Tips for dating online safely and successfully.

I was up the other night until ungodly hours of the morning obsessively binging on a Netflix series called “Dirty John”. I haven’t been hooked on a show since Game of Thrones but it was honestly so gripping! Based on a true crime story, it’s about a manipulative, sociopathic con man who uses dating sites to seduce and extort women. It highlighted how the early warning signals aren’t always clear when you’re blinded by love. I highly recommend adding to your watchlist if you haven’t seen it yet!

After blitzing through the show in two days, experiencing what felt like an emotional rollercoaster, I was left gobsmacked knowing that people like him exist in the real world! From there I felt really inspired to write this post on how to protect yourself when looking for love online.

No matter what age you are, the online world has changed the way we form romantic relationships. Typically before these dating apps came on the scene, you’d meet people through friends, at work or from social events. Don’t get me wrong, this still happens but as we entered the era of social media and online dating, it’s a different kind of ball game. The anonymity of being behind a screen allows people to mould themselves into something they’re not — from hiding parts of their personality, spitting harmless lies about their height or weight, using fake names and missing out information about their children or marital status! If we’re not careful enough, we might end up being a victim of “catfishing” or worse, out of pocket and broken-hearted.

Deception is on this Earth

According to a recent study by Kaspersky, 55% of online daters have experienced some form of threat or problem with another party. While in a separate study ran by members of Michigan State University and Cornell University, 81% of online daters are untruthful about themselves in their profiles! That’s a high frigging stat! Online dating has clearly created a shift so it’s crucial to consider the potential dangers involved. When we start conversing with a new match, it allows us to connect and get to know someone without actually getting to know them — and that illusion of connection can make online dating pretty dangerous, thus we should think twice before giving away too much detail about ourselves.

Date safe

The experience of online dating should be enjoyable; however personal safety must come first. I would say the majority of people using dating apps have good intentions… yet how do we deal with the handful of those who don’t? Remember, you’re never responsible for the predatory or disrespectful behaviour of others — but there are things you can do to protect yourself when you’re interacting with a stranger. Next time you log back into Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, etc., I urge you to keep the following safety tips in mind.

HOLD BACK
It’s natural to want to impress someone new, you might disclose your interests, your job and industry, but you should never give out details such as your home/work address, what assets you own, bank information, email address, phone number… at least until you’ve established that the person you’re speaking with is truly who they say they are. Even then, I’d advise to stay on the side of precaution.

PHOTO SHARING
Don’t invite unwanted attention. If it’s your profile pictures or photos you’re sending to your matches, think before you let that photo land in their hands. Sharing naked or provocative images can lead to risky situations that are beyond your control, you just can’t guarantee that they won’t share it around with their friends or post it online for others to discover.

PUBLIC PLACES
No matter how charming or “genuine” your potential might appear… meet in public! Don’t send them an invitation to come to your place, and if they insist on inviting you around to theirs or suggest picking you from yours, I’d say it’s a red flag! 🚩 When you meet up, pick a venue where there are lots of people around, try to ensure good phone signal (and make sure you have full battery prior to your date!) It’s also worth meeting somewhere that you’re familiar with so you know how to get back home.

TELL A FRIEND… OR TWO
Before the date, let your bestie or family member (or both) know who you’re meeting, what you’re doing and where you’re going. Usually when my date goes to the restroom, I use that opportunity to drop a quick message to my friend and let them know how things are going.

VIDEO DATE
Most dating apps now have video functionality so I’d use it to your advantage. If not, then there are plenty of other video platforms, ie. Zoom, Skype. The conversation doesn’t have to be long but at the very least, you know you’re not getting catfished! A video call will also help you solidify initial attraction, get a gauge on their body language, and get a feel for how the conversation flows.

ARRANGE YOUR OWN MODE OF TRANSPORT
Finally, when you’re going to meet your date… use your own car, order a cab or get public transport — there and back! This lowers the risk of putting yourself in an uneasy or even dangerous situation. It’s best to stay in control over where you go. Even if your date offers to pick you up or drop you off, when you say “no”, they should respect your decision. And if they get funny about it… I have two words: red flag! 🚩

I’ve been “catfished” once before but thankfully nothing sinister came from it. I have to say, it was very odd and I was quite taken back! If your intuition tells you something is off or you feel uncomfortable, just block/delete/report them. But if you’re physically with the person, your safety is key, so there’s nothing wrong with ending a date early and going home. Make your excuse and leave!

Red flags? No thanks, I want the green flags please.

Relationships play a massive part of our lives, I can’t think of anyone who wants to waste their time being unhappy and unfulfilled with the wrong partner. Most of us have had our fair share of drama and disasters in the past; so it’s understandable if someone enters a new relationship with a slightly pessimistic outlook. From online articles to social media posts and lifestyle magazines, we often hear about “red flags” in a relationship, but what about the lesser-discussed “green flags”? What are signs of a healthy and loving relationship that has true potential?

Sometimes we focus too much on the negatives and lose sight of the positive things (not just with relationships either) so today I’m discussing traits that’ll indicate whether a person is a keeper ☺️ I’ve prepared a rather hefty list on what I consider “green flags” based on my experience and learnings overtime…

1. YOU ARE NOT CONFUSED ABOUT THEIR FEELINGS FOR YOU (EMOTIONAL AVAILABILITY)
Spending too much energy trying to decipher their mixed feelings? Ain’t nobody got time for that!I’ll save you the stress now and tell you that mixed signals more often than not means they’re not that into you. Harsh but true. A sure sign of someone who’s emotionally available will be in tune with their feelings and can communicate them with you. Not only are they able to do this, but they’re actually willing to. Showing you vulnerability, ie. knowing if they’re afraid, if they really like you, if something bothers them — means you’re not left wondering, guessing, or worrying because they’ve consistently shown that you can trust their words and actions.

2. KNOWING HOW TO HOLD DIFFICULT, HONEST AND CONSTRUCTIVE CONVERSATIONS
Closely linked with point 1… it’s a cliché but I can’t emphasise enough: communication is key! For many it’s difficult to talk about your feelings and put yourself out there, but once you pluck up the courage to do so, you’ll realise that it really is the glue that holds relationships together. If you and your partner are able to talk on a level (even after a fight), if you’re able to express yourselves calmly, effectively and respectfully, particularly through conflict, then you’re in a very good place. Believe me it’s frustrating being with someone who’s equivalent to a brick wall (I’ve been on both sides).

3. A GREAT AND SIMILAR SENSE OF HUMOUR

Imagine cracking a joke that you thought was a funny, only to be met with deafening silence 😭😩 That would fill me with dread! So it’s nice to know your partner will get your weird and wonderful sense of humour. Making fun of each other, sarcasm, banter, having the ability to spar with each other verbally — that’s a green flag for sure.

4. YOU CAN BE YOURSELF

I don’t believe you should be putting on a facade when it comes to dating at any point but when you’re with someone you gel with, you should feel comfortable enough to act exactly as you do when you’re alone. You’re the real you, not a “representation” of you. You’ll feel like you can be honest and speak your mind without feeling like your partner will judge or put you down. Hiding your true self from the get-go means building your relationship on lies… and that never ends well!

5. THEY GIVE YOU ‘ME TIME’

Everyone needs a little alone time now and then. In a healthy relationship, both parties understand and respect the need for independence and “me time”.  It’s important to have your own interests, hobbies, routines and friends. What you don’t want to do is become all-consumed with your partner — not having and maintaining your identity outside of your relationship could quickly lead to neediness and resentment.

6. YOU FEEL RESPECTED

When we care about and value others, we respect their feelings, treat them well and make time for them. We act accordingly when we know someone’s worth and not want to lose them. A positive sign is when you don’t feel rushed into anything you’re not ready for, physically or emotionally. Your partner will listen and understand your point of view (even if they don’t agree). And they’ll treat you like a priority rather than a convenience. Valuing your presence in their life is a green flag.

7. SEXUAL CHEMISTRY
When I talk about sexual chemistry, I don’t just mean having that feeling of wanting to rip each others clothes off and experiencing mind blowing sex (although, that’s pretty hot!) But if our partner can feed our mind and soul, it enhances our feelings of physical/sexual attraction to them. When you’re comfortable enough to discuss bedroom antics, how to spice things up, turn-ons and being able to laugh about the sex, this helps to build a fantastic sex life together! 😏

8. GENEROSITY
I’m not just talking monetary value here, it can be in others forms such as time, effort, attention, positive feedback. Random acts of kindness towards your partner, giving little gifts, plenty of affection, being considerate, putting your needs first (in bed LOL 😜) — it’s this kind of generosity that can help nurture a relationship and keep the flame going.

9. YOU WANT SIMILAR THINGS IN LIFE

Shared goals, values, ideals, life directions, common interests — all of these are going to make the relationship easier for the long term without much discussion or conflict. Thus, it’s crucial to pay attention to see if you’re both aligned and share a similar vision of success. This is a conversation that should be addressed early on, and although that may sound pretty intense, it’s necessary because… well why would you want to water a dead plant?

10. YOU FEEL CHALLENGED (IN A GOOD WAY)

Compatibility in a relationship isn’t just about having great time with someone. Being with a mirror version of yourself won’t expose you to new things, or teach you much about life. Two people who have identical views, personalities, or backgrounds might seem reassuring but realistically it’ll lead you down a path to stagnation. Personally, I think it’s important to be with someone whose strengths offset your weaknesses, and vice versa. It’s better to be with someone who is accomplished in areas you struggle in. Appreciating each others differences as well as the traits that overlap with your own will make you realise that no one is perfect, and that we’re only humans who are constantly evolving 😊

11. CROSSING THE “COMPROMISE BRIDGE” TOGETHER

When you’re invested in a relationship and confident about your future together, the element of sacrifice/compromise will come into play. At some point, you and your partner will have a different approach or opinion which means together, you’ll need to agree on a solution that is mutually beneficial. Combining your perspectives and moulding a life together is a great sign for a thriving relationship between two individuals. That’s not to say you should give up your own identity and values for the sake of the relationship, but rather find the right balance and reach a place of understanding.

12. THEY KNOW HOW TO APOLOGISE

Being with someone who cannot admit when they’re wrong is a pain in the arsehole! When someone can genuinely apologise to you and show genuine changes in their behaviour, then that’s valuable. Of course it goes both ways too. Recognising your own shortcomings, knowing when you’re at fault shows that you understand boundaries and care enough to make amends. All I’m going to say is… choose people who choose you over their pride and ego!

That’s all folks!

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… dating and relationships is not easy! With substantial amounts of advice and guidance from various sources out there, it can get incredibly overwhelming. On one hand, people say that you should never settle. But on another, people say it’s important to not get caught up in ideals and learn to accept people with flaws. The green flags mentioned above doesn’t solve all the problems, but I believe they do provide a pretty solid framework for the kind of people you should aim to add to your life. The fact of the matter is, the purpose of having people in your life is to improve the quality and make you happy. That’s it. So if they are not serving that purpose, then they’re simply not good for you. I’ll leave you with that thought.

Do you have any additional flags to add to the list? I’d love to know. Drop a comment below! 🙃

Platonic friendships: Can men and women really just be friends?

When it comes to this burning question, there are all sorts of views, some may even have an anecdote to share. In the 1989 movie, “When Harry Met Sally”, the writer Nora Ephron was exploring the exact question, “Can men and women be friends?” According to Harry (played by Billy Crystal), men and women can’t be friends “because the sex part always gets in the way.”

“Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”

Oscar Wilde

Firstly I’d like to note that I am referring mostly to deep, connected friendships between both a heterosexual man and woman and not the casual and circumstantial interactions that happen between people in groups of friends or work colleagues.

From an evolutionary standpoint, men and women were never meant to be friends in the first place. Many leading philosophers claim that the entire purpose of life is to reproduce and pass on your genes. Although this statement is controversial and debatable, we can all agree that our basic instinct is to survive and reproduce.

“If I had the chance, I would smash”

There’s a reason why cross-sex friendships tend to make a significant other feel jealous or threatened. Even if it isn’t said outright, sometimes you can feel tension in the air or glaring eyeballs burning into your skin. Trust me, I know! At this point, I’d expect someone to comment and say, “Oh but if someone’s jealous of a cross-sex friendship, then that’s down to their own insecurities!” — sure, I don’t disagree with this statement. You do find many individuals in relationships while simultaneously still healing from old wounds or unable to let go of past trauma which can create these negative feelings towards the “friend”. However let’s be real… there is a risk that in cross-sex friendships, one or the other will develop sexual attraction, and possibly feelings over time. It’s just how human nature works, but it doesn’t always happen.

Bear in mind that just because your friend is sexually attracted to you, it doesn’t mean they will necessary act upon it. Either they will keep it hidden from you or confess to you when they get the courage to do so. In the past, I’ve had one great friendships fizzle out because he chose to admit his feelings for me… it was pretty awkward and a shock to say the least. After I told him the feelings were’t mutual, he started backing off and our friendship unfortunately never went back to normal. I really hoped he’d be fine over time, but he clearly wasn’t. I reached out a few times to see how he was, and although he would respond (short, blunt answers), I realised our friendship was pretty much dead in the water. 🙁

I have many male friends, and it’s not by choice. I’ve always naturally found that we have more common interests, the same humour, a similar outlook on life and I appreciate that they’re all straight up, no bullshit kind of people. That’s not to say my girls aren’t!

Here’s a confession… I had a little thing with one of my good guy friends about 9 years ago… it was a while back and we were young, but I definitely don’t see him in that way at all. There’s no emotional attachment and it’s certainly the same from his side. He’s a good looking dude and we’ll joke about the past if it ever comes into conversation (rarely!) but it’s never impacted our friendship. These days we’ll talk about life and even offer each other dating/relationship advice!

There’s a couple guys I’m close with who I’ve known since primary school and we literally have a brother/sister type of bond, nothing more, nothing less. I’ve been to their house, I know their parents, siblings and vice versa. And I really value those long-lasting friendships.

With some of the other fellas, they have openly told me that if they had the chance, they would “smash”. Does it bother me? No. Does it affect our friendship? No. I’ve always set and maintained boundaries and I don’t entertain flirtatious behaviour for sake of an ego boost or anything. I draw the line and they know that. I’ve joined in on a “lads holiday” and taken a trip with just one of them in the past. Nothing happened — we slept in separate rooms, partied together, dined together and soaked up the sun by the pool. All amazing holidays! Ultimately, I believe we all have a high degree of maturity which allows our cross-sex friendship to be really lovely, fun and wholesome.

Woman please

When my guy friends get into relationships, I respect the boundary and tend not to invite them out one-on-one. I also decrease the calls, texts, cut the explicit chats about sex, etc. — I just know that their partners wouldn’t appreciate it. Likewise I would feel the same if the roles were reversed. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want their partner to feel uncomfortable or feel like I’m getting in between them. Funnily enough my friend recently admitted that his ex wasn’t a fan of me, 😆 she thought I was “going after” him. 🤦🏻‍♀️ Woman please.

I do get it though, I used to be in a relationship with a guy who was always chatting to his female friends. If we went to an occasion/event, all these chicks would be hugging him, constantly floating around him, giving him that little “playful” stroke on the arm. He ended up being a cheat anyway 🤷🏻‍♀️ so yes I get it!

So… can men and women really just be friends?

I do believe it’s possible… with a few caveats here and there. Sometimes you grow up as childhood friends and it simply remains that way. In other cases you build friendships overtime, and if it so happens that one develops feelings or the “sex part” gets in the way (and it’s not reciprocated) then by all means, a line needs to be drawn. From my experience, this “line” usually come from the woman. This is where boundaries must be put in place. I’ll leave you with some final points to think about.

BE EXPLICIT WITH THEM
It’s important that you’re clear on why you are friends with them. If the motivation is not platonic, then be honest with yourself and admit that you are attracted to this person. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have a friendship with them, but it will help to acknowledge the attraction you feel and know your limits in awkward situations.

EASE UP ON THE TOUCHY FEELY-NESS
Rein it in so you don’t give the other person the wrong idea. At the same time, don’t entertain it if they start getting all touchy-feely with you. A hello/goodbye hug is okay, but shoulder rubs, thigh grabs, hair stroking… well! 👀

SHARING THE SAME BED… REALLY???
You know, I was reading up on this… and perhaps I’m an old skool kinda gal but apparently cross-sex friends sharing the same bed is fairly normal? I never realised that and don’t get it. I’ve never shared the same bed with any of my guy friends and wouldn’t want to! How awkward! Personally, I wouldn’t suggest this.

BE AWARE OF EACH OTHER’S SITUATION
When a boyfriend or girlfriend enters the scene then it’s probably time to take a step back. It’s not worth treading on someone else’s toes. Acting accordingly is the respectable thing to do, the last thing you want to do is cause conflict!

“It’s nothing personal.”

Maybe it was a first date and they never followed up, maybe you’ve been seeing each other for a few months and they decided it’s not going to work, maybe you finally plucked up the courage to ask them out and they weren’t interested… While rejection is pretty much inevitable in some capacity, it still blows. Getting shut down for something you desire can be painful and our fragile little hearts can’t help but wonder “why?”

Unless you have confidence of steel, romantic rejection can be traumatic and impact our self esteem. As humans, we are inherently social beings. We long for connections, meaning and need other humans to survive. So when we’re not accepted, the mind finds a way to think negatively about our own self-worth. While we’ve all heard the old line, “it’s nothing personal” — not taking rejection personally is a skill that requires practice.

Rejection can come in various sizes. With the ever-evolving technology today, each of us is connected to thousands of people via social media or dating apps. It’s likely that a person might choose to ignore our posts, chats, texts, or dating profiles, and leave us feeling rejected as a result. Along with these minor rejections, we are still vulnerable to bigger, more devastating rejections as well.

This topic came about after conversing with one of my fellow bloggers (IG: Fantasy World Unleashed). Initially we had quite an insightful discussion on whether size mattered 🤭🍆 (refer to my last post!) We then spoke about the impact of romantic rejection and the various ways people handle it. With a ton of research available at the tips of my fingers, using my own experience combined with my interest in Psychology/Human Behaviour — I felt really inspired to turn this into a blog piece. However, the main question I was asked to address was:

Who can handle romantic rejection better? Men or Women?

On first thought, if I were to generalise (and going into the realms of stereotyping – sorry!) I would assume women would get hit by rejection harder because by nature we’re more emotionally expressive, we tend to overthink/overanalyse situations. With romantic initiatives; yes it’s men who typically have the responsibility of making the first move, therefore women are less exposed to experiencing rejection. Thus when women do receive a “No”… the aftermath can be prickly! Some get angry, others cry, anxiety increases, the ego gets bruised, we might feel like shit, etc… I’ve certainly felt it before, I’ve also witnessed many other different behaviours.

A friend of mine shared his view with me the other day. Reiterating what I had mentioned about the cultural expectation of men having to express interest first, he explained that a higher rate of rejection doesn’t necessarily mean men are any better at handling it. And from his perspective, being dismissed multiple times actually knocked his confidence down*. My other friend claimed that many men handle rejection by internalising their thoughts, compressing their feelings, but are more likely to hold onto the pain longer than women.

*He also said that it’s 2020 so he’d appreciate if women would do more of the initiating… please! 😂
Ladies, take note! Are we ready to move past these stereotypical roles? Let’s save this one for another blog post! 😁

People are people

With everything considered, I guess being “better” at handling romantic rejection is not down to gender at all. It’s more to do with the person. The degree to which we are able to handle rejection is dependent on various factors such as how much we base our self-worth, contentment in the relationship and the effort invested in the other party. To put simply, some people handle rejection well, some not so well, some downright horribly.

Romantic rejection can be particularly challenging, especially to individuals who desire a lasting romantic relationship. A breakup, or rejection can lead to feelings of grief that may be overwhelming, sometimes lasting for weeks, months, or even years! Some people eventually start isolating themselves or hold back from connecting with others because they’re too afraid of going through the process again. Being sensitive to rejection can alter the way we see our lives and our own self… this can result in loneliness and even depression.

The experience of rejection activates memories of other times in which we felt disregarded, or shunned. Many characteristically respond to rejection by blaming themselves. Others attack the source and express aggression toward the rejecting party. Everyone’s response to rejection is connected to how we have learned in the past to cope with negative feelings.

Did you know the same areas of our brain become activated when we experience rejection as when we experience physical pain? That’s why even the smallest things hurt more than we think they should, because they literally surface (emotional) pain. Unfortunately, when we feel hurt, the go-to response for many of us is to add fuel to the fire by being emotionally unhealthy and psychologically self-destructive, ie. criticising our self-worth or calling ourselves names.

Overcome it and refocus

To put bluntly, rejection is something that will happen in life, so we should probably try to learn to work with it. Being able to face it, deal with it and come out okay on the other side can be really empowering as well as help to build emotional resilience. So here are some tips that could make the journey a little easier.

DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
Society insists that a “loss” or “failure” is undesirable. This is not true! Firstly, some situations are inevitable. We’re all bound to go through failure at some point in life. Secondly, how can we grow if we don’t experience difficulty? Thirdly, romantic rejection is not the end of the world. If you put things into perspective, you’ll realise there is a lot more to life.

MOVING ON…
It’s tempting to hold onto something that you think has potential… but don’t cling on for too long. It’s always better for your dignity and self esteem to let go gracefully. If you get turned down, don’t try and persuade or manipulate someone into giving you a chance. The relationship will most likely fail because it won’t be equal. We all deserve to be with someone who actually reciprocates the same feelings. Why be with someone who’s there… reluctantly.

CALL IN REINFORCEMENTS
Socialising really helps in dealing with rejection. Call up your friends, have a good time, laugh as much as you can but also, use the time to open up to them. Don’t suppress any feelings, don’t go through the process alone. Friends are there for a reason — be free to explain how you feel, cry on their shoulders and ask for advice.

APPRECIATE WHAT YOU STILL HAVE
Don’t get stuck in dwelling and dragging yourself down. Try your best to shift your focus to what you actually have in life. Sometimes we obliviously get through our days taking things for granted — family, friends, our passions and hobbies… even the simple things like food, nature and a roof over our head. Refocusing our energy and tapping into gratitude will help put what happened into perspective and allow you to not be overwhelmed.

Lastly

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to Fantasy World Unleashed for the inspiration and conjuring up this question for me. I really enjoyed the deep dive and hope it gave you and all my readers some interesting insight!

COVIDiares: From quranteasing to pandemic pleasing

If you’re an avid reader of my blog then you’ll know that I started COVID-eo dating a guy that I met on Hinge back around mid-March (here is the post for reference.) Nine weeks in I wrote another piece giving a quick update on how things were going and bringing to light some of my “what if” questions in advance of us (eventually) meeting face to face. It’s now been just over 3 months, so with lockdown eased up and 12 video dates later… you better believe we finally met in the flesh! Hurrah!

It’s been an interesting journey so far, particularly with the video dating aspect as that was completely new territory for me. Sharing a similar story with many others, lockdown introduced a shift in the dating landscape where users had to turn towards platforms such as FaceTime or Zoom in order to connect with potentials. While some may have found it awkward or simply put their dating lives on pause, I found the experience to be very enjoyable and fulfilling. I certainly didn’t expect to be “dating” anyone during lockdown, let alone for so many weeks! My initial thought was that perhaps I’d have a couple of video dates before it gradually fizzling out.

Recap

From the get go I noticed straight away that our conversations naturally flowed with lots of laughter. Our dates quickly became a weekly thing, we were both comfortable and I found myself feeling more at ease with him as the weeks went by. It was nice to see his personality shine through via video, I felt like I managed to get a lot more out of this method of communication as opposed to messaging or a phone call; the interactions and facial expressions made a huge difference in building this connection. Another thing I appreciated was how open we were with each other; by sharing thoughts on how our date went, what we enjoyed and what we liked about each other — it was helpful to know that we were on the same page. The most impressive part above all, was the consistent effort put in from both sides, not only did we have our once-a-week dates but there was plenty of chit chat, banter and silly games in-between. It’s fair to say that he made lockdown a little more bearable for me.

First (not video) date

Our first date took place last Tuesday and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling slightly nervous beforehand (and I’m not usually the nervous type!) No doubt it was more nerves of excitement than anything else. I mean with 3 months worth of build up and anticipation of seeing each other (especially during the last couple of weeks), the suspense was killing me slowly. In the back of my mind, I was confident that there’d be no awkwardness nor would we be any different to how we were over our Zoom calls. We were lucky to have sunshine for our park “drinkies” date (it rained for the rest of the week) so I kept my outfit fairly casual, I chucked on a t-shirt, skirt, trainers and my oversized glam sunglasses. 😎

I arrived at the meeting spot a few minutes earlier and dropped him a message… eeeek! The funniest part was when he messaged back saying he was couple of minutes away and asked me to send my location. Not long after, I noticed a little old man following Google Maps on his phone, heading directly towards me! Hahaha! Just so you know, that wasn’t him! But the next guy walking towards me definitely was! I had a quick scan of his outfit (standard procedure): casual check shirt, black jeans and vans — yeah, he got my stamp of approval for his park ensemble ✅ As he walked towards me, I couldn’t help but laugh, it felt kinda bizarre…in a positive way!

Getting our flirt on

Now I’m gonna to be straight and say that we broke the social distancing rules! I don’t think it even occurred to us because we went in for a hug and he gave me a kiss on the cheek. You know how I mentioned us being comfortable during our Zoom calls? It felt exactly the same except this time there was no laptop screen between us. We started chatting and I was tempted to link onto his arm… although on second thought, it was probably a bold move to make so early on! Didn’t want him to think I was a weirdo 🙈 Once we found a nice spot, I could feel the chemistry between us which wasn’t surprising as we’d been quite flirty during our dates. With so much eye contact, laughter and a few touchy feely moments… it seemed like we just clicked. Within an hour and a few G&Ts later, we were sat so ridiculously close together to the point where I thought “fuck it” and went in for a snuggle. At one point during our date, he was lying down on his front so I could crack his back 😂 Yeah I don’t know where that randomly came from… Anyway! Things turned up a notch as we placed a bet; basically if I lost then I had to give him a kiss (oldest trick in the book!) Firstly I’ll have you know that I won the bet. He’ll tell you otherwise because he’s a soo competitive. Either way, I wanted that kiss so was willing to take the “loss”. FYI – he’s a great kisser!

With all the fun and games going on; there was one thing we didn’t think through… public toilets! They were all bloody closed. I’m still confused about it until this day. Why do that? After dragging the poor guy around in circles, feeling confident that at least one set of toilets would be open, I was very wrong… and far from impressed. Luckily for him, he did his thing in a bush — that’s one advantage to having a penis. Unfortunately I wasn’t planning to water any plants so I made us Uber over to my sisters house, thank God she didn’t live too far and he probably thought I was such a diva at this point.

Hehe ;D

We continued on with our date at a local park and popped open the bottle prosecco we had left 🥂🍾 Up until the sun went in, we chilled, people watched, conversed and weren’t hiding the fact that we were checking each other out… a lot. Considering no restaurants or bars were open, he offered to make me dinner at his. Yeah I know what you’re thinking, and no, I didn’t think his only intention was to get me into bed.

After whipping up a meal with a glass of wine each we continued chatting. Eventually he swooped in and made the move. The kisses were fiery, I felt his hands running from my waist and up my skirt. As we continued kissing, he lifted me up and put me on the dining table. We were ready to go for it, however I wasn’t about to have sex on the table with his flatmate in the house! So we moved things into the bedroom and to be honest, for our first sex session, I had no complaints whatsoever. Them broad shoulders though, the strong facial hair, with a dominant streak and good balance of aggression and gentleness. I’d describe him as a proper manly man — in general and under the sheets. I ended up staying the night but we didn’t get much sleep. 😏

Discovering each other on an intimate level, showing each other’s bedroom tricks as well as having those cute, affectionate post-sex moments, the little kisses, the snuggles, the stroking, the spooning — it was all pleasurable. The next day we both had work so after some morning cuddles followed by intense sex I had to head off early but if we could have stayed in bed together, there’d be no question about it.

Second date?

Overall, the “first” date was memorable. Believe it or not, we’ve already had our second date involving coffee, a stroll with a few hugs and kisses. The lockdown phase put us in a position where we had to make the best out of an unusual situation. Personally speaking, I think having those 12 weeks to build a connection without the physical side of things was a blessing in disguise. I was quite guarded and slightly judgemental towards him at first but as I got to know him on a deeper level, I found him even more attractive in personality and appearance. I guess we were fortunate enough to have gotten along really well from day one, I’m particularly pleased that our virtual dates had translated in real life. From what I’ve witnessed so far, he seems like a really sound guy so I’ll have to see what happens! I promise to keep you posted folks!

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.

“I didn’t appreciate you dueting with him at karaoke!”

Insecurity and neediness quickly became a deal breaker for me after exiting one of my past relationships. I can’t and won’t tolerate that kind of behaviour. When I’m emotionally checked out of a relationship, that’s it. There’s no going back. I will close the door, lock it and throw away the key. I don’t offer friendship post-relationships, but I do try to part ways in the most amicable way possible. Though this hasn’t always panned out the way I would have hoped.  

In this post, I want to talk about the challenges I faced when dealing with a possessive, insecure and needy partner.

As a disclaimer, I will be honest and say that I have been that unbearable, anxious person once upon a time. It was not pleasant for either party, nor do I wish to ever be in that frame of mind again. I can only describe the behaviour as very toxic and unhealthy. With the relationship I’m about to discuss, I’ve seen it from both sides. Not only have I experienced going through it but I also know what sort of dubious thoughts can run wild inside the head once triggered…

Beginning

It all started at my old workplace. Normally I’m not a lady to mix business with pleasure but we managed to keep it very low key and maintained professionalism when working on projects together. I remember finding out that he’d liked me from one of my colleagues. Unfortunately, I felt quite the opposite. I didn’t find him attractive, he was very geeky, wasn’t very masculine, pale looking, his sense of style didn’t make sense to me… there was no way I could see myself going out on a date with him.

The company I had worked for at the time had some amazing perks including free gym membership at Virgin Active or GymBox. Obviously, I took full advantage but realised that a certain someone was doing the same, and had signed up at the same gym around the corner from the office! I also found him there at the same time as me (stalker lol) I’m not a rude person so when he came over to chat, I let the conversation flow. I mean, he was a nice guy but he was getting a bit too flirty for my liking… I was so uncomfortable! But I find out he had a girlfriend so firstly… thank God! Secondly what the hell was he doing? Eventually he confessed that he liked me but I palmed him off and told him to sort whatever issues out with his girlfriend.

Anyway, fast forwarding to a few weeks later, a bunch of us went out for lunch together. He told me he’d broken up with his girlfriend and was in the process of moving out of their place! Erm… okay? Then he said he really wanted to take me out on a date. Note: I had my stupid colleagues behind the scenes pressurising me to give him a chance! 🙄 So I agreed to hang out with him after work… and boy was I taken by surprise because I actually had a good time. I hope I don’t sound mean?! As time went by, I discovered a number of great qualities about him: very passionate, intelligence, well-mannered, family-orientated, sensitive (in a good way) and extremely ambitious. I suppose it’s those things that made me develop attraction for him.

But (there’s always a “but”) there were many other qualities I was about to find out….

Middle

Overall, we were together for just under a year, thankfully by the time I broke up with him, I had already left the company! Hurrah! Things were pretty solid for 6/7 months. We took a couple of little trips away, he’d met my family and a few friends (vice versa), he was coming along to family occasions, I practically split my time between my home and his. It was lovely!

Then came the possessive, insecure and controlling behaviour… 😒

Jealousy at work
Most people that know me, are aware that I have a very bubbly, friendly and sociable personality. I’m a little lairy, love cracking jokes and sarcasm. Male or female — how I speak/act towards you, doesn’t change. I’m very much a “what you see is what you get” type of person. The ratio of male to female in the office was something like 80:10. I was quite close with 4 or 5 guys in the office, so I’d always go over and have a chinwag whenever I had some downtime.

Clearly this didn’t sit well with someone and he’d either:
1) Get out of his seat, walk over, hang around, wait for me to finish so he could “talk” to me.
2) Walk past me, attempt to make eye contact and give me evils.
3) Send me passive aggressive texts once I was back at my desk.

LOL!

I had to put up with comments like: “Why were you laughing so much with XXX? What was so funny?” or “Why did you pop to the shops with him and not me?” or “You’ve spoken to him more today than you’ve spoken to your own boyfriend!” — Sometimes I overthink or over analyse things which causes me to question my own actions, even when I’m right! I do it more often when I care about a person. When I first received those kind of messages, it pissed me off massively but I also didn’t want him to feel threatened in anyway. I responded calmly and gave him a lot of reassurance… a lot of it! The thing is, I’m also not a pushover. I already experienced being with a controlling person beforehand so I knew better this time. It wasn’t long until I got fed up of his bullshit.

Invasion of privacy
I used to work at his place and borrow his laptop whenever I left mine at home. Not realising that this was clearly a mistake, I kept myself logged into my emails and the work instant messaging platform (Slack). I didn’t think anything of it at the time until one day at dinner he randomly came out with “I saw your conversation with XXX on Slack… why are you guys joking around like that?” and “You talk to XXX every fucking day, and it’s not even about work.” — I was shocked and almost choked on my orange juice!

This guy needs to adjust his tone! And why did he think it was okay to casually drop in the fact that he was going through my work conversations?
The discussion did not go down well, I lost my appetite and jumped in a cab home.

Ruining my Christmas
It was the Christmas work do and as much as I find these occasions kinda cringe, I had to get involved because there going to be karaoke… and I’m the karaoke queen bitches! 😂 Except that night I wasn’t so much. This guy ruined my mood, all because I had dueted with one of our male colleagues (a mutual friend as well!) Excuse me but if Aladdin’s “A whole new world” is lined up, I’m not missing out on that banger!

While everyone else was clapping and woo-ing, he was sitting there giving me the dirtiest look. At this point, I didn’t give a fuck. He decided to take me to a side and say: “I didn’t appreciate you dueting with him at karaoke!”. I laughed in his face which pissed him even more… so he went home. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Don’t even touch me
With all this bullshit, I was getting exhausted mentally. Who has time to justify their actions at every moment!? I resented him and was pretty much checked out of the relationship. Everything he said pissed me off. Looking at him pissed me off. I started taking my bits and pieces from his place and bringing them back to mine. I didn’t even want him touching me… every time he’d go in for a hug or kiss, I’d turn away and pull a disgusted face, sometimes even put my hand up to stop him for getting closer.

End

There was only one direction this relationship was heading in, and it was straight down the pan! He had to go. I was already preparing my breakup speech which consisted of about 5 sentences. But more importantly, I had a 2 week girly holiday to San Francisco, Miami & Barbados coming up… and I intended to thoroughly enjoy it!!

Based on how we were around each other, he knew it was coming. During the first few days of my holiday, he was constantly texting me and I was completely unbothered. I remember he had text me: “I miss you!” and I recall ignoring it for a whole day then eventually responding with: “We need to talk when I get back. I’d like to enjoy my holiday now so let’s just save it for when I return.”

Harsh but that’s what happens when people are pushed too far. I had a fabulous time and it was a much needed break! I got back in touch with him on the same day I landed. We agreed to meet the following day for a coffee and basically the rest is history. There was no anger towards him whatsoever. If anything, I tried to get him to explain why he carried himself the way he did… but I never got to the bottom of it. Then again it was never my problem to resolve in the first place. I was much happier after breaking free and that was the most important thing.

Final thoughts

While most people will have some level of insecurity/jealousy (there is such thing as a healthy dosage), problems arise when a person’s level of insecurity affects the majority of the relationship… to the point of killing it. An insecure person will always question “why” and feel they’re not good enough. Nothing you can say or do will make an excessively insecure person, secure. You end up wasting a lot of time, effort, and energy. And normally the person who ends up drained, will be you. Everything can be great about someone but insecurity will more than likely override it.

Why is it always something?

From age 16 until now I’ve been in 5 relationships… although I wouldn’t consider the ones before 25 “serious” as my young, wild and naive phase lasted a fair few years. When I finally matured and got my shit together, I decided to remain single for a while — 2 years in fact. I spent a lot of that time focusing on myself, working on my own happiness. I learnt how to enjoy my own company, spent more quality time with family and friends, went on a fair few holidays, got through a ton of books, put more energy into my career, improved my fitness, took up new hobbies, as well go through the process of self-reflection, all which gave me an incredible amount of perspective.

I can’t emphasise how important the self-reflection part was for me. Once I took a step back and analysed my life events, behaviour, values and beliefs; I decided it was time to make a few adjustments. I didn’t necessarily change who I was, but knew there were areas within myself that needed improvement – my attitude in particular. Once upon a time, I used to be extremely selfish, I went from 0 to 100 extremely quickly, sometimes violent, easily irritated, always spoke without thinking, was condescending towards others and had issues with authority.

Being a typical teenager/young adolescent was an obvious factor, however there were so many more layers to why I behaved and acted in such a way… but I won’t bore you with my life story! Maturity, different experiences combined with taking a time out made such a positive impact on my life. Over the last few years I’ve found myself to be much calmer, a better listener, more empathetic, understanding and open-minded. I pretty much did a 180! 😊 And if you’re wondering how any of the above is relevant to dating/relationships… just bear with me… My friend recently described my relationship history as: “Every bad trait you could ask for in a man, you found in each one of your relationships.” – This is true! Here is an overview on everything I’ve encountered in the past (not fishing for sympathy by the way!)

Relationship 1 – violent, controlling, cheater
Relationship 2 – no backbone, gambler
Relationship 3 – drug abuse, no ambition/drive
Relationship 4 – needy, insecure, controlling
Relationship 5 – compulsive/pathological liar

Quick overview

Number 1 affected me the most for sure. He did me dirty! 😩 I was young, it my first boyfriend and I was very cut up about it when it came to an end. A few of my issues stemmed from this particular relationship, and caused some of my existing issues to magnify. I knew it had affected me badly because when I entered my second relationship, I ended up being an icy bitch while displaying signs of a very unstable, insecure person. I just didn’t allow myself enough time to fully heal before jumping into a new relationship. Thinking back, I was a real handful to deal with! But the fact that he was a gambler didn’t help much with my irritable behaviour, he also never put his foot down when I was being mean, thus making it very easy for me to be a living nightmare.

When I was 21, I signed myself up for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), I could feel my rage getting out of control as it was slowly spreading across to my home life. I found therapy helpful, it made me more self-aware, however it wasn’t going to solve everything… and putting what I learnt into action was a very slow process for me.

After the dramas and the 2 year self-cleanse, I told myself that if I were to get into another relationship, that I’d be the best version of myself, not let past issues creep into the present, not set any expectations and just go with the flow. Which I did… as well as I could anyway. As you know, people don’t just change overnight.

Then Relationship 4 & 5 happened. Along came Mr. needy, insecure and controlling, followed by Mr. compulsive/pathological liar. Oh and not to forget, my dating history includes (but not limited to) being ghosted, bring dropped because they were still hung up on their ex, bring slow faded. Isn’t dating delightful?

The “psychoanalysis”

I believe my old line manager at work came to the conclusion that I was the “common denominator” — rude. Firstly, I’m confident it’s not me — yeah, that’s what they all say! But seriously, it’s not. I’m someone who thinks very logically, I have my head screwed on and don’t act “cray”… well not anymore! I’ve already gone through that phase. What I don’t know is how and why I manage to attract certain types of people. They seem cool at first and then all the toxicity suddenly comes pouring out! Literally… why is it always something? I’m capable of understanding that no one is perfect. I’m not and have never asked for perfect. I totally get that everyone has had some shit to deal with in the past but how is it possible that every person I’ve been in a relationship with… or even short-term dated just ends up having some major issue??

Ain’t nobody got time for that!

It’s a good thing I’ve learnt not waste too much time and energy on people! To think that I used to drag things out for more than a year in hopes that the person/situation would by miracle change! Madness. Don’t get me wrong, I think people can change but it’s not an overnight thing… it can take many years and quite frankly… who’s waiting?

I exchanged some hilarious dating/relationship stories with my work colleague the other week, and she shared a this little theory with me. She believes that damaged/unstable people can sense the aura of those who have their shit together. Then once the victims have been sussed out, these “parasites” will lure us in, latch on and absorb as much time and energy at the expense of our happiness and wellbeing… so in essence, I’m a host for these leeches! Sad but sounds about right.

Turning point

On a serious note though, not many people are aware of their internal issues or they simply choose to suppress it. I feel it’s vital for everyone to self-reflect. Not only do you become more confident and happy within yourself but it helps to build much better relationships. It’s certainly not a natural or easy thing for people to do. Many will struggle to hold up a mirror and really take a good look at themselves because it means being vulnerable, being completely honest with oneself and admitting mistakes/faults. When I think about the past, I genuinely hope that my exes/guys I’ve dated have gone through this process and managed to better themselves allowing them to discover real happiness and love.

Perhaps I’ve been dealt a slightly bad hand when it comes to dating/relationships but will always be grateful for the experience and learnings that came with it. I have no idea what to expect next but all I know is that right now… I’m in a really good place where I have peace of mind, life is stress/drama-free, I can look back and laugh, cherish memories, write about it and enjoy the moment 🙂