After therapy and lots of personal growth, these are my romantic intentions for summer 2019

Sure, dating can be fun. It can also be stressful, confusing, heartbreaking, weird, and…boring. But we still do it, and we want to know how you do it, too. In our series “Adventures in Dating,” one writer documents their love life for three months, and we get a peek into every part of their experience—the fun and the frustrating. First up, N.Y.C.-based sex writer Shelby Sells will be telling us all about her summer.

Where do I even begin. My name is Shelby Sells. I’m a freelance sex and wellness writer and visual artist. I’m 27 years old, live in the East Village, New York City, and I am a student at Hunter College CUNY, majoring in Psychology to become a sex and relationship therapist. I am also a diehard romantic. My career as a journalist started seven years ago in Los Angeles when I began interviewing friends and colleagues about their experiences with love, sex, and relationships. Thus, my blog Pillow Talk was born.

I moved to New York City a little over three years ago, following a fairly heinous break up. I spent my first year after that relationship drowning my sorrows in tequila at Elvis Guesthouse (RIP) and dating two guys on-and-off from each other. Though they couldn’t have been any more different, both men afforded me the emotional grace and nurturing needed for my healing journey. I am grateful for my time spent with each of them, and for the friendship we continue to share now.

Shortly after, a new contender emerged. He was tall, handsome, and driven. When we met, the chemistry was instantaneous, like being struck by lightning in the most pleasurable way. My brain overflowed with oxytocin (aka the love drug), a hormone that’s released when cuddling or bonding with someone and produces a euphoric feeling. It was the first time I’d felt so connected with someone since leaving my ex-boyfriend of three years.

We started taking things slowly since both of us were newly single, but the attraction was so strong that we couldn’t stay apart. After the first few months, it became apparent to me that this was an emotionally volatile relationship. Consequently, an on-and-off pattern developed between us. There would be a good period of growing and loving, but as soon as it became too vulnerable, he began to push me away. Feeling hurt and betrayed, I would break up with him. A couple weeks later he would come around again, fighting for my love and attention, and the cycle repeated. This went on for almost two years…

At the beginning of 2019, I finally called it off for good. It was clear to me that I had an unusual and deep connection with this person, but the relationship wasn’t adding positively to my life anymore. It was time to move on. I firmly believe each person in your life is presented to you with an opportunity to learn something new. I have long been attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable and fear intimacy or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, are completely smothering, controlling, and jealous. None of these are characteristics I desire in a partnership.

I spent the first few months of the year being purposefully single and reflecting on my relationship with myself. I sought counseling from a therapist and worked through issues that held me back in my romantic and platonic relationships. By unpacking my traumas, I was able to clearly identify my boundaries and understand the qualities I seek in a healthy union. Creating this space for myself to heal and learn new tools of communication empowered me to choose something different and to not settle. As someone who is constantly jumping from one relationship to another, this act of holding space for myself to be alone was reviving.

Feeling confident, I was ready to approach dating again. A man who frequented my DMs (respectfully) asked me to coffee. We met up one weekend and went on a fantastic date, walking around the city and taking the ferry to Staten Island (Pro-tip: You can get margaritas at the station to bring onto the ferry before you go.) I enjoyed this man’s company because he was unlike any other man I’d dated previously. He was spiritual and into yoga. He was kind, confident, and had it together.

After a month and some change, the relationship fizzled for me. He’d revealed his true colors to be selfish and unconcerned. The world seemed to revolve around him and his schedule, a characteristic that is extremely off-putting to me. He also seemed threatened by my work which, oddly, was what had attracted him to me in the first place. I’ve dated enough insecure people to know when my time, energy, and efforts aren’t being appreciated. Unfortunately, this was the case.

During this dating series, I hope to practice the skills I’ve learned through therapy and intimacy building exercises.

I have no expectations and only positive intentions. Modern dating has turned into a mission that is somewhat equatable to climbing Everest; worth it if you survive. My goal is to have fun, meet exciting people, and try new things. My heart and mind are open to love and whatever else comes my way. It would be nice to have a summer filled with romantic and lustful moments. If I just so happen to fall in love? So be it.

My ideal partner will be a secure person. Someone who is giving and loving. Someone to go on adventures with me. Not bad on the eyes. A kind smile and infectious personality. Someone who can make me laugh. Someone with a lust for life. A person to learn and grow and love with. Someone who wants to spend quality time together. Someone to build a life with.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me. I have to admit I’m a bit nervous, as I’m usually not this open about my dating life, but I think it’ll be a fun learning experience. Hopefully you’ll get something out of it, too. With the culmination of all my emotional healing, self-love, and rediscovered confidence, I am ready to take on the summer. Bring on the potential boo snacks, flings, lustful lovers, and potential long-lasting romantic partners. The air is filled with connectivity and primal sensuality. New York City is my oyster and I plan to shuck the hell out of it!

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