Inhale, exhale, and take it all in my friends. Love is in the air … or maybe it’s just lust?
Either way, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and we have more than flowers and chocolate on our minds. We’re thinking about romance and what lessons Sexual + Being can help impart to you for the lovey-dovey days ahead.
So, we turned to a reliable source: Reality TV. What better way to start these conversations than with our guilty (or not-so-guilty) television pleasures as our guides?
Here are a few things we picked up from our favorite shows.
1. Turn heartbreak into opportunity
When it comes to reality TV and love, there is only one legend to listen to: … Tiffany “New York” Pollard.
We first met her on a little show called “Flavor of Love,” where she was vying for the heart of Flavor Flav. And he broke hers twice. But, like with all heartbreak, you only lose when you don’t learn something and she learned how to transform herself into a brand. Pollard quickly rebounded with her own dating show, “I Love New York,” and further made a name for herself in the years that followed.
She turned her tragedies — dating or otherwise — into opportunity, and there’s no reason you can’t do the same. It is so important to never let a failed relationship derail your path forward. The only love that you really can’t live without is self-love and you don’t need to be on primetime television to get that.
In Tiffany Pollard’s name, we pray. Amen.
2. Own your fantasy (suite)
While I’m not a citizen of Bachelor Nation, I’ve seen enough seasons to know the formula: Girl or guy meets dozens of potential suitors. Courtship begins. Alcohol flows. They have sex like once in some sort of suite? And, boom, marriage!
Even the most hopeless of romantics can see all the real-world problems here. Take, for example, last year’s Bachelorette Hannah Brown.
One of her potential suitors asked her to abstain from sex with other contestants, effectively slut-shaming her and controlling her. To his shock (and our delight!), she gave him the boot a moment later after a pretty epic takedown in whichwhere she told him that she already had sex with another contestant in a windmill!
While it doesn’t always have to be this dramatic, Hannah reminds us of something crucial here. You own your sexual decisions — that’s why we made those sex-positive New Years’ resolutions, remember?
Your sex life is yours to dictate and you can do *it* as much or as little as you’d like. It’s your fantasy, after all.
3. Be wary of social media
If you’ve been as obsessed with Netflix’s “The Circle” as much as I have (team bi queen Sammie forever), you’re probably also no stranger to the wild world of social media.
Whether you’ve Insta-creeped on a crush, slid into a DM (or several, no judgment), posted a pic of you and your boo, or just got dirty in the comment section, we know that right now the dating world and social media are inextricably linked. But, unlike the contestants trying to win $100K by becoming an “influencer,” your prizes are more important: your mental health and a positive self-image.
As we all know, witty banter and thirst traps don’t tell a person’s full story. All you can see is what they want you to see, which is as perfect a version of themselves as they can filter.
This isn’t to say social media is off the playing field. Just don’t let all that double-tapping break your heart.
4. Look for the tender moments
As a card-carrying queer guy, I am a student of nearly every iteration of the Housewives franchise. I’ve watched a lot of them (except Orange County because, well, too conservative) and seen the many wives on their journeys in love.
While I’m always in for the drama, it’s the sweet moments in their relationships that inject humanity into their worlds of luxury and wine throwing. On New Jersey, Marge and Joe genuinely enjoy spending time together — every episode we catch a glimpse of them just sitting in bed talking or having a cup of coffee (even if they sometimes push people in pools). Atlanta’s Eva and Mike recently shared a sweet hug after he officially adopts her daughter from a previous (and tumultuous) relationship, adding some heart to Eva’s deliciously acidic tongue.
These little moments show the full story of what long-term commitment can be: sweet and imperfect all at the same time. Try finding and prioritizing those in your own relationships.
5. Remember love isn’t *all* romantic
As anyone who has ever heard the phrase “chosen family” understands, there can be an instant spark between you and someone that shares part of your lived experience.
And that spark doesn’t have to be romantic in the slightest. Just ask the performers on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Every season, we see a few of the contestants forge deep friendships that go on to be professional partnerships, successful spin-offs, and glorious “shipped” fandom because of their connection.
The very same can be said for friendships, particularly queer ones. Life is hard enough to go it alone, especially around if you’re feeling down in your singleness. But you never know where the Trixie to your Katya could be — and that relationship might be exactly what you need.
Well, there you have it. Just a few lessons to get you through Valentine’s Day. We hope you’re filled with love, whatever kind you need most right now.