Thursday, 31 December 2009

Tried and tested.....the year that was 2009!

‘We just want you to be happy,’ were the words resonating off many of my coupled up friends lips this year. After being dumped by my so-called Mr Perfect I went on a dating spree that nobody could have foreseen, which resulted in the good, the bad and sometimes, well only very occasionally, the ugly.

But I learnt that being single doesn’t have to equal unhappiness. Just because Bridget Jones felt like her life was incomplete without a man it doesn’t mean that we should feel sorry for ourselves and cry into our wine glasses if dating doesn’t turn into marriage. Like we all annoyingly get told when we’re in the first stages of misery after being dumped - ‘there’s plenty more fish in the sea’ – I can promise you there is.

So after immortalising my misery of being dumped into print form (it’s very therapeutic I can assure you!) thanks to Charlotte Ward and her lovely little dating book called It’s not me, it’s you, and then proceeding to date half of London this year (for research purposes only of course) I can safely report back and let you in on a couple of things I’ve learnt along the way.

Number one being that ‘just settling’ isn’t big, nor is it clever. Unless of course you want to wake up after five years and realise that Mr Okay isn’t the one you imagined marrying. Settling is the easy option. Been there, done it and fortunately I made the escape. None of the relationships I have ever been in were with Mr Right. And I stupidly wasted years with them, all because I was scared of being on my own.

Then there’s just the plain fact that some guys are a**holes - and usually we have to learn the hard way. And however long you wait, only if a miracle occurs, will he ever dump her for you, turn into Mr nice guy or ever want you for more than just sex.

Dumping someone after three dates is much easier to do than an hour before you hit the altar. Okay I admit it is horrible telling someone ‘its not you, it’s me’ after a few dates, and even worse when you’re on the receiving end. Only a few months ago I was in this predicament. How should I do it? What shall I say? I shamelessly did it by text. I felt guilty. He probably hated me for a few days. But when its done and dusted and your not guilt tripped into ‘just one more date’ then you can get on with finding someone who does fit the bill.

Some men are just very good actors (think the slime ball that is Jude Law) - and that’s just what Mr Posh guy was like. Remember him? The one who’s parents lived between ‘Paris, Milan and LA – darling’. Only on very rare occasions am I duped by a guy who pretends he has found the love of his life on our first date, gets me hooked and only returns my phone calls after my anger has reached boiling point. Damn you Mr posh guy – I never wanted to go to Nobu and Whisky Mist with you anyway!

And you really can’t please everyone, because when it comes down to it we all have different tastes. Mr Jenson Button look-alike may be good enough for you, and your Mum may coo over him, but Miss cynical friend may shake her head and disapprove even before she has uttered a word in his direction! So as long as you like him/ fancy him and he doesn’t suffer from axe murderer or a total twat syndrome then sorry your friends opinions don't really count!

Because in my friends heads nobody will ever be good enough for me anyway. Well okay maybe only in the unusual circumstances that they are either inappropriate dating material (e.g. boss man!) unobtainable (i.e. men who are engaged or have kids!) or are friends of my friends, who of course come with glowing testimonials (‘they’re so funny,’ ‘he’s total marriage material’) from you guessed it - the friends in question!

And the biggest rules, by far, I’ve learnt this year are never to mix business with pleasure (cue awkward moments with boss man!) to never date a guy who shares cross trainers and treadmills with you (sweat and looking good just don’t go) never go backwards (exes and old flames included) never fall for the town's biggest player and definitely under no circumstances should you date anyone who is outside your desired age range (yep that means Zac Effron is out of the picture too - damn!!)

And if you think you’ve had some cringeworthy dating moments this year – here are just a few things I’ve had to painstakingly get through this year:

Bumping into Mr ‘I forgot to mention I had a girlfriend’ - with his girlfriend, after I had snogged him the previous weekend (cue sheepish hello from both of us while girlfriend looks on unknowingly).

Turning a fire engine shade of red when a guy I dated, then dumped me, turned up with flowers for me, in front of work colleagues, almost a month and a half after a lame dumping excuse that he was ‘too busy’ to see me.

Finding out that Mr Perfect had stumbled across my Mr Perfect blog!

Turning up to a date only to see a previous date meeting a new date (yep the point when you realise you’ve been dating too much!)

Bumping into Mr Perfect at the gym, with his new girlfriend (on several occasions)

Having two exes in the same vicinity (worst still is when they start talking to each other!)

And that’s not even mentioning the amount of times I fell over in my heels (usually after a couple of vinos) got all tongue tied when a guy just glanced in my direction and the amount of texts I've painfully waited to be answered.

But they’ve all been worth it for the times I’ve turned up to dates shaking with nerves only to have an amazing time, dancing the night away, sharing memorable first kisses, getting extremely drunk (only on very rare occasions I can assure you!) and sometimes having the best first dates that most people can only dream about.

So to all those who just want me to be happy – worry not! Even though I’m single I am officially happy. And happy to keep on dating – right into 2010.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The secrets of dating…

If we were all given a manual on how to date, have a relationship and live happily ever after with our true love - wouldn’t life be great.

Or would it? Isn’t half the fun of dating making a few mistakes here and there, meeting a few wrong-uns and tasting a bit of bad dating, so when Mr Right does comes along we appreciate it and realise what we do and don’t want.

So when something or someone alleges to know what ‘men want’ out of a relationship I become a little cynical. And that certain someone came in the form of a dating coach (think Hitch) last week, when he huddled at least fifty women into a room and claimed he was going to give us the secrets of ‘finding the guy’, ‘getting the guy’ and ‘keeping the guy.’

So of course we all waited with bated breath, on the edges of our seats and pens poised ready to unearth the shattering truth about what men want out of us women. And as he trawled through stories of him skydiving, women who had everything but the man and his own personal dating successes (yep he talked a lot about himself!) the realization that most of it was about common sense and confidence made us feel a little disheartened.

Why? Because we felt that there was going to be that one secret which would bag us a boyfriend at the click of our fingers. We thought we’d find that special ingredient which would make any guy fall in love with us and keep him wanting us forever. But in truth it’s all about going out into the big bad world of dating - having a few tales to tell about our dating disasters and having enough confidence to go back out there and put what we’ve learnt to good use.

When I first started dating – about ten years ago, I thought it was perfectly fine to ditch my mates for a man, become all needy when he didn’t want me and cry whenever he so much as raised his voice in my direction. At nearly 28 I only occasionally ditch my mates for a man (ahem…), never become needy unless my cat ignores me and only ever shed a tear when it’s the sad part in a movie or he decides to dump me in horrible circumstances (i.e – ever!!).

And how can we create a set of rules when everyone is so different? The playing hard to get thing may work on one guy while another may take it as a sign you’re not that into them. And while mister serial texter doesn’t mind you cramming up his inbox with sweet messages mister technophobe may wonder why you’re bugging him every hour with updates about your daily routine.

None of us are born with the ability to date well or form the perfect relationships - like anything it comes with time and experience. We’re all going to kick ourselves when we realize that sweet guy was in fact the biggest player and the ‘nice guy’ we were dating was more like a brother than ‘husband material’ – but hey, at least if you’ve been there you hopefully won’t go back for seconds.

So once we’ve experienced the highs and lows of dating it all boils down to common sense and confidence. And we just have to hope that it doesn’t all go flying out of the window when we like someone. We’ve all made excuses for a date who turns up an hour late, one that never phones us, or a guy that just won’t commit. But it’s about having the confidence to remember what we want and how we should be treated. Because when a guy turns up that can be bothered it’s definitely worth waiting for.

So shhhh.....don’t tell everyone, but I think the real secret to dating is to keep at it. You may pick up a bit of good advice from the occasional dating book or a so-called dating coach, who thinks he knows the secrets of 'getting the guy', but isn’t learning through your own mistakes much more fun? Allow yourself to trip up occasionally, then pick yourself up and arrange that next date - after all, like me, you’ve probably been through the worst that can happen already.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

‘Do you come here often?’

I’ve always suffered slightly when it comes to flirting. Like the time I fell off a chair while trying to look sexy. Or when I smiled at a guy with a mouth full of cake. And then there was the ‘skirt tucked into the knickers’ incident. In fact, most of my flirting history is like an A-Z of ‘how not to win over the guy’.

And when a friend told me recently to give my latest ‘maybe’ a wink I couldn’t think of anything more disastrous. Without even attempting to do it I knew I’d probably just look like a girl with an eye defect rather than ‘possible date material’. I’m just not cool enough to pull it off.

In fact when I like someone I turn into an embarrassed teenager – I muddle up my words, go bright red if they happen to even turn their head in my direction and if I don’t trip, fall down a pot hole or accidentally head butt them (I have actually done this many times!) – I’d be very surprised. So when I was offered to attend a flirting seminar recently I didn’t need asking twice.

And apparently a bit of flirting every day helps us work, rest and play. Okay I made that bit up – but according to Jean (who runs the flirtology sessions) flirting shouldn’t just be confined to the nights when we’re guzzling down the vino. Why wait to flirt when your next date could be at your local bus stop, buying his ready meal for one in your local supermarket or perusing Balka’s latest artwork at the Tate?

But for a tongue tied no hoper like me, where do you even start? ‘Do you come here often?’ is too tacky, or just downright weird at a bus stop, ‘Get your coat you’ve pulled,’ isn’t really the start of a great romance and ‘Hi, I’m a freelance journalist,’ is probably a bit too much information when he’s just trying to buy his weekly shop.

“Be relevant,” Jean told us, “If you’re both in the wine aisle – ask if he can recommend a wine.” Wow who would have thought it was that easy? “Even if you start with a bad opener they’ll never remember,” she went on to say – phew that means even with my bad flirting experiences I may just have a few successes too.

But men, being men of course don't quite ‘get it’, even if were throwing all the right signals their way. For us an arm brush or even a ‘hi’ in our direction means they like us, for them it’s simply just a ‘hi’ and an arm brush. So if guys aren’t that great at detecting our flirting signals does that mean we should just pack our bags and go home empty handed? Nope, sometimes you just have to spell it out to them. As one man I spoke to recently said, “We’re not mind readers – if you want something just tell us.”

So what if we want a little bit more than just dating? When I started seeing Boss man recently nothing but dating was really on my mind. I was in a state of serial dating where three in one week wasn’t unusual. But after a while they all seem to merge into one another. Boss man stood out. Our first date was probably one of the best first dates I’ve been on and there was just something between us.

And as the dates kept on coming and other guys started dropping off my radar the more I wondered where it was going. I wasn’t demanding a five year plan which involved marriage, a mortgage and two kids from him, just a reassurance that he liked me. I was used to men making an effort with me. One guy I dated even googled ‘places to go on dates’ for me.

So when I said ‘I’m not dating anyone else,’ I thought it was the hint that would make him realise that I quite liked him – but either he was ignoring the ‘where is this going’ conversation or he was just being a typical man. So of course I had to bite the bullet and have ‘the chat’ with him – without, I hope, sounding too girly and pathetic.

It didn’t end like a fairytale should, but at least I knew where I stood – and isn’t that better than a ‘maybe’ or ‘I think he likes me, but I’m not sure.’ Life’s too short to be wondering if he’s on the same lines as you.

So Boss man didn’t have longevity, but maybe the ‘one’ is wandering down my favourite aisle in Sainsbury’s (the cake aisle if you were curious) or waiting for the 7.48 to St Pancras. I just need to be brave enough to not fluff my opening line, keep the conversation about wine/art/trains going and hope it doesn’t go horribly wrong so I have to either change my supermarket, stop my regular visits to art galleries (okay I never go anyway) or find an alternative route into London – fancy a hitchhiker anyone?

Wish me luck.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The eX factor

I have a recurring problem – an ex. However hard I try to shake him off he just keeps on coming back. Up until the other day I didn’t think I was friends with any of my ex’s, not really out of choice, more out of awkwardness. I dumped the first one and he was so bitter he deleted me out of his life, the second one, well we’ll come back to him later and the third, he dumped me, so enough said.

When you break up with someone the old cliché comes out ‘I hope we can still be friends’. Maybe you really think it’s possible, because of course you can’t imagine life without them. But after the uncomfortable break up sex, a few awkward conversations later, and a new girlfriend thrown in for good measure - you wondered why you ever thought being friends with them was such a good idea.

So when an ex text me last week saying he wanted to ‘catch up’ I just rolled my eyes. It wasn’t the first time he had popped up in my inbox – ever since we split up over a year and a half ago he’s text pestered me. But I really have no desire to text him back let alone see him.

So why has he got it into his head that we’re friends? Or is he after more than this? Sex? Reconciliation? Don’t you dump someone for a reason? I’m sure my reason wasn’t so that I could catch up with him over coffee one day, have sex on an occasional basis or get back together with him after a year and a half.

But the problem is I’m just too nice to my ex’s. I text them back with an ‘oh I’m so busy’ instead of ‘leave me alone before I get a restraining order.’ And I go through the polite ‘hi, how are you’s?’ when I bump into them, when I’d rather just blank them and forget they ever existed.

Then there’s the ex’s that dumped you and come crawling back, after a) they realise they’ve made a big mistake, b) they couldn’t find anyone better or c) they’re drunk. A friend of mine has had all her ex’s admit that dumping her was a mistake. If only my life was that great. But when you’ve moved on and you have a new love interest on the go a drunken text message declaring ‘whyyyy di I dump u? I bl**dy uve u!’ doesn’t really mean a whole lot to you anymore.

And it’s always the same when you meet up with an ex – it’s as though you’re competing to see who has the best life: ‘I have this amazing job,’ ‘My new girlfriend is gorgeous,’ ‘I’ve started at the gym you know – I’ve lost three stone’ and on and on it goes until you’ve both made yourselves sound like movie stars with perfect A list lives! And of course you refrain from telling them about those bad dates you keep going on, or how you’re likely to lose your job in the New Year, because that would make you look like a loser in front of an ex, right?

I remember a one sided conversation with one ex where he rattled off how his life had changed for the better since our split - it’s a shame the moaning idiot couldn’t have got it right when I had been with him. And friends have told me similar stories about how ex’s have sorted their lives out since they’ve split with them – so is it just a bid to impress us or was us dumping them a catalyst to make them, finally, realise just how awful their lives had become?

Of course some ex’s can be friends – but they’re the brave ones. Maybe it works for old Bruce and Demi but just knowing I’ve seen an ex naked, bared my soul to him, argued with him about how to cook an egg/pasta/anything edible and endured a Sunday lunch with his false teethed grandma puts him way outside friend territory.

I think the best theory is that an ex is an ex for a reason – whether you’re thinking about taking them back or becoming ‘friends’ with them. Who wants a friend, who was once a boyfriend, breaking down on your wedding day and declaring his love for you right before you say ‘I do’? As for my ex I think I’m going to have to pluck up the courage and tell him, very bluntly, that he has no chance of being my friend, let alone anything more – either that or this blog may just happen to appear in his inbox any day now!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

“It’s not you….it’s them”

When I was 14 I dumped a guy because my best friend ‘apparently’ didn’t like him. Being all grown up I would like to say my friends opinions no longer count – but I’d just be lying.

Not that I want to scare any potential dates or ‘boyfriends’ away – but my exes don’t have a great track record with my friends. My first boyfriend was too quiet, my second was too insecure and the third, well lets just say my friends thought he batted for the other side.

And whenever I mention one guy I dated a while ago it’s as though it brings back horrible memories for my friends. They shake their heads in despair, give a little shudder or sometimes even a loud grunt – they may as well just say to me, ‘Honestly, what were you thinking??’

When you break up with someone it’s never good to hear your friends say, “There was always something not quite right about him” – it’s that kick in the teeth which makes you wonder how long they were ‘pretending’ to like him. So when they go one step further – like breaking open the bubbly, dancing round their office in sheer delight or shouting from the roof tops, “Hallelujah she’s finally come to her senses,” it leaves you a little scared about how they’ll judge the next one.

So when I’m dating it makes it that little bit harder, not only do I have to fancy them and think they’re potential boyfriend material but I also have to weigh out the pros and cons that my friends will no doubt be assessing when it comes to that possible introduction. Will they like his hair? Will they think his dress sense is on the ‘slightly gay’ side? Will they ‘get’ his personality or just brush it off as arrogance? And most importantly, will he have that likeability factor which has been the downfall for so many of my other exes.

Of course I’ve judged friend’s boyfriends in the past, sometimes a little too quickly, and other times with good reason. When a friend was smitten with an ‘I love myself’ model I just had that feeling that he was no good. Turns out I was right – he was an ‘I love myself’ model who liked to sleep with other women, while my poor friend’s heart broke into a million pieces.

And it’s not just me who waits for their friend’s approval on their latest squeeze. I’ve had friends go from not sure to falling head-over-heels with their boyfriend after friends gave him the thumbs up. Similarly there has been many a broken heart when the Mr Maybes just didn’t quite live up to our expectations. And seriously isn’t this one of the reasons facebook was invented? Whenever I so much as mention a date my friends flock to facebook to find out if he’s ‘my type’.

So I’m wondering if I should just introduce any potential ‘boyfriends’ to my friends on say, the second date? It may scare the s**t out of them and make them wonder if they’ve stepped into a scene from How to Lose a guy in 10 days but if they’re a no-no then at least I can get rid of them before anyone gets emotionally attached.

My friends can give me a wink or a nod if he’s a winner or just direct me to the nearest exit if it’s a big thumbs down. Dates may think that it’s the start of something beautiful, but if they so much as attempt a bad joke or an offer of getting a round isn’t mentioned, then a third date may fail to materialise.

You would think that, “Sorry it’s not you…it’s them,” isn’t really a valid reason for getting rid of him, but at least you’re being honest, and who wants to run the risk of upsetting the best friend because their man has wonky eyebrows that gives her the creeps?

So before you trust your own judgement and think, ‘Well he can’t be that bad if I like him’, then think again – remember, it’s not only you who you’re dating for, it’s those lovely friends of yours too.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Are you a Rules girl?

I’ve always been impatient. Whether it’s waiting for an egg to boil or for a guy to text me back. But impatience doesn’t bode well if you’re playing by The Rules and waiting for someone to ask you out.

If you’re not familiar with The Rules it’s supposed to be the ultimate dating book for women. Written by two Americans back in the mid 90’s it made women all over the world stampede to the book shops in their attempt to bag Mr Right. Primarily based on playing hard to get - it teaches women in 35 steps, how to go from date material to wife material.

The Rule’s main theme – just like the book He’s not that into you is if he doesn’t ask you out then he’s not worth dating. And some of my friends swear by it.

But I’m not so sure. Not because I don’t believe most of it to be true, but just because sometimes men can be a bit stupid, shy or just downright lazy.

A guy from my gym has been exchanging glances with me for a little over two years! He’s cute, but every time I so much as get 10 metres from him he seems to quicken his pace and vanish. At first it was quite funny, but now it’s slightly irritating – I mean if he likes me then why not just get some balls and talk to me.

And of course it’s great to be asked out, but like us men probably find the whole situation a little daunting too. I knew there was something between me and a potential date recently – but it took numerous text messages and a blatant ‘yes I quite like you’ message in big flashing lights for him to even contemplate asking me out!

Which is why sometimes it’s a real breath of fresh air when someone does actually ask you. So I was quite impressed the other week when a guy I'd met only five minutes previously said out of the blue: “Can I have your number?” There was no beating around the bush, no “I might see you around” and definitely no three hour long conversation before a date materialised.

So maybe The Rules do work. But if you’re playing by the rules does it mean you can’t even approach men? A friend who follows The Rules right down to the last full stop recoiled in horror when I mentioned a flirting seminar I might attend, “A rules girl would never approach a man,” she gasped. But what if he was drop dead gorgeous? What if he didn’t see you and what if he was ‘the one’? Would you just let him go? …just because a book told you to play it cool.

Undoubtedly the rule I love the most is: ‘If he doesn’t call, then he’s not interested. Period.’ We’ve all been there – making excuses for a guy who hasn’t called or text. My dumbest excuse recently, after many unanswered texts, was that the guy I was dating didn’t have the ability to text on his phone - as my sister looked on frowning at my stupidity I knew I was just lying to myself!

Then there are the rules I’m not so keen on. Because there’s playing hard to get then there’s being stupid. The Rules state that a guy who wants to date you on the weekend must ask you out by Wednesday. Sorry, but why? Are you really going to turn down a hot date with him if he asks you out on Thursday? Fair enough if you’re his Saturday evening ‘last resort’ call giving you ten minutes to get ready, but most likely wouldn’t we just be kicking ourselves for turning down a perfectly good date?

Even if The Rules seems like too much hard work and you think game playing isn’t for you – we have to admit that there’s always a certain amount of rules and game playing we live by without even thinking about it. Like the last time we waited for at least a few hours to text him back, or how we painfully waited for him to phone first – just to prove that our life doesn’t revolve around him.

So although slightly old fashioned, the basis of what The Rules implies is true. If he’s not asking you out, whether you think he likes you or not – then can he really be that into you? But whether you decide to play it out rule by rule until you catch a winner, I suppose, is up to you.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Does date number 2 mean forever?

Once you get past date number one that’s when you start to freak out a bit. When you’ve been single for a while you start embracing it – going out when you want, dating three guys in one week (okay maybe that’s just me!) and having Sex and the City on constant replay. In fact, when you’re single you can get away with doing what ever the hell you want, whenever you want, without the fear of upsetting the other half!

So when you agree to date number two you’re in that ‘slightly unnerving’ territory. You’ve decided not to follow your normal protocol of ignoring their texts/emails/phone calls until they get the message that ‘you’re just not that into them’ and instead you’re wondering if they could in fact be ‘the one’.

Date number two either says, ‘yeah I like you, lets see where it goes’ or ‘I wanna have your babies’ (Natasha Bedingfield style!) depending of course on how long you’ve been single for and how much you like them.

So, should we be embracing date numero deux or running for the hills?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say anything beyond date number one scares the c**p out of me. In relationship terms date number two shows signs of commitment or endurance - heck you may as well be agreeing to marry them! After date number one and beyond you can no longer perform a disappearing act on them that any worthy illusionist would be proud of, and neither can you ‘pretend’ to have lost their phone number.

When you get into date number two, three and beyond territory it all just becomes a bit more serious. And as a friend has kindly pointed out - more than one date and you have to officially give them a reason for breaking up.

So will it be harder to go your separate ways if after date number four you decide that, actually, you hate the way he coughs. Mr Date number four would demand a reason why. Can you reveal that his slightly girly splutter drives you round the bend? Or is it just best to bring out those pathetic excuses exes have used on you in the past, which range from the slightly cheesy – “it’s not you, its me” to the downright pathetic ‘I have no balls’ spiel – “I think the spark’s gone.”

Of course it’s fine when you both know that date number two doesn’t mean anything. On a recent second date we both knew it wasn’t going to end in marriage and 2.4 children – mainly due to me declaring that I had two other dates lined up that week and him boasting about his plans to marry a stripper in Vegas. A fun night was had by all and we both went out separate ways knowing that a relationship wasn’t on the cards – but second dates don’t always end up this way!

For the last few months I have tried to avoid second dates like the plague. ‘He wasn’t my type’, ‘he lived too far away’ and ‘there was no chemistry’ were just some of the excuses I used when friends asked if date number two was on the horizon. Even though I was dating I knew it was just a bit of fun rather than a life long commitment.

And of course it all boils down to if you’re really ready for a new relationship? Do you (and of course I’m talking about myself here) really want to get into all that mushy, lovey dovey complicated stuff that you’ve been avoiding for the last god knows how long?

And what does a second date mean for him? Are we just second date fun or potential wife material?

Can you just enjoy someone company without thinking long term? Or before you know it are you meeting their friends, family and being classed as a ‘cute couple’ with people dropping marriage and kids into the conversation.

Going from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’ - (and that’s just on facebook!) is a BIG deal! Nearly as life changing as being dumped - so of course we’re going to be a teeny tiny bit freaked out at the prospect of it!

Being in a relationship changes your life dramatically – so I suppose it poses the question: Am I really ready to give up the single life just yet and jump into the uncertain world of dates two, three and beyond?

Monday, 21 September 2009

Play dates....

There’s always that disagreement between friends, which goes a bit like this: “Why would you date an immature idiot who thinks the Playstation and WWE is a form of entertainment?” while the rest of your friends come back with: “Well rather that than being stuck with an old fuddy duddy who doesn’t know his Coldplay from his Lily Allen?”

The same goes with my friends. Some of them associate older boyfriends with maturity, stability and potential husband material. But a few years ago two of my close friends were adamant that young-uns were the way forward: “They’re way more fun,” they would say. And they would gallantly go from one barely post-school date to another, always claiming that they wanted exactly the same from the relationship that their toy boy did. Until the day one of them gave them up for good.

Breaking up with at least three guys, in a row, all of which were at least two years her junior, she became bored of being the ‘teacher’ girlfriend. She would show them how grown up serious relationships work, but then dump them for not understanding, only for them to go on and find the one – living happily ever after.

Me? I’ve always been a fan of the older man. For some reason, unbeknown to me, I’ve always preferred dating older guys. When I was a mere 12 years old the guys in my year just weren’t good enough, if I couldn’t date someone in the year above then it just wasn’t worth dating. And I went on to date my fair share of ‘older boys’ – ones which weren’t as immature as the boys my age and somehow so much hotter.

My peak came when at 22 I dated a 36 year old. To begin with age didn’t matter – he made me laugh and we had fun together. But slowly those little things crept in that made the fun turn to fear – like how he had to google every band I mentioned, how he was the one taking the meeting while I fell asleep in the back, and of course there was that C word. At 22 I was unable to understand the meaning of commitment – never the less actually putting it into practice.

Of course I’ve run off track a few times – dating someone a year junior than me, for him to become the most insecure, jealous boyfriend of all time. But mostly, my dating history reads like a who’s who of Last of the Summer Wine.

So when a mere 21 year old stumbled into my existence and pleaded, with his northern banter, that I could write about dating a toy boy (well if I must!) – somehow, possibly through my drunkenness, I agreed to date him.

And so the date commenced one Friday evening not so long ago, and he very clearly helped me realise why I should stick to dating the ‘older man’.

To make matters worse I thought he was 22, not that it makes much difference – but anything more than a five year age gap, in my book, makes me feel like I’m babysitting rather than dating.

Now let me set the scene - I can take a bit of banter, an odd joke here and there. But too much and slowly I start to get irritated. The joke feels like an insult and I wonder if this person actually likes me at all. But like any young boy he was apparently insulting me ‘because’ he liked me – ‘go figure’.

It started with jokes about my age: “Well you’d be too old to know about that,” he said. Then there was my job that got a battering: “If you had a proper job, like the rest of us, then you’d know what hard work means.” He even went on to criticise my dating habits: “I bet you just serial date to get free drinks and meals out of these poor guys, don’t you?” he said, while I attempted to stifle a laugh.

At this point I could have been whisked back to my yonder years, uncomfortably placed in my school PE kit, while the young boys in my year attempted to make fun of me or hit me as they ran past me on to the playing field. At the time I was of course clueless about boys: “Why are they so mean to me?” I would ask my older sister, as she sniggered, knowing full well that they only did it because they had their eye on me.

And so the real low point of the date came when he not so much insinuated, but actually asked me, out of the blue, if I slept with all the dates I went on. Gob-smacked I tried to brush it off with a laugh and a witty comeback, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Did all 21 year olds think that dates ended this way? Or did he merely think he was going to insult me in to bed?

I would like to say that the date got better, that his sarcasm faded with his nerves and he made me see that dating a younger man can trump the older one. But it didn’t and he didn’t, and sadly, I’m still yearning for that 'special someone' who knows the difference between playground flirting and something which resembles proper grown up dating.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Dating in the Dark

An ex boyfriend once said to me, “I just don’t get it - how do ugly guys get good looking girlfriends?” His only natural assumption was that they were either minted or were above average in the downstairs department. And of course he brushed off any sort of attempt of mine at playing the ‘personality’ card.

It would be nice to think that we don’t live in shallow world where looks matter, but sadly we do. Film stars are just that because of their looks and models get paid millions because of their natural beauty, whereas some people don’t even get a look in because they’re just not what society claims as ‘pretty enough’.

And when it comes to dating it doesn’t get much better. A lot of us judge a ‘book by it’s cover’ – thinking that Mr Good Looking in the bar is just our type, while the ginger guy in the corner is brushed off when he attempts to even mutter in our direction. And online dating has become the visual portal for our prejudices too - we all apparently have a ‘type’ and if Mr So and So doesn’t even conform to those criteria are we even going to read his email? Have there been missed opportunities because Mr Average ticked all the boxes apart from his non-model type looks?

So what would dating be like if looks didn’t matter and personality counted for everything? Living TV are taking this concept to the extreme with their new show - ‘Dating in the Dark’ – where contestants meet each other in the dark and date without knowing what each other look like.

Most of us freak out about going on a blind date, let alone an ‘actual’ blind one. So of course it has caused some mixed reactions between the contestants, especially when they find out their ideal partner looks nothing like they expected.

We would be lying if we said looks didn’t matter – after all, you have to fancy them – what’s the point of dating someone who you’re repulsed by? But surprisingly, on Dating in the Dark, some couples end up together even though their date doesn’t meet their expectations. So it must be true to say that when someone’s personality shines through it makes them more attractive.

And of course we are always going to be swayed by our friend’s reactions. When I recently dated a guy for a London newspaper, accompanied by a picture, it came with mixed reactions - from the slightly reassuring: “Yeah, he’s okay,” to the damn right blunt text I received saying: “Surely you can do better than him?”

And it hasn’t stopped there – exes have apparently had big noses, weird hair, been too short and ‘not my type’ according to friends.

And when friends suddenly play down the fact that looks don’t matter you know it’s for a reason. If they rattle on about their new boyfriend’s great personality and how well they’ve bonded of course we’re not expecting them to waltz in with a Brad Pitt look-alike.

We're all going to be attracted to that stunning looking guy at one point in our lives – but if that’s all he’s got and there’s nothing upstairs then we’re never going to be able to contemplate a future with him. So yes, mister ex boyfriend, personality does count. In fact personality counts for so much more than we put emphasis on. It makes date number two so much easier and gives relationships that longevity we are all looking for.

So maybe dating in the dark should become a necessity for anyone who is looking for their perfect partner – either that or we should, for once, give that okayish looking guy a chance when he attempts to chat us up.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Miss Cynicism

When you’re single you become slightly cynical about love, ‘The One’ and anything to do with romance.

You question why anybody would travel half way across the world to see their boyfriend, give up a perfectly good Saturday night ‘out’ to spend it ‘in’ all cuddled up with a man, and argue with them until you’re blue in the face, about something so insignificant you’ve forgotten the point of the argument by the time it finishes.

So when you see moments of true love before your very eyes it reminds you why you’re holding out for Mr Right. Walking through St Pancras the other day I saw a girl run through the Eurostar arrivals and leap into the arms of her man. Of course my heart melted when I saw the look of love in both their eyes, a smile quickly spread across my face and warm fuzzy feelings appeared from nowhere, but then just as quickly a pang of jealously popped up and made me think - ‘why couldn’t I be that girl?’

Being single used to fill me with dread - what would I do on Valentines Day? Who would I go on holiday with? I even hung onto boyfriends who I knew weren’t my forever guys just because I couldn’t face being single. However, now it’s a reality I love the freedom attached to my single status.

But when you see genuine acts of love right before your very eyes it makes you miss being in a relationship and everything which comes with it. So is it possible to be a romantic at heart but still cynical about love and its many complications?

I’m a total sucker for romantic films, from Danny and Sandy swooning “You’re the one that I want” to Mr Swayze declaring those famous words, “Nobody puts baby in the corner” - I would happily give up my love life for one in the movies. But we all know that’s about as realistic as a man offering to do the washing up – right?

Even if a relationship starts with a dreamy love affair I know that most guys get comfortable after about 6 months and think that making rude noises in front of you is a perfectly acceptable form of communication.

So lately I have found myself criticising complete strangers – just because they’re attached. The couple walking past me holding hands will undoubtedly break up in a matter of months. The girl who is looking adoringly at her boyfriend will find out that the sod has not only cheated on her, but with her best friend. And what about those who share with us their PDA’s? Yep they're probably having an affair!

And every time I go on a date my cynical frame of mind appears from nowhere. Instead of listing all their good qualities I am mentally noting why they’re not quite boyfriend material. Take Mr Italian stallion who I enjoyed a couple of drinks with recently. Under normal circumstances I may have given him a chance – but when Miss Cynicism rears her ugly head its hard not to judge someone.

First were the shoes – beige timberland boots?! Then the East End accent that I don’t remember from our first encounter. And did I sense some commitment issues there? Or possibly a little bit of arrogance? And the real deal breaker – “I don’t really drink much alcohol,” he said, as I was drowning in a sea of wine and keeping the bar afloat with my alcholic purchases. I mean, a girl needs to have a drinking partner in a man – if nothing else!

And it’s not just the Italian which has been cursed by the hand of my cynicism. There is always something which isn’t quite ‘boyfriend’ material for me – the way he wears his shirt, his whistling, his sense of humour (or lack of it!), the love (for himself!) and the list rolls on until I’m back to square one.

It’s not as though I’m after perfection – I think I’ve been there and we all know how that story ended. Maybe I’m just not in the ‘relationship phase’ of my life at the moment. I’m finding other parts of my life that make me smile so why do I need a man when I’m smiling without one?

I suppose my time will come when I meet that certain guy who just blows me away. Those little things that annoy me will be accepted. Maybe he’ll challenge me, impress me or just leave me wanting more. Arguments will be solved and I may even get some of those ‘movie moments’ I’m holding out for. Maybe I’ll even find myself running into the arms of my true love at St Pancras station one day.

But until that day comes I’m going to try and keep Miss Cynicism at bay, avoid ‘movie embraces’ at London train stations and most importantly enjoy being young, free and 100% single!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

“But…what about the water jug moment?!”

Being the grand old age of 27 I would like to say that I’ve figured men out. But of course I haven’t and probably never will.

What I think I can safely say is that they are creatures very unlike us. They think differently, act differently and of course date differently.

Talking to male friends they usually say exactly the same about us, “Just when I feel like I have them sussed – they go and do something which completely confuses the hell out of me,” one poor soul complained to me recently.

I had, up until now, had quite a smooth ride when it came to dating and men. But it seems I had been living in dating fairyland – where men called me if they liked me, guys who had girlfriends didn’t flirt and attempt to date me and game playing was something which had existed at school, not in the confines of my dating sphere.

Since the start of my newly single life I have encountered not so much a fairytale, more of a disaster movie of potential suitors.

My latest possibility seemed great on the surface but to quote Katy Perry: “You’re hot and you’re cold, you’re up and you’re down….” if this song wasn’t written about him then I’d be gob smacked.

Even the stupidest dating books have got it right when they say if he’s not communicating with you – then he’s just not into you. Those rules were completely blown out of the window with Mr ‘Indecisive’ – one minute he was hoping I wasn’t dating other guys, the next he had disappeared off the face of the planet, and then he resurfaces and ‘can’t wait to see me again’.

Dating can always be a bit hit and miss - 'do they like me? Should I call them? Why haven’t they text me back?' But when game playing or just plain arrogance is mixed into the equation it can just get messy. So sorry, but mixed signals confuse me – if you like me - date me, if you don’t then STOP calling me!

And it’s not just dating where men and women get their wires crossed. Even when we’re in a relationship we still come across the what ifs, mixed signals and conclusion jumping – that our men just don’t get.

A close friend of mine wants marriage, kids, the whole works. And she wants it with her current boyfriend. Being a man, of course, he doesn’t know what he wants. So like most girls any signal towards a potential future with him is not taken lightly.

She recently recalled a conversation about a water jug with him. “Do we really need two water jugs? We have no need for them,” he said. She agreed but then he went on to say, “but I suppose if we get a bigger place we might need two.”

Her heart nearly stopped – what did he mean by that? Was he thinking about their future? Was he proposing? Should she start thinking about baby names? And the list goes on…..

But her ‘water jug’ moment is not uncommon. Because when we like someone we women see the little things as potentially life changing moments.

If a man introduces us to his family we assume he thinks we’re a keeper, if he tells us to leave our toothbrush at his we think he’s planning a joint mortgage and if he so much as talks about the colour white and churches in the same sentence we’re hoping he’ll get down on one knee any day.

So if he dumps us two weeks after meeting his family, a mortgage agreement fails to materialise and the word marriage doesn’t even exist in his vocabulary we wonder where it all went wrong.

Of course the water jug moment won’t be remembered by my friend’s boyfriend. If she started casually looking for ‘family sized houses’ he would get all hot under the collar and wonder why she was jumping to ‘further commitment’ conclusions. “But what about the water jugs?” she would proclaim, and he would wonder what the hell in gods name she was talking about.

I suppose if men and women were the same it would be a very boring existence. If men ‘got’ everything we said or did then we’d be at a loss. And most importantly - what would we have to moan about over a cocktail or two??

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

When dating becomes a full-time job….

Most dating books tell us to play it cool when it comes to men. To be the girl that the guy sees from the other side of the bar and is intrigued by.

BUT what if he doesn’t see us? What if we play it so cool he thinks we're not interested? What if we're so ‘whatever’ in our attempt to get the guy that we realise that we haven’t been out on a date for what seems like years.

When I became single – nearly six months ago now (eek!) - all of a sudden I was in an in-between place where I was slightly heartbroken about my lost love, but also wondering how the hell I was supposed to move on. And to even contemplate dating seemed like cheating and out of the ordinary.

Emailing, texting or phoning guys, that of course bore no resemblance to how I felt about my ex, seemed like a chore, a mistake or just plain weird.

But like anything if you don’t put in the hard graft then you’re probably not going to see any sort of promising results. So after a couple of months of feeling like ‘the girl who lost out on The One’, a few drunken incidents involving my mobile and my ex and lots of facebook stalking, I knew I had to step back into the dating world before I either faced an angry new girlfriend or I just went mentally insane.

So as I gingerly positioned myself on the conveyor belt of dating I realised that a few emails, a couple of winks (virtual obviously) or even a smile in a crowded bar weren’t going to find me Mr Right. Just like one of my typical school reports would claim – I realised that ‘a little bit more effort was required’.

I was going to have to be the girl who asked guys out, gave them second chances and tried all those things that seem a little scary for us singletons. Online dating – tick, speed dating (yuk!) – tick, dating agencies - tick, heck I even auditioned for a TV dating show.

Basically I was happy to try anything in my attempt to find Mr Right. And now whenever I proclaim to my friends that I have ‘another’ date they huff - ‘You’re always going on a date, that’s not newsworthy!’

But maybe that’s how I found myself learning how to make sushi with a cute guy in London last week. They say good things come out of being spontaneous – and this had been on a total whim. A London newspaper was asking me in big bold print ‘do you want to date this hottie?’ He was good looking, had some interesting profile answers and was obviously ‘ballsy’ enough to appear in a newspaper asking for dates - so who was I to say no?

Of course I wasn’t expecting to be picked, or to even get on with him. But a sushi lesson, some cheesy photos and a bottle of wine later I found myself sipping cocktails in Notting Hill with him - while he questioned me about date number two.

I’m not saying we should defy all the rules of dating, especially the sensible ones. But sometimes we have to just think f**k it. Call him if you like him, give that cute guy in the bar your phone number, and why not apply to date a ‘hottie’ in a London newspaper- you never know where it may lead! After all who wants a boring ‘how we met story’? My sister poked a random stranger on facebook – a year and a half later she’s still dating him – now if that’s not ‘spontaneous’ fate for you then I don’t know what is!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

‘Don’t worry…you’ll be single forever’

Sometimes my girlfriends are just too nice when it comes to my dating habits. ‘He definitely likes you, maybe he’s just busy.’ ‘He doesn’t deserve you anyway, you’re far too good for him,’ ‘don’t worry you’ll find someone great one day - and it will be worth the wait’.

And of course that’s what you need to hear – most of the time.

But it comes as some sort of light relief when my male friends just tell me how it is. “Your ex was gay wasn’t he? Well he definitely cheated on you – why do you think he broke up with you?”

One male friend even laughed when I told him about my latest break-up. But hang on a minute I was really heartbroken. Cue more laughter from male mate showing he really didn’t care – and after a while I was laughing along with him too.

It’s no secret that a man came up with the concept for the book 'He’s just not that into you' – and staring honesty in the face can sometimes be a good thing.

Thanks to these self help dating books some of us girls have managed to claw on to a bit of common sense when it comes to dating. But even the cleverest among us will still fall for a wrong-un now and again and some of our girlfriends will encourage us to give them the benefit of the doubt. So our male mates become the Simon Cowells of reasoning – "YOU’RE A LOSER – he would have phoned you if he was interested" or "Come on - do you really think you’re girlfriend material? Wake up - he was using you!"

Men don’t care about hurting your feelings, after all they don’t go around being careful not to tread on their boy mates toes, they merely say – “Don’t worry mate she’s probably shagging some other guy by now, let’s have a beer.” Then they all get wasted in an attempt to make him forget.

Don’t get me wrong I love putting the world to rights with my girlie friends, over a cocktail or two. Every sip makes you feel more empowered and with that encouragement from your friends by the end of the night you’re thinking ‘Yes, I’m so much better off without him’.

But I just can’t get enough of that boy mate banter too. And if my male friends are anything to go by then I’m sure I’ll get my fix quite regularly. Because being one of the only singles among my group of friends they seem to think it’s their duty to remind me of this every ten seconds.

“Don’t worry Sarah we’ve got you your very own special single chair,” one of my friend’s boyfriends joked, as I planned to spend the night with my coupled up friends.

“Marriage – what? You’ll never find a man – you’ll be the old lady with the cats,” another male friend ever so nicely told me.

And they thought all their Christmases had come at once a few weeks ago when an ex date turned up at the same bar as us – with another girl in tow. Their little faces lit up as they realised the predicament I faced - “Why don’t you go and talk to him?” they egged me on as I squirmed my way into a hole never wanting to resurface again.

Obviously there comes a point when the boys can go overboard (they are men after all) but most of the time their harmless banter (or harsh advice!) is just a way of bringing me down to earth with a ‘big’ bump. Serial dating my way through single life, I suppose, gives me hope that one day I may find the man of my dreams – until of course they remind me that I’ll be single forever and probably still ‘attempting’ to date when I’m old and grey – yeah thanks for that guys.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Just courting....?

Talking to someone about your dating history and hopes for your future love life is like talking to a shrink and Cilla Black all rolled into one. But that’s what I found myself doing one evening. After getting bored and becoming quite exhausted by today’s conventional ways of trying to find dates I decided to put my quest for the ‘one’ into the hands of professionals – a dating agency.

Now I’ve never actually been on a blind date, unless being blind folded, escorted into a room and made to flirt with two guys in front of a camera crew counts. Before you start to wonder I hadn’t made the wrong turn on a night out and ended up in some adult movie - I had, of my own free will, decided to participate in an audition for a TV dating show. But that’s another blog……

So rocking up to a date that
Just courting had set up for me was a new experience. It was technically a blind date because after speaking to the lovely Kate (my matchmaker) about what I was looking for in a guy, it was down to her to pick me a winner, which I imagine must be a hard job when there are millions of singletons out there looking for totally different things. All I knew was his name and what he did – but apart from that I had no clue and was hoping that she had been listening when I said my preference was more Jude Law than Mr Bore.

So my obvious main worries were that he wouldn’t be my type, would have no sense of humour and the night would be as much fun as spending a night with your coupled up friends. But she had done me proud – he was cute and the conversation flowed just like the wine did.

Handy that, as we were wine tasting that night, which was quite refreshing and great to be doing something different instead of just chatting over a couple of drinks. Because sometimes you need something more on a first date - a conversation starter or something to talk about when the conversation dries up - so I jumped at the chance of doing something else.

So while learning the basics of how to taste wine (apparently gurgling is best - but not so attractive on a first date) I found out that he’d been wine tasting before but been so drunk he couldn’t remember it, that he’d had a terrible blind date once (I was hoping this wasn’t a hint!) and gradually found out that my love of wine drinking was mutual.

But as the night went on I knew he was more mate material than second date material. Which was a shame as after the wine tasting (was I possibly a bit tipsy now?) I decided he was a cross between Steve Jones and Jonathan Rhys Myers, and I fancy those two guys so why couldn’t I fancy him?

Obviously it comes down to that inevitable ‘spark’ - which this date had failed to ignite. Whether it’s that special gaze, a shared interest in music or something far cheesier, there has to be that moment when you both realise that you could possibly have something special. Either that or they need to be an amazing kisser.

But on a serious note, I enjoyed my first blind date. It was slightly unnerving not knowing who I’d be spending my Friday evening with – it’s not every day you tell your friends you’re spending the evening with a complete stranger. So as blind dates go I think it was a success, well apart from the fact that I won’t be seeing him again of course. But it’s renewed my faith in blind dates and dating agencies, especially after all the horror stories my friends ever so kindly shared with me….. before my date!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The men you 'try' to avoid

There’s the guy that totally wouldn’t then there’s the guy, at a drop of a hat, in a beat of a second, would. And the guy that cheats is the guy you’ll never be able to settle down with, however hard you try.

And as one of these ‘drop of a hat, in a beat of a second’ guys turned up last weekend I ended up being the ‘other woman’. Not that I knew this of course, he had cleverly removed all evidence, the first being lack of a girlfriend present and the second how he refrained to mention any knowledge of her existence in our three hour conversation, and eventual kiss. It was only when I mentioned seeing him with a girlfriend that he admitted to still being with her.

So is it the effects of alcohol, plain greediness or just his downstairs department talking when a guy cheats? My man’s excuse was that he liked me before he met his girlfriend, so of course it didn’t count. Thankfully I’m not foolish enough to fall for that – but it had in fact been true. About nine months previously when I had just started dating my ex he had chased me out of a bar asking if he could take me out for a drink, without I’m sure, even knowing my name. Embarrassingly for him, I turned him down – in front of one of his mates. So when I bumped into him last week it was inevitable that something was going to happen.

But whenever I mentioned him to friends it was obvious that his playboy reputation had preceded him, the reaction I got even before anything had happened between us was – ‘he’s so not boyfriend material’ or ‘he’s a bit of a player – don’t expect to get anything serious from him.’ So with guys like this, it always make me wonder how they get a girlfriend in the first place? Maybe they like the idea of having a girlfriend, but they can never be a one woman man. And the girlfriend must either know this and be doing exactly the same to them or think that she can somehow tame his wicked ways.

When you’re in a relationship you wonder why girls attempt to date players, arrogant types or just total w**kers. When you’re single you still wonder, but you sort of understand too. They start off as a bit of fun, someone to make you forget about a messy last relationship or the previous idiot you dated, then all of a sudden you’re hooked by the attention, or sometimes lack of, that they’re giving you.

So are us single girls just too distracted by looks, charm, arrogance and maybe a bit of bubbly when it comes to these type of guys?

In my case it was probably all of these ingredients. My ex was so prim and proper compared to Mr ‘I have a girlfriend, but forgot to mention it’ that I suppose I just welcomed the change. Owning the bar that we were drinking in probably helped as well, along with the obvious arrogance and bubbly that came with it.

So alcohol and these type of guys never really mix, especially bubbly, as it just blurs our vision, and possible sense, turning us from the – ‘talk to the hand player’ sensible gal we normally are, into the party girl who is falling for every trick in the book.

And I’m not going to lie…looks help, I’ll admit that I have readily fallen for guys just because they’re drop dead gorgeous – I think my last relationship was actually based 90% around looks, (shallow – moi?) so no wonder it was doomed from the outset.

It would be nice to think we don’t fall for charm in a guy, but most of us do. Unless you have a rare ability to spot one from a mile off then you’re probably going to come across at least one in your lifetime. Whether you succeed in making them more than just a blip on your dating radar is probably another thing, as once the chase is officially lost then they’re quickly onto their next victim.

But it doesn’t matter if they’re a player, arrogant or just drop dead gorgeous it never excuses a guy from cheating on their girlfriend. Or us in fact, for letting it happen. Hopefully I get a free pass because I was oblivious to the truth. But then again – with his reputation maybe I should have known the outcome.

So the lesson I’ve learnt from Mr ‘I have a girlfriend, but forgot to mention it’ – is never assume anything. He may look unattached, he may act unattached, but under all that charm, arrogance and the booze he’s throwing down your neck, the truth is there somewhere. ‘Do you have a girlfriend’ is five words which I think I will be using more often.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Dating...for dating's sake....

As I wait for yet another online date to show up I’m faced with the same thought that always crosses my mind at this point ‘what the hell am I doing?’ I’m doubting my ability to remember what he looks like, if he was even my type in the first place, what we had in common and wondering how long I should wait before I can officially leg it home and pretend he was a no show.

This is, of course, a common case of first night nerves. And it’s not a rarity – as I wait for my knight in shining armour to come and sweep me off my feet and into a world where single isn’t my middle name, I regularly feel as though I’ve dipped my feet into a freezer.

It’s not the actual date I’m scared of. After all I’ve been on enough of them to know the protocol, but it’s what I’m anticipating. What if Mr ‘knight in shining armour’ is a stone heavier than he admitted, a foot shorter, or worse – older than my dad? So you have to sympathise with me when I mentally freak out if men, who don’t quite fit my date’s description, come within 10 metres of me. My thoughts usually constitute of the following – “What? No, no - is that him? It can’t be…but…no, oh, phew…of course I didn’t think that was him,” usually repeated at least ten times before my date makes an appearance.

And depending on what kind of day I’ve had I’m either hoping beyond hope that this is him, the one I’ve been waiting for - the man of my dreams, or that he’s just Mr. Flash in the Pan, so I can make a quick escape and get home in time for Grey’s Anatomy to start.

In the fickle world of online dating sometimes I’ve made my mind up about the date before I have even set eyes on him. And if it’s a no go, which quite regularly it is, it poses the question – why am I meeting up with him in the first place? Maybe I am just setting myself up for the possible or inevitable rejection that will follow? Or am I just dating for dating’s sake?

When you’re single you feel that if you’re not dating, then you’re just not trying. It’s the whole ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’ thing – what if one of my potential no-go’s turns out to be the man I’m destined to live a long and happy life with? How can you ever tell from a dodgy photo, a few emails and some similar hobbies whether a) you’ll fancy them, b) there’ll be any sort of chemistry between you, or c) whether they’re as boring as your first primary school teacher was? So missing out on a date is not advisable – unless you’re happy being in a loveless, boring relationship??

But it probably doesn’t help that I’m picky. When I met up with a guy called Sam recently I knew that I could never date someone so tall that even my sky scraper heels didn’t make a difference. Then there was Richard, who looked great in his photos, but reminded me far too much of one of my gay friends. Homosexuality and boyfriend material just don’t go together very well. Chris was too honest, Ed lived with his parents??! And Mr 'I have a girlfriend, but forgot to mention it' – well that’s a whole other blog.

Then there are the ones that you thought went so well that you’re convinced there'll definitely be dates two and three. But your daydreams come to a grinding halt before you’ve even planned the bridesmaids’ dresses, because…wait for it….he’s just not that into you! When you like them your phone suddenly becomes the most important thing in your life and you’re willing it, to just, please, please send you any form of communication from them. So when it doesn’t come after the first hour, day or week – you could say rejection, disappointment and failure all spring to mind.

But that’s the thing with online dating, if at first you don’t succeed, you can try, try again. As long as you can stump up the cash to keep your online dating profile running then you could be dating a handful of men every week.

As for the first night nerves and rejection, I suppose it all gets easier the more dates you go on. Some say that dating can be soul destroying – but it’s just like life, it has its ups and its downs, and usually the ups are worth waiting for when they finally come around.

So I’m all up for dating, for dating’s sake – I may not find a knight in shining armour to take me to a land where couples roam and lonely chairs are forbidden, but at least I’m out there looking for someone who may just fit the bill.

Friday, 19 June 2009

My ‘Bridget Jones’ existence

After a particularly bad speed dating incident with a friend of mine, I left feeling fairly deflated and through the (obviously one too many!) wine I wailed at the top of my voice ‘Oh my god I’ll never find the one’. My friend reminded me that I had only in fact been single for two months and if anything it was her turn next to find a possible Mr Right. So maybe I was over reacting, but why, when we get to a certain age, do we feel like the clock is ticking to find the one?

I keep trying to reassure myself that now is the time to concentrate on me, my career and anything else I have severely neglected over the past 10 years because men have got in the way, but somewhere in that stupid head of mine I seem to think that I need a man to make me happy.

And I know I’m not alone in my thinking - but why? Is it to prove to exes that we’ve moved on – like they have? And even if we do find someone else it’s not as though we’re going to appear at their front door with a speakerphone saying ‘ner, ner, ner ner, ner I’ve got a new boyfriend’, he’s cuter, smarter and nicer than you – so there!’ Then stamp on their foot and run away, because that would of course just be plain childish.

Or is it purely just to fit in with the status quo? When you’re nearing thirty you’ve surpassed those ‘lets have fun’ years and most of your friends are contemplating marriage and babies. Being the single one is like a zebra attempting to fit in with a herd of goats – the likelihood of standing out is quite probable.

Of course your now attached friends have all been there, worn the t-shirt and have felt like a spare part once in a while, but when I was newly single ALL my friends seemed to be happily, smoochly and deliriously in love. They dragged me out and promised that it wouldn’t be coupley, but of course I found myself speaking to a bunch of star crossed lovers by the end of the night - in fact I think I even heard the lonely chair next to me make a whimper or two.

And it’s not just my friends that I have to keep up with - as I stalk old university friends, school friends and work colleagues it dawns on me that half of them are now married, engaged or having sleepless nights because the little one has arrived. I even bumped into an old school friend the other day who said: ‘So have you had any kids or got married since I last saw you?’ – as I muttered under my breath that I was newly single she reeled off how she ‘can’t believe how quickly her young uns are growing up’. Her kids will probably be Mum’s before mine are even a twinkle in their daddy’s eye – that’s if I ever find him!

So did I miss the boat somewhere which was heading to grown up land? Or did I just fall off and wash up on single island? And if it’s as hard to escape from as the one on Lost I think I’m a bit screwed!

It’s not like I want any of that stuff yet. Having to look after a child scares the living daylights out of me, and how, when I feel like a teenager still can I possibly even fathom the thought of getting married? But when everyone else is doing it you sort of feel left out, it’s like being the only one who doesn’t go on that school trip – frankly it’s just not fair and you hate your parents for being so mean.

And yes now I mention them, parents don’t help keep the worrying at bay either. My Mum is quite frequently heard moaning, ‘When am I going to be a grandma god damn it?’ and conversations like how I should start considering freezing my eggs and which fascinator she’ll wear at my wedding aren’t a rarity.

I suppose it’s the whole ‘Bridget Jones generation’ – soon I’ll be singing at the top of my voice “all by myself, don’t wanna be all by myself anymore…” and accidentally making blue soup – but being single after a certain age is still frowned upon. It’s as though people think that to be whole you should be part of a pair and it’s probably drummed into us round about the same time we learn how to make a pineapple upside down cake and the ins and outs of algebra.

Maybe I’ll stop the clock for a while and just enjoy the view. After all I’ve got plenty of time to spend with the ‘one’ when I’m old and grey – maybe its just time to have some fun…… right?

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Bumping into the past

When you date someone, and it all goes a bit haywire, you kind of hope that they’ll get sucked into a vortex, never to be seen again. Or you just wish them bad dating luck and hope their next girlfriend cheats on them!

So when a former date of mine walked into the same bar as me the other week, with another girl, three days after our date, my reaction was of course ‘What the hell???!’ – well that and a sprinkling of embarrassment mixed in for good measure. It’s not that I liked him, in fact there was no chemistry between us – but bumping into anyone who has sort of rejected you is slightly uncomfortable.

Unfortunately for me my ex works at my gym so bumping into him mid-sweat session, when I’m ultimately looking my worst, has become a bit of a habit. I should have known this would be inevitable when I met him there in the first place. But when love comes a knocking we stupidly think it’s a good idea to date a work colleague, your best friends brother or any other sort of inappropriate dating material. Of course sometimes it works out, but most of the time it’s just a road traffic accident waiting to happen.

When you see an ex you want to be looking your very best. You spend hours coming up with scenarios where you’ll just happen to bump into them. You want it to be when you’re wearing that new figure hugging dress or you’ve just come back from your holiday – all tanned and looking radiant, and of course they’ll wonder why the hell they dumped you in the first place. But very rarely does it happen. The reality is you’ll bump into them when you’re having a bad hair day, you’ve just been caught in a downpour or when you’ve drunk one too many tequilas and just projectile vomited over your mates shoes.

A friend of mine dated, then got dumped, by a guy who worked at one of our favourite bars. For ages she would beg us not to go there as bumping into him was probably as much of a highlight of the night as being asked for ID ever is. When we finally badgered her into it, it would have been nice to be discreet about his obvious appearance, but in my drunken haze of course I mentally scarred her by shouting out his name, attempting to call him over for a chat and generally being the worst ever friend I could be.

I suppose that’s one good thing about long distance relationships, if you want to, you can get away with never having to lay eyes on your ex again. Okay so maybe you don’t actually see them when you’re together, but at least you’ll never have that fear of a quick trip to the shops ending in an embarrassing reconciliation when you, or worse they, have their new love interest in tow.

Of course there are situations where couples still have to see each other after a break-up, whether they like it or not. Owning any of the following together, a house, a child, a pet or mutual friends – pretty much means you’ll have to see their face, albeit one you want to smash in, for the foreseeable future. Cue the awkward, irrational or needy ex who just can’t be professional about such matters – honestly!

I suppose the solution for the above is simple – we merely just have to uproot our lives, move across the world, find new friends and most importantly find a new bloody gym. Then again, you’ll probably still manage to find them on facebook.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

How quick is too quick? Moving in and moving on…

A friend of mine recently told me how her and her boyfriend were moving in together after dating for barely more than a few months….I thought she was joking. But she was dead serious.

Had I missed something - was it a life or death situation? Or had I side-stepped that trend where couples decided to share bathrooms before they had even had their first kiss?

So how quick is too quick? ‘You just know when it’s right,’ my sister said, who has just happily started to co-habit with her boyfriend of a year and a half. ‘Whether it’s a right after a year or just a month after you first started dating, it’s different for everyone.’

But personally I don’t see what the rush is, unless you’re about to become homeless or you have your eyes on marriage in the foreseeable months then why the hell would you want to put up with a man in your space?

Maybe that’s a typical single girls reaction, but will a man ever let you fall asleep watching Sex and the City, appreciate your shoe/magazine/bag (delete as appropriate) collection or understand why you eat cold pizza, a handful of haribo or a mars bar for breakfast?

I suppose for a girl who was lucky to even get a share of her exes bed I may be slightly sceptical, but usually in my experience anything that is going too fast usually comes to a grinding halt before it reaches its destination.

And it’s not like I haven’t been there. When I was a naive 22-year-old I couldn’t wait to move in with my boyfriend – I was imagining sex on tap, romantic evening meals and cosying up in front of the telly. Instead I got ‘wait a minute, I’m just going to finish this level on the playstation’, arguments about the washing up and my two pet hates – cold tea bags in the sink (why couldn’t he put them in the bin??) and WET towels on the bed!

I quickly tired of his behaviour, which was frankly nothing like I had seen in the movies and moved out sharpish, and it left me with a bitter feeling that moving in with a boyfriend would mean goodbye to the happy, spontaneous relationship you once had and hello to being their mother, cook and cleaner all rolled into one.

And is moving on as easy to do as moving in with someone? My ex seems to think so. Two weeks after our break up he had declared his single status on facebook and deleted all existence of me, after a month he was happily flirting with members of the opposite sex, and two months later he was claiming, ever so loudly (are you sure New York heard you?) via his facebook status that he was in a new relationship.

Yes I know, it means I’m facebook stalking him (doesn’t everyone do it?) and I’m probably a hypocrite – after breaking up with my ex before my ex I was happily flirting with men just weeks after we broke up and my online dating profile wasn’t far behind that – but of course it’s different when its you.

So for how long should we be holding on to the past? I suppose if we’re still dreaming up scenarios of them begging for us back – 6 months, or even a year after they dumped us it’s maybe going to be a problem, and our friends will probably commit us to some sort of insane asylum if we keep dropping their name into ‘every’ conversation months after he’s said goodbye.

But when they’ve got rid of you it’s always harder, it’s that personal rejection. And when you see them happily skipping along with someone else the seething fangs, bulging eyes and feelings of jealousy, which you thought were safely hidden away, find their way back to the surface again – and there we are right back to square one.

I’m getting there. The ‘him wanting me back’ daydreams are closing in on less than one a week. His number has nearly vanished from my memory. And the facebook stalking…yeh that’s probably not going to stop - isn’t that what is was invented for?! But date number four is underway – he’s cute, not too tall and seems to have a good sense of humour and so…I can’t still be that hung up on Mr Perfect.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Whatever happened to the ex?

I nearly choked on my cornflakes the other morning when I found out that a past flame was now married with a kid. I sat there open mouthed for a good five minutes before I even so much as mentally digested it in my brain. Marriage. Baby. Okay so maybe he was thirteen years my senior and possibly in the age bracket where those things were on his to do list, but I just couldn’t work out how in the three years since I had last spoken to him he had even had time to do any of this stuff - when I’d broken up with two guys and been on a string of unsuccessful dates since then.

But it’s not just us girls who wonder what becomes of the broken hearted.
Tom Mitchelson did just that for the Daily Mail recently, with a somewhat mixed reactions from his exes.

So is it a good idea to even venture backwards or should we just be leaving the past where it belongs and charge full steam ahead into the future? I recently had two brushes with the past.

The one that got away

Chris had been a mate at school. Nothing more than that. He was a guy I’d have a laugh with at the back of a boring Media studies A’level class and one that, which he ever so rightly reminded me of, cooked me fish finger sandwiches at his house once.

So when I bumped into him a few weeks ago, ten years since I used to hang out with him, it was very strange. His first reaction was ‘you look really different’ – I was hoping he meant it in a good way. But he looked different too. Gone was the slightly too big shirt, trainers, curtain hair cut, and instead was replaced by a more grown up look. His hair, I decided, was much cuter, his dress sense, as my friend put it, was mouldable and his ability to drink copious amounts of alcohol was quite impressive.

So after lots of shots, a night of flirty behaviour and dragging myself to work with a hangover the next day, before I knew it I’d arranged a date with my blast from the past.

Weird doesn’t even come in to it. Before the date all I could think of was fish finger sandwiches, what and if I’d learnt anything in my media studies class and if I’d actually accomplished anything worth talking about since I’d last seen him. I went from ‘not sure’ to ‘what the hell’ and I couldn’t even bring myself to think about snogging him.

But he kind of surprised me. He was funny, honest and nothing like the guy I remembered from school. Phew.

He wasn’t, by any means, my dream man but a slight distraction from my ex, which was definitely a good thing. Then again, snogging him was kind of like a cringe filled playground snog - I don’t think I’ve ever made such a hasty exit from a car.

The x

Even though my friends think I'm shallow enough to actually sleep with or get back together with my ex before my ex, I never would.

He had been nagging on at me to meet up with him for ages for a ‘catch up’, but when I even mentioned it to friends their faces were enough to make me realise that they didn’t approve. So, I just didn’t tell them about it.

As the day neared I was strangely looking forward to it. But as I quickly found out meeting up with this ex was a terrible mistake. Half an hour in I was bored of the stories that he took so long to tell me, after an hour of telling me he had chilled out I saw that aggression-look return in his eyes, and by the end of the night I realised I just didn’t enjoy his company anymore.

Some people are good for you, they enrich your life, complement it or make you see things that maybe you’re blinded to.

He turned me into an annoying mother figure that would cringe every time he opened his mouth or make any sudden movements. And every minute I spent with him I saw that side of me creeping back in. I spent three hours with him and even though it was nice to catch up I really never want that part of me to come back again. Its not me - its who I became when I was around him. We all change, but when a guy makes you change for the worse, whether you’re with them still or not, you really have to question why.

He obviously hadn’t felt the same. The next day I received a text asking me if I wanted to meet up again in a few weeks. Erm…no. Time to delete him out of my phone and my life for good this time.

I’m starting to think my first boyfriend had the right idea, he’s pretended I haven’t existed ever since I dumped him – even after my many friend requests on Facebook. Meanie!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

We're just not that into you

Sometimes we go off men too, and before we end the relationship we usually treat them quite badly. So here are 15 signs that ‘she’s just not that into you.’

She argues against every opinion you have, and you were so sure she felt the same way about how well Marmite and jam go together.

You haven’t seen any of her mates in ages and every night she does go out, conveniently, it happens to be a girlie night.

When you mention a lad’s night out, a boy’s holiday or a trip to a strip club she vaguely acknowledges your existence then goes back to more important things, like checking her facebook or reading that girlie mag.

When you moan about so and so from work no longer does she comfort you with soothing words and how she hated Dave from accounts anyway, instead she starts playing her imaginary violin and tells you to grow up and start living in the real world.

She treats you like a lost puppy, or her kid brother, “Right, have you remembered your keys? Your wallet? Your backbone?”

She criticises your taste in clothes, food, mates and basically anything that belongs to you or you ever cared about.

When you do go out in a crowd she forgets you’re even there, to the point that she gets a cab home without you, and is asleep before you can even say goodnight.

Texts or emails from her are verging on a military command rather than a loving gesture. Need milk and bread. Get before come home.

She loves her kitten, puppy or even tiddly-winks, the goldfish, more than you. And tells them on a regular basis. You’re lucky to even get a kiss.

She farts and burps, without so much as a blush, or an apology.

She yawns half way through sex, or says “Just get it over with already.”

She de-tags all the pictures of you and her together on facebook, and when you ask why, she merely shrugs and says ‘dunno’.

Your arguments are more like a one sided conversation. She’s more interested in watching ‘America’s next top model.’

When you ask ‘Where do you think our relationship is going?’ she laughs and says ‘god you’re such a girl’.

And when you mention the idea of marriage, mortgage or kids she screams ‘ARE YOU SERIOUS?’….but not in a good way!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Very, very quick dating

When I signed up to do speed dating I thought it might be fun, but now that it’s only a matter of days away I’m wondering what I’ve let myself in for.

Will it be like an adult version of musical chairs – fun and slightly competitive, or more like prime ministers question time – intimidating and way out of my league?

And doing speed dating in my hometown puts all sorts of fears into my head. What if an old work colleague or the spotty kid from school turns up and starts to flirt with me? It’s not like I can pretend I have a boyfriend, I’m at a bloody speed dating event.

The biggest fear of all is bumping into an ex, or one of their friends. I can just imagine the scene, “So erm….what have you been up to?” I say, as I shift uncomfortably in my seat and the three minutes tick by incredibly slowly, beads of sweat gathering on my forehead as stilted conversation turns into silence and the wall behind them becomes incredibly interesting.

And who came up with the idea of speed dating anyway? I’m going to guess it originated in London or somewhere similarly as busy, by someone who just didn’t have much time to date. I’m not complaining, if you can eliminate half the men in a bar as arrogant twats, boring bankers or ‘not a hope in hell’ in a few hours then that’s fine by me.

Apparently we only have a matter of minutes with each potential love interest. In some cases these minutes will be way too long – mind numbingly, awkwardly, finger tappingly long (and if it’s really bad, a chance to pop to the loo) or just not long enough. It’s like seeing that really cute guy on the tube, you make eye contact, you share a smile and before you know it the doors open and he’s lost in the crowd of London never to be seen again – in this case he’ll be lost in an array of women who’ll gobble him up before my very eyes.

I've also wondered if taking a notepad and using my shorthand would be acceptable. At least I would remember the Tom’s from the Paul’s, and when my friend says ‘I really like Ben, what do you think?’ I could consult my notepad with enthusiasm and either say, ‘hmmm, yes he has a good job, above average looks, laughed at my jokes, yeh go for it’, or vigorously shake my head at her, after all I had only given him three out of ten for GSOH and a big fat zero for marriage material’.

Repetitiveness also springs to mind - will I get bored of saying the same old thing? ‘I’m a 27-year-old journalist, who likes spinning classes and a few glasses of Pinot. NEXT’. Maybe I’ll come up with a different story for each guy I meet – ‘I’m an entrepreneur who made her first million at 12 and is planning to retire at 30’ or ‘ I get bored of saving lives, as a doctor, I do it on a daily basis.’ Then again it may get complicated remembering who I shared my business wisdom and ‘saving lives’ tips with, and I could be outed as a fake before the night is over.

Most importantly my friend and I are wondering, with trepidation, what type of guys we’ll be faced with? I know that my friend and I are braving it, and of course we’re not desperate, losers or anything else that resembles bad date material, but guys aren’t as adventurous as girls when it comes to the dating scene. Are they doing it for a dare? A last resort after five years of failed attempts at finding a woman? And quite possibly I’m worried that half the guys there could just be looking for a night away from the missus.

Maybe I should stop being so cynical, my friend and I may have the night of our lives, meet the men of our dreams and skip happily into the sunset with them. Or does that just happen in the movies?

Realistically the night will probably be more repetitive than a Hollyoaks storyline and I’ll probably go home having had one too many wines, and not remembering what Paul looked like, let alone that Tom was even there.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Note to self: Never mix tequilla and texting

The other day I woke up and wondered what ten ton animal had managed to stomp on my head, then mangle it up and spit it out for breakfast.

Oh the bliss of being in a comatosed state, then to be horribly woken by the reality of mass dehydration, last nights dinner wanting to resurface and the feeling of a woodpecker peck, peck, pecking away at your brain. And just when you’re coming to terms with this an even worse realisation burns into the back of your skull and suddenly makes the sickening feeling seem slightly appealing.

It dawns on you, through the bad singing, kebab eating and fuzzy focussing that somehow, by a mass miracle, a text was constructed and shame upon shame it was sent to ‘he who shall not be named’ – yep the ex.

My shame came after I had consumed one too many shots and even joined the boys in a round of yega bombs. Which apparently give you memory loss. I say apparently because I can’t remember. Apparently I also fell head-first into a taxi, was ‘a little bit sick’ when I got home, and according to my half there, half not there memory I may have sent my ex a text.

The annoying part being was that I had been doing so well. After a few embarrassing drunken incidents when we first split up I vowed never to text him again, deleted his number and painfully went at least six weeks without so much as a drafting him a message.

I have now decided I hate my friend who told me to memorise at least one number in my mobile phone, ‘If you lose or break your mobile then at least you can contact one person’, she ever so helpfully advised me. Thanks a lot! But the part she failed to mention was how I shouldn’t go around memorising a boyfriend’s number, especially when he is due to dump me in a matter of months.

And it must be inscribed into my head somehow, because if I can remember it after that many shots then I’ll probably remember it until my death bed. Which is slightly irritating.

The most discomforting thing was that even though I knew I’d written a text, my mind was painfully unsure if I’d actually sent it. Stupidly, and much to the amusement of my friends, I don’t have sent messages on my phone. At least if I’d known for sure that I’d sent it, in all its glory, I could prepare for the embarrassment if I happened to bump into him.

So with an excruciatingly sore head, and an even more dented ego I decide to text him (again?) with a ‘Hey – so just wondered if I happened to declare my undying love to you last night?’ – either it would be an apology for last nights drunken antics or it would let him know that I was pissed out of my face and ‘thinking’ of sending him a message - either way I wasn’t on the winning side.

Turns out I had been clever enough to send him one. I always knew I was good at multi-tasking, I just never thought puking and texting would go hand in hand, but hey I am a modern girl an all.

So the moral of the story – Don’t drink and text. It’s not big, nor clever. It may not ruin lives but it will definitely kill any chance of looking like a sane human being.

A men's guide to online dating

Now I don’t want to be patronising or even seem arrogant, but when it comes to internet dating some of you men, and girls I think you will agree with me here, need a tip or two.

So first things first you are actually on a dating website. Like the rest of us you have succumbed to the world of winks, pokes and stalking your prey with every inch of a fine tooth comb, assessing the pictures, salary and how well your possible match made in heaven can spell (sorry but you can't get away with saying you're ‘intelligent’ if you spell it wrong!!).

So when it comes to your profile please don’t say things like, "God I really don’t know what to say here" or "I don’t usually do this kind of thing". Yes, we would rather not be reminded we’re single, still looking for love and on a dating website either but hey ho that’s how it goes.

And whatever happened to an icebreaker??? If you met a girl in a pub would you really approach her and tell her your life story without so much as a breath? The first email should be an introduction, not an autobiographical account since your complicated birth. So no, I don’t want to hear about how your pet goldfish was gobbled up by the toilet bowl when you were 6, and why would I want to know that you have trust issues because your last girlfriend turned out to be a stripper at Stringfellows? If we really want to get to know you better we’ll ask!

Make us laugh, be cheeky, surprise us. Whatever you do make it count, don’t ramble on about your day at work or how you’re feeling really miserable. Would you want to date someone who sounded boring, arrogant or a bit of a loser?

Personality does count, and if you sound like a decent kind of guy we may take note. But anyone without a picture will get us wondering. You’re either stuck on a desert Island with no means of taking a photo or so god damn ugly that you don’t want us to see what you look like.

And lastly, take it like a man. If we haven’t got back to you that’s usually it. Sending us ‘a few more’ emails is annoying, finding us on Facebook is just plain creepy and stalking us to our nearest coffee shop/place of work/pub will scare the living daylights out of us.

So no pressure men, but most of us girls, if you haven’t realised yet, have quite high expectations when it comes to dating!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Can we really date Mr Perfect?

As he uttered the words, “I won £50,000 on a game show once,” my mouth fell open in utter amazement. Here I was standing with a guy, who not only had the guts to appear on a game show, but was intelligent enough to actually win thousands of pounds on it too.

And that was just the icing on the cake, for me it was like all my dreams had come true - because I was dating Mr Perfect.

We’ve all met Mr Perfect. He’s the one that girls flock around, even if they have a boyfriend. The guy who’s willing to do a sponsored run, in the rain or with a hangover, just so he can save the lives of thousands, and the guy that your family seems to like more than you.

And I had the pleasure of being the girlfriend of Mr Perfect, for six whole months, but unfortunately it didn’t really finish in the happy ending I’d read about in fairy tales.

My Mr Perfect was gorgeous, or as my Mum put it he looked like he’d just stepped off an LA beach, tanned and toned, with blonde hair and blue eyes, he’d got my attention straight away.

His jobs were pretty perfect too, yes he didn’t just have one job, but two. By night he served every women’s fantasy by saving cats, old ladies and people from burning buildings and by day he had the patience and know-how to teach children how to swim.

But it didn’t stop there, unlike my ex, who thought that one trip to the gym was enough to give him biceps the same as Arnies, he actually visited the gym more than once a month. He did spinning classes, abs work outs and swam like a fish, and all this was just preparation for the three hour bike rides, 10k races and triathlons he did.

The rest of his life was quite perfect too, he was a genuinely nice guy, but he also had the car, the house, a good selection of friends, a family that thought the world of him and work colleagues that loved him. Basically he ticked all the boxes, the guy of my dreams, he was my Mr Perfect.

Of course when I met him I wasn’t even looking for Mr right, I was on the look out for Mr right now, someone to have a bit of fun with, to spoil me and help me get over my latest break-up. I was happy to be selfish, find my independence, and concentrate on my career. But out of the blue he swaggered, shining with confidence and perfection and like many of the other girls before me (there had been a lot) I instantly thought he was ‘the one’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been the commitment sort, marriage, babies and things like mortgages just send a shiver down my spine. When past boyfriends had even mentioned moving in with them I shrugged it off with lame excuses like money and timing. But when I met Mr Perfect I was ready to hang up my dating shoes, jump into his perfect world and make compromises and decisions that I never would have made before I met him.

And the most exciting part was that he was into me too. From the moment he met me my phone didn’t know what had hit it, he was a serial texter, and if it wasn’t my phone which was popular it was my inbox with sweet messages and ideas of dates three, four and five. His facebook status wasn’t deprived either, Mr Perfect was announcing to his facebook world that he couldn’t wait to be with me again, and after a month he even committed to a relationship with me on facebook, a done deal, or so I thought.

And for the first few months we played happy families, I was the girl who Mr Perfect would tell his friends and family about with a smile on his face, the one who he’d plant sneaky kisses on at the gym, spend lazy Sundays with and the one who he would rescue in her hour of need.

But just when it all seemed too good to be true, it was, and cracks started to appear in the perfection. The first dent was my friend’s opinions of him.

“He’s really lovely but how can you trust him? He’s far too good looking,” my friend Emily said.

“Don’t you just want to slob out with him?” Another friend said, “You must get bored of the constant spinning classes and healthy food.”

My sister’s boyfriend went as far as to give him a nickname for his perfect ways. After about a month of me dating him he started to refer to him as ‘Perfect Bob’, because being the same age as him he was slightly annoyed that Mr Perfect, with his ‘I save life’s’ job and fitness track record, was frankly, just showing him up.

My Mum even committed the cardinal sin, that any Mum can make when you're dating someone, to tell me she didn’t think he was ‘the one’. At first I thought she was joking "Don’t be silly he’s far too perfect Sarah, how could you marry someone who’s that perfect?" she’d said. When I realised her seriousness I declared my hate to her like a spoilt brat, “Oh my god your soooo wrong,” I screamed off in a strop “I’ll show you.”

But soon I started to see what she meant. Being a perfect girlfriend around Mr Perfect wasn’t easy. I loved the fact that he knew what the inside of a gym looked like but when he was leaving my bed, with me naked in it, at 6am for swimming sessions you could say I was more than slightly miffed.

He’s culinary skills also put mine to shame, although I was no Nigella in the kitchen I was definitely more than a microwave meal kind of girl. But all of a sudden I was aware that maybe I was cutting an onion the wrong way, and why was I asking his opinion on how to drain spaghetti and make scrambled eggs? I’m sure I’d got it right when I’d been single just a few months ago.

The green-eyed monster also struck when it dawned on me that he probably had more ‘girl’ friends than most guys could account for. His friendly nature meant that most of the women he came in contact with, whether they were work colleagues, mums of the kids he taught, or just any woman with a pulse, would text him on a daily basis, comment on his facebook statuses or come over all giggly when they just happened to bump into him. Most of them were just that – friends, and I tried to let it not bother me, but after about four months paranoia set in and I spent hours trying to decipher what girls ‘actually’ meant when they wrote on his facebook wall.

Independence in a man is attractive. And Mr Perfect’s independence was one of the things that attracted me to him. But too much of good thing is quite plainly – a bit weird. It’s very rare to find a man who actually knows what an iron does, let alone how to use it. But Mr Perfect had nights when he would do just that – iron. Also his washing machine was constantly in use, he hated leaving the pots and pans for tomorrow and never once did I have to remind him to send a birthday card to a relative. It was as though I had been introduced to a super new ‘Perfect’ breed of man, and while my friends were moaning about how their boyfriends didn’t do so and so, I was left wondering if he was thinking the same about me.

Towards the end of the relationship he also made me feel like my life, next to his, was more like an episode of Coronation street, boring and a bit pointless, where as his could have come straight off an action-filled episode of Lost or Prison Break. My job meant I spent a lot of time alone, in front a computer, his job meant action, stories and being a hero. And compared to him my life was far from sorted, while he moaned about a measly £500 overdraft I tried my hardest to hide my credit card debts, I was no closer to owning my own house or car than I had been when I’d left primary school, and however hard I tried my stomach never would have been as flat as his.

In a word, he was just too perfect.

So when he ended it with me I wouldn’t say I breathed a sigh of relief, it was more like a small weight had been removed from my life. I was glad that I no longer had to worry about looking perfect in the mornings and or have that ‘please don’t dump me’ money talk with him, but I was also slightly gutted.

It’s hard to get over a normal break-up, but being dumped by Mr Perfect is so much worse. It’s like winning the lottery and being told that you can’t claim your prize. Basically, a big disappointment. How could my Mr Perfect not have been perfect for me? Was I a loser that needed to sort her life out before I was good enough for him?

Of course not, but it did make me think that maybe the reality of our perfect guy will never actually live up to our expectations. If by some miracle, in real life, we happened to bag our dream man, say George Clooney, would it be so great? Or would it just make us jealous, insecure and unhappy? Reality would set in and anyone, next to a movie star who had millions of women falling over him, would pale in comparison. So perhaps we all just need to stop chasing perfection and be happy with what we’ve got.

Dating Mr Perfect was an experience, of course it had its upsides, I got some pretty nice meals cooked for me, he made me care more about my fitness and I got to kiss my Mr Perfect for six months. But if another potential date lists game shows, 6am swimming or putting out fires as his hobbies I may just have to run in the opposite direction.


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