I See a Therapist, a Business Coach & a Psychic and I Don’t Think it’s Weird

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(Alternate title for this post: I get by with a little help from my (psychic) friends.) 

Therapist. Business Coach. Psychic. I have one of each that I talk to regularly. That’s this week’s truth bomb. 

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of therapy. I’ve written before about how seeing a therapist after my big breakup a few years ago was nothing short of life-changing. Talking to a professional has been great for sorting through messy emotions and has also helped tremendously when it comes to understanding and managing my anxiety disorder. The fact that I still see a therapist probably isn’t that surprising, but maybe the other two are.

Let’s break this down.

1. Therapist – Like I mentioned above, therapy is where it’s at. I make an appointment whenever I’m feeling stuck emotionally or have uncomfortable feelings that I need help processing. My therapist is great because she’s not afraid to tell me the things I don’t want to hear (but so desperately need to hear.) Therapy has also made me better at solving my own problems. I used to go every week, now I go every six months for a “tune-up.”

2. Business & Accountability Coach – When I started writing my book I hired an accountability coach to help keep me…well, accountable. I knew that if I was going to accomplish a huge goal like this, I needed someone with a no-BS approach to report back to. Over a year and a completed book later, she’s helped me turn my goal into a reality by being the perfect blend of virtual hand-holding and tough love. She’s now my go-to person whenever I need to talk through a creative project or a tricky work problem.

3. Psychic – My “psychic friend,” doesn’t own a crystal ball or a 1-800 number; she’s a normal, 30-something woman who lives in DC and just happens to be an intuitive. We connected through a mutual friend and have been speaking every 6-12 months ever since. I don’t go to her to have my future predicted, but rather, to get reassurance that my intuition is right about whatever is going on in my life. So, I pay her for comfort and peace of mind in times of uncertainty (and who doesn’t need that?)

(I also have a PR team that I just started working with. But, that’s a whole other post!)

Apparently, it takes a village to make me a healthy, productive human being.

It probably sounds like I’m really high maintenance, but here’s the thing: sometimes the healthiest, most productive thing you can do is admit that you need help with something, find that help and accept it. Whether that’s dealing with your feelings or doing PR for your business – we can’t be experts in everything, all the time.

Now enter Angel Morgan, a psychic and animal communicator. Angel connects to guides, guardians, angels, archangels and more. She also has the rare and uncanny ability to speak to animals as easily as she speaks with other spirits.

When Angel offered to give me a free reading, I was both intrigued and nervous. With the exception of the psychic friend from DC that I mentioned above, some of my previous experiences with psychics have been kind of creepy. However, within seconds of hearing Angel’s voice, I instantly felt comfortable and at home, like I was talking to an old friend.

When I asked Angel about her work, she told me what I had suspected all along about my previous experiences with psychics; that what people are usually looking for is confirmation of things they already know to be true. They want someone to tell them that their intuition is right.

I spoke to Angel for about half an hour. Although I won’t share everything she said (because it feels a bit like revealing your birthday wishes after blowing out the candles) here are a few things she was able to tell me during our reading.

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I have a black cat named Matilda and she is very bossy. When Angel started my reading, apparently Matilda’s spirit was the first to come through. In fact, Matilda insisted on speaking first. Angel said my cat runs the house & knows it (which, is kind of funny considering I always joke that Matilda is my “office manager.”) She also said that Matilda is really good for me energy wise. I mean, just look at her. How could she not be?

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I am very focused on my career right now and this is good. This is why I can’t seem to get my act together when it comes to dating. I want to date – sort of. Sometimes I feel like I should be dating. But when it comes down to it, I’d rather focus on my work right now. This explains why I signed up for Tinder months ago, but have yet to open the app and why I’m not using a service like jump4love.com dating site. (the photo above could be me, but isn’t me. It was found via In Honor of Design.)

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She saw me living alone in my own apartment or condo. Take that Mom! I’m not going to live in your basement forever! (I think my Mom was most excited about this revelation.) And yes, this photo from A House in the Hills is pretty much my dream living space – hanging chair & all.

She also mentioned that she sensed a very strong male presence in my home. When she started describing what she saw, I knew exactly who she was talking about.

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She said some pretty interesting things about Joe the Intern. Namely, that I should keep him out of the love sector of my home (the farthest right hand corner) if I don’t want him to negatively affect my romantic relationships. Like Matilda, he has the tendency to take over. Yes, Joe’s reputation as a blocker precedes him.

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That I need to remember to breathe. And have fun. Lately, I’ve been noticing that I’ve been holding my breath a lot. Angel picked up on this. She said if I get more in touch with my breath, my work and creativity will flow more. She said that I could do with a bit more fun in my life (also true) and that taking up biking would be a good move for me (fitting, considering how much I loved my beach rides in LA.) (photo credit)

Overall, speaking to Angel was really great. She was friendly, relatable and upbeat. I felt very much at peace after our conversation, which is exactly what I was hoping to get out of the experience. If you’d like to speak to Angel, you can book an appointment here. She made it clear that she’s a “modern psychic” and does reading over the phone and/or Skype 🙂

Have you ever spoken to a psychic? What was your experience like?

When a Whisper Turns To a Yell

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Whether it’s going to your first music festival or finally writing your first book, one of the things I’ve learned over the past year is that good things happen when you push past your comfort zone. When I started this blog in 2009 I chose the name “Skinny Dip” because I thought “skinny dipping” was a good metaphor for writing about your life online – it’s naked, it’s scary but also a hell of a lot of fun.

While writing about pretty things & sexy goodies is definitely enjoyable, lately I’ve been feeling a little too comfortable around here – and not in a good “hey I’m wearing silk pyjamas” kind of way. It’s more like, “hey, I’ve been sitting around in these silk pyjamas so long that now there’s a bum shaped imprint on the couch.” It’s time for a change.

I want to use this space for it’s original intention: to tell the truth – about dating, about sex, about bodies, about the challenges of being a (now) 30-something woman & writer. I want to talk about it all, in the most honest way possible.

So, in an effort to strip things down, I’ve decided that every week I will write and post one short personal essay about something that is currently ‘true’ in my life. There’s a very good chance I’ll still post things in-between these mini-essays, but in the meantime I’m really looking forward to more writing and real talk. I hope you are too.

Here’s the first of those “truth-bombs” if you will.

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When I was in college, I was an avid “recycler” of relationships (Al Gore would have been proud!) My love life mostly consisted of a rotating cast of 3-4 different guys that I’d keep getting back together with even though all the signs were there that none of these relationships would ever work out, no matter how many times I revisited them.

This has always been one of my favourite quotes from Maya Angelou (she has so many.)

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At the time, I understood on an intellectual level what Angelou was getting at, but I just couldn’t put it into practice – not really. So, I continued to recycle my hookups and date my exes even though we’d “broken up.” I justified my behaviour in two ways:

“If I’m recycling relationships then it means I’m not adding any more notches on my bedpost.” (I was very concerned back then at being perceived as a slut. Now, as a 30-something, I couldn’t care less.)

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“If we keep coming back to each other, it must mean there’s something there.” (What I know now: there’s always something there. That doesn’t mean it needs to be revisited.)

I’d keep up this pattern until something would happen that was so hurtful and ridiculous that it would be impossible for me not to walk away (i.e. discovering the person I was dating had a secret family stashed on the other side of the city.)

The whispers were always there, quietly guiding me towards the knowledge that these people were wrong for me. But, I needed that whisper to turn into a yell before I’d pay attention. I can’t help but wonder how much pain I could have spared myself if only I’d really listened to what the people I dated were telling me.

(For example, “I don’t want a relationship right now” doesn’t translate to “I just need the right woman to change my mind.” Trust me.)

I’m much better now. I’m becoming better at listening to those whispers and I don’t let things linger like I used to. I favour clean breaks and moving forward. Yet, in order for that clean break to happen, I still need definitive answers. I need to know that a situation is unequivocally wrong for me so I can eliminate it once and for all from my psyche – or, as my Mom likes to say, “Simone, you can’t just leave well enough alone.”

Since I broke up with The Secret Agent, I’ve been turning over stones looking for answers. This is how I ended up on a date with someone I hadn’t seen in 14 years.

I fully, 100% blame Adele’s Hello for everything that happens next (only kind of sort of kidding.)

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I met C. in 2001 through a friend. He was everything that the guys I had dated previously weren’t:

Big hearted. Sweet. Cheerful. Devoted. Tall. (Although he’s made it clear that he wants to be played by Idris Elba in the movie of my life, I envision him as more of a approachable, Pooch Hall type.) He’d do nice things like make me tapes with remixes of all of my favourite Prince songs – just because. He was the kind of guy I should have been dating all along – that I’d be super excited to date now. However, unfortunately,  at the time I was still attached to the immature and misguided notion that a relationship needed lots of hot and cold drama to be “real.” I thought C. was “too nice.” So, a month or two into dating I broke things off (something I’ve always felt bad about.)

Now, flash-forward fourteen years. I’m browsing through my OkCupid matches when low and behold, I’m matched with C.

As it turns out, he’d recently moved to the West Coast from Toronto. Messages were exchanged, texts were sent, but it didn’t go anywhere. A few months later, I met & fell in like with The Secret Agent.

Flashforward 8 months and I’m single again. I reached out to C. to say “hello” (cue Adele.) A few weeks later, I found myself sitting across from him at a sushi restaurant in Vancouver, laughing and having a really great time. This lead to a second date, a third date and a four day weekend spent together.

I like myself a whole lot more than I did when I was 21. Consequently, I like the 2015-2016 version of C. better too. He’s the same friendly, affable, cheeky guy that I initially got to know – but better. He also still does sweet things that I like (ie. records the Soul Train Awards and doesn’t “cheat” & watch them until we’re together.)

But, here’s the thing about those whispers. Once you become attune to them, they become impossible to ignore. Although C. and I connected in ways that were new and pleasantly surprising, there were a handful of little things that pointed towards the fact that long term, we’re probably not a good match. I spent years thinking that the reason that we didn’t work out the first time was largely due to my own immaturity, but really, the whispers had been there all along. Once I noticed these things, I couldn’t un-notice them. Before I knew it, the whisper had turned to a yell.

I called things off. Again.

We talked and agreed that neither of us regret reconnecting. And I truly don’t – regret it that is. In this case, I’m glad that I revisited the past but I’m also glad that I listened to my gut.

This is all to say that sometimes we need to turn over those stones. You might not always get the answer you were hoping for, but if you pay attention, you’ll always get the answer you need to move forward.

Dating in College. It’s Weird.

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May 2016 will mark the 12th anniversary of my college graduation (Jeebus, when did that happen?!) Although my college days are in the rear view mirror, there are some things that still are fresh in my mind – namely, what it was like dating as a university student. I dated a bunch of different people, had my heart broken a bunch of times and learned a lot of important stuff along the way. These were formative years. While I don’t regret my college dating experiences (ok, maybe I regret a few…) and I kind of wish I still had the hair volume of my early 20’s, you couldn’t pay me to go back to that era of my life. So, when custom-essay.ca asked me to share my thoughts about my college dating, I gladly stepped up to challenge.

Here’s a few reasons why dating in college can be challenging.

Time constraints. 

College students have no time to date properly. I went to a really academically challenging and competitive university. I also typically worked 20+ hours a week.  Dating wasn’t high on my list of priorities. Instead, I was focused on getting good grades and making money. When I had free time, I wanted to go out with my friends and party (read: drink my face off.) If I met someone while I was out with friends, cool. If not, that was OK too. I’m sure college dating is really different now that there’s apps like Tinder, but back then, I would much rather be out with my friends (where I could meet people organically) or working on my Linguistic Anthropology paper than trolling online dating sites for a potential soulmate. In other words, my priorities looked something like this: dating < school work, money, partying, sexy times with hot people I met randomly (in that order.)

Although I used to complain that most of my romantic adventures never amounted to real relationships, I honestly don’t think I could have handled the time and emotional investment that having an actual boyfriend would have required.

Lack of options or access. 

The first time one of my closest friends came to visit me at school, she scrunched up her face and asked, “what’s up with the guys here?! Why does everyone look like they’re vying for a spot on the Fortune 50?” She had a point.

I want you to imagine the ultimate party school (crazy keggers! Dorm parties! Football games! Greek row!) Now imagine the complete opposite of that and you’ve got my alma mater. I think we had a hockey team, but everyone was too busy studying to go watch any games. My school was big, anti-social and nerdy. The male population generally fell into one of three categories:

1) The above mentioned group: Izod shirts, Docker khakis, a copy of the Wall Street Journal or the New Yorker conspicuously peeking out of their Cole Haan messenger bag.

2) Suburban commuter students that looked like their mom still bought all their clothes at Eddie Bauer and maybe even cut their hair.

3) Guys who looked borderline homeless: greasy hair, torn jeans, pyjamas in public, multiple coffee mugs dangling from their MEC backpack. I once saw a guy wear a bathrobe to class. A bathrobe. 

In my four years of undergrad, I only met 3-4 guys at school that I was actually attracted to. I briefly dated one of them (and by “brief,” I mean we went out twice.) The rest of my love interests I met through housemates, coworkers or while partying at underground clubs with my friends.

No one really knows how to date. Not really. 

A few years ago, New York Times writer Alex Williams, wrote a piece about “The End of Courtship” which blamed all of the usual suspects (smartphones, technology, online dating, hook-up culture) for the death of modern romance. As she writes, “Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship.” 

While I don’t disagree with Williams, the fact that traditional dating is lacking in your 20’s isn’t anything new. I can count on one hand the number of times I went on a “real date” in college. Not only does the average 20-something not have the disposable income to wine & dine each and every one of their love interests, there’s also a good chance that they haven’t learned how to date in this way yet. In college, the best dates were usually the most casual ones. The times I did go on traditional dates in college that involved wine, a fancy dinner & roses, it always felt forced and awkward. It wasn’t until I was out of university and dating guys who were a bit older that I started to go on “real dates” that were actually enjoyable – chic bistro & all. So, a note to the college students: if you’re after the latter, dating does get better with age.

Hook-up culture is a thing. 

People like to pretend that hook-up culture is also a relatively new phenomenon, but it’s not. College is a time to experiment with all kinds of things…including sex. I know I did. Similar to the women in Kate Taylor’s New York Times article (“Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too“), I saw my college escapades as a cost/benefit kind of situation. I wanted to get the maximum return, for the least investment. Like the girls interviewed in Taylor’s article, I was super busy and the people I was interested in were also super busy. Dating in the traditional sense wasn’t really a thing. Instead, it was easier to seek out casual relationships (i.e. a friend with benefits) that allowed me to skip ahead to the good stuff – sex and cuddling – without the emotional investment of a long term relationship. This kind of arrangement worked for me until it didn’t.

Sometimes, hooking up sucks. 

When you decide that you want more than a casual relationship, the college dating scene can be a really lonely place. It can also hurt like a hell when you develop feelings for the person you’re hooking up with, only to find out that they just want to keep things casual. True story.

Everyone is trying to figure out who they are. 

I think the biggest challenge of dating in college is that everyone you meet is still trying to figure themselves out. That’s not a bad thing – after all, that’s what college is for. Unfortunately, even if you think you have a clear idea of who you are and what you want, a lot of the people you try to date don’t. I can’t tell you how many times I was broken up with because the other person “just needed to find himself/go to India on a vision quest/join the Peace Corps/Do Ayahuasca” or all of the above.

While it’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of dating in college, it can also be a lot of fun. I’m grateful for all my college year hook-ups and romantic failures. If I hadn’t had these experiences and been dissatisfied with many of them, I never would have learned what I really wanted and needed out of my relationships.

What do you think are some of the challenges of dating in college?

This post was brought to you by custom-essay.ca. All opinions are my own because that’s how I roll. Image credit: The Little Things. 

How to Get Through a Breakup On a Budget

HOW TO GET THROUGH A BREAK-UP

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Breakups suck, no matter what. But, what if you’re not only heartbroken, but also just broke? If you’re dealing with some tough times while trying to maintain a budget this post is for you.

You’re probably wondering, “Um, Simone…why are you talking about personal finances today? Shouldn’t you be blogging about something sexier…like crazy dildos or something?!” Well, as I’ve learned over the past few years, part of living well is having a sense of control over your finances.

I’ve also learned that I’m very much an emotional spender. I’ll be on track with my budget and then bam, something will happen in my life (good or bad – my emotional spending is an equal opportunist) and suddenly I absolutely need that a new pair of shoes or dress whether it’s true or not (90% of the time it isn’t.)

This Treat Yo Self craving becomes especially strong following a breakup.

I can’t count how many times I’ve gone to the salon or the mall to splurge on something after I’ve broken up with someone. While I’ll never discount the feeling you get from a post-break up haircut (seriously, it’s the best), these kinds of splurges don’t always make sense when you’re trying to stay on budget.

When SA and I broke up, we’d just returned from an epic (albeit costly) trip to California. While I’d set aside money for the trip so I wouldn’t have to worry while I was there, when I came back I had to deal with credit card bills, business costs and invoices that needed to be sent out. It sucks when you feel bummed out from a break-up and broke.

This breakup was a turning point for me – in many ways. I am proud of is how I handled myself afterward. I didn’t go and drown myself in a pool of vodka & I actually managed to stay on budget. I forced myself to find other ways to make myself feel good that didn’t involve a hangover – financial or otherwise.

Although I feel like I’m “over the hump” when it comes to post-breakup impulsive behaviour, I still feel like this is important to talk about – especially since it’s the holidays & it can be hard to resist the ubiquitous message which is “spend, spend, spend” and “indulge, indulge, indulge.”

So, if you’re currently going through a breakup, here’s a few things that worked for me (and might work for you too.)

Spend time with friends.

Usually, when I break up with someone, I’ll plan an elaborate night out with friends, complete with lots of food, cocktails, wine & pricey cab rides. However, this time around I knew that indulging in this kind of blow-out affair was not only unrealistic, it also wouldn’t make me feel good. So, I decided to do something really low key with friends (happy hour at a local tapas place that was having a bunch of really amazing specials). At the end of the day, it isn’t about what you do, but who you surround yourself with.

I needed to talk. I needed to vent. I needed to share a glass of wine with good people. It’s important to do something with friends – even if it’s just sitting on someone’s couch, drinking cheap wine & watching the Muppets Christmas Carol. Being around the people you love helps. 

Have fun making things.

Another thing I’ve been reminded of recently is that I love making things. I always joke that when my love life is in the crapper, Joe the Intern gets all kinds of new DIY gear and gadgets (sidebar: you have no idea how much joy I got out of making him this tiny musketeer hat.) Whether you’re tackling a fun DIY project or being a weird adult that makes doll stuff, creating feels good. If you’re looking for inspiration, visit A Beautiful Mess – their site is chock full of fun, accessible DIY projects and inspiration.

Move your body.

Working out & getting sweaty has always been a great distraction/outlet for me. My gym membership is already paid for so why not take advantage of it? No gym membership?! Take a walk. Practice your ridiculous Drake-style dance moves in your bedroom. It’s free and will make you feel better. I promise. (Drake heals all wounds! Just kidding. Kind of. Not really.)

Start something new.

Breakups can leave us feeling like there’s a gap in our lives. Now’s the time to try something new! I didn’t realize how much I needed to add something new to my life until a friend invited me to help contribute to her new online magazine (more on that soon!) I’ve also decided I’m going to check out some of the free introductory classes at a yoga studio that just opened in my neighbourhood. Even if it means starting a new book or listening to a new podcast, curiosity doesn’t cost a thing.

Give things away.

You know what also feels good? Giving things away. In fact, as a minimalist, I actually get a lot more pleasure from giving things to other people than acquiring more things for myself. Do you really need a item that will forever remind you of that time you broke up with someone? I’m guessing no. Post-break up, I cleaned out my closet and donated a huge bag of stuff to a local women’s shelter. I also signed up to buy gifts for local homeless people (and you can too!) For a fraction of what I’d normally spend on booze & shoes that I don’t need, I can hopefully make a few people’s days a little brighter.

If you are going to splurge, put your money where it matters.

Unfortunately, sometimes no amount of quirky crafts exercise classes can quiet the urge to splurge. If you feel the need to make a big ticket purchase post-breakup, be mindful of what you’re splurging on and why. Is it something that will give you a confidence boost in the short term or improve your overall health long term? For example, adding another designer bag to your already bloated collection might not make you feel great in six months. Whereas, you’re probably not going to regret seeking out a dental clinic to finally get those dental bridges done or investing in chiropractic treatments.

Practice gratitude.

Sometimes all you need is a change in perspective. One of the easiest ways to achieve this is by practicing gratitude. When I’m feeling really down in the dumps (and even when I’m not), I’ll make a list of five things I’m grateful for. I always feel better after this practice – because, when you see all of the good things you have going for you, it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself. Hopefully it will help you too. 

What’s helped you heal from a break-up? 

Dating Confessions: I Married a Russian Women I Met Online

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Welcome to a new series on the blog called “dating confessions.”  I get a lot of emails from readers wanting to share their stories, so I thought this might be a fun experiment. As I’ve written before, online dating within your own city can be an… interesting experience. But, what if you meet someone from another country? What if you decide to marry them? What if you don’t know each other that well yet?! This is exactly Brent from Texas’ story & he volunteered to write about it. Got a dating confession of your own? Email me at skinnydipblog AT gmail.com. 

Since I have married my Russian wife, people never stop asking me why have I chosen a Russian girl for dating. The answer is simple – she is my soulmate and my destiny. I’ve never thought of marrying a Russian woman, however by a strange quirk of fate I have found  my wife in Russia. So, here is our love story.

Our story started in 2002, the year when I got divorced with my first wife. That was a painful separation, I felt down and depressed. Though I lived with my grownup daughter, we didn’t have very close  relationship. She was a student who lived her own life and I was a lonely divorced guy who didn’t know how to change his life for better.

To ward off loneliness, I’d often spend my evenings online. One night, as was surfing the Internet, I came across a dating site. I decided to try my luck there and shared my plans with my daughter. She was skeptical about that decision, as didn’t believe it was possible for find true love online. Frankly speaking, I didn’t  have high hopes for this endeavour, but I was tired of feeling lonely and decided to give it a try. So, I registered with a dating site, wrote a couple of ladies and even had several dates, but unfortunately not very successful ones.

Despite several failures I didn’t lose hope and continued looking for someone to date and perhaps even build relationship with. Six months in, I came across a profile of a woman named Nadia. I liked her unusual name, but I didn’t pay attention to her nationality. I was just charmed by the women in the photo and looked through her profile about ten times before deciding to write her.

Every day I was impatiently checking my incoming messages, hoping to see a message from Nadia. That long-awaited message appeared in three days. Nadia thanked me for my message and told me a little bit about her life (that is when I found out she was from Russia). She asked me to tell her more about what I wanted out of life. That question puzzled me greatly and I started thinking about how I would like to live the rest of my life. My daughter was pretty independent at that time, she was finishing university, working part-time and was engaged to a nice guy. This when I realized that I didn’t want to be lonely anymore and that I was open to new relationships.

We had been in touch for about two months, when I really wanted to hear her voice. When we finally spoke on the phone, our first real conversation lasted for two hours and it was amazing! I can’t describe what a great pleasure it was talking to Nadia. We had a few more phone conversations. The next move was meeting her in person. Nadia agreed to come to Texas and I was very excited about that.

The moment I saw Nadia at the airport, I knew I couldn’t let her go back to Russia. I presented Nadia to my family and asked her to marry me. Luckily, she agreed without any hesitations. We have been married for two years already and we are both very happy. Moreover, my daughter and Nadia became friends very quickly and our relationship is now better than ever. 

Today, I can safely say that finding true love online is possible, so don’t lose your chance of being happy.

Thanks for sharing your story, Brent! Thank you also for supporting the posts that keep Skinny Dip going. xo

 

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