Why You Shouldn’t Be Friends With Your Ex

This can be quite the pickle as you end a relationship and feel as if you don’t necessarily want it to be completely over. Carefully walk the friend line because there is a good chance someone will be hurt.

So here are 10 reasons why you shouldn’t be friends with your ex.

1. When you breakup with someone you are still going to have feelings for them– you can’t just turn them off once you become friends. This is going to lead to a disaster or disappointment.

2. False Hope– when you become friends with your ex, you don’t necessarily want to admit that there is any false hope. Let’s be honest; one of you will have the anticipation that you will get back together.

3. You’ve seen each other naked. This is going to be kind of awkward as you hang out and you will surely blur what a friendship is once a conversation leads to a topic having anything to do with being naked.

4. You’re not going to actively want them to be with anyone else. What is the point of being friends if you can’t really be friends with them on Facebook and comfortably see who they are flirting with? Also, judging the girl commenting on his pictures isn’t the healthiest hobby to have.

5. Friends can talk about sex and dating other people. There is a good chance you will be uncomfortable if you ever hear anything sexual about your ex which defeats the purpose of a friendship. Why would you want to talk about sex with your ex… who you are NOT having sex with?

6. Good chance you will sleep with each other again. You might regret this the day after when you are confused about what you should think or say to them. Especially if one doesn’t become attached from it.

7. You deserve to be around people who make you happy. If your ex broke up with you, then you need to reconsider how they really make you feel. If you think they make you happy, then the next day you hate them—that doesn’t sound like much fun.

8. Hanging out with friends requires friend activities, including attending their wedding(s). Can you go to your ex’s wedding and be fine with it?

9. Being friends with your ex is just going to lead to breaking up again and again. Going through a breakup once is already hard enough. Why do it more than once?

10. This doesn’t necessarily apply to every ex. There are rare relationships where the ending is truly mutual and neither would care if the other has moved on and are not interested in being an item again.

I hope these reasons were able to help you out in some way. It’s never a fun situation to be in but remember you will be fine and you need to keep your chin up!

This post originally featured in Living the College Life

Hooking Up With Your Ex

Weak moments…many people have them when it comes to their ex’s.  Since it seems to be almost impossible to delete them off your Facebook and out of your contacts on your phone, it is too easy to hit them up for sex when you have a lonely or drunk moment.

It is logical to want to stay away from someone you just broke up with.  However, break ups are rarely ever logical.  Emotions are messy and it can take awhile to extricate someone completely out of your life.  Unless one half of the couple is resolute on never speaking to the other half ever again, sex is very likely to happen.

Why?  Because loneliness sucks!  Your mind tells you that at least your ex is familiar territory.  Sometimes there is an underlying agenda of wanting to get back together with your ex.  Sometimes it is just about wanting sex in a weak or stupid moment.  Other times, you just don’t want them to be having sex with anyone else, so you make sure your still offering it up.  You may not exactly want to get back together, but you aren’t ready to let them go either.

Whatever reason you are using to still hook up with your ex, just know that it could make things a lot more messy in long run.  First scenario, you are still in love with your ex, but your ex is no longer in love with you.  Yes, they may agree to have sex with you which makes you feel good in the moment.  However, after that moment passes you feel even more alone.  It can make you miss that person more and hope that maybe you might get back together.  You may think you can keep it casual, but deep down you know you’ll freak out if you find out they are seeing someone else.  Unfortunately, this is how this particular scenario usually ends up.  One day your ex will find someone else, at that point, they are probably going to have an easier time turning you down for sex.  When you find out they are in fact seeing and having sex with someone else you are going to go through the break up pain all over again.  The hope of getting back together is gone and it can be pretty devastating.

Second scenario, you are wanting to have sex with your ex to keep them from having sex with someone else.  This may or may not work in reality.  Remember, you are no longer together.  This means they aren’t cheating on you if they are having sex with someone else during the same time period they are still having sex you.  If it comes out that they are sleeping with other people besides you it is going to cause you to feel very angry.  You will want to start a fight that you don’t really have a right to start.  They don’t owe you anything after a break up.  I know they SHOULD have told you they were having sex with someone else, but they don’t HAVE to.  You may still feel like they cheated on you because they weren’t upfront.  However, remember many people lie in order to have sex.  Don’t be surprised that your ex is doing the same thing.

Third scenario, you just want a random hook up because you are feeling lonely or too drunk to care.  Maybe you don’t have a hidden agenda.  You have emotionally moved on, but the prospect of having sex with your ex is too strong to pass up.  This seems simple and at first doesn’t reveal any complications.  However, what do you think the chances are your ex is on the same emotional page as you when it comes to your break up?  Lets guess…about 1%.  I haven’t done a study, but I feel that is a pretty good guess.  So don’t complain when the texts and phone calls start up the following day.  You may have just opened a door that should have remained shut.  Now you have to deal with the emotional fall out all over again because they are hoping to see you or hang out again.  Remember, you aren’t the only one involved in this game, be prepared for drama when you don’t respond to their text or Facebook message the next day.

Last scenario, you are in a new relationship, but feel like hooking up with your ex for old times sake.  Think again!  This is cheating and don’t think your ex won’t try to mess up your new relationship because they are too mature for that kind of drama.  You are taking a very big chance that all will stay quiet and on the down low.  If you are in a new relationship then that hopefully means you have moved on.  Stay moved on or decide not to get into a new relationship yet.  The mature thing to do is be faithful, instead of expecting your ex to the mature one by not updating their status as “hooked up with ex last night”  on their Facebook page.

No one is perfect and it is hard to move on after a break up.  I know having sex with your ex is common, but don’t give up on trying to set better boundaries with them.  It is possible, and deep down, you know you either want more from your ex or they are wanting more from you.  Remember, short term pain for long term gain.  I always tell students that they can handle a lot more than they think they can.  Which means you can get through that lonely moment and feel proud of yourself the next day that you didn’t give in.  In the mean time, if you do mess up, just remember a day will come when you will be moved on.  Live for that day and don’t give up trying to make that day sooner than later.

Finding Yourself When You’re Single

I saw this post on College Candy. It was written by Katie.  Feel free to click on the link to read more from Katie.

My name is Katie. I’m a twenty-something. I am single. I mean like, painfully single. This means no guys to kiss, to flirt with, to text, to complain to your girlfriends about, etc. Nada. Nothing. Zip. I’m in the healing process from a pretty brutal breakup, and now that ex-Manfriend and I are dunzo, it’s time for me to be single—painfully single.

This is usually the moment when I panic and scramble to find someone, anyone to fill the void that comes with being alone. I will reel in past loves that didn’t work the first ten times. I’ll text a “thinking of you” message to The One That Got Away. I’ll even contemplate online dating for a hot minute. I feel the need to do all this because I’d rather grasp at straws than let the loneliness step in and take control.

I think this is the time in our lives when we’re just plain confused about everything, including love. Am I supposed to be single? Am I supposed to be looking for a hubby? I never know what’s “right” or “normal” in the dating world of a twenty-something. Maybe it’s because a few of my friends are getting hitched and having babies (Please stop doing this by the way, people. I’m not emotionally ready to handle it. Think about ME.), or maybe it’s because I’m afraid of being alone. It could just be the anxiety that drives me to feel like if I don’t pair up soon, I never will. It could be because I’m not exactly the best at being single.

And that doesn’t mean that I’m always in a relationship—quite the contrary actually. I’ve said the “L” word a couple times and been in “serious relationships” (Whatever the hell that means anymore. #bitter), but for the majority of my life, I’ve been a single woman. I think I’m okay with being single, just not painfully single. I guess I should explain the difference.

If you ask any of my girlfriends, they will tell you that I always have “someone.” This basically means that I always have a guy to like or “talk to” or text. I go on dates and all that fun stuff, but there is never any pressure of commitment. When I’m not committed, I’m probably semi-committed by my own doing because I can’t deal with the pain of being single. Sidenote: If I don’t make sense right now, that’s normal because I never make sense to myself when it comes to any of this stuff either. It’s just that when I don’t have anyone to “talk to”, that is when the pain of being single seeps in. It feels like nothing else will ever come along. No new catches, no old flames—just me, myself and I.

When I become painfully single, the panic sets in. I switch into desperation mode. I start looking at my best guy friend differently, consider online dating, and go out more than usual just in case the man of my dreams sits down at the barstool next to me.

I have to ask myself why I’m suddenly entertaining the thought of dating my Boy BFF. Is it because I’m actually interested and have feelings for him or could it be that I can’t deal with being 100% alone? I’m beginning to think the latter. Can you blame me though? Who doesn’t like having someone to text the mundane details of your life to? Someone to snuggle and watch Netflix with? Someone to call yours? Being part of a pair is a wonderful feeling of fulfillment. Though for the first time as a twenty-something, I’m starting to recognize that having a guy be interested in me is not the “be all, end all” for my personal fulfillment.

I’m learning that I can be happy and content without a guy in my life. I can believe that I’m worthy without needing a guy to reassure me of that. I can find out who I am on my own. Male attention should not dictate my happiness and quality of life. I can be alone.

There is nothing wrong with being single. In your twenties, it might actually be one of the best things for you. I think that being single is something you have to do for a little while in order to understand who you are as an individual. A friend of mine broke up with her boyfriend about a year ago, and of course, she was bummed. But instead of crying and moping around, she took up running. Whenever she was feeling upset, she just went out for a jog. She soon found herself running almost everyday of the week. About a month ago, she crossed the finish line of her first half marathon.

She told me that she would never have known how much she enjoyed running if her and her ex had never called it quits. She’d be too busy traveling to go visit him a few states away or working extra hours at her job to save up for a plane ticket to go see him on the weekends.

Being single allows us ladies to find out who we are and what we’re passionate about without having a guy influence us. Because let’s be honest, do you really like to golf? Or watching Monday Night Football? Or playing Tony Hawk on his old Playstaion? Or watching Dumb and Dumber whenever it’s on cable? Maybe you do if you’re the perfect woman, but I’m guessing you probably don’t love all those things, you just adopted them because he loves them.

When you’re on your own, you have the opportunity to discover your own passions. You have the time to go out and figure out what you enjoy and what you want to do with your life. You get to cross the finish line of your own half marathon. There is no one to answer to. There is just your mind, your passions, your ideas—yourself. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely, and I think for the first time, I’m understanding that difference.

Katie is finishing up her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!

Should You Confess to Cheating?

I read a post on Sexy Tofu’s blog about whether confessing to cheating is always right thing to do.  I thought she had some good insights and made some good points.  I decided to copy her post and share with you her thoughts on this topic:

I’ve written before on infidelity; It’s a big “no no” in my book—which, in case you were wondering, probably closer resembles a dog-eared trashy paperback than a manual on ethics.  But I’m going to get into ethics now.  Bear with me.

Most of us already know that when it comes to emotions, not everything is in black and white.  We all have feelings, and these feelings can make a bigger mess than a two year old with a white wall and a box of crayons.

However, if we want to get ethical, are there shades of grey when it comes to right and wrong?  Are moral standards based on the eye of the beholder?  Does right and wrong change situationally?  Is a hero still a hero if he only saved that little boy from the well because he knew he would be showered in praise?

Oh man, that was some rapid fire questioning.  Back on track.  I think that cheating is always the wrong thing to do.  If you’re unhappy or unfulfilled in your relationship, get out of it.  Don’t cheat.  But no one can be right all the time, and so let’s consider what happens after you have cheated.  Most would consider that the “right” thing to do would be to tell your partner.  Come clean.  You’ve already been unfaithful, let’s not double the offense with dishonesty.  Right?

I think it depends on both the situation and motive behind your confession.

As for situation: How big is your offense?  If you meet with an old flame or a stranger and share a fleeting kiss, a one time mistake completely regretted, is that something worth uprooting your partners’ self esteem and your relationship?  Some would say no, and others would say yes.  You made your bed, now lie in it—crumbled relationship and all.

What if you’ve cheated but plan on leaving anyway?  Is it better to just leave and save your partner a bit of dignity (being left is bad enough, being betrayed and left is even worse), or should you tell them before you go?
What if you’re a habitual cheater?  That sort of dishonesty is often a personality trait; someone who tends to veer toward the hedonistic side of things.  Should Sir Tryst A Lot come clean while someone who kissed a stranger at the bar should keep their lips sealed?  Does it matter the level of offense, or is a cheater a cheater a cheater?

And as for motives, what if in your confession you lift your own burden of guilt only to place it on the shoulders of your partner?  You may feel better, but they all of a sudden feel betrayed and hurt. And anyone who has ever been cheated on knows that even if you KNOW the offense had nothing to do with you or your actions, you cannot help but take it personally.  It will make you insecure, even if only momentarily.  It’s insanely difficult, even for the most logical and mature of us, not to turn betrayal inward.  And on top of the pain you put on your partner, the relationship will suffer, trust will have to be rebuilt, if possible.  So in this light, is it always right to be honest?

I think the righteousness of a confession can also depend greatly on the motive behind the confession.  A friend of mine recently brought up the concept of acting out of love vs. out of fear.  Not to get all new agey on you, but I think that could have a lot to do with what makes coming clean the right or the wrong thing to do.  Are you telling your partner because you love them truly, because you’re truly sorry, and you want to correct your dishonest behavior and rebuild? Or are you telling them because you’re trying to remove your own guilt, which some may argue is a product of fear.  Or on the other end, could you argue that in staying quiet, you are acting on fear–the fear of your partner leaving you if they find out what you’ve done?  UGH I know this stuff has some merit but I really can’t talk about love and fear without thinking about Donnie Darko.

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion

So let’s take this into pop culture, shall we. Recently to the horror of all those Twihards, Kristin Stewart admitted to cheating on R-Patz (nose wrinkle) with the MARRIED director of Snow White and the Huntsman. However she only admitted to it after some photos of her and director Rupert Sanders surfaced. Stewart regrets it, Sanders regrets it, lots of tears all around. But neither of the offenders came clean without the pressure of being found out, which makes their admissions completely fear based. Double fail for this shady lady.

Losing a Loved One

Loss is hard.  Fortunately, most college students who are dating don’t have to deal with their boyfriend or girlfriend dying.  It does happen, but it is a lot more rare than a typical break up.  However, after last Friday’s massacre in Aurora, Colorado, it makes you think about how fragile life really is.

A lot of people who were injured or killed last Friday were younger people.  They were sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, cousins, friends and even boyfriends and girlfriends of people who are now grieving the senseless loss of their loved one.  This year has been hard on my family as well.  We have experienced a lot of loss since the end of 2011.  It can make you stop and evaluate your choices in life.  There are so many things people take for granted when it comes to the people they love.

It is easy in the every day stresses of life to believe that the people you count on the most will always be there for you.  I have met with a lot of students who really can’t imagine losing their boyfriend or girlfriend or even their close friends to death.  It is easier to imagine losing a grandparent or distant relative.  It is a little harder to comprehend the loss of a parent, a sibling or a friend who still has so much life to live.

That is usually why it can be harder to accept.  The people who lost their lives on Friday, July 20th were mostly in the prime of their life.  They were looking forward to seeing a good movie with their family and friends and had no reason to think there life would be over within a few short minutes.  Thank God incidents like this are very rare.  You are much more likely to be struck by lightening then to be shot in a movie theater or on a college campus.  No matter how a person dies, when it happens to someone you love, it can be hard to understand and accept.

So, how do you move forward after losing a loved one?  You’ve probably heard it takes some time.  It isn’t easy, no matter what anyone tells you.  Your mind, your heart and your soul are going to go through a long process.  The grief process has five steps.  1. Denial  2. Anger  3. Bargaining  4. Depression  5. Acceptance

You notice that acceptance comes after a lot of other emotions cycle through.  No person grieves the same either.  That is why it is hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving.  Some people want to talk about the person and feel better when they open up.  For others, they don’t want to talk about it.  They do better when they stay busy and distract themselves a little more.  For most people, you can’t go wrong with giving the person who is grieving a hug and asking if there is anything you can do for them.  Sometimes just bringing them a home cooked meal is enough.  Just knowing that you care and you want to help is better than nothing.

If you are the one grieving, be patient with yourself.  Some days you’ll wake up feeling better only to crash back into depression or anger a few hours later.  It is a long grueling process, but time does eventually help.  The days and weeks pass and your brain will start to adjust.  At first, you may be resistant to letting go of your pain.  You don’t want your loved one to feel that you’ve forgotten them.  I remind people who are grieving that you can still remember them without feeling so much pain.  You can start to remember them with a smile and actually feel happy in your memories instead of feeling so lost or sad.

Life has a way of marching on whether we like it or not.  Days, weeks, months and then even years pass.  New people come into our life.  They don’t replace the people we lost, but they fill in the gaps that are still there in our lives that need to be filled.  The only positive thing about loss is being able to empathize and understand what other people are going through when they experience it.  You will be able to relate and give encouragement to those people because you’ve been their yourself.  This may help you, in a way, deal with your own loss.  Giving to others has a way of healing your own heart from the pain.

Even though we are all different, all of us at one point or another are going to experience a loss of some kind.  I hope you never have to experience what the people of Aurora, Colorado are experiencing.  I also hope as a college student you don’t have to go through the death of parent, sibling, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend.  It is hard enough to get through the stresses of college.  Going through a major loss can make it a lot more complicated.  If it does happen to you, know that you have choices.  You can withdraw from classes for the semester and take a leave of absence.  This will allow you to focus on your family or getting help for yourself without having to stress about papers and tests.  Many students have had to do this and come back to school after a few months feeling a lot more prepared to deal with class.  Other students need the distraction and choose to stay in school at this time.  There really is no right answer on how to best deal with situations like this.  Do what you think is best for yourself and your situation, and try not to compare yourself to others students.

Also, find trusted family and friends to talk to and gain support from.  You may also decide counseling is something you would like to try.  It can be helpful because you are able to open up without feeling like your burdening your family or friends who may be dealing with their own grief.  Many people have stated that counseling has been helpful, but it isn’t for everyone.  You can do some research to find out what ways of grieving will work best for you.  Just remember it is a process.  It is okay to be angry, upset and sad.  However, if you feel you’ve been stuck in one part of the grieving cycle too long, it is time to do something to be able to move forward.  One step at a time is the best way to approach the grieving process.  Feel free to look into any of the websites listed below that may be helpful.

Coping with Grief and Loss

Understanding Grief

5 Stages of Grief

Catching a Cheater with a Spy App…Good Idea?

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know I love watching 20/20 and Dateline NBC.  One of them recently aired a show about cheating in relationships.  Each of the segments focused on different aspects of cheating.  One of the segments focused on a spy app for smart phones.  It made me think.  Is it a good idea to use this technology to spy on your boyfriend or girlfriend’s cell phone activity?  I did some research and here are some pro’s and con’s from my perspective on this issue.

First, I googled spy app for cheaters.  I found quite a few websites.  One was about using a legitimate app or you could possibly download viruses.  It also stated that there is no such thing as a free app that will spy on someone’s cell phone.  If your looking for a spy app for a smart phone, you should look at these tested and proven Apps to Catch Cheaters listed below:

The apps that you actually pay for and that will actually help you monitor another persons cell phone activities are not free apps to catch cheaters, but they can help you catch someone cheating by:

  • Allowing you to monitor their call logs and to see who they are calling and when.
  • Permitting you to access their voicemail to listen to voicemail messages, even deleted ones.
  • Admitting you to read their text messages and to see who they are texting and what they are texting about.
  • Enabling you to see their web browsing history on their phone.
  • Allowing you to record calls if you need them as evidence.

Technology sure has come a long way.  It is very true that technology has made the opportunities to cheat on someone much greater.  I now realize that technology also works the same way in reverse.  There are now a lot more ways to catch someone cheating on you.  I found the story below when I was googling spy apps.  Here is this person’s story for why he chose to use this app.

Cheating is always hard to accept. In fact, the most common reaction upon finding it is denial. Because it feels like a personal failure, it takes a conscious effort to accept it. However, we can not do something about it and move on with our lives unless we accept it first.

I think that’s what I found most useful about using a spy app.  Until then, I was not able to be subjective about it.  Even when my closest friends told me about my wife’s unfaithfulness, I refused to believe them because they could always be wrong or subjective about it.  However, it’s very different to be forced to face facts by something as mechanical and cold as a computer program.  After that, there is no way you can consciously bury your head in sand anymore.  Sure enough, the spy app showed me that she was having an affair with her Spanish teacher who wasn’t a teacher at all.

I ended up getting a divorce and now I’m starting a new relationship with someone else. I plan to do things right this time. And no, I don’t plan to use a spy app with her. One of the things I learned is that while the spy app helped me in the past, it’s not healthy to keep it using forever. It’s a bit like medicine, you use it until you get better, and then you move on.

I realize in this story, the person is married.  People may feel more justified spying on a spouse, rather than their girlfriend or boyfriend.  I used it anyway because I think some of the points are good.  I do know that it can be hard to be honest with yourself when it comes to someone you love cheating on you.  It is easy to be in denial and believe what you want to believe.  This could be helpful to people who know in their gut their significant other is betraying them, but just don’t want to believe it.  The person above used the information and left his spouse.  Cheating isn’t necessarily a death sentence to a relationship.  Many couples work through it and build back trust.  People can change.  Being caught can bring on a lot of shame and embarrassment.  A person can realize they made a huge mistake and move on from it.  Having this information in black and white may help both parties come to terms with reality which could help them move forward.

I also like when the person said he didn’t want to use the spy app with his new partner.  He didn’t need it to be able to trust in his new relationship.  I agree, a spy app is not an answer for those who have trust issues.  It could actually fuel a paranoid person’s thoughts and allow them to become much more controlling.  This app is probably more helpful for people who are too trusting.  If you have trust issues, you have to work on that separately.  No app in the world can replace confidence.  It takes work to build confidence and trust in yourself as well as others.   Even if the person above chose to stay with his wife.  He would have needed to take the spy app off her phone and begin to really trust her again.  It is the only way to build a healthy relationship.

The truth is if you are thinking you need to use this app, you already in an unhealthy place in your relationship.  Really evaluate if that is because you have trust issues that need to be resolved, or if your partner is doing something that just doesn’t add up.  If your radar is up and you know in the back of your mind you should be worried, then maybe this app could be helpful.  Either way, if you are not in a healthy place in your relationship, you’ll need more than technology to fix the problem.  The only thing technology can really do is identify that a problem truly exists.  After that, it’s up to you to put in the hard work to be able to move forward in a healthy way.  My advice is to think long and hard before downloading a spy app, and if you do, use it to be able to move forward in a positive way, not to get revenge.

Race and Relationships

Ryan Knapick and Josh Baker have been best friends since fifth grade. Colette Gregory entered the picture in high school. She and Josh are dating now. Knapick is white, Gregory is black and Baker is half-Hispanic. To them, race doesn’t matter.

“People are finding people with common interests and common perspectives and are putting race aside,” says Knapick, 22, a May graduate of Indiana University who works at a machine shop and lives with his parents in Munster, Ind.

He and his friends are among an estimated 46.3 million Americans ages 14 to 24 — the older segment of the most diverse generation in American society. (Most demographers say this “Millennial” generation began in the early 1980s, after Generation X.) These young people have friends of different races and also may date someone of another race.

This age group is more tolerant and open-minded than previous generations, according to an analysis of studies released last year by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, part of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. The center focuses on ages 15 to 25.

Another study by Teenage Research Unlimited in Northbrook, Ill., found six of 10 teens say their friends include members of diverse racial backgrounds.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, today’s teens and twentysomethings grew up with “diversity,” “multicultural” and “inclusion” as buzzwords. Many were required to take college courses in cultural diversity. Now the media fuel this colorblindness as movies, TV and advertising portray interracial friendship and romance.

Some attitudinal changes are based in demographics. About 33% of those under 18 are racial or ethnic minorities, and about 20% of elementary- and high school-age students are immigrants or children of immigrants, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Racial diversity is especially common in college friendships because that age group is exposed to a wider range of people, and college students have more opportunities to become friends with peers of other races, says Anthony Lising Antonio, an associate professor of education at Stanford University, who has conducted research on friendship diversity.

It’s not that young people are specifically seeking out friendships with other races, kids say.

“It goes beyond that to who you get along with,” says Karina Anglada, 17, a high school senior in Chicago whose parents are from Puerto Rico.

The ‘color-mute’ syndrome

Rebecca Bigler, 42, a psychology professor who directs the Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab at the University of Texas-Austin, traces such attitudes to baby boomer parents who may have set a tone for raising colorblind kids.

“It makes us feel racist if we acknowledge race, so we try not to, and we end up being color-mute,” she says. “Children learn from their parents that you don’t talk about race.”

Bigler is white. Her former husband, the father of her teenage son, is black. People talked about race when she was a child in the ’70s, she says, but now the younger generation — especially white kids — believe that racial injustice is “a thing of the past.”

“Society is still marked by racial inequality, and my worry is that it won’t get addressed,” she says.

Evidence of inequity is ubiquitous: A Department of Justice study released last year shows that blacks and Hispanics were more likely than whites to be searched, arrested and subjected to police use of force. And last month, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University issued a report about inequality in American schools, even as the system becomes increasingly multiracial.

Where students go to school depends on where they live, which is dependent upon family wealth. The Harvard study found that segregation isn’t simply a black/white divide but a multiracial one, in which whites remain the most isolated group and the least likely to attend multiracial schools. California schools are the nation’s most segregated, the study found.

‘Common interests, not color’

Gregory, 24, knows that firsthand. She was born in Gary, Ind., and grew up in Los Angeles; she was the only black person in a private school in her Bel Air neighborhood. She returned to Indiana for high school, the same Catholic school Knapick and Baker attended.

“It’s more natural to me to be in a diverse setting and to be attracted to people because of common interests and not because of common color,” says Gregory, who works in fundraising at a Chicago theater company. She earned two degrees from Northwestern University.

Baker, 23, who graduated from Loyola University in Chicago and is an accounts manager for a Chicago consulting firm, says his high school’s diversity allowed him to be friends with whites, blacks and Hispanics. He says he’s Hispanic, like his mother. His father is white but is unsure of his heritage because he was adopted, Baker says.

Knapick, who is seeking work in his college major of criminal justice, bonded with Baker playing basketball, running track and as Boy Scouts. Both are Eagle Scouts and earned their honors at the same ceremony.

Some of the mixing is a result of record numbers of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, totaling more than 35 million over the past two decades and representing the largest wave of immigration in American history, says Marcelo Surez-Orozco, founder of the Harvard Immigration Project, now known as Immigration Studies @ NYU. He is a professor of globalization and education at New York University.

“We have more groups coming at a faster rate and changing our society with a speed we’ve never seen before,” he says.

In addition to immigrant families, the number of children from other countries adopted by U.S. parents has tripled from 1990 to 2005.  The fact that white parents are adopting babies from China, Guatemala or South Korea who don’t look like them reinforces the idea that race matters less. So does the fact that interracial marriages, though still not common, have increased from less than 1% of U.S. marriages in 1970 to almost 6% of marriages in the 2000 Census.

The tide began turning when the Supreme Court in 1967 struck down laws in 16 states forbidding marriage between blacks and whites.

No pressure to ‘choose sides’

A Gallup Poll on interracial dating in June found that 95% of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of blacks and whites dating. About 60% of that age group said they have dated someone of a different race.

Olivia Lin, 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is Asian; she’s dating someone who is Puerto Rican and says her family is “pretty open to it.” Lin, who will graduate in the spring with both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, in the fall will attend Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., the only non-sectarian Jewish-sponsored college or university in the country.

High school freshman Aliya Whitaker, 14, of Montclair, N.J., says her mother is Jamaican and her father is African-American. Her mother encourages her to make friends with those of other races.

“She’s never told me to stick with my own people or choose sides,” Whitaker says. “When my friends have quinceaeras (Hispanic girls’ 15th-birthday celebrations) or bar mitzvahs (a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony for 13-year-olds), she encourages me to go.

“But she says: ‘Remember where you come from.’ ”

This post was originally written by Sharon Jayson in USA Today.   Click here to read the entire article.

PRIDE at the White House

I found this article about President Barack Obama having a reception at the White House to celebrate gay pride month.  I thought it would be a good idea to post it on my blog since the Pride Parade is in Chicago this weekend.  For those who are unaware, June has been celebrated as Gay Pride Month since the Stonewall Riots in 1969.  I think this is huge step forward.  Things definitely aren’t perfect, but they are moving in the right direction.  I’m hopeful for more positive change for all LGBT people in the future.

Proud About Pride at the White House

Simi Singh JunejaSimi Singh Juneja

My sister emailed me her invitation to the White House to celebrate LGBT Pride. I had to take a pause. Never in my or my children’s lifetime would I ever have imagined that a sitting president would stand up and welcome her — that he would see her.

I have issues with being seen…

As the third daughter of Punjabi Indian immigrants who landed in Statesboro, Georgia — a one-year-old with wavy green lines across my baby-faced, curly-haired green card photo — I figured as I grew, the best had already happened because we reached the land of opportunity. In a family of five daughters, it was easy to get lost in the sheer volume of siblings, and the intensity of my parents establishing a new life.

When I learned that my younger sister was gay, I was terrified, confused, angry and worried. As the years progressed and I realized that this was not a passing phase, and more of a growing into who she was meant to be, part of her identity, I felt protective. As her big sister, I worried for her future and feared for her career. I know her heart and her strength. Living in the closet was never an option for her. It felt to me like a death sentence for her dreams. How was such a brilliant and talented woman going to navigate a country and a world that might not give her the dignity, respect and inclusion she deserved? She has never let anything stop her from living her life with integrity.

When she and her Southern Belle sweetheart decided to commit the rest of their lives to each other with a three-day traditional Indian wedding, my parents, sisters and I decided to “come out” to our communities and the extended family in India. My mom called her 60-something younger sister in Gurdaspur and wrote a letter to her 80-plus older brother in New Delhi explaining that love was love and that her daughter was marrying a girl. We held our breath and waited for the worst. Instead, my mom’s sister showed up bearing gifts welcoming the newest Arkansan members of our family. My aunt danced the night away and joyously took first prize at a very competitive game of musical chairs after the rehearsal dinner.

In my lifetime, my sister has been recognized. She is seen. President Obama celebrated Pride at the White House and she was there. Words can’t express my pride in our president and our country’s courage. Nobody should be invisible to their own government.

And I can’t stop the tears…

A long time ago, on a sweltering southern evening, we sisters played on our smooth concrete driveway. We weren’t busy judging whom we would marry; we were laughing and counting nickels for the ice cream man. The world was spinning and we were home. As my sister and her spouse — and many other LGBT couples were welcomed to the White House, the world was still spinning and they finally got to go home.

Say What You Mean

Why is it so hard to say what we really mean?  Our feelings of pride often conflict with being vulnerable.  Its hard to let our guard down.  Even in a relationship.  A former student said to me once that her boyfriend never listened to her.  She explained by saying that one night she went over to see him.  She told him she had a hard day and she was exhausted.  She then stated that she was mad because he went on to tell her about how hard his day was.   I mentioned that he seemed to listen to what she said, but she wasn’t happy with his response.  She said that she was mad because he didn’t ask her what was hard about her day, or offer to give her a hug, or tell her how great she was anyway.  We discussed the fact that she didn’t ask for those things, but still expected him to get that message.

So often we want something from someone, but instead of being direct, we assume people are mind readers.   This student wanted a hug, she wanted to talk about her day and be encouraged, but she never asked for those things.  She wanted her boyfriend to just “know” she needed them.  A lot of times in relationships people don’t want to risk rejection, so they don’t always ask for what they want.  Or they believe that they shouldn’t even have to ask.  You may believe it doesn’t mean as much if you have to ask for something because you think it is less sincere.  I disagree.  If you tell someone what you want and they are willing to make that adjustment or change, it says a lot about their feelings for you.  I think its important to let your boyfriend or girlfriend know what you want or need, especially in a relationship.  If they ignore you, then you have a problem to address.

Communication is complicated in relationships especially because its hard to find someone that thinks, feels, and believes the exact same way you do.  It is easy to become upset when people don’t always interpret your needs in the right way.  It can cause a lot of conflict.  The first person to look at when it comes to communication is you.  Find out if there is anything you can do differently to communicate your thoughts and feelings in a way that others can understand you more easily.  Ask yourself if you are sending “coded” messages to your partner.  Is it fair that they should always know what you mean without you having to open yourself up a little more?  Remember, its not always the listener that is at fault.

It is difficult to be vulnerable.  You may be rejected.  You may ask your partner for a hug and they may look at you like you’re crazy.  You may come to realize that your partner isn’t ever going to be the physically affectionate type.  They aren’t going to automatically hug you when you’re feeling upset.  You can handle this a couple of different ways.  You can choose to let it go and get that affection from other friends and family.  You may talk to your mom or your best friend if you need a hug.  It may decide its enough that your partner does other great things for you when you feel down.  Maybe they offer great advice or cook you your favorite dinner to make you feel better.  Look for the other things that your partner brings to the table and ask yourself if that is enough for you to feel good about your relationship?

The other thing you can do is decide that it isn’t enough.  Maybe you’ve opened up to your boyfriend or girlfriend about things you need in the relationship and they’ve ignored all of them.  You may come to the conclusion that they aren’t able to give you what you need.  Sometimes a couple may have similar interests, but the way they communicate or show love is completely opposite.  This can be overcome, but it requires a lot of compromise.  Again, you can look outside your relationship to meet some of your needs.  One person is never going to meet all of your needs anyway.  Which is why friends and family are so important.  However, if you are going outside of your relationship to meet almost all of your emotional or physical needs, then you may want to consider the fact you may not be in the right relationship.

The key is first ask for or explain what you want or need.  Don’t let yourself get upset over something your partner may not even know you are wanting.  Again, not everyone comes from the same background or thinks the same way.  What may seem obvious to you, may not be obvious to your partner.  Give them a chance to know what you need.  Also, remember that you may need to remind them sometimes.  Habits are hard to break and they may not always react the way you want or need them to.  If they ask you to do something that seems odd or different to you, you’ll realize that it isn’t always so easy to remember something that doesn’t come naturally to you.  However, if you both can be patient, it will be worth it.  It always better if both you and your partner open up  and help each other make a few healthy changes.  However, sometimes the person can promise to make a change and never follow through.  You’ll feel like you have to constantly remind them and they constantly forget or fall off after one or two times.  The anger and resentment will build and start to really damage the relationship.

In this case, you may come to realize that you need to leave the relationship because you’ll start to feel rejected by your partner.  It does happen.  Not everyone can give you what you need in a relationship.  This is why you date before you get married.  You want to find out what works and what doesn’t.  Dating helps you realize what you can and can not compromise on.  You can either change what you need or change the person you depend on to meet those needs.  It isn’t easy, but definitely necessary to live your life with someone and be happy.

Feeling Helpless

One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling helpless.  When you feel like you have no control over your life or the situation you’re in.  When someone you love wants to leave or break up with you.  It can leave you with this horrible feeling which can turn you to become someone you don’t even recognize.

I’ve met with many people who have been faced with feeling very helpless.  Nine times out of ten they react with an obsessive compulsion to regain some control.  I hear students tell me how they couldn’t stop themselves from texting their recent ex, or driving by their apartment or house, or stalking them on Facebook, or hacking into their email account.  Normal, kind, caring people can become self-absorbed, insecure, and very obsessive people when going through a situation that puts them out of control.

Especially when a boyfriend or girlfriend breaks things off.  You can have this overwhelming feeling that if you only explained how much you still love them, or asked them to give you another chance, or got them to see you ONE more time, then they would take you back with open arms.  You may think the only way to get them back is to fight for them.  In your mind, getting back together with you ex is the only way you can imagine ending your pain.  Other people may tell you to let it go and move on, but your brain can’t even comprehend that statement.  Even if your ex treated you like crap, if you loved them, then you want them back.

So, what can you do during this time when you feel so helpless?

1.  Do not obsessively contact your ex.    Trust me, this will not help your situation.  They are pulling back for a reason.  It may even be for a stupid reason.  However, if you continually bother your ex with texts, emails and Facebook messages, it is going to annoy them.  This is only going to push them away further.  Your instinct to choke hold them to you will only have the opposite effect.  After the break up, I suggest contacting them one time to let them know you still love them and want to get back together.  Also tell them you’re going to give them the space they asked for, and that your silence doesn’t mean you want the relationship to be over.  Say what you have to say, then leave it alone.  Give them time to think and possibly even miss you.  This way it isn’t like you’re giving up and just moving on, but you aren’t pissing them off either.

2.  Distract yourself.    Enlist the help of good friends and family to help you occupy your time.  They can listen to you and hug you when you cry.  They can take you out and help you to forget for a few hours that you feel so crappy.  They can also take your cell phone away or reset your passwords on your Facebook and email account so you can’t login without them.  They can help you avoid the urge to contact your ex.  It is hard to give up control.  However, it is the best way to get through those first really hard days and weeks.  If your ex has asked for space, then show them that you heard them by choosing not to contact them.  It may be exactly what your ex needs to want you back.  If they are just breaking up with you to get you to beg them to come back, then you aren’t giving them what they want.  If they are trying to manipulate you, distracting yourself from contacting them will be a way to stop it and you may find they come to find you sooner than later.

3.  Build back your confidence.   Break-ups have a way of reducing your self-confidence.  You can feel like you aren’t good enough or that something is wrong with you.  This is a good time to take an evaluation of yourself.  Did you mess up?  Did you do something you regret?  Since you can’t change the past, why not focus on the future?  What would you do different if you had the chance?  This way if your ex comes back, you’ll be able to tell them realistically what you would change and do differently.  This may help build trust back into the relationship.  Even if your ex doesn’t come back, you’ll be able to avoid making the same mistakes with someone new.  If you’ve evaluated yourself and feel like you didn’t do anything wrong in the relationship, then work to own that reality.  Don’t let your brain trick you into thinking, “If only I had…”   You can get caught up in tearing yourself down.  Sometimes there isn’t anything you could have done to save the relationship.  Remember all the positive things you have to offer to someone in a relationship.  Eventually one day you will be ready to find someone who will see those things in you.

4.  Focus on yourself.    I know I said break-ups have a way of making people self-absorbed.  There is a right and wrong way to focus on yourself.  You don’t want to talk to your friends for weeks about you’re ex and completely ignore the fact that your friend lost a job or just failed a major test.  Sometimes it even helps to get out of your own pain and listen to others.  Don’t ignore other things going on around you just because your life is upside down.  Some days it is okay to just focus on your own pain, but don’t let that go on for weeks at a time.  The right way to focus on yourself is to get back those things you may have lost in your relationship.  You may have spent a lot of time focusing on your ex when you were together or always helping them with their problems.  Now is the time to go back to things you enjoy doing.  Remember those hobbies or sports you used enjoy?  Find time to do those things again.  They will help you process your feelings of grief and get those pieces of yourself back.

There are a lot of positive things you can do when someone puts you in a situation that makes you feel helpless.  Remember that you can choose to give up control, even though it isn’t easy.  Doing what comes naturally isn’t always the smartest or best thing.  Fighting your instincts to chase your ex may end up getting exactly what you want a lot faster.  Even if it doesn’t, you’ll feel proud of yourself in the long run.