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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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

 

 

Stop using the C-word

Most people will be familiar with the term ‘closure’.  I think Urban Dictionary sums it up pretty well:

Closure

Whilst Definitions 3, 5 and 6 are perhaps a little unkind, I will agree wholeheartedly with the rest of them.  And I would also add that ‘closure’, in reality, is basically non-existent.

Relationships will end for any number of reasons, and unless you’re in the rare situation where the desire to end the relationship is entirely mutual, there will be one person who is left confused and hurt.  While the person who instigates the break-up might think that they have given valid and plausible reasons for wanting to become a lone wolf once more, the person being ditched is only going to have numerous questions and will be left with lists of what-ifs and whys.  This is where the need for closure comes in.  Let me tell you now – you’re not going to get it.  A bit harsh?  Maybe, but let me explain.

In the last couple of years, I’ve been what I would term as involved with (i.e. exclusively dating/in a relationship with) a handful of men, and for the most part it’s been the guy who has instigated the break-up.  Pretty much all of them have been variations of the ‘I just don’t want to be in a relationship’ theme, but each time I’ve been denied the opportunity to have a satisfactory conversation where all of my questions (some rational, some not) are answered.  And I get it – in the times where I’ve been the one doing the breaking-up, I haven’t exactly gone into a monologue explaining all of my thoughts and feelings on the matter – you want to get it over and done with as quickly as possible!  So having been on both sides of the fence, I think I can say with confidence that you’re not going to get closure, and the notion of a ‘clean break’ is equally as abstract.

There’s no question that the person being dumped will be the most hurt, the most angry, and the most determined to find some sort of reasoning behind the break-up.  This has certainly been the case for me in recent years.  To me, a guy simply changing his mind about his relationship status wasn’t good enough – there had to be a CAUSE or a REASON.  Did he meet someone else?  Did he feel that way even when he invited me to spend the weekend with his parents?  Have his guy mates convinced him that having a girlfriend makes him less of a lad?  But, short of turning up on various doorsteps and demanding an explanation (NB never do this), these questions will forever go unanswered.  And this is where Definition 5 is most pertinent – claiming a need for closure is basically another way of saying that you haven’t accepted that the relationship is over.  Think about it – no one who is over their ex will whine ‘but I just need closure!’.  I’m as guilty of this as anyone else, but now I’m beginning to see the error of my ways.

Break-ups are annoying at best, heart-breaking and awful at worst.  I know I’m not the only one who has lost weeks or months of their life to moping, crying, and avoiding rom-coms at all cost.  But all of this has taught me a valuable lesson: the sooner you accept that the relationship is over, and that your ex isn’t going to suddenly have a change of heart and beg you to take them back, the sooner you will start to feel better.  Discourage use of the C-word, take the moral high road, and maybe we’ll all stop feeling like we’re missing something that we’re actually better off without.

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.

twenties1

And the best policy is…?

No doubt about it, dating has been an education in all sorts of ways, and one particular lesson that comes to light again and again is how to tell someone that you’re no longer interested.  This will come about because of one of two reasons:

  1. You’ve been on one or two dates, there’s nothing particularly wrong with the guy (at least, most of the time…), but there’s a bit of a chemistry fail and you don’t find yourself wanting to see him again.
  2. He, for unknown reasons, decides that seeing you again isn’t the best way to spend his time.

Either way, fair enough.  But how to communicate this lack of interest to the other person?

In my experience, the age-old just-stop-replying-to-messages-and-hope-they-get-the-hint tactic has been pretty effective, if not a rather annoying one.  And yes I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end.  I’ll admit it’s a rather cowardly way out of a tricky situation, and can leave you or the guy wondering for weeks about what happened, what did I do wrong etc.  Perhaps it depends on how many dates you’ve been on…

  • One date: not really much to worry about there and if he thinks it wasn’t great then the girl almost definitely thinks the same.
  • Two dates: a slight kick in the teeth but hey at least you haven’t wasted too much time/energy/money.
  • Anything beyond that: heellooooo a little explanation wouldn’t go amiss here!

I know I’m not the only girl who needs some sort of closure, and being a practical type of person I would rather know what went wrong so I can make appropriate efforts to not repeat the same mistake in the future.

Then there’s the honesty tactic, otherwise known as the ‘it was great to meet you but I think it’s best if we call it a day/just stay friends’ approach.  I’ve only ever been on the giving end of this, and it’s been met with varied reactions.  On the whole, most of the replies I’ve received have been along the lines of ‘ok no worries it was nice to talk to you best of luck’.  After all, what can you really say to someone who just isn’t interested in seeing you again?  Then there have been the slightly bitter ones: ‘so glad I wasted a Friday night with you’ or similar.  I get it, the male ego is a fragile thing.  Admittedly, there might be slightly more diplomatic ways of getting one’s message across, but overall you’re still saying the same thing, no matter how much you sugar-coat it.

Ultimately, there isn’t really a way of winning here.  Silence is met with confusion, honesty is met with resentment.  Personally, I lean towards Option B.  I can understand that telling someone outright that you’re not keen on the idea of a second date can be a tad brutal, but at the end of the day isn’t it saving everyone an awful lot of time and emotional energy?

Last autumn I was dating a guy for a couple of months and all seemed to be going well until he suddenly just stopped replying to text messages.  Whilst I wasn’t particularly upset by this, it did leaving me questioning my words and actions for a few weeks afterwards.  Was it something I said or did?  Was it the fact that I was a fair bit younger?  Did he meet someone else?  I guess I’ll never know.  What I do know is that I would have appreciated some sort of explanation behind his abrupt disappearance, no matter how hurtful it might have been.  In the long run, aren’t we better off knowing these things and learning and growing as people as a result?

Guys, you should all know by know that nearly every girl goes in for a bit of self-flagellation in these kinds of situations.  So do us all a favour: grow some cojones, and just be honest.  Seriously, it will reduce the rate of drunk texts and tearful phone calls by a huge proportion.

honesty

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’

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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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