Teenage dreams

For those of you that don’t know, over the last few months I’ve become a bit of a running enthusiast.  With two 10k races coming up this summer, training is well under way, and part of this training is running the 9.5k journey home from work once a week.  It’s a well-established fact that when you run home from work, a backpack is required (purse, keys, oyster card, clothes etc.), and this week mine decided to chafe.  I mean, really chafe.  I now have symmetrical marks on each side of my neck that look a lot (aka exactly) like hickeys.  Fan-bloody-tastic.

hickey

Ah hickeys, those symbols of teenagerdom and fleeting romance.  That internal struggle between wanting to cover them up but yet wanting everyone to know that you’ve got one.  That glee you got from pointing out a hickey on a friend’s neck, squealing ‘who gave you THAT??’ in carrying tones.  A hickey was part badge of honour, part rite of passage.  And also part ‘ewww why did you let a guy bite you?’

In a weird way, my present non-hickey has made me slightly nostalgic for the real hickeys of my youth.  Or rather, the simplicity of relationships back then.  In my little boarding school bubble, everything was remarkably easy.  You snogged a boy, you established that you liked one another, and hey presto you were boyfriend and girlfriend.  Simples!  There was none of this faffing about for months ‘seeing each other’ and then a really painful conversation along the lines of ‘where is this going?’  You’d always know if your boyfriend cheated on you because the whole school would know before you.  Hell, half of my year knew I was going out with a guy before I had even been consulted.  You knew a guy’s history before you’d had his tongue shoved down your throat (the annual ‘pulling tree’ drawn out by bored girls was a real help here), you saw each other every day, and when the ultra-meaningful three-week relationship came to an end (he kissed someone else/you got bored/he wouldn’t respect your lack of desire to give him a handjob) all you needed was a Bacardi Breezer-fuelled school disco to find your next snog sensation.

Of course, it was all terribly complicated and traumatic and dramatic at the time.  The teenage years were littered with tears, fumbled attempts at ‘going all the way’, and year groups divided over whose side to choose in a break-up.  There are certainly parts of it I don’t miss: where would we be if every drunk mashing of faces turned into a relationship?  And thank heavens we aren’t forced to encounter the object of our (somewhat misguided) affections on a daily basis.  Then there’s the gossip, the rumours, everyone knowing more about your relationship than you do yourself…  Although having said that, some work environments can bear a striking resemblance to school in certain aspects.

Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the 17-year-old me.  The girl who didn’t think that 90% of men are bastards, and who wasn’t going on endless disappointing dates.  Sure, I had my fair share of teenage angst, but that was child’s play compared to what the last eight years have thrown at me.  I distinctly remember one house party where I literally ran screaming out of a tent when my ‘boyfriend’ started to unzip his jeans and guide my hand to the terrifying thing that lay beneath.  At the time I was mortified, but now I’m proud of Teenage Me for not doing something she didn’t want to do.  You go girl!

Can I buy you a drink?

Given that the last six months or so have resulted in a rather prolific rate of Tinder swiping, online dating profile writing, dating, and then blogging, many people have asked me the same question: why don’t you just meet people normally?  Gosh well thanks, I’d never even thought of that…

So my response is this:

A. Of course I’d like to meet someone in a normal situation, and all of my past relationships have come about because of ‘normal situations’, but dating is fun and can be pretty simple

B. Have YOU tried meeting someone in London?  This place is huge!  And when I’m on a night out I’m more focused on having a good time with my friends than eyeing up someone across a dimly-lit bar.

C. I genuinely HATE being chatted up on a night out, and this brings me to the main topic of this post…

I would imagine that nearly all girls have had the same experience as me.  You’re on a night out with some friends, you’re all having a good time, you go to the bar to get the next round in.  Next thing you know, some midget with coffee breath is just dying to buy your drinks for you whilst at the same time trying to race through all those ‘do you come here often?’ questions.

It is one of life’s great conundrums – why is it always the guys who you don’t want to chat you up who do the chatting up??  Now, if a guy is witty and charming and funny I might be able to get over the lack of height and the halitosis, but this has never happened.  I also take issue with the unwritten rule that if a guy buys you a drink, then you owe him something a bit more than a few minutes of conversation.  Last year a girlfriend and I were in a bar in the City, and a group of guys who were there ended up buying our drinks for us.  We were polite, said thank you, hung out with them for a while, then decided to take our leave from our new pals and go elsewhere in the multi-levelled venue.  Apparently, this was a bad choice on our part.  Various insults were thrown our way, including ‘sluts’ and ‘bitches’, and no matter how many times we tried to escape this group of so-called gents, they just seemed to be everywhere.  If we’d known this was going to happen, we never would have accepted those drinks.

Then there are the guys who seem to think that certain topics are acceptable when trying to woo a girl on a night out.  One incident where a guy mentioned rohypnol within the first three minutes come to mind.  To all the men that read this, this is never EVER an acceptable form of ‘banter’.  It just isn’t funny, and you never know the history of the girl you’re speaking to.  Just steer clear of rohypnol OK?

Any girl will tell you that there are many more aspects of being chatted up that just simply don’t sit well with us.  Someone you don’t know invading your personal space with no invitation, someone bending your ear about a topic that is incredibly boring, someone monopolising your attention when you’d much rather be dancing with your mates or flirting with the hot friend of a friend who just showed up… the list goes on.

Of course, there are the rare times when we get chatted up by a guy that actually piques our interest, and there could be any number of reasons why we say yes to one man and no to another.  Interesting conversation, chemistry, attractiveness etc.  So I’m not saying that guys shouldn’t approach women and attempt to chat them up.  My point is, they should learn to realise when their advances are not being reciprocated, and should learn to bow out gracefully.

Key indicators that your chat-up lines are not working (and this applies to girls too):

  • The other person is turning their body away from you, or is trying to establish at least a foot of clear space between you
  • His/her friends come over to drag him/her onto the dance floor and he/she puts up no resistance at all
  • He/she makes no attempt to keep the conversation going
  • He/she does not want to come outside with you for a cigarette
  • He/she says ‘look, it was nice to meet you but I’m just here to have a good night out with my friends’

chatup

 

Doing a one-nighter

There are many girls out there for whom a one-night stand is an unthinkable thing.  Sex with someone you’ve only just met?  No thanks.  Getting down and dirty with someone you barely know?  No way.

Now, I will freely admit that I have had a few one-night stands.  And to clarify: my definition of a ONS is having sex with someone you hadn’t met before that day and most probably won’t see again.  I’m not proud of it, but neither am I ashamed.  For those of us who don’t attach emotions to sex, and who can go into the act with open eyes and a knowledge that it will be a purely physical encounter, one-night stands are hardly taboo.  But there are many out there who would never consider doing at, and judge those who do.

I’m well aware that a large number of people, both men and women, would have a whole host of adjectives to hand when it comes to describing me and my fellow one-night standers.  ‘Slut’, ‘easy’ and ‘just asking for an STI’ are a few choice phrases that come to mind.  Put the shoe on the other foot, and we could come back with ‘frigid’, ‘prude’ and ‘delusional’.  Tomato tomahto…  Sex and how we approach it, as with most things, is a personal preference.

We live in an era where sexual liberation and equality are becoming more and more prevalent.  Free contraception is on offer to make recreational sex a safe and enjoyable thing.  So why do people still have a problem with one-night stands?  Is it the fact that we’re more open about it?  If it’s OK for guys to do it and talk about it, shouldn’t that be the same for girls?  Does sleeping with someone you’ve never met before make you a morally corrupt person?

Clearly there are different grades of sexual expression going on around us.  If you think of it as a scale with those who are saving themselves for marriage at the bottom and those who make one-night stands a weekly occurrence at the top, most people will find themselves in the vast grey area in between.  Just as a dogmatic Catholic might look at my behaviour with horror, I can be equally shocked by someone who sleeps with a different person every week.  Like I said, personal preferences…

So, you could say that the taboo of the one-night stand is purely relative.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, although I will say that some are more extreme than others.  Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with the occasional (read: once or twice a year) one-nighter, so long as safe sex is practised and both people involved are fully aware that it will only ever be just that: a one-nighter (there are plenty more caveats such as make sure he’s not married/has a girlfriend and don’t do it if you’re a fragile kind of person but then we’d be here all day).  It’s my body, my life, my decision.  I am also of the opinion that sleeping with someone you know and trust and care about is generally a lot better than with someone you only know by their first name.  But that’s not to say that a night of no-holds-barred sex can’t be just as physically fulfilling.  After all, sex is enjoyable (at least, most of the time) and can be great and leave you with an incredible glow and a feeling of physical satisfaction, so why should people in relationships have all the fun?

ONS3