Reality shows are extremely popular because it is an ultimate form of voyeurism.
Whether it's on a competition or a home makeover show, pleasure is derived from watching real-life people respond dramatically to inconsequential situations.
But how much of what we see are authentic reactions?
Curious about the experiences of those who were on camera, Redditor S3xySouthernB asked:
"People who were on reality family shows as kids (think super nanny, wife swap etc) how much of it was real and how much was fiction/set up for drama? Did anything change?"
Reddit Users Share Their Best 'It's A Small World After All' Experience
The following Redditors frowned upon the concept of being portrayed differently on camera.
"I was on Wife Swap when I was 10 years old. My family had to switch with a farming family and we were supposed to be the 'city family' even though my family and I lived in the suburbs. There were plenty of quotes taken out of context as you'd expect. They also incited plenty of drama. I was framed as addicted to video games so they took my xbox and gameboy color for the week. A few days in one of the crew members came in with my gameboy and said 'look I found this' and handed it to me. It shouldn't be surprising that they sent the woman staying in our house into my room to 'catch me in the act'."
"To be honest not much has really changed in my life except getting snapchats of my 10 year old face when my friends catch the reruns. I'm open to any questions if anyone is curious."
It was Season 3 Episode 13 of Wife Swap"
Update for anyone who was curious about how much money the show gave us. The initial amount was $20k but after taxes it came to around $15k like others had expected."
Crazy On Cue
"My parents were 'dinner guests' in an episode of Nanny 911 and they said literally everything was staged. I don't remember all of the details, but they said the directors had a 'code word' that they would say to the kids when they were supposed to start acting all 'crazy'. And then once the scene was done, the kids would be perfectly normal."
"My friends parents were on worlds strictest parents. They came to my house on 4th of July and when they showed our house on tv it was a huge mansion rather than our actual house. The camera crew also told the visiting 'bad kids' to steal alcohol from our house."
The Master Woodworker
"My family and our home were on that show 'This Old House' in the late '90s. Norm Abrahms was the host, and they picked our house because of my dad's collection of Shaker furniture. The idea was that we gave him a tour of the house (while being filmed) and then he demonstrated to the camera how to make furniture like our."
"Everything was 100% genuine. Norm and the crew were kind and super respectful to all of us. No second takes. When he explained to the camera how to build replicas of the Shaker furniture, it became apparent that he was a master woodworker. Before he left we all took photos together and he signed some stuff. It was a really special day."
"That was right when reality TV was starting to pick up steam. MTV's The Real World was big at the time. I don't think Survivor had come out yet. That was the show that opened the floodgates."
"Canadian Idol—-Producers tell you which songs to sing. First they make you sing in line, if you're really bad or really good you're put through to the producers."
"My friend made it through (honestly an incredible singer.) she had been singing one song the whole time and made it to the judges. She sang her song that got her that far, which was My Hero by Foo Fighters. Then, before she goes the judges the producers say she's going to sing 'Creep' by Radiohead as Foo Fighters aren't on the list of approved songs."
"So she sings Creep, doesn't impress the judges and doesn't make it through. We then watch the show when it's aired, these motherf'kers edited her into the opening and said: 'the good, the bad and the just plain creepy!!' And showed her singing Creep—-she was this gothic girl who didn't fit in with the usual pop star image, she was so humiliated she never sang again."
"Also, Ben Mulroney is one of the worst human beings I've ever met."
A glimpse into the lives of those who are unable to part with their possessions is not always scripted TV.
Hoarding For Real
"I worked with a junk removal company for an episode of hoarders and it was actually 99% REAL. The only thing that they would set up a couple times was if they opened a box and found something interesting off camera they would re-open it on camera and act like they just found it."
Like A Nightmare
"After just having to clear out my best friend's (deceased) mom's house who was a hoarder...I know that show is real. I really feel like I have PTSD from it. I have nightmares where I'm back there."
"My mother was (probably still is, we aren't in contact) a hoarder and you don't HAVE to make sh*t up. They're seriously, seriously mentally ill but they refuse help because they don't think they're mentally ill, or 'it's not that bad' or they're 'going to get to it next month' or whatever. Total denial and self delusion, which is, yanno, common with severe mental illness."
"Example: for who knows what reason, my mother started putting dirty laundry in the bathtub. Eventually there was just a mountain of it. She wouldn't wash it despite our washer working fine. She wouldn't move it. She wouldn't let ME wash it. I was showering at school for weeks already when I told her 'Mom the laundry in the tub has to go. This is ridiculous. I'll help with it.'"
"She said 'There's no laundry in the tub.'"
"She actually tried to DENY REALITY. I went in there and was like 'These are clothes. In the tub. This is laundry.'"
"She replied 'Oh I think those are clean.'"
"I said, 'So then put them away?' I knew they weren't clean. I just wanted to shower."
"She said 'I'll do it this weekend when I have off.'"
"I hate to spoil the ending but..... she didn't do it."
"She hired a dumpster once and was going to 'throw out everything'. It got there. Normal sized dumpster. She didn't throw out anything because 'they sent too big of a one'. Paid hundreds of dollars to hire this dumpster and didn't use it."
"Oh. Then. She was going to sell the house. Someone actually wanted to buy it to gut and flip. It was really a cool old house, speaking design-wise. She decided at the last possible second not to sell. Had to reimburse the buyer's closing costs plus a bunch of other fees."
"Then cried to anyone who'd listen how the realtor was a scammer who 'tried to sell her house out from under her'. Like they're just rouge realtors going around, listing people's houses without their consent and selling them."
Are the emotional outbursts exhibited on reality shows genuine? Not always.
"A class mate of mine was on my country's Next Top Model. Before getting into the show she was asked what kind of hair she would never want to get, so that the producers know about it and not make her have it during the makeover episode. My classmate had long blonde hair which she really loved, so she said she doesn't want them to cut her hair off and that she also hated strange unnatural colors like blue, pink etc."
"Fast forward to the makeover episode. The hairstyling team comes in and finds her hair unfitting for a model, so she needs to get a makeover and guess what? Her makeover obviously consists of a pixie cut and green hair to make her look like a 'punk fairy.'"
"My class mate cried throughout the entire process, so I guess the producers got the drama they wanted out of this."
"There was a family in our neighborhood who was on a show here in Germany. One day, when accompanied by the camera crew, one of the daughters suddenly threw a screaming fit in public, which was totally unusual for her. When the mom was asked later what the f*k had happened, she said, for a tantrum you get 200 bucks extra."
Birthday Party Meltdown
"A girl I went to school with was on 'My Super Sweet Sixteen'. She was always quiet but well-liked and the kids on that show were usually monsters so we were curious about how the episode would paint her."
"There was one scene where she was checking in on a vendor and they said something might not be finished in time for the party and she didn't have a meltdown or anything but she said something dramatic like, 'Oh no! That's going to ruin my whole birthday party!'"
"After the episode aired her friends who were with her said they did a couple of 'takes' because her first reaction was like, 'Oh, that sucks. Thanks for letting me know.'"
Kids, Act Up!
"My wife was hired as a home school teacher on wife swap. Since the Mom home schooled they want another home schooling Mom to step in and teach. It is all manufactured. They tell the kids to act up. My wife kept getting in trouble cause she kept turning her mic off and wouldn't play their game. She got like 3 seconds of screen time because she taught and did not play into the reality show bullsh*t."
"A wedding that I was a bridesmaid in was aired on Say Yes to the Dress."
"They filmed our initial reaction to the bride walking out several times. They, like, wanted us to scream and cry."
"I'll be honest, the whole thing was incredibly fake and rubbed me the wrong way. Pretty on par for the type of person the bride is, though. I don't talk to her anymore."
It appeared the majority of Redditors who vouched for a show's realistic portrayal of people on TV was Hoarders.
For Redditor azulweber, the circumstance was relatable.
"yeah my grandmother and her sister are both hoarders and i have no problem believing that it's real. i can't imagine someone who isn't a hoarder being willing to allow a show to do that to their home and belongings just for tv."
Sadly, the exploitation of a person's mental illness seems to make for must-see television.
Society places a lot of expectations on us based on our perceived gender, and those expectations can be a major burden. Guys who like pink or want to be nurturing fathers, women who like sports, gaming, or working out, all are often ridiculed or deemed suspicious by society. Nonbinary folks are often not acknowledged at all, and are expected to rigidly adhere to the role predetermined by their sex assigned at birth.
Reddit user Zealousideal-Way3105 asked:
Kids Are Great
Showing enthusiasm towards random children.
Why do I have to pretend like they don't exist?
I had a daycare when my kids were growing up so they were used to giving littles attention. Later my son worked in a grocery store and realized that parents get offended if a man shows a reaction to their cute little kid. Even if that kid is waving at him, he waves back and mama bear gets angry. So dumb. He's not gonna jump in the cart with your kid. Geez
Ironically, being a woman that doesn't really enjoy being around kids and doesn't want them myself, I wish it was normalized for me to not show enthusiasm towards kids.
Anyone Can Struggle With Mental Illness
Mental illness, but that should be for everyone. Being a 6'5 250 pound dude with anxiety? Yeah I don't get taken serious in the slightest bit.
Unfortunately I think women aren't taken seriously either. It's just society deems women to be "weaker" and this falls in line with societal expectations/perceptions as "fragile" beings. There is hardly true support or understanding.
I feel you. I'm a 6'6" 280 lb man who's dealt with depression and anxiety since my early teens. Despite having what should have been very obvious symptoms that were readily visible to my parents, teachers, and school counselor, I didn't get any help as a kid. And having that attitude projected towards me made it take me a long time to realize that it was okay for me to get myself help as an adult.
Tradespeople Can Be Any Gender
I really wish women were more common in the trades.
Additionally, it shouldn’t be shocking when a woman knows how to use power tools or understands how a house is put together. It’s a valuable life skill.
Agreed. My mom is the handy one of the house and she’s teaching me. I think it’s vital for all genders to learn all aspects of running a home (cooking, using tools, cleaning properly) because it’s all equally important and it’s stupid that you’re supposed to be exempt from half of it if you’re a certain gender smh
It Doesn't Matter What Time Of The Month It Is
Having a bad day because you're having a bad day, not because you have PMS
Or when you aren't feeling good people's first question is if you're pregnant
"I said I have a sinus infection, Cathy, not a baby infection."
Nobody Has To Wear Makeup
Not wearing makeup or having to look pretty all the time.
I would settle with just not being asked if I'm sick if I go without.
On the flip side I wish I could conceal my adult acne without being judged for makeup… lol
Pink Is For Everyone
Not for me but my son. He loves pink. He's always been drawn to it. He picked out a pair of pink glasses at the eye doctor and I immediately said yes because he loved them. I'm so afraid he is going to get bullied but he is so proud of his new glasses. He wanted his hair pink this summer and I let him do it. Why can't little boys like pink too? He also loves monster trucks and dinosaurs. We live in the American south in a small town so you can probably imagine what the people in this town are like.
Being a stay at home dad. Mom does it and she's a hero. Dad does it and he's a failure. It's not cool.
Have a friend that is a SAHD. It has been a struggle for him over the years. Between the lack of support structures online (ie: good online communities for talking about different things or venting stress/concerns) and just how family and in-laws act about it.
He at least hasn't had to deal with societal issues at large for a number of reasons. One of the things that triggered the f**k out of him though was when he went in with his kid for regular checkups, the doctors/nurses would ask his wife questions about the kid even though the staff knows he is the main care taker. At one point his wife had to snap at the staff and tell them they need to ask him those questions because he knows more.
For as progressive as the West has moved in some ways on these kinds of things, it's still stuck in certain mindsets.
I'm a woman who is into watching certain sports. Some guys don't think that's normal.
So many guys have to quiz me on my fandom. It's crazy. They don't do that to their guy friends.
Oh boy, as a woman who's been playing video games and reading comics for over 20 years...I know all about the quizzing.
Boys Like Flowers Too
Getting flowers. Ain't no one ever get flowers for men. Flowers are great.
Told my partner I think it's bullsh*t that men don't get flowers and the next day she surprised me with a bunch of chrysanthemums. Needless to say I was over the moon.
Kitties For Everybody!
Being cat dad. I mean seriously, what is weird about a guy having a cat?
Years ago my roommate and I were picking up a cat from a farm, and they legit asked ‘what do 2 guys want with a cat anyways’ same thing as everyone else.
Arbitrary gender-based societal expectations hurt everybody. It doesn't hurt anyone for folks to have a mixture of likes and dislikes that are considered mascilune or feminine.
It's not every day that we hear about people actually enjoying their jobs.
Right now, in the U.S. there are record numbers of people quitting their jobs. Restaurant workers, hotel workers, retail store workers and healthcare providers have left in droves.
We're also seeing strikes across the nation calling for better working conditions and higher wages. So much so that they're calling it "striketober."
So it's interesting and almost novel to hear someone say they actually enjoy their job. Everyone right now probably wants to know what those jobs are and why they love them so much.
Redditor LordFlick asked:
"People who actually enjoy their job, what do you do for a living?"
Whatever it may be, we want to get a piece of that enjoyment.
Please, please mister postman.
"Royal mail postman in a small rural UK village."
"I love it and have absolutely no fear of doing it for the rest of my life."
"Walking 8 miles a day means I can eat basically what I want and stay lean, and my fitness level is always high. Also no managers breathing down my neck, and I make friends with lots of nice elderly people."
"This sounds so wholesome! I'm so jealous."
"I am impressed at how well you sell the job."
"I'm a residential window washer, and I think we love our jobs for the same reasons."
Cemetery grounds keeper.
"I take care of a cemetery. Every day is different and it's pretty much a nature preserve (we treat it like that anyways). You end up sorta taking ownership of it so you sort of 'want' it to look good. It's nice choosing what you do for the most part, and seeing lasting results."
"Also the residents rarely complain, great low maintenance tenants."
"Eh they only come out once a year."
"It's quite lovely when you go to visit a loved ones' grave and the gardens and surroundings are beautiful and well kept. To me, it's a real show of respect for the people resting there. Thank you."
"Did this for 7 years before moving over to another department with the city that was in need of management. I loved working at the cemetery. And you're right, it was my cemetery, I was responsible for everything there, and I wanted it to look the best it could. The best part was the compliments from the towns people for taking care of it properly."
Getting paid to think.
"Physician scientist. Sometimes I see patients. Most of the time I do science. I get paid to think about stuff. It's great."
"Oil exploration geophysicist. Most of the time I get paid to use science and my imagination to map the geometry of rock formations beneath the Earth's surface. I get paid to have an imagination. Companies trust me enough to drill million dollar wells to test my ideas. It's great."
Truck driver turned gardener.
"Gardener. I was a truck driver for a decade. 15 hour days, sleeping on the side of the road, the whole week away from home and all for sh*tty pay.
Decided I needed a change so I started a gardening business. I earn 2-3x more money than I did driving trucks, I get to work in nature all day every day, I get to pick what work I do. Don't get good vibes from a customer....turn the job down. Don't like a garden.....turn it down. I don't have to take sh*t from anyone. I get to do work I enjoy."
"I pick my own schedule. Get to wake up with the kids everyday, come home for lunch and get to read a bedtime story to the kids every night. When I was trucking I'd go all week without seeing the kids. Gone from working 15 hour days to 7-8 hour days and lost 100lbs in the process."
"Same here! (except instead of truck driving, I was working sh*tty office jobs) but man, you summed it up perfectly! becoming a self-employed gardener is the best decision I've ever made. At first I was nervous to make the complete career change and start a new business, but I'm so happy I did and I've never looked back."
"Its great isn't it. You get stuck in a career path and think this is what I'll have to do forever. Glad I decided to force a change."
Gelato taste tester.
"I'm a manager at a gelato/coffee shop! Though customers can be a lot and rushes can be stressful, I work with a great crew and get to sample the new flavors my boss tests and makes each week. He will bust out from the back with a spoon full of a new flavor of gelato and say, 'Try this.' So I guess I'm also a taste tester!"
"The best job I had before getting into my career was a server at a little mom & pop gelato shop in my city's Little Italy. I still reminisce sometimes about that summer!"
A positive perspective on education.
"High school teacher. 10 years. Despite many criticisms for the profession, I love my job. I get paid decent. I have great interactions with students every day. On my feet learning, feeling, engaged, and get goosebumps when a kid makes a cool connection (us history/American government teacher)."
"Doing my student teaching next year. Happy to hear a positive perspective for a change. Thanks!"
"Accountant. I know it's the epitome of a boring office job, but it works for my aptitudes and interests. Lucrative, stable, predictable, engaging but I don't take it home with me."
"Do you work like 60 hours a week? I am in a big4 and know personally that accountants can make big bucks. But they don't have the time to enjoy their earned money."
"I work at a big4 and within the year I work on average 40h/week - slightly more during q1, less during q3. Work/life balance is great, salary is above my country's average and I really like my job."
Maybe you'd be happier with more stability. Maybe you'd be happy with more freedom.
Everyone has different reasons for loving or hating their jobs, but it might take a few tries before you find the right fit. Don't be afraid to make the change. It may be scary, but your happiness is worth it.
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Nobody is better than anybody else. Why is that such a difficult concept for so many people? One person doesn't get a pass for certain things that another person would be scolded for "just because."
Even in family dynamics, double standards are at play. Why should sons get a later curfew than daughters? Why can't a man vacuum? HOW are we still having these conversations?
It's time to break down the constructed hierarchies that have been imposed upon society. Let's get it all out there, so that we're all aware, so we can do better.
Redditor u/WistfulNightSky wanted to discuss the most unfair issues we all face on the daily, by asking:
What double standard are you tired of?
One of the worst places where double standards are constant is in the hospitality industry.
Take my time...email GIFGiphy
"My principal taking days to read and reply to my emails, if ever, VS me being told at 8 in the morning that I should have known something because he sent me an email at 10 in the evening the night before."
"Politicians who come up with dumb to asinine laws, and vigorously enforce them upon all of the regular citizens, but somehow find ways to exempt themselves from being subject to the same obligations to keep and follow them, as we are."
"Easy. Big corporations and the rich, using legal bribing through lobbying to "bend" the rules in their favor more and more as time passes."
"Defending yourself. The fact that someone can punished for defending themselves when no one else would, in my experience worse, is bullsh*t to me. Example a former bullied kid that punched back and got screwed."
"In my case, I got beaten up, didn't retaliate at all. Bully had rich parents who supported the school. So I was the one who got in trouble as I allegedly swore and instigated it, meaning him beating the crap out of me was apparently self-defense."
"Speed limit laws bother me the most on this. You're telling me, on a road on which there are no cyclists or pedestrians, that I have to drive 25mph, but the mayor can drive 40mph to a press conference that he's late to and abuse the privilege of a police escort. See: NYC Vision Zero.
"They also use this law to increase red light cameras. For further context: in NYC a yellow light means "slam your brakes now"/"stop now" more than it does "slow down"/prepare to stop as it does in other parts of the country. Meanwhile a counter study (I will try to find he source later) showed that increasing the length of a yellow light by something absurd like one or two seconds would decrease the amount of red light violations significantly more effectively because people would have adequate time to stop while still allowing for a flow of traffic."
"Obviously, it's all a money grab. Meanwhile the mayor regularly is caught on camera flaunting this traffic regulation when he finds it inconvenient. It's infuriating. NYC has enough congestion as it is, so knee-capping people when they can finally move is just insulting."
Finding the BestJob GIFGiphy
"Entry level jobs" that require experience."
"They think it weeds out the ones with no experience, but it just gives them candidates who are prepared to exaggerate or lie."
How does one acquire experience without being given a chance to earn it? Quite the conundrum.
Check the ClockSeth Meyers Time GIF by Late Night with Seth MeyersGiphy
"Your boss getting angry if you're a couple minutes late but then expects you to have no problem regularly staying on 2+ hours after your shift is meant to end."
"To borrow from Matt Haig: people being ok with mental illness until someone shows symptoms of one."
"100%. People like to talk about being cool with it, act all understanding, and then get super hostile if someone with untreated mental illness shows up. They don't mind it when they can't see it, but can't handle it when they actually see it in action."
All out Assault
"Customers being able to verbally and sometimes physically assault workers while the worker just has to stand there and take it or they'll be fired."
Nurse here. Almost every single one of my colleagues has been physically assaulted at some point in their career. We are often discouraged by upper management not to press charges or contact the police. We're also often asked what we could have done differently."
In my Mouth
"Why is dental insurance different from "health insurance" aren't teeth part of my overall health wth!!"
"The dentist lobby game is strong. They've pushed for decades to not be considered part of the health industry and they've banked because of it. Sure I understand it's a specialty, but my teeth are attached to my skull."
The Bad Dipper
"My boss dipping out on a Thursday afternoon to go get messed up at the golf course, but i ask for one Friday off every few months and he's like AAHHH CMON MAN I NEED YOU TO BE A TEAM PLAYER!!"
Nows we know better. I hope. Be a better boss and a better person. So we can be a better society.
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I'm going to say something sad but true. Love is not destined for everybody. Read that back a few times. Take a deep breath and embrace it. There are other things in life besides falling in love and staying in love forever.
For starters, acknowledge other kinds of love in family, friends, or self. There isn't one definitive answer that puts you in the single category.
We have to stop seeing being single as a death sentence or a punishment. A lot of people embrace the freedom and solitude. We should be seeking advice from them more often.
Let's talk about the current state of being single in this dysfunctional world of relationships.
Redditor u/One_Sherbert_2797 wanted to hear from the lovelorn and relationship searching, or happily alone, by asking:
Why are you single?
I am single. I am out of shape, so I'm uncomfortable and I trust no one in this Covid world. There are other reasons but those are the big two.
I'm LostYeah I Guess Season 2 GIF by ScreamQueensGiphy
"Because I'm clueless when it comes to dating or even asking someone out."
I just can't...
"Yeah, I like the idea of being in a relationship, but the thought of how much effort and potential pain I'd have to go through to find someone and maintain a relationship just makes me not want to even try. I don't want to be alone forever but being alone is so much safer and easier, you know?"
"I don't understand people very well so I don't try to find anyone. It often feels like everyone else had a few extra days in school to learn a new language and I just missed it all. I'm not sure if one day I'll figure it out but at this point it doesn't seem likely I'll spontaneously develop and understanding of human emotion and communication."
"Because I am totally in love with someone who will probably never feel the same way about me. I have actually told him already and he says he has feelings for me too, but he is not ready for a relationship and I don't think he ever will be. We have a history even though we were never together and I just think that we would have ended up together by now if it was in the cards."
"Damn same. Moving on is a pain. If you've already told them and gotten rejected, then I wish you the best with the process. If you've not, take the leap friend. If you don't it'll be a constant what-if for you for as long as you know them."
The ZoneLonely Lamorne Morris GIF by New GirlGiphy
"I'm in the zone where the women I'm attracted to aren't attracted to me and I'm not attracted to the women who are attracted to me. T'is a painful existence."
Get in a different zone. That is lesson one. Try it all from a different angle, it'll bring a fresh perspective.
Just CuzSeason 5 Happy Dance GIF by FriendsGiphy
"Because why not. Person reading this, why do we place a lot more value on romantic relationships than with platonic friendships?"
The Bonds that Break
"Just never happened tbh. (24, never have had a girlfriend) I don't have problems forming a connection and a bond with women, but I do think I may spend too much time just enjoying the feeling of a genuine friendship that I kinda forget to make a move and they end up either finding someone else or assuming I'm not interested. That and everyone just wants to blast through everything so quickly nowadays, like at times it feels like if you aren't DTF or have made a proper "move" by the end of the week then it's over, even when you have just met the person. It's obnoxious."
"I was intoxicated by love, chose the wrong person, ignored the warning signs and checked all the relationship boxes - marriage, child, house. Unfortunately, marriage didn't mean as much to the person I chose as it does to me. A family was all I ever wanted. My only goal, man."
we all do this...
"...you can't swing the sword without letting your shield down. When you make to grab your chance you always open yourself up to failure. It's okay. everyone gets rejected... and in the end no one cares... we all do this... ask her out or the regret will kill you. Do it enough times and you got a gf."
I need a Map
"I have no idea how dating works."
"I believe there's different ways of going about it. One is the slow way which is start off purely as friends and see if something more develops. The other is to directly ask the person out. In both cases the goal is to talk and do meaningful things together."
"Go to dinner, hang out and watch a movie, play sports or video games together. The goal is to find common ground or areas of interest and see if being together is better than not being together. Get to know the other person and along the way get to know yourself."
"If you like what you see, keep doing things together. My wife would try new things with me or for me and that is one of the things I love about her; I dated a girl before her that wouldn't and I chose to end that relationship in large part because of that. Even if you don't want to pursue the person romantically, hopefully you've ended up with a good friend."
Alone not LonelySaturday Night Live Nbc GIF by HULUGiphy
"I like being single."
"Same. Love. It."
Why is it all so complicated? Or do we just make it that way? Maybe cheers to being single.
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