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?


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