Anatomy of this outfit: Jacket – Forever 21 | Top – Urban Outfitters | Shorts: Misguided | boots – thrifted | necklace – ASOS

One of my dear friends is going through a difficult break up at the moment, which has gotten me thinking about that crazy thing we call love. At 29, my mentality on the matter – as well as on romance and relationships in general – has been shaped by my life experiences up until this point and are likely to change and shift once again as I grow older. But what I can say at this very point in time is that these are twelve things I have learnt about love thus far:

We will love… and love again.
With age I have come to realize that love isn’t some pure, virginal, and untouched thing you grow with one singular person from start to finish, like tapping the top of Crème brûlée with a spoon together – that is unless you marry your playground love. We all have a history and for 99% of us, we will have loved before we love again and the person we love will have loved before us. Which in all honesty is not a bad thing. With each relationship we have, we learn more about ourselves and get closer to understanding just what we need in order to create a successful relationship – which in turn makes us an even better candidate for our next partner.

Soul mates: the biggest lie since sliced bread.
When I was in my teens I was unaware of just how subliminal movie plots and the media truly were in shaping my view on relationships. I was a firm believer in the idea of two people being unequivocally destined for each other. Then I realised that the idea of soul mates was bullshit. There isn’t just one person meant for you out in this giant universe. There are a multitude of individuals that could and would make you happy. I died a little inside when I stopped believing in soul mates. But only for a little while.

Because the idea of only being meant for one person and one person only on a planet of close to 7 billion people is absolutely bollocks to say the least and there is such a beauty in having been able to love different people at different stages of our lives. And there is a beauty in choice and decision making and deciding that although there are many people with whom you could be happy with, you have chosen one specific person with intention. And being chosen is pretty sweet if you ask me.

anatomy of an outfit - - rae tashman

The person you are is always enough.
In the past I had a tendency to dive head first crashing into love, and was extremely reckless when it came to letting people into my life. I didn’t protect my own feelings and emotions and put these men before myself. My long term relationships were all with people unsuited for me in one way or the other, and even though all relationships are based on consideration and compromise, I failed to see just how much I was bending over backwards to meet the needs of another person while ignoring my own happiness and how I allowed myself to question my interests and dreams due to the opinions of another human being.

I now know that although compromise and patience are both pillars to any good relationship – romantic or not – if you find someone who vibes with you and is on the same wavelength as yourself, you won’t have to try to fit yourself to their pieces by twisting in un-human ways.

Romantic love does not define happiness
I used to think that love between two people was what defined ultimate happiness. But happiness is not something you need to find in another person. It is something you should be giving yourself. Sure, another person can make you happier – which is a goddamned beautiful thing. But this only works if you are already happy on your own. The biggest mistake we will all make at least once is trying to find happiness in other people rather than growing it from the inside out.

anatomy of an outfit - - rae tashman

We’ve been sold a lie.
Ok so this one is rather radical, but I can tell you that with age I no longer believe that monogamous love with one person for decades and decades is completely natural; rather, we have been convinced of this concept by society. This doesn’t mean that I want to turn my life into one giant episode of “Big Love” or believe/hope to grow old with one person, but from a purely intellectual standpoint, I think that the idea of monogamous romantic love and the nuclear family is the best damned thing to happen to capitalism and for this reason am just a wee bit skeptical of the whole thing. For this reason, I think it’s best to appreciate love when you find it, but not necessarily demand from yourself or the other that it be forever or until death.

We are always changing and evolving. For the lucky ones, these changes coincide with the changes of our partner. But it’s also perfectly okay to realize that the person we once were is not the person we are now and that the partner we have does not make sense with who we have evolved into. I feel like so many people feel that once they settle down and marry it’s for life. And while “till death to us part” is a nice promise, it’s not very nice or even sensible if this means remaining in a loveless marriage due to societal obligation.

anatomy of an outfit - - rae tashman

Fighting =/= feelings.
Until very recently, I used to think that love meant fighting. While a relationship built on constant bickering or explosive fights does not love make, I was under the impression that one only fights for things they truly care about, and if two people didn’t fight, it meant they didn’t care enough to get upset about things that mattered to them. But sometimes you meet someone, and things jive so well that there are simply no things to fight about. Sure normal bickering in a long term relationship is to be expected, but not mandatory – especially not in the “honeymoon period”. And on that note…

What the fuck is a honeymoon period anyway?
Of course the first few months to 2 years of a relationship has been defined as the golden age of a relationship. But if you are truly happy with someone, you should be growing more in love with them each and every day. (Then again, none of my relationships have made it past the 2 year mark, so what do I know…)

anatomy of an outfit - - rae tashman

Love should be easy.
After being in extremely tumultuous relationships in my past which seemed to require constant strenuous effort and ridiculously long discussions after every fight with no true improvement to the situation, I started to think that this was the norm. But it’s not. Yes, love takes work, but it should also be easy and fun and effortless without much over-thinking.

Love is neither a chore nor a prison
Along these same lines, love should not be a chore. I hear so many women (mostly) dealing with partners who feel that seeing them or spending time with them is too much effort or “stifling”. Yes, everyone has a different level of “neediness,” and in a relationship you need to strike a compromise. But unless you want him to call you every 20 minutes when he is not with you, this kind of complaining is a red flag. Every couple is different, but ultimately you should WANT to spend time with each other.

anatomy of an outfit - - rae tashman

It’s not you, it’s them.
Okay, maybe it’s you too. But hear me out. I had a distinctive pattern of getting involved with extremely broken poeple who had good souls but lousy execution when it came to how to be a partner. Because this pattern kept on repeating itself and because I was being told a lot of damaging things, I half wondered if I were not the root cause of distress in my romantic relationships. I realised that I was responsible, but not because I was some selfish, rigid, and uptight individual, but because I kept dating men who were selfish, rigid, and uptight. Now I’m not giving every human being a free pass to walk around thinking they are fabulous and don’t need to change a goddamned thing about themselves, but what I am saying is sometimes your fault is not to do with how you interact with other people but how you navigate love and who you allow into your life.

Small gestures are just as grand
Disney and Nicholas sparks would have us convinced that it’s not love unless some man is marrying you cos you’re dying of cancer. That it’s all grand gestures and sappy declarations of love. And while I am certainly not opposed to a John Cusack a la “Say Anything” kind of moment every now and then, my point is a that guy filling your room with rose petals and writing you love letters on the reg could still be a shit partner. Hell, he might be doing all these things to try to make up for his general lack of ability to be a good partner. (Side note: Whenever I see a man with a bouquet of flowers, I always think, “poor guy must have really fucked up again”)

And while grand gestures are always welcome and entirely sweet, they should be reserved for special occasions to keep them special. Besides, it’s the everyday that should be full of the small gestures and considerations which make a relationship more likely last and are heaps more romantic and sexy anyway.

anatomy of an outfit - - rae tashman

I know fuck-all about love
Love is an enigma and it actually scares the shit out of me as a concept. It’s this thing we keep trying to define time after time but are also being told how to define it time after time. With so many conflicting attitudes about how to love and what love is or when like becomes love, I can only say this: there isn’t one recipe for these kind of feelings or one master equation to ensure a love to last the ages.

But this much is true: love is an innate human emotion and a pretty dope one at that. And while I no longer believe in a Disney-type romance, that does not mean I think love is any more lacklustre – quite the contrary: I think a healthy and realistic attitude towards love opens up the door for something even more extraordinary and romantic. I would like to end this post with the “wise” words of Justice Stewert. You might not know what love is, but you’ll know it when you see(feel) it.

Photography: Leni

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Stay conscious, Rae

Rae Tilly

Rae the EIC of LFB and YEOJA Magazine. She is also a photographer and social media influencer.


  • so pretty and well written, rae <3 i think as we grow old, we view love as more and more simple. it shouldn't be complicated. as simple as it is to love everyone. i do believe in soulmates though. there are just different people for different things of us that if we do it with other person, it wouldn't feel as lovely as with our soulmate. it's more than a preference.

    i do believe that love is making you do the somersault, but also making you feel safe and powerful. i also believe that once you fully love yourself, there will come another person who could love you as much as you love yourself. and by then you can love the person, without sacrificing your love to yourself.

    • rae

      Thank you so much, Tannya. Love really should be simple. I was just having a conversation over drinks with friends here in Poland last night and I came to a very basic conclusion. Many poeple confuse a roller coaster relationship full of extreme highs and lows as passionate because the highs are so high. But a truly passionate and healthy relationship is one that is simple and easy but where you still feel extremely connected to your partner, want to spend time with them and still feel insanely physically attracted to them. I think it is rare for people to find this kind of love though if I am entirely honest although it definitely is possible. Since I am under 30 I cannot rightly say if I think that this kind of love is the kind that will stand the test of time, but I will let you know when I’m old and grey!

  • soulmate is such a dreamy, fairy tale BS that some romantic idealists still believe in today. i personally don’t. i think the idea of soulmate is stupid. it’s like…okay, so you’re telling me everyone has their destined soulmate but what if the soulmate is on the other side of this world? what are the chances for us to meet our so-called soulmates anyway? pssh, ridiculous.

    i have never had any relationship before… until now at the age of 20. i’ve seen people, friends who were so in dilemma when they didn’t have any boyfriend that it made me scoff because being single isn’t actually bad, imo. it’s actually just as nice (if not twice as nice) as having a partner. when i was in high school, i never actually thought of such things because i’ve always thought having boyfriend and being in a relationship are not priorities. i saw my classmate lamenting about how she couldn’t focus on exams because she was having a rough time with her boyfriend and it just made me scoff even further. i’m actually glad that i never actually gave any thought about that. i mean, yea sure having a partner is fun; it’s fun for me now and i admit i learned about so many things when you’re in a relationship but not having any shouldn’t cause any dysfunction in my life! even now, i have a guy friend who groans about why he is still single, yadda yadda yadda. i feel like these kinds of people tend to fall in love with the idea of love and having partner instead of really loving the person. for instance, this guy friend of mine… he has had sooo many crushes in the past and none of them worked out and now he just keeps on groaning about his single status. it’s a long story but to cut it short: it’s like he only wants a girlfriend because he fancies the idea of love and having a status, instead of really thinking about how relationship is not an easy thing to maintain.

    The person you are is always enough. – this is so true. i feel sad whenever someone feels the need to change themselves for the sake of their partner. in my personal opinion, the partner has to accept you for you are, raw and natural and no added preservatives. no matter how happy my boyfriend makes me feel, there’s no way i’m going to let him dictate what makes me happpy. if i like wearing skirt or makeup or heels, he should be able to let me do my thing. i don’t have to change what makes me happy and sacrifice my smile for the sake of others. and if a relationship has gone to that course, it’s not a relationship anymore. after all, my view on relationship is all about co-existence and mutual respect.

    that guy filling your room with rose petals and writing you love letters on the reg could still be a shit partner — how accurate of you to say this. i agree 100%. grand gestures do not always justify a person’s true nature, just like how sweet words and outer appearance can be dangerous.

    like you, love is a terrifying concept for me. and it’s even more terrifying when there is no co-existence involved and the other person is not willing to give as much as we give them. my current relationship is not perfect; neither of us are perfect but we still want to make things work and find a way out of things. i think such values are more important than having someone who’s all about the grand gestures and buying you things 24/7 because in the end, breakups are easier and is the easiest solution when two people refuse to work things out.

    sorry for yet another long ass comment. i just love it when bloggers write about these kinds of topics and go in depth about reviewing them. this is so well written and i can say i agree with your insights.


    • rae

      Recently I met up with some girls from instagram and one could not come because she was having a massive fight with her boyfriend. While I do not know her personally and clearly do not know anything about him – he could be a totally lovely guy for all I know – I have been in those kind of relationships in the past. I totally get it, in that moment that fight and that person feels like EVERYTHING, like your whole world, and you can’t leave the room until you’ve sorted things out. But I don’t think this is the goal of a relationship – to hold you back from growing and experiencing new things.

      At the moment I do find myself in a relationship and for the first time in my life it’s the kind of relationship I never knew could exist and never knew could make me happy and it’s so unexpected and beautiful and romantic in a way I never fathomed. At the end of the day, singlehood is great, and so is being with a partner as long as that person does not hold you back from being the best version of yourself and growing and that you can both learn and grow together as well. I am sure you will find this too.

  • really enjoyed reading your thoughts! guess love is something individual, glad you broke with a lot of those ‘fairytales’!

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Lisi!

  • I don’t believe in all the hollywood romantic movies bullshit anymore too! As you grow older, you grow wiser and that’s with everything in life. I went through a terrible phase with my love life before and glad I went through it because now I have learned so much from it.

    My current partner and I went through a lot of growing up before we finally realized that we are the best for each other.

    I think that love is good for you but you must still be your own person. I hate couples that start to morph into each other (barf). You need to maintain your separate identities.

    And I super hate people who get married and say “I married my best friend” as if they never had friends before. I think it’s important to have friends outside of your romantic relationship and continue to have friends even if you have kids, etc. It’s healthy to have that.

    • Haha love that last bit! “…as if they never had friends before.” 😂

    • rae

      No completely morphing into each other is never good. That being said, I do think that we learn from our partners (or should!) and they may awaken interests in us we never knew we had! I think though the most ideal situation is to grow independently as an individual and know what you are and what you are about before finding a partner. That way when you do, the person will genuinely make a great fit.

      At this point in time I don’t even believe that hollywood romance is the ideal romance. I believe romance is actually something simple and intense at the same time. Simple in that it is easy, and there is no friction, things just flow and intense in that this other person does occupy your thoughts and you want to spend time with them and can’t get enough of being physically close to them.

  • This is wonderful. I have always felt like such a grinch when it comes to love, but I’m happy to know I have similar ideals to another.

    I, too, have a pattern of dating some pretty lousy people. I’ve always put up with it because I thought relationships were all about understanding and patience. It took me a long time to realize my partners’ never felt the same way. Most were very self involved and I fed that behavior. It’s great to see you acknowledge that, yes, some of it is on you, but mostly they are not the right fit and it takes time to recognize that. I like to think that now that I am aware of my relationship pattern I can steer clear of it…but of course that’s just in theory. Practice makes perfect, right? ;)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • rae

      Thank you so much Grace, I am so glad that you liked this post. While patience and understanding are two very respectable and important traits for a human being to have, too much of it can cause us to get into these toxic relationships. I am glad that you have realized that for yourself too and will stear clear of them in the future. I have done the same recently, and it is working out swimmingly!

  • You bring up a lot of excellent points, Rae! I especially like the one about small + big gestures, you hit the nail on the head with that one

    (also that coat is amazing!)

    • rae

      Thanks so much, Shannon!

  • Awh, I totally agree that you will love, and love again. I also feel like there are different types of love, and you’ll love different people differently. The way I loved my high school sweetheart is totally different from how I love my current SO.

    Stephanie ● Sartorial Diner

    • rae

      Oh definitely. I think we grow and mature with love and we need to experience all different kinds to understand which one is right for us.

  • You are SO wise, Rae. I love this post. I agree with you 100% on #4 — you can’t really truly be happy with someone else until you are happy with yourself. I know too many people who jump from relationship to relationship because they feel like they need someone else to make them happy. When in reality, having a positive relationship with yourself is what’s most important.

    Natalie Was Here

    • rae

      Thank you so much Natalie and I am so glad that you liked this post. And yes, so many poeple try to complete themselves via another person and this never ends well. You need to be a full person before you can let another full person enter your life or you will be swallowed up by the other no matter how kind or good their intentions are.

  • These words are so inspiring Rae! I was especially touched on the part about a person being enough for another person, and that we shouldn’t bend over backwards just to please another person. Yes what we are is enough; love should make us want to become better individuals and that should come from an innate place, not fabricated, not forced. Love your writing hun, so inspiring and powerful. And the outfit is great too! That fur coat is stellar :) xo~ Lena

    • rae

      Thank you so much, Lena, I am so glad that you liked this post and found it inspiring!

  • I love your post and the insight you shared! “my point is a that guy filling your room with rose petals and writing you love letters on the reg could still be a shit partner.” – AMEN to this!! Grand gestures does not equate to BEST PARTNER EVER!!

    • rae

      Thank you so much and yes, these kinds of things do not a relationship make!

  • I must remember that the person I am is enough, sometimes I slip and forget this, but it’s important not to. I am enough, I am enough etc etc.
    But yes haven’t we just been sold a lie? I think I could rant on that for absolute ages, much to everyone’s misery. I get so irrationally angry about it, it’s silly and mad.
    Erin | Erin Veness is Dead

    • rae

      Girl we seriously need to meet up one of these damned days for a coffee.

  • loved reading your thoughts on this!

  • sileas

    Wonderful, honest read which speaks my mind in many ways. Our imagination of love has been very much shaped by the media, movies and literature that our expectations aren’t realistic anymore… However I could never stop watching Disney movies ;)

    • rae

      Thanks so much! And yes I feel the same about Disney movies to be honest!

  • This is such a great post. One that tells it like it is and explains real love. I loved it.


  • LOVE.

    • rae

      Thank you!

  • I think with every relationship you grow and should try to figure out what your character flaws may be to avoid those problems in your next relationship. My current one is so much better than my last because I learned to listen and compromise. Love is crazy but it makes you a better person

    • rae

      Oh I could not agree more with you Asia! So glad to have learnt the lessons I have before entering the current relationship I am in!

  • I am so with you on this whole post. I definitely felt a bit sad about the realisation that soul mates is probably bullshit but I love the way you phrased it – that everyone has choices but to know that you have chosen someone and they have chosen you is pretty great too. Especially because we all know it’s true, and I personally stayed in my first relationship for way too long because I thought we were soul mates and were meant to be together and we just had to ride out the shitty parts, even if they went on for years and he was actually really emotionally abusive and a shit partner.

    And you’re 100% right, although all relationships have problems and there are always going to be tough times and hard realisations and work to be done, for the most part it should be easy and simple and carefree and if you’re fighting with your partner every other day then maybe it’s time to reassess if you’re really compatible with each other. Being with someone should compliment you and your life and enhance it as much as possible and it should never feel like a prison or like they’re dragging you down or holding you back.

    • rae

      To be honest, I think the idea of having the free will to choose someone rather than being some how destined to be with someone is much more romantic and ideal than some fatalist approach to love.

      And yes, for the most part things should be easy. While I think people give up way too easily these days, it should not be a constant battle of trying to pull yourself out of quicksand. You are absolutely right – our partners should inspire us and help us want to be better people and never hold us back.

  • “my point is a that guy filling your room with rose petals and writing you love letters on the reg could still be a shit partner.” Exactly, fancy gifts and gestures mean nothing! I loved this read.

    • rae

      While the off fancy gift and gesture are lovely, these are surface things if there is actually no true foundation to a relationship!

  • Lovely and insightful post. I didn’t have my first serious relationship until I was 25. (I dabbled in dating and had a high school boyfriend, but that was about it. College was a complete romantic dead zone for me.) The idea that romantic love does not define happiness, or that one needs to be happy with themselves first, really resonates with me. In college I was really scared and anxious about how I would never find anyone, but in hindsight, I had a lot of growing up to do and wasn’t as confident or happy with myself. It was only after I matured and was happier with myself that I was really “ready’ to find a relationship.

    I also love your point about small gestures. My current boyfriend and I aren’t big gestures people at all, but I’d like to think that we do a lot of small things to help each other and be good partners.

    • rae

      So glad that you found this post insightful! And yes you definitely have to be ready as an individual before you can be ready to let someone else into your life! And I honestly believe that those little things add up to be really really big things over time that far outweigh a candlelit dinner once a month. I definitely need and appreciate a partner who will help me unload the dishwasher or make the bed over one who wants to buy me fancy things.