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Artist picture by Christopher Cuseo

He puts his arm around my shoulder. He leaves it there. His arm.. placed.. there.. feels.. weird and uncomfortable. One minute. Two minutes. I can’t handle it anymore.. “er excuse me a sec can you..” I have to move.

Needless to say we don’t know each other that well. But we’d already had ‘the chat’ and I thought that had been sufficient. We were friends right. Right?

“You’re actually quite attractive..” he said blurting it out.

I was a little startled. “Oh!” Where did that come from?

He accentuated the ‘quite’ word.

Fucking quite? My brain retaliated.

“I’d say you were about a seven. Seven out of ten…” he continued.

I was letting myself get dragged into the conversation. Really what I should have been doing at this point is not engaging. But my ego went running (obviously need to double up on my Eckhart Tolle listening). And I let myself get dragged in.

“A seven! Er is that a good thing? Why only a seven?” I exclaimed not really hiding my hurt.

“Well your dressed pretty casual and you need to do something with your hair” he says.

My hair is always in a pony tail. I spent an hour the day before trying to braid it via a youtube tips video but it’s so fucking hard! Have you guys tried to braid hair? No? Well shut up then! My hair always gets whacked up in a ponytail. Sometimes that ponytail can deceivingly take a long time to do as well.

I let out a big sigh.

“So what makes a ten then?” I ask.

“Well very few girls are a ten” he replies.

We start walking down the road and I find myself mulling over hair styles. Still… a seven is better than a six I think..

Jesus… just take the compliment Becki my brain thinks. But I wasn’t really sure if it was actually a compliment.

“I don’t think you should say it like that to a girl again..” I say.. “You should just say you are attractive. Knock the quite word off..” I reflect. But then maybe he was just being real.

I think about how I might make it to a ten.  “A few of my younger friends who are girls have approached me just wanting non committal sex” he blurts out.

What? Other girls want him? Did he just become more attractive? I look at him. Could I…. ?

Then. WAIT A FUCKING MINUTE WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE. No he wouldn’t be would he? That was too.. sly…

A neg is a backhanded compliment, usually said by a man to a woman, to surprise and/or annoy her so she does a double take and tries to prove her value to the man. Negging comes from the Pick Up Artist community and was a very popular method suggested to men who wanted to take attractive women “down a notch”. Dating

“I fancied you when I first saw you…” he carries on.

Oh my god he is as well.

“But it’s not all about looks though is it.. it’s about personality too” I say.

“No..but in the beginning its all about looks” he retaliates.

“Gosh I’m tired… ” I yawn confused and feeling slightly depressed.

I take some reflection time on the situation.

Firstly I decide who wants to be someone’s number 7. Maybe a 7 is a realistic number but no one wants to be told where they stand on that ladder do they? And whatever the weather up or down in their eyes you want to be their number 10 surely? “I only have eyes for youuuuuu” sing the Flamingos…

Secondly.. relationships and dating. Well they’re meant to make you feel good. Not crap.

Thirdly – I decide I’ll take on his advice about aiming for a ten. For someone else though. Mwahwahahahahahar!!!!

And fourthly – no one needs a number to validate them.

I look at him. And I see us in the future. We’re married and I’m wearing super tall heels. I’m explaining to a friend how we got together…  “Oh.. he said I was a seven… so I got my boobs done… a face lift… a hair transplant and a tummy tuck and now I’m nearly a nine and a half!” I explain to her… “but do you actually bloody like him?” she replies.. “Oh er yeah I forgot about that bit… SHIT” …

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Dating Diary by another anonymous..

I’d recently gotten back in touch with Shane, an old friend from school, who had moved to the same town as me and invited me out for his birthday drinks. His plan was to go to a bar I really can’t stand with all his friends who I didn’t know. Unfortunately, all my good friends were already out in town for Johann’s birthday. Johann being one of my actual-proper-best-friends, my boys, my frères from un autre mère.

Surely that’s not a dilemma. You go out with your proper friends who’ve been there for you for years and who you talk to every day, right? You don’t go out with someone you barely know anymore, just on the off-chance he might have some single female friends, do you?

By the time Johann had tracked me down, I’d noticed that one of Shane’s friends was a cute, curvy brunette. Exactly the type of girl I go for and almost always fail to succeed with. This girl was exactly my type – a cool brunette bob, fantastic dress sense and a top which concealed but clearly hinted at what a more misogynistic writer might describe as ‘a rack to die for’.

Now, it’s either a reflection on what a social magnet I am or a sign of how incredibly indulgent my friends are that instead of telling me to do one or disowning me on the basis that I was thinking with my ‘crotch-brain’ again, they actually came to aforementioned shitty bar. Which by then had to pay to get into. Did I mention that they all hated it too? I love my friends.

Having successfully merged a group of people who had no desire to be where they were with a group of people who had no idea who the other group was or why they had suddenly joined them, I sat back with a cocktail and marvelled at my own handiwork. I am the Rupert Murdoch of socialising; if this town was a commercial enterprise, I’d be under investigation for anti-competitive practices.

It was around this time I noticed the object of my interest, who by this time was starting to look vaguely familiar, was chatting to my friend Ethan. Ethan is a very cool, very smart and very handsome guy. Thankfully for me, he only goes for smoking hot foreign-looking girls and lacks even the slightest ability to tell when a girl is interested in him so I knew this girl’s efforts were wasted. I was sat on a sofa opposite them, desperately trying to look for an in, when she turned to me and said

‘You know, you look really familiar.’

‘You too. You weren’t at our school, were you?’

Recognition flashed across her face as she asked,

‘I know your brother!’

Balls. Whilst my brother was very cool and had a lot of friends, he is also capable of being one of the biggest c*^&s you will ever meet in your life. Being recognised by association with him is something which has worked against me in the past, so this put me on guard.

‘…guilty. Whatever he did or said to you, I’m very sorry.’

‘Ha, no. I used to go out with his friend Jamie.’

BAM. It all fell into place. Of course! Belle looked quite different (don’t we all), and was significantly less annoying (aren’t we all).

Oh, wait. 

This is officially weird now? Think of all the people we know in common. 

Also, she went out with Jamie. 

Jamie was really cool. 

She is definitely too cool for me. 

Dude? Snap out of it. She’s still talking to you. 

As we chatted for the next hour or so, I was oblivious to anything happening around us. The group mingled properly and moved to a large table, so we relocated to ensure we were next to each other. She’d gone to Uni a year after me, achieved a first (of course), gone travelling, spent two years at a loose end and was now training to be a teacher. Like 90% of my other friends. Annoyingly though, her course meant she was currently living over a hundred miles away.

Wow, she’s really cool. And cute. And still talking to me. 

Did you just exchange numbers? I believe you did. 

Shit, they’re all leaving? What should I do now? 

I know. Definitely text her the second she leaves the bar. That should do the trick. 

That was March. Come August, she still hadn’t replied…

She hadn’t replied to the text message I sent in March, but she had accepted my Facebook friend request. Which was a start.  We’d been tagged in a photo together – obviously I added her, because that’s The Way Things Go when you’re me.

For the next couple of months, I did my best to keep her aware of my existence by leaving fucking awful posts like this on her wall:

‘Let me know if you’re ever back around these parts. And if I ever need anyone cool to go out in Oxbridge with… I’ll have to ask you if you know anyone 😉 x’

Smooth move, Ex Lax. Neil Strauss called. He says YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

A few weeks later, a big night out was being planned. I put up the standard ‘get involved’ status update on Facebook and headed out to a funky little bar with some of my best friends. I hate the word ‘funky’, but there really isn’t a better word to describe this establishment. It’s one of the few non-chain bars in our town, it’s about the size of a living room and decorated in a colourful, ‘ethnic’ style. It is funky!

Imagine my surprise when, as I tucked into my second JD, I received the following text message from Belle:

‘Hey, I’m out in town tonight with Shane. Are you around for a few drinks? x’

‘Hey! Indeed I am, a bunch of us are at Funky Little Bar. Come on down! x’

When Belle arrived, she looked different. Again. She’d had her hair cut into a much shorter, choppy style with an asymmetric fringe and she looked cuter than a sleeping kitten… but in a really sexy way. She just exuded confidence in a manner which previously would have intimidated me but which for some reason I found utterly magnetic in her. I didn’t want to appear desperate to talk to her, but I’ve heard that ignoring people can be seen as somewhat rude, so I introduced the two of them to my friends and sat next to her to catch up.

Shane can be something of a flake, particularly when he isn’t drinking so I didn’t anticipate he’d last long. After less than an hour, the inevitable occurred and he stood up to make his excuses. Expecting this to be Belle’s cue to make an exit, I must have invited her to stay out with us … and she agreed without even thinking about it.

It’s at this point that the psychology of the rejection-phobe kicks in, so pay attention. Let’s recap. A girl I met once and had a really good time chatting to has made a point of tracking me down on a night out, bringing along our mutual friend as an excuse/validation. She’s chatted to no-one but me since arriving and now that The Validator is leaving, she wants to stay out. All signs point to ‘interest’.

We got two things: more drinks, and along famously. At kicking-out time everyone was moving off to someone’s house for a post pub party; Belle and I picked up a bottle of vodka from the nearest off licence and she came back with me to my friend’s house, with all my friends she’d just met. This girl is absolutely ace.

So what did I do? Brilliantly, once we arrived at the party I basically started semi-ignoring her in favour of talking to my friends. Not because I didn’t want to talk to her but because I’d figured out by now that the socially acceptable thing to do would be to invite her back to mine. Or at least try and kiss her. And I was terrified. Heart racing, dry mouth, unable to relax. Standard issue rejection phobia, check.

In fact, the second time she followed me indoors to try and get me alone we found ourselves in the kitchen away from everyone else and…I went mental. Talking utter nonsense, uncomfortable silences, making excuses to go back outside. I was sending out mixed signals like some kind of catastrophically defective antenna. Eventually, it all got too much for her and she ordered a taxi to take her home as ‘I’m far too drunk to be around people I don’t know.’ she was actually holding her own impressively, given that no-one could quite figure out why she was there if I wasn’t interested in pulling her. Which I was. But was too paralysed with fear to do.

We shared a slightly awkward goodbye hug and she left. I was left to reflect on what the fuck was wrong with me, whilst playing it off to my friends that I was flattered by the attention but wasn’t really sure if I was interested. Of course.

On the walk home, Belle texted me.

‘Sorry about that, I didn’t want to be remembered as the girl nobody knew who showed up and got really drunk and annoyed everybody. Some other time, perhaps? x’

‘Sounds good. How about Friday night? x’

‘Friday it is. See you then 🙂 x’

Promising, right? That’s definitely a date, right? There’s no way, no way on Earth, that I could possibly screw this up.

Well.. when the big night rolled around, I’d managed to convince myself it wasn’t a date. Despite taking a poll of all of my colleagues who agreed that it definitely was (and I work in HR so most of my colleagues are female, before you start thinking it was some kind of high-riving LADfest)  by the time I arrived at the bar – late, of course – I’d decided that she was just interested in ‘catching up’ and that this definitely wasn’t a date. A convenient excuse which got me off the hook of having to, you know, make a move at any point.

So we shared cocktail after cocktail, laughing and joking the whole time. She was touching my arm, I was being hilarious and charming. It were just like the movies it were. The bar we were in was one of the more expensive ones in town so we soon moved across town back to The Oak. Second time lucky?

This was where things went rapidly downhill. We walked into the bar and the first person we saw was a girl I’d been vaguely involved with the previous Summer. I say ‘involved’ although I don’t think one date and a hand job really counts as a relationship but I’d not handled rejecting her too well and she’d taken said rejection even less well.

‘….Hi Siobhan’.

‘Oh. Hi.’ -GLARE’

‘Er..Siobhan, this is …my friend, Belle.’

Brilliant. So you’re out with a girl you fancy more than anyone you’ve met in your adult life, you’re not sure if it’s a date and you’ve decided to take the reins and declare that it isn’t. I’m leaving you, said my brain. I’m finding someone who’s got a clue. I got us some drinks and we sat down in a corner of bar, from which Belle made the mistake of pointing out a large group of my friends in the corner.

‘Would you like to join them?’ she asked.

‘No! I’m out on a date with you. It’s unfortunate that 80% of the people I know have decided to congregate in the same bar as us but fuck them, I want to get to know you better. Much better.’Is what I should have said. Before leaning in to kiss her.

‘Yeah, cool.’

Is what I actually said. Unsurprisingly, she went to leave soon after. As she stood by the taxi, its back door open, she turned back to me and looked me directly in the eye. I returned her gaze, leaned down to bring her in … for a hug, and sent her on her way with the one phrase no-one wants to hear at the end of an alleged date:

‘Stay in touch.’

The post-script to all this is that on her way home, she called me out on my flaky behaviour and told me outright that if I’d been more obviously keen we’d have been going home together. We met up the following day for lunch, which turned into drinks, which turned into an entire evening of the best sex I’d ever had in my life. We were together for almost three years after that.

So next time someone acts aloof with you, don’t assume they’re not interested. Assume that, like me, they’re a fucking idiot.

If you’d like to write a #datingdiary for #ohdearyme get in touch! beckiburrows@gmail.com

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Artist picture – Maia Flore // Sleep Elevations 

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. Dead Poets Society

Lying here.. I wonder if it’s meant to be

Or whether its just a dream for me.

These fantasies running around my head

Fill me

As I imagine

You and me…

Running along hand in hand

Along beaches long…

Holding one another tight

You hold me close and tear my tights

With your passion I can feel your breath upon my neck

And I almost choke as my heart.. sticks in my throat

Struggling to break out

As you move your hand down my thigh…

Thoughts of you are lost as I look up to the sky

The clouds form as one and bounce across the horizon

And when I open my eyes… you are gone.

And  you – my dream has left.

And a new fantasy forms… and again… I leave for a new destination…

Just call me Nuwanda.

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I am sitting in a café having a chat with a girlfriend. Two men approach us.. “excuse me are you single?” one asks. “Er…” I look at my friend.. “maybe why?” he sits down opposite.

“Well.. there’s a talk tomorrow.. the guy who trained Neil Strauss (The Game) is in town for the weekend for a Love and Seduction workshop and we have more men than women attending. It’s usually seven hundred pounds… but would be free to you if you come? We want the other women who have paid to feel comfortable”. I’d heard of Neil Strauss. Of course I had! My old flat mate used to underline parts of the book! And my ex had also owned a copy which I had amusedly flicked through. “Usually seven hundred pounds eh…” I reply…

“Yeah this guy is the top of the chain when it comes to NLP” he says.

I am interested. And I want to see what it is about. “Ok why not.” I reply taking his card. I call two friends up. “So you wanna come to this dating tip thing tomorrow?” I ask them.

The next day we walk into a conference room and sit at the back. There is nothing unusual about the room. The guy at the front is giving out NLP (neuro linguistic programming) tips and his confidence and strong presentation skills are keeping the room engaged. “This is some people’s last hope…” the words sold to me ring in my ears. I look about the room. It is what you might imagine. And the men are hanging on every word that drip out of this trainer’s mouth. And so after not much happening and a bit of meditation we all head off to lunch. And my friend starts on the white wine glugging it down. When it is time to go back she insists on staying for another whilst we go see “the show”. It’s 2pm now and this conference is meant to last til 7. A girl comes on stage at the front and starts talking to the room. And the man who was previously teaching is now sitting in a corner wearing sunglasses. Sunglasses in a conference room. The girl at the front starts her speech.. she is young, attractive and has the rooms attention. She starts talking about how to relax a woman…’start by touching a woman’s back to make her feel more comfortable and at ease’ she says doing caressing hand movements. Everything is becoming snake like. And I decide I can’t listen to anymore. I pretend to head to the toilet making a sharp exit for the door.

An hour later I get a call from my friend. Pretty drunk…

“Beccccckkkkkiiiii!!!!!” she screams down the phone. Uh oh… I think…what’s happened…  “So…… I went back!!! Beckkiiii what the hell was that! I went back and I was sitting there and I asked the guy a question…” I am intrigued, “I asked him.. a question.. and he wouldn’t answer!!! So in front of the room I told him he was brainwashing people!! And.. they threw me out! They threw me OUT Becki for asking a goddamn question”. I am amused. And a part of me wishes I had seen this. And I suspect that there had been a little more to her angry drunken ramblings… which, whilst I don’t condone are quite understandable in the grand scheme of things. I am having a coffee with the guy who convinced us to go to the talk. He is telling me about the day game – and how men pay a lot of money to be shown around London and given tips on how to pick up… “this is some men’s last hope…” he tries to convince me.

A few weeks later I am on a train heading north. It is meant to be an hours trip but the train has been diverted and I have been stuck on it for three and a half hours. I am sitting in an empty carriage, dehydrated, irritated and feeling traumatized by the state of the trains toilets. It is like Armageddon in there. Why can they not just sort the toilets out? I am a great believer that it is the little comforts in life that carry you through…(not to get off the subject too much but seriously Richard Branson if you’re reading this – if I had kids.. how the heck would I manage to change my babies nappy in those things…how?).

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Ok moving swiftly on… a man gets on the train. I am sitting back in my seat now. I’m not in the toilet. I just want to set that straight. He looks about the empty carriage and decides to sit opposite me. I am reading ‘The End of My Addiction’ by Dr Olivier Ameisen. “Interesting book” he starts.. “must be really hard giving up…”

I decide which side of the fence to sit on with that remark and opt for the less personal… “Yeah must be awful.” I reply.

He starts to push for a conversation. “Where are you going, what do you do, who are you with…where have you trained.. if at all, how much money do you earn, will you go halves providing for our future children…” that kinda thing. Actually he never asked the last one but seriously… how much does he need to know, this was interrogation territory and I was… really thirsty so could only issue one word answers.

“This is really empty carriage..” I say. “And I’m really tired and thirsty” I politely push. I would describe myself as a sociable person, but there was something about his brash assumption of sitting opposite me that I didn’t warm to. A bunch of people get on at the next station. I busy myself with my phone sending a really interesting tweet “I’m on a train” to my twitter followers. I like to keep them engaged an all that.

The guy sitting opposite me is still asking me questions. I am about to go in for the kill and just ask him outright finishing this thing good and proper by just asking him if he is attempting to chat me up so I can get on with my book. I have to know how this man cures himself!

But he is rescued at the last minute… I hear my name being called. “OMG Becki!!!! Is that you? I just saw your tweet!!”.. I look to my left.. “Wow!!! What are the chances!!!” my excitement levels peak. Me ole chum Gina sitting literally in the next seat. The guy opposite me looks annoyed. He’s been blocked. And I’d been rescued. Phew.

FINAL THOUGHTS

But it’s a tough situation isn’t it. The girl doesn’t know if she’s being chatted up, the guy is trying to engage how much attraction there is. A part of me feels like a bit of an asshole (horrible word asshole isn’t it) by being so cruel to this man. But is it cruel? I’m sure this story could be met with “maybe he was a bit lonely, maybe he was just being nice, maybe maybe maybe…maybe a touch of arrogance there Becki?”. Yes maybe. But listen up girls. One day I was talking to a much older lady friend about what she felt she had learnt in her life.. and she turned to me and said “Oh god Becki.. naivety was my middle name”.

And so if you’re a young woman reading this there is one word I want you to learn…and it’s naivety; which means the tendency to believe too readily and therefore to be easily deceived.

And if you’re a guy and you want to meet a nice lady.. well I’m not sure there’s a cut and dry approach… learning to read signals and body language would be my first tip. And cutting to the chase.. faster conversations guys.. faster conversations..

And finally…. “When a woman becomes her own best friend life is easier.” Diane Von Furstenberg

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“Always keep your heart locked tight, don’t let your mind retire” Haim

He places his hand confidently on my arm. I’m aware of him moving in.. I’m in a bar. I’m not supposed to be in a bar. I’m meeting a friend. And I have a rucksack on. And whilst I cared about what I put on that morning I hadn’t thought about as it much as I could have done. I mean.. I wasn’t in a “bar” outfit.

“Who you waiting for?” the man asks me in a thick Scottish accent. He’s in town with his mates for the Scotland vs England game.

He then moves his hand from my arm and moves it on to my waist. Not around. Just comfortably on.

I am impressed by his boldness. A little surprised. And very conscious of his seemingly carefree attempt. This guy’s approach was pretty smooth.

Dressed up for a night out with the lads he starts to mock my childish rucksack wearing which I still have on my back. “You can’t wear that.. take that off! It looks awful!” he tells me laughing. Momentarily I feel I am back at high school. Where one was supposed to wear the rucksack over one shoulder out of coolness and not over both like how it was actually designed to be worn. But I had become a girl punk in my later years – and a rucksack worn the right way is now in my eyes a ok! Besides – putting fashion aside…I had a bit of a bad back.

He buys me a drink. Despite the rucksack. And he proceeds to show me his muscles.. he flexes his arms.. “feel that!” he says. I’m impressed or amused. Not sure which. I feel his arm to show him that I recognise he’s been working out. I offer mine out to show him that I’ve also been working out. He ignores the gesture. Perhaps he didn’t hear/see me. Then he grabs my waist again.

“That’s really interesting what you keep doing there…grabbing me like that… that’s a really confident move…where did you learn that?” I ask him. He looks at me a little shocked and grins.. “er..what this.. “ and again he grabs me. “You have to be careful though – might put a girl off – could come across as ‘player’ tactics…” I smile at him. He looks confused. “I’m writing a dating diary thing” I tell him laughing. “Oh right..” he says… “Well…I’m not a player! Me? No way! I’ve just come out of a relationship of seven years!” he insists in his thick accent. We discuss his last relationship. And I just start to feel increasingly sad that they ever broke up and become convinced that they should get back together. And then my friend arrives… I tighten my rucksack straps…and we leave. Because to be honest…  Scotland’s a bit far to travel for me… if you get what I’m trying to say…

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