As a dating coach, Damona sees a big trend toward curiosity about open relationships. If you’ve spent years in unhappy monogamous relationships, this episode is for you.

Today’s guest, Kelsey Darragh from E!’s Dating #NoFilter and Buzzfeed, shares her personal experience of being in an open relationship and how her mental health journey impacts her relationships day today. 

Kelsey’s Bottom line: Happiness begins with honesty.

But Damona covers headlines:


(2:28) Are couples who don’t share their relationship online happier?

A recent survey by ShotKit, couples are 120% happier if they don’t post photos of their relationship online. Could it be related to the pressure related to going public on social media? Damona knows the answer from personal experience.


(5:53) Fear of Dating Again (FODA)

HelloGiggles asks the question: is it safe to date again? Universally, singles across the world have a lot of anxiety as they contemplate re-entering the dating scene. Damona covers the article and also gives her own advice.

If you’re struggling with FODA here are a few additional tips from Damona:

💕 Address your anxiety head on and pinpoint exactly what scares you about re-entering the dating scene. What are things you can do to mitigate those fears?⁠

💕 Assess what you’re ready to commit to – if you need to take a break in dating that’s okay! It’s hard to date for a long-term relationship when you don’t know what your next 6 months are going to be like.⁠

💕 If you’re taking a break from dating, set a timeframe and a goal for when you’re going to return.⁠



Kelsey Darragh is an author and comedian you know from E!’s Dating: #NoFilter and Buzzfeed. She has just released her new book, Don’t F*cking Panic: The Shit They Don’t Tell You in Therapy about Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks, & Depression, that address the struggles and triumphs of her mental health journey and how you can win, too.

Damona and Kelsey cover:

(14:27) After watching more than her fair share of dates on Dating: #NoFilter, Kelsey gives some great advice on how to make first dates work. Plus, her approach to dating gives more emphasis on not judging a book by its cover and making a true connection.

(15:30) How honest should you be on a first date? Kelsey says put all your crazy out there, but Damona disagrees.

(18:16) Kelsey talks about identifying as bisexual and why labels don’t matter anymore. Evolving as a society has allowed for much more fluidity when it comes to a person’s sexual orientation. 

(20:45) Kelsey and her boyfriend are currently in an open relationship which has completely changed her views on mynongmy. Everyone has their own definition of what an open relationship truly is and what each couples’ boundaries are. 

(22:00) Writing the rules for your own relationship: Being honest with your partner about your needs

(24:30) Rewriting the narrative: Marriage doesn’t always equal success

(25:45) Why Kelsey recommends starting as friends with benefits and growing from there

(27:12) Kelsey is a huge fan of using therapy for your own personal mental health as well as relationships. Her new book focuses on owning your mental health. Due to Covid, Kelsey believes people are assessing and prioritizing what is most important to them in regards to their mental health and how it can affect every aspect of your life. Kelsey herself has experienced depression, anxiety, and has amazing advice on staying positive and seeking help. 

(31:00) Being honest with yourself about your mental health and how it affects your day to day

(34:30) Damona gets honest about why dating is so unpredictable right now

Learn more about Kelsey’s Book at!


Submit your questions Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and hear our answers live on the show! Here’s what our listeners asked about this week:

  • (Sierra): Hi, Damona.  I’m a mid 20 something black woman living in the Bay Area. And my question is that I’m coming to two points of frustration right now, with dating apps. The first one is that I have dated race open in the past, and I’m currently dating race open now. So it’s never been something where it’s been an issue for me. But no matter how much, no matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, every time I close my eyes and think about what the most ideal long term relationship looks like, for me, it is always with somebody who is of my same race. And that brings me to my second point of frustration is that the apps that I’m currently on tend to lack some diversity. And when they do find people who are diverse candidates to swipe on, it tends to feel like I’m just grabbing at crumbs. So I’m not really sure if there’s anything I can do to solve the issue of a lack of diversity on dating apps or just wanting to date people of my same culture and of my same race, but I’m just more looking for some guidance and some advice on kind of how to get over this hump. 
  • (L):  Hello Damona. Is it normal for a man to admit you stress him out a lil ? I asked my guy during a disagreement if he was happy . He says yes should I take that for face value or should I take that as he is afraid to tell me the truth ?



The app solves many major challenges that Damona’s clients face in dating today:

  • You can keep your main number private
  • You can separate your personal and dating contacts
  • Plus, It’s easy to use and FREE.

We are proud to collaborate with an app that empowers modern daters to feel safe and secure. If you want more information, check out Damona’s video on when to give out your number to people you meet on dating apps. Click here!



Damona  0:09  

just keep waiting for the fairy tale. Or you can get on board with the new rules of relationships. If you’ve read my advice in the LA Times, then you know, this ain’t your mama’s love advice. This is dates and mates with damona Hoffman. Welcome to dates and maids with damona Hoffman presented by text now my most recommended app for people who are thinking about dating app safety and want a free second phone number that they can use just for dating. Here’s the question of the day. Are you getting your needs met in relationships? Like really getting your needs met physically, mentally, spiritually? If not, maybe it’s time you asked yourself if you’re really being honest with yourself and your partner, or partners? Like Have you thought about being in an open relationship? If not, maybe today is the day. And while we’re being honest, why are we talking more about mental health in dating and relationships? Well, today, we’re going to get some perspective on how being clear and honest about how you feel can unlock greater satisfaction in your relationships. Even if you don’t see a model for the relationship you want around you. I’m talking to Kelsey Darragh. You may know her from her previous work in BuzzFeed or on ease hit show dating nofilter. Kelsey is in an open relationship and today she’s going to share how being honest in her relationship has led to deeper love and deeper self understanding. So stick around because Kelsey is super funny and also incredibly wise. But first, I want to share some headlines with you. Hide your kids, hide your wife, hide your husband, because you might be happier if you don’t share your relationship online and forget FOMO How about Fota fear of dating again, and how you can re enter the dating scene safely? Plus will answer your questions in dear damona. Like, does your guy really mean it when he says he’s happy in your relationship? And where should you look if you only want to date someone of a specific race, all that and more on dates and nights. It’s time to do this dish


Damona  2:29  

survey says couples are 128% happier if they don’t share their relationship online. According to shotcut, an online photography community Now you would think that they would be they would be encouraging people to post about their booth to take photos with their booth and put them online. But they surveyed more than 2000 people in the UK who were in a relationship between the ages of 18 and 50. And they found that couples who share their relationship online were unhappier than those who never post and this was really interesting that when they broke it down by age they found that Gen Z years post couple’s content a lot less 60% less than millennials do. And this got me thinking why why is it that we feel this pressure to post our boo honor honor socials? Why do we feel like we got to claim our boo and and link our status in our relationship go down in social media history together? And I actually I agree with the findings in the study I think that social media really does add a layer of confusion and frustration to a lot of relationships because there’s always been the question it’s almost like you have to make it official and then you have to make it Instagram official. And then what happens if it doesn’t work out and then you need to scrub their entire identity from from their your entire profile. It’s it’s quite complicated and I’m in a situation where my husband is a very private person you may have noticed if you follow me on on Instagram or Facebook, that I almost never post about my husband and and you know, I talked about him all the time on the show. But he he’s not really a photo person and he does not have any social media accounts like nothing. He follows a few people on Twitter, he does hop on the Reddit threads for his favorite soccer team go Tottenham Hotspur, but he does not having an account himself. And I will say it’s a little bit of a relief. It’s a little bit of a relief to know that I don’t have to have any awkward conversations about like, well who is your friend and whose posts are you liking and what did that? What did that girl’s emoji mean to you and just there’s so much complication that is added by social that in relationships makes it double trouble. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot just in general the way that we live our lives publicly now. It doesn’t Allow the opportunity for relationships to unfold in the natural way, because there’s always the watchful eye of everyone you on your social media page that knows where you’re going knows who you’re with. And I’m actually a fan of pulling back a little bit and seeing if you can, you can use that space to form a deeper connection before you actually bring your relationship out into the public. And it’s not just celebrities, it’s not just TMZ that’s talking about who’s dating who. It’s everyone now. And if you’re in a new relationship or a fragile relationship, I really do encourage you to follow what this this survey said. And see if you can create a little more space for the two of you by not putting your relationships so much in the public. Hi, hello. giggles asks,


Is it safe to date again, what you need to know about Fota? So as I said at the top of the show, Fota is fear of dating again, after the pandemic, I know I am having photos of just like life photos, like fear of I call it like re entry, fear of re entry into the real, the real world or the world that we used to know. But here’s the weird thing. The world that we used to know doesn’t really exist, like we’re not, we’re not stepping right into a completely new, new normal, it’s going to there’s going to be a lot of negotiation, as we get to this next phase, because there are some people who have vaccines and some don’t, there are some people who are wearing masks and some who don’t, there are some people who have kids that are going back to school and some who don’t, there’s so many conversations that have to happen around safety. Still, as we are rounding the corner, hopefully, on this pandemic. So there were a few tips that I’d love to share with you from this article, we’ll put the link, of course in the show notes, first set goals and keep a low stakes mindset. What does that mean? Well, you’ve heard me say this before. And when when you need to take a take a dating break. Overall, it’s important to set a timeframe when you are going to return and then a goal for like, I would like to go on two dates before the end of the month, because we’re not tracking it. And we’re not setting goals around it, dating always becomes the thing that you’ll just deal with later. So my friend Rachel DL, Joe, who was on a few episodes ago, also says to keep expectations low, and hopes high to avoid disappointment. And I agree with that, but I want to dissect it a little bit for you, because some of you are probably like, what does that mean? Keep expectations low and hopes high, it means go into every dating situation, with the hope of possibility. But also without hanging your all of your expectations on the fact that this one this first person you meet, or maybe this 40 of person that you meet is the one try to go beyond that to the experience that you would like to have. And I always say, create a date that you’d want to go on whether or not the date actually turns into something more. And that brings us to our second point, which is break the ice. You know, it’s awkward, whether you’re going to a zoom date, or you’re going to a social distance date, break up the tension. So maybe get like, would you rather book or gamify the date in some some way? Or you know, ask them, ask them for their favorite ice cream flavor or something that can start the energy off already a little bit familiar, a little bit casual, from the beginning, because we’re all we’re all nervous, like we’re nervous just being out in the world right now. If I mean, that’s how I feel. I don’t know if you’ve heard me. But being in this situation of re entering to real dates, there, the nerves are going to be high. So try to give yourself a break and try to prepare. That’s another one of the tips like have go to talking points. Know what is have some stuff in your back pocket that you know you want to ask them that you know that you can talk about have your go to stories. That doesn’t mean you want to have like a canned date on repeat. But have those those moments and have those stories and have those questions already locked and loaded so that you don’t have to be in that awkward silence of wondering what’s going to happen. I’ll let y’all read read the article to see the other tips. But most importantly, and Logan Yuri said this when I interviewed her on NPR, and she says it again in this article make an effort to be interested rather than interesting. We always think that we have to impress the other person and tap dance and show them all the stuff that we can do and what’s so great about ourselves but really If you just lean in, and you’re like, I want to know what’s so great about you, that other person is going to feel more connected to you, they’re going to feel heard, they’re probably going to ask better questions that will enable them to get to know you better. And then you’ll both have a much better time. I hope that gives you some inspiration to get back out there and start dating. And if you are maybe a step before that, and you’re still in the profile stage, and wondering like damona, how do I even get dates, check out my free profile starter kit, it is the first step to optimizing your profile, you can get plug and play profile templates that can be adapted for any dating app, you can get writing prompts that have led to winning profiles for my clients in the past. And there’s a short easy to follow video guide on how to choose the right profile photos, you can get that for free at dates and And another special announcement, if you want a little bit more support for me, maybe you’ve done the profile starter kit and you’re like, I need a little bit of help shaping this. I’ll actually be doing a live workshop with la Community College. It’s happening on April 22 2021. I don’t know when you’re listening to this. Maybe you’re maybe you’re visiting me from the future. But April 22 2021, we are doing a virtual workshop. And I’ll put the link in the show notes to sign up. But it’s for anybody anywhere in the world and I will help you shape your dating profile let you know what all of the elements are that need to be in there and help you fly out of the nest and onto your new dating lifestyle sans Fota. When we come back I will be here with Kelsey Darragh stick around. Welcome back. I am here with Kelsey Darragh. She’s a comedian, a former BuzzFeed personality. And now the author of the new book. Don’t effing panic. You know, I don’t cuss on this show, but I think you know what I’m trying to say. It’s all about how she has learned to thrive in spite of having depression and anxiety disorders, and how you can learn from her experience and apply it to your own life to please help me give big smooches to my friend Kelsey Darragh.


Kelsey Darragh  12:11  

Thanks for having me ladies


Kelsey Darragh  12:12  

of the challenging names.


Damona  12:15  

So glad to have you here. I had such a great time on your podcast. Secure.


Kelsey Darragh  12:22  

Oh, yeah, they thought you were so fun.


Damona  12:25  

Well, I thought you were so fun. And I was like, you got to come over here. Today’s


Kelsey Darragh  12:28  

man energy. Yes, I’ll


Damona  12:30  

share some wisdom. So we’re gonna be talking about a whole ton of things. But the first thing is, of course, a lot of people might know you from dating nofilter. Which Yeah, is a dating show on if y’all haven’t seen it is hilarious, like dates with commentary. And Kelsey is is genius and poignant. And it’s all like, it’s so it’s so nice to see different kinds of relationships, right? What was your experience like working on that show? As someone also who identifies as queer to see, like queer daters represented on totally,


Kelsey Darragh  13:04  

I thought going into it, okay, I’m gonna be a comedian. And I’m just gonna be commenting on these like boring dates. That’s why they need us to add a little spice. It’s true. But boy, oh, boy, was I wrong. Our casting director deserves an Emmy because she got the most interesting people cast to go out on dates with each other. And of course, we want them to succeed. So we’re not like setting up two completely different people. But, you know, we set up like a Republican and a woman who believes she’s an alien, once she like, identifies as an alien. And I was just like,


Kelsey Darragh  13:39  



Kelsey Darragh  13:40  

drew these people exist. And it was so interesting. And, you know, I really got to give some kudos to EA for putting the first LGBT plus blind dating show out there. And it’s so nice to see different identities reflected and see what is actually reflective of our generation on TV. I like I don’t know about you, but I’m kind of sick of like the bachelor Bachelorette. I’m like, Oh, my God, give me some gay stuff.


Damona  14:09  

But I just talked about that a couple weeks ago, I was saying that exact thing. It’s not representative of the world that we live in. And your show really is but for our for our audience, most of them are single ready to mingle media going on now. Maybe they’re going on online dates, and, and the blind date situation that like almost never happens, especially in COVID times like now. Yeah. But I’m curious what maybe you’ve learned from watching a few blind dates and ways to spark a connection or ways that people really messed it up. And right, wish you could have gotten in there and given them some advice to steer it differently.


Kelsey Darragh  14:49  

You know, I think with social media and these dating apps where the first thing you see is an outward appearance, we’ve become a generation conditioned to go right off of Lux, which is We are a product of arrays, you can’t be mad at us that we can like see someone and like within five seconds, I’m like, do I want to sleep with them or not? And what I love about dating, no filter is yes, of course, you’d get that you get that blind date moment where they see each other for the first time. And someone will usually say like, oh, they’re not my type, or I normally wouldn’t go for this type of guy, it usually means they’re like short and bald, and you’re like, you’re just rude. You’re just like, a jerk. But what I love is that within you know, this format that we do, it’s a half hour show, you really get to see a relationship blossom, maybe it’s not so based in a stetic. And you know, you can’t Google them or look at their Instagram before you go on a date with them, you really are just put in a situation that our generation isn’t accustomed to. So judging a book by its cover, it’s old and tried but true.


Damona  15:47  

I think even early on some folks were really oversharing Do you have a rule? Do you ever know that you would recommend like what you should share on a first date, and


Kelsey Darragh  15:58  

my role is put it all out? there I am. Who I mean, you know, most people know me from the internet, though my life at BuzzFeed for five years was nothing but me talking on camera about the most intimate personal parts of my life. I mean, my boyfriend’s family can Google me and see, literally everything you need to know about me the good, the bad, the ugly, the personal, the medical, the you know, I’m someone that really believes in showing your authentic self. And that’s what makes people relate to you. So I don’t have a rule, I think you should just get it all out there without being without being off putting, I guess you don’t need to get everything out there on a first date just as much as the conversation flow allows.


Damona  16:40  

I agree with you about authenticity. I think that’s why we like each other. I feel like some stuff is like, wait, that is not, not first day, first day conversation, right? It’s like a curated version of yourself. Like, you know, you don’t see all the paintings at once you see a curated version. But I want to change gears for a second. Because you you mentioned your boyfriend. Yeah. In the beginning, I said that you identify as queer. So I’m sure people are listening, going, yes. Hmm.


Kelsey Darragh  17:12  

I know. It’s such an ever fluid ever changing generation people are like, what are we identifying as today, but that’s what I love about the beauty of our generation is people kind of don’t care. You know, I’ve always identified personally as bisexual, I always knew that to be genders like mine, and unlike mine, but then as we evolved as a society, you know, the term queer just felt a lot more and you know, trans inclusive as well. And so I’ll say usually queer or bisexual, and people kind of turn their heads because I do have a sis hat boyfriend currently in my relationship. But that doesn’t define me as a whole.


Damona  17:54  

I’m going to pause because I know what you just said. But some of our listeners don’t know what you just said. She said, sis hat.


Kelsey Darragh  18:02  

Tell us what that vendor means that you identify with the gender that you were assigned with at birth. So sexuality, gender, these are all different terms to define, you know, biological versus psychological versus preference. And so cisgender means you identify, you know, my boyfriend was born a male, he identifies as a male and says hat means heterosexual. So cisgendered heterosexual, heterosexual means that he is your basic bit, oh, excuse me, he’s a basic guy.


Kelsey Darragh  18:39  

On TV, so you can say on the show


Kelsey Darragh  18:41  

you two basic guy, he’s raising bid, she likes chicks. And I was like, Alright, that’s kind of, that’s fine with me. But I what I love about him is he is this stereotypical Boston like, you know, like sports likes, you know, stereotypically male things. But being with me being in LA watching society evolve, he has become so much more open to exploration to his own identity, his own femininity, he’ll tell you that I’m more masculine than he is. And he actually has really embraced those beautiful parts of femininity about himself. And we are in an open relationship, which I know is another non traditional thing in society, but for us, it’s the most incredible beautiful eye opening experience. I could never see myself going back to monogamy.


Damona  19:43  

And when you say open relationship, do you mean because I know that that can be defined in different ways. Totally. Do you have committed relationships with other people or you have sexual relationships or both? How does that Sure.


Kelsey Darragh  19:57  

So it’s, again, one of those things That’s totally fluid. And a lot of people think it’s one thing because that’s how it’s represented in media. But you’re so right that like, my open relationship might not look like your other friends open relationship, everyone has their boundaries, I try to stay away from the word like rules, because rules are meant to be broken baby. But boundaries can also change, right? Like when COVID happened, we were like, Oh, we are not going to date, we are going to actually close the relationship for now open can also be closed, close can also be open, we’re not like stuck and cemented in relationships in the way society deems us to be. So when COVID happened, we were like we are closing this, that we are going to just be partners with each other. But now you know, we’re getting we’re vaccinated, we’re seeing the world open back up a little bit more. And so we’re having those conversations of like, hey, when when things go back to normal, how are we going to date again, and because his preference is women, you know, we like to date women together. He, you know, has conversations to he’ll go on dates by himself or go on dates by myself. We’ll try we’ll try to date someone that we both like, which you think would be hard. But because we have figured out how to have such a sex successful relationship, it’s actually quite easy to find a third. So we joke we like to call each other like our primaries, because it does feel like that it’s like, we have a solid foundation as primary together. And that’s the relationship that I don’t want to say like Trump’s all First of all, because I don’t like saying the word Trump. And second of all, because it’s not like a ranking system. It’s more just like, we’ve gone into this together, and we will make decisions moving forward


Damona  21:40  

together. I love that I love I love how you’re just so open to get to be writing the rules for yourself. I think there’s a lot of people listening who probably are like, that sounds really interesting. No, they’re like, really interesting to me. I don’t know where I would begin with that. Did you establish that that was the relationship you were moving into from the beginning?


Kelsey Darragh  22:03  

That’s a great question. Because I do think open relationships are super unrelatable for the majority of listeners and Americans, because we’ve been taught that marriage equals success, anything but equals not success. And our generation is really rewriting that narrative. Why? Because more than 50% of marriages have ended up in divorce, we got a lot of people who are coming out later in life, you know, not being upfront about what they want, early on, people change when you get married in your 20s, you’re not the same person that you are in your 30s. And I just thought it was such a limiting belief that I never really subscribed to the idea of monogamy even from a younger age, I always found myself kind of being like, well, I don’t want to belong to someone. And I don’t want to feel like I’m ever not allowed to do what I want to do because of someone else. So I spent a lot of my life in monogamous relationships kind of miserable and even jealous. But when I met my current partner, he was so open minded. And we really were just so right for each other, that we started as a Friends with Benefits situation, which if anyone’s ever thinking about getting into a open relationship, I highly recommend starting in a Friends with Benefits area, just because it gives you the closest like testing of the waters, and you can call out your feelings as they come up. Just because you get jealous doesn’t mean the relationship needs to be over. Just because you get sad doesn’t mean someone can’t hear you out and change behavior. So we started as a friend with benefits. And as we fell in love, we were like, Oh, crap, we’re really fallen in love. But also, we don’t want to do the traditional thing. And so this is my first long term, open relationship. And, dare I say the most successful just because we’ve been from day one, the most open and honest about our feelings we could possibly be.


Damona  24:12  

There must have been some challenging conversations along the way that


Kelsey Darragh  24:16  

you learn, you think things won’t bother you and then you’re like, Oh, wait, I’m feeling something. I don’t like this. I gotta call it out. And I think it’s, you have to do a deep inventory of listening to yourself, in order to relay that information to a partner. You know, if you’re not cool with coming out with your own feelings, you might not be able to communicate that to someone and I think that’s why we’ve been so successful just as a couple in general and like even our couples therapists will say that she’s like, you guys do the work. Like we choose to make this a priority. And so if you don’t, then things just become easy to to look past wash over deal with later repress and I mean, it might have something to do with the fact But we’re also like 30, with no kids in an industry that allows kind of that prioritizing, and I completely understand that it might not be as accessible for everyone. And like, definitely want to name that, because I’ve only seen on the media where like people with kids are like, we’re not as sexually attracted to each other anymore. Let’s go like bone, other people, that’s never gonna work. Like, it’s that looking for filling a void. Whereas Jared and I were so fulfilled, we were like, We want to share this with other people, like we love this love we have, wouldn’t it be so amazing to give that to someone else. So I love that.


Damona  25:41  

I love that. And I love that. You’re, you’re really expressing how you feel and that you feel safe enough in your relationship to share and without judgment. You You casually mentioned the word therapist. And casually my listeners know, I’m a big fan of therapy. Lovely. I know, we both have collaborated with better help. And I’m a big, I’m a big fan of people using therapy, both individually. And also in partnership. And we have I mean, in a year like this, I feel like we can’t, we can’t breeze over mental health as it relates to relationships. Absolutely. also released your first book recently did Don’t panic. Yeah. I’m gonna say it cuz I’m like, I’m somebody’s mom. Don’t effing panic, Deus stuff. They don’t tell you in therapy, about anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and depression. So not to bring the mood down. Don’t want to do that. But I think it’s really important that yes, that you are, you’re being open and honest about your, your challenges and struggles. And other people can see that this is, this is something real, and I mean, especially you must be hearing from people all the time. Yeah, that the pandemic, first of all, is a character in all of our lives, that I think it’s gonna take some time to really process,


Kelsey Darragh  27:17  

there’s gonna be like studies died, and for until we die about how this affected us psychologically, you know, I’ve said this, in many interviews that as tragic and like, horrific as this time has been, it’s also been a big reset for people and their mental health and prioritizing and recognizing what aspects of their mental health are important. And in the book, don’t effing panic, there is a lot about relationships. And as it pertains to mental health, because my mental health is affecting every part of what I do. And that includes my relationships, my close relationships. And, of course, if someone cares about you, they’re going to want to help you. But not everyone knows how to be an ally, or even be there or even encourage someone to be open about their mental health. And even myself, who literally wrote a book about anxiety, panic, and depression, had struggles with that over the pandemic. And with my relationship, you know, we got into such a pattern and a routine, and it was easy to ignore the relationship because we were getting so you know, involved with working from home or, you know, building the garden or, you know, everything changed, and we didn’t really know how to say, okay, we actually have to stop and work on the mental health aspect of our relationship, jobs were lost, you know, people, you know, had to travel for work, that was scary. There was a lot that we had, as a society have never had to deal with before. And, you know, like I mentioned, there’s a lot in the book about how a partner can help someone through mental health crises. But I think more important than that, more important than having a successful partner conversation about mental health because your relationship will never be as successful as it could be. If you’re not honest about your mental health. You yourself, have to be willing to acknowledge it. And I don’t mean that, that you have to know what’s going on. And you have to be able to self diagnose and know how to fix it. You just need to as a partner showing up to this relationship. Need to keep your side of the street clean. And acknowledgement is like the very first step, I believe.


Damona  29:48  

Yeah. What does that look like? Keeping your side of the street clean in a relationship?


Kelsey Darragh  29:54  

Yeah, I mean, showing up for the relationship to me means If I’m not doing certain things that I have been doing, you know, whether it be keeping myself clean, you know, like, taking showers like physically clean, physically clean, like if I’m not eating healthy Lee or whatever that means to you, if I’m not, if I’m more closed off, if I see myself retreating, my partner is going to see those things. And I’m going to have the blinders of depression on I’m only going to be seeing down, you know, the tunnel of the way my mental health is making me feel. And so if I can’t even acknowledge that happening, and my partner might bring it up and just say like, Hey, I’m noticing you’re not you know, yourself lately. And if I’m like, I, it’s fine, then I’m not acknowledging the collective trauma, that is the pandemic, that is the social unrest, that is the political scandals I’m, I’m, I’m sweeping it under the rug. And that’s kind of maybe what I mean, by not giving your side of the street clean, like, you’re just putting it all under the rug. And that’s not fair to a partner. And it like I said, it doesn’t mean you have to know how to fix it, it doesn’t mean you have to know how to even get help. It just means you have to go like, okay, I recognize I’m not showing up for my partner or myself. And that’s not conducive to a happy, healthy, balanced life.


Damona  31:27  

Makes sense? What about for those who are single? And like, I? I’ll be honest, I, you know, I’ve I’ve navigated singles. I’ve been coaching for 15 years, Kelsey, yeah. So I’ve helped people through a lot of different situations. In dating, and this is just the weirdest time and I’ve said this on the show before, like, I can’t predictively tell what people will do right now. I used to, like, be able to say literally, I can promise you, if you do x he’ll do why you do z heal and kill Yeah, mature relationship with you. And you’ll be married next year. Like I, I fully believe with all my being that my system worked that well before. Yes. And now I cannot predictively tell what someone will do. And I think it’s because of this thing that we’re not talking about, right? Because there’s so much fear. There’s so much trauma, there’s so much anxiety that I think people don’t even know what they’re gonna do themselves.


Kelsey Darragh  32:28  

Yeah, like, how would you have any room for also getting to know someone and dating and how do you even prioritize that? stuff?


Damona  32:39  

Yeah, cuz I want I want people to, like, I don’t believe that we should be putting our lives on hold. And no, I think dating will be easier. Yeah, in the fall, I don’t think that we should delay our, our happiness, or our, you know, pursuit of a relationship or desire for a relationship, because we’re like, it’s tough right now. It’s unpredictable right now.


Kelsey Darragh  33:02  

Yeah. And that’s, I think what I mean about like, the being honest, upfront thing, right? Like, if you’re going to do a FaceTime date, or whatever, it’s not all rainbows and flowers, like, you’re not going to be able to pretend like, Oh, I went to work this week. It was great. I’m going to the farmers market this weekend, like it, call it out. Say, you know, it’s been really tough. I’m managing like, what are you doing to manage? I think there again, it’s like, I put myself back in the times of like, World War Two where the Great Depression, I’m like, was everyone just walking around? Like, let’s keep procreating? Like, no, it’s, we’re all going through this together. literally everyone is affected by it. So why are we ignoring it? Why are we not talking about it? And like you said, it doesn’t mean we can’t be happy. It doesn’t mean we have to harp on it. And it’s the only thing we can talk about, but your life is different now. My life is different. Now. Why am I gonna pretend that it’s not,


Damona  34:01  

and it may not ever go back to the way it was before and I feel like that’s something that we need to just embrace. Like, it’s it’s the new normal. Yeah, this is the normal. So how are we going to do this?


Kelsey Darragh  34:14  

Yeah, I mean, I I’m weirdly excited again. And that’s not me like negating all the trauma and and terrible things that have happened. But I know friends and families that like moved and we’re like, I don’t need to be in this hustling bustle you know hustle to you die grind grind grind state of mind all the time. I can do my job from Wyoming or you know, I can live on the side of a mountain and find you know, inner peace and still work and and i think there has been some also prioritizing who you want to spend your time with. Like, I’m not gonna go out on any dates where I’m wasting my time. Like I’m not gonna Not screen before? No like it some video fashion or text fashion like, I just life is short and precious for sure. And I think people hopefully will take that into the the new era or the new, you know, the normal that is now.


Damona  35:17  

Yes, thank you for mentioning that and also using the term screening because because my clients know, that was always a part of my process. Yeah, but and I and I said a year ago, we were going to be adopting video, I didn’t know what that we were going to be here. But I always have said, like, pre screen with video or with a phone call some some way to make a real connection. And everybody’s now like trying to shortcut everything right. And we’ll just we’ll just tax and then we’ll show up. And it’s like, now you can’t do that now. So I hope that that will move us into a place of being able to make more meaningful.


Kelsey Darragh  36:03  

It takes brain actually, right? It does the idea our generation was like, if you call me without warning me, I’m going to fully have anxiety, like Do not call me without warning me. Our generation has to be a little bit brave about that face time date about that video chat. Like I do feel like we are breaking through a social anxiety barrier a little bit, which is funny, because some people would say no, meeting in person is a lot harder. It’s like, Well, no, that’s how it went for forever. Now we’re doing something different. And now that makes that so it’s making people uncomfortable. Yes,


Damona  36:41  

yes. And also, you’re gonna waste a lot more of your time. I guarantee you if you have to, like drive to a day and all that, like, do it the right, let’s just do it the right way. You’ll actually save time. For those who do struggle with depression, anxiety, maybe have are on various medications to to manage that. And they’re dating. Is there. Is there a disclosure window? Do you feel like you need to tell somebody early on or what


Kelsey Darragh  37:12  

I’m so glad you asked. And I think this is something more people deal with and don’t and so I want people to remember that going into the conversation. I think everyone thinks that they’re the most messed up. They’re the most medicated. They’re the most problem who doesn’t have their mental health together. And it’s like the amount of people that are on medication that don’t talk about it is astronomical. Everyone has mental health. Gandhi, the Queen Beyonds, I don’t care. Everybody has mental health and everyone struggles. People are on medication more now than they’ve ever been before. So going into the conversation, I think you have to remember that you are not alone. Second thing I will say if anyone ever makes fun of you, or judges you for medication, they are living in the stone age’s. I would toot it and boot it block and never talk to them again. Because for someone who doesn’t understand how normal that is in our society, and how brave you have to be to reach out and get help, if you’re going to judge that I don’t want you to be in my inner circle. Anyway, I think again, the sooner you are honest about your truth, the sooner you’re going to figure out if this person is good for you or not. If you are lying about your mental health, to yourself or to a partner, your relationship will never get to be as successful as it could be. Which doesn’t mean that you’re doomed. If you’re already in a relationship and you haven’t, you know, recognized your mental health struggles or that they’re new. It just means that the sooner you could start even opening the door, the conversation, the more the sooner that success can have. You know, they say like make your mistakes early on in life so that you can grow from them sooner, like I truly believe it’s the same concept. have those conversations sooner so you have a better chance at getting where you want to be


Damona  39:00  

so true. I think it comes back to this idea of authenticity. I don’t know how you find the time you are an author, you’re a TV personality, you do all kinds of content and what your you’re doing a documentary. How do you have the time for all this? What are you doing?


Kelsey Darragh  39:18  

I’m so grateful. you’ve provided space to talk about mental health and even the documentary. We are doing a documentary about Surya she was 13 years old when she was sentenced to jail for having a mental health crisis. She’s now 15. She’s still in prison. And we are fighting to get her out. And all I can say is the juvenile justice system in America. We believe we never hear about it because it’s, you know, privacy for minors and you know, it’s kids, but there’s a reason why we don’t get to see a peek behind the curtain and it is an atrocity that we are hoping to expose and that’s currently what we’re working on. Really Excited. Hopefully we’ll get to announce some information soon about that. But I would encourage everyone to go check out justice for It’s justice, the number four and then Sarah is sai And how do I find the time? I just care so much about mental health? Like, it’s not work. It’s just obvious. And what I’ve seen this last year is what social justice even from your phone can look like, and the power of impact you can have. And so it was really important for me to follow that. Follow that that’s, I think, the future of how we make social change. And that’s how I make time for it. It’s just like,


Kelsey Darragh  40:39  



Damona  40:42  

Yeah, when it’s important you find the time. Thank you so much for being here and sharing your wisdom and your story with us, Kelsey,


Kelsey Darragh  40:49  

thank you for having me. I was such a fan of what you do and I just love Yeah, big. So glad to be here. Thank


Damona  40:54  

you. Same same, we will put a link to Chelsea’s book in the show notes. Don’t effing panic and don’t you effing panic. We will put the link there and make sure you follow her on Instagram at Kelsey Darragh. It’s spelled de ARAGH. Of course, that link will be in the show notes and check out her podcast. Yes, I did an episode of it. But all of the episodes are fantastic. It’s called confidently insecure. And you can listen to it wherever you’re listening to dates and mates right now. Your questions on race and dating and what your man really means are coming up right after this. Welcome back. It’s time for me to answer your questions in deer Dimona. damona helped me I will help you I will help you. But first, before we hop into questions, I want to remind you that you can also get your questions answered in a private forum every week by joining my friends with benefits club for just $5 you can get access to my weekly behind the mic live stream. You can also get exclusive videos that aren’t available anywhere else. And a discount off of my online courses and programs. Not the LA Community College one because I’m not running that one. But the ones through dates and maids calm or damona Hoffman calm. All right, join the club. It’s only five slash dates and mates. The link is in the show notes. Alright, we’ll kick off our first question with actually one of our friends with benefits. Lauren, Our first question comes to us from one of my Fw B’s she says isn’t normal for a man to admit you stress him out a little? I asked my guide during a disagreement if he was happy. He says yes. Should I take that for face value? Or should I take that as he’s afraid to tell me the truth? You should take that as a sign for you need to stop gaslighting this man okay. At during a disagreement, you can’t ask him if he’s happy because he’s disagreeing with you. So of course, he’s going to say yes. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s not happy. But it doesn’t mean in that moment that he is it means that he wants the conversation probably to end, I do think it’s a good idea to take what your partner says at face value. But if you are, you know, prodding, at times when the wound is fresh, you’re probably not gonna like the reaction that you get some of the time. So I would not say he’s afraid to tell you the truth. But I would say wait for moments that are not charged emotionally, to have deeper discussions about things like, I don’t know, how you feel in the relationship. Overall, I don’t know where the stressing him out a little bit. Part came from maybe that’s what tipped off the whole agreement. But is it normal for a man to admit you stress him out a little? Um, if you stress him out a little? Yes, I think it’s great that he can communicate that to you. But my challenge for you would be what can else can you hear in that? So if he’s saying that he’s stressed out? What does that mean for the actions that you need to take to create a space where he feels more safe, and he feels less stressed. And of course, you’re only responsible for how you act, what your actions are, you cannot control another person’s feelings. But maybe especially in a situation like this, you can create a little bit more space for him to feel like he can share his feelings and not feel that he is being judged or that they are going to be taken to mean something deeper or more meaningful about the relationship than they necessarily mean in that moment. Listen to this next voice note from another listener. Hi, damona. I’m


Kelsey Darragh  44:43  

a mid 20 something black woman living in the Bay Area. And my question is that I’m coming to two points of frustration right now, with dating apps. The first one is that I have dated race open in the past and I’m currently dating race open now. It’s never been something where it’s been an issue for me. But no matter how much how hard I try, no matter what I do every time I close my eyes and think about what the most ideal long term relationship looks like, for me, it is always with somebody who is of my same race. And that brings me to my second point of frustration is that the apps that I’m currently on tend to lack some diversity. And when they do find people who are the various candidates to swipe on, it tends to feel like I’m just grabbing at crumbs. So I’m not really sure if there’s anything I can do to solve the issue of a lack of diversity on dating apps, or just wanting to date people of my same culture and of my same race. But I’m just more looking for some guidance and some advice on kind of how to get over this hump. Thanks to Mona.


Damona  45:48  

Alright, I’m just gonna level with you here. There is definitely a diversity challenge on many dating apps. And I’m thrilled to hear that you are dating race open, I think that’s always the best strategy. If If you could see yourself in a relationship with someone have any background. However, I know why you feel that you want. When you visualize that person, you feel like you want somebody who is your same race, because of that familiarity. And because of feeling like when you’re on dating apps, you’re not seeing people that look like you that reflect your experience. And it can sometimes feel like I have to explain my culture to every person, I have to set my boundaries. And it can be really exhausting, right. But at the same time, I see it as a potential opportunity. If you are open to meeting someone on a deeper level, on a values based level, I find that we all have more similarities than we have differences. But I definitely see what you’re feeling. And I’ve heard this a lot from a lot of other black women, that there’s just, there’s not always a space for us. And


and it’s not on you to solve the issue of lack of diversity on dating apps, I’m doing my best to try to change that. And to also remind people of different ethnicities that they are all welcome on dating apps, like for example on OkCupid, who I work with. But on all dating apps, there are specific niche dating apps, which you can add to your combo. So I always would you can add to your dating portfolio. So I often recommend that people are on two or three apps Max, no more than three. But you want to be on complimentary apps. And there are four different types of apps. There’s traditional, like the legacy apps that have a lot of search features, and a lot of people on them. But the requirement first, a lot of searching, there are swipe dating apps, these are the more ease of use apps that you can just get on very quickly and start swiping. There are niche dating apps that are for a particular community. And then there are curated apps, which you usually fill out a questionnaire and then they deliver you matches or apps that have a select number of matches, so you don’t get overwhelmed. So I recommend that people are usually on a combination of those different types of apps. So there’s nothing wrong with being on a niche app, and then also being on a more traditional app or a swipe app. And the reason for going to a niche app is that you already have a shortcut. So for example, I started writing for j day when I when I first started writing about dating, so a lot of Jewish daters would go there, because they knew automatically everyone that was there either fit the criteria of being Jewish or wanted to date someone who was Jewish. And they didn’t have to go through this disclosure of By the way, I’m Jewish. Is that okay? can we can we still hang out? Like all of that, that awkwardness of the explainer of your culture? It’s already done. A niche app might be an app that is based around a particular interest farmers only, for example, oh, no, we got any farmers listening to the show right now. But you might want to check that one out. So the interesting thing is in the black dating app space, there’s actually a huge gap right now there have been a lot of dating apps and dating communities that have have fallen away. In the last few years, there was a very popular app called soul swipe that works, you know, treat it like it was a swipe up, but in the niche space. And it seems to it seems to have died out match released a new app called blk that a lot of people seem to be very happy with and then there’s of course, their legacy app. Black people meet. So you might want to just try it out and use it as a combo. And anyone who’s not black can use this advice to create their dating portfolio, make sure your apps don’t just be on two apps that are the same, like have a purpose for like, I’m on this app, because I like x and I’m on this app, because I get why from it, and then put that together in your dating portfolio. And I know from my white listeners, you’re like, wait a minute, I love that there’s black people meet and I love that there’s blk. But there there is no white people meet up. And this is actually a big topic of conversation. So I just want to lay it out here. The reason why there’s no white people me app is because white culture in the United States is dominant culture. And so by default, a lot of the other apps are essentially white people meet with a sprinkling of other people in the diversity. But now you hear it from the perspective of someone who is a minority and a minority on the dating apps, how sometimes it feels like you’re not always included. And sometimes it feels like the if you are looking for someone who is more similar to you, it’s it can be like a needle in a haystack on a lot of the dating apps just because there isn’t critical mass there. So that is why minority groups do need a safe space, to be able to date and feel seen and feel appreciated and feel beautiful and feel loved. And that can coexist at the same time as the mainstream apps that are also very successful in making making matches for everyone. I hope you enjoyed this episode, it’s number 355 of dates and maids. And you know where I put those show notes, what at dates and, we will have all the links to the dating dish stories will tell you how to find Kelsey will also put the link for our show sponsors. And we’ll also put the link to the Patreon community where you can get into those weekly live streams and that other exclusive content for just five bucks and support dates and dates so I can keep making the show for maybe 355 more episodes. You can find slash dates and mates. What are your questions? I want to know I want to hear what’s on your mind. You can send me a voice memo or type me your question on all the socials at damona Hoffman You can also give me a call even on my voicemail for 242466255 is 24 hours you can call me anytime. So you don’t have to worry about like waking me up in the night. It’s a voicemail but if you leave us a voicemail, we will make sure your question gets answered on a future episode. We’ll be back again next


week with a very hot episode. I can’t wait for you to hear it. Until then. I wish you happy dating

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