How to stop stalking your ex on social media (or quitting whatever obsession you have)

For quite a while I was stalking my ex. Actually each of them. Actually I was not only stalking my ex-girlfriends, I was also stalking my ex-colleagues for quite a while (hi, peoples, social media makes that easy :D ).

I thought that’s my personal problem until I’ve realized (after googling) that’s what a lot of people do.

As neurological study suggests, staring at a photo of your ex, triggers reward systems in your brain regardless of whether one is happily or unhappily in love. So first thing is to stop worrying. You’re normal.

Probably each of us was going trough this a number of times, so below are the tricks I’ve learned. Don’t forget to share yours ^_^

Possible approaches

1. The deadline

The idea is to allow yourself to monitor your ex’es activity for quite a while and then quit. Similarly to “quitting smoking tomorrow” this won’t work just because there always will be another tomorrow. Also why wait with this?

I’ve tried this a number of times, also observed my friends doing this with little to no success. I don’t think this is a worthwhile method as it’s often ending up with a lot of guilt to carry for not making it.

2. Blacklist / unfriend

I’ve never tried this mostly because of the consequences I was afraid of. We share a lot of friends and blacklisting people would probably lead to our common friends asking what forced me to do so.

Even if social pressure is not a problem for you, other people reminding you of your ex is something which probably won’t really help to let them go.

Also this one is hard to apply to other obsessions – how do I blacklist alcohol?

3. Sandbagging

I’ve learned this trick from my favorite procrastinatolog doctor’s blog.

The idea is to continue with your obsessions but make it slightly less convenient. E.g. in case of Facebook:

  • Delete mobile app
  • Log off from the desktop browsers
  • Use only mobile versions of the mobile apps (e.g. –> no notifications!
  • Remove browser icon from the main screen so you have to look for it
  • Also for Facebook I use News Feed Eradicator plugin for Chrome which hides the most dangerous part from me

Generalizing it further, in this method you reverse engineer tricks the product developers use to make your obsession closer to you and sandbag these.

For more ways you’re tricked to use apps more you can read How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds (this click can cost you 20 minutes of your life :D )

4. Conscious one

The idea here is not to expect anything from yourself and just observe what do you feel / think about when doing the thing you’d like to quit doing.

Good thing is that you’ll learn about yourself and your obsession more. Also it’s the most guilt free of the techniques here. Thus I recommend it as a healthy addition to the other attempts.

Bad thing is that quitting may be postponed indefinitely. But why bother about that while you’re learning?

5. Realize that you’re already there

My TLDR of Allen Carr’s books (helping with quitting smoking, overeating, …) is basically: you’re already there. At the moment you’re reading my article and not doing the thing you’re quitting, so you’re a free person.

Your next step is to realize that you’re already good and enjoy this state (pretty much like ‘conscious one’ but paying attention to what it feels like to be free of the obsession).

Common problem: comebacks

One thing you should know about me before reading this further is that I’m a kind of professional quitter. I quit smoking (I guess 6th time now :D), quit adding sugar to my tea, quit computer games, quit unhealthy relationships, …, you name it.

Thus I can generalize that there are two modes of quitting:

  1. quitting to let go of something because it’s ‘bad’
  2. quitting to make some room for the stuff you’d like to pull into your life

Quick experiment: try keeping your mind clean of all thoughts for a while and then try to think about whatever you’d like to have soon (I thought about yachting or burritos).

In my case nurturing an idea I like (2nd thing) works much better than keeping a piece of my mind clean of anything.

In my case most of the methods from the above were following the 1st approach. It’s ‘bad’ so I’ll quit it. Once my willpower was depleted, I usually was able to negotiate with myself and ‘bad’ things became ‘decent’ and there I was again following my obsessions. That’s what comeback basically is.

6. Substitution

Here you’ll put something rewarding in place of the habit you had. We’ll still trigger our

If you’re obsessed over an ex-partner, get a few new awesome friends to hang out with (or befriend a few celebrities like Mr. Bieber – they’re used to a lot of attention :D ).

If you’re quitting consuming unhealthy amount of foods, learn to have a healthy drink instead (mine is lemon water).

If you’re letting go of computer games, grab a new freelance client or an awesome volunteering gig for something you’re passionate about (look mom, I’m earning new moneys!).

If you’re quitting having evening cocktails, a trustable fitness trainer and a training buddy e.g. from Fitior will help you (I totally quit that thing after learning that alcohol consumption impedes muscle growth and I dream of VinDiesel-like-body :D ). Also a whole bunch of highly addictive jogging clubs are available in large cities.

Once the old habit is gone, you probably will be able to let go of your new one but I’ve never did that until I’ve found even better ones. So the substitution is usually about getting even more stimulating thing discovered – be careful :)


I have a new *-friend but I’m still looking at the photos of my ex, what do I do?

Enjoy it while you can! ^_^


How to travel with somebody?

People generally get crazy if left for enough time isolated in confined groups.

One of the things I do over and over again is traveling with people. I did a lot of variations starting from a half-a-day in suburbs to half a year long hopping across the globe. Both friend and girlfriends. And we all were getting mad at each other :)

Some of the travels made me closer to these people, some of the travels tore our relationships apart. Now time has come to do this again, so you, my dear reader can reap the benefits of my experiences without all the tears of your travel buddy :)

TLDR: Give the link to this post to the friend you’re going to travel with to make it better for all of you :)

Be prepared :D

Hostels will loose their bookings. Metro will close right before you’re able to make the commute. Evernote and gmail will decline to display cached pages. Flights will be canceled and/or delayed. Cards will be rejected. Favorite things will be stolen and lost (people also can lose each other!).

Some of these happened to my friends and some of these happened to me. To survive all the problems of a travel, be like a space ship: duplicate all the things.

  • Every document should both exist in written and electronic form
  • Same applies for money, both small bills and electronic cards
  • All of these stored separately
  • The most important bits never leaving your body


Accept stuff which is bigger than you

Once you’ve prepared all the thing you was able / wanted to prepare for, there’s still hell of a lot of things which gonna happen.

If you feel like crying – do so. If you’re angry (or hungry, like I get all the time) – let somebody know while you still can do that in a calmed in controlled manner. Worst thing you can do is spending your energy to make appearance that everything is ok.

Breaking the rule usually leads to dumping 3 weeks worth of suppressed feelings onto your fellow traveler. Bad for everyone involved.

This also means that you should accept yourself as you are. If you don’t know where’s our train, or where are we – let the group know rather than try to play a cool captain (even if you lead this particular group).

We’re all in the same boat and nobody expects you to know everything.


Keep the balance

While traveling you’ll be far from most of the resources which usually support your self confidence:

  • Family, friends will be far away, similarly your image of a successful person :)
  • Work. Doing that remotely is still something not everybody is granted with. Plus it can be trickier to maintain your performance while working off a shitty 3g internet somewhere in jungles, trust me. So if you imagine yourself a good colleague, be ready for that to be gone :)
  • Work out routines will need to be re-established (I had times visiting up to 3 no-longer-existing gyms per day to find a one for myself)
  • New foods and climates will affect your health depending on your luck (e.g. you can get 5-days dengue fever preventing you from sleep or mild indigestion)

In such conditions it is common to look for the support in people nearby. Continuous demands can easily strain your partners, so be careful (remember, they’re in around the same situation as you are).

That’s where the notion of emotional bank account comes into play. Whenever somebody does me good, I can feel like I’m up to doing more good for them, similarly whenever somebody asks (or demands) a lot of help from me often, I will be feeling like the amount of good I’m willing to do for them is reduced.

If that’s your first wild travel, be especially careful: habits which you form now will predate you (or support you) until the very end of your life. Another important thing is that most probably you’ll feel like you need a lot of assistance. It’s up to you to decide how much of a helplessness you will root in yourself.


Start small

So, once my usual self-confidence is gone, I feel like growing some new. The simplest way for me to do so is by learning how to get to home (tent, apartment, shack, …). In most places this can be achieved by buying a sim card with 3g data. On lightning in a bottle, though, I had to spend some time exploring the territory :D

Having that, it is much easier to support the balances: I don’t need a person attached to me to try the stuff I like (Darling, let’s go to a zoo [as I don’t know how to return from there]).

Next step is usually taking care of some shared stuff. Taking your friend(s) to a cafe both counts as a contribution to your emotional bank account as well a proves (to yourself) that you’re capable of more.

Next time you’re gonna travel with friends, just observe who’s the first one to take you somewhere and how do you feel about them.

Embrace your fears

After taking care of some basics, it’s usually time to challenge yourself a bit. Cool if you can do that in a controlled manner (e.g. when somebody more experienced is around). That’s not required, though.

Being introverted, my first fear is about talking to people. So I try to talk those who are already interested in conversations with me: sales people. Being a guy which loves to eat, I just approach any food truck / cafe and I’m done.

Pick something you both like and a bit uncomfortable to do and you’re good to go.

Sometimes, the thing can prove itself difficult (e.g. approaching a cute girl in the office). What worked cool for me in such cases is imagining what I will do next time (all the exact steps, phrases said, you can even write that somewhere just for kicks!). For some reason brain can be trained well even using such a hypothetical scenarios, so after a while, I prove myself capable of doing tricky things. So are you.



What are the tricks you use to make your social travels feel better?

Networking #2: From quantity to quality

Networking. I’ve never seen it working for me. It’s not something particularly practiced among people I hang out with in Ukraine, so I had no one to borrow habits from.

I read a few books, printed out a few hundred business cards and ‘Traditional’ understanding of networking didn’t work well for me: follow up rates on business cards which I tossed out were depressingly low (capped at 20 people on 300 cards).

Once upon a time, I was reflecting on time spent traditionally networking (read this as: speaking at conferences, exchanging business cards, volunteering, …). And I realized.


My greatest introductions actually happened by chance (I don’t think anybody was actually thinking of the N* word). But what was similar in all of the cases:

  • we were having fun time together
  • we’ve discovered common interests
  • and identified things to learn from each other

Measuring stuff was the thing which derailed me a lot: it’s not the number of people in the network, which matters but the number of intersections in our goals we’ve discovered!

Why network if I’m not following up, not sharing the goals or even have no goals at all? I remember 3 intros by Alex which were well intended but led nowhere just because of this reason. People seemingly had common interests but invested time into another set of objectives.

Networking in the network

From time to time I’ve spotted people in my friend list on Facebook which I can’t say a thing about. Easiest thing would be to drop the strangers but why not benefit from the occasion?

So I’ve decided to sift through my contacts, get all the inactive ones and suggest us both to introduce ourselves. Which is kind of cool but makes delaying the thing easier: “My reunion list is still not ready, not all people are there”.

Another idea arrived to my head just recently: I saw a person in a chat and just approached them with the truth.

Ivan: Hey, do you remember where do we know each other from?

Hey, I remember you from … and I don’t know much about you. Let’s get reintroduced so that it will be easier to be useful to each other just in case.

I had a few chats like that now and I would like to improve on my success. What I’m going to do is inquiring people about their interests, goals and plans in case I don’t know these.

Although, that does not always work smoothly, some people will just appear as clearly out of my tribe :)

“Longterm goals are too intimate of a thing to share them” (c) someone from my friend list


“Why you’re so clandestine?” (asked by a person which ignored all of my questions altogether :) )

What to do then? No reasons to worry – I just tell it does not looks like a good fit right now and we can always get reintroduced later :)

Networking at the workplace

When was the last time you’ve asked your manager what his / her goals are? When you did that for your peers? (360 reviews / performance reviews or whatever your HR come up with does not count :P )

Doing this has a few clear advantages:

  • I need less resources to break the ice as we have a lot in common
  • I am interested in nurturing the relationship as this makes me enjoy my time at work
  • Other person is interested as that way I’m less of a pain in the neck

Surprisingly, I was not even considering the work as a networking area until the very recent time. What about you?

What’s next?

Pick someone at random on your social network and figure out the answers for a few questions, here’s an example list, feel free to work out your own:

  • How do they spent most of their time?
  • How do they relax?
  • What are the things they are investing their time / resources to grow in?

Next time you’ll see someone you don’t know a lot about, approach them and talk about that, trust me, that gets even more fun and useful with practice!


Personal barriers and ‘no’

How to accomplish more of what you want? – Do less shit you don’t want to. That’s about it.

My story

When I was just born I didn’t have any things preventing me from exchanging with the world around me. Even more, at first I had that awesome navel string which I had to give up to get more freedom in my movements.

Being a small kid made me used to the fact that I should be likable by the elder people: e.g. if my dad was upset, I was losing my access to the internet, similarly other resources. I believe the same happens to most people at the beginning.

As we contact more people, it makes sense to introduce some barriers or filters. I remember a few times in the university I was completing up to 20 homework assignments per week before I’ve learned that some of the people will have to hear ‘no’, after all I needed some time to attended some of the parties.

Maintaining barriers is a bit painful to the both sides. Requesting side tends to suffer from the fear of rejection as well as the receiving side.

Quick exercise: Just try to ask people to let you cut the queue in a grocery shop without explaining any reasons to them and you’ll see what it feels like.

Similarly, spend a day answering ‘no’ to at least 10 first queries and you’ll know what I mean.

Having an excuse for some reason is better accepted by people. “Sorry, dear, I HAVE to do this, because my cat is ill”, et voila – I can do more stuff than I was capable of before (nice side effect of having an ill cat).


Poor man’s solution

As saying ‘no’ is such an energy consuming thing, how come people live with that?

Easiest solution to this I’ve seen is silent sabotage: I just commit to a project and then I fall ill, even without consciously realizing the reasons. My mind might be committed, but body won’t let me do that with the energy reserves being depleted.

I’ve been to many projects where ‘committed’ contributors left because of some kind of illness: high pressure, damaged bodies, migraines – I don’t think that’s anywhere close to a free lunch like before.

Intelligent sabotage

After mastering the trick I’ve seen many good minds using it independently. When I don’t feel like doing something people request from me (and they say they need that absolutely and totally committed on their side), I turn the tables: you do something first.

1) “Can you please review my code?” – “Sure, but first please run it through the checkstyle and correct all the things”

2) “Let’s have a coffee?” – “What’s on the agenda?”

3) “Let’s discuss that book” – “Please write me early next week”

95% of askers will not return. Which is kind of awesome if controlled (and I really plan for this). Otherwise I’m suffering from the fear of rejection again.

How do they do that

Volunteers et al

It often happens at volunteering gigs: I have a feeling that when I raise my hand, people think that I fully belong to them now.

First story I clearly remember is my willingness to help to a promising politician balloting for a major. There was a manager on her side inviting me to have a meeting with him with no clear agenda at 8:00 on another bank of the city (think “Ivan get up at 6 am, spend 2 hours traveling just to uhm… invest more of your time”).


Probably that’s one of the ways I recognize friends: we have easier time accepting ‘no’ from one another.

“Dude, I know you’ve spent tremendous amount of energy preparing this party, but I won’t show up. – Ok, man, you are absolutely free to do so – Love ya”



I only know a few people I hear ‘no’ from and… I respect them. I don’t use the word ‘respect’ often, but that’s probably one of the good places to use it.

When somebody is telling me (or other people ‘no’), I read that as the person’s ability to manage own energy level and being highly reliable in terms of delivering on commitments.

Saying ‘no’ to some things helps me to say louder ‘yes’ to the deeds you focus on.


Frequently asked questions

I’ve already saying ‘no’ quite often. How do I learn to do that more frequently?

First part of my story was to do some tuning in the mindset.

  • People ask for help because they believe in you – thank them for that but remember that should not lead to a guaranteed ‘yes’.
  • One of the things I’ve learned only recently was that its ok to miss stuff. When I say ‘no’ to an opportunity, I automatically have more energy to give a louder ‘yes’ to another one I love more.

Second part of the equation is just to practice. Pick any usual situation, tell ‘no’ occasionally and observe how your mind works.

– Dear developer, you’ve saved last 5 releases, now it’s Friday and we need your favor again.
– No


I’m hearing ‘no’ from various people a lot

It’s ok. We live in interdependent world so we will be asking something from one another some help. Probably you’re on the edge of your comfort zone and need some boost, right?

Don’t mind and keep changing the world for the better!

I’m hearing ‘no’ to often from the same person

Try to not become someone demanding (otherwise you’ll face a wall earlier or later).

If you’re planning to evolve the relationship, learn what the other side is concerned about and give your hand with that, after a while you might be repaid (but don’t aim for that).

I really really would like to hear ‘yes’ this time and you told me not to be demanding

The trick is is to know what the other side cares about and try to convert your request into a trade.

– Hey mom, I would like an XBox
– No, dude, you’re 37
– Mom, I will be doing the dishes next 10 years, so you will have more time for the overtiems
– Deal

Another effect being people always asking and people always saying ‘yes’ – I’ve lost any desire to talk with some people just because of this pattern :(

Ok, I will do more of no’s, how do I do these better?

Frame these as “I don’t”, “I won’t”.

I “can’t” sucks – that was somewhat proven scientifically.


Do you have any scripts?


  1. I just say ‘no’ and include no excuses

    – Will you please pick me up?
    – No

  2. Sometimes people will try to push you

    – Will you please give me 10% discount?
    – No
    – But you told me I’m your favorite client
    – You’re still my favorite client, I respect your persistence with mine. No

  3. Pushy people will hear motivation

    – No, we don’t give discounts as we won’t be able to provide good service at that cost

    Note: If you put an excuse which has nothing to do with the motivation, you’re toast

    – Please do your homework,
    – No, my laptop died
    – Ok, here’s a printout, just fill that in
    – Ok :(

  4. Super pushy will have the contact broken

    – I absolutely need this
    – I see. I’m going home now. Talk to you later

Anything else?

– No : P

Focus on what truly matters and see you in that bright world : )

Radio channel streams on the internet

I’ve already shared some of the video’s which I use to overcome the rainy days. Another bit which is keeping my eyes shining is the set of Ukrainian radio channels I tune into even when I’m far away from the homeland.

Radio streams

Stream links are iTunes friendly (you can do File > Open Stream and paste the link there), something like that works in other players (if anybody still uses Winamp).

  1. Puree (pop/electronic) [stream]
  2. DjFM (electronic/pop) [stream]
  3. KissFM (electronic) [stream]
  4. Prosto Radio Kiev (pop) [stream]
  5. Radio A (pop/indie) [stream]
  6. Kiev Rebel Radio [stream]
  7. Radio ROKS (rock) [stream]


Mixtapes by my friends: calm stuff


Other stuff

Yeah, I’ve heard about Spotify but I’m kind of a dinosaur in this respect : ) Radios work for me just fine yet : )

Tune in, enjoy and share your picks!

Practical networking #1: learn to bloody introduce yourself

Networking has been praised as one of top 3 skills needed in this century. There is no surprise everybody tries do something and call than networking.

I’ve read like a dozen of articles (including two articles previous month, sorry, Russian language down the links: 1, 2), at least one book (Never eat alone) and did try to network on a dozen occasions.

I’ve spread like 300+ business cards and I think number of people reaching out to me because of these was under 10.

Observing something not working for a while is a great exercise. It urges me to attempt a few fixes here and there. This short opus will be saying about fixing Facebook introductions but in the same way you can improve your intros on LinkedIn, Gmail even real life elevator pitches grow from this.

Facebook: inbound introduction statistics

So you’ve pushed that damn ‘Add Friend’ / ‘Connect’ or whatever button.

Next you immediately get attracted to something else. Social networks excel at distracting people, no surprise.

Some time will pass (imagine a few weeks just to be sure). Then I’ll see you request and ask you in return: “Hey, do we know each other?”.

Below are the statistics for the answers I was getting during the latest few months.

  • no answer (18)  ||||||||||||||||||
  • recruiting (2)       ||
  • bullshit talk (2)    ||
  • accidentally (1)    |
  • travel (1)               |

The only interesting case being a traveler girl which quickly lost interest when discovered that I was no longer in Thailand : )

Out of the blue some weirdo is asking you where do you met him from. It’s not something which can be done quickly, so you postpone the answer. Indefinitely.

Receiver side fix

I’ve also experimented and suggested people to tell a bit about themselves. Before asking that I was telling quite a bit about myself first.

There were no cases which I’d call a success. Contrary, somehow me going to the expense of introduction made people try to sell or ask something instead of introducing themselves : )

  • sale or ask (4)     ||||
  • later (2)                ||
  • manipulation (1) |

Some people were telling me that they will answer ‘later’ which is basically a sheepish way of saying “no, never”.

One dude tried to extract more information from me trying to make me feel bad about not being open enough. Unkind kind of manipulator discovered during the first 2 minutes into relationship : )

Communication contracts I’m used to are only good when all the sides are willing to contribute.

Thus I conclude that receiver side fixes are inappropriate here.

We lost

Sender side fix

Whenever you reach out to some one, please do your part and put a few words about you reasons and who you are on to a welcome message.

  • State your interest
  • Follow the norm of reciprocity and tell how you can be useful to the recipient
  • Tell how you’d like to be remembered? (some people claim they don’t have problems remembering other people, I’m troublesome in this respect)
  • Make this short and inspiring (which is also a form of giving so reciprocity is on your side)
  • . . .
  • Profit!

Bonus: once you’ll have enough times quickly outlining your use / interests to people on Facebook, it will be much easier to do this in real life.

Lies, damned lies and statistics

Good introductions were quietly excluded from the collected statistics. One reason for this might be that I’ve started gathering statistics during super long streak of worthless contacts – who knows.

Anyway, I remember at least 2 awesome new contacts I’ve got this way. Plus this inspired me to try networking in yet another way. I’ll share this inspiring, eloquent and sometimes still kitty exercise later, once I’ll reflect enough on it myself : )


Now we’re SSL

The blog is served over SSL now. Please let me know if you see any issues.

I had a few reasons to do that:

  • Vadym‘s router is poisoned from time to time so all the unprotected sites are injected with spammy content whenever I use his WiFi spot
  • Olga has 5 times more traffic than I do and I want to catch up. Some people say Google ranks SSLish sites higher
  • Blog’s admin password will no longer be sent in clear text when I will login from another McDonald’s

I was postponing the move for a while because of two cheap excuses:

  1. promising myself to do that after ensuring that the restores from backups would work (actually they did not)
  2. awaiting for Let’s Encrypt to be ready (no, that’s not true as of yet)

Compared to having conversations with all those complex people, technicalities should be my opportunity to shine. Yet regular unproductive brain patterns follow me everywhere.

Currently I’m evaluating free option from startssl.
Instructions which worked for me can be found here.


NSA dudes, sorry, not this time :Р

How to apologize properly

An example

There was a young couple from Moscow somewhere in 1970th. They just got married. Wealthy enough family helped them to fetch an apartament (all the things in USSR were not bought, but rather fetched through your connections). They had nice furniture, wallpapers. Rare occasion: they even had a car, which was parked in the inner yard of their condo.

Once upon a time on a weekend morning, one of them went to the balcony and noticed that car is gone. They called the cops. A day passed. Next morning the car is back. The guy inspects the car, it’s all right, full of gasoline, all the things are in place but one note: “We’re sorry, we urgently needed a car”. As a compensation, two tickets to a theater were there for the same evening.

The couple was excited by the honor of the unknown thieves and went to the performance. When they’ve returned home they’ve discovered that apartment is empty – no furniture, no tech, even the wallpapers were stolen.

Apologies in my life

The example from the above clearly demonstrates: apologizing is used to seek value for the apologizing side. In normal circumstances that happens mostly by protecting the apologizing side from anger / retaliation.

“Darling, I’m sorry about talking to your mom that way. Can I have my Xbox back, please?”

By apologizing, people expect the responsibility for the consequences of their actions to be waived.

Why? Because it’s a social norm, right?

That does not work well with me

My time here is limited.  I don’t feel good trading resources for broken promises. So relationships where I hear word ‘Sorry’ frequently enough quickly deteriorate.

fuck off guy

Another algorithm

I research a bit and found an algorithm which makes me feel much better.

1. Acknowledge your responsibility
– “I’ve screwed up. That was improper of me to tell your mother she’s a which.”

2. Reveal your intentions
– “I didn’t mean it to happen like this.”

3. Maintain the responsibility for your actions
– “How can I fix this? How can I repay your losses?”

< Here goes active listening session >

4. Give a promise and deliver on it.
– “Ok, I will book 5 sessions with therapist which we will visit both with your mother”

Please take care to state it in SMART fashion to raise the chances.

4a. What if I feel like not paying the cost of the fix?
Negotiate. Be open and tell that thing contradicts your interests.
– “Darling, I value our relationships, but I’m not ready to commit to spending the whole week with your mother”


You probably noticed that apologizing this way is much more expensive compared to usual “I’m sorry”.

That’s how it works. Not delivering on a contract and being dragged to court has a clear associated cost.

Romans had lead water pipes which slowly poisoned them. Apologizing like an asshole has a similar effect. If you break a contract, you get a refreshing court order. If you break your words every week, you’re just not invited to cool gigs like other people are, even though you’re much more capable.

Please don’t use this trick to rob people of their belongings. Rather, use it to create more awesome stuff together!

Winter is coming. May your relationships be productive and warm.

P.S. Vadym, I remember I owe you a steak : )

Traveling with a girlfriend: Belated reflections

Traveling sucks. Really. I’ve never been with a group of people doing non-trivial travel without any visible effect on their relationships. Best case, I was earning a friend. Worst cases were kind of unpredictable (like one of my friends putting a veto on poo time during a hike as ‘we were late’).

I’ve seen traveler pairs breaking apart, people not being able to stand each other (just one public case is Hanna from Goodbye Normals reported violence against her by the boyfriend she traveled with).

I have had my own experiences where a few weeks of travel or just living by the side of people dramatically changed our relationships (like me changing my mind about marrying a girl I’ve already proposed).


Olga: when we met, you told me a story of your travel with a girlfriend + working remotely which was a failure. I immediately became upset “I’d do some travels with him”

11/24/14 (200 days ago)

Rocks sea

My previous experience suggested that approaching stuff I’m afraid of (like girls, ha-ha!) kinda sucks. When doing that together with someone, it sucked even more as all the manipulations I know of are built on fear avoidance.

Avoiding fears = call for manipulations

Example: I’m afraid of being tagged as a ‘bad guy’, so I’ll do anything to avoid that:

  1. Ask me to do something I didn’t want to do
  2. Hear ‘no’
  3. Start crying
  4. I’ll see this ‘bad guy’ tag on the scene
  5. You hear ‘yes’

Disclaimer: that doesn’t seem to work any more.

Fear acceptance

Another strategy is just to live with that. I’ve said “I’m afraid of this” dozens of times during the trip, Olga noded and the party continued.

One of the most vivid examples of this was near-shore boarding of a seemingly overloaded ship. My brain and his panic mode joined a few others in calculating alternative routes and Olga just picked her bag and started the boarding.

In hindsight I realize that courage might have been inspired by the food poisoning she was suffering from. Death = relief in this case, right? : )

Overloaded ship boardingImage: a boat just a minute before us boarding. A few dozen people declined to board and turned back.

If fears can be accepted, what for do we need them?

It probably depends on when your fears do manifest. Mine adhere to two rules:

  1. I fear the most just before doing something
  2. When I already up to something, the fear is gone – I’m too involved

Thus fear is just an indicator of me about to try something I’ve never experienced enough before.

Image: toilet room in our yacht. Yet another unforgettable experience during a windy day


Ivan: slow internet, 2am/4am Skype meetings, differences in attention needs are kind of risky. I will become worser contributor at work, that will undermine my self-confidence and we’re toasts.

11/24/14 (200 days ago)

We did it all. Internet was slow and wonky, I stayed up late hours and omitted watching ‘beautiful temples’, marathons and stuff.

Failure does not mean the adventure has ended. It is just an indicator of learning something new.SurfingImage: One the successful surfing attempts. I have photos of like a hundred of failed ones.

I clearly remember myself quitting after first 30 minutes and this chat with an instructor “She’s a bad client, still trying”. Bad client, good learner

Continuing to fail

One of the trickiest things with failures is to continue. Failures usually taste bad (like ocean water). And failures are weird kind of feedback.

Doing everything just right does not guarantee you success and all you’ve got is the promise. At some point in the future the pain from failures will be compensated by the successes.

It reminds me of looking for a job: I may have a perfect resume, rock the interviews and still won’t be offered a job for a few months. Knowing that after a while, I will get a one doesn’t make it less painful : )

Failing together

Doing this exercise both in solo mode and together as a pair become one of the non-obvious ways to stay together. Who would understand you best than the person who has the same bruises all over?

Skii selfie
Image: just before Olga’s first descend ever. It was all working well until that girl told Olga that’s not a descent for the first-timers : (

Crisis time

Having a lot of failures for a while does feel like an energy crisis (energy being your capacity of doing something useful).

Crisises and travels go along. Human resources are limited and mostly tied to adapting to the changing environments and giving something to a partner seems like much bigger deal.

I’ve seen a few strategies people take when facing an energy crisis:

  • Demand (and manipulate!)
  • Hide and heal the wounds alone (“we need to make a break”)
  • Tap on to a standard backup energy source (drawing, going to a gym, winning a deal, chatting with an energetic friend, awesome meal)
  • Use this as an opportunity and create something inspiring both of you. Which was exactly the case of

And some cures

As with most things, relationship crisises are best taken care of strategically. I.e. before the symptoms will greatly impact the atmosphere.

One of things I’ve learned was that being together 24/7 is not the same as allocating some quality time together. I remember the time pressure I felt at my work place and how hard it was for me to grab a bike and watch a sunset together. In hindsight it was totally worth it.

SunsetImage: one of the very few sunsets I’ve seen at Phuket

1. Eyes

Gradually my definition of quality time changed even more. Candels and sunsets are kind of stereotypical but nothing replaces a good eye contact and a few smiles.

Maybe that’s why in 36 questions to fall in love ask people to stare at each other?

IMG_20150105_054742Image: Olga is having fun at The Beach while I’m staying at the boat having declined to pay unexpected $10 to do that :)

2. Gyms

I have to admit that one of the reasons I love attending gyms for is observing beautiful bodies at work. Why not invite your girlfriend and see her from another angle? : )Olga heavy liftingImage: Olga is lifting at the famous Boom Leong Gym

3. Silence

Chatting a lot at first, it was disturbing to start talking less. After all isn’t change a symptom of something evolving?

By giving up talking it so much easier to discover closer means of contact: touching, rubbing, nibbling, passing some almonds : )

YachtingImage: A moment from like 6 hours of little-to-no wind during one of regatta days

What’s especially cool about some silence is the taste the words have afterwards.

Transparent balls swimmingImage: Olga is hiding from the rain in a transparent ball

I’ll act bold and claim that silences differ from one another and healthy ones are easily distinguishable. Like in the picture below: how much smartphones are there on the table? See?

Local fast foodsImage: lunch in super local place in Greece (and yes, I was eager to spell it like Grease during that time)

To all the solos

While I was alone, I always thought that just being together with someone I love is all I want. Fortunately, Maslow with his pyramid see it differently: once some basic needs are fulfilled, the others emerge.

Following was tricky

One of the things I didn’t expect was that following is a bit like a hard work for me. Picking an arbitrary direction a few times a minute is super easy when traveling alone but trickier as the company grows.

WalkingImage: unused new year trees just 4 months after the new year (in xUSSR the strongest characters keep them until the very next NY)

New people are there

While most of solo traveling articles say that it’s more difficult to meet new people when you travel in pairs, I don’t remember us having a problem with that.

Update: actually I remember Olga’s envy while I was talking to a few cool dudes from Bangladesh. So yes, it can be more difficult : P

Park plankingImage: Olga is about to win planking challenge from a few financial city workers

Differences are awesome

During the travels, we managed to get ill a few times. Getting into a tricky mood happened I think like dozen times more for each of us. I imaging how would these things feel if synchronized.

Airport sleepImage: catching up on sleep while I’m catching up on 3rd breakfast

Exclusive stories

Some things only reach ears of people which are in the right place at the right time.

Olga actually never revealed that fact anywhere, but she had to break into one of the temples.

She had one day to see the inside, had a few hours ride to get there and then it appeared it costed more cash than she had with her. She climbed over a wall and was expelled by a guard which was nearby. After a short phone call to the support (wink me), she inspected the perimeter and after a while found herself inside.

Olga looks at a mapImage: Olga is picking next destination in an atlas available from public library at Urban 100 restaurant

The End

Having told all of that I have to admit to myself that these 5 months of travels were kind of awesome. Full of fears, failures and challenges but in the end only better myself was left with the best people.

Olga, you’re awesome. I’m looking forward to what is gonna be our next adventure ^_^

Airplane viewImage: sunrise from an airplane window

Olga is suggesting to give this masterpiece for somebody to proofread. So here you go people : )