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DATING DIARY: VALENTINES

Film featured Candor by Christian Weber

She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew, and all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew “Edmund Spenser, 1596”

Valentines Day. I can remember the very first time I had a partner on Valentines Day. He was several years older than me and I had spent hours the day before creating a card for him. It was a piece of art work. When the day came he spent the time berating Valentines Day to his housemates and all the reasons why he didn’t celebrate it (yeah yeah he da man!). It was with great trepidation that I took out the card I had made him. And as I handed it over… my beautifully hand crafted card the look of cynicism disintegrated from his face. And as he stood there empty handed something inside both of us winced. Me with embarrassment and him perhaps with guilt. I suspect that despite his machoism, and his arguments against the culture of Valentines Day he had just secretly quite enjoyed the feelings he had felt in receiving something given out of care and love (bleurgh cringe cringe).

At about eight pm that night his guilt or some other overwhelming feeling took over and he finally went and bought some Tesco’s flowers. Carnations I think they were.

“Sorry last ones on the shelf” he shrugged. “That’s ok…” I smiled wondering if this late display was better than nothing. As it was obviously against his ideals.

And this is exactly the problem with Valentines Day. Like it or not it’s there on the calendar and for many people it brings with it good and bad memories throughout the years.

And perhaps that is one of the greatest things it brings. The memories. And the experiences.

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Oh it’s so hard to be a human.

Enjoy! X

 

 

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DATING: GAME PLAYING

Image on front by Malika Favre

“That’s no way to get it on
Five seconds in your heart
Straight to the heart I can’t to your heart
I’m not trying to make you cry
I don’t believe in you
You don’t believe in me
So how could you make me cry” Twin Shadow

It was one of those evenings where irritability had gotten the better of me, and I decided to literally raid the penny jar to buy some snacks at the big supermarket next door. I’d already showered and gotten into bed but couldn’t sleep. So I pulled on a coat and some jeans and headed downstairs for a quick walk not really paying too much attention to my unbrushed hair. I had mentally planned that this short trip should take no longer than ten minutes. As I walked past one of the tills one of the lads shouted at me to attend his “Come to my till, come to my till” he called across the lanes.

A few days earlier I had been served by him and my card had embarrassingly enough been rejected. But we had laughed at the situation and made light of it… “that happened to me just the other day” he had smiled. But I couldn’t bare going to his till again so hurried past to self service making my excuses. Great plan! Self service! Whoever designed them is a genius I thought. And so I put all the coins in and BAM ERROR ERROR!!! the machine blinked. My attempt to run swiftly into the supermarket had been foiled as attention in the store was now turning on me. Five minutes passed. Another five minutes. “You only put 10p in!” the supermarket lady on duty declared as I tried to claim my money back… “Er I think you’ll find that I put a bit more in that that!” I began. The self service experience was becoming traumatic and the packet of biscuits an unworthy prize.

The next time I went into the store I found myself compelled to explain the situation to the guy on the till that I’d run past. “Give me your number lets go out for a coffee sometime” he answered. Er ok. That…was not.. the response… I was expecting. Erm. I shrugged, and so I wrote down my number. Which I had just changed and thought I had learnt. But obviously not. So when I next entered the supermarket I wasn’t too surprised to find out he’d tried to ring but not gotten through. “Oh shit! Sorry!” I exclaimed. “I think I got a digit wrong” I replied.

But then I realised, that the lack of knowledge in my phone number, had probably just worked in my favour. As now I just came across as… coolly aloof.

“Look if you didn’t want to give me your number you should have just said…” he went on… “No I didn’t know it… really” I persisted feeling a slight pang of guilt.

GAME PLAYING

“I don’t play games! There’s no point!” my friend burst out crying. She’d just been let down by a potential lover. “Well.. I can see your point…” I offered up… game playing, an irritating part of the dating experience. I do not think it is always a necessity in dating, but I think game playing helps sieve the most appropriate/interested/interesting suitors. And the first few months, are probably the hardest to cut as both parties are trying to figure each other out.

Is he/she desperate… Is he/she a player… is he/she a weirdo… he’s/she’s a bit too keen… he’s/she’s not keen enough… they’re probably a psychopath…etc etc etc.

But the accidental “I’m too busy to play games I just texted him back because I need to know what I’m doing at the weekend” however logical doesn’t necessarily work in dating I’m afraid. It works in friendships though.

Having grown up with three brothers I’ve seen them go through their fair share of girlfriends. “Why didn’t you like that girl?” I asked my youngest brother one day. “I’ll show you” he said… and he text her. BEEP BEEP was the instant reaction of his phone. He’d managed to conjure up an instant reply. Shit that was fast. The girl was playing no games. But she had not just shown she was interested. She had shown she was keen. And that had seemingly put him off. Interesting.

I guess don’t most people want to be liked for who they really are, not for how they present themselves at a glance. How can anyone be that interested in someone they’ve only just met?

Although I do believe, that when both parties are just really into each other, games and all that go out the window. But until then…have some fun and enjoy… the game of life. However irritating parts of it might be. Have fun.

BEEP BEEP..

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DATING DIARY: THE LAW OF CHANGE

It was quite a few years ago that I met this guy. Back in good ole two thousand and four. I still remember the specific moment… he reminded me of the lead singer from Toploader – he had big shaggy hair and danced carefree like the lead singer of Jamiroquai.

We were in the Walkabout in Bournemouth. Yes.. It was that long ago. The glorious days of university. And I remember thinking how cool he was. But it only took a few dates for us to realise we weren’t going to gel. He was the kind of guy who.. would talk to everyone else in the room and pretend he didn’t see you, whilst you were meant to sit there and ponder on how awesomely outgoing and popular he is. I suppose this falls a little bit into negging again.

Since 2004 this man has been an accidental pop up in my life and every few years he appears back on the scene. After our short dating episode at university went a bit Pete Tong (I can’t remember why) that should have been a sign to keep a distance. ‘Look. We just don’t. Get. On.’ But the problem is that on paper he ticks a lot of the boxes.. good looking, nice hair.. surfs etc. But falls down on the ‘how to make a girl feel good’ part.

Ok so a few years after university I was at a festival in Spain…and randomly… right in front of me… there he was! Dancing! Looking pretty cool. And the problem when bumping into people like that randomly can be that the mind might issue a signal that this situation could be indeed fate. It’s meant to be! Here we are again! Together!

Well. I guess it could be fate – but it might not be for the reason one might think. It could also indeed just be random. Because you like the same music and scenes can actually be quite small. But at the time I obviously in my drunken haze must of thought it was fate. In the positive sense of the word. I mean this was a big festival and here we were in the middle of a field dancing within a metre of each other in a foreign country. Anyway, so there we were dancing together. Again. And my mates taking the hint. Head off, leaving us together. So hand in hand… we move on to the dance tent. But here is where I am forced to relearn the life lesson of why we weren’t suited in the first place.. as he suddenly starts dancing and grinding with all the other girls in the room. And I stand there for a bit… like a wally. Watching. Drunk and alone I leave… and must pay the price by stumbling miles back to my tent in complete regret that I left my mates for this.. this loser!

So perhaps a year after that was the awful implementation of facebook. And because he’d ignored me so much every time we were together I was surprised to get an add from him and a request to meet up in Camden as we were both now working in London. I was unsure. But…a few years had passed and maybe he’d changed. I worked and lived in Camden so what harm could it do?

A few drinks later and he’s having a go at one of my work colleagues who we’d bumped into calling him uncouth names. Apologizing I drag him off to the Good Mixer.. where he goes off yet again to talk to everyone else in the room. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mind this behaviour of randomly talking and socialising with people at all.. as long as I get to be involved. But at this point I am alone. Again. And a bit drunk. And I catch the sight of a girl I’d seen in a new music video. I was working at this point as a music researcher. And this girl was heralded to be the next big thing. She was also alone. And also seemed pretty drunk. So I started up a conversation. Not a very intellectual one mind you.

“Didn’t I see you in a music video.. blah blah blah”… “yeah…” she replies we’re hanging out both alone by the pool table. She starts putting in pound coins so people can play. How nice of her I remember thinking. And shortly after that…she shot to fame. Her name was Amy Winehouse.

“Becki come on for facks sake!” the guy I’m with shouts at me from the pub door. “Bye..” I remember mumbling to the girl and I stumbled out the door wondering what to do about this silly boy.

The next time I would see her she would be at the height of her fame…perhaps bigger than anyone could have ever envisaged..  standing on a stage at V-Festival.. one of the most pain staking gigs I have ever witnessed as the obvious toll of drugs had taken over her body.

And this guy? Well…obviously we didn’t really gel did we? But it’s that time again and I’ve just had my yearly message inviting me for a drink. And…well sometimes…I guess men chase not because they want you but because they can’t have you.

And so I reply… Look. We… just don’t. Get. On.

THE LAW OF CHANGE:

“History repeats itself until we learn the lessons that we need to change our path”

 

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DATING DIARY: ECKHART TOLLE

My friend had just died and I had witnessed the slow passing and turning off of the machine. It was pretty traumatic. The next day, after I had arrived back in England I woke up with a burning feeling that life was passing me by. Must go out! Must meet people! Must get moving! What the am I doing with my life!!! Ahhhhhh panic!!! That kind of thing.

A few hours later I was at a friends social event in Mayfair of all places. A guy approached me…he took my hand in his, pulled me towards him then twirled me around. His confidence oozed a certain stage presence but I enjoyed it. He was doing well. He started to talk to me and I started well… joking with him. He then made his excuses.. and left to talk to someone else. Another woman. Across the room. Oh dear. What had I said wrong… I thought.

Making a full circle he arrived back in front of me half an hour later. “Having fun?” I queried. “You’re so negative” he replied. Gosh. I’d only been talking to him for ten minutes. But… I contemplated…. he was probably right. “I’m sorry..” I said looking for an excuse for my unacceptable riptaking cynicism “My friend passed away yesterday” I offered up. His face softened.

“Oh” he replied… “lets sit down” he said. So down we sat.

“Let me share something with you…” he leaned in… “I’ve given myself the task of reading one hundred self help books” he said. I looked at him a little gob smacked. Very open. Must not judge. Or say anything that might sound mick taking. Say something intensely positive “Wow.. awesome.. great!” I replied.. almost offering a thumbs up.. but catching myself in the act. “Er… how many have you read so far?” I queried out of pure interest “I’m on number fifty one” he replied. “To be honest.. Eckhart Tolle changed my life” he peered at me. Probably thinking… ‘is she ready for this’.

“Who the fuck is Eckhart Tolle?” I replied grinning… oops. Remembering where I was.. “I mean” looking about me “I beg your pardon but who might Eckhart Tolle be?”

“A spiritualist influencer” he said. “He talks a lot about ego.. for instance …‘Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose’” he said smiling at me.

“And he talks a lot about.. negativity…” I got the impression this guy didn’t get my sense of humour. And I was at this point now too scared to make a joke.

To take a break from the intensity of the conversation I went to the toilet to powder my nose. And to take a break from the spiritual analysation I was currently undergoing. Phew! Unexpected! I thought to myself.

As I said we were in Mayfair. And next to me at the sink in the ladies was a very tall probably supermodel… brunette.

“Hi..” I smiled up at her in admiration. She was six foot one and had the tiniest waist. “How do you stay so… thin… and…where did you get your hair done” I asked in awe. General girl chat. She smiled knowingly looking down upon me past her perfectly powdered nose.. (not at me upon me).. “I only eat one meal a day” she laughed.. “and some day’s I eat nothing at all”. My stomach started to rumble. The conversation was making me hungry.

I returned to the table I was at. And began chatting with the guy again. She returned to her table. Which was next to ours.

She was surrounded by quite a few men. Which with all due respect to her seemed to be making her super happy. (I am not advocating anyone eating one meal a day to attract the opposite sex btw I’m just telling you the story in fact I could see in her eyes that she was quite close to doing something crazy – hunger can… do things to a person)…

Myself and the girl smiled and exchanged knowing looks and as I did the guy I was with eyes nearly popped out of his head as he looked over at her looking back. Oh for gawds sake. I’d just had an hour lecture about controlling the ego the least he could do was pretend he was practicing what he preached. But she was super hot so I understood.

Five minutes later he made a declaration..

“I need to leave let’s go” he said to me. Presumptuous. I thought. Firstly I hadn’t arrived with this guy and I certainly wasn’t leaving with him because he had to go. “You go.. here’s my number…” I said…scouting about for my friend.

“Oh.. great.. cool… I’ll ring you…” he smiled.

So we spent the next week chatting via text. And the conversation would usually go something like this.. “So how are you…” he would ask “I’m fine… got soaking wet in the rain today…” I would reply for instance. He would then usually follow it up with a quote.. “Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.” Eckhart Tolle”

“Ok great thanks” I would usually reply. But after a while I stopped telling him what I’d been up to or how I was really feeling. All I could manage with my answers were a simple “I’m awesome! Thank you for asking!”. For I had started to gain a fear of judgement on my real feelings on the reality of what was actually happening in my life. Must not be negative. Must be ultimately positive attractive super confident female…

And ultimately I got exhausted by self censorship and not being able to express myself.

Because let’s be honest. And real for a minute here. Life is like a bit of a rainbow isn’t it. I don’t know about you – but some days I feel blue, some days I feel grey, some days I feel red and some days I feel the warm glow of the sunshine and that makes me feel multicoloured all at once. And don’t we want to be able to express that?

*Becki has however, taken the advice and downloaded some Eckhart Tolle.. and now is feeling..  super!!!! Thanks for asking.. ! She also really doesn’t claim to be any good at dating either. 

 

 

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DATING DIARY: SHE LOVES ME.. SHE LOVES ME.. NOT.. ?

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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