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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20 steps to kicking your carb habit

  1. Right, a bread-and-pasta-free life, let’s do this
  2. Oh hello home-made sourdough rolls in a swanky restaurant, don’t mind if I do
  3. Dammit, re-start in the morning
  4. Ok I’ve made it through three days with no bread or pasta, that means I’m allowed a sandwich right?
  5. OMG Pret baguette I’ve missed you, come to me in all your carby buttery glory
  6. Back to the drawing board
  7. I’ve made it through a whole week and I feel awesome, go me!
  8. *Starts preaching about a gluten-free life to anyone who will/won’t listen*
  9. Yeah but I still eat cake. Cos it’s not bread or pasta you see
  10. Look at me I’ve lost 3 kilos! I’m the best!  I’m going to tell everyone about my newfound lifestyle and how it’s amazing and how I’m never going back to daily gluten consumption levels
  11. Did someone say pizza?!
  12. Give me all the pizza
  13. Pizza I love you, you are my one and only, I’m sorry I abandoned you for so long
  14. Ok that was a hungover Sunday so technically doesn’t count, but will do extra crunches at the gym tomorrow just to make sure
  15. Hmm I want to do a big workout, and that means carb-loading right?
  16. If there’s pasta in my salad, does that make it healthy pasta?
  17. I miss peanut butter. And jam.  And Marmite.  And cheese.  And bacon sandwiches.  And poached eggs and avo on toast cos I’m like totally fashionable
  18. But I feel great! Have so much more energy!  Fit into clothes better!  And I know all my friends and colleagues really appreciate me pointing all the negatives in their choice of sandwich or plate of spaghetti carbonara
  19. I’m not eating bread or pasta so can definitely afford to drink a bit more this evening, I’m in a calorie deficit after all
  20. So hungover.  Can’t move.  Can’t leave the house for supplies.  But I’m hungry.  Oo there’s some sliced bread in the freezer…

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Hi Tinder, we need to talk…

Big news people – I have deleted Tinder.  And no, it’s not because I have a boyfriend (here’s hoping).  Call it boredom, call it becoming disenchanted with variations on ‘hey babe, wanna come over?’ messages, call it giving up on the whole dating thing for a while…  Whatever you want to call it, it’s happened.  Ciao Tinder, it’s been an interesting couple of years, but I’m done.

How do I feel?  Any withdrawal symptoms?  Other than missing the occasional ego boost – no!  Perhaps it’s because this is the first time in ages that I’m not on tenterhooks the whole time, waiting to hear back from some random guy who looks vaguely attractive in photos, and might even be attractive in person, but will inevitably turn out to be a big disappointment.  I can focus on other things (friends, exercise, career, writing etc.) and not worry that committing to Thursday and Friday night plans will take out the two key date nights of the week.

My Tinder experience has been something of an emotional rollercoaster, and while I certainly could have done without the lows, everything has overall been a learning experience.  Heartbreak – it sucks but ultimately time heals everything.  Being ghosted – the guys who do this aren’t worth your time or energy.  The man who you date for a while but doesn’t want to commit to anything – enjoy it for what it is and don’t get too attached.  That person who calls you three times before you’ve even met and says that you might be The One – run for the hills.  I think it’s fair to say I’ve had a very broad experience of the thing…

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If anything, Tinder has made me realise what I do and don’t want in a relationship.  When I first downloaded the app way back in 2013, I had recently been through a break-up and needed a distraction and a little self-validation (don’t be shocked, nearly everyone does it).  Those criteria were quickly filled, and gradually my attitude towards dating changed.  I’m now not ashamed to say that I want a boyfriend, but it’s taken me this long to realise that I’m not going to find one on Tinder.

So here we are, new year, new attitude, and a phone with more memory due to a lack of dating apps.  I’m giving this whole ‘once you stop looking it will happen’ thing a go, and am already far happier as a result.  And to highlight the fact that I’ve done the right thing, something popped up on Buzzfeed today that proves you never really know who you’re talking to:

Last Autumn I matched with Jake – attractive doctor, from Surrey, based just outside of London.  Jake also had a husky.  Jake basically was the dream.  We exchanged messages over Tinder for a couple of days, by which time I thought it was appropriate to suggest transferring to WhatsApp and gave him my number.  I never heard from him again.  Sick burn dude…  But hey, these things happen.  Jake was promptly forgotten, no doubt replaced by the next Tinder Tom/Dick/Asshat to come my way.  It wasn’t until my lunch-hour scroll through Buzzfeed today that I remembered all about Jake.  Why?  Because Jake is actually called Mikhail Varshavski, is a doctor based in New Jersey, has been named People Magazine’s ‘Sexiest Doctor Alive’, and has over 1.2million Instagram followers.  He’s on Buzzfeed because he’s offering up the opportunity to go on a date with him at a charity auction.

So yeah, I got well and truly catfished.  ‘Jake’ had simply used Dr Varshavski’s Instagram photos to create a profile.  What could be easier?  The moral of the story is: if something’s too good to be true, it probably is.

What can else can I say Tinder?  It’s not you it’s me, I’m just not in the right head space at the moment, you’re taking up too much of my time, I just want to be on my own for a bit, and every other break-up platitude that I’ve heard in the last three years.  It’s been a journey, but we’re through.

Delete

 

Don’t be a bitch

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be present at the annual Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year Awards (one of the many perks of my job).  Despite the title of the event, it hadn’t really struck me beforehand that this was a real celebration of women (perhaps because my involvement in the event beforehand was concentrated on a largely male client guest list). So when Nicole Kidman, Sienna Miller, Ruth Wilson et al all accepted their awards with speeches centred on inspiring women and female empowerment, it made me sit up, stop ogling Dominic West, and listen a bit harder.  And there was a point in Kate Winslet’s speech that really struck a chord with me:

‘As women, let’s all be kinder to one another’

Kindness.  As a concept it’s not so hard to grasp, but reality makes it a far more fleeting thing.  I will admit that I’m occasionally prone to bitching about other girls behind their backs, and I know I’m far from being the only one who does it.  Do I feel better at the time?  Sometimes.  Do I feel like a shitty person afterwards?  Always.  Working in a predominantly female environment is an incredibly inspiring thing (we even have a woman as a CEO, which shouldn’t be a rare thing but it is), however it can also be tense and toxic.  When senior female figures are throwing their weight around, there is a tendency to avoid facing the problem head-on, but moan and whinge and bitch in quiet corners with similarly belittled colleagues.  Someone on a different team from me has the right attitude: ‘kill with kindness’.  After all, lashing out and snappy comebacks will only result in more problems further down the line.

And what of our behaviour to girls we don’t even know?  Surely we should have every reason to be kind to strangers.  After all, if you don’t know them, why should there be any reason to act against them?  But recent events have shown that this isn’t the case.  About a month ago, I was on a second date with a guy, and we were at a bar in Soho.  Two girls walked past us on their way out, and one of them pushed a receipt with a note written on it into my date’s hand, saying ‘sorry I think you dropped this’, before exiting the bar.  Fortunately the guy in question had the good grace to show me the note, which read:

‘It looks like your [sic] on a really boring first date.  My friend thinks your [sic] really hot and you’d have way more fun with her.  Here’s her number 0776……’

Yeah, what a bitch.  I know that the dating game is a brutal one, but trying to poach another girl’s date while it’s actually happening?  Well, that’s a new low as far as I’m concerned.

The more I look, the more I see examples of women being unkind to other women.  Twitter feuds between female celebrities, girls sleeping with other girls’ boyfriends, slut shaming, body shaming, calculated attacks on another woman’s reputation…  Whatever happened to Girl Code and female solidarity??

The term ‘feminism’ has had a revival in recent years, helped along by films such as Suffragette and publications like ELLE and Stylist.  As a result, gender equality (or more accurately, inequality) has had more devoted column inches in the last few months.  There is still a gender pay gap, women are still losing their jobs because they decide to take maternity leave, and there is still a shocking amount of workplace sexual harassment cases being filed every year.  All of this makes me think: as women, we should be fighting together, not against one another.  In our daily lives, we have to contend with enough everyday sexism and general patriarchy awfulness that we really shouldn’t feel the need to turn against our fellow females as well.

Now I know that very few of us are saints, and being consistently kind and nice and forgiving is hard for even the most good-natured women out there.  But if you think about the amount of time and energy we’ve all given to bitching and negativity, imagine what we could all achieve if that was converted into something productive, creative and positive.

I’ve always prided myself on being honest and forthright, but it occurs to me that this isn’t always a good thing., especially when it comes to expressing negative opinions about other women.  I’m not one for false niceties, so the phrase ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all’ seems incredibly relevant at the moment.  I will not be false, but neither will I be unkind.

Will 2016 be the year of the non-bitch?  Only time will tell.

female solidarity

 

 

In a sweat about sweat

There are many things in life that annoy me (people who stand on the wrong side of the escalator, how single socks disappear in the washing machine, my face’s inability to stay shine-free, to name but a few…), but top of my list at the moment are photos of celebrities leaving the gym.  Anyone who occasionally (or frequently, no judgement here) glances at the Daily Mail Sidebar of Shame will know what I’m talking about.  It’s not the fact that they’re leaving the gym that grates, it’s the fact that they do so looking bloody flawless.  Michelle Keegan, Karlie Kloss, Khloe Kardashian…  There they are, waltzing out of Barry’s or Lomax or somewhere else uber-fashionable, without a sweat patch or damp sock in sight.

The caption ‘they’re just like us!’ will frequently accompany this type of photo.  Erm, if they were really ‘just like us’ they’d be leaving the gym with their sweaty hair scraped back into a bun, glugging water out of an un-branded plastic bottle that should have been thrown away about a month ago, trying to gauge precisely how many minutes it will be until they can be home and in the shower.  Because, unless you’re the kind of person who goes to the gym to sit on a cycling machine to read a magazine (don’t even get me started on this), anyone who goes to the gym will pant, sweat, strain and grimace themselves into an unholy dishevelled mess.  And this is a GOOD thing!  No one pushes themselves whilst maintaining perfect makeup.

Now, I’m not implying that these celebs go to the gym and spend an hour sitting on a Swiss ball filing their nails.  A quick glance at most Instagram accounts will show that when these women work out they do it properly, mostly with personal trainers, and they’ve got the bodies to show for it.  But I have a strong suspicion that an hour so passes between the end of the workout and the departure of the gym – plenty of time to shower, wash your hair, apply no-makeup-makeup and put on some leggings and a top that aren’t soggy and beginning to ferment.  Again, no judgement here.  I nearly always change into a fresh top and make a vague attempt to blow-dry some of the sweat off my hair before heading home, mainly to save my fellow-tube goers the experience of having to sit next to someone who is a walking advert for rehydration.  But there is no way I’m even near photo-ready.  I really wish Kim, Cheryl, Doutzen et al would just admit it with a breezy ‘hey y’all, just did a quick touch-up before facing the hordes of paparazzi outside, we are human after all’.

Sweating is normal.  Sweating is healthy.  Most things that make us sweat are normal and healthy.  The heat wave a couple of weeks ago made us realise that a) the UK is woefully inept at functional air conditioning and b) everyone sweats at some point.  I can understand how Karlie and co will make efforts to disguise any kind of bodily moisture at something like an evening event (note to self: NEVER wear grey), but when one is sweating in context, i.e. at the gym, why bother?  I’d have a hell of a lot more respect for any celebrity who posted a red-faced damp-haired no-makeup selfie along with the caption ‘couldn’t get my ass sweat in the same picture, soz #perspiration’.  If we can witness the fitness, why can’t we get the sweat too?

Guess which one is the celebrity...

Guess which one is the celebrity…

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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