Is there any sex in the city?

I live in London. The capital. The big smoke! The place which is home to 8 million people.

8 MILLION. So why is it that us single lot find it so hard to run into each other?

ARE THERE LOTS OF SINGLE PEOPLE IN

Whilst the revelation of a covert game of hide and seek would ease the bruise currently residing on my ego, I think this theory might just be flawed. I know, shame. But the point remains, why do so many of us want to date, mingle and have fun times, but we can’t find others to play with?

Are we a city without the sex or are we looking in the wrong place?

Here we are, a bunch of professional twenty-somethings with our shit together and we’re left on our tod, scratching our heads as to why every bar seems to be split into two camps: the taken ones and the douche bags. We have the same conversation time and time again, “Where are all the people like us?“.

And then it clicked.

The good guys are having fun with their friends after a long week at work.

The good women are having fun with their friends after a long week at work.

IT’S LITERALLY THAT SIMPLE.

As we get older and life’s stresses magnify, we’ve shifted our priorities. We just can’t be arsed spending our Saturday night kissing a stranger who tastes like Jäger and poor choices, whilst some drunk guy pours a pint down your back. Those days have been and gone. We don’t have time to scout the room for someone to take home because we’re too busy laughing about in-jokes, bad chat up lines and how much a G&T costs in Chelsea (£11 if you’re wondering. 11 ENGLISH POUNDS). And our counterparts feel exactly the same. We’re over it! Drunken fumbles just aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If the only kiss I get is the one a drunk girlfriend slobbers on my cheek whilst we’re in a stupidly expensive Uber home, then that’s fine. I’m more than happy with it.

So what’s the new plan to meet people? Erm, well, there isn’t one. No more strategies or theories, I’m just going to do what I do and let everything run its course.

Now who fancies a G&T to share between 4? Times are hard, you know…

 

 

 

There’s nothing quite like time.

It’s a standard break-up line, “Just give it time, time heals everything”. But when you’re in the midst of heartbreak hell and have been lying on the floor for 2 days straight in chocolate-stained pyjamas, the idea offers little solace.

But it’s right though, isn’t it. Time makes everything fuzzy, softer ’round edges and offers clarity. Looking back, you can see where you went wrong and make sense of something that, at one time, felt overwhelming. Time is the one thing that will make you feel better, but you’ve got to wait for it to pass. Obviously. Unless you’re Doctor Who or that scientist guy from Back to the Future.

Last year I was in a bad place with a guy. Long story short, I thought he was the best person in the world. He thought I was kind of alright. Despite telling me several times that he didn’t want to be with me, I couldn’t let it lie and forced us into a damaging non-relationship for 18 months. I lost my mind, my confidence and any perspective, and ending up moving cities to get myself out of it.

But it turned out to be best thing I ever did.

We met at an event and straight away, I felt a strong pull towards him. But I was in a long term relationship and I’d heard several rumours of his playboy antics. I pushed it aside, but he remained in the back of my mind. Naive and (back then) a hopeless romantic, I mistook physical attraction for a real connection. My innocence told me that we’d met for a reason and that I shouldn’t ignore it. When my 6 year relationship broke down a year later, we were finally free to go on a date and that strong pull was still sparking in my chest. But as the ultimate commitment-phobe, he soon made it very clear that this was not going to be anything serious. Ignoring the voice in my head which was persistently screaming “YOU CANNOT BE CASUAL WITH SOMEONE YOU REALLY REALLY LIKE”, I made out that I was totally cool with it. Call it stupidity, but I thought it would be ok. Call it vanity, but I thought he’d change his mind.

It soon transpired that I was very much not ok with it, yet I’d go back to him time and time again. I squashed the feelings of inadequacy and ignored the emptiness I was left with. This is fun, Lauren! You’re sleeping with your perfect guy AND you get to enjoy being single. Wow, you have it all! Only the reality isn’t quite like that. As time went on, he made a few half-arsed attempts to protect me, “You told me you need to break this cycle, let’s not do this”, but at the end of the day, he enjoyed the attention and couldn’t resist the ego boost of having me hanging off his every word.

I didn’t want anyone else. I saw him every day at work, thought about him every evening and refused to see that he didn’t care. He was busy getting drunk with his mates and dating several girls, and I was broken by one too many cold shoulders after the night before. It’s hard to admit how crazy I was about him. It’s tempting to pin all the blame on him and question how could he mess with someone who was hopelessly falling for him, but it was my fault. I was unjustifiably obsessed with him. For 18 months, I tortured myself with the idea that maybe he would change his mind and want to be with me, but it never happened. I mean, he point blank told me it wouldn’t happen, so for the love of God, I have no idea what I was doing.

But then something snapped and I decided enough was enough. I told myself I was worth more, packed up my life and moved 200 miles away. It was like a cancer – I had to cut out the root and get the fuck away from all traces of it.

Throughout those 18 months, I hated him as much as I liked him. I hated how he’d pick me up and drop me. I hated how I’d fall for his games and that he knew I needed him. I called him a dick to whoever would listen and preached about what a bad man he was. But in reality, I was the problem. I devalued myself and was relying on him to make me feel complete. Sure, he was no angel, but for all the questionable things he did, he never led me on. I just wish he hadn’t cashed in on my affections a few times a month when he had no other options, but we all make mistakes.

No matter how hard those 18 months were, I learned a hell of a lot of lessons. And now, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

I’ve forgiven myself for being so batshit crazy. I’ve realised that using sex to make someone like you is the worst thing you can ever do to yourself. I learned that not everyone will like you back and sometimes, no matter how much you believe that something is meant to be, if it isn’t, it won’t happen.

I see him every now and then and still think about him. I continue to compare every man I meet to him (I’m yet to meet anyone who I feel as attracted to), but again, this is softening. Time and distance has made me see that he was never right for me.

And when it’s not right, it’s not right.

You put it down to experience, take the lessons, toughen up and move on. But keep the ugly pj’s on standby, you never know when you might need them again.

 

 

 

 

 

Career vs Love.

Honeycomb

I seem to keep having the same conversation regarding my single status.

It goes along the lines of:

“So, do you have a boyfriend?”

“Nope! I’m single”

“Oh ok. Is that by choice?

“What do you mean?”

“As in, have you made the decision to stay single?”

“Err, I guess so. It’s not a conscious thing, it’s just worked out that way”

“Cool. Are you looking though?”

“Am I looking for a boyfriend? I’m kinda focussed on work at the moment so that takes up all my time”

“So you’ve sort of put your career first? That’s really cool of you”

“Not intentionally, but -“

“Ahh, well good for you! I’m sure you’ll meet someone soon!”

Honestly, it’s exhausting.

Alongside the constant desire for a specific reason for being single such as “I’m concentrating on myself right now“, “I just need a little time alone“, “I buried my last boyfriend under the patio and need to lie low for a while“, there seems to be a common feeling that you can’t possibly be in a successful relationship AND be career driven. It’s like once you’ve found someone you quite like being with, you just throw your hands up and say, “Well that’s the career on the back burner! Now I’m in love, I can’t possibly have both. Darling, pass me that cookbook. I’m now a domestic goddess who’s only aim is to be in this relationship and make babies“.

Or something like that.

It doesn’t particularly annoy me, it’s just small talk, but this implies that those who are in relationships are less ambitious than us single gals who are fighting the good fight. The most successful and business-minded women I know are married or in committed relationships. They’re bossing both areas and still finding time to get drunk on gin and indulge my need to find pizza at 3am.

It’s true to say that work is my main focus. It kind of needs to be if I want to pay the rent each month. Being self employed is a stressful occupation and all my energy goes into making my business a success so I can sleep easy at night. But I’m a still normal 20-something year old who is a champion at procrastinating and spends far too much time thinking about boys. Love though, it’s just not a priority right now.

I’m also cautious when it comes to relationships. A few disasters have taught me to assess situations and tread carefully. I know, it’s not very rom com of me, but it works and I’m sticking to it. For example, there’s a guy in my life who is pretty important to me. He’s funny, driven, attractive and a complete science nerd. I know, he couldn’t have it all. We laugh our way through 2 hour phone conversations, both aware that we’ve got one of those rare connections. I’d go as far to say that he’s basically perfect for me.

But the timing is wrong.

We’re both carving out our careers and there’s rarely a time where we can be in the same place at the same time. He also has a really shit Nokia which he constantly leaves in random places, so I’m pretty sure he would do my head in. We know that if we get together now, it will be something that lasts a long time and we just can’t commit to that right now. Sure, we could give it a go and see what happens, but I’m pretty sure we’ll ruin something that if given a little time, could be great in the future. It’s a choice we’ve made and it makes perfect sense to us.

So yes, I guess career does come into it. But so does my desire to meet new people and eventually date Zac Efron for a couple of years (he’s my guilty pleasure, don’t judge me). There’s so much I want to do and being in a relationship isn’t one of them right now. I just really like being single and sometimes, it’s as simple as that.

No big reason, no damaged heart to repair, no boyfriends under the patio – just what fits right now.

The S Word.

s

The main thing that’s been playing on my mind since deciding to write about relationships is having to eventually talk about the ‘S’ word.

Which is of course, shoes.

No, kidding. It’s obviously se — NOPE, I can’t do it.

I don’t know why, but I’ve suddenly gone all prudish on the matter. I guess when you’re talking about it on a public platform (especially one which has your name emblazoned on it), it suddenly ups the ante. It’s a perfectly natural part of being an adult and kind of important if we want to continue with the whole human race thing, but for some reason it still feels like if you’re female and you talk openly about it, then you’re a bit of a floozy.

And no one wants to be called a floozy.

The thing about growing up and finding your own voice is that you have to break down that illusion that you’re as good as gold to your parents. I’m 26, I’ve had a long term boyfriend, I’m now single — they know it happens, but I don’t fancy discussing it with them. As far as we’re concerned, I was delivered by a stork and that’s the end of it.

Not long ago, my Mum and I got chatting about the process of dating now compared to her heyday. In a time when most people probably think courting is a kind of ass-shaking dance, I explained how some of us youngsters choose to sleep together before becoming an item and how it’s an acceptable way to begin the dating process. I obviously said ‘some people‘ so A. she doesn’t think I’m talking about me and B. she doesn’t lose all faith in society and think we’re all shagging maniacs; but realistically, it’s probably most of us. How many of your friends waited until they were a solid, let’s put it on Facebook, couple before they sealed the deal? I’d argue that it’s a rarity these days. Looking like I’d just told her I slaughter puppies for a living, Mama Canning just couldn’t get her head around why you’d get physical first and then assess your compatibility for the future, “But if you decide you don’t like them, you’ll end up having lots of partners in your life!” – essentially, yes. Sorry Mum.

My goal right now is not to find The One, it’s to earn enough money to not have to eat Super Noodles every night, work my arse off to continue being self employed, and occasionally meet a nice young man to get that new crush rush. As a result, I don’t really get to the couple stage. That, paired with the fact that I’m not looking for commitment, means that I date a fair bit. That’s not to say that I sleep with every guy I go for a drink with, far from it, but nothing gets past the casual stage with me and I’m not about to take a vow of celibacy because I’m not ready to settle down. Although, I could go and buy myself a really nice purity ring if I did. Amazing! And it wouldn’t be irresponsible if it was all in the name of being wholesome. I’ll look into it.

Doing it (yep, still can’t say the word) when you’re in a couple compared to someone you’ve only known a little while is obviously a whole lot nicer. And less awkward. Definitely less awkward. But the thing about non-relationship special time is that it’s quite often hilarious. The girls and I have cringed, laughed and spat out our wine more times than I care to remember, and some of these experiences are too good not to write about. After all, it’s what I want to do for a living.

So, sorry Mum. I’m breaking down this taboo topic once for all. There’s going to be nothing nitty gritty or too personal, but I’m not going to be afraid to give a little real talk on the thing that everyone does.

Just as soon as I can bring myself to type the word.

I bet Carrie never worried what her parents would say about her articles…

Just call me Tinderella…

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Photo credit: Thom Weerd

Yep, it happened.

I was swiping away so intensely that I actually strained the muscles in my eyes to the point that the nerve endings decided, “Nope, no more. Here’s some searing pain to put us both out of this dating hell”.

In my defence, the pain was mainly in my left eye due to the multiple guys I ‘noped’ flying off to the left of the screen, but still, I can see that this situation is wholly embarrassing.

It was only a couple of months ago that I deleted the app for good after deciding that 98% of the men on there were half-naked and whole-idiots, but that was before I moved to London and had a whole new pond to fish. Have you seen the men on Tinder here? They’re like friggin’ gods who all work for some indie record label and learn Italian in their spare time. One guy volunteered with young hipsters at the weekends, teaching them how to craft perfect man buns and beards of their own. I mean, you just can’t argue with that kind of heart.

Of course, there’s still the odd selfie-loving lad who offers gems such as:

“Your beautiful babe. Wanna hook up?”
“*You’re”
“So that’s no then?”
*unmatch*

What can I say, basic grammar is a deal-breaker.

But like anything in life, moderation is key. One can’t just sit on Tinder all night talking to strangers about the best independent coffee house in London or waiting for that super-hot guy with tattoos to like you back. That’s how you give yourself blue light induced migraines.

So as I was lying there in a darkened room with a wet flannel slapped across my face and a stash of Ibuprofen to ease the pain, I had one of those life defining moments of clarity. Do I really want to be the girl who spends an evening watching rom coms whilst swiping on a dating app and shoving multiple cubes of Dairy Milk into her mouth? The answer is no, Lauren. You do not want to be that girl.

So that’s it, no more Tinder for me. It’s for the best.