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.


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