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…

Bridget-Jones-Diary-Mad-About-The-Boy-05282013-lead01.jpg

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…

photo (14)

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

 

 

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

writers-block

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

Meat market

Much has been written about how men objectify women, how they treat us as objects, how they’re only interested in having sex with us et cetera.  While this may be true of some guys, I would never make a sweeping statement that encompasses every single person on the planet in possession of a penis.  However, in my more bored moments of Tinder swiping (left), I’ve noticed an increasing trend where men are beginning to objectify themselves.

Even ten minutes on Tinder will show you that there’s a huge proportion of guys who will put up photos of just their bodies and not their faces.  Gym selfies, mirror selfies, lying-in-bed selfies, abs-and-nothing-but-abs selfies…  Since when did from-the-neck-down become the most important part of this whole attraction thing??

man06

 

I mean, great, the guy’s got a good body, but I can’t be the only girl who thinks the following:

  1. What’s so bad about his face that he doesn’t want to show it?
  2. He clearly spends a lot of time in the gym and probably eats protein at every meal, resulting in a worrying lack of conversation about anything other than cleans, squats, reps and which whey powder is the most effective
  3. I don’t want someone who’s going to judge me when I eat a large Dominos in ten minutes flat

But back to the objectifying thing.  For hundreds of years women have been under pressure to conform to certain body types, but this has now extended to men.  Blame Abercrombie or David Beckham or the current (awful) trend for ultra low-cut V-neck shirts – the fact is, more and more men are spending more and more on their appearance.  You only need to spend an hour in your local gym to see a plethora of pumped-up protein-packing peacocks grimacing in the mirror whilst lifting an assortment of weights.  And you only need to spend a minute on Tinder to see that suddenly, the body is the only thing that counts these days.

man11man04

 

Granted, I’d be the last person to go out with someone who was obese, but isn’t there something a bit grotesque about a guy who looks like he’s taking a shit the whole time?  I’m all for working out and taking care of yourself and taking pride in your body, nearly all of us do it to some extent, but this obsession with body fat percentage and CrossFit and looking like Arnie back in the day has all got a bit… much.

Clearly, these guys who choose to post headless photos of themselves are proud of their achievements, and if that’s what you’re into, then fine.  But by doing this, isn’t it the female equivalent of posting a mirror selfie in just underwear?   Just as a lot of guys will make the assumption that this girl in underwear is ‘easy’ and ‘up for it’, girls as just as likely to make the assumption that the topless guy has nothing to offer apart from his body.  To me it says ‘I’ve got a great six-pack but sod-all conversation’.

But hey, you could always talk to this guy about steaks, bikes, and how he’s way better at fake tanning than you are…

man08man09

 

Teenage dreams

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

hickey

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

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

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

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

Can I buy you a drink?

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

So my response is this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

chatup

 

Serious case of cba

Much has been said about how our generation expects everything NOW, whether it’s money, fame, success, happiness, love etc.  Most of us have been told that the world is our oyster, and as  result there’s an expectation of things to come to us freely and easily with little or no effort from our side.  And I’m beginning to think that this attitude extends to sex.

Now, it’s nothing new that people want to have sex, and that they want it often.  Nor is it surprising that not everyone wants to invest in three dates and dinner in order to get down and dirty.  But recent events have highlighted just how lazy some people (and yes I’m talking about guys here) are when it comes to getting laid.

I understand that Tinder has gained a certain reputation for being used for easy hook-ups, and I have nothing against that as a concept.  After all, that radius setting is there for a reason right?  But I’ve really begun to question what kind of girl it takes to receive a message from a guy saying ‘hey hot stuff, fancy coming round to my place?’ and replying with ‘sure, I’ll be there in 10’.  Now I’m by no means frigid, but I really do draw the line at going round to the house of someone I’ve never met before just to get it on.  In the past week, I’ve had two guys offer me their, erm, ‘hospitality’, without ever having met them and with only a few brief messages exchanged.

Tinder2

Or

Tinder1

Call me a cynic, but I’m pretty sure I know what ‘small spoon’ and ‘massage’ are alluding to.  So having gently rebuffed these oh-so generous offers, did I hear from either guy again?  Nope.  So that’s it?  A girl you’ve never met before doesn’t come round to your house the minute you ask her and that’s as much effort you’re willing to put in?  Like I said, I totally understand that the majority of Tinder users (especially the male ones) are just in it for an easy lay, but this is really testing the boundaries of laziness.

It also makes me wonder if this approach ever works.  I’d like to think that all girls are sensible enough to not drop their knickers at the snap of a Tinder lothario’s fingers, but the realist in me knows that somewhere out there some ladies are doing just that, and in the process ruining it for the rest of us.  Also, wouldn’t that be the most awkward situation ever?

Tinder Girl: Hey, you’re Tinder Guy right?

Tinder Guy: Sure am, come on in.

Tinder Girl: So, um, nice place you’ve got here…

Tinder Guy: Thanks… would you like a cup of tea or shall we just get straight to it?

I mean, it’s one step short of invoicing the guy for services rendered.

So, Alex/Luke/every other Tinder chap out there, sorry but you’re going to have to try a bit harder.

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!

v-day