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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