When was the last time you had an honest conversation with yourself? What are your actual limits? Do you have any? Do you find yourself explaining what you won’t tolerate to others but then always ending up the doormat with your boundaries negotiated down to nothing? Do you know when to walk away? 

One of my favorite quotes:

“If you can’t walk away from a negotiation, then you aren’t negotiating. You’re just working out the terms of your slavery.” – James Altucher.

Your…

  • Limits
  • Boundaries
  • Standards
  • Happiness.
  • Peace
  • Sense of reality

Are things that should never be up for negotiation. Ever.

The most life-saving, transformative, confidence-instilling, and powerful thing that you can master in this life is the ability to know when to walk away.

Here on the blog, I always write about knowing when to fold. But keep in mind…

Folding without actually getting UP and walking away is like throwing your trash in the trash bin inside your house and refusing to take it out to dispose of properly (and permanently).

It doesn’t matter how many things you’ve thrown away (folded from). If you don’t take out the trash (a.k.a. know when to walk away), you are setting yourself up for even more pain and humiliation than whatever it was that caused you to fold in the first place.

Who cares how many trash bags you have lined up in your home? Who cares how much you’ve thrown out and how well you’ve sealed the bags? No one will be impressed – including yourself because deep down, you know that this is not impressive.

No quality people will ever show up at your door and you will never fully respect yourself if you stay in that kind of self-sabotaging “well, I identified what was trash and put it in bags, but I’m just not fully ready take it out yet” limbo.

If you don’t take the trash out, the smell will eventually detract from and take over all the beauty of your home. And the only people who will ever enter your home are the ones who have no problem disrespecting it as much as the owner already does. 

Contradiction is the root of all misery. You can’t view something as useless enough to throw in the trash bin but also, useful enough to keep in your house. Same with relationships – you can’t view something as hurtful/disrespectful enough that you have to fold but also, not know when to walk away.

If you don’t know when to walk away, you disqualify yourself from EVER being The One That Got Away.

It’s time to put yourself back in charge.

Here are 15 Non-Negotiable Red Flags to look out for and always, fold and walk away from.

1. Patterns.

I wrote about this in the motivational quotes post that I wrote with my Mom. The ability to know when to walk away goes hand-in-hand with your ability to look beyond grandiose actions, nice words, and even personality. You need to act on the recognition of patterns. Words mean nothing without action backing them up. And just like actions supersede words, PATTERNS supersede action. Everything you ever wanted to know about someone’s character and emotional intelligence can be found by taking a look at their patterns. Actions are great and all but remember… ANYONE can do something chivalrous. Anyone can make a buck, spend a buck, book a flight, open a door, put on some lingerie, buy a ring, send flowers, write a card or physically show up. The ability to recognize patterns is what allows you to separate the emotional nostalgia that’s tied to the grandiosity/chivalry of their actions from the TRUTH of their patterns.

2. A weird/inappropriate relationship with a family member or an ex.

If they have a boundary-less relationship with a family member, a “friend,” or an ex that at best, makes your stomach turn and at worst, has you questioning your value, their values and/or sexuality (and your reality)… know when to walk away and fold from this dynamic as soon as possible. Due to the lack of boundaries and subsequent triangulation, you will never be in a 2-way, mutual and connected relationship with this person. You will always be in a perpetual, jealousy-inducing, sanity-questioning 3-some.

3. If they get off to making you jealous and “keeping you on your toes,” you will know when to walk away.

Because you never feel like you have “all” of them, you are in a constant state of trying to get all of them and “win.” This unfairly de-pedestals you, obnoxiously pedestals them, and redefines your definition of passion and relationships as something that you have to be “good enough” to experience. No thanks.

4. Treatment.

Know when to walk away here. Be very observant of how you (and others) get treated before this person gets whatever need met, versus how they treat you after they get their needs met.

Also, be very aware of how they treat everyone around you – animals, the elderly, children, friends, co-workers, people who are helping them, serving them at a restaurant, etc. Especially those who can’t do anything for them.

5. They always talk about the future but there’s never any progression.

You will know when to walk away when the fear and shame of wasting more of your invaluable time starts to outweigh your desperation for getting a cat to bark.

6. They are the victim in all of their past relationships.

If they badmouth their exes and describe their past relationships as something that they were always wronged in…

This shows that they are not only incapable of self-reflection and introspection, but that they are totally fine subscribing to narcissistic delusion over reality. It’s pity-mongering and an insult to your intelligence.

Also, if they’re going to spill personal details, gossip, and talk poorly about an ex or a friend, don’t think that you will ever be immune. Walk away.

7. You will know when to walk away if, upon having an honest conversation with yourself, you feel more limerence than true love.

8. Gaslighting.

If you are being made to feel crazy for what your eyes, ears, and instinct are experiencing in real time, that isn’t true love. Nor is it a signal to investigate further and gather receipts. Stay on your white horse and know when to walk away.

9. You are always the one doing the decoding, understanding, bending, and empathizing.

If you find yourself empathizing with someone who is unable to put themselves in your shoes and empathize with you, fold. If your empathy for them becomes a detriment to your emotional well-being, have some empathy for yourself and know when to walk away.

10. They are selfish and show very little interest in your life.

The only time they show interest in whatever you have going on is prior to them getting a need met. Or, if there’s something in it for them, they show interest. All other times it’s half-ass and disingenuous.

11. If they get overly defensive about something that you ask them about.

If their defensiveness seems very strange, unnecessary, theatrical, and disproportionate to a respectful and casual inquisition, it’s time to walk away. Especially if they deflect and make you feel crazy, immature, accusatory or “mean” for asking.

12. They compulsively or pathologically lie. And their apologies mean nothing.

Whether it’s a compulsion to lie or deeper rooted in their pathology, you don’t have the time nor power to heal someone out of their own immorality and narcissistic facade. Especially if it’s behavior that is consistent – whether they recognize and get help for it or not.

Many times, these people will apologize after being caught in a lie. And it’s great to be sorry, but if they aren’t emotionally available and the behavior doesn’t change… that’s being selfishly regretful, not genuinely remorseful.

13. They are a total hypocrite. There is always a double standard.

And when you address any contradiction, they have a bullet-proof excuse that makes you less inclined to ever want to bring anything up to them again.

14. The things that he/she thinks are ok/funny/exciting/a turn-on, etc.

If they think something is funny, a turn-on, ok to do, exciting, etc., and this does not coincide with your own relational value system and moral code, know when to walk away. Especially if you would not like to ever be on the receiving end of it.

Trust me when I say that your love does not have the kind of power to revise the DNA blueprints of another person’s relational values and moral code.

15. If their definition of success, love, monogamy, honesty, and respect do not coincide with yours… know when to walk AWAY.

You deserve someone who defines these things in the same, or an even a better and more effective way, than you do. This person SHOWS you through his/her patterns, results, and LIFE, that their definition of these relational fundamentals is solid and never up for editing.

There are no exceptions, special circumstances or new definitions here.

If you’re with someone whose “special definitions” come at the expense of your emotional well-being and you find that after time, they are no longer your partner but a collage of your excuses… know when to walk away. Be done.

Think of how you would advise someone you care about and do the same for yourself. Get some standards, get some limits, and know when to walk away. If you don’t…

How are you any better than the people who come to your mind when reading this article?

Just because you aren’t directly hurting other people like they are, that doesn’t make you any better for hurting the one person you will never be able to emotionally survive the cost of devaluing, hurting, belittling, and beating down…

Yourself.

x Natasha

If you need further and more personalized help, please look into working with me here.

+ If you need help staying in No Contact once you’ve folded and walked away, be sure to check out my intensive, No Contact Contract audio and digital course here.  

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35 comments

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Brilliant post Natasha. This is really concise and easy to follow. But I was wondering what if for some reason you can’t physically walk away from such an individual, how do you emotionally walk away if let’s say you still live with this person (I.e. parents) or you work alongside that person. Amazing post yet again❤️

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Denise,

THANK YOU for such a great recommendation for another post :)! I have so much to say about this.

Happy that you loved this post as much as I did writing it. Thank you for being you and for being here. Your connection, support, understanding, and love mean everything to me. XOX

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Aaaww Natasha ?. I can’t wait for that post??. I’m so excited about how much I’m growing because of the lessons you’ve taught me. I literally had a conversation with someone today and she was talking about how high my standards were in regards to what I tolerate from guys. Natasha everything you’ve taught through your blog automatically came to life . I knew my inherent worth, I knew not to take what she said personally and let her own her beliefs, thoughts and actions. Natasha I say this always you are like the mom and dad to me, teaching me stuff I wish they’d did. Literally making me a better me❤️

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I was so excited to see this in my inbox! I don’t know how you know just when I need to hear something. It’s like you have a sixth sense. Thank you for all you do for us and Natasha, I CANNOT WAIT for your book! When will it be out??! ?

Thanks for helping me heal and for saving me from the worst depression and breakup of my life. Now it’s time to focus on me and get my power back. You have no idea, every one of these except 1 I could check off for my ex. PMS has been my safe haven and saving grace. I’m staying in my white horse.

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So happy that it helped! 🙂 Thanks Kendall! I cannot wait for you to read the book. I’m still working on it but be sure that you’re subscribed to both the PMS email subscription and natashaadamo.com for more info as it comes.

I am so happy for and proud of you Kendall. All my love to you sister. xo

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Dear Natasha,
This post is gold. I once struggled so much with boundaries, I accepted so much terrible behaviour off others for a very long time because of it. Trying to live off crumbs of love and inconsistent hot and cold behaviour. Thinking it was better than nothing. To have this was so much better than nothing. The fear of being abandoned and rejected caused emotionally crippling and crushing pain.

What really allowed me to continue accepting this crap though, was a total lack of self-worth and no limits. It was the biggest, hardest and most painful lesson I have learnt in life. It was also for a time, the most powerful trigger as I was healing from it.
When we are shadowed by someone else’s issues and unloving behaviour, we need to recognise it is not our burden to carry, and it doesn’t, it NEVER defines us.
The pain we feel is the signal to move on. To let go. We can never have a positive and happy life when we surround ourselves with negative and unhappy people. Even if they are our family.
You, as always, Natasha write with such clarity and it’s so easy to read and digest. You give all your readers so much here. For me, this post was a real reminder of where I have been, and how far I have come.

Thank you for being the light that is you. And for reminding us always, that we are lovable, strong and worthy enough to stand up for ourselves when we need to. To walk away when we must. And to never accept anything less that love, kindness, and respect.
It always begins with ourselves though. Boundaries. Self-love. Self-respect. Deciding what we can and cannot tolerate. This is the blueprint. we need for a happy life filled with love.

Thank you, Natasha. XXXX SO much love to you. Bless!

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Right there with you….xo

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ME TOO 🙂 XO

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Lorelle, I couldn’t agree more. Truly knowing yourself, your limits paves the road to happy life, sometimes I get scared and feel mean about making my boundaries known . But I remember Natasha saying to be kindly honest and that your boundaries are for you not them. To protect you and help you live your best life??. This post is solid gold and the way you expanded on it too lorelle is just beautiful ❤️

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Denise,

Hello lovely and thank you for your words. I read your earlier comment, I was going to write back later and so now I will. When living with people or someone who you need to establish boundaries with – it’s hard. Especially if they hold the balance of power. That’s what bakes abuse of children and young people so insidious- they often have no escape.
The same can be said for an abusive relationship between adults.

The first step is always seeing it for what it is. An abuse of power and a lack of love and healthy boundaries. Having this knowledge gives us power back – and I think finding someone who you can trust who can listen is another step forward.

There always comes a time when we need to exit the situation and move on. But this is a massive litmus test in itself. It’s about a clean slate, and who we trust and associate with during this time is so important. This is where we learn to set our limits.

I look back and I had such weak boundaries – it was like I existed to just please others. I didn’t even know how to tune into myself and what I wanted.

Emotionally walking away happens when we realise we cannot change them. They are who they are and we accept that, as painful as it is. We begin to reconnect with ourselves – what we like, what makes us happy. When you can see someone for who they are – you gain strength and power because you realise you are not them and as hard as it is at the beginning – you can slowly disconnect from their crap and build your self worth.

It’s so hard to do at first – but it’s like opening a door to a stuffy room and finally breathing fresh air. Relief!!! A sense of freedom. And as you practice focusing on yourself – you discover who you are – you are now moving out of their shadow. You reclaim your own space and honour yourself and your needs.

We always emotional disconnect before we actually leave. It’s what makes us walk away in the end. We start to see the truth.

Healing takes time but once you begin to focus on yourself, it feels good to grow and happiness blossoms too. It’s a process. Just know you are loved. You are a gem and have so much ahead of you. Those boundaries are for you – not them. Remember that.

I hope this helps some. Xxx big hugs xx ?

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I couldn’t have said it any better. Truly. xxxx

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Lorelle, thank you thank you thank you. This has helped me so much and you are right it is hard, I just realized it today (I wrote above about a friend talking about my standards being too high today). It hurt because I realized she’d never understand and I can’t make her understand. I still struggle with emotionally disconnecting because , they’d show me a measly drop of empathy and I’d go running back to them and having temporary amnesia about their past hurtful words and actions. But I’ve started taking a new path now and truly focusing on myself. You are right we cannot change people, and they’ll always show us who they are and like Natasha says, they having selective empathy isn’t a sign to dig for more “empathy “. Thank you Lorelle❤️❤️❤️

Hi Denise! The site got updated yesterday and 24 of the incredible comments on this post (including all of the support to you), are gone. I hope that you took screenshots and know that we are ALL here for and with you.xx

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I love this Lorelle.. as much as i love you soul sister! Thank you for your kindness and empathy you have given me during the worst times of my life. You and Natasha are like too big bright lights for me out of the darkness. Words will never be able to convey just how much you both mean to me.

Always.
xxxxxxxx

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Agreed <3 <3 <3 !!

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Lorelle,

This comment of yours should be added to the actual post! I could not relate, agree, or empathize more with you <3 I love you.

Thank you for existing and disallowing your light to get dimmed any longer. Can't wait for your post 🙂 xx

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Awww Natasha xxx this fills my heart xx thank you x much love ?

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Lorelle hi, it’s Denise :). So there was a website update and your beautiful comment you wrote is gone and I couldn’t take a shot of it before the update. If you could perhaps send another one again that would be so appreciated.

Update though; we spoke earlier on in the week, but still energetically I didn’t feel assured or like he knew where I was coming from. Hence my gut truly was right and I have to daily deconstruct my fantasies of us. I mean if a guy really wants you in his life and likes you you’d know right? ?

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So needed this today…so powerful. It also stings a little, if I’m honest with myself. I always feel like I invest more in my relationships, friends or lovers, than I ever get in return. I’m finding it difficult to not allow it to harden me – but more so to serve as a reminder that albeit uncomfortable in the beginning to assess a boundary – it saves me from sooo much self-inflicted pain in the end. And maintain my self-respect is so much more important.
I really appreciate you speaking your truth and your realness. It’s easy to look at beautifully curated pictures on IG and think ‘they have it all together’ and must exude confidence. It helps to know that you can still be triggered, but how to move thru it without making it about you.

From my heart – thank you. I have immense gratitude for all you share. Best, Malokinji

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I am in tears. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I know what you mean about it stinging – it stung many times as I wrote it because it reminded me of times that I gave away my power, peace, love, trust, and time that I will never get back. It hurts but we are not alone. I’ve also been on the inflicting side many times and writing this post brought up shame and guilt as well. I don’t think I’ll ever “have it all together,” but I take comfort in knowing that no matter what comes my way, nothing will paralyze me like it once did. And we are never alone – we have each other. All my love, gratitude, and appreciation to you my dear Helen. Thank you for being here and for being you. xo

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Hello Natasha.
I agree with everything in this post. As I was reading I kept having flashbacks of when I didn’t have boundaries. I could have saved myself so much pain if I had. This just reminded me of how important it is to ourselves to have a limit. If we do not take care of ourselves first, nobody else will. There is so much truth to what you say. I see so much of my past here. I’m glad I have knowledge now from you on how to go forward.
Thank you. You are a gift and a blessing.
I hope you are well. ????

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Perfect post and reality check!
I am dealing with a covert narcissist and he is almost everything you listed. After a long time of struggle i had my epiphany moment…I realized that the clarity and stability I was looking for was not outside or definitely not from a covert narcissist but within myself. So I told him to find himself another player for his disgusting mind games coz I am not interested. I took back my power but of course I have my lows too but once I am triggered I just reached in instead of out and I let it pass. Thank you Natasha for ur support. U do make a difference in our lives

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Another timely article Natasha…. thank you! I’ve been doing pretty well disentangling myself, my emotions and working through that crazy thing called cognitive dissonance after my crazy making 3 years with the ex fucktard. I always made excuses for his behaviour (he has ADHD, he suffers from rejection sensitive dysphoria, he had a difficult childhood blah blah blah). My therapist pointed out that he most likely has NPD, and deep down I always knew it, I just never wanted to believe that, as it would mean I had been fooled (again), and I had no excuse to do anything but walk (run!) away….

I found out today he is getting married to the girl he discarded me for….. it was unsettling, especially as I had 3 years of future faking, empty promises and changing goal posts.

I’m glad I read your post today, as it reminds me of all the red flags I chose to ignore, that are obviously still flying, and will always fly….. so the pain contraction has been replaced with a sigh of relief.

Your first point about actually taking out the trash really hit home. I have been NC for a long time now, but I think I’ve just been staring out my window at the garbage, without really realising it still hasn’t been collected and gone to the tip.

I know what I need to do now, and that is to honestly, genuinely, authentically and permanently WALK AWAY.

Mai x

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Thank you for the reminders my friend. I needed this today and I deserve better. Hope all is well with you.

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The site got updated and I lost 24 of the comments on this post 🙁 one of which was my reply to you Brady. You are missed, loved, believed in and supported always. So glad that the post was a solid reminder. xo

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Mai, hi it’s Denise. Natasha let me know that your beautiful comment that gave me so much hope is gone because of the website update that she was not expecting to erase the comments on this post from the last 48 hours. If you could send it again that’ll be greatly appreciated. I was really touched by your care and you made me feel less alone. It’s like I feel all you guys energy whenever im tempered to fall of my white horse or go back to beliefs that no longer serve me. Thank you so much Mai❤️

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Hi Denise,

how are you today lovely? I know how you are hurting at the moment, and it is these times we need to love ourselves the most. You are so worthy and so full of love. We love and notice that about you here! The wonderful thing about PMS is that we have all been in the same dark places. We have all felt alone and unloved. We have struggled and doubted ourselves and felt like we don’t belong, don’t fit and have nothing positive going on during these hard times. I’ve said this before… ‘the lowest ebb is always the turn of the tide’.
I found those words so powerfully soothing when I first heard them. It gave me hope, and allowed me to realise that pain would pass, my situation would not always stay the same.

It is important during these times to be with the people who care and love us. Sometimes this isn’t our family. Sometimes we have no one. But the tribe exists and we are real people. Who really care.

Stay on your white horse, and stay with us. Keep writing here and someone will reply.
Biggest hugs and love to you, Denise. xxxx

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Love this <3 Thank you for writing back again.

I'm so sorry all of the comments got deleted. Love you and love seeing this love and support <3

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Hi Lorelle, thank you so very much. It’s been tough especially today, I keep feeling unworthy or like he’s find someone better. Thank you for everything ❤️

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Hi Denise,

I’m not sure how to find it again…. I know I wrote it from the heart, and that I was trying to convey that you deserve more that what he can offer you…. we get a feeling when someone is not right for us, but we hope and want things to work out so badly that we ignore what our body is trying to tell us…. I’m glad that my comment gave you hope, because I read yours, and felt such a connection with what you are going through, and I needed to respond…. because I have been there as well.

I’m sorry I can’t say the exact same words again. But my feeling and intent to comfort you are still here. And I know you realise that Natasha, and ALL this tribe are here to support you.

This may sound a little cheesy but where I am right now in Australia, it’s a really beautiful night, and the stars are shining…. I don’t want to get tooooo sentimental, but I’m going to imagine that this tribe are all of those stars right now.

We DO have the strength to not accept anything that is not worthy of us, and WALK AWAY.

Hugs Denise,

Mai xx

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Mai,

Thank you so much for taking the time to not only reply again (I am so sorry that your beautiful comment got deleted during the site update – that has never happened before), but for doing so with so much empathy and love.

You mean everything to me and this tribe. I hope to be in Australia one day soon and am looking so forward to giving you the biggest hug in person. Love you sister. xx

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Mai, thank you so much. I really need y’all at this point, I can’t help but feel lonely, I’m writing this in church right now , fighting back tears. I’m scared that I’d be replaced or be alone forever. Your words mean a lot to me, I’ll lean on them during this period. Thank you Mai❤️❤️❤️

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Natasha, I am giving you a virtual high-five on every single of these brilliantly encapsulated gems. Reading them is like taking an emotional B-12 shot as I ride that white horse, month three. I have one general question/poll for you and the PMS community at large. When you decided to “take the trash out”, did you announce your departure to the garbage-fire you were leaving? Or did you simply go silent? Option one would seem to invite some kind of negotiation, whereas option 2 seems a bit dramatic. All answers genuinely welcome.

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Hi Susan!

Thank you 🙂 I love the B-12 analogy. This is a great question that is highly dependent on the circumstances and person you are dealing with. I will try to write more about this soon.

What I can say is this – if you are dealing with a toxic person who has been selfish, gaslight, made you question your worth, lied, manipulated, etc., and has proven to not be inconsistent, emotionally unavailable and empathetically bankrupt…

Speaking with your actions will never be “dramatic.” It would be wise and mature. Wish I had the time to write more. Thank you so much for your love, understanding, sisterhood, support, and for being a part of this tribe. Big love to you Susan. I hope that we can meet in person one day. XOX

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Love this answer and ditto on the IRL meet-up! Lmk if you ever make your way to NorCal! xo

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