Tag Archives: dating

Things I Never Want to Hear Again

I’ve been single for a very long time now. And, as a singleton, there are certain tried and true sentences that people offer up to you as ‘consolation’ for the fact that you are single. I pretty much don’t expect ever to be in a relationship again, which I am ok with, but most other people find this extremely distressing. They take this statement to be some kind of cry for help, some silent plea for compliments and reassurance. Which just infuriates me, because, you know what? Despite everyone’s impression of me as some kind of romantic, boy-mad, love-obsessed, Austen-maniac, I have spent most of my life as a single, independent person (don’t even get me started on whether Jane Austen has more to offer the world than romantic wish-fulfilment stories for sad 20 somethings). I am perfectly ok. I know sometimes this blog has made you think otherwise and certainly there have been times when I’ve been down about the fact that I am single. But, no longer. I am sick of talking about love and romance and relationships and all the rest. I think I’ve probably talked about it enough to last me a lifetime. So, I can’t speak for all singletons, but, if anybody says any of these things to me again, I am liable to do a Hulk-style rage and tear apart some inner-city skyscrapers. Or something.

1) ‘You need to love yourself first.’ So, me not being in a relationship is evidence of the fact that I don’t love myself? That seems a little unfair. I know I have my down periods, but I think that probably makes me a pretty ok person and not an egotistical maniac. I mean, am I required to love absolutely EVERYTHING about myself before someone else will love me too? ‘I love the little toe on my left foot even though its manky and has a funal infection that made the nail fall off. I love it in spite of its difficulties. I love it BECAUSE of its uniqueness. I love the third knuckle on my right hand because…’ etc. I’m pretty sure most of the people I know in long-term, committed relationships aren’t like that. And who do I have to see about proving that I like myself a sufficient enough to be in a relationship? Is there some kind of government body? Some sort of list I should sign up to? Or is just something that you announce on your first date? ‘Don’t worry- I love myself a sufficient amount to be on this date with you. We can proceed further, if you would also feel you love yourself enough to be on this date with me.’

2) ‘You need to make space for love in your life.’ My room in London is very small. How much space exactly is this love going to take up? I’ve already broken my chest of drawers with the amount of clothes I have in there and my shoes are spilling out of my cupboard.

No, but seriously. What is this mystical crap? How exactly do I make room for love in my life? Do I just block out large chunks of time in my calendar and mark it ‘love’ and then just sit around in the park or another public area and hope someone gets the message?

3) ‘Maybe you’re just too picky.’ That’s right, people, the way to find love is to force yourself into loving someone you don’t love just because they love you! And, I mean, really, shouldn’t the fact that they love you be enough for you to love them back?

4) ‘It’ll happen when you’re not thinking about it.’ Ok, maybe this is true. But, hello, has nobody ever played that mind game on you when they say the only think you’re not allowed to think about is a large, purple elephant? And then, of course, the only thing you can think about is large purple elephants? Hundreds of them? Thousands of them? Some in tutus and some in fancy hats and all of them doing the can-can? On your BRAIN? It’s like that other irritating phrase that you should ‘be in the moment’. The minute you start monitoring whether or not you’re in the moment, you’re no longer in the freakin’ moment. So, you think, ‘hoorah! I’m not thinking about love right now! Now its bound to happen! Oh, wait… DAMN IT!’

5) ‘Have you tried internet dating? My friend met someone AMAZING on internet dating.’ Yes, I’ve tried it. It sux.

6) ‘Have you tried speed dating? My friend met someone AMAZING on speed dating.’ Yes, I’ve tried it. It sux.

7) ‘But you’re gorgeous!’ IRRELEVANT. Whilst I enjoy being complimented as much as the next person, if there is anything that Jennifer Aniston and the tabloid press has taught my generation, it is that just being beautiful won’t stop you having problems with love. And just being beautiful won’t prevent some other, younger, sexier, arguably more beautiful woman coming along and stealing your thunder.

8) ‘You’ve been travelling.’ Apparently travelling makes people so unattractive to other people that you cannot, CANNOT ever be in a relationship with them. Perhaps its the smelly shoes. All that walking. Never mind that other people (often the people telling me ‘you’ve been travelling’) have gotten into relationships whilst travelling, when it comes to me – ‘you’ve been travelling.’

9) ‘Don’t be silly – of course you’ll find someone! You’re awesome!’ The WORST. Because:

a) I apparently cannot argue against this statement without seeming particularly depressive and self-pitying. The more I protest with whoever is saying it, the more they pat my back and smile at me and gently shush me and tell me again, ‘Don’t be silly!’ But, here is what I want to say, well-meaning people, if you would just stop patting me for a second. Can you guarantee that I will ‘find someone’? Can you pinky-promise me that I will ‘find someone’? Can you put down a million dollars and promise me that I will ‘find someone’? That’s right. You can’t. You won’t. Because not everyone does ‘find someone’. Some people stay single for the rest of their lives.

and, therefore,

b) In this statement, in your reasoning, my awesomeness is reliant on the fact that I will ‘find someone’. Given that, as we have already established, it is NOT guaranteed that I will find someone, and perhaps I won’t, would that then take away my awesomeness? Or does that mean that I was never awesome in the first place? Call me egotistical, but I think I’m awesome as a single person and also in a relationship. I don’t want to toot my own horn guys, but I’m a lot of fun. You want to be my single friend? Great, I will go drinking with you. I will cut it up on the dance floor with ridiculous moves that make you laugh. I will go on holidays with you. I will bring you presents from my trips. I will bake you things. I will write you stories and poems. I will take photos of you doing fun things and post them on Facebook so everyone can see what a fun person you are. I will go to your shows, your gallery openings, your music nights. I’ll read you articles from ‘Vanity Fair’. I will support you in your crazy decisions. I will discuss politics with you over Pimm’s. I will discuss Justin Beiber with you over red wine. I’m a freakin’ hoot. But, hey, you want to be my partner? Awesome. I’m great. I’ll cook you curries. I’ll remember your appointments when you forget them. I’ll organise our holidays. I’ll buy you funny T-shirts just because I saw it and it made me think of you. I won’t clean our room, but I’ll do the dishes. I’ll make playlists we can dance to in the living room. I’ll remember your friends’ names and make them b’day cards. I’ll snuggle with you when you want and hold your hand in public. I’ll probably secretly watch you lovingly in the corner at parties whilst you’re talking to other people. I’ll sneak up behind you and kiss the back of your neck when you least expect it. I’m adorable.

I’d be much happier if, next time you asked me about my love life and I replied nothing was happening you replaced your well-meaning, ‘don’t worry, you’ll find someone, you’re awesome!’ with the phrase, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. You’re awesome’.

Say it with me, people, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. You’re awesome.’ It might take some getting used to, I know. I sometimes feel like the pressure to get married, or be in a relationship is worse these days than it was back when you got married for money and property. You know why? Because, in Austen’s day at least you could blame your parents for not saving up a good enough dowry, or for not furnishing you with enough accomplishments. If you wound up a spinster you could think, ‘oh, well, it’s all about money and property anyway, so I just didn’t have enough of those things to be a good match. Now let me get on with being an awesome spinster aunt.’ Now that marriage and relationships are all about ‘true love’ (what a wank) and who you are as a person, the fact that you have failed to get into a long-term relationship suddenly means that there is something wrong with you. Not with your parents, not with your house or your dowry, but you. Specifically you. And the pressure to be in a relationship just goes on and on and on. It doesn’t end at 25 and you can think, ‘oh well, never mind, I tried, but it seems like this is my life now.’ You have to keep doing embarrassing, soul-destroying things (internet dating, I ask you!) until you find someone, ANYONE to love you in the way that popular culture says you should be loved. All the lies we are fed about relationships and love and marriage perpetuate this impression – the lovers being two halves of a whole, making you incomplete as a singleton; that there is someone out there for everybody etc. So, if you don’t happen to find someone who loves you for you, well that probably means that ‘you’ isn’t worthy of being loved in that way.

But the fact of the matter if that I quite like myself. I have quite a few friends who quite like me too. My family seems to be pretty happy with me – I haven’t been chucked out of any gatherings or refused invitations to any things. I get all kinds of love from all kinds of places. Dogs really like me. Kids snuggle in to hear me read them stories. I am no social pariah. I’m a good, decent human being. I’m kind of smart. Sometimes I write good things. I like the world. And none of that is reliant on my ability (or not) to be in a ‘committed’ relationship with someone.

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Speed Dating

So, last week was Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry, I’m not about to bore you with a spiel on red paper hearts and roses and chocolates and how all of that cheap tat from China has ‘nothing to do with real love’. Neither will I write an embittered post about loved-up couples and how annoying they are. Nor will I write an impassioned post demanding that singles also receive a day in which they can celebrate their singledom, because, really, what’s so special about being a couple anyway, people can live their lives in whatever way they chose and families can take whatever form and surely we should all be past this heteornormative, middle-class 1950s view of the world with everyone living in loved-up pairs in colourful boxes in leafy, green suburbs by now.

I won’t do this, because on Valentine’s Day I demonstrated how obviously and pathetically I would like to be a loved-up, annoying couple, living in a colourful suburban box surrounded by irritatingly shaped boxes of candy. I demonstrated this by doing one of the more humiliating rituals of modern-day romantic life: speed-dating. Not satisfied by being rejected by one lousy person in one single evening? Now you can get rejected by 25 separate people in the space of two and a half hours! Its so much more time-effective! And confidence-crushing! But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

A week ago, a very good friend of mine asked me whether or not I’d be interested in going speed dating on Valentine’s Day. It was something I had always secretly thought might be quite amusing and fun. My attempts at internet dating had generally been quite disappointing, due to the fact that I had a tendency to choose men who were utterly charming on paper (or email) and then turned out to have absolutely no social skills. But, then again, I’m hopeless at hook-ups in clubs and pubs and things because the whole predatory nature of it kind of makes me generally want to hyperventilate in a corner and, specifically, the fact that you can’t actually talk to people, you just kind of grind your various pointy bits against each other until one of you finally gets up the courage to ask the other one to go home with you makes me feel like I’m breaking out in hives. Well, it would do, if I actually knew what hives were. Look, its just not good, ok?

SO, anyway, the point is that speed-dating seemed to be the perfect scenario for a person like me to meet new people. This particular speed-dating night was for charity, so it was also for a good cause. My very good friend was also going, so even if it was awful, I would at least have someone to laugh about it afterwards.  Plus, it amused me to tell people I had 25 dates on Valentine’s Day. And, as Jessa might say to me if I was also a character on ‘Girls’, ‘Do it for the stories, Jenny’. So, I did it for the stories, and also for the fun, and maybe for the charity (I want to say bowel cancer?) and, yes, ok, also probably just a little bit for the potential romance and the loved-upness and the irritatingly shaped candy boxes. Just a little bit.

After some ‘dutch courage’ cocktails, myself, my friend, and her friends, all headed off to the bar the event was being held in. The combination of nerves, excitement and, well, alcohol, made us fairly merry by the time we got there. After some free shots, the girls were settled into their seats and the guys found their first date. Each date lasted 3 minutes, with 15 seconds for the guys to get in between each table. On our sheet of paper, we wrote down the numbers of anyone we fancied and we were emailed at a later date to let us know if anyone that we had fancied, fancied us. All fairly standard for a speed-dating night.

The evening itself was quite enjoyable. 3 minutes was enough time to have a fun little chat without things getting too awkward. I found most of the men pretty lovely, even if they were mainly in finance and banking and accounting (most of them worked with the guy who organised it). That being said, there wasn’t anyone that I actually felt majorly excited about. They were just all nice boys, all of whom I would have been happy to chat with some more. And, for that reason, I ended up putting down quite a few numbers. More than I expected to, quite frankly.

My friend and I headed home, taking a strange walking detour through bits of slightly-scary looking East London (‘nothing bad has ever happened to anyone ever in East London’ my friend assured me), where we found dragon statues and Chaucer’s house. I was in a strangely ebullient mood – I think it was a combination of meeting new people (I do like talking to people), getting dressed up, going out with friends and doing something out of the ordinary. I didn’t particularly care if any of the men got back in contact with me, I thought, I’d just enjoyed meeting them.

And, if that were the end of the story, all would be well. But, of course, the whole point of the evening was to find out whether or not the men wanted to get back in contact with me. On Sunday, my friend (who is probably going to be grumpy with me including her in this post, but she’s kind of integral to the story) called me at work to let me know that the ‘results were out’! (To be fair, she called for a variety of reasons, but they are not important to this story, so I’m not mentioning them. But, let it be known that she – and I – were not so preoccupied with finding out the results that she had to call me at work the minute they were available. I mean, it wasn’t the HSC and my UAI. Not that I was preoccupied about that… Well, ok, maybe a little, but, it was high school and it seemed important at the time and…  GETTING OFF TRACK). My friend had 2 matches, which she was a bit disappointed by, but she then said that the guy organising the event had let her know that 15 people had fancied her, so that made her feel better. 15, I thought, that’s a decent number. I probably got something similar. After all, the conversations I had were nice and interesting and surely that means that there was something there on both sides. Surely that meant that the men involved in these conversations were at least a little bit interested. Surely they weren’t all just being polite and waiting for the bell to ring. I put down something like 12 guys, so hopefully there would be a good match rate. Though, if I was completely honest with myself, I was more interested in seeing how many guys were interested in me than I was in finding out who I had actually been matched with. I know, I know, I’m a terrible human being, but at least I’m honest. Go ahead and hate me.

So, I rushed home, eager to open my email. Well, all I can say is, pride cometh before the fall. After all my effort in getting dressed that day, doing my make-up, fixing my hair, making myself feel good, blah, blah, blah… I had one match and only four guys fancied me. Four! You have to admit that is a kick in the guts. Thank you very much, modern dating world. Though, I suppose it does explain a few things about my appalling romantic life over the past two years. If a friend of mine goes into a room of 25 men and 15 of them fancy her, and I go into the same room of 25 men and only 4 fancy me, well, can we be surprised that she is constantly getting into romantic entanglements whilst I just get to comment icily from the sidelines? Its all about the numbers people. That’s what the modern world has given us: Numbers. Statistics. Cold, hard facts that scientifically prove I am not attractive to a large majority of the population (a good 85% if my calculations are correct).  Its like being back in high school again and worrying about how popular you are – well, that is, if high schools regularly ran popularity contests and then emailed you the results (actually… they DO do that in America, don’t they? That’s essentially what Homecoming Queen is, isn’t it? I mean, that’s what my reading of terrible ’90s American teen movies suggests. That is screwed up, man).

Why don't they like me? *cry*Found at: http://memegenerator.net/90s-Problems/caption/5317243

Why don’t they like me? *cry*
Found at: http://memegenerator.net/90s-Problems/caption/5317243

Now don’t all start trying to make me feel better by pointing out that I didn’t actually really like any of those men (to which I reply: neither did my friend! In fact, she liked many less than I did!) or that I did get one match and I should probably forget the other number and contact him (to which I reply: I’m almost certain I wasn’t interested in that guy – I think I wrote his number down by accident) or that there are ‘plenty of other fish in the sea!’ (to which I reply: in my case, at least, the statistics suggest otherwise) or that its not important about how many other people like me, its just about finding that one special person that I like and who likes me back (to which I reply: *vomit*). No, no. I am quite happy existing in my late-90s teenage nightmare; imagining myself as a Jennifer Love Hewitt/Katie Holmes-esque ingenue dressed in a matchy-matchy lycra midriff top and mini-skirt, chunky shoes and choker necklace, bawling my eyes out on the edge of my Dawson’s Party of Five bed after the ‘Made for Each Other’ themed school dance. I refuse to be cheered out of this foul mood. I’m off to get myself a cat. Except that my house already has a cat and I can’t actually afford to feed one.

God, I can’t even get that right.

What a fanta-bulous Valentine’s Day.

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