Earlier this March, Cosmopolitan posted an essay from a young writer, Bruna Nessif titled, “I Stopped Having Sex for an Entire Year and Here’s What I learned.” Simply put, this article changed my life. After reading more of her work, I am convinced Bruna is everything every millennial woman should strive to be- intelligent, driven, and knows exactly what she brings to the table and refuses to accept anything less than what she deserves. Learn more about this “Woman Who Works” below:
1988 (Age: 29)
Cal State Fullerton
writing, dancing, reading, doodling, TV show and movie marathons, eating, yoga, hiking, going to the beach
How would you describe yourself in three words:
compassionate, driven, surprising
What woman would you say has been the primary source of inspiration to you?
I’m blessed to be surrounded by a lot of inspiring women, but one in particular who has always been a positive role model for me is my mother. She’s living proof that no matter what hurdles are thrown your way, you can overcome them with hard work, dedication, and confidence in your capabilities.
What made you decide to go into journalism, and what advice would you offer to any young woman considering the field or just starting out?
I always loved to write, and I love sharing people’s stories, so I thought journalism would be the best fit because I get to utilize everything I’m interested in. My best advice would be to get in touch with your voice, find out what it is you’re passionate about, what you want to address and have an opinion on, and then once you find that, don’t hold back.
Before your blog, The Problem With Dating, you wrote for E!News. What inspired you to want to go out on your own, and what’s the biggest lesson you learned from that experience?
I came to a crossroads with my career, because I had my stable income at a job that wasn’t fulfilling anymore, and then I had my passion project which wasn’t making me any money. I was so afraid of leaving that cushion because I wasn’t sure how I’d manage, but at some point, I realized that I was letting fear block my blessings. I just wanted to be happy, and I knew where my happiness was, so I took a leap of faith, and now I’m riding the wave. There are always highs and lows, it’s part of the process, but betting on myself was the greatest decision I’ve ever made. I feel like the minute I trusted in what I could do, the Universe started providing me with ample opportunities to reach my potential.
According to this Journal of Sexual Medicine Study, “Up to 46 percent of women reported experiencing feelings of anxiety, agitation, melancholy or sadness after sex at some point in their lifetimes.” In your reply to critics of your Cosmopolitan article, you said this, “Just based on the massive number of messages I received, this emptiness following non-committal sex is felt by a lot of us, and yet no one talks about it.” Why do you think as women, we are more inclined to feel this way? Why are we so afraid to talk about it?
Well, there are two sides to this. There’s the scientific side, which is that humans release a hormone called oxytocin during orgasm that creates the feeling of attachment, so that alone can create a bond with your partner, and if those feelings aren’t mutual, then you’re left disappointed. But then there’s the emotional side, which is where I think a lot of these feelings are generated. I know the assumption is women are the ones who feel this more than men, and while I don’t know actual numbers, the messages I received were a good mix, so it’s definitely not gender exclusive. However, as a woman, I know that there’s a part of me that just wants to nurture and love someone, so you can’t expect me to be intimate with you and then act like it wasn’t anything. But we do that, anyway, because we’ve become conditioned to believe that having feelings for someone is a risky gamble, one that we don’t make often out of fear of getting hurt. So we play games, we pretend we don’t care when we do, we mask our disappointment or sadness with excuses defending people’s shitty behavior or knocking the validity of our emotions, because we don’t want to feel like we’re “old school” or asking for too much, when in reality, loving and wanting to be loved (whether sex is involved or not) is absolutely and completely natural. We shouldn’t be ashamed of that.
The two following things you said in your Cosmopolitan article about our generation’s dating habits stuck out to me, “Our generation tends to look at sex as a means-to-an-end instead of a privilege.” and “Was it a consequence of having an old-school approach in a time where people don’t value basic dating principles anymore?“ What life experiences do you think millennials have that have made our dating habits so different from past generations?
Those specific lines continue to play out in my head, because I’m not sure if my views on that will change over time, but for me, at this time in my life, it feels as though many people expect sex, as if it’s part of a package deal when you strike up any sort of relationship with someone. When I say a means-to-an-end, I meant that in my personal journey (and apparently others’ as well), sex was thrown into the picture to try and gain love, when in reality, I feel that sex should be the cultivation of the love that is already there. I had it backward, which is why I needed to switch gears. Our generation is lazy, point blank. We don’t want to spend time or effort on something that doesn’t have a guarantee, because there are so many options literally at our fingertips, that many find it pointless to devote energy to one person if nothing is sparking instantly. Older generations put work in, and not only that, they didn’t throw the relationship out if things got difficult. Loyalty, integrity, consistency, honesty, trust–those are all basic traits that are crucial to building a substantial relationship, but not many people are willing to offer that anymore.
The response from your Cosmopolitan was overwhelming. How did it feel to have such positive and negative reactions from such a personal essay? Was it terrifying to put your sex life (or lack of) on blast on such a public forum?
Of course, it was terrifying. This is a very personal topic that I chose to share with thousands of strangers on the Internet, but the response proved that it was worth it. I’m very open, clearly, and that’s because I know that there has to be at least one other person in the world who resonates with what I’m feeling. We’re not alone in our struggles, despite often feeling that way, so I figured if one person connected with my words, then it was worth it. I was surprised and overwhelmed to see that hundreds of people resonated with that I wrote, and it was an absolutely beautiful experience which reinforced what I always knew but often fail to acknowledge–there’s a reason I do what I do, and no matter how scary it may seem, I need to be fearless, because my purpose is much bigger than me.
In what ways do you think a woman can take control of her sexuality by abstaining from sex?
Pussy is power; it always has been. Whether you’re abstaining from sex or not, we need to remember that we control our bodies. We direct traffic. We decide who gets to experience the most intimate parts of ourselves. Nobody else.
On your blog, you avoid writing sharing pieces such as “5 Tricks To Make Them Love You,” and focus more on personal development and interpersonal communication. Why do you think it’s so important to encourage women to focus on themselves versus on how to “catch a man?”
I think it’s important for both sexes to really do some self-discovery and reflection before trying to build a relationship, because often we have personal issues that we try to solve by filling a void through other people, not realizing that those people have their own hurdles, too. So, instead of convincing someone else to love me (because you shouldn’t have to do that anyway), I choose to focus on loving myself, becoming a better woman and recognizing my weaknesses and strengths, which in turn, will help attract a better mate. That’s why I try to steer away from the tips and tricks as much as possible because I don’t have answers. I can’t make anyone fall in love you, I can’t guarantee anything. What I can do is use myself as an example of what you can do to become a better version of yourself.
I think a lot of women can identify with this quote from you, “Some people can’t handle the weight of me. Some people are just intrigued by me that they come close enough just to experience my energy without ever having the intention to build love with me. “ What advice would you offer to women who are tired of being burned by men who just “aren’t ready” for commitment?
Just let it go. I’ve spent so many years running into the “not ready” guys, and instead of accepting that and moving forward, I felt that I had to prove myself to them. It doesn’t help that many people use the “not ready” line as a cover-up for simply not vibing with you, because then you see them with someone else, and you’re like, “Oh, OK, so you just weren’t ready to be with me?” Regardless, whether it’s an excuse or a legit reason, you shouldn’t reserve a spot in your heart for someone who may never come to claim it. If you want a relationship, and they’re not ready for one, then you say your goodbyes and keep it moving because there’s a person praying to be with someone like you, and when your paths cross, they’ll be ready.
If you could go back ten years and give yourself some advice on love, relationships, and sex- what would you tell yourself?
I would say, “Bruna, you’re going to come across some very hurt and broken people on this journey, and you’re going to suffer collateral damage because of their personal pain, but don’t let that define you. Don’t place your validation in anyone else’s hands, because chances are those hands are unequipped to carry you. Learn to love yourself, don’t let the world make your heart hard because people need to experience a love like yours, and remember that you can carry yourself with humility while also refusing to entertain those who see you as anything less than the gift that you are.”
Make sure you check out Bruna’s website, The Problem With Dating.