Tag Archives: love

It’s a question of… not getting hurt

There are a large number of quotes along the lines of how you should “love like you’ve never been hurt” and how it’s better to “have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. Now that’s all very fine in theory but is romantic love really worth the work, the heartbreak and the hours lost on analysing every single “why” that pops up in a relationship?

Having steered clear of intimate contact of any sort with men for several years (close to seven years to be exact), I can frankly say that it’s a lot less painful not to be in love and I’m much more efficient when I only have to concentrate on stuff not related to my feelings. Until recently in fact I had totally forgotten how time consuming and excruciating it can be to have another person occupy your mind and soul in that way.

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Some may say that the wonderful moments spent with the “loved one” largely make up for the hassle but I find it hard to agree. What’s the use of those moments if you spend many, many more glued to your phone, freaking out about why that person apparently has better things to do than to answer your text messages? What good does it do to take down your barriers and reveal yourself to someone who doesn’t care enough about it to acknowledge your feelings or even, your relationship?

Someone asked me the other day what the worst things a guy I was dating had ever said or done to me was. I thought of the time where I got a nosebleed during sex and the guy asked me if he had to stop because he’d “like to finish”. I thought of the time where another one told me that, when he kissed me, he “nearly felt like having a quickie” (I think it was the “nearly” that pissed me off the most). Of course I also recalled the guys who cheated on me, and those who made promises they never kept. I remember the guy who spent hours crying about an ex girlfriend, expecting me – his current one – to comfort him (which I did because I’m stupid in that way). And yes, I will never forget being in bed with that someone very special and finding out he was texting another girl while fondling me. That was hurtful. (I wonder why I was surprised when he later broke up with me by text on New Year’s Day…).

But let’s face it: what really hurts is to discover that you’re still that girl your mother told you not to be. The one who makes excuses for the other person’s shortcomings, who accepts things she shouldn’t, who sees signs of devotion where there aren’t any but ignores all the warning signs and who spends time thinking about someone who is not thinking about her at all. The one who stays when she should leave.

As relationship quotes go, I prefer this one: “Definition of stupid: knowing the truth, seeing the truth, but still believing the lies”. The truth is that most of the time I know when things aren’t really as they should be, just as well as I know they won’t change. The lies are the ones I’m telling myself. I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to stop doing that: overlooking the obvious and forgiving a guy when I shouldn’t, just because I don’t want to lose him or whatever I think we have together. Until then I think I’ll have to return to being fulltime celibate or accept getting hurt. And right now, the first solution seems by far the simplest.

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Filed under Fly on the windscreen

It’s a question of… settling for second best

In a few days (February 4) yet another “relationship” book will hit the bookshelves – and most probably the bestseller lists, considering the massive PR work that’s been done around it.

Its “enticing” title is Marry Him: The case of settling for Mr Good enough. In it, author Lori Gottlieb advocates that single women over 30 should stop looking for ‘Mr Right’ and instead marry the first ‘Mr Second best’ who comes along. If not, they’ll end up unmarried and childless at 40 – which would be terrible because as Gottlieb states: “In reality, we aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle, we’re women who want a traditional family”.

Seen on a bench in London…

Therefore, she goes on, one “should not worry about passion or intense connection” when choosing a partner and also “overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics”. For marriage is not “a passion-fest” but a partnership formed to run “an often boring non profit business”. And she means this “in a good way”. (Makes you wonder how she can draw the conclusion that the only thing all women really want is “to get married”!)

The “theory” about women having difficulties getting married once they’ve passed 30 is far from new and often goes hand in hand with statistics that are just as ancient. A 24-year old article from Newsweek stating that professional women over 30 only have a 20% chance of walking down the aisle (and women over 40 years a 2,6% chance) is still being actively, and wrongly, referred to today.

But let’s look away from that fact that Gottlieb is stuck in another era. There seems no need either to emphasize that all women do in fact not want to get married at all. Let’s concentrate instead on the “settling for second best” business.

Contrary to Gottlieb, I think that women learn very early on that the “perfect man” (as depicted in various movies, be it in the role of a father or a lover) does not exist. Sure, many of us may dream of getting swept off our feet by some kind of Richard Gere / George Clooney / Luke Wilson (my personal favourite), but do we actually believe it’s going to happen in true life? I don’t think so.

We do however often fall in love with – and marry – men who are not Mr Perfect – at least in our friend’s and family’s eyes. I for one don’t consider any of the men my friends married as ‘Mr Rights’. In fact, I wouldn’t “settle” for any of them, not even at 40. And this despite none of them having bad breath or a questionable sense of style. As for the men I’ve been involved with, well I don’t think my parents or friends ever thought of any of them as Prince Charming.

The thing is though, when you fall in love, the object of your affection becomes “perfect” even if he, like every person, has many flaws. It’s not like you actually believe that the imperfections don’t exist, it’s just that you don’t care about them. And that’s a good thing. Because by the time these flaws do become apparent and irritating (and they nearly always do), your relationship should be strong enough to live with them.

Considering the work it is to be – and to stay – married, there is no meaning in “settling” for someone. It’s unfair on yourself and on the person you’re marrying. On your wedding day, you should be totally and head over heels in love. It’s a minimum requirement. (This might be easier if you don’t spend a year planning your wedding or live together for a decade before actually getting wed).

I have not read a “relationship” book since “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” came out. I think the sexist, prehistoric views it promoted put me off that kind of literature forever. I will therefore not be reading Gottlieb’s seemingly just as archaic and damaging book. I don’t buy her “women are too picky” theory. (In fact, I often think women aren’t picky enough). And I don’t support the “go for Mr Good enough” option. It’s degrading for both sexes.

I believe a woman can have everything she wants – love and children included – without getting married. I believe that “settling” for someone will not provide happiness or a good home to raise your offspring. Most importantly, I believe authors, women and the rest of society should stop viewing marriage as a life achievement award for the female gender. Because why on earth should women settle for that?

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It’s a question of… online dating

A guy I know recently changed his relation status on Facebook from being “in a relationship” to “single”.  According to the usual procedure, his 150 listed friends were immediately informed and one of them reacted by publically writing not to worry because he could now join the ranks of men who (I quote) “get laid thanks to online dating”.

I’m not sure the comment comforted my recently separated (and obviously depressed about it) Facebook friend but it got me thinking about the change there’s been in online dating these past years.

When I first signed up on a dating website six or seven years ago, it totally changed my life. Within a day I went from single mum who had forgotten the mere existence of males aside her son, to being a woman who actually looked at men in the street again and, oh yes, regained her flirting instinct too. All this because of e-mails I had gotten from total strangers.

I did not put a picture of myself on my online dating profile – something that would not have gone down well today. Most men now demand it (and by ‘demand’ I mean as in ‘command’), along with a whole lot of adverbs impossible to find in one single person. At the time, the market was somehow less competitive and more flaw forgiving.

Not having a profile photo didn’t prevent me from “meeting” a lot of nice guys who sent me long, personal e-mails and read mine in details responding to them with wit and concern. After a week – and for several weeks to come – I was in daily e-mail contact with three of these men. They never once wrote about sex or sexual encounters.

Somewhere down the line, we got to the “phone contact” point. It went fine with man n° 1. We talked for hours, and went on to more explicit texting, but never actually met. (Like me, he had “multiple contacts”, hooked up with one of them and thus gallantly ended our “relationship”).

Man n° 2 I never actually spoke to on the phone, because too much e-mailing nullified all dating prospects and sent us into a friendship zone in which we stayed for several years before losing contact.

As for man n°3, he was the proof that online too, I sometimes misjudge men terribly. The first time he called he somehow got talking about his ex-wife and how she’d “falsely accused him” of “slapping her around” and that he’d had “nothing to do” with her broken nose or arm… I didn’t give him the benefit of doubt.

Despite this last “mishap”, these first online dating experiences were totally uplifting and did wonders for my then battered female ego. I ended up moving in with the next man I met online. He was the kind of guy I’d never have met in real life – or if I had, we wouldn’t have been even faintly attracted to one another. It lasted two years, in part for these reasons.

I have since signed up a few times on dating websites but the whole thing has sadly lost its appeal. Men my age are now all searching for women at least 10 years younger (!) and expect photos and phone numbers to be exchanged immediately. (And for a reason I can’t fathom many think I want a picture of their genitals). Instant messenging is preferred to e-mails and instant virtual sex seems to be preferred to the whole “getting to know” process. The trouble is, having tacky cybersex with a virtual stranger is rarely a good starting point for a relationship.

Online dating the way I first knew it has changed. The supermarket effect is worse now than ever. I feel a complete idiot filling out a search page to decide if the guy I’m looking for can have a moustache, be a teacher and like Chinese food, or spending hours answering random questions about myself so I can get a selection of “compatible” men e-mailed. And don’t get me started on the specialised dating websites, like the ones for Christians, Muslims, Jewish or Pagan singles, for Sci Fi lovers, dog lovers, farmers, vegetarians, golfers, geeks, plus-size singles… Everything is calculated, arranged – and in my eyes, ultimately, that’s not how the laws of attraction work.

I’m not saying my recently dumped Facebook friend shouldn’t give online dating a go. Nor am I saying that it doesn’t work for a lot of people  (It did after all work for me for a time). But I do believe that love, like sport, is not an exact science. I think a cat lover can be a match to a dog lover, and that you can dream of a red-haired millionaire and fall blissfully in love with a blond guy on minimum wage. It’s worth keeping that in mind when playing the dating game online. Love can’t be perfect and nor should it be.

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Filed under The sinner in me

It’s a question of… choosing your vampire

The major movie event this week “seems” to be New moon. I have to admit that I’m pretty jealous of Stephenie Meyer’s success. It has the same effect on me as Helen Fielding’s achievement with Bridget Jones’s Diary: Why didn’t I think of that?

I haven’t read Meyer’s books or seen New Moon (yet) but I did see the first film, Twilight. Just to find out what all the fuss was about. Being a very (very) big fan of Buffy the vampire slayer, I didn’t expect to become an immediate groupie of the Twilight team. No danger of that. I think the weird jumping-around-in-trees-at-incredible-speed scene was the last straw.

Of course, had I found Edward the vampire or Jacob the wolf mildly attractive – or Bella a little bit interesting – I would probably have become a Twilight addict too. But for me, the only fantasy-worthy vampire in the film was Carlisle Cullen (played by Peter Facinelli), and even he can’t compete with the all-male Buffy vampires : Spike (James Marsters) and Angel (David Boreanaz).

New Moon apparently has fans divided between Edward and Jacob. Just like Buffy the Vampire Slayer had an Angel team and a Spike team. I was massively into Spike (and unconditionally so after “Smashed”, season 6,  9th episode… ).

But I think that the reason I was (and still am) such a great Buffy fan is because of Buffy. She’s the “Chosen One”, she’s strong, sexy, and unafraid of “the darkness”. She’s a fighter. But she’s also funny and gets to fall in love and (well, yes…) have sex with hunky guys and vampires (real dangerous vampires – not the Twilight version that get all shiny in sunlight). Nothing to do with Twilight’s Bella, who kind of needs to be protected all the time.

All this to say that I am of course going to see New Moon (as soon as I can catch in on a streaming website). To satisfy my curiosity and the Judy Blume teenager that’s still in me. But I beg you: if you’re a Twilight fan and haven’t yet watched Buffy the vampire slayer, please do, starting with season 1, episode 1, and see for yourself. Only then will you really know which vampire to choose…

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