Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Spark, or, the elusive deal maker.

2012 has had a bit of a struggling start; lots of trying to get dates and to no avail. However, I haven't been all that bothered to be honest - I'm getting a bit sick of the cyclical nature of online dating, and this year has been so busy already that I've kind of just been focusing on enjoying myself and seeing what happens. I've still been doing things to get myself out there but it doesn't feel so exciting anymore for some reason.

So in mid March I had my first actual date of 2012.. it's not for want of trying, I've joined OKCupid, done speed dating and been to a couple of Lovestruck events - but alas, no joy yet. And then I got a nice message the other week and all was well! After a few exchanges he suggested meeting for a drink, and as I keep suggesting this to other guys and then receiving absolutely nothing in return, I was pleasantly surprised.

So, who is he? In a nutshell, he's Australian, my age, works in investments, and does a bit of illustrating on the side. So far, pretty good. We had a lovely date on a sunny sunday afternoon in Carnaby St; went to Cha Cha Moon (which is lovely, if you're ever looking for a place to go) for some noodles and conversation. We got on really well, I could tell he seemed a bit nervous though, he later told me this was his first ever online date! So we chatted a bit about that, and the terrible messages you seem to get on sites like these; he was cute but I definitely didn't feel an amazing attraction to him, physically.

After the food we went to a pub nearby for a drink, we seemed to be getting on pretty well, wasn't really any awkward silences or anything. But at the same time, there wasn't really any electricity or flirting either, just a pleasant time. At about 5 ish he suddenly said he had to go as he was cooking dinner for his housemates. This was a bit baffling seeing as he'd just eaten with me but nevermind. We said goodbye (no kiss - I wasn't feeling it, clearly neither was he) and that was that.

I left it for a few days, and after a week I realised neither of us had spoken after the date. Not a great sign. So I text saying hello, a bit of a conversation was had, but it just kind of fizzled out. No texts since. I'm not bothered, he's clearly not either, but it's funny; you can get on so well with someone but if there isn't that 'spark' then it just won't happen, no matter how nice they are.

A similar thing happened this week; I went on a date on tuesday with someone from OkCupid, we'd been chatting for weeks and weeks, and he finally asks me for a drink. To be honest, when the day came I really couldn't be bothered; it was raining, I was tired, and I'd met someone at the weekend (more on that later), but I'd agreed to go, and in keeping with the whole thing, I went with optimism and a smile on my face. Also, we were meeting in a pub a mere 5 minutes bus from my house so that helped a lot! Unfortunately, as soon as I saw him I knew it wasn't meant to be. It was a case of his profile pictures looking so much better than he did in real life, which can happen, but it was a shame. However, we sat for a couple of drinks, had a laugh, he seemed a really interesting, nice guy, I just wasn't attracted to him from the off. Annoying, but there's not a lot you can do. After a couple of hours I made my excuses (I had to get up early the next day too, early start at work) and headed back. Again, no kiss, as it just didn't feel right.

The next day I got a text off him saying "I had a nice time last night but I don't think the vibe is quite right between us for anything to happen, all the best" - which I was a bit 'oh' at. It's funny, because I completely agreed, but it's that whole 'I wanted to say that first, not you!' thing; illogical, yes, but I felt a bit weird that he felt like that. Perhaps it was my subconscious ego thinking, 'how dare you not fall madly in love with me on a first date, never mind that I don't like you, of course you would think me amazing!' Or some other silly notion. In hindsight, actually, it was really nice of him to text me and say that - so many people (including myself, I'll admit) will choose to just stop texting rather than say that. At least I knew from the outset where I stand now and I don't have to waste time, if indeed I did like him. I replied saying thanks, maybe see you around, etc. Standard.

The point in all this, is that I'm talking about The Spark - that elusive deal maker or breaker that you can't explain, you can't quantify, but you either have it with a person or you don't. On paper, both of these dates should have been great, and Australian guy was pretty attractive too; but that feeling just wasn't there. Even though we'd been chatting for a while before both of these dates, you just can't tell a person until you actually meet them, I think. Which is where I think the whole online dating thing is flawed. You can put so much time and effort into a person before you really know them, and the pressure of a first date is immense; even if you don't fancy each other when you meet, it's hard to just be friends from that because the initial meeting was based on potential romance. You can meet someone in real life and be friends or perhaps more, but I find it quite difficult to maintain a contact with someone if the first date hasn't gone amazingly.

Par example; last saturday (as I said earlier) I met one of my housemate's* friends, who'd come up with a few others for the weekend to visit him. I'd never met him before but essentially he was just in my living room when I came home so I sat down and chatted with them all, a cup of tea turned into a few beers and suddenly I was coming out for the night with them all. I must admit, Alex, as we shall call him, was completely hot and I thought that as soon as I met him, but genuinely didn't think anything of it, he either probably had a gf or wouldn't have been interested in little me. BUT. He was! I know! You could probably see the glee from my face from a mile off. Basically, we were just chatting loads all night, and The Spark, whatever the hell it is, was 100% there. And then (many drinks and much later) he kissed me - and seriously, it's been years, years since I've felt like that. Teenage rush of drunken need and bad judgement. Hurrah! He was staying at our house anyway so things just kind of happened that way... and without going into too much detail (this isn't THAT kind of blog) my dreaded 3 year curse has been lifted. You can't image the relief. Someone actually thought me attractive enough/minimally annoying to want to sleep with me. I genuinely thought it would never happen again.

(Ladies: Side note. Not having sex for three years causes all kinds of things to... tighten up. Oh good god. It wasn't as bad as the first time... but yeah the initial bit was... surprising. And Christ, I was nervous. Genuinely had forgotten how nerve wracking the whole thing is. I'm sure I was terrible. Very out of practice, of course.)

*This is the housemate I have a slight massive crush on, which he can NEVER know because a) I'm pretty sure he wouldn't like me back b) we live together c) he doesn't want a gf d) we live together and e) WE LIVE TOGETHER. Bad times. It's a shame but I'm OK with lusting from afar. Besides, we actually get on really really well, and his friendship means so much to me, I would never want to ruin it by telling him how I actually feel. It's all very sad. I think I do quite a good job of hiding it though, hopefully soon I'll stop feeling this way.

It crossed my mind a few days later that I may have inadvertently ruined it anyway with said wonderful housemate by sleeping with his friend. Cue panic. But, logic tells me that he's never going to know I like him anyway so it wouldn't matter. If, by some miracle, he likes me, and he found out I liked him, I don't think a one night stand is going to get in the way... right? Hmm. Alex was lovely but I didn't even get his number so it's not like that at all. I'd quite like a guy's opinion on that actually. Would you be put off a girl if you knew she had a random thing once with one of your mates?

Anyway, that's a massive detour. Housemate and I will never happen. End of. In the meantime, yay for sex!

In conclusion, the spark is something which you can't determine. If there wasn't a spark with Alex, I would never ever have slept with him. But I know what it was and what it wasn't; in fact I'm quite happy for it to have been a one time thing; I think I've surprised myself with my maturity over it. Three years ago I would have been all 'Omg he's so hot I want to see him again, maybe we'll get together and get married' and now, for once, I'm completely happy being single. So long as I keep meeting hot guys like him and there isn't another 3 year drought then that's fine...

Sunday, 11 March 2012

NOT Ok Cupid.

With online dating, you have to take the rough with the smooth. You know you're probably going to get a few dodgy messages. Some of them can be quite funny, even though you know you won't ever reply. Some will be just pointless like 'Hi you look fit', so you don't reply because... well, that's nice to know, but it's not exactly a conversation starter is it? Some will seem fine but will soon descend into surreal town. Some are a bit overkill, eager beaver, some are just crude, some can be actually a bit nasty!

So I want to draw your attention to a particularly strange case, which hopefully will share some laughs. It certainly perplexed me.

The first message I got, he seemed lovely. Quite attractive, intelligent, funny and attentive - he had actually read my entire profile and was commenting on what I was saying in it. So far, so good. Except - his first message to me was SEVEN paragraphs long. And each paragraph had at least 3 sentences in it. Now, we all hate a short message, but sometimes, long ones are a bit worse. It was very overwhelming. A quick look at his profile showed me more - a lot more. I've never seen a profile so long winded and essay-like. Pages and pages of it. And every question he had answered (on Okcupid you answer questions about yourself and can explain your answer - most people don't) he had a detailed explanation of why he had chosen that. How much time does this guy have on his hands?! He mentioned in his message that he was just looking for friends so 'no pressure' - but I've heard that before, and it's a good tactic to not come across too strong. Either way, the length of his message and keenness showed me that he was probably looking for more than that.

But no matter. As I said, he still seemed nice. On the particular day he sent that message, I was insanely hungover, so couldn't be arsed to string a coherent sentence together let alone muster the energy to reply to everything he said.

The next day, I got another message from him. "My message/profile wasn't too long was it? Just because as I said, you seem pretty cool and it'd be nice to chat, if Skype/something else like that would just be easier"

So, we're on to second message, no reply from me, and you're already suggesting Skype. Okie doke. I replied as I was now feeling more human, answered a few of his questions, asked a few of my own, such as "How was your weekend anyway?", standard.

I then get FOUR messages back from him in the space of an hour. The first one was fine, although said "DO you have Skype/Gchat at all? you can chat in the browser like on Facebook - I've stopped using Facebook though so that's a no go." I'm like, hold on - I'm not comfortable with giving out all these details here.

The next message said that he forgot to answer my question, and he proceeded to ramble about his ex girlfriend, and how he apparently was totally over her (?!)... then the third message was all, oh sorry for the multiple messages, do you have twitter? Mine is xxx, follow me! Wow. The FOURTH message was a 'Just a bad spelling error I saw' and then corrected some trivial thing he said. GODDDD. One message is enough! Jeez.

So, basically, I didn't reply for a while. Way too intense. In the end I felt a bit guilty about not replying because he was genuinely quite nice, just a bit off-putting. So this is what I said, in a nutshell:

"I think, to be quite honest, I haven't replied because I've been a little intimidated... not just with your lonnnnng profile and 4 messages in quick succession but also how you're very quick to mention your ex... I know it says in your profile that you don't see it as a problem talking about exes but you need to remember that some people do. And starting a sentence with 'I learnt that I'm totally over my ex' probably means that you're totally NOT over your ex. Or that's how it comes across anyway.

Anyway, I hope you don't mind my rather uncalled for and probably incredibly rude feedback. I didn't want to just ignore your messages...Good luck with it all, god knows online dating is a horrific minefield at the best of times, and I certainly don't think of myself as the know it all guru of how to get by on okcupid. I've been doing this for over a year, so by default I must be doing something wrong right? ;)"

Which I thought was perhaps a bit cheeky, but I wanted to give him a heads up - I genuinely wished him well with it all. Anyway, he then replies (which I didn't expect him to do), with something along the lines of this:

"Sorry if you took that the wrong way, but I was only being honest with you. Probably wouldn't have mentioned the ex if I was actually looking for someone though; it's a bit irrelevant really anyway, so long as you didn't assume I wanted more from knowing you - which apparently you did :-/ sorry for the misunderstanding! So maybe if you're having some problems, try just being more open/honest yourself, instead of shutting down whole parts of yourself, and maybe there wouldn't be any more misunderstandings between you and people about what you each wanted from each other? I didn't actually think I'd end up liking you more than a friend anyway, so honestly, sorry if you were at all thinking different til I mentioned my ex.."

What ze fuck? Hilarious. He's actually giving ME advice. I'm not a pro at dating (otherwise I wouldn't be doing it!) but I like to think I don't send multiple messages and scare people off then shoot them down for trying to point them in the right direction. Plus, I can't believe he said he didn't think he'd end up liking me more than a friend anyway; what's the point in that? Why message me in the first place? I said "Ok, but you can see how I thought that right, considering this is a dating site? For people to get dates? Obvs friends is great but the word 'cupid' in the name kind of gives it away" Back to him -I'm not crazy in thinking that surely? Why would you be on OkCupid if you're just looking for friends?? I know he said it at the beginning but I didn't think he MEANT it. Dating sites are for dating, surely?

Then he says: "Sorry, but I don't really see how it's that obvious? You chose to look for 'friends' as well as the other dating options? Plenty of people seem to have platonic profiles, anyway..maybe that's where you're going wrong with this thing? Take those options off if you just wanna date, but even then, just relax, meet some people THEN decide on the dating thing when you know them a little bit :-p that's generally how it works in real-life best anyway, no?

I know it's got 'cupid' in the title, but PornHub is hardly all por..actually fair enough on that point :-p"

It just gets worse. I've NEVER seen anyone on a dating site with a platonic profile. Have you? Please, prove me wrong. I'm so baffled.

I didn't reply to that, because I didn't really want to get into an argument with the guy, or waste my time on someone who essentially just confuses me with everything he says. PLUS the porn comment was a bit left of field I thought? Weird.

Anyway, fast forward to last weekend, and he pops up on Chat. He says hi how are you? like everything is normal. I say hello, yes good you? He asks me about my weekend, I don't reply for a bit, suddenly he sends me a link. I click on it without thinking (sunday brain) and it takes me to a porn vid site. WHAT. Then he's like, oh, don't click on that sorry, and I'm like, "too late. What the hello was that?"

WHO DOES THAT. Especially with the pornhub comment, makes me think it wasn't such an accident. Strange, strange strange.

And thus, these are the pitfalls of online dating. Yes, the world is your oyster, but sometimes those oysters and rotten and make you feel sick. Have you ever had strange messages sent to you? Do share, let's all feel the pain.


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Review: Old Fashioned Dating Event, 22nd Feb

So, as I posted the other day, I went to the launch event of Old Fashioned Dating at the Shadow Lounge in Soho on Wednesday night. Having never been to a speed dating night before, and not really ever having the desire to, I was invited to this and was pleased to discover it was billed as 'speed dating with a difference - the old fashioned way', which was essentially, that you are matched beforehand by answering a few questions about yourself and who you'd like to meet. You're then given a card with 10 names on at the beginning of the night who you hopefully have something in common with, thereby eliminating the whole awkward-5-minutes with someone who is completely not your type.

So off I trotted to Soho, not really knowing what to expect, but hoping to have a bit of fun! I was also really looking forward to the Burlesque show after, having never seen it before but definitely appreciating the female form ;)
I got there, and the first thing I noticed was that I was probably one of the youngest there... so definitely hoped some younger guys would turn up; I was a bit worried that perhaps speed dating is for slightly older-ish people. I got myself a drink, sat down in the nearest booth and started chatting to a couple of girls who had come together (note to self: bring a friend next time, it's much more fun if you get to compare notes!) who worked in PR. They were really nice, and we were just chatting about our shared dating woes etc. It was good to meet some fellow ladies who were in a similar boat.

The evening started out a little late as some people arrived late and we had to wait until everyone got there otherwise the matches wouldn't, er... match up. I think my suggestion for the next event would be to start it at 6.30 or 7pm instead of 6... I found it a struggle to get there in time, and I'm only 15 minutes on a bus from Soho. I think there was also a bit of confusion for some people as their dates hadn't turned up and some people seemed to be missing people or have completely blank cards. Obvious teething problems though, nothing that disastrous.

So as I said, we were all given 10 names, with a number next to it - that determined the location of the date (i.e 1 was by the bar, 2 next to that, etc etc all the way round the room) so when it says you have Mr xx at 23 you go and sit at 23 and wait until he finds his way around the room.

True to the ethos of this blog, I can't name names, and thinking up of 10 alternative names is just going to be confusing, so we'll just refer to the guys by their running order. Ok? Here we go..

#1 didn't turn up. This happened to a few people, so there were a few boys and girls sitting around with no date. This was OK, I'm alright at sitting on my own, and it was only a couple of minutes. I actually got chatting to the guy next to me, who turned out to be my #10. It was a bit weird, slightly 'Oh, shouldn't be talking to you yet! Save the best til last! Ho ho ho' etc, and he was nice, an Actor, Darling, but I was thinking, hmmm not totally looking forward to my 5 minutes with you, bit flamboyant for me! In front of me however, busying himself on his first date, was a rather fit guy, who I was really hoping was on my card for later. Time would tell...

#2 was a graphic designer, like moi, and a really nice guy. The dates go by SO fast so you're only just loosening up and getting past the 'what do you do for a living' questions by the time you have to move on. We had things to talk about though and he was quite funny, although a bit beard-y. I don't have a problem with beards per se, but I dunno. They're a bit scary. Would definitely see him again though.

#3 Also didn't turn up. Bit annoying. But while I was waiting for him, another guy approached me, who didn't seem to have anyone on his cards at all, slight clerical error there I imagine. He turned out to actually be my #9, so again we did the whole 'Oh better not talk to you then ho ho ho' but he seemed nice. I wasn't that attracted to him physically on first impressions, and isn't that what speed dating is all about? Never mind.

#4 ALSO didn't turn up. By this point I was on date 4 and had only had 1 of them. Not the fault of the organisers I'm sure, just bad luck on my part. While I was sitting all forlorn and alone (clocking fit guy from before, hoping he was on my card later..) another guy came to sit with me, who was clearly older. Much older. Like, 40. After a quick 'Do we have a date later? No?' we started chatting - I had no real interest in him but actually, he was really nice. A bit like talking to a friend of your dad's, admittedly, but still, nice. Hhe was a bit 'I've got my own business, we're really successful' which made me chuckle internally (some women go for that, I don't. Not yet anyway. Give me twenty years), but all in all, a pleasant bloke. I hope he found someone that night. It wasn't me, however.

#5 had dreads, which in itself isn't a big deal but after the lack of #4 and older guy I was a bit 'OMG a slightly alternative, cool guy, hurrah!' so perhaps launched in a bit strong. He was a great conversationalist, although slightly angry/pessimistic - he was telling me all about how he's a carer for his brother (which is wonderful) but how the council have screwed him over so now he has to quit his job and he only found out on monday... etc. A normally really interesting topic, and terrible for him too, but I felt the anger was a bit raw still and I didn't have a lot to say to his ranting. On a normal date I would have listened and discussed intently but in the space of a few minutes, it's quite a difficult topic. Nerves and all that though, I'm sure. I'm sure normally he's a great guy, was probably just an off day for him. Shame.

#6 was HILAR. Actually so funny. I didn't fancy him in the slightest but he was really great to talk to. He's a librarian, which isn't that amusing, but was telling some great stories. He also had a question, which I assume some people must do, have a random question they ask everyone on a speed date in case conversation dries up/get away from work. His question was 'If you had to have a sound effect for when you walked into a room what would it be?' to which I answered, incomprehensibly, an explosion. I don't know why I said that. KABOOM. But yeah. His was the Star Wars Imperial March thingy. Says it all really. Wouldn't see him again but thoroughly made me smile!

#7 turned out to be HOT GUY yeah! At first I thought it was another no-show, as I was sat in a booth with #10 (theatre luvvie) and his date, and they were getting on, and it was A-W-K-W-A-R-D so I got up to get a drink. When I came back, #7 finally turned up. Hurrah! He was from South Africa and we only had a couple of minutes together because he was late coming over but I managed to make him laugh within about 20 seconds (score) and we clicked straight away. I thought so anyway. All too soon our turn was over and we were both a bit sad. We were then told that because the event had started late, and the Burlesque show was about to start, we had to end it there! Boo. And those that hadn't booked tickets for the show had to leave, but there were after drinks at a nearby pub. Turned out #7 hadn't got tickets so had to go; I did, and thought it a shame to not watch the Burlesque, so let him go off to the pub. Perhaps I should have gone with him? We'll never know.

As I said, I'd already met my #9 and #10 anyway so didn't actually feel too cheated, and I met up with the PR girls afterwards who said that one of them had #8 and he wasn't all that, so perhaps I didn't miss out. It was good to dissect our dates a bit and we seemed to agree on the people we had shared!

The Burlexe show started soon after, and my, what a show. It was a mix of song, monologue and striptease, and I'll have to say, felt quite feminist/empowering. More for the ladies perhaps. Anyway, I was sitting in a booth with the PR girls when 3 guys asked if they could sit with us because everywhere was full. We said fine, but I don't think they had really thought about it, or knew what they were letting themselves into, because I think they quickly realised the awkwardness of the situation of watching naked girls dance with 3 unknown young girls with them. I felt awkward anyway... These guys must have been late 30s/40ish. I was having a great time, it was really interesting, the dancing and the monologues, but I don't think they had quite realised it was going to be like that; they looked like they just wanted to be in a place where they could shout 'TITS! Yeah' and ogle ass cracks (ha) but this was definitely more of a high-brow, intellectual event. Lots of stories about the founders of Burlesque and the hardships they had to go through, etc. One of the dancers was a transvestite (a very good one, I might add, really funny) and one of the guys kept speaking to me, and at one part asked if 'Trannies still have their tackle?!' with a slight panicked voice. I don't know, I said, (nor did I care, he's[she's? argh] got great tits. Look at them!) I suspect that the man in the booth with me cared though, a lot, and I thought, "you're in Soho, surely you should expect this a bit?"
Edit: You might have come to this post through the Burlexe facebook page (hello!) and apparently it's being questioned if she actually WAS a transvestite; I apologise, I definitely recall the dancer being introduced as the 'best transvestite in London' but maybe I misheard. Anyway. It was great. Argh! Minefield.

Anyway, it got to the interval and the girls I was sitting with said they were going to leave as they were going to dinner, nice to meet you, etc. Bye, I said. I then suddenly thought - if they go, I'll be here alone. With these guys, in this awkward situation. In this booth. Argh. So I had to leave too, even though I wanted to watch the rest. Never mind. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see it again, with some girlfriends and we can all have a giggly night!

So all in all? A good night. Not sure if I'll do speed dating again for a while; it maybe feels like something to do in your late twenties and onwards, perhaps not for me yet. But I had a great time, and maybe I'll see #7 again. Who knows?

Edit Edit: #7 wants my number! Breaking News! Exciting Announcement! Etc. So we shall see.... who will text first? It's all very exciting. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Old Fashioned Dating at The Shadow Lounge

Just a heads up on an event I've been invited to tomorrow night - the ladies tickets are sold out now I think but fellas there's still some space for you! This actually looks great.

For cool modern people with old fashioned values looking for friendship and romance - It's a journey back to 1930s courting. 

You will have 10 dates on your dating card which will be pre-matched by a real old fashioned dating professional.

You can then stay for the utter fabulous show that is BURLEXE:
Burlexe is one of the most original shows of it's type in town with an all female cast mixing top burlesque performers (Fancy Chance, Kiki Kaboom and Luna Rosa) with talented actresses performing burlesque monologues all held together seemlessly by r'n'b whip cracking songstress hostess with the mostress Kele Le Roc.
 Tickets are £32 for dating and show
£11 for dating only - tickets here

The Old Fashioned Dating company believes that with matchmaking, backwards is the way forwards.
We encourage you to listen, laugh and chat in a world of sophistation, entertainment, music and dancing.
The good old days are back.

Doors open for The Old Fashioned Dating launch at 6.00pm
Dating starts at 6.30 sharp
Show starts 8.00pm
Carriages at 11.00pm ish

"The launch event of Old Fashion Dating takes its inspiration from 1930s courting, mixing old school matchmaking with (gentle) speed-dating, all followed by a cracking burlesque show.The ‘old fashioned’ aspect will see a dating expert match-make applicants ahead of the event, based on their answers to a questionnaire completed on booking. Each attendee will receive a sealed dating card on arrival containing information about their 10 handpicked dates. Interviews will be gently marshalled over an hour or so you can spend some time getting to know each one."
Sounds really exciting! Can't wait to go. I will of course dissect the evening's events right here on my blog afterwards... watch this space!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Single and Disconnected.

I've been thinking about this for a while, and it's struck me as actually quite obvious when you think about it. Why are there so many single people? I know there are people who are in one of those relationship things, and that's great, but you must have noticed it - whole swathes of twenty-somethings, perfectly wonderful people, who haven't had a real relationship in years. It can't all be through choice. It just seems to be that there are more people single than in relationships, and not for a short period of time, either.

Granted, the majority of my circle of friends have boy/girlfriends (I'll come to that later), but here's a nice statistic for you: "There has been a dramatic increase in the number of single women, according to the Office for National Statistics. The number of 18- to 49-year-olds living alone has more than doubled over the past three decades."

I think, (to quote Matrix Reloaded, that classic film), it's choice. The problem is choice.

Instead of things like online dating bringing people together, it's actually showing people just how many other singles are out there. Instead of having access to a few singles within our circles of friends of friends, now there are thousands. Literally thousands of people you could potentially be with. So why settle for that lovely guy that took you on a date last week when there might be someone even better out there? The guy taking you out next week has a better job than poor last-week-whats-his-name. And so it goes on. I'm not saying you should ever, ever settle, but we can't all have perfection. And always holding out for grass is greener isn't the way to happiness. Who has been guilty of this? I certainly have. The internet is ruining our capacity to be truly happy with what we have. 100 years ago, you grew up, did the job your father did, and married the girl in the same village as you. Simple. Now? People can't even decide what flavour syrup they want in their Venti Skinny Decaf Mocha Frappuccino. How in the hell can we decide who's a good person to love?

I was recommended to read The Single Trap by Andrew G. Marshall by a commenter; I haven't finished it yet but the first few chapters have been interesting. Some of it is a bit unnecessary for me - whole chapters on how 'your parents have probably damaged your ability to find love' etc - my parents are great, no issues there. It's not written in too a self-helpy way (not overly American or 'yeah! you can do it! you deserve the best!') which is refreshing. In fact there's a section on why thinking you deserve only the very best is probably why you're in this mess. Worded nicer than that though, obviously.

No, what struck me was a section called 'Why it is becoming harder to meet people.'
“The dominant strains in our culture are materialism and individualism... the result is that we seem to be losing the social glue that holds us all together... We are more likely to be strangers to our neighbours... Social, sporting and voluntary groups have lost between 10 and 20 percent of their membership and the remaining members spend less time together. The slack has not been taken up by by informal social connections like drinks after work or socialising with friends.”

In essence, people are sticking within their close friendship groups, and losing basic acquaintances/friends of friends, etc. I see this in front of my own eyes, living in London. You'd think, that living in a huge city like this, it would be easy to meet people. But it's harder than ever. I have my handful of good friends; they don't know that many people outside of their own circles, and so can't introduce me to any eligible bachelors. Plus they all have boyfriends so seem to be busier with them than socialising with me and picking up guys. Heh. I have my housemates, who I get on fine with, but it's a closed circle with them really; my housemates have other friends but I'm very rarely invited to socialise with them (that's a whole other issue entirely. We won't dwell, I've long since accepted I'm not 'cool' enough to hang out with them and their East London ways), and I have work colleagues. Unfortunately, the industry I'm in doesn't have a great deal of men, and the only guy I work directly with on a daily basis is gay. Boo.

Hence, the online dating thing. But I'm getting really jaded with it all; I've been going online for over a year now and nothing of note has really come from it. I'm not giving up, but I'm well aware my best bet for finding someone I genuinely connect with is through a friend of a friend. Or, by actively trying to create more acquaintances that can link me to potential guys. If it's been proven that people are letting that social, loose friendship thing slide, then I'm going to try and expand my circle. I'm already a pretty outgoing person, I always go to events/talks/meetups etc on my own; I just need to focus on making friends (girls or guys) who could possibly lead to single guys, rather than going straight for the single guys directly. Sounds like a plan, right? Of course, that doesn't mean I'm forging tonnes of fake acquaintance-friendships just to get to their hot mates - I would quite like some actual new friends too. It's just kind of a bonus. And a much better strategy than sitting in a freezing room clicking on endless pictures of 'caring, fun and creative' guys who turn out to be anything but.

Do you think society is becoming more and more closed off? Is it becoming harder to branch off and meet new friends of friends? What are your experiences of trying different ways to meet people in real life? Answers on a postcard!

Friday, 6 January 2012

2011: The year that wasn't quite, but nearly.

Ah, the customary yearly round-up post, where we all talk about what we've achieved, or haven't, and then make wild statements about what we are definitely, absolutely, 100% going to achieve next year. And then don't. I was meant to post this on New Year's Day, except I was busy dying, so here we are. Needless to say, my first resolution is no drinking in January. My poor liver. And poor face! I look like a teenager again. Clearasil to the rescue. Le sigh.

I always do a New Year’s resolution of some sort, even though I know they are slightly pointless. They’re not often that successful; ranging from the not-even-close (I vowed to learn to snowboard, last year and the year before that, and guess what I’ve got as a resolution again), to the did-it-for-a-while (dieting, reading more design publications) to the quite successful (career related stuff, get more freelance work, get a new job, tick tick.) It's almost like, because it's a new year, you feel you have to mark it in some way, to improve yourself going forward. That's what life is all about right? Constantly making everything just a little bit better?

This time last year, I made a terribly melodramatic statement (presumably whilst drunk) that if I was still single this time next year, i.e now, then I would die. I would literally stop living. I probably mentioned some sort of noose contraption. Tasteless jokes aside, it was a statement made in jest because I couldn't possibly believe I'd still be single by the end of 2011.

Well, hello. Here I am. Single and still alive.

However, I have been trying. In fact, this is the first year that I can honestly say I have. This time last year I was all despair and no effort to rectify it. This year I'm all despair and many dates behind me, so it's definitely an improvement. At the beginning of 2011, I was probably complaining about how I never seem to meet any guys, ever, as my friend suggested I start online dating.

The horror in my face was palpable.

I think I probably said something about how only lonely, ugly divorced people do that, and I can't believe how you think I'd stoop that low. She told me to trust her. Reluctantly, I did.

She helped me joined Mysinglefriend, I was proved completely and utterly wrong (so many fitties are online! I proclaimed) and the rest, as they say, is history. Sort of.

I had an eventful year. There was:

- Cameron, the crazy, wig-wearing, strange American, which will possibly go down in Dating Lore as the worst date of all time.
-Phillip, lovely guy, no connection or attraction however, unfortunately I backed away from second(!) kiss, we never spoke again...
-My Life Your Hands, the Guardian Dating columnist who wrote about our date in the paper (totally fine) but live-tweeted our second date to his followers, unbeknownst to me (not fine)
- Spencer, who I met offline, had 5 wondrous dates, really thought it was going somewhere until I went on holiday and he stopped talking to me. Eventually talking resumed and he admitted he had got back with his ex. Upset.
- Rating the Dating, who I met through this blog, again, lovely guy, but I found the whole thing a bit weird and too much paranoia for my liking.
- Ben, my most recent lost love, who after 2 blindingly amazing dates, he dropped off the face of the planet, never to be seen or reply to my texts again. Muchos upset.
- a plethora of drunken kisses and boys liking me but me not liking them. Makes a change.

After Spencer was where I started this blog. I started it more as a cathartic thing, not really knowing where it would go and if anyone would read it, but to my surprise, a few people actually are. Which is nice. It's still in it's infancy, I'm still deciding on directions to go (do I want to keep reporting in detail on my dates; is that ethical, moral etc, or do I want to discuss the wider world of dating and it's many issues in a wider context?) and such, but so far it's going Ok I think. Hopefully not damaging to anyone, I think the anonymous thing was the way to go really. We shall see. The last thing I want to happen is hurt anyone, including myself - I'm a Single Girl Trying Not to be, remember.

Ultimately though, the whole point of all this is to document my efforts to FIND ME A MAN gosh darn it. I'd quite like a boyfriend. Yes, yes I would. Or at least, somebody who likes me who wants to hang out and have sex every so often. That's all. That is more important than the blog, of course. So 2012 will be spent on working on me, being nicer to other people, to get me better as a person, less clingy, more awesome, less self-centered, more girlfriend-y, and essentially more myself, thus a man-type should hopefully follow. I am not perfect. I do not want a perfect man. Just someone I can do stuff with. Isn't that why we're all here?

2012, you'll be happy to hear, has got off to an OK start. That is, I kissed someone at midnight, so that's always a good sign. The downside is I didn't know his name, was far too drunk to remember, and he has since somehow acquired my number and keeps texting me. Ugh.

Sober January here we come! What are your dating resolutions? x

Monday, 2 January 2012

The 'C' Word.

Found here.
It's the time of year when we reflect on things that have passed, and think about what's to come. Even if you're not making resolutions, you're probably thinking about things you want to do differently this year, or achieve, or simply to be a better person. You know, that ol' chestnut.

I want to talk about the C word. Celibacy.

Even saying the word feels awful. It's funny how such an intrinsically pure, chaste word can feel so shameful and dirty. I imagine that admitting to someone that you are celibate, for whatever reason, somehow evokes a much worse reaction than if you were to admit to being a promiscuous sex addict. You'd probably get less understanding, anyway.

The definition, in most English dictionaries, is as follows:

Celibacy [n]
the state of abstaining from marriage and sexual relations: a priest who had taken a vow of celibacy
So. By definition, celibacy is a willing thing - you make a conscious decision not to have sex, therefore, you are celibate. But, what if you are someone like me; Someone who would, actually, love to be having sex, but somehow isn't, and amazingly, hasn't for over 3 years. What then? Am I to be defined as celibate? Or just having a very unlucky, admittedly occasionally self-inflicted, 'dry patch', as it were?

Even admitting this to you, dear readers, as an anonymous, faceless girl, is difficult. I have told my close friends, as and when the conversation arises (usually to gasps and desperate faces of untold pity, sometimes even disbelief, which is nice), but I'm not particularly proud of it, so I try not to tell anyone, if I can help it. It's not a religious decision. It's not an 'I hate all men', decision (I don't, some are lovely), and it's not a I-still-hold-a-candle-for-my-ex decision. I think. I'm sure if you sat me in a psychiatrists chair you'd get all kinds of crazy shit coming out. Let's not dwell on that.

It's not even any kind of decision, really. Not consciously anyway, I think. I hope. Otherwise I'd be effectively sabotaging myself, and that's not cool. But it's difficult. Especially when we live in such a hyper-sexualised culture, where seeing sex on telly, in adverts, hearing about it in songs, in magazines, in the clothes we are force-fed by the high street and sex oh-so-readily-available on the Internet is so completely and utterly normal that anyone not having sex every minute of the day is bound to feel like they're missing out. So what of us? Of me, and countless others, who aren't having sex, not because they don't want to (we do) but because we can't just fling ourselves at anyone, no matter what Rihanna wants to make us believe?

And this is why I'm grappling with the C word. The clue in the definition is abstaining - and to abstain you have to make a conscious decision not to do something. Well, I haven't made a conscious decision to never have sex, but I do know I hate one night stands. I can't sleep with any random guy, hot or not, that I've just picked up in a bar. I cannot, and will not. It's awful, and frankly, a bit rubbish. I like sex. I bloody love sex actually, from what I remember of it, and I'm no quiet mouse in the bedroom, (as previous housemates can attest to, I'm sure...) but I like to do it with people I'm comfortable with. Who I fancy a bit, and who I've known for more than five minutes. I don't think I'm the only one, right? I wish I could do one night stands. They seem like a lot of fun. On the telly, etc. But all the ones I've had have been terribly disappointing, if not a bit weird, and often leave me staring at the ceiling at 5am praying for daylight to come. Perhaps I've just been with the wrong people. Perhaps it's me.

So, by making this decision to only have sex with people I have some sort of valid relationship with/have dated a few times/etc, am I effectively abstaining? Because these people I speak of, that I am only letting myself sleep with, don't exist. Not at the moment anyway, and they haven't for three years. I say to myself that it's through no fault of my own, just a catalogue of errors*, but surely, I have myself to blame? If I really, really wanted to sleep with someone, wouldn't I just do it? Wouldn't I just go out and find someone? It's not particularly hard. I'm certainly lucky enough to look alright in the face department, I'm not obese (unless Christmas has had it's wicked way) and I own clothes and I wash myself, so someone would, statistically, take me home. Surely.
(*It's more bad luck really. The last guy I slept with, it all went a bit wrong, halfway through my third year at Uni, so I put men to the back of my mind and focused on my degree for the last 6 months of my time there. After graduating I moved back home for a year - no chance of pulling anyone while living with the parentals, away from all friend contact. After that I moved to London - where I have been for 18 months - and then started dating, properly looking for someone. Not found them yet.)

But I don't want to just 'take someone home'. So this strange 'Accidental Celibacy' thing seems to have crept up on me, and I'm a bit worried it's here to stay. I'm now not only petrified of being single forever, I'm petrified I'll never have sex again. Double paranoia. Pass the paper bag. Oh God.

So what to do? In the spirit of New Year, I should probably try a new tactic. Maybe I should try the whole one night stand scenario again. *shudder* Not that I'd have any idea how to actually make that happen. I'll carry on with the dating, hopefully get past 4 dates (that's not a rule or anything, that's just the highest amount of dates I had with someone in 2011...) and something will happen eventually. Right?
Here's to actually having sex in 2012. Cheers!