How to Make Someone Fall in Love with You

It’s easy to make someone fall in love with you. Anybody can do it.

First, look in the mirror and remind (or admit to) yourself that you are lovable, and that you are deserving of love. Take in all your good qualities, physical and mental, and say, out loud if possible, “somebody will love all of these things about me.” Conduct a thorough evaluation of your positive attributes and your not-so-positive attributes. Sit down for this. Brew a pot of coffee. Try to view yourself as a stranger might see you, for example: tall, a few pounds overweight, good sense of style. If your self esteem tends to be low, ask a friend for help — an honest one.

Start a new document on your computer. Maybe a spreadsheet. Call it ‘self-improvement’ or something similar. Type out your goals, and the large and small steps you must take every day to reach them. Look at this once a day. Make a calendar reminder to check it. Now put it away. None of that will make someone fall in love with you, but the ability to see yourself as a worthy person capable of change is step one.

Don’t give anybody a reason to dismiss you right away. Dive into your social media persona and ruthlessly purge. Look through your images. If you don’t like the way you look in a picture, untag yourself or delete it. Go through your friend lists. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or the sight of their profile picture sparks bad memories, unfriend or unfollow them. Don’t remain connected to former friends and flings in order to stalk them or because looking at their lives makes you feel better about your own. As you meet new people (including, remember, the person who will fall in love with you) they will surely go through your profiles and check out your friends, and while you don’t need to portray yourself as perfect by any means, you should try to project a positive image. Don’t photoshop yourself. Don’t lie.

Each morning, as you get ready to go out into the world, recognize that today might be the day you meet the love of your life. Spend a few minutes picking out clothes that fit, maybe slather on a few products. No need to look flawless. The goal is to look put together, polished, confident.

As you go through your day, treat others with kindness and respect. One of them might be the person who will fall in love with you, or who knows somebody who will. Spend more time with individuals who make you feel good about yourself, and less time with those who bring you down. Cultivate a diverse, open-minded circle of friends. Go out of your way to meet new people. Recognize that every stranger you meet may become a friend, or maybe even your lover. At night, think about your day. Start a journal. Look at your self-improvement list. Consider the one small step forward you took today, and pat yourself on the back and say out loud, “Good job today!”

Stop eating and drinking sugar. Eat more vegetables. Exercise. Swim in a pool. Lift weights. Work on your posture; stand up straight. Stare at your naked self in the mirror and point out the traits that please you. Think about those traits as you walk down the street. Don’t be afraid to swagger.

You will meet new people, maybe every day and maybe just once a week, and some of these people will show interest in you. Be picky, but not unreasonable. Get to know those who aren’t your “type.” Be open to those you find attractive, even if others don’t agree with you. If somebody comes on too strong at the beginning, they are, beyond a doubt, bad news. Nobody will fall in love with you within minutes or weeks. If they say they do, they are troubled or desperate or both. Move on.

Go on dates. Take it slow. Ask people about their goals; mentally check them against your own. Answer questions honestly. Ask them about their life. Listen to what they have to say. Nod to show that you’re listening. Appreciate them for the attractive, fun, flawed humans they are. As you get to know them better, ask more probing questions. Listen carefully. Try to understand them. They’ll go back to their friends and say, “The person I went out with just understands me, I can’t explain it.” Well, this explains it: you have to work to understand people.

Don’t accept bad treatment or disrespect. Recognize that people who exhibit these characteristics are projecting their own insecurities onto you. You don’t need to accept this, because you are secure. You are aware of your good qualities and your bad qualities and what you need to do to reach your goals in life. Depending on the quality of your dating pool, you may spend more time disengaging than engaging. If you find yourself on a date with a negative person, thank them for their time and go home. Settle the bill if you must.

When you feel a connection with somebody, and their interests complement your own, and their goals are similar to yours, and you view the world through similar eyes while opening each other up to new ideas, reassess. Recognize that what you thought was impossible is indeed possible. It is possible to find love, and it could be happening right now.

Have sex. Talk during it; tell the other person what you like and what you don’t like. Try new positions. Laugh at funny noises. Accept that bodies are wonderful and strange and sometimes gross. Don’t withhold or partake in sex as punishment. Only have sex when you want to, and if one person is in the mood and the other person isn’t, talk about why. In the morning, cuddle. Use the other person as a pillow, and when they do the same, let them.

Don’t expect the relationship to change your life. You are still you, and now you are also a person who is falling in love. Tell the other person what they mean to you. Think of fun and interesting activities for the two of you to do together. Ask them, regularly, how they feel, how they are doing. Check in on their emotional state, to make sure you are on the same page. This builds the foundation for a successful relationship: open communication, honesty, affection.

Make them feel desirable. Compliment them. Listen to them when they tell you about their day. Let them know that you are on their side. Recognize their own negative attributes (remember, you have them, too) and try to neutralize them. Don’t point out their flaws. Don’t take your bad mood out on them. You don’t have to see them every day, but when you do see them, try to make their day a little better. Open up to them. Tell them something about yourself you have only told a few people. Cherish their secrets. Be vulnerable.

Live your life as though you are not in the midst of falling in love. Continue to work hard, check in on those goals. Hang out with your friends. Talk to your family. Keep exercising. Treat others with respect. When people comment on your new glow, thank them for noticing.

Because here is the secret. It is this glow — the happy light you emit when you are happy and in love — that will make the other person fall in love with you.

In short: to make someone fall in love with you, love them first.

This post was also published on Medium.

I Survived a Fundy Cult

Or: How I Became an Atheist

I remember the precise moment I realized I had lost my faith. A teenager in a floral dress, I was on stage in front of the regular Saturday congregation, singing Amazing Grace to tinny, prerecorded music. Halfway into the performance, my eyes migrated from a random spot on the back wall to the audience, and that was when I lost it. Staring back at me, smiling politely, was a sea of white Midwestern faces, trusting in their placidness. And I was a fraud. I didn’t believe a word I was singing — the culmination of a lifetime of questioning — and my voice began to waver. I’m sure the churchgoers just thought I was nervous, continuing to gaze up with their pleasant smiles, but I knew the truth. It was the last time I ever sang in church.

Growing up in a fundamentalist church is to remain a shy small child forever. There is the protective bubble, the fear of outsiders, the clear authority, and the belief that you are special — so special, in fact, that God picked you, individually, to tell his absolute truth to, one of a handful of chosen people. Drawn in by a charismatic radio personality in the days before the internet, my parents joined an organization called the Worldwide Church of God, a group whose arbitrary rules slackened more and more over the years until the church itself dissolved into more than a dozen smaller factions with their own individual guidelines, carefully curated from the Old Testament by middle-aged white men.

Unlike mainstream Christianity, which generally believes that the forgiveness of Jesus Christ renders the Old Testament obsolete, Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder of this cult, believed that the entire book should be interpreted literally. Ironically, this meant encouraging followers to read the Bible themselves to fact check the church’s claims, thereby arriving at the same conclusions as individuals. It also meant no Christmas, no Easter, and definitely no Halloween, as mainstream holidays were invariably ‘pagan’ — a word that was thrown around regularly. It meant going to church on Saturdays, not eating pork, tithing 10% of one’s income, and being reminded weekly that the end of the world was catastrophically near.

My parents were deeply devoted to the institution. Instead of an annual vacation, we saved all year to journey to predetermined meeting areas (conveniently located in popular vacation destinations) for a seven day ‘Feast of Tabernacles’ in the autumn, which involved daily church services and mingling with members from around the country. To a child, it felt like a holiday, albeit one that involved dressing up every day and sitting still. I have many fond memories of this brainwashing, since they are framed by feelings of safe, family togetherness. My father would take meticulous notes in a tiny notebook to ensure we stayed within our $100 a day family budget, and at the end of the week he always left a one dollar tip for the hotel maid. It should be noted that members of the church were expected to save all year for this high holy day in addition to a general 10% tithe.

As you might imagine, keeping young people away from ‘the ways of the world’ when they are physically living in it is a monumental task. In elementary school, I was forbidden from participating in any holiday celebrations, including coloring worksheets featuring Christmas trees, and in middle school I wasn’t allowed to perform in school plays after sunset on Friday nights. As a teen, the ultimate goal turned to me remaining a virgin until my wedding night, after which sex would be “so much better,” an indoctrination that led to plentiful oral sex with my high school boyfriend.

When one is small, talk of God and demons — of unambiguous right and wrong — makes sense on a fundamental level. Around age six I became convinced that demons lived in our garage and started to wonder if my favorite doll, whose eyes stared back at me, unblinking, was actually possessed. Disliking the loud sound of flushing toilets, I convinced myself that demons lived inside them and that I needed to run out of the bathroom before the flushing stopped to avoid them. This evolved into a type of personal superstition. Only in the last few years have I been able to flush a toilet and not immediately run out of the room.

But as you get older, you start to question the absolute. Sure, my mom never ‘lied to me’ about Santa’s existence and I was sure that she herself never lied, but what if people were lying to her? There was only one way to find out, so I resolved to read the Bible, cover to cover, during church every week, as we were encouraged. Plunging past Genesis into the depths of the Old Testament, I read about slavery, rape, and warfare that involved breaking babies’ skulls against rocks. I was about eleven. When I asked my parents about these atrocities, they assured me that people were more violent during Biblical times and that those characters were just products of their time period. So then, I remember asking, how do you know that the entire book isn’t a product of its time period? The answer, uttered by my father, is so absurd that I’ll quote it here. “Because if you watch the news, the Bible’s prophesies are all coming true. That’s how you know it’s real, because the end time is near.”

The Worldwide Church of God, and the offshoot we ended up in called the United Church of God, are doomsday cults. The original organization suffered mass exoduses after predicting that the world would end in 1975, and by the time I could understand the sermons, there was no emphasis on specific dates — just vague affirmations that Christ would definitely return, probably in my lifetime, and institute his Kingdom after a period of worldwide suffering. Israel played a central role in this prophecy, so we were encouraged to stay abreast of world events and connect the dots. We were the chosen ones — the ‘first fruits’ — and we were in control of how we interpreted current events and their place in the eventual end of the world.

It’s easy to compare the church with the abuser in an abusive relationship. The first step is charming the victim — telling them that they are special and smart for being able to understand the church’s complicated dogma. The next step is isolating the victim, by not allowing them to play an active role in secular society. Lastly, the church used fear to ensure that people would not leave — in this case, a conveniently esoteric doctrine around hell, which went something like this: If a person never knew ‘the truth’ and died, that person would have a second chance to be resurrected during the second coming of Jesus Christ. But if a chosen person who already knew the truth rejected their faith and turned away from the church, that person would burn.

Did I have a happy childhood? It’s hard to say, because most of my most vivid family memories involve going to church, eating brunch after church, going on church vacations and the like. It’s difficult to extract those warm memories from the near-constant existential crisis that engulfed them. The feeling of being special, in some sense, never truly goes away, except now I’ve crossed to the other side; as an atheist, I occasionally feel superior to people who never question their faith. Though I’ve forgiven my parents for being brainwashed, and accept why they were primed to fall for it, I still don’t truly understand how they let the cult dictate their life choices for so long. My upbringing gave me a deep disrespect for authority, a persistent skepticism, and empathy for the underdog, but also that suspicion of being a fraud. Because I grew up in a fundamentalist cult, I will always feel like an outsider.

This post was also published on Medium and was chosen as a notable article for the platform's newsletter. 

5 Things to Gain from a Stressful Job

(Besides fodder for your resume.)

I’ve spent the last two years working in ridiculously stressful positions at a growing, disorganized company full of young, overworked people on the verge of losing their minds. While I don’t have a phD in job stress - Is that a thing? That should be a thing. - I realized that no matter the position, or how low you are in the arbitrary corporate hierarchy, or how insanely busy your days are, there are positive things to gain from such an experience.

1.) your personal path to inner calm

When stressed, it’s natural to resort to fight or flight reflexes. We are, after all, just animals in cardigans. This is why workers raise their voices or slam down headphones while rushing out the door for a smoke. The person who can remain calm in such a madhouse, however, is the person who stands out. You want to be that person. To achieve this, you quickly determine how you, personally, can achieve a calm state of mind as quickly as possible. For example: When you’re relaxed – during the weekend, at home, on the beach – what are you doing? Listening to a certain type of music? Sipping a latte? Like Pavlov’s dog – if Pavlov’s dog was an overstressed worker bee – try to connect a work-friendly action with a calm state of mind and rely on that action as a crutch during your most hectic days. Me? I use tea. I like coffee more than tea but tea makes me think of sitting in my favorite tea house with friends and music. Therefore, when I’m feeling ill at ease, I make a cup of tea and take deep breaths and my mind settles down. No matter your strategy, learning how to quickly reach a place of calm in a confrontational or fast-paced environment is an invaluable skill that will aid you in a multitude of life situations.

2.) a personalized organizational system

We all think differently, and organize our thoughts differently. Some of us like digital to-do lists. Some prefer the comfort of pen and paper. Sure, under less stressful conditions you could leisurely dabble in different options until you found one that you enjoyed. But until you test it – until you test multiple systems, and see how they hold up in the scalding hot water of a jam-packed 12-hour day, you can’t know if it’s really right for you. But once you find the system that works, you have just acquired another major life skill. This is because the way you organize responsibilities says a lot about you. Do you need color coding? Do you need synchronization across multiple devices? Do you need a place to sketch? The best part: when you find your ideal system of listing out priorities, it even works in lesser chaos.

3.) active listening skills

Most people are subpar listeners; they half-listen while thinking about what they will say next. In a super fast-paced environment, however, we don’t have time for such luxuries. We need to listen with a focus on next steps. The ability to parse out your responsibilities and manage expectations from the simplest or most confusing exchange is a crucial skill. Consider the following exchange, started by a colleague who runs over to you in a crazed state.

Blathering coworker: Fuck! I just got out of a call and my god you know that client is crazy and he wants a report on such and such by tomorrow morning. I was so--
You: What does he want that report to cover?
Blathering coworker: Oh the usual bullshit, he wants a full report on blah blah, so we should give him an analysis on so and so and 2 slides on blah blah.
You: Bummer. I can handle the analysis if you cover the blah blah slides.

Good job, you! Using active listening, you’ve cut through the drama, isolated your responsibilities and delegated to others. If you had been passively listening, your coworker may have gotten to the end of her rant and then assigned you the whole report or worse, she may have been so worked up that she huffed back to her computer and assigned it to you an hour later. By mastering this art, you can work with (nearly) anybody in the most insane of environments.

4.) a hacked lifestyle

This arises out of necessity but will serve you well even after you leave the hyper stressful job. In fact, your strategies for maintaining health, happiness and well-being in the least amount of time – life hacking is the trendy phrase - can carry you through any future time crunches life may throw at you, as well as provide you more free time in general. Bear with me on this, and see if you can answer the following questions:

• How can I maintain my current level of fitness in the shortest amount of time possible?

• How can I efficiently shop, pack and eat healthy meals with little prep time?

• How many times do I need to socialize with friends per week to feel happy and fulfilled?

• What is a surefire way to make me fall asleep?

• How can I get ready in the morning in under 20 minutes (hair, makeup, shaving, whatever)?

A stressful job demanding long hours forces you to condense and optimize the other areas in your life. Since the goal is to eventually emerge from such a position in a similar or improved state as when you signed up for this madness, the job presents the perfect opportunity to learn how to be the best version of yourself while expending the least amount of time and effort.

5.) knowledge of your thresholds

By pushing yourself to the max over an extended period of time, you discover your limitations, which usually can also be construed as strengths. Maybe you can only truly focus for four hours a day, first thing in the morning. Working from this place of knowledge, you can prioritize what should happen in those four hours and not lie to yourself about finishing things later. Or maybe you work best at night, so you fumble through busy work in the morning and bust out deliverables at 4pm. Or maybe you need a standing desk or at least eight hours of sleep or four glasses of water a day or whatever. By finding yourself in a stressful job, you’re forced to learn more about yourself. It’s like a crash course in self-awareness. This detailed knowledge about your own working style and your personal limits can not only get you through a long week, but also help determine what you might want to do next, possibly opening up entirely new career avenues to explore.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not your job. People stay in stressful positions for all sorts of reasons – paying their dues, paying the bills. Tight deadlines and a fast-paced environment, while inherently stressful, might not be unpleasant in the least. Extreme disorganization, infighting, a cutthroat culture – these are all toxic and will produce chaos and harried employees. Embracing the positives under such conditions is not only ideal but necessary for your sanity. Ultimately, “stress management” is self management.

This post was also published on Medium.