Thursday, 15 September 2011

The good, the bad and the famous.....

‘Would you like to speed date on top of the Sydney Harbour bridge?’ the email said. It was closing in on valentine’s day, this year, when I was based in Sydney. Yes I was single, no I didn’t have any particular plans, but did I want to scale a bridge to find love? Well, not really no.

But that didn’t stop me considering it, ‘What if the Australian hunk I’ve been looking for is up there?’ I said to my flatmate. ‘You hate speed dating, you’re not that great with heights – is it worth it?’ she replied. Sure I could have fainted up there, suffered from a panic attack and been stumped with a load of losers with no get out clause, but what if I was missing out on Mr Right by turning it down? They say dating is all about being outside your comfort zone, but this was pushing it way past any sort of zone I’d found myself in before.

The problem is that dating today is so complicated – if we’re not logged on to at least 5 dating websites, if we haven’t chatted up a man in our local supermarket or re read the rules for the billionth time then we’re made to feel like dating failures. The same goes with dating events – today just plain old speed dating is so ‘old school’. If you haven’t spent the best part of an evening abusing your date at speed hating, doing your best Picasso impression at doodle dating or sweating your socks off at fitness dating then how, oh how, will you ever meet a man?

I surprisingly found myself saying no to speed dating on top of the Sydney harbour bridge, even though according to stats, over the last 12 years, 4,000 couples have become engaged whilst climbing the bridge. Yes, I could be engaged by now. So when I got home of course I had to say a big fat yes to every other dating opportunity that came my way.

First up was speed dating karaoke. Yep I had to do my best warbling impression to impress a guy. I loved karaoke and dating, seperately, but I wasn’t sure if I’d like the two together. I was totally wrong, the thing with karaoke is it attracts confident men i.e. loser/shy guys need not apply. But while my friend got matched with four guys, yes FOUR, I ended up with NO matches. Was my singing voice that bad? Obviously. I decided that applying for this year’s X factor probably wasn’t a good idea.

Then I was asked to date a fellow dating/burrito blogger. He’d been writing a blog for the last year, and having won a burrito meal once a week for a year he thought he’d incorporate it into finding a girlfriend. Now the first qualm was of course being blogged about. What if he hated me? What if he said mean things? Would I be getting a nasty taste of my own medicine?

Thankfully he blogged nice things about me. But being his last date after one year of dating a girl every week he seemed like more of a pro than me and was obviously bored of dating. So after a burrito and a couple of drinks - 2 hours later and he was waving goodbye to me! Really? Had I eaten my burrito the wrong way? Was he just dating me so he could, shock horror, write about me? I felt so used!

Then there was the zoo. No, I didn’t have to speed date with the monkeys, it was actually my choice of date after meeting a guy on dating website Doing Something. I’m not sure why I thought the zoo would be cool as a first date, but I would advise against it – unless the meerkats are offering you a glass of wine, that is. I felt like I was on a school trip, while I feigned an interest in the next animal I was wondering where the nearest bar was.

I also said yes to dating a guy from twitter recently. Now, my normal rule is that I don’t date guys from the social networking world. It can all get a bit well ‘weird and complicated’ when a first date doesn’t work out. But call me shallow - he was verging on the slightly ‘famous side’ – or maybe it was his ex girlfriends that were the famous ones....sorry I forget.

Anyway, after months of him asking me out and never actually setting a date we finally met for a few drinks in Covent Garden. He was a nice guy and I actually quite liked him, but he did have a tendency to talk about his exes. It’s normally weird to talk about exes on a first date anyway, never mind exes who are famous, and that are readily available to view on google. They were singers, glamour models and TV presenters. I unfollowed him on twitter a few weeks later.

To be honest with you even though I’m up for new dating concepts, I really like the old way of meeting men. My mum met my dad in the pub, my grandma met my grandad while out riding her bicycle. It just doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, telling your kids you met while daddy was ‘trying’ to buy his weekly shop and mummy chased him round the fruit and vegetable aisle until he gave in and decided to date the ‘supermarket nutter’.

Sometimes I wish for a simpler dating life. But until then I suppose I’ll have to explore the weird and wonderful - Next? Well let’s just say I won’t be able to see my date until they turn the lights on 2 hours later – no doubt I’ll have the contents of my dinner down my outfit, so he’ll probably run a million miles. Wish me luck.....

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Something borrowed....

I thought there was something vaguely familiar about my friends latest date but couldn’t quite put my finger on it! Then I realised, yes that was it, I’d dated him once.

‘You just don’t buy the same clothes as each other’, my friend said to me last year as we both turned up to the gym in the same top, and frankly looked a bit silly side by side on the cross trainers. ‘It’s an unwritten rule,’ she carried on with, ‘no the unwritten rule is that you don’t date a friend’s ex’ I said to her, ‘if you like the top, you buy the top’.

So when the same friend asked me if she could date one of my exes recently I really had hoped she was joking. ‘But he winked at me,’ she argued. Not in person of course, in the good old world of online dating, where you can wink at hundreds of strangers all night and not even get eye ache. ‘So am I allowed to wink back,’ she’d asked?

He wasn’t technically an ex – I’d had a brief two month ‘fling’ with him but in his trail of destruction he’d left me wondering ‘what if?’ – I ended up stressing and questioning about every last detail of our encounters over the next year – did he still like me? Should I ask him out again? What did that last message mean? You could say I was a little bit hung up on him.

‘I suppose you still like him’, she’d said, giving me a reason to why I stated in very loud and clear language as to why she couldn’t date him. But it wasn’t even that. I was over him, okay maybe not totally – but when you have a history with someone isn’t that enough reason to stop a friend from dating them? Apparently not.

So have the rules about dating a friends ex changed, or been slightly altered and no one told me about it? According to my friends, if you decided you no longer wanted to be with them and tossed them back out into the ‘single wilderness’ then your friends are free to roam around with them too. But what does that extend to - someone you went on a few dates with, a six month relationship, a marriage?

I’m not very good at sharing my wine, let alone men I’ve dated. But maybe this where I’ve been going wrong all along - should I have been waiting in the wings as my friends shed tears about their latest break up? And should I be setting up all my friends with guys that just didn’t quite do it for me? I’m not sure if it’s a slightly weird or sensible ‘dating’ strategy.

In reality dating one of your friend’s exes probably isn’t such a hot idea. No doubt it will come back to haunt both of you. Just like the time the school heart throb asked me out, when I was 14. The problem? He’d just dumped my sister. Of course I couldn’t date him, it would just be cruel, right? ‘It’s fine,’ my sister had said, ‘he obviously likes you more’. So against my better judgement I started to date him. But of course it wasn’t okay for me to date him. What sane individual is okay with you dating someone that has literally just dumped them. I blame the school heart throb. My sister will probably ALWAYS hold it against me.

And what are the rules if your friend actually starts dating an ex? Are you allowed to compare notes? Are they allowed to reveal to you his reasons for breaking up with you? Will there be a point where you’ll have to stick your fingers in your ears and hope she doesn’t reveal too much information?

And what if the roles were reversed? ‘I’d be fine about you dating ones of my exes,’ my friend had said - but would she really? What would her reaction be if I walked into a bar tomorrow with her ex on my arm, the one she has two years history with, the one she used to moan to me about and yes the one she’d got naked with on a regular basis. Would she squirm as I talked about sex with him, would she say ‘I told you so’ when I moaned about his habits and would she ultimately secretly hold a deep desire to smack me round the face and say ‘put down my ex and find your own man’?

My friend never did date ‘that’ ex. She did date another one though, one which I’d thrown out into the dating wilderness after only three dates. I tried to pretend I was okay with it – I mean its selfish to stop two people dating isn’t it? Even if his last date had been you. Yes, like I said, I’m not very good at sharing – I’ll just make sure to drink all HER wine next time she’s not looking!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

I now pronounce you......single!

Everyone loves a good wedding. And its’ even more fun when you’re single. ­Will there be any hot ushers? Will the bride (or groom) suddenly decide they can’t make that type of commitment and not turn up? And will nosey family members ever realise it’s not polite to ask a single girl where her boyfriend is?!

But when it’s someone closest to you saying the ‘I do’s’ it goes into that slightly scary territory. So when my twin sister screamed down the phone last February, ‘I’m engaged,’ I momentarily went into shock. She was what? But, she can’t be, she’s only been dating him, oh yes - two and a half years. I was speechless, as well as being my twin sister – she’s my best friend and she was engaged while I was still single.

Of course I was happy for her – her boyfriend (sorry, now husband!) is not only one of her better choices of boyfriends in the last few years but also quite a decent guy. And after the amount of love rats, losers and downright idiots she’s dated I’m pleased she’s found a guy I know will look after her.

But being the ‘single’ twin sister of a girl who was getting married, and with my other sister bordering on marriage territory I of course had to put up with the concerns of family and friends about my single status. Cue tilted heads and sympathy voices saying - ‘Are you okay?’ poor you - I bet you just want to go and hide under a duvet don’t you?’ and ‘Aww I bet you feel a bit left on the shelf?’ Erm, no actually. Sorry, for a moment I actually thought it was my sister who had got engaged, not a celebration of my spinsterhood?!

And then it made me wonder - was that just a warm up before the big day? Would I have great Aunt Gertrude enquiring about my lesbian girlfriend while we ate canapes? A letchy old uncle asking to dance with me ‘just’ because he feels sorry for me, or the ultimate embarrassment - my future brother in law auctioning ‘the single sister’ off to the highest bidder – while he does his wedding speech!

And it’s not that I am in any way ready to get married, (I keep reminding people that I actually need to date someone for more than three dates, at least, before I should consider marriage) but I suppose, being her twin, I’d envisaged us two getting married at the same time. And if my Mum had had anything to do with it, we would have married twin brothers, and have a brood full of twin babies by now (sorry Mum!).

And when I’m invited to other weddings I do wonder why friends bother to give me a plus one. They really should know better by now, or do they hope, beyond hope, that I’ll have a man by the time their wedding comes around? At least my sister was honest with her invite, when I asked her why I didn’t get a plus one she piped up with ‘you won’t have a boyfriend by then’ and laughed at even the thought of it!

Before my sister’s wedding I was thinking about maybe making up a boyfriend. Well desperate times call for desperate measures and all. My best line was going to be that my ‘boyfriend’ really wanted to make it but had been offered a modelling shoot in Milan and he really couldn’t let Versace down ......again.

Thankfully the wedding went smoothly - the day was lovely, the bride looked gorgeous, the groom didn’t even utter the words single or Sarah in the same sentence, and no one knew of any reason why the two of them couldn’t be joined in matrimony (aka me – ‘No you can’t steal my sister from me’). And amazingly I was only asked once if I had a boyfriend, well along with the usual sympathy sighs I got for being the ‘only’ single bridesmaid of course! And if my sisters now mother-in-law has anything to do with it I’ll probably be married in no time – she was trying to set me up with every guy who came within a two-step radius to me.

But seriously I wonder if I’ll ever be ready to get married? (i.e not scared shitless about the whole prospect). I suppose I shouldn’t worry too much, at least I’m not over the hill quite yet – I still have a few years to meet someone, settle down and plead with them to marry me before I’m officially labelled as a spinster. But until then maybe I’ll have to up my internet dating habit by say 500%, speed date my way into the Guinness book of world records, or just poke a couple of randoms on facebook – surely if my sister can find a husband that way then it can work for me. No?! Erm...anyone up for some twirting? (That’s twitter flirting for you non twitter people).

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Recyclable dating

I’m not going to lie, adjusting back to the London way of life has been pretty hard. And I’m not just talking about the weather.

As I touched down on Heathrow’s tarmac and shivered my way home I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t date until the summer! Sorry, but who dates in the winter? I couldn’t possibly go from dates by the beach and overlooking Sydney Harbour (yes...I know I’m boasting) to dates without the tan I achingly spent a good 50 days perfecting and dates where my hair was so windswept that I looked like a hedgehog on steroids.

But who was I kidding? No dating for a dating enthusiast is bordering on just plain stupidness. So before I knew it I was logging on to a dating site - ‘What’s the harm in just having a quick surf?' (less Bondi, more laptop!).

Now, when someone says to me ‘Oh you’re doing THAT Internet dating thing are you?’ I give a little chuckle.

Because I’m not JUST doing that Internet dating thing, I’m actually a veteran of Internet dating. FACT. If someone could hold a world record for the amount of dating websites they’d signed up to I would probably be the clear winner. I know about winks, nudges, email rejections and the 60 year old men who think it’s acceptable to email 29 year olds and ask for a date. Stop it. I will never say yes.

And because I’ve been Internet dating since I was 12 (well it seems like it!) I think I’m actually now, shamefully, recycling the men on them.

I sent a cheeky email to a guy on a dating website the other day, only to be horrified when he emailed me back saying ‘Didn’t we date before?’ Of course not, you’re thinking. Out of the possible thousands of men on Internet dating sites, how could it humanly be possible for me to stumble across the same guy twice? Believe me it’s actually possible that I’m sure it will happen again!

And I nearly even dated a friends ‘now’ boyfriend. He recognised me from her facebook pictures recently as the girl that never emailed him back on a dating website. I’m just glad that we never actually dated – now that would be an awkward type of date recycling.

So have I got to the point, where I’ve been single for so long that I’ll just have to start recycling old dates? Should I ring up old boyfriends and tell them it’s their turn to date me again? ‘What, you have a girlfriend? Well as long as she doesn’t mind I suppose!’

And because of my veteran status, does this terrifyingly also mean my judgement about whether a potential date is ‘dateable’ or not is slightly misconstrued now?

I should have really known from his user name (it referred to food) but I was pretty annoyed when I turned up to a date recently and he didn’t quite match his profile photos. Call it what you like - false advertising, lying or just plain skillful with the old photoshop tool, but it doesn’t do you much good when you realise you have to spend the best part of the evening with a ‘different to the Internet’ version of your date.

I tried, I really did try to like him, but as his words came out all I could here was my head saying, ‘Excuse me Mr but I think you may have lied a little bit on your profile.’ And when I did hear him speak most of it was food orientated. Like the time he returned from New York and saved room in his case for a kilos worth of Peanut butter chocolate. And I can’t even describe the expression on his face when I told him that Antony Worrall Thompson cooked me lunch once. I could have fit a whole cheesecake in his open mouth (his favourite food apparently!), that was after he stopped dribbling mind.

I hate people who tell fibs, and fibbing in date land is, well, punishable by no second date I suppose! He was so far off a second date that even if cheesecake was involved I would have said no. Honestly.

And so my London dating resumes.....I suppose it wouldn’t have been a ‘Sarah’ date if it had actually gone well, but please can I stop running into former dates?! Or at this rate there will be no options left and date recycling will be the only way forward.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

New years 'dating' resolutions

After meeting all manner of unsuitable men last year, my New Year’s resolution was simple – to embark on a man-detox!

But just like my amazing attempt at a New Year’s resolution in 2010 (to give up wine… I lasted three days) my plan ran into a little problem when a super hot guy grabbed me just after midnight and started kissing me! Well, honestly, if you’d seen him (and if he’d grabbed you) you would have understood…

So after a marathon kissing session with said super hot guy and getting over the hangover from hell (hey, it’s not every day a London girl gets to welcome a new decade in Sydney) I decided to forget about the detox and instead try my luck at speed dating.

Now, I don’t have a great track record when it comes to speed dating. My first attempt was thwarted by my admittedly sky-high expectations. Under no circumstances should you go speed dating if you’ve recently been dumped, you’re pining for another man or you’re desperate to find The One.

Unfortunately, the first time I went speed dating, I had been suffering from all of the above. There had been a sheer lack of men in my life since I’d been dumped a few months previously and dating 15 men in one night sounded like the sort of challenge which would brighten up my love life.

Imagine my disappointment, then, when I turned up. I’d expected tall, dark and handsome; I got short, bald and boring. And I was left emotionally drained after not even stumbling across Mr Right-Now.

My second encounter wasn’t any better. I’d been dragged there kicking and screaming and before the dating had even commenced, a fellow dater accidentally spilled her entire martini on my dress. It didn’t dawn on me until afterwards that she may have actually been trying to cut out the competition. That’s how intense speed dating can be.

But I was determined to give speed dating another try – with an open mind. Oh it also helped that it was speed dating whilst wine tasting – ‘if in doubt drink wine’ I always say!!

As luck would have it, the first guy I “dated” was a pilot; things were looking good already. So after about 15 mini dates, some quite hot men, some quite geeky men and enough good wine to quell my nerves, I realised I was actually having fun.

And I realised that speed dating – in fact, all types of dating - in Sydney is somewhat different to London. Nobody has expectations. It’s more like going on a ride in Disneyland than a serious game of chess (that is, there are no winners or losers). And most importantly, the men are much hotter. Especially the pilot...with whom I exchanged numbers!

So what have we learnt here? New Year’s resolutions never last. Date detoxing is a great idea if you want to meet a hot man. And speed dating + Sydney equals lots of fun and possibly a date or two.

Happy New Year!

First published on:

Monday, 3 January 2011

Let's get sweaty.....

For me, dating usually occurs in the safe confines of a bar or restaurant, where alcohol is readily supplied and comfort is key. So when I was asked along to Fit2Date, a dating-meets-fitness class in Sydney’s CBD I was, well, scared.

I’m not the kind of girl to shy away from a bit of exercise – in fact, I’m a Spin class regular and running and I have recently become friends. But exercising and dating: that is definitely new territory for me.

I’m prone to falling over in heels after a few too many wines, so God knows what would happen if you armed me with tennis racket, a surfboard or, God forbid, a dart. More than likely it would end with some sort of embarrassment or my date taking me to hospital – not the best first impression.

But what the hell, I thought, dating is all about being outside your comfort zone, right? So I arrived, Lycra-clad, ready to get all hot and sweaty with strange men. Just a regular Tuesday night.

I hoped I could slip in quietly by arriving late, but Tim, our trainer, had other plans. “This is Sarah, she’s come all the way from England,” he shouted as around 14 other fitness freaks muffled hellos.

After proper introductions and a warm-up the hard work really began: finding a guy who I fancied. Oh, and exercising, of course. Luckily, Trainer Tim seemed to have it all figured out. He ordered us to team up in boy-girl pairs, as we all shuffled along looking at each other as though we were at school and the thought of pairing up with a boy scared the living daylights out of us.

The rest of the class disappeared in a blur of lunges, sprints and sack races; I was trying to catch my breath and flirt at the same time – not the prettiest sight. The truth was, I didn’t fancy any of the guys, but I think that was a blessing in disguise. If there had have been any guys I’d been attracted to, I can’t imagine the aches and pains after showing off my push-up prowess.

I ended the night with no numbers, or dates, or even crushes (well, apart from a tiny one on Trainer Tim!) but one guy did ask me if I'd like to go running with him sometime. And I wondered, in the world of fitness dating, is this the equivalent of being asked on a date?? Well, I liked to think so!

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