You Asked Cleo, and She Answered!

April, 2023
Cleo Sood, Blog Correspondent
Cleo Sood is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying philosophy and English literature at the University of Toronto. Sood is a writer with terrible writing habits. Sood’s preferred genre is creative non-fiction/autofiction; she also dabbles in screenplay writing. Follow Cleo Sood on Instagram! (No, seriously, please follow her on Instagram.) @cyborgcleo

After hounding Instagram followers, friends, acquaintances, Tinder matches, etc., I (Cleo) accumulated inquiries for the column. Now, I’m taking to the media and giving you advice!

Looking back, I underestimated how many questions I’d received, so this will be a two-part series. 

DISCLAIMERS: These questions are 100% LEGIT: submitted anonymously via my link for the Instagram-affiliated “NGL” app. @cyborgcleo. However, the aliases assigned to these submissions are fabrications. No one was signing off with a quirky, geographical alliteration, as I’d specifically asked! 

Also, too many people sent in random opinion questions about, like, the environment, which I won’t be answering. 

Here’s my first piece of advice for you all: Follow instruction! Stay playful! 

Let’s begin Part I.

    Dear Cleo,

How do I get over my addiction to male validation? 


Thirsty in Tibet 

Dear Thirsty, 

Like any warm-blooded woman, something inside my brain yearns for a man’s affections. We all resonate with that Margaret Atwood quote. 

And, I’ll admit, when things slow down in the boy department, I start to lose my mind. 

I think, “Have I lost it? Is it over for me?”

Then I remember my biggest goals involve validation, not from men, but from God and Hollywood and the young women who make TikTok fan edits. 

Here’s my advice: care about something bigger than a man, work towards something bigger than a man, be something bigger than a man.

My mother once told me, “Funny doesn’t get you a boyfriend.” 

I replied, “No, but it might get me a book deal.”



Dear Cleo, 

Growing up, I always struggled with appearing more feminine. How can I subtly feminize my appearance??

Sincerely, Sexy in Sarasota 

Dear Sexy, 

Appearing feminine is about appealing to those things which seamlessly belong to womankind: cheetah print, the nape of a neck, your silhouette, skirts/dresses, uncomfortable footwear, synthetic feathers, leather pants, colour. 

Additionally, I believe that women have one definite advantage over men, and it’s this: a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. 

I advise you to leave the coat at home and show off your cheetah-print wrap dress. Then, finish the night wearing a man’s oversized blazer — because sometime during that evening, you felt a chill, and you changed your mind. 

The means justify the end because nothing is more feminine than a woman wrapped in a man’s jacket. 

Here’s where I’d start: find a dress cute and flattering enough to forgo a coat. 



Dear Cleo, 

I saw my best friend’s boyfriend active on tinder last night. He was also with her that night. What do I do? 


Friendless in Florida. 

Dear (Possibly) Friendless, 

I assigned you the nickname because friendless is how you might end up if you inform your friend about her man. She might dump him only to reunite a week later and ditch you indefinitely. Your loyalty may not be rewarded. 

Still, I’d tell her if I were you — especially if you’ve got screenshots. I won’t say you need screenshots, but if you’re going to act as Cupid’s alter-ego, you need screenshots. 

I’d tell her and feel justified knowing I’d done my civic duty as a girlfriend. If she sticks around, I’d continue my duty by helping to mend her broken heart. 

Friendless, please update me on this story via IG DM/NGL. I’m on the edge of my seat. 

Best of luck, 


Dear Cleo, 

Are high school relationships meant to last? Do high school sweethearts really exist? 


Monogamous in Manitoba 

Dear Monogamous, 

Of course, high school sweethearts exist. They exist for Nicholas Sparks stories and grandparents and Christian fundamentalist types and, maybe, for you! That’s up to you and your partner. 

My advice: try to make it work if you want to and see what becomes of it. 

Life happens. You can’t miss it. 

If your high school relationship is meant to last, then it will. 

Otherwise, you’ll both go on to live meaningful lives with other wonderful people — likely people not from your hometown because that’s how life tends to happen. 



Dear Cleo, 

How have you learned to deal with negative criticism? 


A Tri-State Pal

 (NOTE: This alias is real! Shoutout, Tri-State Pal!)

Dear Pal, 

I’m a very aspirational person by nature. Ergo, my favourite way to deal with negative criticism is by turning it into self-improvement fuel, making sense of it with as much gracious objectivity as I can muster. 

There can be truth in someone’s harsh words about you. 

Sometimes, the weight of this truth is minuscule compared to their cruelty, and their hypocrisy provokes serious eye-rolling. Here, you shrug at their minor validity, and with an eye-roll, you move on. 

Other times people are straight-up correct and rightfully upset. For instance, it is true of me when people say I’m disorganized, and this quality can negatively affect others.

It’s not criminal to be flawed! To err is human. So, try to recognize your flaws and how they affect others.

And, although I’ll probably never be Miss Organization, my flaw isn’t a terminal condition. Most flaws aren’t. I can improve. 

In the meantime, I ignore unnecessary cruelty; I work on myself; I acknowledge the validity of others’ feelings — apologize when your behaviour hurts people! 

(Forgive people for excessive aggression! Let God and all those angry freaks see you as the bigger person!) 

Always be gracious towards yourself and others — ’cause that’s just the kind of babe you are. 

Yours Truly, 

Cleo (or Jesus, maybe??)

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