30 stages of getting back into dating

  1. Right, breakup schmakeup, let’s get back onto the dating scene
  2. Hmm I work in a 99% female environment
  3. I’ve also already dated all eligible friends-of-friends
  4. Ok, back to the internet we go
  5. Going to stick with just Bumble, I mean I’m the one who needs to make the first move here, so that’s me reclaiming my power right?
  6. Yay setting up a new profile, fun times
  7. Looks like no one’s taken a decent picture of me since 2014…
  8. How do I sum up myself in a couple of lines? #existentialcrisis
  9. Ok photos chosen, witty-yet-modest profile written, COME AT ME BOYS
  10. **Swipes left for half an hour
  11. Beginning to remember why I deleted this thing in the first place…
  12. Oo hello tall guy working in London with a cute dog, righty swipey for you
  13. WE MATCHED I AM ON FIRE
  14. Crap, need to come up with an opening line that is suave and funny and flirty and not at all desperate or boring
  15. Shit this is really hard
  16. Does sending an emoji count? How does Bumble qualify these things??
  17. ‘Hi how’s your week going?’
  18. Good work Charlotte, good work
  19. Now the guy has only 24 hours to respond?! Most of my friends take at least two days to reply to WhatsApp messages, let alone someone I’ve never even met!!
  20. What’s the etiquette on swiping right on someone you matched with on Tinder about a year ago?
  21. At least it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one trying and failing to meet someone
  22. Oo hello new match, let’s see who you are
  23. Hmm.  Must have been a drunk right swipe…
  24. Ok chats are developing with Cute Dog Guy, I feel a date coming on
  25. **2 days later** Christ I’m not here for a pen pal, just ask me out for a drink dammit
  26. Oh hello, look at all these new matches
  27. Three chats going on, such a player right now
  28. And all three of them have asked me out for a drink! Get in
  29. Hmm, this week and next week are already pretty busy. Forgot how time-consuming this dating thing is
  30. It’s Friday night and I’m meant to be going on a date but all I want to do is get into loungewear and eat pizza and watch Netflix. Maybe I’m not so ready for this dating thing after all…

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An absence of time and energy

Hi there, long time no see…  It’s been well over seven months since I last wrote a blog post, which has been niggling away at the guilty corners of my brain.  I doubt this has been any cause for concern for anyone other than myself (I won’t entertain any notions of a devoted readership), but going AWOL for this amount of time probably deserves some sort of explanation.

  1. I got a new job.  And not just any job – THE job!  In December I started as a PA at what is termed as the World’s Biggest Selling Fashion Magazine (I’ll leave you to Google that yourself).  All jokes about similarities to The Devil Wears Prada aside, my new role is demanding, entertaining, exciting and tiring, which hasn’t left much energy for the whole writing thing.
  2. I lost my motivation.  It’s no secret that many blogs are started in the hopes of turning a hobby into a career, and I won’t hesitate to admit that such a thing has been a long-held dream of mine.  Moving into the publishing industry, and especially into a company that is so well-known, gave me a certain degree of complacency and therefore a lack of motivation to write for myself.
  3. A lack of inspiration.  Over the last couple of years, my blog has definitely been more focused on the trials and tribulations of dating.  Just before Christmas, I got dumped and took several months to get over it, which resulted in a lack of interest in dating and therefore a lack of writing material.  Plus, I was probably getting a little too ‘all men are bastards let’s just mock them’ – hardly a positive outlook on future relationships!  I’m happy to report that I’m now back in the dating game, so watch this space…
  4. A lack of energy.  So far, 2015 has been BUSY!  Off the back of the aforementioned break-up, one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to ‘be more dog’, aka say yes to doing more, go out more, see more, be more active.  Which has resulted in hectic weekends, busy week nights, a lot more time spent in the gym, and a general motivation to spend less time sitting alone in the house.  The downside to this has been that the rare times I have had a few hours at home, I’ve wanted to sleep, eat, shower and watch Netflix, which isn’t exactly conducive to attempting witty blog posts each week.

So there you are, mea culpa.  Time for me to buck up my ideas, ingest more caffeine and get the writing juices flowing again.  See you soon!

Charlotte x

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Let’s face it, your twenties are tough

Time for a little bit of nostalgia: who remembers what it was like to be 12 years old?  I can remember it pretty clearly – year 8 at school, butterfly clips were still in, S Club 7 and Hear-Say were storming the charts, and the biggest thing to worry about was what to wear to the disco with the local boys’ school.  Ah innocence…  Another thing I remember about being 12 is all of the doom-and-gloom warnings I received in the weeks running up to my 13th birthday.  Tales of ‘terrible teens’ plagued all of us, horror stories of older siblings with horrendous mood swings were standard lunchtime topics, and we’d frequently write charming phrases such as ‘hope you don’t turn into a moody bratty spotty awful teenager’ in each others’ birthday cards.  Lovely.  The point is, we were sort of forewarned that our teens would bring a fair share of drama.  It seemed to be a rite of passage.  Some suffered more than others, but after flouncing away from a blazing row with my mother or failing to resist the urge to hurl something breakable across my bedroom, phrases like ‘it’s ok, she’s just going through the difficult teen phase’ made everything a little more acceptable.

Fast forward thirteen years, and suddenly life ain’t so easy to explain.  Why is it that we were mentally prepared for being teenagers, and warned about the hardships and emotional trauma that phase of life would bring, and yet fuck all was said about our twenties??

Perhaps the first couple of years of your twenties were pretty simple.  Most of my friends and I were still at university, and had a fairly uncomplicated existence made up of drinking, sleeping, more drinking, the odd lecture, and an annual panic when exam season rolled around.  Up until final year, we knew exactly what we’d be doing in 12 months’ time, therefore zero forethought or planning was needed.  But then, oh shit, we graduated and were chucked out into the big wide world.  And THIS is what we should have been warned about.

I know I’m not the only one who spent most of their education being promised the job of their dreams, only to discover that about 1001 other people wanted that job and nope I had no way near enough ‘experience’ to get it.  Nor was I the only one who had grand plans to fly the nest and move to London asap, only to find that it was pretty much impossible to do so on a graduate salary.  That is, unless you were willing to continue your student habits and survive on baked beans and couscous for the next few years…  Then there was the shock of not being 10 minutes’ walk from all of your closest friends.  What was this forward planning shit?  What do you mean, you’re not free until next month?  And of course, to make it all worse, there were the unavoidable smug fuckers who for unknown reasons you were friends with on Facebook, and there they were living it large in their dream job and their dream pad with all of their besties having Instagram-perfect barbeques every bloody weekend.  Not that I’m bitter or anything…

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A quick note on the role of social media in all this: the very nature of social media means that we instantly have access to people’s lives in a way that previous generations have never had.  And generally, we’re only going to post photos and tweet pithy one-liners that we want other people to see.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone else.  Posting a heavily-filtered Instagram snap of my holiday in Marbella: YES.  Tweeting about the fact that I spend nearly every Saturday night in my PJs watching X-Factor: NO.  Whether we actually think ‘this will make everyone else jealous’ or not, the effect is pretty much the same, which means that it’s very easy to assume that your contemporaries are leading the perfect life while you’re looking at another weekend developing your relationship with the Dominos delivery guy.  Comparison is a dangerous thing.

The fact is, your twenties are the crucial years in which you really shape your identity.  Released from the cliques and unwritten rules of school and university, suddenly you can be whoever you want to be, which in itself is pretty terrifying.  Life is simpler when you’re being told what to wear and where to go and who to be friends with.  This new-found independence is daunting and often overwhelming, as well as exhilarating and liberating.  Living in a big city can give you a degree of anonymity: if a girl on the tube stares at your outfit in horror and mutters some catty comment to her friend, you can give precisely zero fucks because they don’t know you, you don’t know them, and the likelihood of you ever bumping into each other again is about one in three-million.  You can compartmentalize your life: work vs personal.  Just don’t go into overshare mode at the company drinks party…  You can also make grown-up decisions like getting health insurance and going to the dentist regularly.  Look at me, I’m an adult now!

And yet, underneath all this, there is that feeling that you’re madly treading water and actually don’t have a clue what you’re doing.  Much has been written about how we ‘Gen-Y’-ers have a disproportionate sense of entitlement.  We’ve all been told that we’re going to be CEOs by the time we’re 30, and we’re all looking at taking early retirement and living comfortably in our country residences with a pied à terre in London.  Oh and chuck marriage and kids in there for good measure.  Well, I turn 30 in 42 months (shit) and I can guarantee that I will not be a CEO by then (unless it’s of Charlotte Rottenburg Inc., net value £50).  All of those career seminars and internships suddenly mean sod-all, and unless you’re in one of those really structured industries (law, military, accountancy, medical etc.) you have to become pretty nifty at beating off fellow Gen Y-ers with a professionally barbed stick to get the jobs and promotions you want.  It doesn’t help that we’re constantly being confronted with slogans such as ‘love the job you do and never work again’.  Whoever came up with that deserves a slap in the face and a wedgie for good measure.  You know that little ‘People You May Know’ tab on LinkedIn?  Don’t click on it.  All that will happen is 20 minutes of self-flagellation whilst you scroll through profiles of people that you sort-of know who seem to have the perfect job.  I can guarantee that they too will be working long hours, will have moments of self-doubt, will have had days where they feel like chucking their keyboard at their boss’s head, and will have had a small cry in the loo.  It’s just that no one will ever admit it.

And there lies the root of the problem.  We’re so busy presenting a glossy and photo-ready front, teamed with an innate sense of competitiveness and overuse of the word ‘fine’ that most of us are left with the feeling that we’re the only ones who are groping through the dark years of our twenties.  Of course, our closest friends and family will know the truth, but these truths are generally only disclosed behind closed doors and after the best part of a bottle of wine has been consumed.  We feel embarrassed to admit that we feel like we’re struggling, and it goes against the social grain to admit to feelings of petty jealousy brought on by someone’s engagement photo on Facebook.  I get the feeling that if we were all a little more honest with each other, and spent less time poring over the details of other people’s lives on social media, we’d be much more content with the hand life has dealt us thus far.

I could spout all sorts of touchy-feely nonsense about what doesn’t kill you make you stronger and how Rome wasn’t built in a day, but that would be incredibly patronising and not wholly relatable.  I’m not in an elevated position to give life advice, but having been through a shitty couple of years where the highs only made the lows seem that much lower, I feel that I can speak with a certain degree of experience.  So the next time you find yourself alone at home at the weekend convinced that everyone else is at some giant ice-skating party that you haven’t been invited to, or when you’re staring at your work emails wondering what your life has come to, just remember that you are far from being the only person who feels that way.  Your twenties are rough, no one prepared you for it, and it can all feel terribly unfair (especially when that snotty brat who you played hockey with seems to have it all and can’t stop shouting about it on Instagram).  But it will get easier.  And when in doubt, drink wine and whack on some Taylor Swift.

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Social consciousness

As much as I like to think I’m a modern girl, I do have a fair few old-fashioned values that might not sit well with your average 21st century forward-thinking mid-twenties Londoner.  I wouldn’t consider having children unless I was married, I firmly believe in the importance of good manners, and I feel that certain rules of social etiquette should be adhered to at all times.

Social etiquette – what’s that?  Well, to me at least, it’s the standards by which we should behave in public so as not to unduly offend others.  This might seem a rather alien concept to people who claim to not care about what other people think, but if you spend as much time as I do on the Tube, on buses, in bars, at restaurants, and any number of places where you have to be in close proximity with other members of the general public, the complete lack of social etiquette is fairly gobsmacking.

The London Underground is perhaps where this is most prevalent.  There we all are, poor sods having to commute every day, none of us enjoy it, but we all have to do it.  Quite often there’s a sense of camaraderie about the whole thing: a shared rolling-of-eyes at delays, a collective tutting at the idiot who’s got his leg stuck in the door…  So WHY are there people who completely disregard this and act as if they’re not stuffed into a tin can with hundreds of other humans?  Case in point: The Hair Brusher.  This wasn’t just a quick taming of unruly locks that took about 3 seconds.  Oh no.  This girl was going to town with a Tangle Teezer on her abundantly scruffy thick wet hair.  She was standing up, meaning that those of us sitting down near her got showered with a lovely mix of water and split ends.  And of course after this 5-minute grooming session was over, she picked all the hair from her brush and dropped it on the floor.  Nice.

Then there are the nose-pickers, the fingernail biters, the hot smelly food eaters, and the let-me-adjust-my-belt-and-general-crotch-area-right-in-front-of-your-face-ers.  I’ve seen girls squeezing their spots in a packed carriage at 8am, and a suited and booted man floss his teeth whilst using the window as a mirror.  Ok, if you really don’t give a damn about what other people think of you, then you’re probably not the type to be jealously poring over Facebook and Instagram and wishing you had aspects of other people’s lives, and maybe you’re a happier person overall.  Yay for you.  But for crying out loud why can’t these people see that their habits are truly disgusting and make other people feel quite ill?  I certainly wasn’t the only one giving the Hair Brusher death glares by the end of the battle with her bed head.

I can predict a response to this: ‘it’s a free country, I can do what I like’.  Fine.  In which case, you won’t mind if I gather up all the hair you’ve just shed all over my lap and pop it in your handbag, or attack your fingertips with a bottle of Stop N’ Grow.  After all, it’s a free country.  I can do what I like…

The old adage ‘good manners don’t cost a thing’ has never been more pertinent.  I can’t be the only one whose mother issued edicts such as ‘never eat whilst walking’ and ‘always cover your mouth when yawning’.  Perhaps my attitude towards social etiquette is a little dated, but that doesn’t make it wrong.  Why should advances in technology and social mobility reduce the need for good manners and personal hygiene?  Aren’t politeness and consideration of others two of the things that make us a civilised nation?  I’m well aware that I sound like the Dowager Countess, but I’d much rather that comparison than that of, say, Josie Cunningham or Dappy.  Being aware of your surroundings and those who are in it isn’t old-fashioned: it should be second nature.

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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’

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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?

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Nostalgic and romantic…?

Oh goody, it’s that time of year again.  Everywhere I look there are pink hearts flowing out of every shop window and TV advert, all of those style/beauty websites I subscribe to are sending me ideas for the ‘perfect Valentines nails’ and ‘gift ideas for him’, and once again, for the sixth year in a row (sob), I find myself alone and not even a hope of a card softly dropping onto my doormat on February 14th.

BUT, this year I thought I’d try to avoid my annual rant about the awful commercialism and contrived nature of Valentines Day.  I thought I’d try to squash down the barely-concealed feelings of bitterness and jealousy that usually rise up to the surface at this time of year.  I could harp on about how I couldn’t think of anything worse than going to a restaurant full of loads of other couples all trying to be super-romantic where everyone looks like they feel they should be on the verge of proposing.  I could analyse how most girls will claim to hate V-Day and yet will throw a strop if their boyfriend takes this at face value and doesn’t even buy a card.  But no, this year I’m breaking the mould.

In a bid to have a more positive outlook on love and life as a whole (and yes this might be in part a result of being pegged as an ‘angry single girl who seems to hate everyone in relationships’), I thought I’d try something different.  So, in an attempt to focus on and cherish what I have or have had, here is a summary of all of the romantic gestures I have experienced.  Ever.

  • I once contracted a stomach bug at the house of the object of my affections.  He even saw me throw up through my nose (btw I really wouldn’t recommend this as a good way of being sick).  BUT, instead of running for the hills, he sent me a teddy from the Bear Factory with a little first aid cross on it, complete with a note saying ‘this is a medicinal bear’.  Awwwww!!!  The fact that this bear then turned into my punch bag for whenever a member of the opposite sex pissed me off should probably be overlooked.  Not surprisingly this bear is looking rather squished these days…
  • One guy brought me bacon sandwiches and cupcakes on a Sunday morning to cure me of my hangover, and I didn’t even ask him to!
  • My French ex paid for a luxury Tahitian villa, complete with hot tub and ocean view, for New Years Eve.  The fact that he then used this occasion to casually mention the fact that he was buggering off to New Zealand for 6 months put a slight shadow over the event, and thinking about it the ocean view might just have been a blow-softener, but hey it was romantic up until that point!
  • I’ve been led down a candle-lit staircase into a candle-lit room to find my birthday presents sitting alongside a heap of flowers
  • One guy gave me his Abercrombie hoodie because I was cold.  As a teenager this was a pretty big deal
  • I’ve been on the receiving end of five marriage proposals.  Fine, these were all a result of the guys in question having eaten my chocolate brownies (and no they didn’t contain any hallucinogenic substances), but I’m beginning to scrape the barrel now
  • I’ve had the words ‘I love you’ said to me a few times, but I’m pretty sure at least two of them don’t count as one guy was permanently high or drunk and the other was 17 (I hasten to add that I was also 17 at the time, teenagers really aren’t my scene any more!)
  • Someone carried me across a puddle so I didn’t ruin my suede strappy sandals – literally swept me off my feet! (I know, I’m gagging too, apologies for the poor turn of phrase)
  • Really beginning to struggle here…
  • Ooh I know!  The Frenchie told me that he loved me because I was good in the kitchen.  If that doesn’t scream modern-day romance I don’t know what does…
  • The Australian wanted to marry me.  He offered to pay me.  He wanted a visa…  Hmmm ok I don’t think that one counts either.  Argh!
  • Must.  Stay.  Positive.
  • Someone once told me I looked like Summer from The OC, which may not count as romantic but it was definitely a compliment!  This was then swiftly ruined by the guy stating that this was the only reason he’d wanted to be my boyfriend.  Ouch.
  • I think someone once bought me a present when it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, but then again that could have been me treating myself or my mum being nice to me…
  • Oh I give up

Well… it would seem that the last 25 years have been rather low on the romantic gesture front.  Or, maybe this is just normal.  Maybe I’m not the only once who’s life is devoid of red roses and string quartets and thoughtful gifts and poetry recitals.  Perhaps our perception of romance has been swayed by Hollywood.  And then add to that a good dollop of British reserve and sarcasm: it’s hardly surprising if my tally of romantic gestures is about average.

So, Happy Valentines Day everyone!  If you have a special someone to share it with, I do genuinely hope that you have a lovely time together and aren’t overcome with cynicism about the whole thing.  If you’re a bona fide member of the Lonely Hearts Club, team up with other members and remember that couples aren’t the only ones who can go to restaurants and eat chocolate and get laid and feel good about themselves.  Don’t sit at home with a bottle of wine and the full Richard Curtis DVD collection.  This will only result in texting your ex and feeling like an idiot the next day.  And definitely DO NOT get absolutely hammered and sleep with a fellow single colleague.  This will only bring you untold pain and misery, not to mention an awkward working environment.

Go forth and be merry!

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Mind the gap

Ahh, the tube.  That miracle of engineering.  That transporter of industrious souls off to bring home the proverbial bacon.  That inspiration for poetry, art and music.  Sound familiar?  Thought not.

It is a fact of life that if you live and/or work in London, you will have to take the tube at some point.  If you visit London as a tourist, you will feel that you have to take the tube at some point.  And even if you claim to hate the tube and try to avoid it at all costs (cycling, bus, taxi, walking), you will still have to use it at some point.  The tube is omnipresent (except when you want to buy an affordable house with good transport links which is when there suddenly seems to be an unhealthy lack of tube stations in desirable parts of south London), and you only need to look at the state of near-panic we’re all experiencing ahead of the strikes this week to realise how much we’ve come to depend on that noisy, smelly, overcrowded network of underground passages that are essentially glorified cattle carts.

So without further ado, here are My Top Ten Most Hated Things About The London Underground:

1: PDA Couples

We’ve all encountered them, generally when you’ve just been through a break-up.  WHY do they need to kiss so noisily at 7:30am on a Wednesday??

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2: The Antisocial Backpack

Generally takes up at least one person’s standing room, and pokes you uncomfortably hard in the boobs with weird buckles and attachments.

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3: The Lone Salmon

That guy who wants to get on the platform when everyone else wants to get off, or hasn’t sorted out his tube strategy and finds himself at the opposite end of the platform from where he needs to be

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4: The Northern Line

Overcrowded, hot, smelly, never works properly, high chance of bumping into someone you don’t want to, confusing for first-timers with that whole ‘Bank Branch’ thing, and a veritable death trap if you want to get on at Clapham Common or Clapham North – why more people haven’t fallen onto the tracks at rush hour defeats me.

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5:The Pole Hogger

That’s where my hand is meant to go!  Shame on you, Patrick Stewart…

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6: Over-efficient Heating

Clearly the bods at TFL who control the temperature of the tube have never had to travel on the tube at rush hour.  Mmmm hello someone else’s sweaty armpit…

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7: The Mystery Farter

Seriously people, do some squats before you leave the house or something, just get rid of it before you subject a packed carriage to the results of your inner gaseous movements.

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8: The Guy Who Stares

He flouts the no-eye-contact rule, he’s looking at you every time you glance in his direction, and OH MY GOD what is he doing with his hands?!

stare

9: Shit Earphones

Because of course everyone in the carriage wants to listen to angry metal music as well…

earphones2

10: Lad Soc

Drinking cans of Fosters, doing pull-ups on the bars, trying to engage strangers in conversation, tend to be Australian…

lads

Face value

If you ask a girl about what she looks for in a man, she might give any number of answers.  ‘I want a guy who makes me laugh’, ‘I’d like to find a guy who I can trust’, or ‘I just want someone who gets me’.  These are all valid points, and these answers may certainly be truthful.  However, I wonder how much is not being said.

We’re used to men focusing on the physical: ‘I’m a boobs/arse/legs guy’, ‘full lips are a must’, ‘she can’t be fat’ etc.  These criteria tend to preceded the funny/kind/intelligent aspects, and whilst women might not be as vocal about it, we also have our aesthetic preferences.  Let’s be honest, the physical attraction has got to be there at some point, so why are we judged as being shallow by saying that we’d like a guy who’s tall with great arms or a chiselled face or rugby thighs or washboard abs?  Why aren’t we allowed to openly say that we’d like to be chatted up by someone who looks a bit like David Gandy and it doesn’t matter (initially at least) if they don’t have the wit of Oscar Wilde?

Granted, it depends on what kind of scenario you’re in.  I know I’m not the only girl who, when on a night out with friends, will pull a total bitch-face* at anyone who doesn’t score at least 7/10.  In a situation where you’re making quick (and slightly vodka-blurred) judgements, both men and women will assess a potential flirting partner on their looks.  It may sound harsh to say it, but you’re not exactly going to gaze across a bar at some 5’9” overweight sweaty balding guy wearing an England football shirt and think ‘oooh I bet he’s got a great sense of humour, c’mere STUD!’  Or maybe you would, in which case we have completely different tastes in men…  Perhaps the difference lies in what a girl’s ultimate goal is.  If she’s looking for a quick fling, then it’s understandable she’d want it to be with some hunk with biceps big enough to throw her around the bedroom and cheekbones you can cut yourself on.  Personality isn’t the main factor here, it’s sexual chemistry and physical attraction.

On the other hand, I totally accept that someone who doesn’t float your boat initially can grow on you over time.  I have certainly found myself in a situation where I’d met a guy and hadn’t been initially attracted to him, but through spending time with him and getting to know him I became rather besotted.  Average Guy had transformed into Sex God in a matter of months, and no one was more surprised than me.  Needless to say, it didn’t work out, but I think that sort of illustrates my point.  When I think of the couples I know who have been together a long time, nearly all of them were friends before they became romantically involved, and that says a lot.

But I still don’t think that this should mean we can’t admit to wanting to be with a guy who’s physically appealing to more than just his mother.  If we’re talking long-term relationships and even marriage, why shouldn’t I want to be with someone who doesn’t want to make me gag into my pillow a little bit when I wake up every morning?  Obviously we all have varying tastes, and one girl’s David Beckham may be another’s Jonah Hill, and thank heavens for that otherwise there’d be a lot of sad and lonely men and women out there.  But, I do believe we’re allowed to want someone who ticks the box both physically and emotionally.

I’ll admit that I’m pretty damn picky appearance-wise when it comes to men, and perhaps this is where I’m going wrong.  I’ll also admit that at the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.  Perhaps I just find it hard to get past the outward appearance in order to know the ‘inner beauty’.  In my defence, I know I’m not the only girl who’s like this – there are girls I know who will only date male models or at least a guy who’s ripped enough to be in an Abercrombie catalogue.  Even I think this is faintly ridiculous – I know that looks aren’t everything and, ultimately, I’d like to find a guy who offers stimulating conversation, humour, and a sense of trust.  But is it too much to ask to be attracted to someone both inside and out?

fat

‘Whaddya mean you don’t believe I was on this month’s Men’s Health cover??’

* Definition of ‘bitch-face‘: looking at a sub-standard guy who has dared to chat you up with a ‘you think you can tap this?!’ expression on your face.  Raised eyebrow optional.