Feeling Old: Leaving your 20s in the 2020s

A younger friend recently asked why I (and many others my age) make so many comments about being old. After some thought, I realized a big part of this was related to experiencing specific meaningful life stages during the pandemic. In 2019, I could (and often did) stay up late at parties, survive on very little sleep, and run on my own willpower alone. I didn't usually need to think too hard about any of this in terms of trade offs, and thus had the ability to be way more spontaneous about it all. If a friend invited me out, I could say yes that night, with no planning ahead, and have a good time. Then lockdown hit, and everything shut down. During this time, I got divorced, turned 30, and made a bunch of other huge life changes. In normal times, I probably would have started to see my stamina decline. I would have noticed at first that my body would hurt more the day after a night out. Then I'd start to notice myself losing energy earlier and earlier. But things didn't pl

Anatomy of a Dating Document

I’ve noticed a trend of writing out dating documents (or web pages, blog posts, etc) as a means of having everything you’d normally put on a dating profile in one place. There’s a particular way many of these are written, such that they’re more straightforward and practical about dating than online dating profiles and apps tend to be. It honestly reminds me a little of how arranged marriage works nowadays in India. In an effort to better understand what it is people tend to expect of these documents (and throw in some of my own thoughts), I decided to read through every dating document I could find (mostly through reciprocity and Bountied Rationality) and compare/contrast to find common themes, as well as good ideas of what to include that should be more common. Though written as a guideline on how to write your own dating doc, this is equally (if not moreso) a meta-analysis on what's been put into those already out there. TLDR: a dating document should tell the reader who you ar

Therapy vs emotional support

There's a misconception that therapy is like paying someone to be your friend. While most therapists would disagree with that statement, there is a kernel of truth; therapy can often focus on emotional support, and getting those needs met. I sometimes joke that when friends need help, we suggest they see a therapist, yet in therapy, clients are asked to vent to their friends. This may sound like the person is being tossed back and forth, but there are two things at play here. The first is that many people rely on a few friends for more support than they can handle (hence being referred to a therapist), while others see a therapist partly from the worry of overburdening their friends (hence being challenged to open up to friends). The second, more complicated piece is that therapy and emotional support are actually two different things, fulfilling different needs, and there are many cases where one would work far better than the other. The first and most obvious difference is t

What I've Learned From My Parents' Arranged Marriage

When I tell people my parents had an arranged marriage, I get a number of different reactions. Most people have the wrong idea of exactly what that looks like, and those who do have the right idea often wonder if my parents can even understand what dating is like, given they've never experienced it. I've heard people assume that my parents' arranged marriage meant they were completely unable to help or give advice when it came to my dating life, and I've found the opposite to be the case; the advice my parents gave me about dating was as valuable as anything I found anywhere else, and allowed me to pass that advice on to my friends. Growing up hearing their story taught me a lot about what was important to know about myself before I started dating anyone, and how a good couple functions and grows together. I found that much of this is less commonly talked about when it comes to Western dating, and so I want to share their story and what I learned from it with you. For

Reframing a Crush: Distilling the "like" out of "like like"

When I was a kid, I was moved by the idea that love was a powerful force. In the media, people did ridiculous things in the name of love; worse still when love was unrequited. I was terrified of feeling completely and helplessly vulnerable for someone who could not or would not reciprocate. It not only felt like a loss of power, but also a waste of emotional energy that could just as easily be spent on someone who reciprocates. I decided that I would never let myself develop feelings for someone who was unable to return them. This first showed up as an inability to develop a crush on someone who was already in a relationship. As I grew older and learned more about myself, I realized also that this is why I didn't develop a crush on a girl until I became very close with one who was openly bisexual. It also meant that as soon as one of my childhood crushes came out to me as gay, my torn up confusion on why he didn't reciprocate my flirting transformed into an appreciation for

A Step-by-step Guide to Finding a (Good!) Therapist

The process of finding a good therapist is unlike the process of finding most professionals. If your dentist nags you to floss more every time you see them, it's annoying, but unlikely to really affect the quality of their work. In therapeutic work, however, most of the work comes from the bond between therapist and client. If you find yourself worried about your therapist judging you or don't trust them to bring up important parts of your life, you won't be able to get the most out of therapy. Of course, this can make the process of starting therapy intimidating! It is very important to know that you can always talk to your therapist about changing what they're doing or referring you to someone else -- something I've written about previously in my  guide to termination . Here, I'll instead talk about the first in these two bookends on therapy: finding a therapist. The first thing to remember in finding a therapist is that if you have a bad experience, it is

Societal Growth Requires Rehabilitation

Disclaimer: My intent is not to criticize growth mindset as initially intended, but to criticize the version of straw growth mindset that has become a rationalist meme, particularly by pointing out its relation to some of the problems we have on the community level. "Growth mindset" ranges from a sort of rallying cry to a "that's what she said" sort of joke, depending on what crowd you run with, but underneath all of this is an attitude that we can get better. We use the phrase to lift ourselves up, to tell ourselves that no matter what our current problems, we can grow and become stronger. We treat technology similarly; someday, our cars will drive us and death will be cured. In the future, things will be better -- assuming X-risk doesn't take us all out first. Sadly, this mindset seems to leave little room for the struggling. "Growth mindset" gets used to mean "everything is good and getting better" rather than "bad things are