Is Your Online Life Destroying Your IRL Relationships? Chances Are the Answer Is Yes

By | Food for thought, relationships, self

These days, we spend more time on our phones than ever before. We use our devices for pretty much everything—to get caught up on the latest dumpster fire of news, check work emails, text our parents and even, as it turns out, make new friends. 

While keeping in touch with existing friends through online channels like Facebook or through texts is nothing new, there’s a new wave of people having exclusively online friendships.

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As in, becoming friends with people you do not know in real life but through your online connection. 

The question is: Are these online friendships actually good for us? Emerging research says maybe not so much. So, whether you already have online friendships or you are curious about them, it may be worth understanding the pros and cons of these relationships.

What’s Considered an Online Friendship?

young woman looks online
(Photo by Surface on Unsplash)

First, let’s break down what an online friendship actually is—and what it’s not. An online friendship is essentially when you meet and maintain a relationship with someone online. This could mean networking with people in your industry, flirting on dating apps, DMing influencers back and forth or even chatting with people on message boards. Essentially, there’s little to no chance that you’re going to meet up with these people. The whole point is that you don’t need to do that. 

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You could also consider rekindling long lost friendships through social media a type of online friendship. Even though you have an preexisting connection, if you have no intentions of meeting in real life and keep things strictly over chat and message, then this becomes more of an online connection rather than a personal one.  

Online friendships are conducted over message and chat, not phone calls or in person meet-ups. This is what truly sets them apart from regular friendships. 

The Upsides of Online Friendships

zoom call nice young woman
(Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash)

While it may not be healthy to only have online friendships, these kinds of relationships do have some perks. Here are three ways that online friendships can make a positive impact in your life. 

You’ll have fun talking to friends online

Chatting with people online is, to put it simply, fun. Being able to message back and forth with someone can help you get through a long workday, combat boredom when you’re in line at the DMV or just give you something to do when you’re bored. It’s a low stakes way to be social without having to be vulnerable or connect on a deeper level if you don’t want to. 

You can easily connect with people

Connecting online is accessible to everyone with an internet connection. For those with physical challenges, mental health issues or chronic pain, going out with friends can be tough.

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Messaging with someone online can be done from anywhere, anytime. Not only is it convenient, but it opens the door for connection for those who have trouble being present with friends in more traditional ways. 

You can always find someone available

In real life, friends have other obligations like family, kids, work, other friends—you name it. Online friends are almost always available since they are just a ping away. If you have a number of online friends by belonging to groups or message boards there is likely someone always available to chat with you.

The Downsides of Online Friendships

young man looks online
(Photo by Marie-Michèle Bouchard on Unsplash)

While online friendships are convenient and fun, they shouldn’t take the place of real, in-person connection. Not only are humans social creatures who rely on physical and emotional connection with people face to face, but we end up facing some serious issues when we focus solely on online friendships. Here are four ways these friendships can affect people negatively. 

You will more time spent online

According to the study about online friendships, researchers found that when people had a preference for online friendships this was related to “increased risk of problematic internet use.” As it’s been documented elsewhere, and often, spending too much time on your phone or computer can have significant physical and mental effects, from eye strain to depression. When you have online friendships, you will likely end up more hooked on your gadgets and this is detrimental to your overall well being. 

You could jeopardize IRL relationships

When you prioritize online friendships, you will likely neglect your in-person friendships. Online friendships are easier, after all, since they are more convenient and lower stakes emotionally.

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It’s all too easy to fall into a pattern of messaging friends online more than taking the time to coordinate a coffee date with a real-life friend. 

You might have idealized notions of who your online friends really are

As anyone who’s ever formed an emotional connection with someone online knows, online relationships can get weird. When you’re not seeing someone face to face it’s easy for your brain (and your heart) to create an idealized version of that person, which is usually a departure from who they actually are. This can be confusing and stressful when your expectations don’t really match reality. 

You miss out on the real connecting parts of friendships

Participants in the aforementioned study who said they prefer online friends over real life friends also had higher fears of intimacy and vulnerability. In this way online friendships become a crutch for not growing emotionally and allowing others to truly know you.

As you cling to these online relationships, you miss out of the hard, yet rewarding, experiences that true in-person friendships can bring. It may be more comfortable to have online friends, but face-to-face friends are the ones who can really feed your soul. 

Internet Friendships: Are They Unhealthy?

couple have coffee outside
(Photo by DocuSign on Unsplash)

When it comes to friendships, it’s important to find a healthy balance of in-person and internet friends, if you’re looking to have online friendships. Being part of online communities can certainly make you feel less alone and help bring some lightness and connection to your day-to-day.

But having people in your life to whom you can really connect in person is something all of us need at a core level. As long as you’re not letting your online friends come between your real-life relationships, you’ll be just fine.


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Boost Your Shot at Intimacy with This Weird – and Sometimes Uncomfortable – Eye Trick

By | dating, Food for thought, relationships

“The eyes are the windows to the soul.” This observation attributed to French Poet Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas sums up the power of prolonged eye contact for building intimacy within a romantic relationship. 

You may have noticed that staring into the eyes of your significant other feels good. But as it turns out, eye gazing has a host of benefits that can help you and your partner feel connected and create a stronger sense of intimacy.

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Let’s take a look at the benefits of eye gazing – what it is, how it can impact your relationship and how to use it to strengthen your bond with your partner.

What Is Eye Gazing? And What Are Its Benefits?

couple looks into each other eyes summertime outdoors
(Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash)

To an outside observer, eye gazing can look like a prolonged staring contest. But the practice of eye gazing is more than just maintaining eye contact. Unlike staring, eye gazing focuses on holding a softer gaze with your partner, having two sets of eyes meet and truly look into one another. 

Breathing exercises can be paired with eye gazing as well. Depending on each partner’s preference, sitting face to face and closing your eyes first, taking a few deep breaths and then opening your eyes to meet your partner’s eyes can be an effective starting point. 

Eye gazing offers plenty of benefits for couples looking to forge a deeper connection when done regularly. Here are a few ways that eye gazing helps build intimacy and improve connection.

Eye gazing builds trust

When a person avoids eye contact, they’re naturally perceived as hiding something or being dishonest. Maintaining eye contact does the opposite – studies have shown that a person who keeps eye contact is considered more trustworthy. Applying this finding to a relationship, continuous eye contact with a partner can make couples more likely to trust one another. 

Eye gazing helps you perceive your partner’s emotions

Being able to pick up on when your partner’s emotions without them having verbally tell you how they’re feeling builds intimacy by making your partner feel understood. While other indicators like body language can help with this, one study found that most people analyze a person’s eyes to get clued into how someone is feeling. 

Eye gazing improves connection

Gazing into someone’s eyes helps foster a deeper bond and connection between partners. 

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In a world with constant distractions thanks to technology, having someone give you their undivided attention through eye gazing makes a person feel important. Eye gazing can make you feel extremely connected. One study found that those who participated in eye gazing with their partner felt as if they’d become so bonded that they were one entity. 

Eye gazing creates intimacy and attraction

Many classic studies have shown that prolonged eye gazing generates shared feelings of love and connection. One of the most known cases dates back to 1989, when researchers paired strangers up and had them gaze into each other’s eyes for two minutes. Participants reported feelings of love and connection. This could be due to evidence that shows prolonged eye contact releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone in our brains that creates attachment and bonding. 

How to Practice Eye Gazing

young man making eye contact
(Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash)

Practicing eye gazing with your partner for the first time can be an awkward, even uncomfortable, experience. Keeping prolonged eye contact with another person leaves you open and vulnerable, which may not yield the positive feelings you’d hoped on your first few tries. Here are a few tips for getting started, along with ways to make you and your partner feel more comfortable.

Eliminate distractions

Turn off the TV, silence your phones and put them out of eye range, along with tablets and computers. Eye gazing is best practiced in a comfortable area of your home where distractions are limited. 

Get comfortable

Find a comfortable space in your home where you and your partner can sit facing one another for a prolonged period of time. You can decide to hold each other’s hands or sit with your legs touching one another if you prefer. 

Close your eyes

Closing your eyes and breathing in tandem with your partner before you start eye gazing helps ground the experience and set a clear starting time for this exercise.

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Try closing your eyes, taking three deep breaths in and out together, then slowly opening your eyes to meet your partner’s gaze. 

Continue deep breathing

Taking deep breaths in and out while eye gazing can help center you and your partner during the experience. Inhale and exhale a few deep breaths at the start of the exercise with your eyes open, then continue breathing regularly for the duration. 

Hold the gaze

You may find yourself wanting to look away and take a break – which is perfectly normal. Even if you look away, try your best to return to meet your partner’s gaze. 

Look at both eyes

As you move through the exercise, you may want to look into one of your partner’s eyes, then the other, to get a closer look – especially if this is a new experience for one or both of you.

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Do your best to keep each eye focused on the eye directly across from your partner, as darting eyes can be distracting for the person you are eye gazing with. 

Aim for 3-5 minutes of eye gazing

Some couples may find it helpful to set a timer during this exercise – others may find it distracting. However, if you and your partner prefer to time things out, aim for around three to five minutes of eye gazing each time for best results. 

End with a few deep breaths

Taking two or three deep breaths at the close of the eye gazing exercise helps keep things from ending too abruptly. Breathe in and out together, and try to time your breathing to your partner’s once you’ve finished eye gazing. 


two women make eye contact lying down
(Photo by Bence Halmosi on Unsplash)

Eye gazing can be a powerful tool to connect two people when performed regularly and with intention. It helps strengthen relationships and increase feelings of connection and closeness. If you or your partner struggle when first trying eye gazing, try not to take it too personally, as this can be an intensely intimate practice to engage with.

As with learning anything new, mastering the art of eye gazing can take practice. You may find that you and your partner need to adjust the method or even take a break during it. With time and practice, eye gazing will come easier for the both of you and be something you each look forward to doing together. 


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How to Write a Best Man Speech That Everyone Will Remember

By | Food for thought, marriage, relationships

On November 19th 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered an address that would come to be known as one of the finest speeches in history. The Gettysburg Address is a mere 272 words in length and took Lincoln less than three minutes to deliver.

The speech contains powerful, moving language heavy with sorrow and deep with resolve and some of its phrases would likely have achieved renown regardless of its length, but to be clear, one of the reasons the Gettysburg Address was and remains such a powerful piece of oration is its brevity.

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Any best man (or maid of honor, of course) looking to deliver a great wedding speech is well advised to take a note from Lincoln and keep it short. He’s also well advised to make it a bit lighter than the remarks the 16th President delivered on that early November day.

And remember, being asked to be a best man is a great honor – with luck (and a lot of work and devotion), this man will only get married once in his life, and he is asking you to be the pillar of his wedding party. So you owe him, the new bride, and everyone assembled a good speech. It need not be a perfect best man speech, but it better be good.

How Long Should a Best Man Speech Be?

wedding speech
(Photo by Thomas William on Unsplash)

To start your speech strong, go with a tried-and-true opening formula: introduce yourself. Briefly explain who you are in relation to the groom, and then quickly move on to talking about the man himself and his new spouse. Quickly because the speech is not about you, and because giving a great best man speech means being short and, for the most part, sweet.

The shorter the better, frankly. Look to Abraham Lincoln for inspiration and try to keep your remarks to under three minutes, which means trying to keep your whole speech to around 300 words or a bit more. 

Even if your best man speech is going to be partly off the cuff, make sure to practice the wedding speech, or a “draft” of it, anyway, a few times beforehand and time yourself. If you tick past the five-minute mark, you are going on for way too long.

Best Man Speech Tips

Max and Jillian wedding

A truly awesome best man speech will have everyone happy, many people laughing, and have the whole room feeling better about the bride and groom. Note that a best man speech is not about making you look good – a funny best man speech should center on the groom and something amusing he did or said; an inspirational best man’s speech should center on an impressive act by or quality of the new husband.

You are giving a speech, but you are not its subject, so be a great friend and make your friend look and feel great. And the same goes for his new spouse, too: focus on your friend, then focus on the couple, then wrap it up.

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Your speech should have a theme that you can touch on several times. It may be as simple as love and kindness, but identifying a theme for yourself will help anchor the speech, preventing you from straying off topic and rambling too long.

When making a best man speech outline, remember always to plan a speech you can deliver while being genuine. If you’re not a slapstick humor kind of guy, don’t try for that kind of humor. If you’re a known jokester who always has the room roaring, don’t try to lay on the life advice and words of wisdom too heavily. Your best man’s speech will be at its best when it’s heartfelt.

As for what to talk about, that’s really up to you: you were chosen to be the best man because you know the groom so well, either as best friends or family, presumably, so you know whether a funny story, a touching anecdote, or a bit of both is best called for. Just remember that not everyone in the audience at the wedding reception will know you well – in fact, half of them may not even know the groom well – so don’t get too obscure.

Remember that it’s always a good idea to mention how wonderful the wedding day has been and to acknowledge the ceremony itself and the wedding vows, to thanks all the wedding guests, to note the venue, the food, the music, and even the cake. The people whom planned the wedding reception will appreciate you noting all these details – as will the bride’s father and mother or whoever paid for the wedding. Might want to thank them, too, eh?

And don’t forget to end with a short wedding toast and wishes for a good night and a good life for the couple, and to then turn it over for a maid of honor speech. (And if this has already happened, make sure to acknowledge it.)

Best Man Speech Tips: When in Doubt, Quote Someone Else

wedding speech
(Photo by Kashawn Hernandez on Unsplash)

There’s a reason so many speeches incorporate quotes from other people: a well-known quote has already been effectively vetted by many audiences, so you can count on it working for yours. A quote can serve as the start of your speech, as the anchor

So, what are the best types of quotes to use? Love quotes are always a good choice at a wedding, as are quotes about commitment, about the future, about trust, about kindness, and about friendship. Look for quotes that are either already well-known or are from a well-known source, be it a famous person, a popular song or book, or another source people will recognize.

One of the reasons quotes are powerful is because they are comfortable; they tend to work best when they re-confirm a notion someone already held rather than imparting new information.

Things to Avoid During a Best Man Speech

wedding party
(Photo by Andrii Olishevskyi on Unsplash)

Alright, so we talked about tips for things you should consider doing; now here are the things to avoid during a best man speech.

First and foremost, be very cautious with the embarrassing stories. The line between a great best man speech and an abominable failure is a fine one indeed if you start in on the embarrassing story approach. If you have even a shred of doubt that an anecdote or joke you’re considering is crossing the line, leave it out. You can always share the more cringe-worthy stories with the gang out on the dance floor or as the cigars come out later, leaving that “he’s a great guy!” reputation intact in front of the larger crowd. 

And do not, repeat, do not drink too much before your best man speech, and don’t have more than one drink while giving your remarks, either. You can hit the bar hard later, but you can’t ever unsay things that slipped out due to a few too many cocktails or glasses of champagne.


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Why Handling Reactivity Is Essential For Healthy Romance

By | dating, Food for thought, relationships

Healthy romantic relationships take effort. There’s the balance of independence and intimacy, expressing and meeting needs in each other, knowing what expectations are healthy or unrealistic, and finding a way to grow together and navigate life. The process is like gardening; the effort to nurture the soil, plant the seeds of togetherness, and give the environment what it needs, allows for beauty to flourish.

Romance, more than any other relationship, has the potential to surface deep wounds, during the exploration of deeper and deeper intimacy. As wounds surface, so do painful emotions. As painful emotions surface, self-protection mechanisms can become activated in reaction, from the desire to flee, blame your partner for difficulty, or write off the relationship as dysfunctional for not matching an image of perfection.

Relationships that go the distance involve two people who work with these emotions, and their reactions, skillfully. If reactivity is out of control, things spiral, get messy and descend into immature or harmful behavior. Ideally, there should be low tolerance for this type of drama or chaos. That doesn’t mean giving up at the first sign of reactivity, but being intentional with how you handle reactivity.

In my experience, the space, forgiveness, and willingness to work together through this learning process is love in action. Here, we’ll explore the role of reactivity, and why handling it is essential for healthy romance. Before diving in, I want to thank Sanya, my partner, for all the lessons we’re co-learning. This article wouldn’t be possible without her.

What Is Reactivity?

couple chatting
(Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash)

In We, Jungian analyst Robert Johnson describes the intricate dynamic of romance through the lens of depth psychology. In particular, he explores how projecting an image of perfect love onto a romantic partner destines the relationship to suffer. Not only is it unfair to the person in front of us, but it blinds us to the nourishment of true love, that is free from unrealistic expectations.

Johnson notes that, typically, most romantic relationships are “less than friends,” not “more than friends.” The paradox at the heart of romance is that, very often, we show the person we love our most hidden shadow qualities, and through vulnerability and the exposure of emotional wounds, resort to behaviors we wouldn’t with friends. Johnson notes how most people are more patient, forgiving, kinder, more tolerant, and yes, less reactive in friendships.

When we open our hearts to deep levels of intimacy with a partner, we unconsciously give them power. They become the person we are risking with our heart and their behavior has the potential to cause immense amounts of joy or suffering. In some way, this ups the ante, making us more sensitive to their words and actions, or lack of words or actions.

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That requires the commitment to being aware of such sensitivity. Reactivity is impulsive. It’s quick, often centered in trauma or fear, and leads to coping behaviors to regain balance. Without self-awareness, reactivity becomes passive aggression, name-calling, mind games, blame, or even worlds of assumption about the person’s motivations. All of which cloud the reality of what’s happening or create more pain and suffering.

couple in strife
(Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash)

When you’re reactive, you’re at the mercy of emotions. You jump to conclusions and don’t take time to pause, slow down, and consider things with more maturity. Many relationships are in a reactive space the majority of the time. To return to the gardening metaphor, reactivity acts like weeds in the soil. Those weeds have to be seen and removed.

Emotions Are Welcome, Reactivity Isn’t

Romance is an emotional exercise. You can’t cultivate intimacy without confronting your inner world. That includes love, joy, and gratitude, but also the pain, heartbreak, fear, and other wounds that have accumulated over a lifetime. Trying to cultivate intimacy without welcoming emotions is impossible. The willingness to be vulnerable, and share those emotions, is essential to growing closer together.

The opposite, suppressing emotions and pretending everything is okay, leads to levels of resentment that you want to avoid, a garden full of weeds. The challenge of romance is to develop the skill of sharing your emotional life, whilst taking full responsibility for it. The word response-ibility is relevant. Responding, not reacting, is a skill. And that starts with owning your emotions.

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Owning your emotions means having the awareness of what you’re feeling, what caused the feeling, how you’re relating to that feeling and any other thoughts or desires that come from there. Most importantly, it includes the awareness of what reactions surface — the insult, the slamming of the door, the witty comeback. Not being reactive doesn’t mean not having those reactions surface in your mind. It means giving yourself enough space to see them and choosing not to act them out.

Protecting Your Loved One From Your Shadow

(Photo by Isai Ramos on Unsplash)

Another way of looking at this is that when choosing a romantic partner, part of the duty of care is to do all you can to protect them from your shadow. Loving someone isn’t enough — culture has normalized unhealthy or even abusive relationships, based on concepts around “the one” and love being some form of dependency. You have to walk the walk, and that means doing the hard miles of protecting your partner from all the mechanisms you have that can cause harm.

If you want to be right and win arguments, practice letting things go and focus on reconciliation, not winning. When you feel hurt you become tempted to make hurtful comments to get revenge, bite your tongue, calm down, and wait before talking. If you create emotional distance when things get tough, leaving your partner to feel abandoned, do the work to be able to communicate through feelings of withdrawal, so your partner is informed.

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This is a process of humility, a spiritual practice in itself. It’s also highly creative and empowered. You might see yourself as compassionate or highly evolved, but the proof is in how you respond when your loved one does something that upsets you. Do you tear them apart? Or feel the pain, communicate as best you can whilst taking responsibility, and use it as an opportunity to choose differently?

Mistakes Happen, That’s Okay

As mentioned, there has to be space to mess up. Unless your parents are a hybrid of Mother Teresa and Eckhart Tolle, most of us internalize unhealthy dynamics to various degrees. Humanity-wide communication and emotional awareness is severely lacking in maturity. In fact, reactivity seems to run the world. So, working to overcome this is an act of conscious rebellion to create healthier models of relating; not only for your relationship, but for future generations.

When you become reactive, aim to recover as quickly as you can. Don’t hold onto a storyline that justifies your behavior. Be firm with yourself and set high standards. Keep the focus on you and your behavior. Apologise, from the depths of your heart, when you mess up, and listen to your partner mindfully when they communicate why what you did hurt them, and what you can do to resolve it.

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Always try your best to avoid being reactive. Don’t tolerate it. But when it happens, forgive yourself and move on. Expect the same standards for your partner, too. This is a two-way path. If one person is doing all the work to be less reactive, and the other person is making little effort, then there have to be questions around the purpose for relating in a certain way.

young woman mirror
(Photo by Elisa Ph. on Unsplash)

Safety and Intimacy

Deep intimacy is scary. There’s no way to get there without courage, because it takes courage to be vulnerable enough to open your heart to that degree. Feeling so much for another living, breathing human makes us sensitive; to loss, abandonment, rejection, and betrayal. Those are human emotions, and they’re normal. The challenge is to be with them, accept their presence, and do your best to walk the walk.

All of this is to say that deep intimacy requires a level of safety. If both people or one person in a relationship is highly reactive, leading to a sense of walking on eggshells, or that you’re one comment away from an argument, it’s difficult to relax enough to open the heart. All of us have inner protectors that will do what they can to avoid unnecessary pain. You can’t be in inner protector mode and open-hearted at the same time.

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Safety is created when there is trust, a mutual dedication to respect, and the commitment to avoiding behaviors that can cause unnecessary pain. It comes from healthy boundaries and respectful communication, along with two people who are taking responsibility for how they’re feeling.

The Purpose of Values

This practice is supported by shared values. If an agreement is in place to cultivate specific values, they act as guides when understanding what behavior is tolerable, and what isn’t. They also act as points of acknowledgment or celebration when new behaviors are achieved — thanking someone when you see them choose not to be reactive, and instead respond maturely, is incredibly powerful and encouraging.

coffee conversation
(Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)

Values such as respect, integrity, and honor all play a role in avoiding reactivity, because reactivity violates these values. Name-calling isn’t respectful. Deliberately avoiding a loved one is acting without integrity. Failing to apologize for doing something wrong isn’t acting with honor. Instead, being committed to upholding values makes the process more fulfilling and rewarding, a nourishing soul primed for growth.

In Conclusion

There’s a risk of misconceptions when describing a practice like this. For clarity, there are a few things this practice isn’t: the suppression of emotions, passivity, avoiding expressing needs, the avoidance of conflict, or a concept. It should offer the opposite: space for emotions to be expressed intelligently, with self-awareness. An active desire to problem-solve, or be resourceful, rather than slip into reactive habits. A way to practice communicating needs, or resolving conflict, with respect. And, more than anything, a deep embodiment of love, not simply an idea or fantasy.

Choosing someone to share your heart, emotions, time, and energy with is no small thing. It’s an honor and a privilege and deserves to be treated that way. Yes, we all slip up now and again. But the desire to become less reactive, meet your partner’s needs, and do your best to transcend pain and reactivity, to be more compassionate, considerate, and caring, is the most poignant expression of love, the true meaning of more than friends.


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How Leonardo DiCaprio Made Kate Winslet Cry – And Why It’s So Important

By | Celebrities, Food for thought, Inspiring Celebrities, relationships

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have enjoyed a decades-long relationship built on mutual respect and love.

The pair first met on the set of 1997 smash hit Titanic, which grossed over $1.8 billion (yes, billion) at the global box office and catapulted them to A-list status. Both actors were in their early twenties (she was just 21 while he was 22) and were still finding themselves — both as artists and as individuals.

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It was this unusual shared experience that helped solidify an unshakeable bond between them. In the 25 years that have followed, they’ve continuously made fans swoon with their sweet friendship. With that achievement, it’s time for us to look into and remember the importance of platonic love.   

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s Relationship, Explained

Kate Winslet looking over Leonardo DiCaprio's shoulder in Titanic

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet’s on-screen chemistry stole hearts around the world and left many fans hoping that life would imitate art. In fact, a potential off-screen romance between them continues to inspire fanfiction to this day. However, theirs was a different kind of love from the very beginning. 

Speaking with Vanity Fair back in 1998, Winslet conceded DiCaprio was attractive and even “probably the world’s most beautiful-looking man,” but explained that their union was destined for a different kind of greatness.

“To me, he’s just smelly, farty Leo,” she joked, later sharing that they “never fancied each other.” Rather, they bonded over common interests, the fact that they were both “really very young,” and the film itself, which proved to be “seven months of very intense work.”

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From that common ground stemmed trust, a mutual admiration, and what Winslet has called “one of the greatest friendships of my life.”  DiCaprio agrees and has dubbed her one of his best friends and his forever “homegirl.”

Given how young the two actors were when they first met, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see them grow in separate directions, but as they show us, a true connection can withstand anything, whether it’s time, distance or even fame.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet smiling on a couch in Revolutionary Road

Indeed, DiCaprio and Winslet’s friendship hasn’t wavered and they even worked together again on 2008’s Revolutionary Road. The film was actually directed by Winslet’s then-husband, Sam Mendes, and as she told kinowetter, the on-set dynamic was “really great.” 

That’s because when you accept that you can have different kinds of love in your life and you’re open and honest about them, they can come together without drama. Working with DiCaprio, whom she called “the best actor of his generation,” also gave Winslet the trust and confidence to push her acting and be the best possible version of herself, which is something that paid off during awards season as she won the 2009 Golden Globe for best actress.

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While accepting the award, she made sure to thank her husband and her kids, but also her bestie. “Leo, I’m so happy I can stand here and tell you how much I love you, and how much I’ve loved you for 13 years,” she gushed, enthusing, “Your performance in this film is nothing short of spectacular and I love you with all my heart. I really do.” 

Their bond also extends far beyond the professional realm. The award-winning twosome has been known to hang out at DiCaprio’s Saint-Tropez home; they like to quote Titanic at one another because, as Winselt shared, “we find it really funny,”; and they genuinely love being a part of one another’s biggest life milestones. Case in point: When Winslet secretly tied the knot with Ned RocknRoll in 2012, DiCaprio reportedly walked her down the aisle and gave her away.

DiCaprio and Winslet Prove the Importance of Platonic Love – Even in Hollywood

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet talking on-stage

Platonic love continues to be one of the most misunderstood types of love, and that’s a real shame. Many of us still have the tendency to assume that such a bond is simply impossible because one (or both) parties are sure to develop romantic feelings.

It’s a misconception so common that it’s been the basis of many rom-coms, including the timeless classic, When Harry Met Sally… However, Billy Crystal’s infamous proclamation that “men and women can’t be friends” is simply untrue. In fact, as Healthline points out, platonic relationships aren’t just possible, they’re important.

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The fact is that platonic love between two individuals can be a great gift. It can be the basis for a wonderful, fulfilling relationship in which both parties offer each other unconditional love, lift each other up, and have an all-around good time filled with laughter and joy — exactly like Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have.

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us about human connection, it’s just how important friendship is for our overall mental health and wellbeing. It’s something the two actors learned firsthand as they were unable to meet up for close to three years.

Opening up about their first post-lockdown reunion, Winslet told The Guardian, “I couldn’t stop crying.” Explaining why she was so emotional, she shared, “I’ve known him for half my life” and not being able to “have dinner or grab a coffee and a catchup” took a real toll. “Like so many friendships globally, we’ve missed each other because of COVID,” she said, gushing, “He’s my friend, my really close friend. We’re bonded for life.”  

As these two show us, love can take on many forms and is truly a gift to be charished, no matter how it manifests itself. Whether or not it goes against outdated norms should be of no concern, as long as the union in question enriches life, like it clearly does for DiCaprio and Winslet.


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14 Years After Receiving Christmas Shoebox Gift, Woman Marries The Stranger Who Sent It

By | Food for thought, heartwarming, love stories, relationships, romantic, stories, uplifting news

A gift from worlds away

Most love stories don’t begin with two kids on opposite sides of the globe, but this tale is in a class of its own.

It all began in Christmas 2000, when 7-year-old Tyrel Wolfe was helping his parents pack Christmas shoebox gifts for children in the Philippines. The project, headed by Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse, consisted of packing school supplies, toiletries and small toys.

Each shoebox-packer was asked to include a photo of themself with their gift. And so, the boy sent a picture of himself decked in Western cowboy gear, and then was off into the sunset.

A random friend request

Over a decade later, at 21, Wolfe received a Facebook friend request from a Joanna Marchan. Thinking nothing of it, he ignored it.

Then two years, up popped another friend request from Marchan. With curiosity getting the best of him, Wolfe replied this time, asking how she knew him. Nothing could prepare him for her reply.

Marchan told him that she received Wolfe’s shoebox gift and picture, and how much she cherished it all those years. She added that she sent a thank-you note, however it got lost in the mail.

With that, the two began chatting and were drawn together like magnets. It was only a matter of time before the pull was too strong.

And so, after saving up enough money from work, Wolfe took bought a ticket to the Philippines for 10 days to meet Marchan.

He told PEOPLE that it was a leap of faith.

I knew I was taking a big risk. I had never traveled alone, let alone to a foreign country before and I was meeting people I didn’t know or even knew really existed.

– Tyrel Wolfe

A leap of faith

That was quickly put to rest when he laid eyes on her.

“When I finally got there and saw her, I had to punch myself a couple times because I thought it was a dream,” he recalled.

The chemistry was reciprocal. However, in respecting Marchan’s family tradition, the two couldn’t officially be a couple until receiveing her father’s blessing. When Wolfe finally had to return home, it was heartbreaking but only fueled his resolve.

It was one of the hardest goodbyes I’ve ever had to say because we didn’t know the next time we’d see each other. I told her I’m going to do whatever it takes to come back to her.

– Tyrel Wolfe

It wouldn’t be long. The two kept in close touch, planning their reunion. Finally, on a return trip to Manila a few months later — this time accompanied by his father Ivan — Tyrel got papa bear’s blessing to marry Marchan.

Have an open heart

The couple settled down in the United States because of Wolfe’s job, which also lets him help Marchan’s family back home.

As for Marchan, it’s all been alot to take in but she’s enjoying the ride with her beau.

“It was a big change and adjustment for me,” Marchan says. “I was raised in the city and now I’m living in the country with much less people and more space, but it’s a beautiful place.”

Wolfe and Marchan are keeping another commitment: Packing a shoebox every holiday season, including a note with their story.

We don t want to give them some fantasy, but we do want to show that we care and want to share our love.

– Tyrel Wolfe

Far from a fantasy, this incredible story teaches us that with an open heart and a little faith, there’s love and magic all around us.

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Be courageous enough to love

“To love is to recognize yourself in another.” — Eckhart Tolle

Loyal Young Man Steps In With Best Response Girlfriend After Bully Makes Comment on Her Weight

By | dating, Food for thought, inspiring, kindness, relationships, stories, uplifting news, upliftitng

One of the stereotypes about being young is being easily influenced. Often, teens join in on bullying and succumb to peer pressure when tested in front of their peers. This was not the case for one young man. 

Prom night

As a teen, so many hopes and dreams are pinned on prom night, which is said to be one of the best nights of high school! This was the case for Tre Booker and his girlfriend Madison, who both felt gorgeous and put together in coordinating outfits. Madison looked stunning in a sparkly pink dress, while Tre looked smart in a suit complete with a pink bowtie and corsage to match his love. Feeling proud of their amazing prom looks, the two posted their prom photos online.

Trolls come out

While many friends of the pair had positive things to say, not everyone was so friendly. Madison, shocked and saddened, responded to the anonymous user:

That’s when Tre jumped into the mix, tweeting:

The sweet interaction between the two led them to go viral. Many people applauded Tre and complimented Madison on how beautiful she looked in her sparkling dress.

A beautiful pair

As Madison and Tre’s experience illustrates, there will always be haters who want to rain on your parade. Just like this young couple, the best response to those people is to lift each other up, complement each other, and recognize what makes us special. Ignore the naysayers, and hopefully one day they will go away.

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Lead with positive words. You never know who might need to hear them.

Everything You Need to Know About Platonic Love

By | Food for thought, friend, friends, friendship, relationships

There are many different types of relationships you can have over the course of your existence. All of these unique bonds bring something different to your everyday life. Your relationships with your family members, your friends and your romantic partners can all present various layers and textures to your day to day. 

Some of these people will be the ones you turn to for advice, others will be the ones who are there for you (like Phoebe and Joey from Friends) when you’re in the mood to celebrate. All of these relationships are important in your life for various reasons. 

One of the more misunderstood types of relationships are platonic friendships—also called platonic relationships or platonic love. These have been largely characterized as bonds between heterosexual people who love each other as friends but are decidedly not in love with each other romantically. The defintion should be widened to include the LGBTQ community as well.

To give a more inclusive overview, these friendships are between two people who could couple up but instead they decide to clearly maintain a non-romantic bond with each other.

Does this sound a little unrealistic? Maybe to some people. But if you’re interested in what these relationships are like and what the benefits of these bonds are, you may want to keep reading. 

Not every relationship that could potentially turn romantic automatically leads to love. Platonic relationships fill a gap in people’s lives for intimacy and friendship without all the drama of infatuation or having to wonder where a relationship is going. 

Here’s a breakdown of platonic friendship, what it looks like and why it’s an important type of relationship to explore. 

What is a platonic relationship?

​​The idea of platonic love has its roots in ancient Greek philosophy. You may have connected this already, but the word “platonic” comes from the famous philosopher, writer and speaker Plato, who outlined specific categories of love in his famous work “Symposium.” 

Although Plato didn’t actually use the word “platonic” in his work (the word itself came later as a linguistic homage to him), he did define what we would now consider purely platonic relationships. 

In “Symposium,” he said that love based on physical attraction and sexual intimacy is romantic love while love that’s more intellectually or spiritually-based—with no romantic feelings—is what we call platonic love today. 

Platonic love

Basically, platonic love happens when two people have a special bond where they deeply care for and respect each other, lean on each other in good times and in hard times and share similar interests and values, but they don’t pursue things romantically. 

With platonic love, you could even experience love at first sight if you’re drawn to someone instantly because you two share a passion for a certain activity or subject. But love in the romantic sense just isn’t part of the equation. (At least not intentionally, more on this later.) 

This concept may be hard to grasp for people who don’t have this kind of relationship in their lives—and for good reason. We constantly hear about non-sexual friendships in will they or won’t they terms, like romance is inevitable between any two people who could theoretically be attracted to each other because of their sexual preferences. There’s definitely a stigma around what types of friendships are acceptable and which ones are headed for disaster (or toward the bedroom). 

There’s no such thing as “platonic lovers”

Platonic love is not friends with benefits or hooking up. In fact, there can’t be a sexual aspect to the relationship or it will no longer be considered platonic. (Platonic lovers just aren’t a thing.) 

Since there are no romantic feelings on either side in order for a friendship to be platonic, unrequited love or feelings from one person—or both people—would also disqualify a relationship from being platonic. 

Examples of platonic love and platonic friends

To better understand the differences between platonic and romantic relationships, here are two of the most common examples of these relationships in today’s world: 

Bromance or Womance: 

These terms describe close, affectionate, non-sexual bonds between two men or two women. Think of bromances and womances like next-level friendships, these pairings are definitely in BFF territory. They love each other, but they aren’t in love with each other. 

Work spouse: 

This term is used to describe coworkers or colleagues who are super close, to the point that they might rely on each other the way they would a romantic partner, without the romance part. 

They might run errands for each other, attend events and conferences as each other’s plus one and hang out together socially outside of the office. They are also known for sticking up for each other (and covering for each other, as needed) in the office setting. 

Can you have a platonic relationship and a romantic partner?

In a word, yes. However, it’s important to understand that your romantic partner may need you to set clear boundaries with your platonic friend in order to feel comfortable. (And only you know how okay you are with this.)

Some romantic partners may feel threatened by the idea of you having someone in your life who is so close to you, even if there are no romantic or sexual feelings between you and your friend. 

Depending on the person you’re romantically involved with, they might believe that your relationship with them needs to come first, before your platonic love. Romantic relationships can be tricky—jealousy can be a factor even in the most secure of bonds. 

The rules for a healthy platonic friendship 

So what to do about this? Talk to your platonic friend and your romantic partner, separately, about their needs and fears about the other major relationship in your life. 

You might be surprised about what you discover in an honest discussion with each of these important people. Remind them that your relationships with each person are not in competition—they aren’t comparable because they are completely different from each other. 

Discuss how much time you expect to spend with each of them and what behaviors and activities won’t work moving forward. For instance, if you talked on the phone with your platonic friend every night until you went to sleep, your romantic partner may not feel comfortable with this, especially if you two decide to move in together down the road. 

Or, if you’ve shared a bed with your platonic friend every now and then in a completely non-sexual way, your partner may not feel comfortable with this happening now that you’re in a committed relationship. Talking through these habits and scenarios when things with your romantic partner start getting serious will help you avoid tricky situations, trust issues and jealousy down the road.

Finally, you have to determine how much you need or want to pull back from your platonic relationship now that you’re in a romantic relationship. While these bonds are very different, they do have some shared qualities: typically, your romantic partner is the person you’d confide in, share good news with first, lean on when you’re having a tough day and so on. 

But you may already be used to doing these things with your platonic partner. Decide how you want that relationship to shift and evolve to allow your romantic connection to grow and thrive. 

Benefits of platonic relationships

signs of platonic love
(Luis Alvarez / Getty)

Having a platonic relationship means that you have someone in your corner who you can trust, who has your back and who brings you joy, but who isn’t necessarily engaged with you in a sexual relationship. Here are just some of the benefits of fostering this kind of bond:

Feeling closeness without the pressure: 

Talk about (hashtag) relationships goals. In a platonic relationship, you don’t need to worry about where things are going or if the other person is on the same page as you. You can maintain closeness with each other in a low-stakes way. You’re not thinking about the next step or where your relationship will be in a year. You’re getting the perks of a romantic relationship as far as emotional intimacy goes and none of the drawbacks. 

Getting a unique perspective: 

If your platonic friend is of a different sex, gender or gender identity that you are, you’re able to reap the benefits of looking at a given situation (and the world) from their point of view. This can be helpful when navigating a tough situation at work, when you’re dating and trying to pinpoint red flags or whenever you just need another set of eyes and ears on your current life circumstances. 

Having someone to confide in: 

A platonic relationship comes with the major benefit of being able to spill your secrets, deepest fears and unpopular opinions without worrying about judgement, retribution or word getting out. Having a confidant is one of the most significant perks of a deep, trusting friendship. 

Maintaining a relationship with boundaries: 

Practicing setting and respecting boundaries is an essential life skill. Luckily, a platonic relationship allows you to do this all the time. Since you and your friend are committed to remaining friends, you both uphold the boundary of no romance or sex, giving each other the freedom to just be with each other without wondering what if. This is also good practice for setting boundaries with other people, from family members to acquaintances. 

Not having to keep up appearances or impress the person: 

When you’re in a romantic relationship, there’s usually a tendency, especially in the beginning, to try to impress the other person. You put on your makeup, do your hair, don the cutest outfits. You might defer to them about what to do on a date or feign enthusiasm for activities they enjoy. All of this is a little exhausting, to say the least. In a platonic relationship, you can just be you because the stakes just aren’t as high. And, in just being yourself, you will eventually feel so secure that you may not even be tempted to try to impress others. By using your platonic relationship as practice for showing off the real you, you could actually find more authentic connections with potential romantic partners as a result.

Being able to have an honest connection: 

Platonic love isn’t about setting your feelings aside and putting your friend’s feelings first. It’s not about putting up a facade. These friendships thrive on honesty and clear communication. While you never want to be so brutally honest that you come off as mean or thoughtless, not having to hold back your feelings can be a relief for many people. 

Fighting without drama: 

In a romantic relationship, conflict can be scary. (Because what if one big fight can lead to a breakup?) In a platonic relationship, you’re going to get annoyed with each other or have words about a given topic or situation. But what happens? You get mad, maybe you stop talking for a few days and then you work things out. It’s just not that big of a deal. 

Never having to wonder about the status of your relationship: 

With platonic love, your relationship is steady. Yes, you can get closer or drift apart here and there but your bond is not on some kind of trajectory with the end point being either marriage or breaking up. You don’t have to waste brain energy wondering where your relationship is going. It just is. 

What if a platonic relationship turns romantic?

Of course, there is the potential for sexual attraction to develop, and for a platonic friendship to turn into something more. These things are bound to happen between some platonic pairs. We’re all only human, right? 

Maybe something happened to make you see your friend in a new light. Maybe you were feeling lonely and decided to engage in some physical intimacy with each other. Maybe your feelings grew over time. It’s not unheard of for emotional support to turn into romantic interest from a formerly non-sexual relationship.  

Here’s what to do about it: Since you know your friend so well, clearly you’re going to feel a vibe if things are getting more than friendly between you. The best thing to do is get those feelings out in the open—ASAP!—before something physical happens because it’s harder to have a conversation if you’re in the throes of lust, or if things get weird. 

Having a talk about what you’re feeling may be a little scary since you may not totally know if your friend feels the same way but once you sense that the relationship is changing it’s hard to have things go back to the way they were before.

Working together to talk about your feelings and what they mean will inevitably bring you two even closer together. You may decide that you don’t want to pursue things romantically, even if you’re feeling some love-like feelings. Or you may choose to turn your friendship into a romance. Trying to get on the same page before feelings progress is the best way to avoid having one person feel in love and the other decidedly not feeling it.  

What if you have one-sided romantic feelings for your platonic friend? If you’re feeling something but not saying something, this puts pressure on the other person and calls into question the integrity of your platonic love for each other. If you have feelings for your platonic friend and you’re using the relationship to test the waters for romance, you’re violating the inherent ethics of this relationship. 

Either you need to cool your feelings and commit to a platonic relationship with this person or you need to come forward with your feelings and allow the other person to know what’s really going on from your perspective. This way, your relationship doesn’t become tainted with potential mistrust. 

Platonic love has no expectations

Platonic relationships can still be highly misunderstood. Unless you’ve experienced these types of bonds for yourself it can be hard to grasp the idea of completely non-romantic personal relationships between two people who could theoretically be involved.

But, honestly, that’s kind of society’s problem. The narrative many of us have been taught is that men and women can’t be friends. And, to include gay and non-binary people as well, there’s an assumption that it’s not possible to be completely platonic with anyone you would potentially identify as a love match for you. If we can unlearn these lessons about love and friendship, we can open ourselves up to some pretty wonderful relationships. 

Platonic bonds are super special because they don’t ask much of the people involved except to simply be themselves—and to be good friends to each other. There are no expectations of needing to check all the boxes on the other person’s wishlist, the way there is with romantic partners, and no need to show off the best version of yourself in order to impress the other person. 

With platonic relationships, people can be free to love deeply without all the romantic baggage. It’s time to cherish these bonds and seek them out!

Mom Takes Sudden 4-Day Vacation, Teaches Unhelpful Husband Hard Lesson

By | equality, feminism, Food for thought, marriage, parenting, relationships, stories, uplifting news

When a mother and a wife says, “I need help,” you better listen.

Not helping around the house

Try as she might, a mother of a four-year-old couldn’t convince her husband to take on more household chores. So, she did something that might be seen as drastic.

In a post in the Reddit forum AITA, the mom explained that she’d been with her partner for eight years, including 15 months married — but he’s helping out less and less while she takes on the heavy lifting in addition to her full-time job.

“Before this he would make dinner on his days off, take care of ALL of sons needs and do basic cleaning so that I could have a breather,” she wrote. “Now he doesn’t make dinner at all, falls asleep on the couch by 7 so I have son duty 24/7 and hasn’t lifted a finger to clean in weeks. So on my 3 days off a week, I end up having to deep clean my entire house because I dont have time to do anything on my work days aside from the bare minimum.”

“It’s a struggle.”

She tried to ask for help

The mom said she recently asked for some help and he said ‘yes,’ but not for long.

“He happily obliged for all of 30 minutes before taking off to go help a buddy with his car and didn’t do jack squat after returning home because he ‘was tired.’”

The mom said she told him she needed a break, but he didn’t understand her true needs.

“His way of comforting me was by hugging me and saying ‘You’re doing such a good job.’ Didn’t offer to help or anything.”

A solo vacation to teach him a lesson

So, the woman devised a plan.

She asked her mom to take her son for four days while she took a solo trip to the cottage 58 miles away.

Her husband wasn’t impressed.

“My husband started texting me last night asking where I was. I told him the cabin. He asked where our son was so I told him. He then started going off about how this is selfish of me and that if he had realized I wasnt merely stressed out that he would have helped out more.”

The husband said that he is stressed and tired as well and could have used the vacation too. He also claimed that she communicated her needs poorly.

“But the thing is, I straight out told him I needed a break. I asked him for help. He disregarded it all. But now I’m curious if I’m an AH.”

No, she’s not the AH

In the comments, Redditors overwhelmingly supported the mom.

“Does husband not have eyes? Can he not see what needs to be cleaned, tidied or cooked? Does he not know his child’s needs? If he didn’t before maybe his “four day vacation” without a child to care for or a wife to clean up after him opened his eyes,” wrote ToTwoTooToo.

BroadElderberry supported the mom and shared their own experience: “My SO can be the same way. I’ll say ‘my back hurts from shoveling snow’ and he’ll want to go walk around the mall for hours. I’ll say ‘I’m overwhelmed from doing so much around the house’ and he’ll give me the same ‘you’re doing great.’ And then when I finally have a break down, it’s ‘I didn’t know it was so bad, you didn’t tell me!’ No. We tell you. We just don’t make a broadway production out of it, so you use that to pretend that it’s ‘not so bad.’”

Support is great. Actually helping is better.

Despite American women working just as much as men in their careers, studies show that they still take on more of the household chores. And that isn’t fair.

Child rearing, living together and being in a relationship is takes more than one persondoing the work. And while verbal support is nice, actual physical help is even better.

Hopefully, this woman’s husband has since adjusted his behavior.

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Woman Trusts Her Instincts And Delivers Her Own Baby Inside of a Car

By | Food for thought, inspiring, motherhood, mothers, pregnant, relationships, stories, uplifting news

With a baby on the way and miles from home or hospital, one remarkable mom took matters into her own hands.

Labor day

When 35-year-old opera singer Emily Geller Hardman was attending a wedding in Lancaster Pennsylvania with husband Travis Hardman, she was packing more than just a dress.

Emily was 37 weeks pregnant with their second child, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying a great night full of dancing without a hitch.

Everything was going smoothly until that night at the hotel when Hardman’s water suddenly broke. Amazingly unphased, she went back to sleep to rest up for a trip to the hospital with Travis.

It turns out the baby had other plans.

That’s because just a few hours and many intense contractions later, she was in back of the couple’s car as Travis raced to the nearest hospital. Talking with PEOPLE, he remembers the chaos clearly.

“She was like, ‘pull over,’ and I said, ‘I can’t pull over here. It’s a deathtrap.”

– Travis Hardman

DIY Delivery

Finally, Travis found a spot for them to safely pull over and Hardman to get out and stretch. She was barely hanging on.

“I remember my legs were shaking,” she says. “I was thinking, ‘I’m bearing down too early. I’m pushing too early.’ I had no control over my body at that point.”

That’s when her motherly instinct kicked in.

“But, I willed myself back into the car at that point because I just thought, ‘Well, we have to make it to the hospital.’ “

Back in the car, Harden tells GMA that she summoned all of her preparation and research on breathing and prenatal exercises to trust her body.

“This baby was coming out of me one way or another,” she said.

“I either needed to, for lack of a better word, get on board with what was happening and just allow my body to do what it was doing or I could fight it tooth and nail, which didn’t seem like it was going to be helpful.”

– Emily Geller Hardman

And then, they were two.

“I was just feeling a lot of pressure,” recounted Hardman. “So instinctually, I just put my hands down and then I felt the head and immediately after that, she flew out in the next contraction. I caught her and brought her up to my chest and I said, ‘There’s the baby.’ “

In one fell swoop, out came a beautiful and healthy Rosemary Claire. An ambulance arrived 10 minutes later to transport them to the hospital for some much-need R & R.

Preparation creates courage

Amazingly, Hardman downplays any stress from the wild birth. Instead, she credits being an opera singer and especially the work she put in to being ready for the moment.

“You have to perform at a high level under stress, so you’re used to those types of situations and having to focus on what you’re doing and not how you’re doing.”

– Emily Geller Hardman

Much of that comes from her belief that childbirth is a process a mother should own.

“I think I’m really lucky in a lot of ways, but I do view birthing babies as a natural process, and that for the most part, it doesn’t need a lot of intervention,” she says. 

Hardman’s wild story shows that however a woman chooses to give birth — and whatever unexpected bumps happen along the way — it’s a process to own and savour.

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