? ‘Cause I could have fun with that.

“DON’T play more than two hours a day if you’re a gamer, and that’s the max! I’d prefer only an hour if I had it my way.”
No. We’ve seen our friends who are married, and we know that’s the fate lying ahead, so we’re going to play our thumbs off while we can.

 

And now for the Do’s:

 

“DO use technology to your benefit. If a guy knows how to pay attention, he can find out a girl’s interests and plan a date around that. Read her blog entries, then talk to her about something you find interesting in her writing. Her status says she’s been craving ice cream? Go and surprise her with some.”
What I like about this staffer’s suggestion is that it’s condoning stalking as long as it’s used for the greater good, e.g., ice cream. It also indirectly suggests that girls stalk, too, so I say use that to your advantage. You can blog or update your online status with stuff that might pique a girl’s interests, maybe something about how you want to study for your MCATs, but you can’t think over the sound of your abs rocking hard.

“DO come to the front door when you pick us up for a date. Don’t just sit in your car and text us that you’re here.”
Absolutely do this. But likewise, let’s all be ready on time. I remember waiting for my date too many times to count, trying to kill time on the couch or at the front door or even outside. At least in my car I’d have the AC and music to keep me company — rather than pretending to have a conversation with her toy poodle, which honestly would prefer sh-tting in my shoes.

“DO pick up the phone and ask her out on real dates. While technology is great for an initial contact with the person you’re interested in, relationships can’t live via text/emails/online messaging!”
I’m assuming this is directed towards the guys you actually like, instead of the suitors you’re not that into. Because, believe me, those of us who aren’t lucky in dating try every angle to get a date — phone calls, texts, emails, tweets, pokes, status comments, Likes (even when we don’t like what you’re posting), “random” run-ins (you said it was OK to stalk), even courier pigeons (but just one because we don’t want to seem overbearing.)

“DO call me before 10 p.m. to ‘hang out.’ I’m not waiting around for your call — I’ve got plans, too!”
Waitasecond. These guys that the Audrey staffers are talking about — it sounds like whatever they’re doing is working. They’re calling at 10 p.m. and the girls still agree to hang out? I would plan a date a week in advance and get cancelled on at the last minute. I think it’s time to stop watching sappy movies. In fact, staffers, can you check the status updates of these guys and tell me what movies they’re watching?

 

 

–STORY BY PAUL NAKAYAMA
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here

 

How Men REALLY Feel About Trading Bachelorhood For Married Life; Columnist Paul Nakayama Spills All

In his regular column for Audrey Magazine, published in the Summer 2014 issue, Paul Nakayama talks about dismantling the man cave and other life changes he’ll have to make as he (finally!) bids farewell to bachelorhood. 

 

In my 20s and early 30s, I did my share of dating. Mind you, I didn’t have one night stands or a monthly swap-out of girls, but rather a steady string of long-term, monogamous relationships. I was generally considered a Nice Guy, and while Nice Guys do often finish last, I met some Nice Girls who found me at the finish line. But then I debunked the myth about Nice Guys being nice, and when things got hard I ended up screwing up the relationship. Now after a few years of mostly being single, I’m hanging up my bachelor hat again. I’ve met an amazing girl who makes it seem easy — I mean not easy easy — but easy. In fact, it’ll be the first time I live with a woman other than family. And therein lies my new dilemma: as I approach 40, I’ve kinda settled into the bachelor life.

For example, I’m a writer and I tend to keep graveyard hours — less people to bother you at night and it doesn’t seem so weird to drink during work. While most of the world is sleeping, I’m sitting at my computer thinking of new ways for evil masterminds to destroy the world or, in my most ironic of gigs, doling out really bad relationship advice to all of you. For a few more months, my girl is in Japan so our hours coincide. When I go to bed around 8 a.m., it’s midnight over there. But when we start living together, I have to start functioning like a normal human being. She even says that I need to be under the sun occasionally, despite my complaints that it’d be impossible to look at my iPhone or iPad and then I’d spontaneously combust from digital withdrawal.

I’m also deprogramming my brain and eyes to not check out girls anymore at restaurants and bars. After years of conscious and subconscious honing of my babe radar, I realize I’ll need some time to shut it off. It’s certainly not a deliberate action when I leer at a girl, particularly one that is exposed to the elements, but I don’t want to risk having my girl think I have eyes for anyone but her. To counter the programming in my internal detection systems, I have started to spend a lot more time reading menus, counting ceiling/floor tiles, staring deep into my girl’s eyes without blinking and ignoring all peripheral motion. Sadly, the only thing that seems to work well is to take excessive photos of my food and drinks. And my leftovers and empty dishes even.

 

 

The biggest visible change is probably going to be the dismantling of my man cave. Over the years, I’ve collected a serious treasure trove of video games, comics, DVDs, books, CDs and geeky art prints — and I love all of it. I can’t just abandon them when I make a new friend. That would just be wrong. But spatially there’s no way for her and her supposedly essential goods, like clothes, to fit into my apartment with all of my stuff. So in trying to be a good, accommodating boyfriend, I’ve come up with an alternate plan. I’ve studied the blueprints, sketched out some ideas and will be constructing a secret man cave by tearing down a wall in the broom closet. That way I can sneak in a few minutes here and there to spend with my precious lovelies. UPDATE: I was informed by my neighbor that he doesn’t appreciate me busting a hole into his living room; he said I was encroaching on his personal space. I suppose he may have a point, but I think that’s why he doesn’t have friends.

Speaking of living together, I’m told it takes a system of compromise and sharing to make it work. I’ve heard a competing theory that it’s more about giving up all personal freedoms and just saying yes. But let’s operate off an optimistic presumption for now. That means that I probably can’t watch Game of Thrones in my underwear while swinging a sword anymore. (I’ll try subtly tossing out the idea, but I have my doubts.) It means I’ll have to give her at least half of the DVR space, which is why I’m convinced that most BitTorrents are downloaded by husbands and boyfriends and not cheapskates. Meals will now have to be more nutritious than my usual fare of beer, steak and Red Vines. I’ll now have to take my music playlists more seriously and not “experiment” with One Direction and Taylor Swift songs … or maybe include more 1D and Taylor. Or something. I don’t know what the “good” boyfriends are doing these days.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to consider in the days ahead. I’m getting all of the cautionary tales from my friends, and there are a lot of them. But somehow, I’m still really excited. I’m looking forward to having a partner in my life. You know, someone to watch movies with or have spontaneous cocktails with or share my meals with, other than my pal Netflix. Someone to bring me toilet paper instead of having to waddle into the hallway. You know, really romantic stuff that’ll change my life for the better. Thankfully, I’ve been writing these columns for Audrey for 10 years now, talking about my bachelor life, so I’ve got a whole record of how I’ve messed up with girls … and I can save all my successes for this one.

 

— STORY BY PAUL NAKAYAMA

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

Don’t Let Social Media Traps Ruin Your Relationship

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat — they’re all great … until they’re not. Columnist Ethel Navales navigates the murky waters that is social media and exposes some traps and pitfalls. 


As soon as I answered my phone, I heard Rebecca crying on the other end. I didn’t even need to ask why she was crying. Facebook had answered my question through a big, cruel status update:

“Rebecca went from being ‘in a relationship’ to ‘single.’”

After a few minutes of cursing the entire male gender (you know, the usual post-breakup rant), Rebecca began telling me what her ex-boyfriend did wrong. She told me how she had a “gut feeling” he was flirting with other people on Snapchat, how he was obviously hiding their relationship because he didn’t Instagram their dates, how he still had pictures with his ex-girlfriend on Facebook (the audacity!) and how he could never go out without checking his phone every five minutes.

See the common thread here?

Victims of social media traps are easy enough to spot as an outsider, but if you’re the victim, my guess is you don’t realize it. You firmly believe that your suspicions are sound no matter how unreasonable they are, you have a need to check your significant other’s profile every chance you get and, most importantly, you’re convinced that all this is normal. So I’m here to help you out. If you’re guilty of any of the following, then go grab yourself a seat next to Rebecca: You’re a victim of social media traps.

 

 

 

 

TRAP #1: THE SNOWBALL
Have you ever rolled a snowball down a hill? It starts small and as it makes its way down, it accumulates more and more snow and gets bigger. Well, in this case, the snowball is suspicion.

Like I said, it can start small. A pretty girl likes your boyfriend’s Facebook status. No big deal, right? But then you see that same pretty girl comment on his Instagram. Come to think of it, wasn’t this the same girl with the flirty tweets from a month ago? Before you know it, you’re snooping through a stranger’s profile and — Oh hell no, your boyfriend liked one of her pictures?!

In hindsight, you’ll agree with me: you sound a little crazy. A few minutes ago, you couldn’t care less if your boyfriend liked someone’s picture, but now that you’ve fallen into the trap, it’s a big deal. As you can see, this social media trap has a way of getting people to make mountains out of molehills. You end up over-analyzing harmless social media interactions. The once sensible you is now starting a fight because your boyfriend simply liked a picture. Think about it.

 

 

TRAP #2: THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER
A known downside to social media is that we end up comparing our lives to the Photoshopped, hyper-edited lives of others. Unfortunately, we do this with relationships too.

You stumble across a picture of your friend with a bouquet of roses, and you have to show your boyfriend “how cute it is.” Innocent? Nope. It’s really a subtle way of pointing out that he doesn’t get you roses. Or maybe you came across a cute picture of another couple and suddenly you’re thinking the worst about your own relationship. Since your boyfriend doesn’t post cute couple pictures, maybe that means he’s ashamed of you? Maybe he’s hiding your relationship? Maybe he’s into someone else?!

I’m going to go ahead and stop you right there, you poor thing you.

The sensible you knows that you shouldn’t compare your relationship with others. After all, other people only post pictures of their happy moments. You know this, but once you’re in the trap, the only thing you can think about is why you never get any damn roses.

 

 

TRAP #3: A DANGEROUS STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE
Your sensible side knows that there are tons of reasons your boyfriend may still have pictures of his past relationships. Your sensible side knows that he probably doesn’t realize those pictures are there. Your sensible side knows that he’s simply too lazy to go back 50 pictures and delete one.

But once you’ve fallen into this trap, your sensible side goes out the window. Social media tempted you into digging into the past, and you didn’t hesitate. Admit it, you’ve stalked your boyfriend’s exes so much you probably even know their favorite color.

Next thing you know, you’re mad at your boyfriend for that necklace he got her … three years ago.

 

 

TRAP #4: THE PERMANENT THIRD WHEEL
With addiction, the first step to healing is recognizing the problem.

If you can’t eat a meal without taking a picture of it and posting a “foodie,” you may have a problem. If you can’t go anywhere without checking in, you may have a problem. If you live by the motto “pics or it didn’t happen,” you may have a problem.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for capturing the moment, but not if it takes away from actually experiencing the moment. Besides, we all know that a sure way to piss your date off is to make your phone a third wheel.


 

If you’ve found yourself falling into any of these traps, don’t worry. We’ve all gone through it at one point. Instead of assuming the worst, try talking to your significant other about any concerns you have first. I’m sure he’ll delete that ex-girlfriend picture once you tell him it bothers you. If he doesn’t, the solution is simple. Dump the dude and go find someone who buys you roses.

I’m just kidding. Kinda.

 

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

Facing the Big 3-0 … Single

Story by Kanara Ty. 

When you’re programmed to believe happiness equals marriage and kids by 30 — and they’re nowhere in sight — what’s a 29-year-old (and her angst-ridden mother) to do? 

When I was in college, my mother found out I was seeing somebody for the first time. So she did the one thing that comes most naturally to her: she confided in a fortuneteller. I’m not talking about Miss Cleo and her crystal ball; more like a Buddhist monk at the local temple. It was something she grew obsessive about because, every week, she would tell me a new fortune.

I heard fortunes ranging from “He told me that the best guy for you is the one I pick for you” to “You should graduate first before you fall in love with someone” — which led me to question whether she was actually confiding in someone else or, really, just herself.

But then one week, there came a fortune that was really specific and struck a chord with me: “When you turn 26, you will meet three guys. The third guy will be the one you marry — and you will be married by 27.”

I became obsessed with the idea, even more so than my mother. I scrutinized everything about myself at the time (my looks, my body, my career) and I became a bit of a H.A.M. — a Hot Asian Mess. My mom added on to my own over-scrutinizing by constantly bombarding me with questions like “Are you a good enough catch?” “Are you appealing enough to men?” Rather than letting fate take its course, I was determined to see that fortune come true.

When I turned 26, I did indeed meet three guys — all of which turned out to be men I’d never marry even if you’d paid me. But up until that point, I believed I was going to be betrothed, have a wonderful career and even think seriously about having a couple of kids. All before I turned 30. It wasn’t just my dream, but a shared dream among my friends. That dream stemmed mainly from our immigrant parents’ expectations because they didn’t want us to go through the same financial hardships they did. We grew up believing that finding security and stability was the path to happiness.

But of course, life didn’t pan out the way I had hoped. For those keeping track, I’m about one for three on the Asian American immigrant dream scoreboard: I’ve got a solid career, but I’m not married with kids nor do I own any property. About half of my friends are married with their own homes and some even have kids already. My social media feeds went from being filled with episodes of debauchery to minute-by-minute updates on child-rearing. As for me, I’m about to enter my 30th year in a couple of months, and I’m definitely not getting married anytime soon (nor do I have any intention of doing so). Just like that, my dreams changed because I had to rethink a happiness that was my own and not one tied to the Asian American immigrant dream.

Thankfully, my mother no longer asks about making her a grandmother anytime soon. (She used to forget that a partner is necessary before I go into the baby-making phase.) Instead, she asks when I’m going to buy a house. She’s slowly accepting the fact that I’ll be a career-minded serial dater for a while, so she’s using buying property as her new marker for security and stability.

Dreams may change, but nagging Asian moms never will.

This story was originally published in our Summer 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

Dating Culture Shock: The Good, Bad and Fetishism of Modern-Day Dating in Japan

Story by Paul Nakayama. 

After decades of the singles scene in America, columnist Paul Nakayama discovers the good, bad and fetishism of modern-day dating in his ancestral home of Japan. 

Why would I forsake the moderate temperatures of Los Angeles and spend six weeks in the freezing, ball-numbing winters of Japan? The same reason I’ve always tortured myself— a girl. Well, and ramen. Really, really good ramen. But mostly, it’s for a girl. And while I was there, I made a few observations about the dating scene in Japan. They aren’t about my personal experiences per se, because this is my column and not my diary — I mean, journal. Men don’t keep diaries … not that I keep a journal. Wow, jet lag is nature’s crystal meth.

I should start by explaining that I was in Fukuoka, which is in southwestern Japan. If Tokyo, where I usually party in Japan, is like New York, then Fukuoka is like Chicago. In Fukuoka, like Chicago, people tend to get married while they’re still in their 20s or early 30s. So many of my girlfriend’s friends were already married. Otherwise, the first words from the single ones to me were, “Do you know any single men?”

Despite the marital aspirations of most of the people I met in Fukuoka, there was a contradictory and disappointing social trend, one that I’ve seen often in Asia. Cheating is a common occurrence. I don’t know the official numbers, but I met a lot of married men with mistresses and a lot of girls that were dating married men. It’s no surprise that in 2013 AshleyMadison.com (the affair-friendly website) made Japan its first Asian market. You can’t see my face, but I’m frowning, like I’m tempted to drive around Japan in a pickup with a TV in the back streaming Before Midnight.

But to get back on a positive note and to get back to the single people that are in search of true love, how do they find one another in Japan? While online dating is on the rise, the predominant method is undeniably the goukon, or group blind date. Basically, it’s a system where a single man and woman who know each other invite approximately four friends to meet at a restaurant or gastropub. It’s safer and less stressful. And genius. Oh, how I wish this could’ve been a possibility in my earlier years. The money saved from failed first dates aside, I — I mean, my friends — would’ve been spared all the emotional scars of humiliation. You know, like those horrible moments of dance-walking up to a girl at a club where she vehemently shakes her head “no,” and then having to shuffle back to the bar in shame. At goukon events, it becomes pretty clear who’s interested in whom, and it’s already established that everyone there is looking for something serious, meaning attendees can’t use the “I’m not ready for a relationship” line.

As great as goukons are, they aren’t infallible. Everyone is a friend of a friend, so at least there’s a level of trust. But honestly, how many of you know the sexual proclivities of your friends? Whenever my friends start dropping details, I cover my ears and sing Katy Perry songs. I heard this great/awful story of one goukon match gone awry. Apparently, they dated for a few weeks, but the guy always came up with some excuse not to let her go to his apartment. She finally found out why: he was an underwear fetishist with huge stashes of ladies’ used underwear. He’d buy them from vending machines. (They actually exist! I was as shocked as you to learn that it’s not an urban legend.) He’d even wear them to work. I may be embellishing at this point, but he might have peed on her, too. You know, I take it back. Goukons are perfect. Someone please go out there, host a goukon event and send your favorite stories to the Audrey office.

Now, once you’re dating, Japan has a whole slew of interesting and unique cultural options. For example, many people still live with their parents (or their spouses) and lack privacy, so many couples go to “love hotels,” which is essentially an upscale, usually gimmicky, pay-by-the-hour motel. They usually come equipped with karaoke, which is what I like to combine with sex (I didn’t watch porn growing up; I watched music videos). Another interesting difference is in the holidays. Christmas is Japan’s Valentine’s Day. It’s the busiest night of the year for restaurants. Interestingly, on Valentine’s Day in Japan, girls give chocolates to boys. Then a month later, on White Day, boys reciprocate. I don’t quite understand it, but it is kind of sweet.

It was a fascinating experience to hear everyone’s dating stories during my time in Fukuoka. In my case, I’m a Japanese American dating a Japanese girl, so I suppose we can pick and choose the best of both dating cultures. I like the idea of having two major romantic holidays, so we agreed to that. It was also comforting to both of us that I have no interest in wearing her underwear nor does she in mine. There are no love hotels in the U.S., at least not of the same hygienic and entertaining quality as found in Japan, so any music we make in the bedroom will have to be of our own making. Katy Perry, anyone?

This story was originally published in our Spring 2014 issue. Get your copy here

Do Girls Find You Romantic or Creepy? The Answer Could Surprise You

Wong Fu Productions is awfully great at making us stop and really think about many of our everyday social situations. In one video, they made us realize just how crazy we look while we’re taking our foodies for instagram.  In a more recent video, they pointed out that as much as we deny it, we treat people differently if we think of them as “more than a friend.”

So what could be next on this list of social situations? The fine line between being romantic and being a creeper.

According to this video, there’s not much of a difference at all. Apparently, what categorizes you with the creepers or the romantics is whether or not the recipient is attracted to you.

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No matter how much I deny it, I can’t help but recall a number of times that I’ve seen this happen in real life. In fact many comments on youtube show women who agree and admit that they have been guilty of this. Of course, even more point out that men are just as guilty of this habit.

Watch the video below and tell us what you think. Is there really no difference between the romantic and the creeper?