Love/Relationship Writer, Marisa Donnelly, Answers Questions About Contemporary Dating, Being Vulnerable, Heartbreak, Moving On, And Learning To Love Again. #AMA

Marisa Donnelly
May 10, 2018

Heartbreak, unfortunately, is universal. But when we can tap into other people who have experienced similar things, when we can find others to lean on, when we can seek inspiration outside of our shattered selves, we learn that it is possible to move on (and to do so with grace).

Marisa Donnelly, former Staff Writer/Editor for Thought Catalog and now full time freelancer has published thousands of essays on love, relationships, heartbreak, and healing. In this vulnerable #AMA, she welcomes any questions about contemporary dating, falling in love, heartbreak, letting go, and learning to let someone in.

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What is your opinion on people who catfish others when online dating? Do you think those individuals are incapable of being in a relationship?
May 17, 8:36PM EDT0

Catfishing is just so hurtful because it's setting up a relationship on the grounds of pretending and untruth, which is really essential in growing something real. I don't think there's an 'obligation' factor, as the person being the catfish wasn't truthful about who they are. 

Honestly, I would just highly discourage anyone from doing this sort of thing. Honesty is always the best policy.

May 18, 10:10AM EDT0
Do you recommend having a friend with benefits relationship with an ex? What kind of complications could occur with that relationship?
May 17, 8:27PM EDT0

I don't recommend this. I think it's a disaster waiting to happen, as emotions are tied into intimacy, and it cheapens the connection as well as hurts both parties in terms of attachment/detachment.

May 18, 10:08AM EDT0
Do you think it is normal to want to be in a relationship with someone, but at the same time want to be single?
May 17, 12:19PM EDT0

I think its possible to have those feelings, yes. But when it comes to engaging with someone else, its not fair to lead them on/start something you can't finish because you're not truly ready to commit. 

May 17, 6:09PM EDT0
Do you think it is a good idea for my partner to be friends with an ex if I am uncomfortable with it?
May 17, 11:06AM EDT0

Ah this is the hardest thing. I have a good friend who is an ex, so I can advocate that it is possible for that sort of relationship to be healthy, BUT bottom line, if you're with someone you need to respect their feelings. Perhaps you can still stay friends with than ex, but not hangout alone (or some kind of compromise that doesn't disrespect either party.) 

In the end, it's all about mutual respect and also understanding what the person's relationship with an ex might be (and both parties being honest). As a significant other, you can't control your person and who he/she is friends with. But you also need to feel safe, too.

May 17, 6:08PM EDT0
In your expert opinion, is it possible to be in love with two people at the same time?
May 15, 11:37PM EDT0

No expert here :) But I think it's possible to have love for more than one person at once, but probably not 'in love.' Being 'in love' is one of those complex feelings that you can't quite understand (or sometimes even identify until that relationship has passed). 

I would just encourage anyone in that situation/circumstance to be really serious with your heart and try to identify the emotions you're having, why, and what they really mean. Then reflect on that and try to follow your heart without hurting anyone too deeply in the process. (PS: Honesty is always the best policy.)

May 16, 1:29AM EDT0
Do you find any patterns with respect to what guys are attracted to? Is it all across the board?
May 15, 9:26PM EDT0

I think this is one of those questions that just varies person by person. I don't think there's  a 'set' thing/feature/attribute etc. that men are attracted to (and I'm also no relationship expert) so I can't say. 

I would just encourage both sexes to be yourself. There's someone out there for each of us - and each of us are unique. So we should celebrate that, rather than trying to fit someone's type.

May 16, 1:27AM EDT0
Do you find the disinclination to want to date someone with kids more so with men or women? Is it pretty evenly balanced between the genders? Have you found any patterns?
May 15, 1:36AM EDT0

I'm not a relationship expert, so I can't really speak to this from a professional standpoint. I would say that it varies based on the person. To say that people aren't attracted to someone with kids is incorrect. But I can't say for certain I know or have seen patterns, as I'm just a relationship writer, not someone who professionally studies patterns etc.

May 15, 2:27PM EDT0
What do you think is the number one mistake most women make with men?
May 14, 8:09PM EDT0

Personally, I think this applies to both males and females - we don't communicate. For some reason (out of fear, hesitation, not wanting to appear too much, etc.) we hold back and don't say what we really think or desire out of our connections with people. 

May 15, 2:26PM EDT0
Have you ever considered writing a book or compiling your essays into a book?
May 12, 8:44AM EDT0

I have two book compilations of some of my earlier, shorter essays from Thought Catalog. Big Heart Problems and Fiercely Independent (Most Days)But yes, in the future I want to do this on a more serious level, now that I have thousands of essays published and a more refined voice. 

May 13, 2:07AM EDT0
What’s the most difficult case you’ve handled or question you had to answer about relationships?
May 12, 7:24AM EDT0

Having followers/readers reach out to me about abusive relationships is so hard because you want to do so much for that person, but you are powerless because they have to have strength within themselves - you can't force them to leave or change their mind. That hurts me the most.

May 13, 2:07AM EDT0
How does one let go of a lover who doesn’t want to be in the relationship anymore?
May 12, 2:51AM EDT0

Slowly. With patience. Without being too hard on yourself. This takes time. Don't get frustrated if you aren't over him/her by a certain point.

Spend time alone, spend time with friends, find new passions, discover new hobbies, laugh, run, fuel your body, craft/diy, cook, take a class, do something new. Slowly, slowly put yourself back together again.

May 13, 2:09AM EDT0
Have you also experienced a tough relationship? What’s it like to be heartbroken?
May 11, 9:43PM EDT0

Yes I have. 

Being heartbroken is like the air has been sucked from your lungs. It's like walking forward and feeling like there's no direction or purpose to your life. It feels like losing a part of you...But also, it's not the end of the world. When you're in the middle of it, the feeling just crushes you. But eventually, with time and patience and self-love, you recover. You find pieces of yourself and realize you were never any less whole than you were before the breakup. You heal. You grow. You learn valuable lessons, and you let someone in again.

Last edited @ May 14, 5:29PM EDT.
May 14, 5:28PM EDT0
What do you think of cheaters? Should they be forgiven? 
Do you believe in marriage? Should people get into a relationship with a goal to eventually get married?
May 11, 8:10PM EDT0

Honestly, this is something that depends on the person/length of relationship/values/couple. I won't condone cheating by any means, but I also won't shame anyone (especially in a marriage) who has chosen to work it out with an unfaithful partner. I think everyone's relationship is very different, and we can't pass judgement on one another or our decisions.

I don't think that cheating is healthy, though, and I think, most of all, if someone is trying to make it work when infidelity has been involved, there has to be mutual trust on both sides or it just won't work.

May 14, 5:27PM EDT0
What’s the most memorable essay you had to write? One that was extra difficult compared to others?
May 11, 3:39PM EDT0

I've listed a few of my favorite essays in question below, but as for memorable in the sense of painful/deep, this is one of the most vulnerable essay's I've ever written: 'I Will Love You In Letting Go.

May 14, 5:25PM EDT0
How does one get away from an abusive relationship?
May 11, 3:25PM EDT0

This is so very hard. Speaking from experience, you have to identify what's really happening, reach out to people around you, and often create distance between you and that person (even if it’s so very hard/impossible). You have to recognize that you are not at fault, and not weak. You have to understand that being a 'victim' does not mean you are incapable (or that there's any negative connotation at all!) You have to slowly create space, give yourself strength, and walk away. You might also want to consider getting therapy/mental help in healing.

May 14, 5:24PM EDT0
How long should one wait to get into a new relationship after a breakup?
May 11, 3:18PM EDT0

Honestly, there isn't a set answer for this. In my experience, I've tended to jump into something new (accidentally, most of the time!) before I was fully over a breakup. After my last breakup, I took over a year before getting into anything serious and wow, that changed everything for me! I was fully healed instead of trying to heal while loving someone - this difference was transformative! I highly suggest waiting until you're fully over someone until you try to build something new.

May 14, 5:22PM EDT0
How did you learn to become a relationship expert? Any formal education in psychology you had to take?
May 11, 8:32AM EDT0

I don't classify myself as a relationship expert by any means - I am a love and relationship writer, simply writing on experiences and drawing from the thousands of published essays on love/relationships to answer questions from the heart!

May 13, 1:49AM EDT0
What are some ways to effectively move on from a failed relationship?
May 11, 7:26AM EDT0

To spend time alone. To breathe. To not rush. To surround yourself with people (friends, family, etc. who love you). To not try to rush into something new. To not drink excessively. To focus on what you have not what you've lost. To write. To pursue a new hobby, passion, sport, etc. To listen to yourself. To understand that you will be okay.

May 14, 5:20PM EDT0
How many essays did you have to write in a day to come up with thousands?
May 11, 5:30AM EDT0

When I was working full-time for Thought Catalog, I wrote 2-3 per day. I now write 1-3 daily, or as often as I can. This isn't a necessity, though. I think you should write when you feel inspired and try to push yourself to write on the days you don't really want to.

May 13, 1:50AM EDT0
Where can one read some of your essays on love and relationships?
May 10, 11:39PM EDT0
Last edited @ May 13, 1:59AM EDT.
May 13, 1:59AM EDT0
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Marisa Donnelly