Love according to the experts (and also me).

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Photo by Raphael Nast on Unsplash

That I explore how relationship myths can hurt us isn’t random; it’s because what I thought I wanted from love has turned out to be vastly different from what I actually need.

Bridging the gap between what I was taught to expect and my lived experience helped me find love after spending years in dead-end relationships. But while I now understand these things instinctively, I wanted to explore what the world’s relationship experts had to say.

What specifically do many of us think we want that isn’t what we actually need? And what might make us happier instead?

Here comes…

The hidden truth about heartbreakers is heartbreaking.

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Photo by chester wade on Unsplash

Between the ages of about 16 and 20, I was a self-confessed heartbreaker.

I used to seduce perfectly lovely men only to lead them on, mess them around and then discard them at the slightest irritation or hurdle.

But the joke’s on me because once I matured and set off on a search for true love, I was repeatedly led astray by similar cruelty.

There was the guy who messaged me sweet things daily, bought me thoughtful gifts, said I was uniquely wonderful and then transpired to be sleeping with “6 or 7” other women — something I only found…

We need to stop kidding ourselves.

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Photo by Behzad Ghaffarian on Unsplash

When we pan our worst relationships for gold, there’s often a glittering abundance. There’s also the eerie feeling we should have seen the signs they were going to break our hearts, only we didn’t — or at least, we didn’t want to.

Perhaps if we slow down and reflect more deeply, we might avoid heartache. Anyone who’s dizzy with confusion about the person they’re dating, this pause for thought is for you.

I met D. at a party and was instantly dizzy over his slow-spreading smile and carmine hair.

We climbed onto the roof together and talked while the stars came out above the city. He told me everything I’d ever wanted to hear, over and over…

No one good for you adds to your problems.

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Photo by Christina Victoria Craft on Unsplash

Have you ever had a UTI (urinary tract infection)?

Do you remember how it burned every time you peed, and how you felt like you needed to pee about 200 times a day? Well, that’s my experience several times a month, sometimes for weeks at a time, only I don’t have a treatable infection.

I have a problem called Interstitial Cystitis, or IC. It means I’m prone to inflammation in my bladder, and it flares up whenever I’m tired or stressed, when I’m on my period, or sometimes for no discernable reason at all.

It’s incurable and falls within that…

It’s a writing emergency.

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Photo by JOSHUA COLEMAN on Unsplash

Sometimes I sit down to write, coffee on one side of my desk, snoozing cat on the other and the words flow. The article practically writes itself.

However, since I write on average 6,000 words a week, my creative muscles have a tendency to cramp. I have a half-written stories that ran out of steam or pieces I published that came out flatter than Neopolitan pizza, only less tasty.

This is normal, and I don’t beat myself up: not everything we write is going to be inspired first time round. …

We procrastinate to stay safe but wind up getting stuck.

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Photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash

When I was about 8 or 9, my mum started sending me to the shops for milk, a very safe 15-minute walk away. I don’t know what most children feel when given this kind of task. Perhaps pride at being given responsibility? Or Irritation at having to stop whatever they’re doing? Maybe they even experience a little shyness?

I was petrified.

My little brain immediately started filling with scary scenarios like a stoppered sink. What if my mum gave me the wrong amount of money and the shop keeper thought I was trying to short change her? What if the…

Sorry about that.

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Photo by Lucija Ros on Unsplash

“The doctor will call you from 11.30,” said the tired-sounding receptionist.

“Great: 11.30,” I replied.

“No from 11.30,” she repeated.

“Oh I see, but like from 11.30 to what sort of time?” I said, feeling silly.

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you,” she replied shortly, and she hung up.

I’m quite alarmingly nervous of doctors and doctor’s receptionists at the best of times. When I know I have an appointment coming up, I don’t sleep as well, my heart races, my palms sweat and my stomach gets confused. …

Even mid-pandemic, low expectations are a road to nowhere.

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Photo by averie Woodard on Unsplash

I have a long history of flaking on commitments to myself that only changed in the last few years.

Most of the time, it looked like numbing out with TV or video games, but sometimes it looked like hiding behind busy work. If you want an example, I once decided I should handmake every product I used. I whisked shea butter and coconut oil into moisturiser; I measured and mixed vinegar and oils into minty cleaning sprays; I once hunched over the kitchen table for 5 consecutive hours attempting to bind my own notebooks from scrap paper.

In my heart…

We’re usually disappointed for a deeper reason.

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Photo by Sebastian Dumitru on Unsplash

In one of my least attractive moments, I threw an almighty tantrum because I didn’t think my birthday presents from my boyfriend were good enough. It wasn’t an outward tantrum of course: I didn’t shout or hurl accusations around, but I went silent and I imagine I looked visibly disappointed.

He’d given me an interior design book full of fusty-looking rooms with floral sofas and frilled curtains and theatre tickets for a play that looked cool, but with “restricted view”. …

Your limits are there to keep you happy but also, safe.

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Photo by Vino Li on Unsplash

At the peak of the pandemic, when the hospitals were getting overwhelmed, I came down with Covid. I went from fine to debilitated in a heartbeat and was ill from March to May.

People talk about getting breathless climbing stairs with Covid: I was so bad I couldn’t walk 2 metres without needing a break. I couldn’t stand long enough to shower, so my partner had to wash me in the bath like an overgrown child while I wheezed and soap suds got in my eyes.

I wouldn’t wish Covid on my worst enemy and never want to live those vile, breathless months again, but the experience did offer up a stark lesson about the way I’d been living.

You see, I wouldn’t have caught Covid if I hadn’t travelled to, and then…

Jessica A

Pen for hire | snack aficionado | recovering night owl. Work with me at

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