My Story

It’s been difficult to meet a potential partner with a child in tow. People just assume you’re in a relationship. Work was a joke! Do you know there’s a shortage of men teaching in primary schools? And (I hate to stereotype) the few sports coaches who did flatter the ladies, were usually straight out of college. Nights out with the girls seemed to decline over the years as one by one, they found their mate, and reproduced. On the rare occasion we were let out, you couldn’t help thinking this was your one and only chance to meet a guy during a 5 hour window of opportunity. I must have reeked of desperation. The kind that only attracted those on their weekly episode of ‘no strings attached’ fun. Luckily I never lowered my standards to this.I had little choice but begin online dating. People spoke about the free dating sites, and I was intrigued. Writing a profile was challenging for someone who is modest such as myself. How do you blow your own trumpet without sounding like a cocky ar**! Having a quick nosy at other profiles (for research purposes of course) was a mistake. The competitive me came out. Their profiles were sexy, sassy and witty. If they were single what little hope was there for the rest of us? It didn’t take long to reach the point of pressing the button, the button that made you become a piece of meat hung out there for predators near and far to nibble on. And that’s just how it felt at first. Suddenly my inbox was inundated with winks, messages and invitations to chat. Perhaps this was a good sign. It felt wrong to scan through peoples profiles like they were CV’s. You soon got into a routine of sieving through those who were of no interest to you, and detecting those who were players by key words hidden within their profiles. The naked selfies in the mirror…. that was definitely desperation!!! But I was addicted to the site. Sucked in by the hope of someone new entering the arena who was my Mr Right? It didn’t take long to stop living in the real world as I excitedly hurried back home to my laptop for a quick flirt, and the giddy feeling at the thought of going on a first date with someone I’d been chatting to for weeks. This was the problem. A pattern emerged, investing in weeks of chatting to one person on the screen, whose photos gave the perception of a hotty, and the detailed profile of the perfect boyfriend. You could not help building a whole package inside your head based on the snippets of clues tossed to you through your laptop. Over time, this evolved further, until you had created your perfect avatar who you expected to meet over a perfect date. Unfortunately, reality was somewhat different. The person in front of you ended up being your avatar’s somewhat shorter and older cousin, with a tiny resemblance of the person on the computer screen, with a much squeakier voice, and excitable mannerisms and gestures. After much conversation (well, if would be rude to leave after ten minutes) it emerged that the business they were CEO of, was actually a selling site on Ebay. There is only one thing that runs through your mind at this point… How the hell do I get out of this date quickly and painlessly? Needless to say, this was never achieved promptly by someone with impeccable manners and who feels some sort of loyalty to the person they had been speaking to over the past few weeks. When you did escape, you knew the next dilemma you faced… How to let him down gently when you get the text saying ‘they hope you got home safe, and that they enjoyed your company and would love to do it again’. Again, this is awkward for a nice person. To ignore the text would just be cruel. It always ended up as some version of the classic ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ speech.
So, this went on for some time with the same pattern of events. It always ended with the deflated feeling that yet again, there was no spark when you met the person. You start thinking there must be something wrong with you, you were some sort of a commitment phobe. When you’re single, everyone around you looks happy in a relationship, and let’s face it, sometimes you can’t help thinking they must have settled for less. The more you think about finding Mr Right, the more of an obsession it becomes. The loneliest times are always Christmases, birthdays and of course Valentine’s Day. The winter months are bleaker than ever with no one to cosy up with. You crave for someone to hold you and tell you that everything’s okay when you have a bad day at the office.

 

After a while, the buzz of reaching out to guys from behind a computer screen, wore thin. It became draining scanning through the guys that didn’t reach your high standards. The text talk messages became infuriating ‘hey ur sexy, wanna meet?’ Soon the site was only being visited every other day and that was only because it became routine. It was when I was out shopping in a supermarket when a guy suddenly caught my eye. He held a stare and all I could muster was a blush and to scuttle away with a smile on my face. It was a glimmer of hope that there are actually guys all around you who are passing you daily, going unnoticed. It suddenly dawned on me, when was the last time I went out for drinks with friends? I’d been on dates, at least one a week. But when was the last time I was out to have fun and not on a mission to find Mr Right? My life had been taken over. it was time for a change. I was going to live instead of racing back home to my inbox. That is exactly what I did. I firstly deleted every single one of my dating profiles (including the site I had a month’s subscription left). It felt fantastic. Just as it did when we burnt our school uniform in the summer of 99 (or was that just us being rebels?). I contacted friends who had been neglected for a while, and begged them to be my sidekick. I spent more time hanging out in general whether that was sunbathing in the park or visiting a museum for the tenth time. Soon the need to be in a relationship had been replaced with having a good time and making money. I felt powerful and carefree. This of course meant that I could now hold a gaze with a cute stranger. For the first time, I was enjoying life and didn’t need a relationship to complete it.

 

‘You will meet Mr Right when you least expect it’. Isn’t this the reassurance couples offer? Well they couldn’t be more right. It was the most unlikely place that I found love… My son’s Christmas disco of all places! I was wearing an old bobbly woollen jumper, I hadn’t even bothered to reapply my makeup from the day and my hair was in a falling out state. I was just sat with friends having a beer (yes we had alcohol at our children’s Christmas disco). It was even a sophisticated can of Stella that I was cradling. I was chatting with my friend whilst scanning the dance floor when I caught the eye of a guy sporting a Christmas jumper. I didn’t even think anything of it because he had two boys in tow and was obviously another one of the married men who get their kicks by stalking me with stares hoping I will respond to boost their ego. I did what I always did… I looked anywhere but in their direction and appeared to be having a great time. I even braved a strut right on past the guy without even acknowledging him. But the guy was persistent as he moved over to our side of the hall, I could feel his piercing stare. I felt intrigued, and saddened when he suddenly was gone. I resigned to the fact, it was another brief encounter with a guy that I would never see again. But I promised myself if I did see the mystery man in the playground the next day (the final day before the Christmas break), then I would approach him. The next day there he was. Playing it cool, I stood next to him in the huddle waiting for the children to be released. I caught his gaze and asked him why he was still wearing his Christmas jumper?

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Bad case of verbal diarrhoea?

Whilst watching the repeat of last night’s Take Me Out, I found myself burying my head in my hands. 

There were comments of being sweaty Betty’s on the dance floor, grown cavemen eating delicate spoonfuls like a lady. And that was only the guys choosing the girls to date. The row of girls competing for dates compared themselves to Side Show Bob, and openly shared the fact they ate six packets of pork scratching a day (she somehow redeemed herself and got the guy). The girls were also persistent in throwing out compliments to the guys on how hot they were. 

I realise when you find yourself attracted to a person you can unfortunately, become the biggest wally ever in a nervous mushy mess. But less is more. 

Whilst on dates it’s okay to retain a degree of mystery. Sometimes if we pour out our whole life story, it can sound a little desperate, and you need to leave your date wanting to know more. Likewise, it shows we have a degree of emotional intelligence when we compliment others but tell them you like what they’re wearing. There’s no need to let out you fancy them straight away. They should work for it. Nobody wants it when it’s offered to you on a plate. When you put someone on a pedestal it can sometimes sound like you think they’re out of your league. We certainly shouldn’t be putting ourselves or close family and friends down in front of dates. Although it’s a good quality to be able to laugh at ourselves, it can come across as not being confident, and put them off. We’re trying to make a good first impression after all. Even if we do have bad habits or imperfections we’re not ashamed of, in the early stages we can’t help but be shallow and misjudge others on things we would later laugh about or find cute. We’re all guilty of it. How many online daters have you swiped left on because you found a spelling mistake in their profile?

Attractive qualities are confidence, being interesting, sociable and relaxed about the whole dating game because we are comfortable in our own skin.

Have you ever been told “when you stop looking, love will come along?”

Is there actually truth in this statement? Whilst being the only single left in your circle, you can’t help but think, your friends are just trying to be kind consoling you with this little white lie. But recently I’ve found myself debating whether it’s a fact?

I’m surrounded by tales from the dating world of people feeling hurt when they’ve been dumped from someone they’ve been chatting to online or have been on a couple of dates with. For some, there seems to be a fairytale built around what I would call ‘a few casual dates between two like-minded people to see if there’s a spark’. They already have themselves married, with the perfect cottage in the country with their little vegetable patch, and cute, freckled-faced perfect children in tow. Expectations seem to be high because they are on a mission to find the one. To earn a date with some of the ladies in the first place the guys must pass a series of online tests e.g. a literacy exam, a resistance to forward dick pics!

After each dating process, they never make the grade and the dater either do the dumping or get dumped due to the expectations overload. 

Have you ever been searching high and low for the perfect shawl to go with a dress but when you stop looking and the event has passed, you stumble across at least a handful of garments that would have been perfect?

The same can be said for love. When you’re putting pressure on yourself and your date to be ‘the one’ it takes the fun out of the date, and being in such a desperate mindset to find true love can only set yourself up for failure and pain when it’s all you live and breath.

Instead, I would like to read the tales from the dating world reading like “I have been so busy with life but I met this one girl who caught my eye. I thought we might as well go out for a date to have some fun. If it goes somewhere then great, if not, I haven’t lost anything.”

I’m certain when we become more relaxed about dating and reach the emotional intelligence not to care if things don’t go anywhere, then love will come along.

A Bitter Pill?

Whilst reading tweets from single ladies, I couldn’t help but notice there’s a lot of man haters out there. Have we forgotten how to give people the benefit of the doubt after one too many bad dates? Tarnished with the same brush, the women seem to have united to form a defence system. They protect the tribe, and throw shade to all the men they date and it doesn’t go the way they long for it to. I’m certain it’s probably the same for the single males too.

It saddens me that such hatred can occur from a situation which mimics trying on various pairs of gloves to see which one fits. It’s nobody’s fault if a date doesn’t flow, it takes two to hold a conversation and the fact of the matter is, it’s just not the right fit! My pet hate is when less confident people project the blame on the other person saying they’re not fun. Everyone is fun in their own ways and fun is measured differently from each individual anyway. Who has the right to decide what’s fun and what isn’t? What saddens me more is knowing that this attitude towards dating is diminishing their chances of finding the one because they have already given up hope, have already decided what type of bad arse person this is before they go on the date. Besides, who’s going to find a man/woman-hater attractive anyway?

We all need to be more open to date on the mission to find love, and kinder towards those who we meet along the way. They’re the ones who give us the experiences that make us who we are today, after all.

Do we ever find a happy place?

I get annoyed at the movies, such as Bridget Jones where you spend the entire first movie following the complications of the character’s quest to bag the man. And then the second and third films see the pattern start all over again where she loses and then bags the man. But perhaps this is simply the true to life, rollercoaster?

We spend so much time finding the one and assume that when they come along, everything will be ok. Our lives will be complete. This could be where the fairy tales ended as children where the beautiful understated girl bagged her hansom prince and lived happily ever after in the palace? But life is somewhat different. You face new problems.

The fact of the matter is, I was single for ten years whilst bringing up my son. Don’t get me wrong, I had relationships but they never lasted beyond nine months. I was fussy in my old age for one thing. Internet dating became an obsession where I found myself racing home to check out if their were any fresh meat on the site. It wasn’t until I accidently bumped into a guy (who wasn’t my type in the slightest) whilst having a shit day, when it all changed. David was not the older man I usually go for yet he put me in my place more than anyone could and was very worldly. These were both attributes I found attractive in a partner.

We took things slowly which worked for me. Every date was new and left butterflies in my stomach. David worked away a lot and was originally rom the Manchester which meant he had a daughter up there who he spent much time visiting. He was a good Dad which is also appealing. He soon built an amazing relationship with my son. David had previously been in long relationships so he wasn’t the type of guy to shy away from commitment. He was actually better at it than me, and it didn’t take long to say the ‘L’ word. Although we didn’t see each other every day, David called me every night. Sounds perfect? So why isn’t it?

The truth of the matter is, there are always problems. There is no such thing as a happy ever after (I hope this doesn’t rain on your parade too much). Eighteen months down the line and nothing has changed. We still enjoy each other’s company and the spark is most definitely there but that is just it. Things haven’t changed and don’t promise to anytime soon. Baggage has dealt us a rubbish card. Not on my side of things, I’ve never been married and bring my son up entirely on my own so no exes involved. Likewise work for me is not tying in any way. However, David is not yet divorced from his crazy ex, who has poisoned the mind of his child to the point that he doesn’t want to meet me under any circumstances. And David is married to his job which means he has to go wherever they send him and remain living a good hour’s drive away for the next six years. Some might say, be grateful for what you’ve got. Soulmates don’t come around too often but doesn’t this feel worse? You have found yours yet everything is working against you. Sod’s law I think they call it. If I didn’t realise how rare it is to find someone, then I would have given up on things a long time ago. I would say I’m very much hanging on in there. Am I patient or a mug? I find myself asking.

The moral of the story is, perhaps we need to stop looking for the perfect life and just make do with what we’ve got. Otherwise we’ll spend our entire lives looking for perfection instead of living it.

Just your average dating story- fifth instalment.

thDHOOFE9Z It was finally the evening of the first date with James. It took a good thirty minutes of trying on various outfits and tossing them aside in a pile on the floor before I decided on my new high-waisted jeans and crop top combo. I had no idea where we were going which didn’t help matters. James insisted on planning the whole evening, leaving it as a surprise for me. Apparently that’s what the guy does where he’s from. I wasn’t complaining, well apart from the fact I didn’t dare wear my new dress due to visions of us going gliding with my hair and dress flapping wildly in the wind. Obviously, I gave the chosen combo the wow factor by teaming it with healed platforms, and dedicating time curling my hair and perfecting my make-up. I felt hot and therefore, I had to take a few selfies as a souvenir (this is what I have found myself doing since passing thirty). I got into the mood by indulging in one or two glasses of rum and coke, and listened to music which brought out the minx in me. It was soon time to leave feeling excited yet slightly apprehensive not only that James liked me but whether I felt the same way about him. It had been a few weeks since I’d last seen him after all. I walked up the steps to the quirky little joint where I was told to meet my date. It was full of laughter, and eyes following me to the bar. Why is it, a lady entering a pub alone is instantly preyed upon? I glanced over to the bar and could not hide a smile of relief as my eyes met with James’. He had obviously made an effort, wearing a smart jumper and shirt combo. I could not help but wonder how many outfits he tried on that evening? Most probably just the one, men don’t seem to have this issue, apparently. As soon as I was in his presence my nerves disappeared. It was the familiar guy I spent, passing the time at the side-lines, chatting about nonsense. I think you can build these things up too much once it has been labelled a date. James did the gentlemanly thing in ordering me a drink, and the conversation flowed as it always did… With little or no awkward silences. How could this be possible, I could talk to this guy like a friend yet I still fancied him? This was new territory for me, usually I could gossip away with a guy because he was in the friend zone or I went disastrously shy after deciding a guy was hot and intimidating. After drinks, we ate at a tasty little deli by day that transformed into a candle-lit bistro by night. And yes, I could also eat infront of this guy. There was none of that delicately dicing my food into mouse-sized portions, and gently nibbling it after finding that my stomach had closed for the evening. We shared a love of seafood, and after both deciding on the same dishes, it made sense that we shared a few plates. However, I could tell that James was holding back and he would have most probably polished off the entire banquet in ten if I wasn’t sat opposite. This was kind of endearing. At the end of the meal there is usually that awkwardness of who would be paying the bill. I always offer and am happy to pay and can’t help but sometimes feel offended when I am refused. But I knew that this insulted men and I had to simple bite my lip and be grateful for the gesture, even if it is something out of a 50’s movie. As we walked to the taxi rank, I could not help but lean my newly delicate frame into his. There was a chill in the night air after all. Then, we suddenly stilled, and our eyes met. It felt like the perfect moment to seal the evening with a kiss, and right on cue, the smooth operator read the signals, swooping in for a kiss. As our lips locked, I felt the electricity, like the moment our hands first connected. In the taxi ride home, I could not control my giddiness, along with the smirk fixed to my face.

Just your average dating story- third installment.

girls-shopping-iclip

The cute guy smirked, and replied slightly taken aback “yeah, I left my Christmas jumper at home today”.

After the holidays, we began chatting our way through the cold whilst waiting patiently for our monsters to be released. Which resulted in me unusually arriving at the pitch side ten minutes early, and suddenly planning what I was going to wear the for the next match day. We actually had a lot in common for example, we both seemed to have a desire to never settle in one place for too long on a quest to seek out new adventures. James wasn’t the ‘married man desperately seeking a flirt with a single girl’ type that I first decided (which would have been obvious if he wore a ‘My Light is on’ button badge, just saying!). He was actually just babysitting his cousin’s children after school and was taking them to clubs. And to add to the perfect scene, my son conveniently became best friends with his brood (yes, I know… It’s too much like something out of a chic flick).

As always, we shouldn’t get too carried away with these things. Nothing is forever after all. But one thing was for sure, I was having fun and enjoying this guy’s company, even if it was in the friends zone at this point. James felt familiar, he was laid back which made him ooze a warm, friendly ora which I’m sure, allowed him to instantly feel at ease with anyone he met, and makes him the sociable person everyone loves to be around, and invites to parties. However, it wasn’t the usual friend zone. This was new territory… I also fancied the guy and felt challenged by the things he said. For the first time in a while, I had met a guy confident enough to put me in my place if I was cheeky, and one who didn’t feel the need to keep reminding me ‘you’re gorgeous!’, ‘why are you still single?’ (a note to people going on first dates). More to the point, for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel the need to run away.

After a few days of chatting I decided there and then that the next time we met, I was going to drag us out of the friend zone by getting James’ number. It was a Sunday (meaning there would be a five-day window when we wouldn’t be seeing each other), which was the perfect excuse to request anyone’s number. I was cool, confident and playful, as I suggested “we should exchange numbers and go for a drink whilst you’re here”. I caught at the corner of my eye, my friend (the married one who was feeling slightly awkward standing next to us) suddenly looked dumbstruck! James coolly replied “yeah, good idea but I haven’t got my phone on me right now”. Part of me felt deflated, thinking that I had overstepped the mark, and he was making an excuse as to not give out his number. But I’m certain I didn’t show it. I thought what the hell, what have I got to lose? I conveniently found a pen in my handbag and wrote my number on the back of James’ hand. As our hands connected I felt something, I’d hate to say a spark because that is too much of a clinche’. I was certain that James found my confidence hot and I felt sexy and seductive even if nothing came of it. After James was dragged away by the force of his hungry brood, I turned around to my friend and said “you’re shocked I had the balls to do that aren’t you?” and she replied “Yep, I was impressed!”

Does seeing someone attract other potential partners?

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Am I alone in thinking love interests are like buses… None show up and then they all come at once?

In the past I have experienced long dry spells of serial dating but nothing ever getting past the second or third date. But then over the last six months, things have been somewhat different. I have been in new territory, a period of permanently seeing someone one after the other whether that be for a month at a time or more.  It appears that being found attractive by someone, attracts others, and this has lead to interesting (and interested) guys coming out of the woodwork.

Perhaps when you are coupled up (whether it is deemed to last or not) you radiate a happiness or a self-confidence in which the opposite sex detect and prey upon? Or maybe this is just another example of how giving up online dating has opened up new opportunities which had gone unnoticed before now? It will be interesting to see if the ‘My Light is on’ pin badges will help others to find love interests the organic way by erasing the issues of being dubious whether the hot girl or guy in the supermarket is single and is looking to date, as well as being a conversation starter!

Let us make this campaign happen!