Still waiting to be “swiped” off my feet…

In 2012 Tinder ushered in a new era in the history of romance and revolutionised the dating game. The introduction of the swipe left for a no and swipe right for a yes formula was quickly adopted by many other dating apps. With a mobile-first generation; the carefully put together profiles quickly lost out to photo-led profiles designed to be swiped through whilst on the go. It’s evident Tinder has racked up some impressive stats over the years — as it stands, users swipe 1.6 billion times a day across 190 countries! However, eight years since entering the market, it appears the once thriving “dependable wingmate” has gone from fringe novelty to a dating apocalypse.

As we become bound to the excitement of matches and neurochemical “rewards,” it’s no surprise that us online daters get hooked on these apps. Essentially, whenever “it’s a match” pops up on our screens, the brain releases a flurry of dopamine chemicals, giving us small bursts of happiness. While the swiping process is meant to help us discover potential romantic partners more effectively, it seems the excessive app usage and mindless swiping is weakening ties between individuals rather than fostering connections.

I’ve had the pleasure of letting Tinder, Bumble, OKCupid, POF, Hinge and Coffee Meets Bagel grace my iPhone’s home screen. I’ve also had the pleasure of deleting them… then reinstalling months later (😩) in hopes that something might actually come from it. Unfortunately it’s the same thing over and over — an exhaustive, repetitive, daily thumb-swiping exercise consisting of nothing more than three-second photo evaluations, half-hearted bio scans and a few dead-end conversations. Indeed, I’m not the only one that feels this way. According Badoo’s research with 5,000 British 18-30 year olds, 68% dislike swiping and matching based on appearances alone, claiming there’s very little going on when it comes to meaningful engagement.

So what are dating apps doing to address the low quality interactions and improve matches?

In the last couple of years, several apps started experimenting with video features. In 2018, Badoo introduced “Badoo Live” — allowing users to receive messages from interested parties while live streaming. A principle similar to Facebook Live, the feature also offers the ability to watch in playback mode. Once a match is made, users can start a live video chat with each other within the app. And with the recent growth in video dating during the pandemic, many apps capitalised on video-chat. Hinge unveiled the “Date from Home” option to facilitate safe dating as well as aid users in transitioning from message ping pong to a virtual date.

By allowing people’s real personalities to shine through, it not only solves the problems of misrepresentative photos, catfishing and delayed responses; but video could also increase your chances of having a personable connection sooner and save time and energy to focus on dates that you’re genuinely excited about. When two individuals hold face-to-face communication (whether physically present or over video call) — the use of voice, gestures, body language and facial expressions help to build stronger relationships. This particular form of exchanging personal information is known as “Dyadic Communication” — and due to its intimate nature, this practice simply cannot afford to be impersonal.

So if we’re really looking to make meaningful connections then perhaps now is the time to start embracing video within dating apps. Many of us will find the thought of recording ourselves rather daunting but we need to keep in mind that dating should also be about having fun, stepping out of our comfort zones, building confidence and utilising our time more effectively. If we can begin tweaking our profiles and incorporating video, I’m confident that the matches will be of higher quality. No doubt it will eradicate or at least reduce the snap judgements made, help us look past the heavily filtered photos and present users/ourselves in a more authentic light.

It’s worth mentioning that I’ll be trialling out a new video-only dating app called Oneder in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing what impact video-first will have from a user experience in comparison to the usual swiping apps, and of course, seeing what romantic potential it has to offer! Who knows… I might actually find “reel” love this time around – watch this space 😉

Is more less when it comes to dating?

Remember when choices were as simple as “regular latte” or “skinny latte”? These days it’s more like “decaf latte, double shot, caramel syrup, half-soy, half-oat, 180-degrees, no-foam, with a sprinkle of chocolate powder on top”. Let me tell you something… the online dating landscape is not too dissimilar! The challenge these days for many singletons, particularly where dating apps are concerned, is not just about dishonesty, but decision-making as well.

Once upon a time I found dating apps fun and interesting but after using them for a few months, the novelty quickly wore off. Now I merely see them as tedious and exhausting… it’s like an endless stream of “potentials” along with endless swiping (left), every time I open the apps. While the barrage of choice should make connections easier, it also makes us more picky. Whether we’re looking for something better or just completely overlooking, do we miss a good opportunity when it’s presented right in front of our eyes?

The paradox of choice

“Maximising” is a term coined by Barry Schwartz, a psychology professor at Swarthmore College and author of “The Paradox of Choice”. Briefly summarised, “maximisers” are those who believe the grass is always greener on the other side. This particular pool of people treat dating and relationships very much like clothing. They might try a few options before committing to the right item, perhaps they’ll stay on the look out “just in case” or if they really can’t decide, it’s possible they’ll end up with two similar garments and flit between them. The only difference is, there’s no refunds or exchanges in the dating world! Have you ever found yourself in this type of situation? I know I have… and I’m talking metaphorically and literally.

I once dated two guys at the same time… whilst also lightly entertaining three others potentials just because I could. Normally I’m someone that likes to stick with one person, at least that way they can have my full attention plus it means less faffing around. But for the sake of trying out a new strategy, I decided to run an A/B split test.

The subjects

Although the two had very different personalities, I found them equally attractive. Guy #1 was the extrovert. In a nutshell I’d describe him as extremely social, well dressed, nicely built, perfect height, super chatty, great fun, hilarious, confident but not cocky. Guy #2 was quite the opposite. Totally introverted. Had a whole lot less to say but any time he opened his mouth, there was good, intellectual substance behind his words. Slightly more mature in the mind which was a nice change in comparison to other men I’ve dated previously! A little on the short side( though that didn’t bug me too much), kinda geeky, generous, thoughtful, well put together and also had a great build!

Activity

After a couple months in, I realised it was getting a bit too much! Multi-dating is honestly so mentally and physically draining. It’s the constant upkeep of texting back and forth trying to maintain several conversations at once, managing dates to ensure there’s no clashes, getting paranoid in case one guy would see me with the other, the effort of getting dressed up to actually go out on these dates (between 3-4 times a week!) …all of this while you’re still trying to suss them out. And that’s just the dating side of my life! Your mind is always in a pickle about which one to eventually kick to the curb, not to mention date requests coming in from the other potentials! This was a mess. It was time to optimise the strategy.

Results

So I ended up getting rid of both guys… and deleted all apps from my phone. Sometimes that’s the way it needs to be. Truthfully I was getting bored and felt overwhelmed with the whole dating palaver. I couldn’t be arsed to make a choice and I definitely couldn’t be bothered to go on any more new dates. It was all unnecessary drama that I didn’t need in my life.

What I found particularly interesting about the “A/B test” was the correlation between my handling of the situation and one of the studies discussed in Schwartz’s book. It concluded that while having increased options can be beneficial to a certain point, giving people too much choice would likely cause poor decision making, feelings of dissatisfaction, regret, or we become exhausted and make no decision at all!

If you think about it, it’s not just dating where we might experience over-abundance of options. It happens in everyday life. At restaurants when looking at a menu, down each aisle during grocery shopping, choosing a Netflix film to watch, figuring out which stocks to invest in, etc. Dating apps are great in bringing you closer to someone compatible, but if you’re hitting it off with one person and still have another 78 others waiting for you to match with them; is it worth having a look through? Or do we focus on this one person and keep those as part of an “emergency stash”?
In my opinion, if you’re someone who is actually serious about making a real, long term connection then the approach needs to be adjusted to fit your objective. Here are a few of my suggestions/thoughts:

1. If you have multiple dating apps, why not stick with your preferred one? At least this will cut down your swipes and choices.

2. If you’re already dating/chatting to someone, spend the time to get to know them properly before jumping ship. Don’t be quick to judge and learn to give people the benefit of the doubt… no one is perfect!

3. We need to stop treating a people as if they’re disposable or some type of commodity. It’s only fair to base a person on his or her own merits and not in comparison to 3, 5 or 10 other people. If I’ve instantly clicked with someone and things have progressed to a second date then they definitely warrant 100% of my attention.

Love, lust or attachment?

With 80 billion cells and various chemicals in our brain, it’s no wonder why feelings and emotions are so hard to decipher. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a time when we’ve met someone and felt instantly drawn to them. It’s common to feel a variety of sensations including nervousness, excitement, an adrenaline rush, anxiety, an increased heartbeat and so on. Sometimes the “sparkle” of a new relationship in your life can be overwhelming; causing your judgements to be clouded. There’ll be a certain point where the mind starts throwing up all sorts of questions like: Should I give 100% to this individual? Do they feel the same? Is it more than just attraction? Is there potential for longterm commitment? Is this person a “nice to have” because I’m bored?


Assuming we have those questions figured out, and things develop even further… are we then entering the territory of love, lust or attachment? How do we differentiate between the three? Personally speaking, I believe I’ve felt lust before, I’ve also felt attachment (in a rather unhealthy way), and both are a type of high that are not just addictive but consume a lot of your mental space. If I were to briefly summarise the two experiences, I’d say:

LUST
Is impulsive, obsessive and surface-level; it offers immediate gratification thus short lived. When you’re lusting after someone, you’ll find yourself in fantasyland. The infatuation begins to takes over to the point where you start ignoring things… including red flags! With lust, we project what we want to see rather than the reality of the person and situation. This is exactly what I went through during a rebound.

ATTACHMENT
Is actually more about yourself than the other person, though it might not seem like it in the moment. It leaves no allowance for vulnerability. It’s convenient, pleasure seeking, requires constant reassurance and eventually drains the living soul out of you because in the end, it’s just a power struggle game. The aim is to keep the person there for as long as possible to fill a void, whether it be boredom, loneliness, etc. Unfortunately as humans, we’re wired to get attached to ideas/people/things very quickly because ultimately it’s what we think will complete us and fulfil our needs. I could go much deeper into this subject but I think I’ll save it for a rainy day!

LOVE
Well I can’t really speak on “being in love” as I don’t think I’ve experienced it in full force as such but in one of my others posts “Love, Sex & Magic”, I collaborated with a fellow blogger and discuss what I believe it to be. Whilst we’re on the subject, I wanted to highlight an interesting study led by Helen Fisher from Rutgers University on the science behind love. There are some key takeaways from her model suggesting that there are various overlaps as well as subtleties between the three ‘strands of love’, all uniquely characterised by their own set of neurotransmitters and the release of specific hormones during each stage, these are:

Lust – Testosterone and oestrogen
Attraction – Dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin
Attachment – Oxytocin and vasopressin

While love can start off with any of these three feelings, ie. people have sex first and then fall in love, some fall in love then have sex, some feel deeply attached to someone they’ve known for a while then eventually fall in love — the brain’s system can be tricky. Having sex increases dopamine in the brain and can push you over the threshold toward falling in love. With an orgasm, a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin pumps into the brain, giving you feelings of attachment. Where casual sex is concerned, as much as we like to convince ourselves otherwise, it isn’t always casual. In fact, those who engage in “hooking up”, do it to unconsciously trigger feelings of romance and attachment. The bottom line: sexual intimacy can trigger a host of powerful feelings. This is why we can become so confused internally when it comes to matters of the heart.

Fisher explains that romantic love is composed of attachment, attraction, and lust. As they emit a different combination of chemicals from the brain, it is impossible to experience real love without a blend of all three. When we do experience this love, one of the central ideas is that romantic love is a drive much stronger than the sex drive. A few signs of “romantic drive” are as follows:

1. You begin to think your love interest is unique. You also experience the inability to feel romantic passion for anyone else. This single-mindedness results from elevated levels of central dopamine, increasing attention and focus.

2. Your overall outlook in life seems significantly more positive. You’ll frequently catch yourself daydreaming about the other person. Trivial events and objects will instantly remind you of them.

3. People who are in love generally feel a powerful sense of empathy toward their partner, feeling the other person’s pain as their own and being willing to make sacrifices for the other.

4. Emotional intimacy is one the biggest factors that sets love apart from the attraction or lust you feel in the early days of dating. When you open up to your partner and become more vulnerable, it shows that you may very well be heading in the direction of love.

5. Oxytocin increases feelings of safety and calmness. When the initial nerves/anxiety are replaced with contentment, it could be a sign you’ve gone from infatuation to love. 

6. Lastly, when you’re in love, you start including your partner in all your future plans. You’ll start considering your significant other when it comes to making big life decisions simply because you want them to be there for it all.


It’s evident our human brains are a minefield; emotions are no doubt complex to decode. Nonetheless it’s important to remember that whether you’re in early stages of a relationship or happily settled down, we at times forget to prioritise ourselves. It’s easy to get wrapped up by someone and driven by forces outside of our conscious awareness, so do check in with yourself to ensure your situation isn’t having a negative impact on your mental and physical wellbeing.

Red flags: some people aren’t looking for love, they’re looking for help.

If I were to sit down and have a conversation with myself say… 6 months into each of my relationships, I would not only advise on what characteristics I needed to work on as a person but firmly tell myself to open my goddamn eyes and take a good look at what’s waving right in front of me. Yes. We’re talking red flags.

Taking a chance on someone is necessary if you ever want to find a meaningful connection, no doubt any new relationship is full of challenges. As you get to know someone, there’s no telling whether things will go left or right. However, it’s difficult for the new romance to thrive if you cling on to resistance or fear. In a healthy relationship it’s important for both partners to trust and be trusted, to open up and be vulnerable with each other.

Generally dating and new relationships should be fun. As you transition from strangers to lovers, the most exciting part is learning all there is to know about someone on every level – emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. But sometimes when we’re filled with exhilaration we become blinded by those rose tinted glasses, thus end up overlooking the warning signs. From controlling behaviour to gaslighting to dishonesty; I’ve certainly experienced moments of tunnel vision in past and have been played the fool. While I’m no relationship expert, time and experience has helped me navigate my way through a lot of bullshit, enabling me spot that boundary-pushing behaviour early on. I’ve taken my learnings and would like to highlight some tactics that were used on me to cover up some serious flaws…

Catching someone in a web of lies
Oh jeez… this reminds me of my last relationship! You can read about that drama here. I think it’s fair to say that in life we all tell little white lies here and there, ie. “I’ll call you!”,“We must catch up soon!”, “Your haircut isn’t that bad!”, “I won’t be able to make it tonight, I’m feeling poorly.” These are not unheard of and have very low stake. However, if you’re catching someone fibbing time and time again, especially at the start of a relationship. My advice is to run. If they’re able to deceive you once, it makes it easier for them to lie more often. The more you catch them being dishonest, the more your trust will be tarnished. And what’s a relationship without trust? Sometimes you’ve really got to stop and wonder how honest this person actually is. What else could they be lying about? In fact, don’t even bother doing detective work, save your energy and just leave. Believe me, if you stick around… the pile of lies will post bigger problems down the road.

No life outside the relationship
There’s nothing wrong with valuing your time together, but if the person you’re seeing never mentions their friends, recent social gatherings, group activities, or anything to do with other people… it’s definitely an eyebrow raiser. I completely understand that some people suffer from social anxiety or are super introverted, that’s fair enough. Nevertheless, it’s usually a tell tale sign that the person is codependent and/or very possessive. I’ve been with a couple of guys who wanted my full attention, day in, day out. Apart from feeling like they’re draining the life and soul out of you, this behaviour displays unhealthy clinginess, a lack of self-sufficiency and insecurity. In a relationship, you shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to do your own thing nor should you feel the need to comply with their “rules” to appease them.

They don’t introduce you to their friends, family or anyone in their life
It takes time to meet the important people in your partner’s life. But if you’ve been dating for a while and you’ve been kept at a distance from everyone in their life, then that’s an issue. Unless you’re someone’s mistress or side piece, introducing each other to friends and family is a positive step. If you’re wondering why you haven’t reached that stage yet, it could be a sign that the person doesn’t take you or the relationship seriously… or there’s something shady going on. I suggest you call them out or call it quits!

You’re beginning to justify their behaviour
Toxic people are great at creating a false positive impression to worm their way into your heart. When they’ve done something that you deem unacceptable, somehow they’ll twist your mind to make you rationalise their wrongdoings. If you find yourself thinking or saying stuff like: “Oh he’s only like that because…” then perhaps it’s time to take a step back and really listen to what your gut is telling you.

You start to question your sanity
This is what happens when you’re being gaslighted. Briefly explained, it’s when your partner challenges your perception of situations, of yourself, of your thoughts, of your feelings, of their behaviour. The worst part is when you don’t even realise you’re being manipulated! It’s a gradual build up, these people normally appear very charming at first but soon enough you’ll recognise they’re all talk and no action. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse so it’s best to shut it down as soon as possible. If you feel like you’re starting to second guess yourself more than usual, I would recommend you go in for reality check by talking to your friends or family. Get them to be brutally honest.

Be observant of their behaviour from day one

These are just some of the key red flags I wanted to draw attention to. It’s always difficult to think logically when you find yourself in the situation and in your feelings, at times we even refuse to acknowledge these actions and behaviours. If you’re beginning to wonder how you even wound up in the mess you’re in now, think about the early warning signs. I want to end this post with a quote which rings true when thinking about this topic:

“The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

– Maya Angelou

One Q&A + two sassy bloggers = love, sex and magic.

Happy weekend everyone! Hope you’re enjoying the beautiful weather (Londoners) albeit windy! As if it wasn’t hot enough already this week… I’m here to crank the heat up a notch or two with my very first (and very spicy) collaboration! Yessss this a Bank Holiday Special! So before I dive in, I want quickly give a shout out to my fellow blogger, sexpert and orgasm lover, the bold and beautiful soul behind TheDatingShitShow. I’ll warn you now, her content is not for the faint hearted! In short, she takes you on a personal journey with a strong emphasis on female sexual empowerment, essentially you’ll see her life through a “steamy” lens. The underlying message is to encourage women to embrace pleasure, erotic energy and explore your deep desires. Check it out if you have 5 mins to spare 🙂

As for context on how this collaboration came about, we literally met through Instagram like… last week! She dropped me a message and it pretty much took off from there. The fact that we’re both passionate about self-expression, have similar writing tones, are huge fans of Sex and the City (Samantha Jones obvs!) and of course share comparable dating experiences; it just made sense to come together, hone in on our areas of interest and produce a fun and exciting joint blog post to share with our readers.

Between the two of us, we conjured up 8 extremely deep, intimate, daring questions. The type that most people would not typically discuss in such a public domain! It’s a good thing we’re not “most people” then, because here we are… two sassy bloggers + one hot and heavy Q&A piece. We touch on love, heartbreak, sex and porn! So without further ado…


DO YOU THINK YOU HAVE EVER BEEN IN LOVE?

Damsel in Dating Distress
I used to think so but looking back I’m not entirely convinced. The one time I think I experienced “being in love” was with my first boyfriend. I was 16 at the time, together for 3 years so fairly young and naive. I went through all the emotions that you would associate with romantic love. Feeling like you’re on cloud nine, the immediate excitement of seeing or speaking to them, having that person on your mind throughout the day, placing the other person’s needs before your own, imagining the rest of your life with them, being blind to everything else around you, being literally inseparable. In hindsight I realised it was just a heavily codependent relationship. Maybe my “teenage love” was nothing more than an attachment, but not the healthy kind.

Dating Shit Show
The first time I fell in love was with my university boyfriend and we were together for 4 years. He taught me what love should be like and showed me how to love, without conditions. I would say I’ve been in love a handful of times throughout my life, young love, puppy love, dependent love. We learn a lot about ourselves when we fall in love, sometimes it blinds us, sometimes it breaks our heart and then teaches us to be a little less naive.

IF YES, CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE FEELING AND EXPERIENCE? IF NOT, WHAT DO YOU THINK LOVE IS?

Damsel in Dating Distress
I think many of us tend to get confused between, love, lust and attachment. I’ll save my deep dive for a separate post but in essence, love should feel steady and secure. It involves commitment, vulnerability, mutual trust, and acceptance. It’s a feeling and emotion that grows over time through getting to know a person, while also experiencing high and low moments together. Love should hold a more balanced perspective; when together your energies should complement each other whilst allowing for the ability to maintain a life of your own. I’m yet to experience this high level version of love.

Dating Shit Show
Love is beautiful and intimate. The first time I fell in love I learned what love has the potential to be. Love is about bringing out the best in another person and giving your best to another person. Nourishing and encouraging each other to be the best possible version of yourselves. I don’t fall in love very easily, but when I do I fall deeply.

WHAT WAS YOUR WORST EXPERIENCE OF HEARTBREAK?

Damsel in Dating Distress
Not surprisingly, it was with my first boyfriend. The overall heartbreak was a build up of many painful, infuriating moments over time. It started off with his controlling, double standard behaviour where I was told to stop hanging out and speaking to my guy friends. Dictating what I could and couldn’t wear. The verbal and physical bust ups. The lying and cheating. We went through a break up/make up vicious cycle which involved manipulation, mind games and eventually led to the real break up which was just horrid. I cried for about 3 months, lost my appetite and felt a huge void. Thinking back, I cannot imagine putting myself through mental and physical turmoil for a man (!) or anyone for that fact! Being young, having your first relationship and going through a rollercoaster of emotions (never experienced before) was tough. The aftermath of trust issues, paranoia, anger, insecurity, etc. took its toll on me for a good few years, consequently causing damage to my other relationships. Thankfully time allows you to grow, mature, heal, learn and self discover.

Dating Shit Show
I dated a guy for 4 years during my twenties. I moved to a small town where everything and everyone was new. We started dating and I fell in love. It wasn’t what love should be. It was full of resentment, lying and disrespect. He ended the relationship over text after 4 years, started dating someone new a week later, then had me fired from my job. LOL. This was my “rock bottom” heartbreak, the one where you feel as though you’ve been shit on. It took me a while to get over the relationship. but I believe this heartbreak is one of the reasons I am as strong and badass as I am today. That breakup taught me to never give someone else so much control over my feelings and it taught me that love shouldn’t complete any part of me or my life, it should add something extraordinary to an already amazing life.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST TIME HAVING SEX LIKE?

Damsel in Dating Distress
Yeah it wasn’t bad. We had spoken about it in advance and (us being clueless teenagers) kinda “choreographed” what was going to happen, from foreplay to the actual moment! It happened in my house, on my bed. I don’t remember every detail (it was a while ago) but I know we were both nervous. The nerves certainly got to him more than me (I suspect this is common for guys) because it took us a couple of tries which added even more pressure on him – slightly awkward! We got there in the end and it’s kind of what you’d expect for a first time ; a bit of uncertainty, a little clumsy, slow but nevertheless enjoyable. I’m that the experience was shared with a boyfriend, it made everything more intimate and special.

Dating Shit Show
My first time was beautiful. I was very fortunate and I chose well. He was a chef in a restaurant I was working in. He was a little older than me and a lot more responsible. I was in such a hurry to have sex for the first time and he encouraged me to slow down and not to rush such a big thing. My first time was sweet and romantic and unforgettable in all the right ways.

WHAT’S A SUREFIRE WAY TO TURN YOU ON?

Damsel in Dating Distress
There’s a list but here’s the shortened version:

1. Confidence, respect, wit and assertiveness – Nothing beats a man with a strong presence. If he is self-assured with gentlemanly traits, I’m hooked in.
2. Strong arms and broad shoulders – I find it very attractive as it makes the guy appear more masculine and domineering.
3. Aggression/submission in bed – hair pulling, neck grabbing, back scratching, nail digging, against the wall, over the table! 😀
4. Men in sweats (preferably grey) and topless – This look makes me clench my fist and bite it! It’s the way the sweats outline his manhood.
5. Physical affection/heaving flirting/teasing – I thoroughly enjoy getting a guys mind going!

Dating Shit Show
Hmm, I would say there’s a few surefire ways. My top 3 would be…

1. A guy with confidence – A guy who knows himself, knows what he’s about, knows what he wants in life and isn’t afraid to go after it.
2. Sexual dominance – A guy who knows how to take charge in the bedroom gets me pretty wet. One that isn’t afraid to put me in my place.
3. Passion – I need a lover who is passionate about sex and connection and passionate about giving me multiple orgasms.

Some other things would be… man buns, big hands, sexy arms, broad shoulders, sexy chocolate lovers, sensuality, presence, connection, chemistry, a guy who knows his way around a clitoris, good kissers, an ass that looks good enough to eat and those sexy ass V lines.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR SEXUAL FANTASY RIGHT THIS MINUTE?

Damsel in Dating Distress
Hahaha! I’m literally laughing out loud as I type this because there is a certain someone that comes to mind. First of all I would get him to cook a full-on roast dinner for me (as my belated birthday present) after that we’d uber over to a secret and private location (that comes with a hot tub on the balcony and skyline view of London). It’d be an evening full of deep conversations, lots of laughter, being silly, flirty, wine, a bit of weed, hot tubbing, games and plenty rounds of passionate sex. There’d be no sleep until early hours of the morning.

Dating Shit Show
After 6 weeks alone in quarantine I think any form of sex would be a fantasy right now. But my biggest sexual fantasy at the moment is an MMF threesome. I love dick, so a double dick fantasy would do me nicely right now. But mainly right now, I need a good weekend full of instabiable, uninterrupted sex.

WHAT WAS YOUR WORST SEXPERIENCE?

Damsel in Dating Distress
I can think of two occasions… but the worst was a rebound from one of my relationships. Sure he was attractive but unfortunately that’s all he had going for him!

1. He was very, very sweaty! Having face drip like a tap on me is never gonna do it.
2. Performing like a rabbit on speed is also not it!
3. The size! I feel a little bad because normally I’d say it’s how you use your tool; but he had some shortcomings (pun intended). Having a decent looking penis would of been his lifeline. Sadly, short pencil penises aren’t crowdpleasers.

Dating Shit Show
Hmmm I’ve had a few. Top disasters would be:

1. The guy who faked a phonecall to get out of giving me oral
2. The guy who made the strangest noise when he came
3. The guy who refused to give me oral because he couldn’t get hard

WHAT KIND OF PORN DID YOU LAST WATCH?

Damsel in Dating Distress
Porn!? It’s been years! But does going to a sex peep show in Amsterdam count? Right, so I paid €5 or something like that to watch drugged-up-looking couples have sex on a rotating platform. There were about 6 different “shows” going on at once, each having 4 rooms where you go in and have a “peep” at the action. You witness the usual positions, oral, anal and some kinky shit involving bondage… and that’s literally it. I didn’t quite get it, I wasn’t impressed but was interesting to say the least!

Dating Shit Show
Anal porn. It’s usually at the top of my most viewed. Tushy is one of my favourite porn channels, although they need to upload some new material, I think I watched it all during quarantine. I’ve also been watching some MMF threesome porn, for research purposes 😉


With this piece I wanted my responses to be raw and completely transparent so I hope that was delivered! To some readers who know me… I’m sorry haha! I guess you’ve really gotten to know me now. 🙊

I’ve always said social media comes with its pros and cons, however this is one example where I’ve seen a real positive. Since I started taking my blog seriously, I’ve already noticed the fruits of my labour. It’s rewarding knowing that my content resonates with others in the dating/relationship community. The connections I’m making are so valuable. The conversations and feedback I’ve had not only inspire me but also helps with ideas and direction.

It was a real pleasure (excuse the pun) to team up TheDatingShitShow. Thanks again girl, I had a lot of fun writing this and I hope we can collaborate on another piece in future! 💕

COVIDiaries: The 6 feet of separation

Firstly, I really hope everyone has coped okay during these turbulent times. Living in the midst of a pandemic and a lockdown is something that no one could have predicted. Socially and economically there have been a few cause for concerns. Many people have lost or feel terrified about the future of their jobs, some separated from and worried about loved ones, others craving freedom because home felt like their prison or those who are simply stuck indoors with little to no outdoor space. It hasn’t been easy for everyone to adjust to the “new normal”, which is why communicating, connecting, finding new hobbies and really making the most out of life’s simple pleasures is vital. We all need to muster the energy and enthusiasm to get through each day, and if we can refocus some of that energy on our own wellbeing and look out for others; then that’s always a great starting point to a more positive outlook.

Prior to the outbreak, I had been speaking to a few people across Hinge, Bumble, OKCupid and Coffee meets Bagel just to curb my boredom. I went on a couple dates here and there, it was great fun but overall the vibe wasn’t quite right so things died out fairly quickly. There was one guy in particular that I matched with on Hinge. I specifically remember when I went through his profile, something about him just didn’t sit right with me. I mean, it’s likely I was being judgemental (we’re all human at the end of the day!) but he had this very “laddish” look about him. Bar that, he did send quite a funny ice breaker; and funny is always good in my eyes. But don’t get it twisted, funny does not win me over.

As we started talking, I probably put in about 55% effort. That’s my general rule of thumb, you need to see what the other person is about without going all in, and I think you can get a good enough gauge if you fire the right questions and carefully look at their responses. After a few days of talking, I sussed that he was quite a smooth talker, confident with a tendency to step on the line of cocky, witty, funny, fairly charming and quite direct. I’ve dealt with many guys alike in the past, some slightly worse than others and I’ve always ended up extremely unimpressed. My normal reaction would have been to not bother but I was quite intrigued with him mainly because I saw a little bit of my personality come through in his responses. Also the fact that I knew within myself that I needed to be more open minded! As with most guys I meet online, my guard is held extremely high. Most things that are said, I take with a pinch of salt. With this guy, my guard was up for a while… it still is to be honest but it has dropped a significant amount over time.

And almost 9 weeks later (to my suprise) we’re still talking, regularly. We have these weekly video calls which I find very pleasant and entertaining. I’d explain what happens during these calls but I’ll save the details for another post. I guess it’s nice to get dressed up and pretend I’m going out on a date (literally just chilling on my bed), though I must say my efforts of late have been on the decline! Clearly I’m getting far too comfortable! 😬

The most frustrating part is that we haven’t actually met! Timing has been unfortunate but nevertheless I’ve genuinely enjoyed getting to know him thus far. I’ve appreciated the reciprocation in terms of time and effort put in to build a connection. You’d think in lockdown, people would get tiresome of having to entertain a conversation knowing that it wouldn’t lead an actual date… at least not for a while, consequently throwing in the towel after a couple of weeks or so. I wouldn’t be shocked if people said they were video dating purely as a time filler.

With video calls it still feels like there’s a barrier between us. Even though we talk frequently, without the physical form, we’re only getting a small part of what we’re about. It’s a fact that 70% of our communication is done via body language. So I guess my concern now is not so much him being a “lad” but more so us meeting properly and having an actual date! I’m not a pessimist but I can’t help but wonder “what if…”

We finally meet and there’s zero chemistry!?
We don’t find each other attractive face to face!?
We find each other unbearable?!
He’s not really that talkative in person and it gets awkward?!
He’s not really that funny and it gets awkward?!


I am looking forward to meeting him (finally), we joked that it would take us about 10 dates until we’d eventually see each other and currently it appears we’re on track! However it goes, I’ll be sure to enjoy the date, have fun and a good laugh. Fingers crossed it’s not another kittenfish or brick wall situation! Who knows… but make sure you stay tuned for the next chapter of COVIDiaries! 😀

The grey area.

As much as I’d like them to be, most things in life are never black and white. I’ve discovered this is particularly true (more so over the last couple of years) when it comes to dating. The topic I’ll be delving into for this post looks at that precise moment when you suddenly find yourself in the “grey area”, otherwise known as “so what are we?” or “DTR” (refer to my Dating Dictionary post.)

It’s probably one of the most daunting questions to ask, most people will try to dodge it at all costs but by doing so means you’ll need to live in ambiguity – and let’s face it, no one needs that unnecessary stress. At first you think it’s all well and good as you continue to dance around the undefined relationship. Then as things keep progressing… you’re now 6 months in, sitting there wondering whether the person is really yours. Ughhh. Turns out, calling a “thing” a thing might actually help!

I’ve play this guessing game a few times, and the most eyebrow raising part of this whole situation is when the other party wants/expects all the perks of being in a relationship but aren’t down for the commitment – I shall save this topic for whole separate post!

Figuring out where you stand hasn’t always been an easy subject to tackle, but it seems to be much stickier conversation to address in today’s modern dating society. Hinge, Bumble, Tinder and all the other dating apps give us endless choices for who we can date. While it’s not a terrible thing, the buffet of potentials has made us pickier and less decisive, resulting in the “paradox of choice”. You may have found a great match, but what if there’s someone better around the corner? And if you’re not thinking that, then who’s to say your romantic interest isn’t? Again, this is yet another topic that requires a separate post!

So how do we deal with the “grey area”? What’s the best approach to take when you like someone but have no idea how they feel… when you want to have “the talk” but don’t want to “scare them” off… along with many other agonising thoughts. I once saw an inspiring quote that went along the lines of:

“One of the biggest barriers to courageous leadership is tough conversations.”

Now switch out the word “leadership” with the word “dating” or “relationships”, and it holds just as true!

The anxious mind

How is it that after several amazing dates, your excitement has slowly transformed into anxiety? Analysing every text, the timing, the frequency, the substance and so on. With this overwhelming amount of information (that you’ve decided to magnify in tenfold), more often than not it makes you feel even less certain about the situation!

Instead of subjecting yourself to late-night evaluations in bed and drawn-out conversations with your friends (who are just as confused as you are), just steel your nerves and muster up the courage to ask the person you’re seeing, “So what’s going on with us?”. Yes it’s like a 6 word horror story, I know, but it’s worth knowing whether you should continue to invest time and effort with them or call it quits.

Things happen, but life goes on

The quality of life (not just dating) becomes much more fruitful when you’re able to have uncomfortable conversations and deal with the outcomes in a mature and calm manner. The truth is, life goes on – it’s as simple as that. However, I want to share a few nuggets of “wisdom” for when you’re next thinking about baring your soul:

1. Feeling anxious is a sign that your emotions are far too dependent on someone else’s actions. When you place your power in another person’s hands, they’re essentially controlling the situation, not you. So you need to reframe the narrative and really figure out what you want out of it because don’t forget, you have a say in the situation too.

2. If it all gets a bit too much and you’re overanalysing or overthinking, just do something that you enjoy; watch a film, speak to a friend, go for a run, listen to music, write, draw, do some cooking, meditate… whatever your outlet is, it’ll certainly help you ease the discomfort.

3. It’s important to be transparent about what you want from the start. Ask open-ended, non-confrontational questions. That’s what dating is about at the end of the day, getting to know each other and gauging whether you’re on the same page. Sure it’s a dauntless move, you might think “What if being completely upfront puts someone off?” – but you need to think of it less as scaring someone away and more creating a very important, beneficial filter.


4. Ambiguity happens because we allow it to happen. Most of the time we know what we want, we’re just afraid to ask for it out of fear of rejection. It’s a rookie mistake to expect people to come into your life with a full understanding of what you’re looking for, but we do it anyway.
 

Unless you’re both certain that you want to be together, there really isn’t any other way to handle this scenario. Whatever you do, don’t bury your head in the sand and wait for the other person to dictate the terms. Do it yourself, when you’re ready to level up. Ignorance really isn’t bliss, especially where dating and relationships are concerned. And if they can’t give you a straight answer, maybe that’s the only answer you need.

From “DTR” to “DTF”. This is your 2020 Dating Dictionary.

Swiping your way to be the real thing, or next fling, has left many people understandably bamboozled and frustrated. However, it doesn’t need to be that way. As the dating landscape has evolved, so has the language; especially when we’re focusing on the language of millennials. So to help navigate your way through the modern dating world, I’ve collated a handy little list on some of the latest terms, phrases and acronyms.

Benching
Think of sports. When you’re on the bench, you’re not actually playing but you’re still on the team, ready and waiting… until the coach decides to bring you back into play – which might not happen. The person who chose to bench someone will make minimal effort to keep you as an available option. This means a few texts here and there, making plans to meet up that never come to fruition.

Breadcrumbing
Now I don’t know if this dating tactic is slightly “better” or worse than “Ghosting”. Either way, it’s a term used when someone is doing exactly what I’ve described in my last two sentences above. Think morsels of bread… a trail of them. Each morsel representing a tiny slice of attention, ie. likes on Instagram photos, maybe a comment if you’re lucky, sporadic flirty text messages, making vague plans with you, setting up a date and cancelling, appears then reappears weeks later like nothing, usually an individual that’s all talk and no action. Breadcrumbs are for the birds – and you’re not one of them!

Catfishing
Personally I find this one creepy. It is the act of someone creating a fake profile to trick people into thinking they are somebody else. This sort of deception can be extremely damaging for victims. The dangers of being catfished include being tricked into a false relationship, fraud, extortion and cyberbullying among others. These people clearly have issues.

Cushioning
I’d describe this like… taking out insurance on your relationship incase it doesn’t work out and you’re scared of being alone. In essence, you’re creating a “cushion” for yourself to fall on. It can be one or several cushions. The tactic is getting people interested in you by having a chat or flirt, you’re building them up and giving them hope that something may occur in the future. Those who fall in the trap don’t even realise that there’s another person in the picture in the first place. It’s dishonest, disrespectful, and it’s something that emotionally insecure people do.

DTF
Down to Fuck. Need I say anymore?

DTR
Define the Relationship

FWB
Friends with Benefits

Gaslighting
It’s a form of psychological manipulation that causes the other party to question or doubt his or her sanity, feelings and judgment. The warning signs are hard to pick up early on but generally the people who do the gaslighting will be habitual and pathological liars. They will blatantly lie to your face and never back down or change their stories even when you call them out. They will also shift blame, twist conversations and be sweet when they want to smooth over a bad situation that they’ve caused. Sickos.

Ghosting
Now you see me, now you don’t. A person who ghosts will simply disappear from a relationship, or even a potential relationship with no explanation because it’s a quick and easy way out. No drama, no questions asked, no need to justify their behaviour, no need to deal with someone else’s feelings. Which brings me to the next term…

Haunting
When the person who was initially ghosting comes back to haunt you. The audacity!
Out of nowhere, they’ll (usually) slide into your DMs on social media and hit you up with the “Hey stranger!” bollocks – they just want to remind you they’re still there and very much alive. 😒

Kittenfishing
I’d describe this as a low-grade version of “Catfishing”. This person is excellent at presenting themselves unrealistically on their dating profile. With their skilled use of Adobe Photoshop, they’ll put up their heavily edited or upload old ass, throwback photos. They might lie about their age, height, lifestyle… all to seem more appealing to their matches.

So there you have it! The lingo of online dating, in a nutshell. Noticeably more absurd words and phrases are being introduced to explain each and every terrible occurrence. I’m sure there’s a good handful of jargon missing from my list (I think I’ve barely scratched the surface) but nonetheless I hope you found this post useful, if not amusing!

COVIDeo dating so far…

While we’re all practising social distancing, we’re certainly not disconnected. From what I’ve seen, read, heard and experienced so far, it’s quite obvious that people are feeling quite lonely, a little stir-crazy and rather lecherous (I think that’s an alternative for “horny” (?)<— sorry, I dislike that word).

Until further notice we’re all living under house arrest, we’re now finding ourselves in a situation that has prompted getting glam for the cam, FaceTime happy hours, virtual game nights, synced cooking and synced Netflix viewings. With that said, I think dating in isolation during a pandemic actually has some positives! When it all started kicking off, I was receiving less sleazy messages from guys that I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole, and more messages with collective concern and care (genuine or not… who knows!) But naturally because of what’s happening in the world right now, people are deeply connected and affected so we instantly have something in common to talk about. I’m finding that this topic (although I’m pretty much over it) has become an easy conversation starter, so you very quickly learn if someone is a pessimist or an optimist, what their hobbies are outside of the usual “Food, Travel, Skiing, Hiking, Exploring” 🙄 yawn! Even their political views to an extent.

Looking at the more humorous side of things; cheesy chat up lines will 99% of the time make me immediately swipe left (that is, after I’ve taken a screenshot and shared it with my friends!) People are evidently getting much more creative which I’ve found rather amusing. Yes, Coronavirus chat up lines have arrived in full force. Singletons, if you’re in need of inspiration, why don’t you try one of these for size…

“Are you Coronavirus? Because you are simply breathtaking!”
“If Coronavirus doesn’t take you out, can I?”
“You are way out of my league but I have spare toilet roll if that helps?”
“Wanna make plans together and cancel them?”
“I have rubbers… and I don’t just mean gloves.”


Before the pandemic, I had never even thought about a virtual date before. Of course my preferred route would be to meet up in person but I figured I may as well give it a go… I’m pretty open minded and realistically, what choice do we have right now?

Prior to COVIDeo date #1, I had a few reservations/concerns… like, “how does this shit actually work?”, “this is going to be weird and awkward!”, “is dressing up necessary?”, “what should I wear?”. In the end, I decided to treat it like a normal date as if I were going out (basically an opportunity for me wear something cute! Yay!)

Thankfully the guy was proper cool, and, similar to me… as in he was a total motormouth which kept the conversation flowing nicely. Surprisingly I felt comfortable straight away, we had a good laugh and there was absolutely no awkwardness… apart from the fact that I was very aware he was drinking wine and there’s me with a 1L bottle of Lucozade in my hand! Haha! …What can I say, it was a long week at work and I had minimal sleep! Overall it was a really pleasant date that lasted about 3 hours.

I’ve only had 3 COVIDeo dates so far which is not exactly a huge sample size but the thing that has stood out for me was the stripping back of the social environment you’d normally get in a bar/restaurant. Being able to simply enjoy talking to one another, having things to share despite the fact that there’s no physical element is a really good sign!

Some of you may want to put dating on hold until we’re out of this phase, which is fair enough. But for those of you who are still keen to date, I’d highly recommend giving virtual dating a go. I totally understand that it’s frustrating getting to know someone, creating a bond but not being able to see them in physical form. Nonetheless I think this temporary way of dating provides a chance for people to take things slow, get to know each other on a deeper level and build a connection. Can I add that it also helps expedite the process of weeding out time wasters.

I suppose the big “unknown” from all of this is whether the connection built in the virtual world will translate in real life. But if you’re being your authentic self, then I don’t see why it wouldn’t? We still have a good few weeks of lockdown ahead of us, so my advice is to just enjoy it for what it is. Let’s hope some of this new openness, attention and follow-through will stay with us when we finally re-emerge out of our homes and back out into the world.

The unspoken “rules” of dating.

“I think I’ll wait an hour to text back. That way, I won’t seem too eager.”
“I initiated the conversation yesterday, so he/she can initiate today.”
“I’m not going to send multiple messages, I refuse to look desperate.”
“I won’t send paragraphs my response, that shows I’m too interested!”
“Be sure not to kiss on a first date!”
“At least wait until 4th date to have sex!”
“Fuck that, I’ll wait 3 days and then I’ll call them.”
“Time to give them the silent treatment.”
“Shall I follow up or shall I wait for them to do it?”

Sound familiar? Then you must have participated in a few “dating games”… it’s all too common these days and absolute BS. Honestly, someone who chooses plays games with you is not the kind of person you want to be with. It’s a sign that they’re not really being authentic in their dating life — and no grown-ass person has time for that.

But why?

It’s one of the most exhausting parts of dating, so why do many people choose to do it? Well… I’m here to share my thoughts. Disclaimer: I’ve been the game “player” before and have also been the victim! Both sides were not particularly enjoyable. Based on my observation and experience, I would say that game playing usually boils down to 3 things:

1. To manipulate
2. For the chase/challenge
3. To avoid being in a vulnerable position

Notice how all of the above involve some form of self gain? When you’re the “player”, you feel like you have all the power and are in total control, but in reality it’s a complete facade. I guarantee you won’t achieve anything apart from feeling confused, fed up and frustrated. Games don’t last… whether it’s you or them – someone will get bored eventually and throw in the towel. It’s just a question of when.

If your biggest concern is always having the upper hand, then you’re clearly not in the right headspace or at a maturity level for a relationship. Either way, you need to ask yourself why being in that position is so important to you. Is it for an ego boost? Self justification? To feel secure? Relationships thrive on vulnerability and being able to let your guard down. The whole “winning” aspect isn’t the right approach when it comes to feelings and emotions. Besides how do you “win”, when it comes to matters of the heart? You can’t expect to get close to someone when you’re busy strategising on how to manipulate them.

Games people play.

Having been the game player before as well as being on the receiving end, I’ll briefly take you through some of the most popular scenarios. Let’s start with “who can act like they care the least”. How ironic is it that the less you engage with someone you’re interested in, the more power you possess. So what happens if both people involved are too good at this game? I guess you run the risk of never seeing how the relationship could progress. In all areas of our lives, we should learn embrace vulnerability instead of avoiding it. Taking your guard down shows that you’re human, relatable, and allows other people to see the real you. In friendships, romantic relationships, and families, it’s easier to appreciate someone who is honest with themselves and with others. This means relationships can grow organically.

The second scenario is “playing hard to get” – which kind of ties in with “who can act like they care the least”. It’s a way to screen prospective suitors or to discover whether someone is being sincere. But I’ll warn you now… if it continues for too long, the technique fails. Playing hard to get is basically an illusion of confidence and control, but let’s face it – what we really want is to text whenever we feel like it, tell someone when we want to see them next and be straight up when we’re in our feelings.

Lastly we have “the chase”. The person being chased wants to see how far backwards they can make the other bend. Meanwhile, the person doing the chasing just wants to do whatever it takes to win their “trophy”. Personally, I think this sounds rather shit. For some, the pursuit of the chase is more enticing and rewarding than the actual relationship itself… hence why as soon as they’ve got you hook, line and sinker, they let go and move on to the next bait. Reasons for doing this might be for an ego stroke, to feel some sort of accomplishment, the feeling of dominance, maybe they’re after one thing… to put it bluntly, they are all reasons that don’t concern you!

B****, you thought.

It can take a bit of time to figure out who the “players” are. Some people are so good at putting up smoke and mirrors it’s like second nature. I guess games aren’t so bad if you’re not particularly interested in monogamous relationships… as long as you’re both willing to play. Although I still think it’s a pointless exercise.

Maybe it’s time we stop with the games and start looking at the defensive mechanisms we’ve installed. Are these games more helpful or more harmful? If we’re grown adults, then we need to act accordingly and take charge. We need to be brave and get better at being upfront about feelings and expectations. I get that not everyone is able to be direct and honest – it takes time, confidence and courage. If we work towards being more open then we can start developing more genuine, fruitful relationships.

Dating is supposed to be exciting, not a minefield. There will always be an element of risk but the quicker you nip things in the bud, the better chance you have to find someone who is actually on your wavelength. If you notice your interest is displaying inconsistent and unreliable behaviour then call them out on it. Don’t be scared! You don’t have to be player #2. And if the behaviour continues… well that’s okay too! Just don’t forget to shut the door on your way out.

I’m going leave you with these iconic words (with the video) from Prince:

I can’t be played. A person trying to play me plays themselves.