If you’re a people-pleaser like me, you’ve probably had a toxic friend like this.

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Photo by Nate Johnston on Unsplash

When *Kim first moved in as our housemate, I was unsure of what to think about her. She was a bartender, tattooed from head to toe, and she was unbelievably gorgeous — the type of beauty that would make anyone do a double-take. When she introduced herself, she spoke with a condescending tone, and perhaps it was a sliver of my insecurity peeking through, but I assumed we weren’t going to get along.

In a short period of time, I discovered that my initial reading of Kim was totally wrong.

Kim was very introverted and private — which I originally misread as distant — but she was also funny and spontaneous. I liked that she didn’t bring strange guys over to the house and she cleaned up after herself in the common areas. Eventually, she and I warmed up to each other and she and I started going out on the weekends. …


A friend accused me of not being honest with myself about feeling happiness without kids, and we haven’t talked since.

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Photo by Carlos Murillo on Unsplash

We don’t all want the same things in life — what a weird, boring world it would be if that were the case. I have never had the innate desire to be a mom. It’s never been in my life plan, and after a terrible 2020 with minimal socialization, I’ve survived just me myself, and my dog, and I’m still genuinely happy I don’t have children.

I hope I’m not coming off as a monster — that’s the constant fear I have when speaking openly about my desire to be a lifelong childfree woman. …


And how we can help our loved ones through hard times without ruining our relationship with them

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Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

As complex beings navigating a sometimes inexplicably cruel world, one of the most devastating experiences we must survive is watching our loved ones suffer and accept that we are incapable of helping them.

Even when we know we can’t help them, we’re unwilling to sit back and watch our loved ones get their hearts broken in their relationships, sabotage their careers, or make irresponsible lifestyle choices.

So we try with every bone in our body to save them from making horrible mistakes — even if the effort is detrimental to our own mental, emotional, and physical health.

Why is it so terribly difficult to watch the people we love make mistakes?

Well, for one, most people don’t find satisfaction in watching others suffer misfortunes. By this, I mean real suffering, and not the compilation videos we watch on YouTube of people falling from diving boards or trampolines. …


My abuser criticized my physical appearance so often that I became obsessed with the gym.

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Photo by Charlotte Karlsen on Unsplash

Trigger Warning: this article discusses sexual assault and diet culture that may not be suitable for all readers. Fearless community, please read with care.

My abuser was someone I once considered a friend. We started our friendship at work where he glowed as a colleague with his funny and easygoing personality. We laughed a lot while we worked together; he really did a fantastic job of getting me to “let my hair down” around him.

After a few months of working at this firm, the entire office decided to go out drinking together after hours. …


I’m not ashamed of my relationship, but I am tired of justifying our age gap.

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Photo by Nathana Rebouças on Unsplash

I have a complicated relationship with social media. While it’s a great distraction from the shit show that is the current state of the world, I’ve learned that it’s a negative influence on my mental health. When I spend too much time online watching other people live their lives, I forget to live mine with gratitude.

I’ve never been the type of person to post photos of myself and my significant other on social media and for some reason, people like to assume it’s because I’m hiding something. Or because I’m ashamed. Or that I’m not really in love.

And when my boyfriend and I got together five years ago, I began to let those assumptions affect how I saw my relationship. …


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Photo by Oleg Ivanov on Unsplash

I’ve always been a sexually liberated kind of gal. I enjoy sex, a lot. I’ve had threesomes with other girls, I love watching porn and visiting strip-clubs, and I’ve had my share of one-night stands meaning — I’m not shy about celebrating my naked body and expressing myself.

But now that I’m in a monogamous relationship with my boyfriend of several years, the one-night stands are a thing of my past.

And I’m very happy about that.

Our sex is incredible but more than that, I’m at my happiest knowing I’m only having sex with someone who is only having sex with me. …


When your friend gets engaged to her cheating partner, do you wish them the best or do you try and stop the wedding?

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Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

This is a hard topic for me to write about, but I’m certain I’m not the only person who has faced this dilemma.

I used to have a dear friend. She was energetic, independent, and lively. She worked hard, paid her bills on her own, saved her money — she needed no one to get her shit done.

She was the kind of person you wanted to be around, all the time. She was the friend you call when you need someone to show up, no questions asked. And she’d show up.

She laughed hard and full.


Sam was everything I thought I wanted in a romantic partner, but the chemistry was never there.

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Photo by Yoann Boyer on Unsplash

*Sam was not the first older man I’d dated, but he was certainly one of the sweetest. Sweetness is a noble quality; we all want to end up with someone sweet. But just because someone is nice does not mean they are right for you.

As the saying goes, “When you know, you know.” With Sam, I knew from the start we weren’t a good fit because I never felt physically attracted to him.

You can try to force two mismatched people together, but it will never feel right.

Sam was everything I thought I was looking for in a boyfriend. He had no issue with our age-difference and told his adult children about me relatively early in our relationship. …


A day in the life of an age-gap couple

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Photo by Melani Sosa on Unsplash

I don’t know how it started, but grocery shopping has always been one of our favorite “couple things” to do. Sure, we enjoy dinners, dancing, and travel, but there’s something about doing something as simple as grocery shopping that fills my heart.

He and I, walking through the aisles of our local store — it’s pure romance the way we get into an unspoken routine as soon as we walk through those glass doors.

He grabs the cart and follows me closely as I head straight into the flower section. Flowers first, always. Tulips are his favorite, carnations mine. …


To all the strangers who’ve asked if my boyfriend was my father.

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Photo by Muhammad Ruqiyaddin on Unsplash

I won’t sugarcoat the reality of dating a much older partner. I’ve been with a man who is 20 years older than me for over five years now. And it’s not easy when we step out of our home.

We’re whispered about when we hold hands at the movies. We’ve been pointed at and stared at far too long at restaurants and airports. When I post pictures of us on social media, I still get comments from strangers about why we’re together in the first place (usually a comment about sugar daddies or something involving money).

We genuinely don’t care what anyone assumes about us because we’re in love and happy, but that doesn’t mean the comments and assumptions aren’t exhausting. …

About

Sarai Perez

Setting myself free through words of love and honesty.

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