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Changes: Ana Kirova

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Annie [00:00:04] Hello and welcome to Changes. It is Annie Macmanus here on the week that brings you a Valentine's Day. I'm not sure if you care anything at all for Valentine's Day, but the fact is it's there. A big traditional reminder of the fact that love is supposed to be the holy Grail and, you know, romantic relationships are supposed to be everything. Now, I thought what would be interesting this week is to bring you a conversation about romantic relationships, but through the prism of change. How is dating evolving? How do we look at romantic relationships differently now in 2023 than we did, say, even five years ago? Well, this conversation is fascinating. If you've ever been curious about changing things up in your love life or changing the way you view romantic partnerships, if you've ever just been curious at all about options beyond just direct monogamous relationships, then you should definitely keep listening. We know that what people want in dating and relationships is changing. In a national survey conducted by data analytics firm YouGov in 2020, only 56% of people cited complete monogamy as their ideal relationship style. An estimated 23% of respondents said their relationships were already non-monogamous. Now we know this podcast is all about change. Today's guest is a woman called Ana Kirova, who through her work has helped people change the way they date and also change the way they look at themselves. Ana is the CEO of a dating app called Feeld. It's known for being a very progressive app for open minded couples and singles to look for potential partners. The New Yorker called it 'a Hook-up app for the emotionally mature'. Elle magazine described Ana as the woman taking responsibility for bringing a new era of radical sexual honesty to the masses. Ana was born in Bulgaria and grew up there before moving to London as an adult. After meeting her partner, Dimo Trifonov, it was her own personal story of non-monogamy, which she shares here by the way, which led to Feeld being founded. She took over as CEO in 2021 and in 2022 made Forbes 30 under 30 list in the technology category. What Feelds seems to be very successful at is being really open and inviting for all types of people who aren't sure about their sexual identity, who are on a journey of discovery to learn about themselves. It gives people loads and loads of options; there's more than 20 sexualities and gender identities to choose from on the app. And over COVID especially, the usership upfield rocketed by 250% in one year. Now, obviously there's hundreds of dating apps out there, but I wanted to speak to Ana specifically because she has her own personal story of change, and that's what this podcast is all about. Now, some of you may already be in non-monogamous relationships, or maybe you're just still wondering how on earth do you navigate something like that when you're in a monogamous relationship? How do you even start opening a relationship and still liking each other and trusting each other and not letting jealousy get in the way? It's so complex, it's so nuanced as we will learn. Well, Ana is here to share her experiences, both personally, but also in terms of what she's learned in having this app. It's a fascinating conversation. Welcome to Changes Ana Kirover... Elle magazine has called you the woman taking responsibility for bringing a 'new era of radical sexual honesty to the masses'. How do you feel when you hear that? 

Ana [00:03:45] I'm trying to learn to take compliments and good words about myself with openness and kindness. If you asked me a year ago, I'd probably say 'oh, no, no' *laughs*. But first of all, it feels a little surreal to read and see material about me and have people curious about my journey. I've always done things the way that I feel is right. I just want to see certain changes in the world and want to help. And this has been always the driving force. And I've always said that even if one person has a better experience after something I've shared from my personal life, then everything's been worth it. So having seen so much more impact or interest is wonderful. I hope it helps. 

Annie [00:04:32] So Feeld, of which you've been the CEO now for nearly two years, would you mind for those who don't know and who aren't familiar with this app, giving us a little bit of an idea of the scale and the growth of it over the last few years? 

Ana [00:04:46] So our active users have been growing significantly over the last two years. We've doubled them at least once and keep growing. About a third of our most active users are couples, which is fascinating. It's people who want to explore ethical non-monogamy, for example, with a partner. Separately, we've had about 200% growth in interest throughout the last year in ethical non-monogamy as a whole. So these are just some top level stats that I think are unique to us. Actually, the fastest growing group in the last half a year at least has been people over 50. 

Annie [00:05:25] Wow. 

Ana [00:05:25] So, we're seeing all sorts of different trends in the platform. We always try to support what our users are looking for as opposed to like say, we want to be this kind of place or we're only going to market this way. When Dimo founded the platform, it was because we had a challenge in how we saw our relationship and we never felt welcome or accepted in other platforms. Ethical non-monogamy exists these days, we all heard about it, we all have a friend who's doing it or interested in that. But a few years ago just wasn't a thing. We've prioritised a way of seeing the world and a way to approach relationships and meeting others that's based on curiosity and mutual growth as opposed to ticking boxes. So instead of looking for a person that's X tall, this weight, this race, in Feeld you look for people who are of certain gender identity, whether they're in partnership or not, and how close they are from you. 

Annie [00:06:32] The New Yorker called a hook-up app for the emotionally mature. And I think it's important to say, I mean, hook-up is maybe a crude way of saying it, but it is this idea that Feeld offers a opportunity to sexually explore with other people and it's not all about romantic relationships. It's not all about trying to find the long term- your, you know, 'the one'. It's about something more in the now and something more temporary potentially. And that is unique, right? In terms of other dating apps. It's not trying to sell this idea of a long term relationship. It's much more about exploring and curiosity when it comes to sex. 

Ana [00:07:14] Absolutely. Sex and sexuality and your identity. 

Annie [00:07:18] And sexuality, yeah. 

Ana [00:07:19] Your desires. 

Annie [00:07:19] Identity, mmm. 

Ana [00:07:21] All of these things shift and they're fluid. We're moving from what we call a low fidelity to a high fidelity society. So if you think about the past, we have one or two or three or X amount of ways to be happy and successful, and that's like widely accepted in society. Whereas now with technology, with our ability to travel, to see different ways of living across the world and different ways to be different ways to identify yourself, I think this idea that there is a path that we need to follow in order to be happy just is completely shattered and instead, an approach to life which is based on principles and curiosity and a desire to explore and co-create with someone or with other people is a much more sustainable and fulfilling way to live. And this applies to relationships too. I do think there's something unfortunate about our perception that monogamy and marriage are the best ways to exist with a partner. 

Annie [00:08:21] Well, let's explore that a little bit. So, we're brought up in this system and I guess as you're talking about the world changing, you know, obviously this idea of gender is kind of melting. You know, these kind of strict categories, everything's becoming more fluid which is so exciting. And it feels like it's happening with relationships as well. And with this system of monogamy that's been put in place, I suppose from religion, it's from the Bible. It's that far back, right? But for those who don't know and who this whole concept of non-monogamy and ethical non-monogamy- can you explain what it is for those who are like, what are we talking about? 

Ana [00:08:59] The idea of non-monogamy is that you have more than one romantic or sexual partner. And the ethical part of ethical non-monogamy is that there is an effort and intent to have honesty and transparency and consideration for anyone involved in this partnership. So we hear about throuples sometimes, which is the idea of three people being in a relationship, and that's an example of an ethical non-monogamous situation. We know about polyamory. That's an example of an ethical non monogamous relationship which involves many people. Sometimes they're all in some form of relationship between each other. Sometimes some people are and others aren't. So really the idea is to have more than one partner and the ethical or consensual, as it's known as well, part of the definition, as I said, reflects the intent to make sure that everyone consents to this and it's as good for everyone as possible. And there isn't really cheating or lying or doing things behind each other's backs or outside of some sort of an agreement that's been made between partners. 

[00:10:06] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:10:10] So will you tell us then your own personal experiences. You mentioned them earlier in terms of, obviously it is your own personal story that has made this app exist, but the kind of nucleus of that was your boyfriend at the time and you got together. Can you tell us about what happened then and your journey into trying to find a way to be ethically non-monogamous on apps? 

Ana [00:10:33] A few months after I got together with Dimo, we were very happy, we still are really in love, really feeling that sense of completeness with your partner. But I had feelings for a woman who used to work in a place where I used to work. I used to do these bar gigs, which means like you work in the middle of a cool party. And there was just this woman that I, I really liked, and I started liking her more and more as I got to know her. And I was confused because the whole experience shattered my sense of identity. So I thought, I'm straight and I have a partner and we'll have kids, you know, one day will marry, will have a house. I don't know. I thought, I'm going down that path. It's called the relationship escalator, by the way. It's a great term. 

Annie [00:11:26] Yes, I read about that! Yeah, the relationship escalator. Incredible.

Ana [00:11:29] I was on it. I was just nailing it. And then this happens and I've always been very curious about my feelings and I've always tried to trust them more than trust what society is dictating or a system is dictating. And I thought I had to tell Dimo because this meant I'm probably not straight. It also meant that I don't know what our relationship will look like with Dimo. I don't know what I'll do the next time I see her. I can't control these things and I don't want to. And so, I shared it with him. I was certain he will leave me. I wrote him a letter, but his response was actually to- instead of judging me, which I expected he would do, or rejecting, he just responded with so much warmth and openness. And he said, oh, you know, I've never believed in the story about finding one person and being with them for the rest of your life. That's so much expectation on one person. It's crazy. It's so selfish and worrying. And so he said, let's go on this journey together. Let's go explore and I'll be next to you and we'll see what happens. If we get hurt, we get hurt, but we'll be in it together. And then if we don't need to be together anymore, we'll know. And that, first of all, obviously completely solidified *laughs* our partnership. 

Annie [00:12:47] It made you love him more. 

Ana [00:12:48] Exactly. 

Annie [00:12:48] Sure. Sure. 

Ana [00:12:50] But also opened up this world for us for discovering that something like this existed. Some people were practising it. It's not swinging, which a lot of people said we want to do, because it wasn't based on the sexual experience. It was based on an actual desire for a partnership which is romantic with someone else. 

Annie [00:13:07] Right. 

Ana [00:13:08] And that's how it all started. 

Annie [00:13:10] Once you had your first experience of that, how was it and was there difficulties and obstacles in terms of trying to do that successfully? 

Ana [00:13:19] So, nothing happened with her actually. I don't think I ever saw her again after that. Our paths completely separated. I still think about that sometimes. Maybe I need to follow up and find her. 

Annie [00:13:32] You need to thank her *laughs* and say thank you. 

Ana [00:13:36] Yeah, exactly. But other than that, we've had different experiences throughout the years. At first we thought we're above everything. We thought we're just so cool and different and we just know it all. So we started trying to go on dates. We were just like, oh yeah, we'll just be that cool couple that's doing this new thing and we're going to invite people out on dates. We're not going to feel jealousy because we're above that. We're just better. It was a mistake to think that way. It was a good learning experience. I discovered that jealousy is absolutely vital sometimes. And it's an emotion we need to investigate and interrogate and look into rather than reject or assume it does not exist. You can't grow up in one system and completely transform yourself. It just doesn't work. And also the other thing too is that, because it happens with one person and I have feelings for one person, doesn't mean that I now automatically have to have like a placeholder for an ex and try to fill it. We were repeating the same mistakes- or I guess systematic mistakes that we're trying to escape from or redefine. 

Annie [00:14:48] Interesting. So I guess there's so much to unlearn. As you say, when you grow up in a system that is so rigid, so much of how you think about relationships, you know, and how you react to things will be, you know, because of that system that you're in, whether you like it or not. It's just subconscious reactions, isn't there? 

Ana [00:15:08] Absolutely, it's always there. And I think the biggest lesson or experience I've drawn out of all of this as being a non-monogamous person and someone who just accepts that my sexuality is fluid and I cannot decide on it and commit to it, it just, it comes day by day and it's different, is that I try to be curious about what I feel. Curious to other people. Open, and just meet them where they are and co-create. I think it's about mutual growth. I've met wonderful people who I've shared about my relationship, who just aren't interested in engaging with me. And then I've met others who are fascinated by it or curious about it. And then we've grown together. We've had experiences together that have made us even more curious about something else in the world. So I think the underlying principle is one of applying a sense of trust in the process, but also openness and not forgetting that there is a human being on the other side and you can't try to force them into your model of what you want from the world. It's a matter of holding them by the hand and seeing if you want to walk together or not for a while. And I think that's really the the principle I try to follow. And it is a lot about unlearning too, for sure. 

Annie [00:16:32] I read in this Vogue article that was talking about non-monogamy, one of the people in a non-monogamous relationship saying that it was 99% talking and 1% sex *laughs*. 

Ana [00:16:43] Yeah. 

Annie [00:16:44] Because it's just, you know it's like that quote in The New Yorker about being emotionally mature. So much of it is that isn't it. It's about being tuned in to other people's feelings and also tuned into your own. I love how you talk about jealousy as well as, as opposed to something that should scare you, you know, you talk about it as if it's kind of a signpost. You know, it's showing you something about how you feel about someone or how they are. It's an alarm bell to look into something more deeper. Would that be right in saying it? 

Ana [00:17:14] Totally. You said it much better than I did. I think to give you a practical example, when I felt jealous for Dimo or for anyone else, and this happens with friends, it happens in family I think. I've at least tried to talk about it with Dimo specifically. We've discussed jealousy because there have been times when I'm jealous of him and it uncovers a needs that I've had from him, which I was just expecting he would know about, which he didn't. Or it comes from a need that I have in general, which I don't give or serve myself. And I think very often we place expectations on others, especially on people we love the most, and we expect them to magically know about them and serve them for us and when they don't, we're disappointed with them. And we don't talk about either. So we don't talk about the expectations and we don't talk about the disappointment. We only talk about the whole thing once something- like when there is the final drop in a glass and something just overflows. So I've learned to try to notice feelings like this,  feelings of ownership, feelings of entitlement, of someone's time or energy or love, and look into what they show about me and my relationship to myself, to my sexuality, to what I want from the world, from a romantic, emotional, just human perspective. And I totally agree that talking is a very, very big part of it all. I think the only challenge with talking too much is when you over intellectualise everything. We just tend to try to put words and descriptors to everything. There is no amount of words that can open you up to what you can hear or take from the world. It's somewhere in the soul. 

[00:19:01] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:19:13] You grew up in Bulgaria and Curiosity is a word that I keep coming back to when learning about you and the app Feeld. Can you tell me about your relationship to Curiosity in the context of where you're from, please? 

Ana [00:19:27] I grew up in the nineties in Bulgaria. So for context, the Communist regime fell apart in 1990. I was born in 1992. So I think it's important to set context because if you imagine a country which has been absolutely suppressed and controlled, it suddenly opens up to democracy but in a very sudden way. And there is an amount of learned behaviours. My parents were both very well-educated and really curious about Western culture. I grew up in a family which basically prepared me to leave and study somewhere abroad, and I've always been given materials about the history of the world, of arts, of music. But I do think that the systems were a leftover from the previous regime. They just weren't up to date. There was just this assumption of how you should behave in school, how you should look, how you should act. But I didn't like it. I wasn't interested in it. And then I discovered British series' in my teen years. I watched Misfits. I watched Skins. And I was blown away by the freedom and curiosity. And also even the illegal aspects of the shows, like where people ended up in jail or like they were doing really wrong things. I felt, oh my God, I've never- I never knew this is possible. And I wanted to go to England to live that life. So- 

Annie [00:20:57] So, we have Skins to thank for you being in England?

Ana [00:21:01] Actually Misfits. 

Annie [00:21:02] Misfits? 

Ana [00:21:02] I think Skins is where all the memes came from *Annie laughs*. Like, before memes existed, but yeah. 

Annie [00:21:08] Can you tell me about your childhood change, please, Ana? You mentioned your sister and a period of your life in your teens where things changed for you. 

Ana [00:21:16] Yeah. I was apparently on my way to be a prodigy, you know, like a genius kid. I spoke English and Bulgarian as a child when I was three. I was already writing. Like, everything just happened really fast with me. The pride of the family *laughs* terrible. I also like telling people off, apparently, as a kid, bossing people around. And my mom said there was just one day you were about three or four and I felt, this can go out of hand if we don't do something about it. So my parents decided to have a second kid in the midst of a massive crisis. I remember that changing my life completely. My mom said I hated my sister *laughing* when she was a baby. 

Annie [00:22:01] Very common.

Ana [00:22:03] Apparently, yeah. But there was a time in my very early teens, so probably I was 13, maybe. My parents lost a very close friend, very suddenly. I didn't understand it at the time. I just knew there was a friend, a family friend and now he was gone. My parents were trying to overcome it however they can. But they were just emotionally not there. So there wasn't support, emotional support for us. And I remember that feeling of almost like a calling, looking at my sister who's confused what's going on, she must have been five or six, and me understanding that there is no one who can do something for me right now. I have to do it. I remember it very, very vividly. Like, oh, the things that I'm waiting for to happen from my parents are not going to happen. I have to do them. And so I started like, inventing these games with my sister or cooking terribly or- like little acts of care and responsibility, I guess, which I do think have absolutely changed my outlook and how I see the world. And it's created that sense of, go and do it. Don't expect something to happen. It's just not. 

Annie [00:23:21] Right. 

Ana [00:23:22] It's not going to happen if you don't do it. If you want something to happen in the world, if you want to see something in the world, you have to lift your finger and try to make it happen and pull people together with you rather than just sit there and wait for the universe to serve it to you or something. I think it changed everything for me. 

Annie [00:23:40] I guess it's the essence of the start up mentality, isn't it? It's kind of if you don't see something happening around you, you've got to do it yourself. Got to serve your needs in whatever way you can. 

Ana [00:23:51] Absolutely. 

Annie [00:23:53] Now, let's talk about London, because you started moving to London as your adult change. What was that like for someone who lived in Bulgaria all their life to come to London? 

Ana [00:24:01] The campus which I was in at the time was really southeastern London in New Eltham, so close to Lewisham. 

Annie [00:24:09] Wow. 

Ana [00:24:09] Yeah, so that was my first experience of London. It was absolutely different from what I'd seen in movies and music videos, but it was wonderful and full of all the different backgrounds that people were coming from. And I realised I can never- I don't think I could ever go anywhere else. 

Annie [00:24:30] And can I ask about Dimo then, was he your boyfriend at that time? When did this incident happen that you told us about when you started going out with him and you got curious? 

Ana [00:24:38] It was in 2013 when I met him. 

Annie [00:24:41] Right, so it was in London? 

Ana [00:24:42] It was in London. 

Annie [00:24:43] Can you talk us through what happened next for you and Dimo when you decided you were going to have an open relationship and you went to seek that out? 

Ana [00:24:51] There was one date we wanted to go to. I changed my mind in the last minute, and I bailed. I didn't go. I didn't know why I didn't want to go. I was very jealous. I was worried that he likes this person too much. And I panicked. And then he was angry with me because he said you made me look like a typical guy who talks about being in an open relationship, but then his girlfriend doesn't show up *Annie laughs*. So that was our first big fight- not fight, we both upset each other a lot. And that led to a very deep conversation about things. Then there was another instance where we went out on a date. We both said, okay, we're going to have sex tonight with this person *Annie laughs*, but nothing happened. And we were both- we came home and we were like, are we not attractive? *Annie laughing* Do we need to look different? Are there things we have to say? And then *laughs*, yeah, there was just a lot of false starts, I guess, but I think the thing I wish I could tell myself, a younger self, was that this is a process and these events are extremely important to get to know yourself and what you want. Yeah, but then with time I think he met people that he got involved with and has been communicating with or in some sort of a relationship with. I have too. We've never actually ended up being in the relationship together with someone. But we both give each other a lot of space to explore other people and meet other people and connect to them and discover them. Because I think that's really the essence of what I've always lacked in other relationships, is just that sense that if I meet someone I really like, they can only really be my friend or my life partner. You know, it's an either or. Whereas now if I meet someone that I enjoy spending time with, I can look for ways to commit to them. But there always has to be a willingness to enter an uncomfortable situation, I think. Looking for comfort or relying on comfort in this whole experience is the antithesis of growth. So I think that's another, like a very important learning. I think, in the early days we both wanted to feel really comfortable all the time, and when we didn't, we both got upset. Being in the start-up and being in an open relationship has that thing in common. It's that normalising discomfort, normalising that that is a sign of change and growth and transformation and you have to go back to principles and values, but really trust the process and interrogate every change. 

Annie [00:27:42] Yeah, that's a really interesting parallel. The process of an open relationship and the process of of doing a start-up. But when you spell it out like that, it makes so much sense. It's about the failures. I mean, they are kind of in a way the most crucial part because each one leads you closer to knowing best how to run your company or your relationship *laughs*. 

Ana [00:28:03] Yeah, there's a lot of discovery and to me it's curiosity. I'm always curious like, what's- okay, what can I- what can I learn from this? What can I get out of this? Or tell me more about you. Tell me about your life. Tell me about how you ended up here. That story. 

[00:28:18] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:28:28] The app itself has been cited as the most progressive dating app out there. It's a place where you can begin to consider the possibility of change. So it's kind of giving people, as opposed to like making them fit in a certain box, it's like giving people options to discover who they are. Can you bring us through like some of the different categories that you can choose within Feeld because there's many, isn't there? 

Ana [00:28:56] Yeah, you can choose from more than 20 sexualities and gender identities. From a sexuality standpoint there is a sexuality which I was describing myself with, which is demi sexual. It's on the asexual spectrum. And it really means that you need to build an emotional connection with someone before you can have a sexual one. I was definitely identifying as that for a few years. Now I'm gearing more to pansexual, which is just taking people as they are, and I don't really need that much emotional connection to explore someone sexually or be attracted to someone. In terms of gender identities, we know about gender queer, of course, there are options like agender. 

Annie [00:29:41] What's agender? What's the difference between that and, say, non-binary? 

Ana [00:29:45] With agender you live outside of the idea of gender, whereas with non-binary you decline that sense of the binary in the gender spectrum. 

Annie [00:29:57] Okay, I see. 

Ana [00:29:57] Does that makes sense? 

Annie [00:29:58] Yeah, it really does. 

Ana [00:29:59] One is just saying no to the system and the other one is saying no to a part of the idea. 

Annie [00:30:04] Yeah. 

Ana [00:30:05] That's how I've interpreted it. 

Annie [00:30:07] Yeah. Yeah. It's so nuanced. And what are the most commonly expressed desires within the app? Because it gives you an opportunity to express those, right? 

Ana [00:30:16] Yeah, absolutely. I think in terms of the most commonly expressed desires, we have- threesomes was one, and then another one was ethical non-monogamy. We have desires like friends with benefits, and then we have more specific ones around kink or BDSM or power play. But the most common ones are either a threesome or ethical non-monogamy. 

Annie [00:30:38] What about the culture of the app? Like, how do you ensure that people going on there feel safe and can go into meeting someone after meeting them in the app feeling like these people are well-intentioned? 

Ana [00:30:51] People on Feeld are extremely open minded. Even though people share what their desires are, there isn't an expectation that someone's just going to serve you those desires. 

Annie [00:31:01] Okay. 

Ana [00:31:01] Desires are expressed more as a sense of, this is what I'm interested in, or this is what I would like to explore, as in level of almost transparency and a conversation starter too. I think that lends itself to people being able to express their boundaries, their fears when they talk and meet in that sense and build that context for each other. In terms of the feeling of safety, it's an ongoing, ever expanding topic that we always work on in the company. I think what we always try to prioritise is informing people. So giving them resources, as many resources as we can, and working with people who are really involved and invested in our community to understand what we could do better and try different things out. 

Annie [00:31:52] I saw a tweet where you referred to the many messages you get from users saying that the app has changed their lives. How does this change people's lives in your experience? 

Ana [00:32:06] I was giving a talk at WebSummit last year and after the talk there were a few people in a queue to talk to me and I thought they were either journalists or people who are interested to learn more about Feeld, but it turned out that all of them were customers. And they came to say thank you. And one of them said that- it was a woman and she said that it was the first time she was on a dating app that made her feel okay to express her interest in women. And she was just teering up as she was talking. She said, I've never felt like I can just try. I thought I have to commit, but I don't feel like I can commit because I don't know if this is true. This is the first time I felt seen because I could just try and that wouldn't be seen as me entering a community that I don't belong to or me committing to something I can't see through. Another customer was a woman in a relationship and she said that it had saved her marriage *laughing* ironically, to some extent, because I talk about marriage quite a lot. They were in a relationship with her partner for many years. There was something missing and they didn't know why. And they thought the magic between them was gone and they have to just find things outside of their marriage and split up. But then they discovered ethical non-monogamy through Feeld and have completely reinvigorated their partnership. It's not just about your sex life. It's also about communication and expressing why you're interested in someone else or what sparks you and building that new layer of intimacy with your partner. 

Annie [00:33:55] I'm interested in the- kind of the doors that were closed on you in terms of your operations because of the nature of how people viewed your content. So people saw Feeld as adult content. Thus there was some instances where it was hard to run the business. Could you elaborate on that? 

Ana [00:34:16] Totally, yeah. It was absolutely the case. We had challenges hiring people. We had challenges opening bank accounts. The challenge was always that we are an adult entertainment company, I guess, where people just look for sex, which is very bad for, I guess, banks and companies of that kind. 

Annie [00:34:38] Yeah. 

Ana [00:34:38] But with time, I think society caught up to what we're actually doing. 

Annie [00:34:45] I guess it kind of plays into people's fears, doesn't it? And that idea of fear as being an obstruct to change. You must have come across that a lot in your career with people around you. What would you say about that, just in terms of change and your feelings of change and your relationship to that word? 

Ana [00:35:05] Mm. That's the reason I live. I can't imagine a world where you stay the same. It would be against nature. I don't know where it comes from. Of course, there is a sense of security and sameness and familiarity and I really cherish those feelings and I think a certain amount of them is actually important in order to be able to change. But I strongly believe that the world is dynamic and vibrant and transformative all the time. And the only constant, the only thing that is the same is the act of change and transformation. It just brings with it so much colour and it's really the essence of life to me. I just jump and see where I land. I think there has to be a sense of, as I said, trust and a deep inner confidence you will be alright when you wake up a different person. So some sort of sense of surrender and acceptance in the power of change. But ultimately nothing stays the same, even if you think it's the same it is not. So that's been my mantra, a commitment to not stay the same. But I also don't do it to not stay the same, if you know what I mean. I just welcome change to my life any time it presents itself.

Annie [00:36:35] It arrives, yeah. Michelle Ruiz in Vogue magazine, in this article about ethical non-monogamy said this, she said 'you could argue that CNM, consensual non-monogamy, is simply evolution. Like fins morphing into arms. Commitment adapting to an era of questioning and change'. How do you see the future, Ana, in your most utopian vision? You know, if Feeld becomes bigger and this idea of people being sexually curious, you know, curious about their identity, pushing forward, being open to change, if that becomes the norm how do you see the world looking and feeling *laughs*? 

Ana [00:37:14] Oh, gosh. 

Annie [00:37:16] Just a huge question there to end our conversation. My apologies *laughs*. 

Ana [00:37:20] No, of course, it's a great question. In order for something like this to happen, it means that an underlying attitude to life has transformed. A world where people approach each other and approach life with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to meet what they're served with where it is, as it is, and see what they make of it and how they can interact with it, rather than trying to force and bend circumstances and others into like a built in model that we have in our heads. If the world transforms and moves in that direction, sky's the limit. Society as a whole can be based on principles of respect and mutual pleasure and growth rather than subscribing to systems and rules. A world which sees people more comfortable with change is a world that can achieve great things as human race. Very abstract, really big *Annie laughs loudly*. If I keep going, we'll go on universe galactic level. 

Annie [00:38:32] I like it. I like it. It's good, though. Thank you so much, Ana. That was such an interesting conversation. I really enjoyed it and thank you for your time. 

Ana [00:38:41] Thank you so much too. It was absolute pleasure. 

Annie [00:38:49] Thank you so much to Ana Kirova. I really enjoyed that conversation with her and it's definitely thought provoking, right? I think regardless of whatever you choose to do in your relationship, her approach to her relationship is inspiring. It's very grown up. Like The New Yorker said, it's very emotionally mature. It's about trust. It's about communication. It's about making yourself vulnerable. It's about not being afraid to fail. Vital in a healthy relationship, whether you decide to open it up or not. But yeah, if you are interested in Feeld, if you want to go and have a nosey at the app, it's spelled F E E L D and you can get it of course, wherever you get all of your apps. Thank you so much for listening this week. Do share this episode. Put it in your WhatsApp groups. Start a discussion with your friends. It's really thought provoking and will be fun to discuss, I think. Of course, subscribe to Changes if you haven't already. It really helps us when you subscribe. Thank you so much for listening as always and we'll be back next week with another episode. Changes is produced by Louise Mason through DIN Productions. See you later!