Tinx and Chelsea Handler Talk Bad Sex, Good Guys, and New Rules
Women coming of age in the 1990s had The Rules, the highly prescriptive and stiflingly conventional dating guide by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, who advised readers to change themselves in a number of ways in order to bag Mr. Right. But now it’s 2023—times have changed and women are tired. Enter Christina Najjar, better known by her moniker Tinx, who amassed a dedicated following and mini-media empire over the last few years on account of her podcast, cheeky TikTok videos, and candid AMA sessions on Instagram. Now, she presents her thesis on modern dating in the form of a new book called The Shift: Change Your Perspective, Not Yourself, a memoir-manifesto hybrid in which the 32-year-old gets extraordinarily candid about her own relationship hiccups and rebuffs the guidebooks of the past. Chelsea Handler, too, is known for her sidesplitting candor on subjects like sex and relationships, so a few days before The Shift hit bookstores, she called Tinx to gab about hook-ups, self-esteem, dating karma, and the new rules (hint: there are none).
TINX: Thank you, Chelsea, for doing this. Seriously.
CHELSEA HANDLER: Of course, honey. So on a scale of one to 10, how excited are you to have your first book coming out?
TINX: I’m so nervous. This is the thing that I care most about that I’ve done in my life, I think. Because it’s the thing I’ve worked the longest on that I’ve cared about. So it’s huge. I feel really nervous, but I’m excited to get it out there.
HANDLER: Yes, it is very nerve-wracking to publish a book, but you’re going to be helping so many people. And I think sometimes when we have something that we’re about to put out, we’re so focused on the way it’s received. We focus on the negative things that could potentially happen rather than all the positive things that it’s going to invoke for people.
TINX: Yeah, that’s true. And it’s like right now I’m just in the place of future-tripping, thinking exactly what you said. Oh, what are all the negative things?
HANDLER: So let me ask you a question, because you kind of reveal a lot of your relationship… not mistakes, because I don’t think you even think of anything as a mistake, but just the relationships that taught you big life lessons. And since you’ve been so public about all of your relationships on social media, what insight do you think the book offers that you haven’t offered already to your followers?
TINX: It’s digging in deeper. I think it’s really finishing the thought. When I’m talking about it on Instagram, I have a minute or 30 seconds and I’m giving a snippet like, “Oh, that’s what I learned with this relationship,” or “that’s why you shouldn’t do that.” But this is sort finishing the thought and coupling it with practical advice.
HANDLER: And in the book you mentioned The Rules. As soon as I started reading it, I was like, “Oh, this is an updated version of The Rules.” But I feel like there are new rules anyway. So that’s a little antiquated.
TINX: I just felt like all of the dating lore from the 90s and 2000s put all the onus on women. Everything that we were read and we were told during that time was how to change yourself to be a viable wife. And it’s like, no wonder women are so stressed out by dating, because we’ve told them you have to change yourself. You have to do this by the time you’re this age. Your looks are a depreciating asset. Why should I follow rules just to make myself viable to be half of a pair? And that’s not even guaranteeing my happiness. So I don’t want to shit on The Rules too much. It was a symbol of its time. But my hope is that this book kind of opens women’s eyes and lets them see that you don’t have to change yourself and you don’t have to hate dating and you don’t have to hate being single. And you can still be excited to find someone. Those two things can be true at the same time.
HANDLER: Yeah, women thought we had to be the best candidate. And I don’t know any woman who hasn’t experienced trying to bend herself to fit somebody else’s idea of what’s good while also going through times in our lives where we allow people to treat us like so much less than the way we should value ourselves.
TINX: I feel like that was most of my twenties, trying to change myself or allowing myself to be treated like shit, all for this validation. And I didn’t care about myself. I didn’t ever stop to think, “Well, how does this person make me feel? What do I want? What’s making me happy right now?” And I really want to give women back some of that time because I wasted a lot of time. I mean, I don’t believe in regrets. I think everything’s a lesson. But I did wait around by the phone a long time in my twenties for guys that didn’t like me. And the kicker is that I didn’t like them either, but I wanted to be chosen so badly.
HANDLER: Right. And we didn’t even contemplate if we even liked that person.
TINX: Exactly. And I cringe when I think about the guys that I was chasing, but I wouldn’t touch them with a 10-foot pole now. I wouldn’t find them funny or interesting.
HANDLER: Or fuckable.
TINX: Or fuckable. My panties were in a wad about these guys who didn’t even know what a vagina was. And it’s like, you have to keep hold of who you are during the dating process because then not only will it be fun and less stressful, but better people will drop into your life.
HANDLER: I once dated a guy for a couple months. I met him on MySpace, so that tells you when that happened, and it was my first digital hookup. And I went out with him a couple times, had sex with him, and I never heard from him again. And for about two months I was convinced that something had happened to him. I drove by his house to make sure he hadn’t been in an accident. It was so pathetic, but I was young, so I excuse that behavior. But now I would never in a million years think twice if a guy didn’t call me back or return a DM or whatever. “Okay, forget it.” And my girlfriends were like, “Yeah, maybe that did happen. Maybe he did get into a car accident on the way home from your date and he’s in the ICU.” When you simply just have to accept that some people aren’t a match for you.
TINX: Exactly. And then the second part, which is even worse, is that women take it personally. Then they spend the next two months after that thinking, “Well, is it because I fucked him on the first date instead of the second date? Is it because I ordered lamb chops instead of the fish?” And it’s like, no, it just wasn’t a match. And that’s okay because you probably didn’t like him either. And I think that when I started to make that shift and take everything a little bit less personally, everything gets a lot easier. And more fun.
HANDLER: Yeah. Another thing you talk about in The Shift is what happens when our girlfriends get swept up in a toxic dynamic.
TINX: Yeah. I really have few true regrets in my life, but one of them was when I was dating this guy that I talk about in the book and he was just a textbook asshole. And I really abandoned my friends during that time and I really regret that because again, it came down to my need for validation. And this guy was what I thought what my boyfriend should look like. So cool on the outside. And I was so ashamed that at that time I was willing to put my female friendships, which are the most important thing to me on earth, in jeopardy for a guy just because he had a motorcycle. But it was a very, very important lesson. And thank god I have wonderful friends who stuck around.
HANDLER: And also, listen to your friends when they tell you that they don’t like your boyfriend. I mean, what better feedback are you going to get? Luckily your mom was cool enough to say something to you because when I talk to my sisters after I get out of a bad relationship I’m like, “Hey, assholes why didn’t you say anything?” And they’re like, “You try giving you advice.” But when your mom told you that your asshole boyfriend from San Francisco was an asshole, you listened to her.
TINX: I did. But it’s such a weird thing that happens to us when we’re in relationships. All of a sudden we start to distrust our friends, like they’re spies working for Russia. Your friends are your friends. They only want you to be happy. They’re only telling you the truth. You need to just wake up. I think something women do is we feel like we’ve sunk a lot of time into a guy or we’ve done so much work. It’s like a house where we think we’re renovating it and we’re like, “But I’m so close to the finish line.” And it’s like, “No, an asshole is an asshole is an asshole.” You can’t change someone, nor should you want to.
HANDLER: And I think once you do it, you get better at protecting yourself in a more adult way. You want to be an adult in relationships and you want to, most importantly, be respectful to yourself.
TINX: Yeah. There’s a million good things about getting older. And one of them is exactly as you said, you get smarter. You learn these lessons because you know yourself better, and that is my whole point. That’s the point of dating, to get to know yourself. That’s why I wish people would stop thinking it’s a bad date if he doesn’t call you. It’s a bad date if you didn’t learn something.
HANDLER: Let’s talk about some of your Tinx-isms. Why don’t you break down “box theory.”
TINX: Box theory is my theory that when a guy meets a girl in a romantic setting, like a blind date or a dating app date, he’s going to put her into one of three boxes. He wants to date her, sleep with her, or wants nothing to do with her. Third box, easy. Everyone can identify that, hopefully. Where people get confused is between the date box and the hook-up box. And if a guy wants to date you, you can act like a complete lunatic, you can get wasted on the first date, you can puke on him, whatever. He’s still going to want to date you. If he only wants to hook up with you, you can try to act like Mother Teresa, you can not sleep with him for many months, he’s still just going to want to hook up with you. And I think that that’s empowering. Because what I’m trying to say is don’t try to over-engineer something. You can’t manipulate someone into trying to date you. If you want to sleep with a guy on the first date, do it. It’s really not going to affect whether he wants to date you or not. So you should act exactly as you are.
HANDLER: And another thing women are prone to do is please the man before you get pleased. I can’t tell you how many times I had sex in my twenties where I never had an orgasm because I wasn’t brave enough to even ask for it.
TINX: Most of my twenties sex was performative. It was just like I was auditioning to be in Girls Gone Wild. It pains me to think of how many times I had sex in my twenties sucking in my stomach, trying not to lay down because it would look flabby and squealing like I was being electrocuted because I thought that that’s what he wanted. And why was my fucking labia bigger than all of the porn labia? I didn’t even think about orgasming because I was like, “Well, this just has to be a good experience for him.” The kicker is that the second you stop being performative is when you become good in bed. Not squealing like a fucking suckling pig, bouncing on his dick like a pogo stick.
HANDLER: Speaking of bouncing on dicks like pogo sticks, you went on a date with Diplo because you put him in [the book]. Whatever happened with Diplo?
TINX: We went on a date and now we’re friends. He’s honestly the funniest, sweetest guy. He’s my friend. I didn’t dance on his pogo stick, no.
HANDLER: Yeah, no. But he’s got something going. I remember he was talking about how he doesn’t do any drugs anymore when he’s working. I’m like, “how’s that possible? How can you be up all night long without drugs?” And then in the next sentence, he was like, “And then last weekend when I did some ecstasy.” I’m like, “You just said that you don’t do drugs. What are you talking about?”
TINX: [Laughs] So funny. He was great.
HANDLER: I also liked that you write about how breaking up is just kind of the humane thing to do, even if it’s inconvenient. And I think many people need to hear that, because there’s so much guilt and shame. Even with my nieces, when I talk to them about relationships, I realize how much of a burden they seem to carry, wanting to make sure that this person feels safe while they’re going off to college. And I’m just like, “What? Why are you taking care of someone’s feelings in that way at that age?” And it’s so instilled in us from an early age, like when you talk about breaking up with your boyfriend on the way to Palm Springs—
TINX: Yeah. Look, breaking up sucks. It’s never easy to be broken up with or to break up with someone. But another great thing about having more experience and relationships under your belt is [you learn]honesty is the best policy. It hurts, it stings, but wouldn’t you rather be honest with someone and put them at ease? If you’ve got to break up with someone, shoot from the hip, be direct, tell them the truth, and save them angst. That’s so much better dating karma than just ghosting someone or dragging it along.
HANDLER: Talk a little bit more about dating karma, because I have very strong beliefs on that too. I just feel like you should never fool around with somebody else’s boyfriend or husband. It’s one thing if you make a mistake in your life and you do that once, I can forgive that. Everyone has done something that they don’t feel great about. But as a general rule, why would you put that out there? It’s almost like asking for trouble in your next relationship.
TINX: Now that I’m in my thirties, I’m very into keeping my side of the street clean. I’m very into that. Like you said, mistakes happen. But I think you should give out the energy that you want to receive. If you want honesty, be honest. If you want kindness, be kind. And you’ll see that energy just rebounds right back to you.
HANDLER: Right. And you talk to women about making “the shift” in terms of breaking up with someone. Everyone deserves a certain window of time to grieve a relationship, but it doesn’t need to define your life for the next three to six months. So what is your advice to women about getting over somebody when they do feel heartbroken?
TINX: Look, if someone could invent a magic pill to get over heartbreak, they’d be the richest person.
HANDLER: It’s called molly and it’s out there. You can get it from Diplo.
TINX: That’s true. [Laughs] So yes, firstly, take molly.
HANDLER: Actually, mushrooms are better than molly for positive thinking.
TINX: There you go. So take whatever cocktail of drugs suits you. And then I think focusing on what you want in the future versus dwelling on the past is a really important shift that I made. A classic thing women do is, “But we had a trip planned together” or “We were going to get married.” And it’s like, but you’re not.
TINX: That wasn’t set in stone. That was a projection of what you thought might happen, but guess what? It didn’t. For a reason. So the longer you stay in the mess of would’ve, could’ve, should’ve and imagining your kids together, the longer you’ll hurt. I’m not saying it’s easy, but you have to actively make that choice and understand that it didn’t happen for a reason and start looking towards the future. And take molly.
HANDLER: Do you really believe every little thing that happens for a reason? Or do you think all the big things that happen are for a reason?
TINX: I think the big things happen for a reason. I don’t think that you stubbing your toe on the—
HANDLER: Oh my god, I was just going to use that example. I was just about to say that. I’ve made the shift.
TINX: You’ve made the shift. You’ve crossed over. No, I don’t think that that happens for a reason. Like Tony Soprano said, it’s not about making the right decision, it’s about making the decision right. You know what I mean? You can just look back and be like, “That’s why that happened.” And that’s kind of how I like to live. What’s meant for you won’t miss you. And in terms of boyfriends, I do believe that.
HANDLER: You also talk about comparison a lot. I know you have a saying.
TINX: Comparison is the thief of joy.
HANDLER: Yes. And when you’re looking at people who are succeeding in ways that you want to, instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on the fact that they’re representing something that you also want.
TINX: And it’s not our fault because we’re raised to compare everything. How do you get her body? How do you get her life? It’s drilled into us. And so naturally we’re like, “Well, why is she engaged and I’m not?” But it’s like, you can’t do that. You have to be happy for your friends. If you see a woman killing it, you go get next to her and learn from her. That’s such an important shift to make if you harbor any resentment or jealousy, I don’t think that we should have any space for that in our lives. It’s not an effective method to get what you want in this life.
HANDLER: So if you had to use one word to describe your outlook in your twenties, what would it be?
TINX: Probably desperate. I’m being real. It was desperate. It was like horny and desperate. Looking back, she did make a lot of weird choices with guys and do a lot of chasing, and it was just tiring and not that fulfilling. And then my thirties is like, “open” would be my word now. I have an open heart, an open mind, and that’s a far better way to date.
HANDLER: And what do you want women to take away one thing from this book?
TINX: I want them to know their worth. I want them to know that they don’t have to change themselves to be happy. And I want them to know they don’t have to change themselves to find a great partner. I had terrible self-esteem in my twenties. And it’s different from confidence. Self-esteem is not being the biggest swinging dick when you walk in the room or feeling great in a bikini. It’s not that. Self-esteem is knowing what you deserve and not accepting less than that in any area of your life, your job, your friendships, your relationships, anything. And you can absolutely build it from nothing.
HANDLER: And on that note, I think we have the shift.
TINX: That’s the shift. Thank you, Chelsea. You are truly so, so kind for doing this for me.
HANDLER: Oh, you’re so welcome, honey. It’s going to be a big success, baby.
TINX: From your lips to god’s ears.