Home » Hayley Quinn: Searching for Love to Escape Ourselves at TEDxUniversityofNevada (Transcript)

Hayley Quinn: Searching for Love to Escape Ourselves at TEDxUniversityofNevada (Transcript)

Hayley Quinn

Here is the full transcript of relationship expert Hayley Quinn’s TEDx Talk: Searching for Love to Escape Ourselves at TEDxUniversityofNevada conference. This event took place on January 23, 2016.


So let me tell you a love story. Once upon a time, not so long ago, in a land I Googled to be 5,172 miles away, I met a guy, and he was perfect.

So I’ll tell you the meeting story. I’d just taped this really cool TV show about experimenting with your sexuality, and I met him at the after-party through one of our famous friends who was a DJ. He was tall, dark, handsome, kind of a rock star, and a little bit emotionally unavailable. Very soon, we were spending all of our time together. We threw these really cool parties for all of our cool friends, we went backstage at every festival, and, when my hands were cold, he would take them under his arms to warm them up.

He was my best friend, and I thought we would be together forever. And so strong was that belief that when the warning signs came, I just ignored them. Until the day that I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I’d become quite unwell, I wasn’t so pretty anymore, and I definitely couldn’t go out to any of the parties. In fact, I was, for the first time in my life, actually vulnerable because I was miscarrying our baby.

And at that point, when I was at my weakest, he left. It’s not a joke. Ah ha, um – Coming downstairs – and you, you know what, but I would have followed him out of the door to the ends of Earth. But I couldn’t get out of my bed. When I did get up, I found that our house had been stripped bare.

The paintings were gone from the walls, and the rooms that we used to dance in together were empty. I walked around those rooms like an animal, howling. Picking myself up off the literal floor that day, I had to recognize that after all of this excitement and this joy and this fantasy, at the end of all that love, I had nothing. And you know what, that wasn’t even the first time something like that had happened to me. I was a magnet for chaos.

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I liked chaos, because when I was in chaos, I didn’t have to confront anything about who I was. Truthfully, I hadn’t known who I was for years. Because on the floor that day, I did have someone, I had myself. But for a long time, that had come to feel like, it, well, meant nothing, and it was invaluable. So I know it seems a bit self-indulgent to come out here today and talk to you guys about, like, effectively a break-up story, but it was one of a chain of many incidences that made me think, “Maybe there’s other people like me, maybe there’s other people that aren’t approaching love in the right way.”

Because I think we’ve all had experiences, right? They look like love, they feel like love, but when you open them up, there’s nothing loving about them. But we continued to chase love, because I think love is sold to us as almost like the ultimate solution to ourselves: the things that make our past okay, that gives us the direction for the future, and imbues our everyday reality with meaning.

I think love can be beautiful, I think it can be exciting; but I think sometimes it can also be an act of escapism. And I’ve had a long time to think about this, as the introduction said, I am the artist formerly known as the UK’s leading dating expert. And before that I was a ghost writer in the pickup industry, and I vlog about the reality of love on my YouTube.

And now I have a completely different approach, a very minimalist strategy when it comes to dating. And that’s really because I’m concerned that in our quest for love sometimes it can be the ultimate distraction to fixing ourselves and doing the real work that will actually make us happy. Because, don’t get me wrong, I think that the desire for attachment, for intimacy, for security, for love, those goals are natural, they’re human, and they’re good.

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But I think sometimes the way we go about them is a bit weird, whether that’s crazy, ridiculous, on-off, destructive relationships, or needing to go out on a date every single night of the week with a different person. You know, like the hip form of dating, where you have someone on the back burner, someone on the front burner, someone under the grill, and then someone else over there in the freezer just in case, God forbid, you spend a night by yourself.

In this, it feels really like loneliness is the driver, or escapism is the driver, not love. So, I’m kind of starting to preach the opposite belief now, that, of course, the answer lies not in another person, but within yourself. Because I think, sometimes, the melodrama of love takes us further away, rather than closer, to who we actually are. So I find that my dating advice is gradually shrinking down to be essentially: go meditate, get some therapy, read a book. Ha, ha…It’s not what you would call a sexy strategy for the millennial generation.

A generation that is used to 4G download speeds, skyping a friend abroad, and Netflix and chill with someone you just met from Tinder. Um – So I think when we’re used to expecting everything we want right here, right now, when we can’t just vend an automatic level of human connection, we not only feel like we’re getting it wrong, but like we’re not getting what we’re entitled to.

And then you just take one look at Instagram: everybody else has it sorted out. And we sort of live in the culture that surrounds us, telling us that we should have fallen in love or be falling in love, or at least have had great sex, right? Like yesterday!? You know, let’s face it, who actually enters into the arena of love looking to, maybe, become a better person, to be kinder, to have more integrity, to get more grounded? No one does that.

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It’s because our eyes are off ourselves, we’re looking for that next adventure, that greener grass, that new person, so we don’t have to deal with any of that stuff. And I understand how easily it happens, right? You just kind of meet someone sexy, I don’t know where, maybe it was at a party, on the train, or the Tube, as we would say in London.

Or maybe you just met them, you both joined Tinder that day, how magical! And before too long, you realize that you have some stuff in common, like wow, you both like almond butter, Star Wars, you can name all four Teenage Mutant Ninja Hero Turtles. And then, like, suddenly, you’re retelling how you met, like, this serendipitous coincidence of cosmic proportions – it’s like move over Romeo and Juliet. Not that that ended every well, let’s all remember that.

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