Three pieces of love advice delivered in bite-sized YouTube videos from Anna Akana
By Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
It’s love month and dating has become more and more complicated as the pandemic drags on. As we continue to social distance and stay in our homes, face-to-face interactions are limited and the room for misunderstanding and miscommunication has only grown – especially when it comes to dating. So, if you’re psyching up to prepare for Valentine’s Day or just need a healthy dose of love advice, I can gladly recommend the hilarious musings of beloved YouTube personality Anna Akana.
Before becoming a Youtuber, Akana pursued stand-up comedy at 19 years old. She would perform in coffee shops and laundromats and eventually started creating Youtube content at 21 years old in 2011. She had tried making different types of videos until she found her stride in making advice and story-based videos where she acts out all the parts.
Akana garnered attention when she started talking about the hardships she faced in the aftermath of her sister’s death by suicide. The vulnerability of the messages and quality production of the videos she offered in the early part of her Youtube career is what made her a staple content creator in the streaming platform. Akana found the perfect mix of smart comedy, lovable authenticity and well-researched advice that she can pour into her short, easily digestible videos.
Her videos span across multitudes of topics like romance, sexuality, family and friendship, and they will always include a sprinkle of valuable advice. This might come from books that she has read, her own therapy sessions and/or her own experiences. No matter what you’re going through, especially when it’s problems about relationships, Akana has an advice video for that.
Bids for Connection
Out of all the love advice videos that I’ve watched from Akana, “The one factor in a lasting relationship” has had the greatest impact on my outlook on relationships. I’ve recommended this to almost all of my friends.
In this video, she talks about the concept of “bids for connection.” They are small verbal or non-verbal actions that someone does to connect. Akana looks at them as “emotional calls.” According to John Gottman’s The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, how often these “emotional calls” are answered determines the level of happiness a relationship might have.
It seems as simple as just paying attention to your partner but “bids for connection” can easily go unnoticed or be neglected. Gottman said that in a 10-minute conversation, over 100 bids can be made.
As Akana has said, consciously trying to show up for these moments is important as a lot of our day-to-day activities can get in the way of these connections. The more we try to respond positively to these bids, the stronger the relationship becomes.
In Akana’s video “Know Your Value,” she talked about her experience of turning down a potential romantic partner who was only in it for the perks of a relationship but without any emotional accountability or real commitment. It was the total opposite of how she usually responded to situations like this. According to her, the old Akana would’ve been open to this set-up and would’ve waited for this person to see her worth, enough that they would finally commit. But she set her boundaries, saw her own worth internally and this time around, said no.
As much as we glamorize romantic love during Valentine’s Day, a big part of romance is self-love. Akana knew her value and knew she deserved better.
As a piece of advice for taking the step to know your value, Akana offered something called “positive resilience.” — a concept she learned from her own therapist. It talks about how the cultivation of self-worth starts from knowing your boundaries, having the courage to speak up for yourself and finding ways to validate yourself from within.
Akana goes on to offer practical ways to engage in positive resilience but the one thing that she highlighted the most is giving yourself time. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but as long as you commit to your personal self-love practices, that cultivated self-worth can manifest in life-changing situations like turning down a person who cannot commit.
Dating your issues
In all of her videos, Akana has been open about her messy dating history. But in this particular video, “Stop Dating Your Issues,” she goes on to highlight how all of her lovers are the life lessons she needed to learn. She had dated people who manifested issues from her family problems, her bad boundaries, her fear of commitment and more. But as much as we learn powerful lessons from these relationships, they can be emotionally exhausting.
Aside from offering therapy and friends as an external support to address your issues, Akana highlights self-awareness. She emphasized how it takes a huge amount of self-awareness to recognize unhealthy patterns and be an outside observer to yourself. It can be challenging to face your past self and try making changes with your present self through those experiences.
I think that encapsulates most of her advice videos about love. It always comes back to yourself. To improve your romantic life, you have to be willing to make changes with yourself by looking inward — we have to accept that other people cannot do the work for us.
Advice from people like Akana will always be there, but it’s the difference between just watching these Youtube videos and actually doing the work to improve yourself that’s important.
So, this coming Valentine’s Day, it might be time to get up from your bed, close YouTube and put down that phone. It might be time to start working on loving yourself.