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.

You used to be my cup of tea but I drink champagne now.

You know the ones that got kicked to the curb like… months ago, then have the audacity to come crawling back into your life on all fours? Yeah, so I got hit up with that “Hi stranger…” nonsense recently, and nothing could make my eyeballs roll any further back!

It’s nice to think that these people have chosen to insert themselves into your life once again because they finally realised the error of their ways and want to make another go of it. But thankfully people like us with a brain know full well that’s not usually the case.

There are many reasons why old flames return… all which have very little to do with you at all. I get it, we’ve all been there, at first you’ll get those “What if” questions:

What if this time it’s going to be different?
What if they’ve changed?
What if they’re actually sorry this time?

You end up overthinking to the point where you might even consider giving them another chance. However, let me pause you right there. Allow me to share my thoughts which will (hopefully) mitigate further drama and bullshit where an ex or old romantic interest is concerned. Honestly, I just don’t want anyone to entertain silliness and enter a vicious cycle that frankly won’t bring you any happiness in the long run. Here are the main reasons why someone will boomerang themselves back to you:

COMFORT ZONE
Most people have gone and taken the easy option at some point in life, that might even include going back to an ex. If you’ve been in a relationship for a while, it’s natural to become habituated to each other. One might have even tried hooking up with someone else and realised that it’s far too much work. Hence they head back over to their “Comfort Zone” where minimal effort is required. In my opinion, this is what I call settling. Eventually someone will get bored and flee the nest so why prolong the inevitable?

SEX
Some old flames crawl into your life again just for the physical intimacy. Maybe the sex was fire 🔥 or maybe it’s simply been a while. They might convince you that they’re back to stay, however… it’s just sex they’re after. My advice? Don’t do it unless you can mentally/emotionally handle the aftermath.

EGO BOOST AND REGAINING CONTROL
Watch out for these mofos. 🤨 These ones think they’re the best thing since sliced bread. There are certain characters that love the feeling of having control over others, and if you’ve ever dated someone like that… I suggest you run in the opposite direction. These vultures will circle back around every so often to see if they still have power over you. They’ll use lines like “Remember when we…” or throw in private jokes you once shared, basically exploiting your vulnerabilities and “weaknesses”. And if they get you under their spell again, you’ll be feeding their ego, making them feel like they’ve still got you wrapped around their finger. Save yourself. Block them and cut them off pronto.

LONELINESS AND BOREDOM
Well that’s not your problem is it? I don’t care if they’re in COVID-19 self isolation and you shouldn’t either. A reason why some exes might come back is because they have no other options. Maybe their lives are lacking excitement, maybe their social calendar has been empty for too long, maybe they can’t be arsed to date… or maybe they need to find a new hobby! Whatever the reason… don’t let them use you to fill the void.

REGRET / ANOTHER CHANCE
Believe it or not, some people can learn their lesson but it’s rarely the case from my view. Regret doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has changed. I would tread very carefully with second chances. I’ve been foolish enough to give people several chances but generally if a relationship ended, it did so for a reason.

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

– SATC, Samantha Jones

I’ve experienced every single one of the above and I’ve learnt my lessons the hard way. While certain guys are sliding in my messages, I’m quite happy to slide them into my block list. Time is precious and I don’t believe anyone should be wasting a second preoccupying themselves with situations that involve stress and stupidness.

Let’s talk about sex baby…

There’s a reason why Salt-N-Pepa’s song, “Let’s Talk About Sex” was a major hit. To my surprise however, only a quarter of us are happy talking about what goes on in the bedroom – this was a finding from a recent survey conducted by eharmony.

As I’ve highlighted in my previous posts, communication is one of the foundations to having a happier and stable relationship. Whether it’s discussing what to cook for lunch, current affairs or sharing a work anecdote; there’s one topic that shouldn’t be neglected… and that’s sex!

Physical intimacy is important because it’s considered one of the most crucial methods of displaying affection. So having an open and honest dialogue regarding bedroom antics needs just as much attention as any other aspect of a relationship.

Sure the sex talk doesn’t always translate so seamlessly into comfortable conversations but the main thing is to keep it casual and help each other feel at ease. When you shy away from these vital conversations, yes you’ll avoid a bit of awkwardness… but you’re also setting yourself up for pretty average sex – and let’s face it, that’s no fun!

The only words you should be saying in bed are dirty ones.”

SATC, Samantha Jones

Before and after you get beneath the sheets… try opening up about your needs and desires. Trust me, your sex life will reap the benefits if you know what you like and how you like it. So where do you start? Well, in this blog post I’d like to share some tips on how to make sex talk as helpful, productive and enjoyable as possible.

“Slow down, I just wanna get to know you.” – Bobby Valentino
During the early-ish stages of dating, you want to try and bring the topic of sex into conversation. Not necessarily on the first few dates (that can be a bit off putting… unless sex is what you’re after) but wait until you’re feeling confident, that connection between you is strong and that your relationship naturally seems to be moving in the right direction. Get some clarity on some of the obvious questions first like: Do they seem genuine? Are they good fun? Are you sexually attracted to them? Is there chemistry?

If all goes well and you’re comfortably getting your flirt on; you’ll want to turn things up a notch or two by throwing in some sexual innuendos. Chances are, they’ll reciprocate. And that’s your sign you’ll be heading over to the bedroom soon! With that in mind, this is the point where you might want to have a quick chat about whether they’re planning to sleep with others, what contraception will be used, boundaries, even when they were last tested (and vice versa of course). Don’t shy away from these topics!

“You make it so good I don’t wanna leave, but I gotta, know what-what’s your fantasy!” – Ludacris
X-rated daydreams, sexual fantasies. There shouldn’t be any shame in having these or sharing it with your partner/lover. Personally I think the aspect of emotional intimacy in a relationship can be incredibly sexy. Having a close enough bond where you’re able to reveal and share each other’s naughty secrets introduces a vibrant and exciting side to the bedroom routine. And if you’re both willing to bring some of those fantasies to life then that’s awesome because trying new things also means building trust.

You might feel apprehensive about having any kind of sexual discussion, let alone sharing such thoughts. But whether it’s a concern around how you might sound or how your partner might react to it, remember that expressing our fantasies – whether we act on them or not – is just a way to introduce novelty into our sex lives. If your partner feels worried or offended, then reassurance is important! Besides, the conversation wouldn’t be happening unless you felt comfortable enough to reveal your deepest desires to them. It’s all about upping your level of intimacy at the end of the day.

“Give me a sign… hit me baby one more time!” – Britney Spears
No one is a mind reader. If you don’t feel like having sex because you’re feeling hideous, you’re tired or you’ve just had a shitty day at work and want to relax then tell them that. There’s nothing worse than pushing someone away or having half-hearted sex, your partner will only feel rejected. Equally, if you are getting some action then you should be open about what you want to do in the session(s): hitting it from behind, getting on top, going down, going fast, slow… whatever tickles your fancy – make sure you’re voicing your thoughts. Sexual pleasure shouldn’t always be a one sided thing.

“Are you mad ’cause I’m asking you 21 questions?” – 50 Cent feat. Nate Dogg
A healthy relationship is one where partners feel listened to and respected. In terms of sex, it’s a good idea to ask questions. Examples include: What is their favourite thing about sex? What would they like to do more of? Is there anything they’d like to try? What turns them on? You don’t have to act on their suggestions but you might discover something you both want to have a go at. Like any outcome of a conversation, by sharing your likes, dislikes and expectations you can make choices together and learn more about how to please each other. 

“Gonna get a little unruly, get it fired up in a hurry, wanna get dirty, it’s about time that I came to start the… party!” – Christina Aguilera
Generally “dirty talk” has a bad reputation but I personally think it’s just another form of communication. After all, it’s about enhancing your sexual experience and vocalising your sexual wants. Providing you’re with someone you can trust, it’s a great way to fire things up, as well as improve the connection between you and your partner (FYI there’s proven science behind this.) The whole build-up to sex will certainly heighten the sexual tension, naturally leading into increased passion during sex. Teasing should start wayyy before you’re in the room together – by exchanging some risqué words whether verbally, through video call or sexting – it’ll get the anticipation going for sure!

To be honest I’m an actions over words kinda gal but I have dabbled in a bit of filthy talk before. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the aggressive, submissive, porn-star kind of talk! It can simply be fun, playful with a touch of raciness… but then again different strokes for different folks right? As long as you feel comfortable and enjoying it 😉

My final words would be to ensure you’re discussing sex with your partner regularly. Your sexual needs may change over time and even when changing partners – that will require new conversations. Remember all relationships are different and from simply talking, you may discover new pleasures that you’d never even thought of before. Have fun in the bedroom and be safe!

Life lessons we can learn from SATC’s Samantha Jones.

One of the best series during the late 90s through to early 00s in my opinion, and if you weren’t a fan then you surely must have heard about it? For those who have no idea what I’m on about, well… I’m a little disappointed ☹️, but in a nutshell, Sex and the City (SATC) explores New York city’s dating scene, where four sassy friends, Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha are in search of love, romance, long-lasting relationships and sex!

One character in particular was portrayed as fiercely independent and the queen of openness. We could always rely on Samantha Jones to bring humour to the show with her witty and uncensored comments – my fave character and spirit animal for sure! From sex to self-confidence, there are a few seeds of wisdom that we can learn from the most outrageous member of the SATC foursome.

TELL IT LIKE IT IS. NO BS.
A woman with no filter. She doesn’t mince words and it doesn’t mean that she’s overly opinionated or rude, it just means she’s confident in her own thoughts, feelings, and opinions and isn’t afraid to share them with the world.

PUTTING YOUR NEEDS FIRST.
One of her most iconic lines. This quote reminds us that it’s okay to be selfish and there’s nothing wrong with looking out for number one… ourselves!

NEVER JUDGING ANYONE FOR THE CHOICES THEY MAKE.
No matter what choices, no matter what anyone is going through. Simply being there for someone without saying a word is enough.

NOT CONFORMING TO THE NORM.
As long as you’re feeling happy and satisfied with your status, why change what’s working by complicating things?

NO ONE IS PERFECT.
It’s good to challenge your ignorance and look beyond the man with the perfect looks, A-grade sex, great sense of humour, amazing career, family orientated, chivalry and all the other qualities on your list. Everyone is flawed, so the better they are at hiding it, the faster you need to run.

ALWAYS MAKE THE EFFORT TO LOOK YOUR BEST. BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR OWN SKIN.
Age, size, weight – who cares? You better wear your outfits with confidence.

FORGET THE PAST AND MOVE ON.
Don’t dwell or overanalyse things that can’t be undone. Keep it moving and never have regrets because they all help in getting where you are now.

THERE ARE WAY MORE IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE THAN FINDING THE RIGHT GUY.
Don’t waste your life searching for the perfect man. Go enjoy yourself instead. Hair, nails, wax, massage, exercise… whatever you want.

KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND DON’T APOLOGISE FOR IT.
Okay, I’m not always right… just most of the time.

CHILDREN AREN’T FOR EVERYONE.
What’s wrong with enjoying life, looking good with a couple of dogs for the rest of your life?

AND FUCK Y’ALL BITCHES. 🖕🏼

Sure she was unconventional but of the four she seemed to know who she was and what she wanted the most. I love that!
So here’s to Samantha Jones 🥂🍾

“50 and fabulous!”

Dear broke people, we are not obligated to date you.

Alright go easy on me! I know what you’re thinking. You read the title and suddenly I’m a bad person because I sound shallow or portrayed myself like some gold digger. Well no, that’s not the case…

According to a study I recently read, 50% of marriages end in divorce, and most of them cite financial stress as a primary cause of separation. While I wholeheartedly agree that money does not define happiness nor does it overrule everything in life, the simple truth is: we work to earn money, and we need money to live. In this post I’ll be giving a very brief account on two of my past relationships where both guys were financially unstable and how it caused a lot of friction between us. There was…

Relationship #1 – gambler
Relationship #2 – no drive/ambition in life (dreamer)

I’ll then move on to discuss why I think money is not the most important factor in relationships but it’s certainly not irrelevant! Discussing money in relationships can be a touchy subject for many. I’ve had guy friends who jump on the defence when the topic comes up in conversation. Clearly I’ve bruised an ego or two with my opinions, however I won’t be stepping on eggshells because of sensitivity.

There’s a reason why “gambling” is a deal breaker for me. By gambling, I don’t mean popping into a casino once in a while and chucking 50 quid in a slot machine. It’s when you continue to gamble despite negative consequences. I once dated someone who claimed they’d “occasionally gamble” but through time I caught on to the fact that “occasionally” was quite a downplay on reality. I was 19 at the time but I remember he would randomly buy me gifts out of nowhere, treat me to fancy lunches and dinners, bought himself a new car, the latest smarthphone, a massive flat screen TV and more… sure, it was all very lovely, but I wondered how on earth was he able to afford all this?

The Gambler

Then one day, he asked if he could borrow money off me (not exactly a small sum), and that he’d give it back on pay day. Considering I was still in university and had a part-time job, it was a bit of an ask! But I didn’t think much of it at the time and gave it to him. You can probably guess where this is all going but to summarise: no he didn’t pay me back on pay day, yes I did end up lending him more money, yes I ended up footing some bills for him (overdrafts included), yes he booked a couple holidays for us but I ended up covering the costs, yes we argued crazy amounts, yes I stopped being an ATM machine, and yes I did get some of the money back at the very end of the relationship. Not that it even mattered at that point!

The Dreamer and his pity party

Moving on to Relationship #2. Well… at first it was his personality that stood out for me. I admired his charm, humour and creative flair. More than anything, I enjoyed hearing him talk about his life goals, hopes and ambitions. I admired his “drive”, especially knowing that his family were far from affluent. The problem was that most of what he said ended up being all talk and no action. A “dreamer” is probably the best word to describe him. He was so out of touch with reality, he wanted to achieve all this, that and the other…. but didn’t want to put in the work — for anything! When he lost his job, I found myself repeating history yet again! Feeling sorry for him, thinking I can help get his life back on track, eventually paying for his lifestyle. The worst part was that I was (stupidly) funding his weed addiction! The least he could do to help himself was amend his CV and start job hunting… he wouldn’t even do that?! It was only a matter of time where I got real sick and tired his attitude. He had no enthusiasm for anything, no motivation, no thought for the future let alone the next 24 hours. Just a bunch of self-pity and blame. I had an inkling he may have suffered from depression… but either way, the negative energy was not something I wanted to be around or dragged into. I dated him for quite a while but it was very obvious we were not on the same page at all!

Zero F’s to give

Dating a person with any form of addiction is emotionally draining, costly and everyday can feel like a repetitive cycle. The worst thing is when you attempt to help them, and in doing so, you end up losing your sense of self. It’s important to realise that love does not “conquer” all, and it definitely cannot conquer addiction.

With both not having a penny to their names, spending more than they could earn and having absolutely no consideration for the long term. Their mindsets certainly helped me realised what I wouldn’t be able to tolerate in a relationship. I promised myself that I would never pay for someone’s lifestyle ever again. In other words, I really couldn’t see myself dating someone who was financially unstable. Getting people’s shit together and managing their finances is not and will never be my responsibility. Sometimes life can be unpredictable, and I get that a sudden loss of a job is not in our control but what happens next is something that does fall in our hands.

Money is definitely not everything, but it is an important aspect in life. Most of us have hobbies, some form of social life and hopefully life goals that we want to achieve. Whether it’s going out to bars, restaurants, going on holiday, buying nice clothes, going for beauty treatments, reading books, buying/owning a property, investing, starting a business, getting married, having children… they all ultimately require a stable flow or income to obtain and maintain the lifestyle. And if you’re looking to build a future with someone while retaining some of these lifestyle choices then you’re gonna need to find someone who shares the same mentality.

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.

“When do I get my fairytale ending?”

A few weeks back I was talking to my cousin over WhatsApp, we were exchanging stories on all the latest dating dramas and screenshots of our erm… interesting matches. We’re both in agreement that online dating sucks, and while I’m having a lot of fun with it, my cousin is on the brink of giving up!

There are some women who really want the whole marriage and kids thing (my cousin) and some who are open to the idea but not particularly fixed on it (well that would be me!) Speaking of which, did you know about 17% of marriages and 20% of relationships begin online. I guess it’s not a terrible stat, to be honest I think it’s amazing when people manage to find their perfect partner online, but I think there’s a sprinkle of luck involved too!

The idea of fulfilment

During our conversation, my cousin said to me “When do I get my fairytale ending?” — and even though I’m fully aware that there’s no such thing as a “fairytale ending” (I’m not pessimistic, just a realist), it dawned on me that actually… dating can be quite the opposite sometimes. I feel like there’s this whole stigma about settling down. Traditionally, the stages of a “perfect relationship” has always been portrayed as: dating someone for many years, buying a house together, getting engaged, getting married, having kids and growing old together. Obviously this way of thinking has branched out and moved on yet it’s still an idea that people hold on to. For the singletons who hold tightly on to this way of life, tend to feel the pressure more as the years go by.

I find that as you get older, dating becomes harder. The truth is, the longer you’re alive, the more baggage you build up. We become set in our own ways, we’re more particular about what we want in a partner, we’re more critical. And this is just a tiny handful of reasons why. You’ll also find that everyone has been in some form of relationship(s) already, people might have children, be divorced… all of that stuff. So what do we have left? Well, it’s a choice of:

1. Serial daters – doesn’t take dating seriously and doesn’t want to take dating seriously
2. Broken but healing – may succeed once healed
3. Broken and not healing – toxic and undateable
4, Mentally unstable – this can cover a lot of ground but generally toxic and undatable or adds too much of a burden
5. Married – no thanks
Kids from someone else – might work for some, dealbreaker for others

You get my drift right? Okay, fine… there might be like 10% of “normal” people out there but even so, it’s not the easiest journey, particularly if you’re someone looking to settle down. There are other factors which unfortunately make an individual put pressure on themselves, this includes:

1. When all your friends are getting hitched and popping out babies
2. Parents / Other family members
3. Awareness of your body clock
4. Not being able to enjoy your own company

5. Overthinking about the future

Go easy on yourself

One might not be fussed about any of the above but I totally understand why a number of women are in a hurry to find their Mr. Right. The thing is however, progression of a romantic relationship can’t be forced or rushed, it’s something that should naturally evolve over time. So on that point, I wanted to compile a few “words of wisdom” for my fellow singletons. Mind you, I’m no love guru here, I’m simply picking out some narrative from various books I’ve read and conversations I’ve had — all which I’ve personally found useful and taken onboard.

JUMPING INTO RELATIONSHIPS
There are a number of reasons why people rush into new relationships. A lot of the time, it’s an attempt to get over an old one (ie. filling a hole in their life), but rebound relationships rarely stand the test of time because until your heart has healed you’re unlikely to be in the right frame of mind to let someone new in. Lost relationships deserve to be grieved. Even if the choice was yours to end it, there is still the loss of the hope you once had for it. You’ll be surprised how much you discover about yourself when you take some time out to heal.

Being part of a healthy relationship requires being a healthy person (mentally and emotionally). While it’s lovely to have a companion, it’s vital to feel comfortable and happy within yourself when you’re on your own and before entering a new relationship. It’s worth mentioning that no one ever figures everything out about themselves. I’m still learning every day! But when you know what you want and need in a relationship, the higher chance you will find someone in alignment with those needs.

TRUST YOUR OWN JOURNEY
We need to remember that everyone’s timing and journeys are different — and I’m not just referring to relationships in this instance. What works for some will not work for others. In life, it can be very discouraging when you witness friends or siblings reaching important milestones, whilst you’re there struggling to make ends meet.

Now if we look at dating, it can be hard to suppress feelings of sadness, envy or whatever it is you feel in the age of social media where everyone’s life seems so perfect online. If you find yourself thinking “why can’t it be me?” after seeing a friend’s Instagram post announcing her wedding engagement while she’s in the Caribbean with her new fiancee — it’s totally understandable. There was a study on Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking which found that social media use was associated with lower self-esteem and poorer mental health.

Please don’t focus on how you rank in comparison to others. Enjoy your journey. And remember that your journey has nothing to do with how well other people are doing, or what they have… but it has everything to do with what you want to do, and where you want to go. That’s all you need to worry about.

HIGH STANDARDS VS. BEING UNREALISTIC
People people people… we must draw the line between having high standards and being unrealistic. First of all, there is nothing wrong with having high standards. I think it’s a sign of healthy self-esteem, and it implies clarity about who you are and what you want. High standards conveys someone who knows their worth and what they deserve and are not afraid to ask for it and expect it done.

On the other hand, having unrealistic expectations for yourself and others isn’t great. Expecting someone else to be perfect, tick all the boxes all the time and do things when and how you want is not fair. Sorry but who do you think you are? If you’re constantly feeling disappointed in your relationships, you might want to consider the fact that you expect too much from your partner. Yes, relationships involve compromise and there are certainly non-negotiables, but sometimes we need to do some readjusting where expectations are concerned.

I’ve seen people’s (long ass) lists where there’s a column for dealbreakers and a column for requirements… and boy, some of that stuff is incredibly far-fetched and laughable. I’m not even gonna go there! Anyway, the bottom line is that you must understand and accept that no one is perfect. By doing so, you release yourself and others from this competition that nobody can ever win. 

STOP JUDGING
I have been particularly bad at this in the past, which is why I’ve been called “stush” before. One thing I would like to highlight is that putting yourself out there, being in a vulnerable position isn’t such a bad thing — and I’ve massively appreciated it when the other person does the same. It really helps when two people are honest and can communicate. It takes a good amount of time to really get to know someone and even then, you’ll only know a fragment about them. Even in relationships where you learn more over the years, people change as they go through different stages of life, things also happen and you either go with it or walk away.

Managing your judgement is very important here. The problem with judging early on is that you don’t allow a chance to connect with the other person on a deeper level, where you see their core values and beliefs, and watch their actions to make sure that they’re aligned with their words. At the end of the day, kindness and acceptance is imperative when getting to know someone new.

ENJOYING THE MOMENT
The best part of dating? Having fun! Life might throw a lot of bullshit your way, but it should be enjoyable… and as a bonus, sometimes it’s a learning curve. There are people who restrict the fun side of things because they’re not living in the moment. In fact, the same people are most likely too busy formulating plans on how to lock things down with the “potential”. Remember: Not all relationships will lead to marriage, some will help you discover new restaurants.

We often lose sight of what dating is all about, and in my opinion, it’s about connecting with another person, sharing who you are while learning who they are, enjoying the activity, laughing at the jokes, flirting and appreciating each other’s company. When you don’t take yourself or the date too seriously, you’ll quickly find yourself having the best dates of your life. Perhaps we need to trade the unattainable “fairytale ending” for a happy journey with a few bumps en route.

THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING SINGLE
Lastly…. this. I wasn’t always someone who enjoyed being single but when I took the time out and focused on me and put myself first, my mindset and outlook changed completely. As a society we’re so wrapped up in finding someone to complete us, instead of trying to complete ourselves. Being single is when you learn about yourself and discover who you are. You have all the freedom when you’re single with no one holding you back — so make the most of it! Don’t allow yourself to be so enthralled on becoming somebody’s that you forget to first become somebody. 

Well that’s it from me… I hope you enjoyed this post and it’s given you some food for thought!

Are we burning ourselves out with all these matches?

Dating apps… there are far too many options out there (I’m talking apps and potentials), it’s been said that the golden rule of dating is to never put all your eggs in once basket. I’m not opposed to this, however if you’re not on your A-game or you’re a newbie to dating apps, this multi dating palaver can quickly become confusing, tedious, tiring and kind of messy! I know because I used to be a multi-dater once upon a time. I got to a point where I was having 3 dates a week. And no I’m not bragging here. It was fun and a great laugh at first, but I started pondering… is it really worth the time and energy? Is multi dating truly the way forward in search of a suitable partner?

Repeating the same small talk, asking the same questions to X number of guys over and over — while also trying to remember what they’ve/you’ve said… it’s far too exhausting! Keeping up with several conversations simultaneously meant that I had to leverage my organisational skills (good thing I’ve worked in Project Management). I used to have copy and paste questions (and answers) saved in my phone notes! Basically a bunch of templates. Cheeky huh? It was certainly an efficient way of doing things… but in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have treated dating as if it were some kind of routine/chore! 😬

Multi dating = Multi confusion?

So I refrained from multi dating strategy and wanted to share my reasons why:

1. As mentioned above. Small talk. It’s necessary but painful… and I’d rather not multiply the number of times I have to do it.
2. I love getting glammed up… but truthfully it’s effort! For me, I’m either dressed to the nines to looking like a peasant — there’s no in-between!
3. When you’re not quite getting that spark and you have to drop the awkward “I’ve had a great time, you’re lovely but…” message. Eeek.
4. Constantly looking over my shoulder during a dating incase I get caught by one of the other dudes!
5. Guilt. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty but… I have a good heart! I feel so bad if a guy starts pouring their feelings out and it’s not mutual.

Some people start wondering whether the grass is greener on the other side. Dating then becomes a numbers game and everyone feels disposable. The problem is that this way of thinking doesn’t allow you to properly connect with someone — keeping one foot out the door ultimately means your efforts are half-hearted.

By the way, how you choose to date is totally up to you. I’m merely sharing my experiences 🙂 So why did I multi-date in the first place? Well I’m not going to lie, boredom was the main reason. But in the early stages of dating (especially when you don’t actually know what you’re looking for) it’s nice to connect with different types of people, have a laugh, suss out what type of people you gel with, what qualities/characteristics you like in a person and what you don’t. Then if you happen to share mutual interests, values, humour and enjoy each other’s company then great! I do think multi dating is ideal for those who prefer to keep it casual… although I know people who do it for the ego boost.

Providing that you’re someone who’s unsure about what you’re looking for, here are some other reasons why multi dating can be a good idea:

1. It prevents you from becoming too attached (if that’s your dating style).
2. You won’t feel the pressure or need to rush things.
3. You’ll have a clearer, more rational observation of individual traits you like and dislike.

Why do you want this position?

Multi dating is like being an employer, you’re looking for the right person to fill a role. The first stage is essentially pre-screening, you know… going through their photos and bios (CV), then selecting candidates to match and chat with. I think my record is holding 17 different conversations across 4 apps at one time — I won’t be doing that again! 😬

Then comes the process of elimination. If the conversation is dead, you unmatch. If all goes well and the candidate has kept my interest then they move to second stage (WhatsApp, maybe a phone or video call). A little after this point, if I haven’t blocked them yet, then it’s final stage (setting up a date). Scheduling dates was a bit of a madness… I had to keep a diary to remember who I was seeing and when. Many articles advise letting the other party know that you’re dating around from the start, I don’t think that’s necessary, but that’s just me.

Disclaimer: My definition of multi dating isn’t having a full blown relationship with multiple people. Nor does it mean I get intimate with every single guy at the same time! Once I’m into someone and the feeling is reciprocated, I cut ties with the others.

Conclusion

I think multi dating is kinda long! I guess my attitude around it has changed, I honestly can’t be arsed! These days I’d prefer to invest time in one person. It requires less effort, I don’t get caught up in any complications, it’s an opportunity to get to know someone on a deeper level without other “distractions”, it’s respectful, and if things don’t work out then it’s just a simple case of dropping them, moving on to the next one or chilling! Why make life more difficult right? What’s your take on it?

The hoe life is no life… for me anyway.

Call me old fashioned or boring but with the development of dating apps, we’re now in an era where people skip the niceties, forget about courting, get straight into “DTF?” (Down To Fuck – for those not familiar with the lingo), then it’s off to do your thing and sneak out the morning after.

Hookups have always been on peoples agendas, and I think dating apps have made it easily accessible. If you’re anything like me, someone who has never been interested in a quick bang, it’s easy to get jaded with the world of modern dating. Don’t get me wrong, for those who enjoy the freedom to have casual sex whenever and with whoever, by all means do your thing! I’m certainly not judging.

Each dating app encourages users to make it clear what they’re looking for on their profiles in order to help set expectations on both sides. However, even when you do that… you’ll still get a handful of people that match/message you with other intentions. Of course I can simply choose to ignore or unmatch them, especially when they send distasteful messages. But it’s the ones that play the game, act like they’re looking for something other than a hookup but aren’t completely upfront about what they really want. 🙄 Why? What is the point?

In my opinion, it seems that many people (both men and women) don’t actually know they’re looking for — in which case, these particular individuals should deactivate their accounts and do a bit work on themselves. Alternatively, if a quick romp in the bedroom is what people are after then there are specific apps designed for those after something that isn’t long-term/serious. Sorry folks, I don’t know all the app names but I’d say Feely and Tinder are probably good starting points.

As a female dating app user, you wouldn’t believe just how easy it is to rack up a bunch of men to sleep with. I’m not tooting my own horn here, it’s a fact that women get more matches then men. Basically there are a lot of guys out there who want sex with no strings attached. I don’t use any photos where I’m in a bikini, in tight gym clothing or little “ratchet” outfits… yet I still get ridiculous messages. 🤮 Can you imagine what it’s like for the women who do use fleshy photos? I’ve got to be honest here, when I swipe through my guy friend’s matches, some of these women will put “looking for a relationship” then use pictures with half their breasts out and posing in lingerie. Really? You’re not exactly leaving much to the imagination.

Anyway, we live in a modern society and sexual promiscuity happens; everyone has their own wants/needs. It’s just that my preference is to be in a place where I feel stable, comfortable and not have to deal with the aftermath of emotional messiness. I would much rather be with a person that’ll make me feel good all the time, not just for one day or on occasions.

Casual sex is suited to those who can simply compartmentalise (and not many can). But I also find that these people tend to display quite intense, antagonistic, narcissistic personality traits. I guess you could say it’s kind of similar to the FWB scenario — except you need to remove the element of friendship! So yeah… hookups. Not ideal for those who are an emotional train wreck or those hoping that a relationship will be the end result. Do you agree?