What I Learned From My Ex-Boyfriend’s Ex-Girlfriend

A conversation until 4:00 am with a girl I could formerly not look in the eyes taught me a lot about myself.

You see, the last interaction I had with her I was slapping her new boyfriend square across the face.

She dated the guy that I shared everything short of a last name with.

But, not for long after that.

What I learned from her after that night has changed my life forever.

This story is not a story of love and love lost, rather a story of empowerment.

After our late night conversation I was on a high for the rest of the week.

Could the girl I formerly hated suddenly be one of my best friends?

Is she really that nice?

She had every reason in the world to hate me, but I got only forgiveness and love from her since the start of our budding relationship.

Inevitably, our conversation happened long after she broke up with this boy and was full of lots of tears, honesty and healing.

It seems as though we should have or could have bonded over the common pain that we had endured, but this did not end up being the case.

We ended up filing the friendship void for one another that we realized that we both had.

Both of my best friends had just moved away, and she was going through the beginning of her transitional post- grad life.

We began going out together, watching movies together, and she began to be the girl that I knew would ALWAYS come around when I needed her.

But how did we get to this point?

Honestly, our relationship is still a bit of a miracle in terms of the typical social hierarchy. Our interactions should have involved hair pulling and yelling, right?


I think that what makes our relationship so special is the fact that we realized that strong friendships can overcome anything, start any way and are one of the most important relationships that you will make in college.

No boy or social norm can determine who we can be friends with.

True friendship boils down to the heart- unconditional love, fierce faithfulness and no judgement.

Never forget that.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Vanni Bassetti/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

So What Is A Sapiosexual Exactly?

By Sonam Ahluwalia


It’s a word that’s in vogue right now.

From Tumblr pages to Tinder profiles, lots of people are claiming to be members of this shadow group.

Urban Dictionary (a fairly reputable source in these matters) defines a sapiosexual as “one who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature”.


So sapiosexuality is a term that has been coined in order to describe a group of people who value intelligence over other sexual features such as face structure, body build, performance, aura, and many other components involved in sexual attraction.

People love to identify with something on social media, so this new term adds to the vocabulary list available when describing yourself to others.

“You read so good. Have my babies.” Photo Credit: Marketa/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

However, this term has also sparked controversy.

Some folks don’t believe that you can actually be a sapiosexual and that calling yourself one is merely pretentious and offensive because people are categorized according to their intelligence.

This counter argument goes: how can something so demeaning be considered an acceptable option as a preference in matters of sexual attraction?

Plus, can you be with someone only because they are smart?

Don’t ask many college freshmen that question.

But we can take a different route when looking at this newly fashioned term.

The definition from Urban Dictionary refers to a sapiosexual as someone who values intelligence as the “most sexually attractive feature”.

This does not mean that it is the only aspect we look at somebody.

For many people intelligence is certainly important in a relationship. and having a sexual stimulation from intellect is not a stand alone sexual orientation for them but rather an element of deeper feelings.

“She never remembers to wear shoes but she has a really good handle on thermal dynamics. xo.” Photo Credit: Ulisse Albiati/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Sapiosexuality can vary among people because intelligence varies, and so does the expectations of the level of intelligence one has for their partner.

For example, a lawyer may consider him or herself a sapiosexual for readers while a car mechanic sees him or herself a sapiosexual for people that know a lot about cars.

The incredible variation of what one finds as intelligence stems from the commonalities people have when looking for a partner.

If two people both love to identify plants while hiking, then they value that type of knowledge.

The vast diversity in intellectual interests actually works with the ambiguous definition of sapiosexuality.

Thus, you can be a sapiosexual.

But most of us are already.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Pedro Ribeiro Simões/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Our Whole Generation Needs To Watch “Love Jones”

On the 20th anniversary of the release of Love Jones, I used my snow day from work to see the film for a second time.

The first time, I finished it with a very negative attitude, immediately texting the friend who suggested it to ask why she loved it so much.

The reason why she suggested it was due to what I was going through in my current dating life: the ups, downs, and everything in between.

A little bit of background: Love Jones is a 1997 romantic film that intertwines love, poetry, and career choices between Darius Lovehall (Larenz Tate) and Nina Mosley (Nia Long), and the highs and lows that come with it.

The two lovers struggle with admitting their true feelings for each other, and this notion is constantly tested throughout the film.

The movie has gained a cult following because of its unique take on love during the late 90s, a time when technology was starting to make real change in the way we saw each other.

After watching the film again, I realize why I had such a bad taste in my mouth the first time and why I fell in love with it the second.

It solidified how different things are nowadays in terms of dating and relationships: we hide our emotions behind a screen.

We text each other our affection with some emojis thrown in there rather than picking up the phone to hear the voice on the other end.

We say “I don’t care” instead of taking the risk.

We find ways to not be memorable rather than to be something the other cannot forget.

With my first (and only, for now) relationship, my boyfriend and I never necessarily asked each other if we wanted to be in one – it just happened.

We would only get on the phone when we needed to resolve an issue or when we were in a fight and needed to clarify things.

The first time we broke up, he did it through a text message because he was “busy with his boys.”

When we first said “I love you,” we would text each other constantly, repeating it over and over again because the feeling was so fresh, new, and alive.

However, there is a difference between texting it and saying it loud and proud.

Although things did not work out, our relationship and time together did teach me what I wanted in my next relationship and what I did not want, and for that, thank you.

With the man I was dating over the summer, we were very much out and about.

However, we were known as “bae” to each other and as “friends” to everyone else.

Love is weird man. Photo Credit: Johnny Lai/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This was the first time I did not feel like creating a label for us because “labels complicate things,” as most people my age tend to say.

With him leaving to law school by the end of the summer, we were able to talk and still do.

However, our talking is, yet again, by texting.

Do I remember his voice?

Hardly, but he did write me a poem, which I still have.

I can say he tried.

With the guy (I think?) I am dating now, we absolutely never get on the phone, and quite honestly, we have not decided what we are other than “just having fun.”

While I was OK with it at first, I realized I am a person who enjoys having labels because labels do not complicate what you have with someone.

If there are complications, it is because of you, that other person, or both.

Do labels mean I want a relationship?

Not necessarily.

It just means that we are mature enough to have a conversation and talk things through.

Darius and Nina confess their love for each other by the end of the movie and how they will make things work although they are on different sides of the country.

That is not necessarily saying that they will get into a relationship – they are going to work things through.

That is what I commend.

People say women tend to get caught up in the idea of a Hollywood romance.

However, who would not want a love such as the one in Love Jones?

A man who publicly admits his admiration through a poetry performance.

A woman who is set on her career but also is set on love.

A love that has Lauryn Hill singing in the background.

A love where you can remember the voice of the person you are into because you take the time to call each other.

See the movie for yourself and decide.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Confessions Of A Tinder Ghosting Queen

Picture two lonely twenty- somethings, 2.4 miles away from each other, both struggling through the end of tumultuous relationships.

Two lonely people seeking very different things- one of us had good intentions, and one of us had none.

I was your typical tinder troll.

I was the QUEEN of ghosting boys on Tinder, and, unfortunately, Michael was the result of one of my most crafty “drink and ditch” plans.

My life as a Tinder ghost went through many phases but it ended in an incredibly unlikely way.

The Broken Hearted

I would venture to say that this is the most popular group of people responsible for Tinder ghosting.

These are the guys/ girls that will text/ snapchat you all the time.

They’ll make plans to meet up, but chicken out at the last second.

When I matched with Michael in the summer of 2015, I had just broken up with the guy that I had been dating off and on since high school.

My best friend convinced me to download Tinder “just for fun.”

I didn’t think I needed it, but I went along with it anyway.

The night I downloaded Tinder, I got a message from Michael.

He was going out and wanted to meet up.

I was freaked out about the whole idea of it, so I thought maybe I would just take a free drink for my best friend and I and ditch.

When we met up, he was a true gentlemen, he bought us drinks and we chugged them.

We left shortly after, and about an hour later, he saw me hanging out with another guy.

Although it may not sound like a valid excuse, I can assure you that the broken- hearted do not understand the damage that they may be causing.

These people are hurting and they probably cannot yet identify what a good guy/ girl looks like.

These people are looking for love, but still need to heal.

The Attention Seeker

This one is all of us to some extent.

Tinder is a great daily ego booster.

I don’t know of any other place where you can experience a variety of cheesy pickup lines crafted just for you (or used on 10 other people), get told how pretty you are, and rummage through hundreds of messages, choosing whom to reply.

Hangout two with Michael happened about six months later.

I had deleted and re- downloaded the app more than a handful of times since we had last seen one another.

This time, I had moved on from the heart break category, into the “home alone over Christmas break” attention seeking category.

I was out with a friend one night, and he was too.

So, I went over to where he was to meet him (and get free drink number two).

We talked for a bit, but then my friend needed me, so I left to be with her.

Later on in the night I saw him walking around with his friends, and I walked the other direction.

The attention seekers like things to be on their terms.

They only want you when they’re lonely or need the ego boost.

Attention seekers can get better over time, though, so don’t write them off right away.

Get to know these people, sometimes it might take a few tries to crack their seemingly egotistical shell.

The Gold Digger

Watch out for this one.

People like to blame this one on females, but I think this can be everyone.

This is the group of people that are unwilling to meet up UNLESS there is something good in it for them ie: dinner, drinks, entertainment.

They won’t just join you at the dog park or for a movie, they need some kind of incentive, and they get a high off of using other people.

When hangout number three with Michael happened, I was going into it with the intentions of more free drinks.

By this time, it had already been a year of enduring my ghosting, and he was pretty much sick of me.

However, one night, a freshly 21 Ariel partied a little too hard, and ran into some “medical” trouble.

I remembered that Michael worked in a hospital, so I texted him asking if I was going to die.

Turns out I was just fine, and the reassurance that he had my back was really moving to me.

So, ~finally~ date number one happened, and, (gold digger that I formerly was) ended up asking to pay for the drinks.

And, the rest is history.

You see, if Michael had not contacted me the second time we matched, even though I had already ditched him, I never would be with him today.

We have been dating for almost a year now and I cannot imagine a single second without him.

If he had not pursued me or had just begun ignoring me like I did him, we would not be as happy as we are today.

Sometimes the people who are unwilling to meet up are just gun- shy from their last relationship/ experience and need a little time.

They need a little forgiveness and understanding.

Trust your gut, though, and if it feels like you are being used, you probably are.

Of course, it could end up being love at first (or second) ghost too.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Jordi Carrasco/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Does Tinder Prove That “True Love” Is A Myth?

Online dating can be a minefield.

Fake accounts, bad intentioned users and conversations that can only be classified as cringeworthy.

But for those using apps like Tinder, finding a legitimate connection with someone can be hindered by a factor you don’t always think about; your location.

What happens if your search range on the app is 25 miles, but your “true love” is 26 miles away?

Sure, that may be overthinking it, but just like in real life, it’s a real possibility that you could be passing by your potential significant other simply because they’re located slightly outside your search distance.

There are 1.4 billion swipes and 26 million matches per day on Tinder.

One of those matches lead to Arianna Johnson meeting her husband Ben.

Arianna said she wasn’t expecting to meet her future husband through Tinder.

Photo Credit: @markheybo/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

She had been using the app for a year on and off, going on a few dates, with three turning into what she considers actual relationships.  

At the time, Arianna had her search distance maxed out to 100 miles.

“I did it because it allows for potential matches,” Arianna said.  

Arianna recalls Ben being around 20 to 30 miles away from her when the two originally matched.

For Arianna, distance wasn’t going to be the biggest hurdle in meeting someone, but talking to a stranger might have been.

“When you go to a coffee shop…you don’t know if a person is single or taken,” Arianna said. “It’s ‘hard to talk to a total stranger…If I saw my husband in public without Tinder, I probably would have never gone up to talk to him.”

Unfortunately for the rest of us, cases like Arianna and Ben’s serve as an outlier to overall online dating statistics.

According to Pew Research, only 5% of Americans who are married or are in committed relationships say they met their significant other online.

The good news is, Pew Research also indicates that online dating has lost much of its negative stigma, with only 23% of American adults believing people who use online dating sites are desperate, and 59% now say that Online dating is a good way to meet people.

So now we can swipe away without the majority of people giving us the stare down.

Small victories right?

Arianna Johnson met her husband Ben on Tinder.

You should be worrying about the truly important things when using online dating.

Read More: RFK Jr And Donald Trump Might Team Up To Undermine Vaccinations

Things like coming up with a witty pick-up line they’ve never heard of before, or making sure your pictures and bio page describe you as the perfect match, straying away from the hyperbolic nonsense that would lead your date to realize you are way lamer than they initially thought.

In all seriousness, the biggest obstacle preventing you from meeting that special someone might still be starting that initial conversation.

Stressing about missing your “true love” because you didn’t set your search distance high enough is superfluous.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Connie Ma/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

To Be 21 And Single AF On Valentine’s Day

Well for starters, I personally have never participated in any Valentine’s Day festivities.

I swear, in my head, I just heard all of you “Aw”.

I appreciate your sympathy or empathy, whichever one applies; but, don’t worry, it is O.K!

I’m only twenty-one and I will have plenty of opportunities in the future to take my significant other, whoever you are, out for a night on the town.

For now, I am perfectly fine with celebrating Valentine’s day by myself with an alcoholic beverage in-hand accompanied with Baltimore’s finest chicken wings.

Shameless plug: Shout out to the Local Fry on 21 East Cross Street.

So, what does Valentine’s Day look like for single people?

I’m going to attempt to break it down for you.

Valentine’s Day is one of the only days out of the 365 that women are EXPECTED to be catered to.

Unless it’s your birthday, wedding anniversary, or you’re a mom.

If you’re a mother and married, you’re lucky because you get three, maybe four days dedicated to you where you are showered with affection and thoughtful gifts.

Not saying that men can’t go above and beyond and do thoughtful and “cute” things for their significant other on any given day but, I am not speaking to those who are ten plus years into their marriage; and, this is 2017.

Let’s be realistic here.

If you’re in college right now or if you have graduated within the past two years, it feels like 95% of the people you know are single.

Don’t quote me on that statistic, but single people don’t necessarily do “cute” things.

Or am I speaking for myself here?

Ya’ll the author ain’t saying this exactly, but honestly tho?.. Photo Credit: Satish Krishnamurthy/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

There are a few types of single people on Valentine’s Day.

Those who don’t care (raises hand), the hopeless romantics who are pressed to find a Valentine for the day, those who troll their “taken” friends on social media, and those who are bitter that they aren’t being catered to.

We all know at least one person who belongs to one of those categories.

Now, I don’t know about you and your acquaintances but oddly enough, my lady friends are mainly those who occupy the categories.

Single men don’t usually make a big fuss about Valentine’s Day, or at least the single men that I know.

For the guys, being single on Valentine’s Day means last week’s paycheck can stay in your pocket because you aren’t paying for steak dinners, teddy bears, and chocolate covered strawberries.

I don’t know any single young man in his right mind who would be angry or bitter on Valentine’s Day.

Ladies, thank the double standard for this one.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we’re heartless.

I’m simply saying that single men don’t get too emotionally wrapped up in Valentine’s Day if we don’t have to.

Now, sending a bouquet of flowers, or a thoughtful card, or a bottle of champagne and box of chocolates to someone in attempt to woo is perfectly fine.

In fact, it’s normal for that to happen.

According to, more than half of this country’s population partake in Valentine’s Day by “sending greeting cards or flowers, giving candy or other gifts, enjoying romantic dinners, or all three”.

So, it’s O.K. to participate in Valentine’s Day; but if you’re single and you’re attempting to sweep a young lady, or young man, off his or her feet with a barrage of gifts and thoughtful messages be prepared for the imminent rejection in the following days.

It is extremely flattering to be catered to on a day that is dedicated to love and romance but once that day is over and love is no longer lingering in the air, be prepared for an “It’s not you, it’s me” text message.

Love can be funny.

You just have to be strong and willing to laugh sometimes.

And when that doesn’t work, just eat a bunch of french fries.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Tom Hilton/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

This Online Platform Is Revolutionizing Hong Kong Sex Education

By Jessie Pang


The Millennial Intel In This Story: 
-Sex education in Hong Kong is woefully inadequate.
-Traditional Hong Kong culture looks down on casual sex, even in committed relationships.
-A 24 year old millennial named Julia Sun Wai-han is using tech to help young Hong Kongers learn about sex and it is working really well.


“Talking about sex should be as comfortable as talking about food but the experience can be quite scary to young people even though it’s good for them,” Julia Sun Wai-han the 24 year old founder of Sticky Rice Love said.

Sticky Rice Love is the food name of a Chinese rice ball dessert that literally means “sugar will not come off” from dumplings made of boiled sticky rice.

But in this context, it is also an online sex education platform for young people in Hong Kong.

“It is [our] hope to remind people that food and sex are both basic human needs and avoiding the awkwardness people usually face when they refer to a sex health educational website”, Sun said in an interview with RISE NEWS.

Sticky Rice Ball’s platform publishes articles about sex and hosts an online forum for young people to discuss sex anonymously.

It has filled a gap in sex education for young people across the island.

Everyone can post a question which they don’t feel comfortable to ask about on the forum and will receive a prompt reply or advice from volunteers who have received proper sex health training.


A look at the website of Sticky Rice Love. (Screen grab)

Sun’s idea was inspired by her experience as a teaching assistant in a local high school to start the platform.

“Sex education in Hong Kong is really inadequate and lagging behind. Apart from a lack of school hours, resources and the right people to teach students about sex, most people usually hold a traditional and negative view towards sex,” Sun said. “For instance, the best way to avoid pregnancy is to avoid having sex, which is impossible for people in a relationship. Such education has tremendous consequences on the young people. Some still find it uncomfortable to have sex after marriage. Hence, I decided to do something to change it,” Sun said.

Read More: Hong Kong Slut Walk Draws Many In Effort To Rid City Of Sexual Assault

Seeing there’s no need for people to meet face to face and the set-up cost is low, Sun found that the Internet is a perfect place to realize her dream.

At first, she was frightened that she might faced viral opposition as people were not familiar with her mission: empowering the youth to make their own choice on sex and relationships.

“Our role is neutral. We are not telling them what’s right or wrong but simply offering them comprehensive information they need and want to know about. It can be quite vague and controversial to some people,” says Sun.

To her surprise, there was overwhelming support from the public and the mainstream media interviewed her about the venture.

A couple enjoying the movie “An Autumn's Tale” in the Clear Water Bay Film Studio. Photo: Goooood Secrets

A couple enjoying the movie “An Autumn’s Tale” in the Clear Water Bay Film Studio.
Photo: Goooood Secrets

The platform also holds some offline activities, such as visits to some local sex toys shops and co-organized screenings of an X-rated movie to several hundreds people at the Clear Water Bay Film Studio, which is rarely open to the public with Goooood Secrets.

“Both online and offline sex education have advantages,” Sun said. “It’s not about online or offline but more about how you do it.”

Despite the success of the platform, Sun still wants to do more but long-term financial resources remain as a problem.

Read More: Hong Kong Is Already More Independent Than Any EU Country

“I really hope to design interactive online courses on sex education for young people to dig into the topics they are interested in, but it’s hard to do fund-raising as people are not confident in a youth- led organization,” Sun said. “They prefer to back adults or experts more.”

Yet, Sun remains optimistic as the society becomes more and more receptive to the idea of promoting sex education.

For instance, sex secret groups are very popular among high schools and universities and everyone changed their Facebook profile picture to rainbow color watermark to show their support to the legalization of same sex marriage in USA.

“It’s hopeful that young people won’t need our platform and can talk about sex as freely as it should be in the coming future,” Sun said.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

You can also like our RISE NEWS Hong Kong Facebook page to stay engaged with our local coverage. 

Cover Photo Credit: Jessie Pang

The Cruel Reality Of Finding Love While Studying Abroad

By Caitlin Roberts

Our love was easy.

Our love was what both of us had always been searching for, and when I left him in the Paris Metro station that day, I really believed that the two of us would survive a year apart, but it was not that cut and dry.

It soon became this messy cluster of depression, missed phone calls, and living in this constant state of missing each other.

It destroyed us from the inside out and it led to him saying to me, “I think that we may have run our course.”

What I ultimately learned over this past year and some change, is that a long-distance relationship, with an ocean standing between the two of us, could be one of the worst decisions either of us have ever made, yet neither of us regret any of it.

Almost every girl dreams about going abroad and having the cliché, tall, dark and handsome man sweep them off their feet, but I never thought it would actually happen to me.

Something like that only happens in dreams, right?

So, when I arrived in London to spend a semester abroad, the last thing I thought would happen was to meet the love of my life.

When I met him, I had only been in the city for six days.

Hell, I had only gone to one class.

I just kept asking myself, “How is this happening to me?”

Our first conversation was about drinking tea and discussing history like we were invited by Catherine the Great of Russia to one of her salons in the 1700s.

That just completely knocked the wind out of me.

Not only did I meet a handsome English boy six days into my trip, I met one that loved history as much as I did and wanted to discuss it with me over tea.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven and that was only the beginning of the best, and simultaneously the worst, thing that has ever occurred in my life.
Just when I thought things could not get any better, January 24, 2015 happened.

We spent the whole day shopping, eating lunch, flirting and just enjoying each other’s company.

It was that day when I realized that I was in love with him.

I was head over heels, for lack of a better term, in love with him.

Only two weeks had gone by and we were almost inseparable and I honestly thought I was crazy for feeling this way.

How could I know for sure after only two weeks?

Later that night, after we had way too much to drink with his friends and I was successful in having them all yell “Roll Tide” when we took tequila shots at a bar in Clapham, we were standing out in the cold air drunkenly goofing off waiting for our Uber to arrive.

I had said something completely ridiculous and he responded with a jovial laugh and said, “This is why I love you,” and pulled me closer to him.

Without hesitation, I responded by laughing and saying, “I love you too.”

For the first week after that night, we were very noncommittal with “I love you,” because we were both wary about saying it too soon, but it felt right so finally we said it.

We both put it out there, even though we were not sure who actually said it first on the street a few nights before or whether that one counted.

We said it sober instead of just texting the uncertain “I <3 you” and decided to embark on the greatest and most fulfilling relationship either of us had ever had.

The next three months were filled with too much netflix, The Simpsons, debating over whether or not putting Nesquik in milk was considered a milkshake, and going on dates to places like the Churchill War Rooms.

I felt so alive.

A Creperie in London. Photo Credit: Davide D'Amico/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

A Creperie in London. Photo Credit: Davide D’Amico/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

I felt so safe and sure of myself.

Being with him gave me so much confidence to just be me and go after what I wanted.

He supported me and was genuinely interested in everything I had to say, even if I did talk about my love for Kate Middleton too much.

He loved me for me and wasn’t asking me to change a thing.

I didn’t feel like I needed to be someone I wasn’t, just to make him stick around.

My friends back home quickly noticed my change in demeanor.

I would light up whenever I would talk about him.

I was not trying to find faults that would allow me a way out, like I had done with every other guy I had ever been romantically involved with in the past.

This time was different and I really thought that this one was going to stick.

Fast forward to May of 2015, and my friends had arrived for our month long trip through Europe.

We checked off our eight days in London and the next stop was Paris.

He joined us for the last three of our five days and when I had to say goodbye to him on the afternoon of May 14, you could have thought that one of us was dying or that we were never going to see each other again.

The second thought could have honestly not been too far off.

We had only spent four months together, which has never seemed like a lot in retrospect, yet we both felt as if we were losing someone we had known for years.

We felt like we were losing a part of us and we didn’t know if we were ever going to get it back.

We stood there in the metro station, holding each other while constant waves of tears rolled down the shapes of our faces.

For me, no one else was there.

It was just the two of us, cherishing the last time we would physically feel our love for each other for half a year.

Then, it was over.

We both went our separate ways and embarked on the dreaded long-distance relationship that so many people avoid at all costs.
“I have searched so long for the perfect girl for me,” he said. “And now that I have found her, I’m never letting you go.”

The next six months were awful in the sense that I was alone most of the time even though I was surrounded by friends who were constantly trying to cheer me up.

None of it seemed to work.

My body was constantly bogged down with an overwhelming sadness and I sunk into a state of depression that I had seen in others, but never experienced myself.

Facetime sessions, phone calls, and texts that read “I miss you,” and “I love you,” were becoming too much.

I was not only sad, but I was angry.

I couldn’t understand how I could find someone that I thought was perfect for me and I wasn’t able to be with them.

I was becoming bitter and angry because I was just so sick and tired of missing him.

Things on his end, 4,300 miles away, were just about the same.

We wanted so badly to make this thing that both of us had searched for, for so long work, but it seemed like it was only getting harder everyday.

November 14 is when he left Alabama after coming to visit me for two weeks.

After that date, nothing seemed to be going right.

Sweet, loving conversations turned into screaming matches over things that did not matter and times when both of us would spend half of our day angry at one another because we were six hours apart in time.

We began to rip apart what was left of this, piece by piece like animals.

Then, my visit in March, marked the end.

Something had been off for a really long time and it had driven a wedge between us.

Our Titanic hit the iceberg and started going down fast, but unlike the original, there were only two casualties this time.

Now, I have to ask myself, “How will I manage to get over him?,” because I never imagined that this would be the outcome.

I imagined it lasting for much longer, and possibly forever, but now I am seeing that some things are not meant to last, no matter how much you want them to.

I still love him with every inch of me and I can’t say I regret us, because I would be lying.

Part of me hopes that when I move to London later this month, our timing will be right this time.

Maybe in this version of the Titanic, Jack and Rose survive the turmoil and overcome everything that is thrown at them, but I absolutely cannot throw my life away by putting all that I have onto a sinking ship.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

I Traveled Around Europe And Took Lots Of Selfies With People Making Out In The Background

When I studied abroad in Prague from February to June 2015, I spent a lot of time exploring parks and green spaces.

I also quickly noticed I was one of the only people walking along without some sort of dog or lover companion.

For people who don’t often make eye contact with strangers, Czech people have off-the-charts PDA.

I thought this was stunning and hilarious so I decided to take advantage of it through a photo series. Most of the photos are from Prague in the daytime, and I expanded as I traveled to other cities across Europe.

When I saw people locking lips on the street, I would snap quick selfies. I challenged myself to make sure the people in the picture didn’t know I was taking it, which was never really much of a challenge at all:



I found these two making out on the sidewalk as I was on my way to meet friends in downtown Prague.


Objects are closer than they appear.


Just about all of these were more than quick pecks – I had to have the time to notice the pair kissing, find my phone, position it and snap the picture all while they were still smooching.


I felt like pictures in bars were kind of cheap shots, but this happened at my table so I made an exception.


Not my best work. The three of us were the only ones in sight, and I was happy to keep my distance.


This one was an accomplishment. Partly because I ran four miles before I took this picture, partly because it was my only horizontal find.



In this one, it almost looks like one person sitting on a Madrid park bench. It looked that way in person too



These two were feeling the heat on a balmy June afternoon in Italy. Really, what better way to pass the time between train strikes?



Krakow, Poland, is surrounded by an outstanding green belt. These two took full advantage of it.

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RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Here’s What Valentine’s Day Is Like For A Person In A Polyamorous Relationship

By Julia Fox

Still believe that exclusivity is necessary for deep, committed, long-term and loving relationships? The modern divorce rate of 50% says otherwise.

As traditional Valentine’s Day-themed pink and red greeting cards replace the tired Christmas & New Year colors on the stands of stores, most of us are anticipating (or dreading) the invasion of our social networks and television with the typical romantic scenarios of exchanging gifts, kisses and love messages between two lovers of the opposite or the same sex. Very few of us ever imagine the holiday routine in relationships where there are more than two lovers involved.

The images of cheating two-timers running between the deceived spouse and the scheming mistress aside, we are hardly bombarded nowadays by pictures of non-traditional family unions, such as polyamorous families, where the conventional Valentine’s day gift exchange is a little bit more complicated.

Polyamorous unions where ethical and responsible non-monogamy… are estimated to have around 1.2 to 2.4 million followers in the United States alone.

Polyamorous unions where ethical and responsible non-monogamy is practiced with knowledge and consent of everyone involved are estimated to have around 1.2 to 2.4 million followers in the United States alone.

How do polyamorous relationships come about? I am sure it is rarely a case of waking up one morning with your partner snoring by your side and deciding ‘why not add to the duo.’ The stories of people entering into the polyamorous unions are as many and varied as those embarking on conventional ones.

The beginning of my polyamorous relationship was a case of almost choking on toast one morning after my husband of 10 years admitted to having a homosexual relationship back in his college years with a Ukrainian man named Sasha.

Skipping through the finding Sasha story and straight into the reality of maintaining a household and a life with two partners and, yes, surviving a Valentine’s day together, the polyamorous relationship with a bi-sexual partner and a homosexual one who spent all of his life in the closet became an adventure for me worth sharing.

Almost all of us enter into a romantic union with the desire to be happy and to make our partners happy. Unfortunately, helping Sasha “come out of the closet” and leave the Ukraine was a huge struggle due to the severe psychological repercussions of concealing his sexuality since he was a young teen.

Photo Credit: Roy Blumenthal/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Roy Blumenthal/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Dreading being ostracized by the community, fearing shame, physical torture and even imprisonment, creating a heterosexual family and dissociating himself from the gay community altogether made Sasha (and many thousands of his compatriots) the broken man that he was when he joined our family. Thus, welcoming Sasha into our union and expecting a ‘happy-ever-after’ was just as irrational as anticipating an unclouded happiness in any relationship once the wedding bells quiet down.

Each person comes into a relationship, whether it is a traditional one or less then so, with one’s own baggage of expectations based on childhood memories, literature, social media and a load of personal traumatic experiences and their consequences, and thus Sasha joined us with the full baggage of his own.

Being forced into a traditional marriage by his parents and living his life as a heterosexual man affected Sasha’s mental health and contributed to the development of a whole range of mental issues, such as dissociation, depression, internalized homophobia, self-disgust, self-hatred and denial of one’s sexual orientation to oneself and others. There conditions are commonplace in persons with repressed sexual orientation, according to many prominent psychiatrists.

Sasha exhibited all kinds of issues, such as low self-esteem, negative body image and contempt for the more open LGBT members who decided to come out years before. More importantly, Sasha had a tendency to deny that homophobia was a serious social problem altogether. Remaining in a heterosexual relationship for most of his life in an attempt to pass as ‘normal’ and to gain social approval, Sasha became chronically depressed and took to heavy drinking. His fear of intimacy and his suicidal thoughts presented a bigger challenge and a threat to our union.

My brief relationship with Sasha opened my eyes to the many aspects of homosexuality and the life paths that LGBT men and women choose in the parts of the world where homosexuality is still considered an abnormality.

My brief relationship with Sasha opened my eyes to the many aspects of homosexuality and the life paths that LGBT men and women choose in the parts of the world where homosexuality is still considered an abnormality.

The freedoms that sexual minorities are enjoying in the majority of democratic countries today are precious and unheard of in such places as Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia, Azerbaijan and other post-Soviet territories. Giving American LGBT members a glimpse into the lives of those who are less fortunate and still struggle for their rights might be an eye-opening experience this Valentine’s day. 

Sasha’s arrival in our life, the life of a typical monogamous heterosexual couple, meant re-imagining our relationship, challenging traditional marriage, sexuality and love itself. All three of us had to learn to navigate and explore the challenges and complexities of a polyamorous reality together against a backdrop of cultural and societal expectations and judgments.

Examining and questioning the dynamic and often challenging elements of marriage, relationships and acceptance, are just a few issues that polyamorous unions might bring out into the discussion.

Julia Fox immigrated from Russia in her late teens, settling in the United States in the early 90s. She published two books of poetry before leaving her home country, both in Russian, and published two more in English language after immigrating. And Then There Were Three: Sixty Seven Letters to Sasha is her first autobiographical memoir. 

For more information about And Then There Were Three: Sixty-Seven Letters to Sasha, please visit Julia Fox’s websiteFacebook and Twitter pages. 

Cover Photo Credit: Roy Blumenthal/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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