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.


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