Effort

you-are-special

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog, I could list excuses into double figures but the simple fact of the matter is that I haven’t chosen to do it – other things have taken priority.

Considering this, I stumbled across the subject for this particular post – the things we choose to do and what we make a priority – or another way of describing modern day single life!

Recently (and my friends will murder me in cold blood for this) I let my ex back into my life very briefly. He made the smallest of efforts and I took it as a sign that he was trying. We met up a few times, decided to start afresh and be friends with one another again – and friends we remain. Just friends, and it will never progress any further because of one simple word.

Effort.

The very second he thought he was ‘back in’ all effort disappeared out of the window. Plans were cancelled last minute, weeks would go by without a single text and I realised that absolutely nothing had changed, but more importantly, I realised that I was OK with it. Let me clarify here – I’m not OK with his lack of effort, I’m OK with him being him – because I have moved on, and in doing so I have realised my own self-worth. I am glad that we are back on good terms, but I’m even more glad that this brief stint has shown me how far I have come.

At the very start of ‘the return’, I was excited. I thought it meant that he couldn’t live without me, couldn’t get past ‘us’ and had realised that I was worth another chance. In truth – he was fucking bored. After the first cancellation of plans, and the first week of no contact I started to make excuses for his behaviour to myself; perhaps I should just let him be and come to me when he wanted, it must have been scary reaching out after so much time, maybe it was needy of me to expect a text every day (or a response at the very least!) Perhaps I was EXPECTING TOO MUCH. The best one? Perhaps I should change my behaviour and accept how he was treating me – after all, he would never change. It was laughable! Trust me when I say this phase was short-lived!

Then my mom said one sentence that knocked me straight back down to Planet Earth with a bump. “Shell – I think you should be honest with yourself.” Thinking on this, I realised that no, I was NOT OK with being ignored for days on end, I was NOT OK with being cancelled on last minute like I was a back-up plan. I wasn’t expecting too much – I was expecting to be treated according to my worth, and so out the window the whole thing was flung. That kind of behaviour from someone who is supposed to be into you is not ok, and I refuse to pretend for a second longer that it is.

Maybe it’s just me (it’s not), but when I’m into someone, I want to speak to them every day – about everything. I love that feeling when you get a good morning text, or you’re both sneaking off to the toilet at work to reply to one another because you can’t bear to wait until lunch time or after work. The flip of my stomach when a name pops up on my screen, and the best part about it is knowing that they are thinking of you and can’t wait to speak to you. Listen to me carefully – both guys and girls – if a romantic interest can go 2 – 3 days without speaking to you, not only are they not ‘the one’, they also couldn’t give a flying fuck about you. NO EXCEPTIONS.

We all deserve to be with someone that chooses us, First time, no question and without hesitation. Why the fuck would I want to be with someone that had to have a little think about whether they wanted a relationship with me or not? Had a little ‘uuuuuum and an aaaaaah’, looked around for any other options that might be a better deal and gone ‘ah fuck it go on then!’ Boy BYE! There is no way in the world that I would get with someone that hesitated over me. Hesitation is a display of uncertainty – that I’m a second choice or that I will ‘do for now’. Fuck right off. All the way off. Then fuck off a bit more. Dick.

Another gripe on this same subject? Three little words (no not those ones).

“I’m not ready”

BOLLOCKS!

Again, off in that direction you can fuck. “I’m not ready” is the biggest excuse (aside from those other three words “I’ve been busy”) that veritably spew out “I’m lying through my teeth because I’m a coward”, as they are spoken. I’m sure if the person of your dreams rocked up and proclaimed their undying love you’d be more than ready, so do me the courtesy of not being a Billy Bullshitter, and just say “bab – it’s not you, you’re not the one I’m willing to be ready for” instead of feeding me a load of spiel about “maybe one day” or “I need some time”. I can understand if they’re fresh out of a relationship and hurting – that’s fair enough. But aside from that you don’t need time, you need to grow a pair and give it to me straight so that I’m not left hanging around for months thinking I can do something to change your mind. Sure, it’d sting a little – but at least I could get back out there again and not sit and mither over all the reasons why I’m not good enough. That’s something I used to do a lot – think it was me. Nowadays? If you feed me that pile of tripe I will nod, smile and tell you that I understand completely, but know this – I see right through it. Every time. Without fail.

Now, there are some occasions where you are genuinely not looking for a relationship, and there will be certain people in your life that will prove, shall we say… useful. You’re both on the same page, there are none of the expectations with regards to messaging and plans, and you’re both winners. It’s a great arrangement as long as you both know the score and are happy with it. But it’s important to never assume that these people will someday be the person you end up with. They won’t be. Do not get this shit twisted. Enjoy it while it lasts, but the very second one of you thinks more of the situation than the other – get the fuck out of there. It will never end well. Call me a cynic all you like – but these kinds of arrangements should never involve either your head or your heart. Neither will come out intact.

I’m gonna chuck one more in the pot here for good measure: “Let’s see what happens”

NYAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Yet another, completely non-committal hesitation that just screams “I can’t be bothered”, UNLESS followed up by phone calls, plans and dates arranged in advance. If you say “Let’s see what happens” to me, then ignore me for 2 days I’ll tell you what will happen – you won’t see me for dust.

Plans made in principal, i.e. “we should do this one day” without any follow up are just empty words. However, if you say “let’s see what happens”, and then follow up with “are you free on this day so we can do this thing I’ve been thinking about – let’s get it sorted and go and do it.” I will perhaps think that maybe you are interested. You see the difference?

Effort.

Make the effort. Be consistent. Do what you say you’re going to do. It really isn’t that difficult. If you have no intention of acting upon your words – just don’t say them. I speak for myself here obviously, but I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that if I am sure of someone’s intentions, and I know that I am important to them without a shadow of a doubt – they will get the very best of me.

If you choose me – every day without a second thought, know that I will treat you like a fucking king. In no means is this a one-way thing, it applies to everyone – just make the effort. Take the chance, show the fuck up because you know what – not many people are doing it these days! On the other hand, if you treat me like an option, expecting wifey behaviour when all you are prepared to put forward are “maybe’s” and “one days” know that I will throw you back in the sea like the dead fish you are.

I know what I want. I’ve spent years giving everything I am to people that weren’t prepared to lift a finger for me because I thought it I tried a little harder, I could make it work. Relationships are not one-sided, and if you’re fighting alone to make something work then you are just better off out of it. The only thing that was achieved from this behaviour was my rapidly diminishing self-worth and my thinking I wasn’t good enough. Nope. Nuh Uh. Never again. This works both ways and if I am made to feel like I am not good enough – that my friend is on you.

So, I want to be lavished with attention and made to feel special. What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that what everyone wants at the end of the day? I’m not acting like that’s an unreasonable request anymore, and if you can’t be bothered, well then neither can I.

Next.

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The grass is greenest where you water it…

love

Are you single right now? If so, when was the last time you were out somewhere, a bar, the gym, the supermarket, on the train – anywhere, where you saw someone that you thought was so attractive that your face went warm? Can you remember? If you can – what did you do about it? Did you bite the bullet and say hello, or even smile at them? Or did you let them pass you by and watch them walk out of your life forever, kicking yourself as they went? I’m hedging my bets on the latter for the most part right?

I’ve been ‘officially’ single for a year next week, and give or take 8 months of ‘trying again’ (I use the term loosely as the only thing that was trying was the situation) I’ve actually met up with and dated 5 people since. Some lasted a few weeks, some didn’t get past the first date, and as you all know by now – one lasted 43 minutes. This is not taking into account the COUNTLESS matches, WhatsApp messages, ‘subtle’ liking of everything posted on social media, slides into DM’s and snatched kisses and swapped phone numbers on nights out. Where has it gotten me? Well – a lot further than you might think.

This week I made a decision – to come off all dating apps and use my precious time more productively. I’ve come off them before of course, and always for the same reason – in my opinion, they don’t work. For some they might, but for me, a traditionalist and eternal optimist at heart, they are most certainly not the way forward for me.

It’s fucking depressing. This is not how I want to meet the love of my life. When you are on a dating site or app you are literally one of perhaps 50 to 100 right swipes, and THOUSANDS of left – instantly writing you off as a ‘no’. This works both ways of course, and when you do match there’s that little spark of excitement… then mostly nothing. BECAUSE NO-ONE FUCKING SPEAKS! No-one wants to ‘submit’ and make the first move. There’s way too much pride involved. Will I look desperate? Will they reply? How long should I wait? Should I ask for their phone number? What if they don’t look like their profile picture? What if they’re a mong? What if they’re a serial killer?

NOPE. Sorry, that shit is not for me. If I like someone – they know it. I’m the person that smiles, I’m the person that will position myself next to you at the bar and strike up a conversation. I am the person that will text first. I am the person that takes that chance – because what exactly have I got to lose by doing so? You get out of life exactly what you put in. So if you think that you’re so fucking special that people should be falling at your feet with little to no effort on your part, then kindly step aside. I have no time for you.

Unfortunately – this attitude seems to be something of an epidemic in 2017. Effort is non-existent, ‘Ghosting’ is such a strong phenomenon that it actually has a name and the art of conversation is reduced to WhatsApp messages that can easily be misconstrued and can cause you to stare at your phone wondering why they haven’t replied for 20 mins, when they were texting back faster than you can left-swipe a man in a hat for most of the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I have met some brilliant people on dating apps, my ex being one of them – but the fact that none of them have actually worked out in the long run makes me re-consider whether this millennial approach to relationships is all it’s cracked up to be. I want to meet someone organically – someone that catches my eye, or me his and we simply have to speak to one another before we disappear forever – you know, like our parents and grandparents had to do it. Those relationships last – because the very foundation on which they were built was REAL, and required effort, commitment and perseverance. When did this stop being a thing? And how can we bring it back?

My attitude toward love and dating took a massive shift when I went to LA. I went for a week, on my own, and the second the plane touched the tarmac and I caught sight of the giant LAX sign – I knew this was the place I would one day call home.

One week I was there, and in that time I was asked out 3 times and went on a date that was one of the best I’ve ever been on. Their approach, attitude and outlook is SO spot on that it physically hurts me to think that people elsewhere are so different. Los Angeles is the city of dreamers, of go-getters and opportunists. It’s the city where people know what they want and they go after it, with everyone around them cheering them on. I had a busker break into ‘All The Small Things’ because I passed him wearing a Blink 182 top. I had a man say hello in Starbucks, then pay for my cup of tea on the sly without me even knowing or waiting for me to acknowledge his kind gesture. I had a guy stop me in the middle of the street to say “sorry to bother you, I just wanted to tell you I think you’re beautiful. Have a great day.” I had a guy chase me down the road to ask for my phone number because he’d seen me in the audience of ‘Mike and Molly’ and had been waiting for almost 3 hours to speak to me…

The date I went on? How’s this for a story… I was taking myself off on a hike up to the Griffith Observatory, and I got SPECTACULARLY lost in one of the more affluent areas of the Hollywood Hills – somewhere near Bruno Mars’ house by all accounts. A car drove past and pulled into a driveway just as I was running out of pavement. As he got out, I asked him where the observatory was, as I was clearly lost. He was GORGEOUS. He told me to go back the way I came, turn left through Los Feliz and take a left at the entrance to the park. I said my ‘Thank You’s, did an about turn and headed down the hill. A few minutes later, a car pulled up next to me (different from the one before) and the same guy wound the window down, and said “listen I’m going that way, I don’t want you getting lost again so can I drop you off on the way?”

This is clearly every parent’s worst nightmare, as it’s drummed into us from a very early age not to get into a car with a stranger. But I knew in my gut that this guy was genuine, and so I gladly accepted. He told me his name was PJ, he’d lived in LA for 4 years (he was Australian) and asked me about myself and my trip so far. When we got to the entrance to Griffith Park, he pulled up and said – without the slightest hint of cheese or smarm – “Take my number in case you want picking up later – or if you fancy doing something before you go home because I’d love to take you out”.

Can you imagine that happening in Birmingham?  Or England? Or anywhere else in the world you have been? More to the point – where else in the world would you get into the car, take the number and say yes to a date? PJ was awesome. It was never going to go anywhere as we went out the day before I flew home. I got back from cocktails at Chateau Marmont 45 minutes before my middle of the night taxi was due to pick me up to take me to the airport, and I literally floated on air all the way home.

This is how it should be.

I’ve tried every dating site and app known to man. PoF, Tinder, Bumble, Match (I got a refund – twice), Zoosk – even ‘Rock Music Lovers’ (the people on there are exactly as you would imagine them to be. I got another refund) and I have met a whole plethora of different guys. Like the one who:

  • Cut our date short so he could get home in time to have his protein shake
  • Had a foreign Facebook name, 3 phones and largely undeliverable WhatsApp messages (then told me I had trust issues, mate – you think?)
  • Said he didn’t want to go and see Linkin Park because “what’s the point? I have their CD.”
  • Popped up on Facebook a week after our date with a profile picture that clearly displayed him lovingly holding hands with another man
  • Was STUNNING – but was a raving coke-head
  • Wanted to make me his phone screensaver after one night (it wasn’t even a date – just met him. Wow!)
  • Bragged “I earned over a grand this week, this glass of rose is on me” (gee thanks bab)
  • Refused to accept it when I ended things because (and I quote verbatim) – “You feel like we should break up, so to you we have, but I feel like we shouldn’t, so we’re not.” WHAT?! How do you argue with that logic?
  • Had “never been out with a black woman and wanted to add it to his list…” First of all, I’m clearly not black, second of all, WTF?!
  • BLATANTLY ignored me when I bit the bullet and said hello via a Facebook message after weeks of liking each other’s stuff. Now he’s commenting and liking my Instagram posts as, of course he’s been deleted.
  • Lives in Los Angeles
  • Was hilarious, told me he loved me after a month then just stopped texting.

And of course, the one who broke my heart into a billion pieces, and made me the woman I am today.

I look back at every single one of these and yet still I have a smile on my face. Why? Because I’m really fucking happy. I am 32 years old, and for the first time in my life I’m not panicking that I’m running out of time, I’m not latching onto every conversation envisaging a future together, I’m not looking for it and I sure as hell am not settling.

I know – blah blah blah the same old shit every thirty-something women churns out to prove that they’re strong, independent bitches who ‘don’t need no man’. Here’s the difference – I mean it when I say I’m happy as I am. I have my shit together, I own my own home, I have two beautiful little kittens (cliché – and what?) I have a job I love, time to see and spend with my friends and loved ones and so many plans on my iPhone calendar that it makes me a little dizzy! Do I want to find love? Of course I do, who doesn’t? I’d love to meet that person that makes my heart skip a beat every time his name appears on my phone, who I can be truly myself with and who makes it all seem so fun and easy – like it should be, and he will come. However he won’t ‘complete me’, or be my ‘other half’, he will be a wonderful bonus to a life that I’m already head over heels in love with.

So apparently I’m a record breaker…

Yup, that’s right. A record breaker.

I’ve broken many things in my 32 years, a foot, more iPhone screens than I care to admit, balls, a few hearts, most recently my favourite mug… but today I surpassed myself and broke an actual record:

I went on a date that lasted approximately 43 minutes. 

Call Guinness – get this printed in the next edition now. Where’s my award?

I was out of the flat for 2 and a half hours including travel time. You know it’s not a good sign when you stick the tumble dryer on on your way out the door and are back before the end of the spin cycle! Let me lead you guys into this gently, because if I don’t find some humour in the situation then I fear my current quota of ‘just the 2 cats’ will increase somewhat exponentially.

I, like most single thirty-something women am on a dating app. Just the one mind – my iPhone battery can’t deal with the 3 rows of social media apps on my homescreen as it is. I am on Bumble. You know that app where women have to message first? Yeah it’s not really any better but I point blank refuse to join the soul destroying diatribe that is Tinder again. Ugh.

Anyway, after matching with an attractive looking Mediterranean type,  I bit the bullet and said hello, and after a week of the usual WhatsApp chit-chat that us modern day singletons have become accustomed to, I met up with… er…let’s call him ‘Brandon’ (his name was not Brandon) in town. He was late (strike one), and yes he’d travelled a fair way to meet up for what was precisely 2 cups of Americano, but he had set out before I’d even jumped in the shower to get ready for said date . When he (eventually) arrived, he was shorter than the angles of his photographs had portrayed him to be (strike two). Now I know this is exceptionally ‘heightist’ (if it’s not already a word, it is now), but this dude was the same size as me. I’m five foot four.

FIVE FOOT FOUR.

You blokes should have to declare this shit I swear. His carefully selected photographs had me thinking he was at least a 6 footer… oh no my friends. No. He climbed up onto the bar stool (aided only by the same small hop that I myself had adopted), and asked me if I was nervous. What is this – my first day? No I’m not nervous – the look you see on my face is that of ‘instant NOPE’ not nerves. Fucks sake.

OK, so it wasn’t instant. I decided that this was going nowhere fast after about 3 minutes – which, for me, was actually giving the guy a chance. I kid you not,  I had said ‘hmmm’ and ‘oh yeah?’ about 37 times before he let me get a word in edgeways and asked me an actual question (strike three, aaaaaaaand you’re out). Granted the question was technically his second, but it was also this: “Do you want my biscuit, I’m not eating any biscuits or sugar or any shit like that?” This was after I’d virtually inhaled my own foil wrapped stick of concentrated sugary goodness… and I’d only done that to give myself something to do with my mouth! This was closely followed by asking my age (it’s right there on my profile) and then saying “Oh, most women your age are worried about running out of time to start a family.” I mentally face palmed. I mentally face palmed HARD.

After coffee number two (I put the biscuit self-consciously to one side this time), I was already day-dreaming about what I was going to have for dinner, when I could get a nail appointment in, fuck – even if I’d remembered to switch my hair straighteners off! Whatever was occupying my attention span – it definitely wasn’t whatever was coming out of his mouth. When it was finally my turn to talk, I couldn’t even be bothered to go into detail. The only time I was marginally animated was when talking about Los Angeles, and how I hope to live there one day. He said “are you planning to go there any time soon?” Mate I’ll hop on the next flight if it gets me the fuck out of here!!! You know when Chandler told Janice he was moving to Yemen? I totally get it.

I started making my excuses… like how I was really busy in the upcoming weeks and “how it was only going to get worse”, how I was going to be ‘useless’ for the next two weeks as I’m “doing a Clean 9” (watch this space for updates on that), and how I had “loads of stuff to do this afternoon”. He said “what time do you need to get off? It’s half two now…” I pretended to consider this for the briefest of moments before I begrudgingly said “about 3 probably…”

“What, in half an hour?” he asked – a look of complete bemusement and shock across his tiny face. “Yes, we still have a little time tho…” (1800 torturous seconds to be exact).

“I’m not your type am I?” He asked.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CLUE?

Sadly, the diplomat in me attempted to make this situation slightly less excruciating than it was rapidly becoming…

“Not really, but I’m glad I met you “(so I know to vet upcoming dates more carefully in future), and “thanks for coming all the way here to see me” (thank fuck I didn’t come to you!)

After mutually deciding that it was best we probably just leave (escape) there and then, he came out with the line that I shall remember him for: “But we’ve been speaking for a week and I only met you an hour ago, this is some kind of a record…”

At this point I was reaching the limit of my politeness. “I tend to make up my mind fairly quickly, and there’s no point in going on another 2 dates and leading you on now is there?”

He said he was OK… but he forgot to tell his face – which had the same look on it as Leonardo DiCaprio when the winner of ‘Best Actor’ was read out at every single Oscars ceremony pre-2016.

I have never been more glad to leave an establishment in my entire life. I’m sure he is a nice enough bloke, but he most certainly wasn’t the one for me!