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.

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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.

 

Welcome to The Ensemble.

Sometimes change is good.

It’s also kinda inevitable as you get older and wiser. For example, I now know that drop crotch trousers are rarely flattering and I’m too old to do shots without needing to take 3 days off work. See, I’m learning lots of new stuff.

With a hectic work schedule and an even busier social life, The Style Tag slowly became dormant. With most of my time spent with friends or locked away writing articles, my outfits went by each day without being documented. Some of them were really frickin’ good too.

As I’ve crafted a new path this past few years, I found that I’ve got something different to give in my little space of the internet. I write a lot of dating articles which are published on Medium and Thought Catalog and it’s something I love doing. With my musings littered over multiple websites, I thought, what the hell, I might as well put them on a blog where my family can easily access them and then feel horrendously awkward about what they’ve just read.

These short articles (mostly about dating and relationships), are designed to be read when you’re procrastinating at work or you’ve gone through every new post on Buzzfeed and you’re still bored. They won’t always be pretty (a lot of cringeworthy stuff happens to me), but hopefully they’ll always provide a bit of entertainment.

So here it is, The Ensemble.

A place to share a mix of dating articles, outfits, lifestyle bits and bobs, and general observations. I hope you like it.

Leeds Lurking

Living with a photographer means that there’s always something fun going on. Whether it’s our flat being full of clothes for a shoot, exciting photos to look through or our tradition of a stupid lift selfie whenever we leave the flat, there’s never a dull moment.

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See? Fun times.

Every now and then, Tom disappears into the night to take shots of nice things around Leeds with some photographer pals. I usually take advantage of this alone time by watching crap TV and eating a pint of ice cream without being mocked, but last week I decided to give TOWIE a break and join them for the night.

They call it Leeds Lurking – heading out to their favourite spots at dusk and taking cool photos across the city. This particular night they decided to revisit a derelict building to explore the abandoned floors and head up to the roof. Now I was aware that this was a bit of a covert operation, but it didn’t quite cross my mind when I dressed for our adventure. The boys were suitably decked out in black clothing, but I decided light blue jeans and an oversized purple tee was the best attire for optimum stealthiness. You know, nice and subtle.

Excited for our adventure, we were wandering over to the abandoned office tower when Tom casually said, “You can climb and you’re light on your feet, right?”. Hmm, not exactly. I haven’t successfully climbed a tree in my life and the last time I ran it was to catch last orders at the pub, but not wanting to seem like a liability in front of our fellow Lurker, Wiz, I confidently brushed off his comment and confirmed my excellent physical abilities. I was half tempted to throw in a lunge to really prove my athleticism, but I was already struggling to keep up with their fast paced walking and my skinny jeans meant that any overzealous movements would most probably end in a seam-splitting disaster.

As we approached the huge building, Tom informed me that we had to climb the metal gate quickly to avoid detection. Easy, no problem, totally fine. They advised me how to negotiate the spikes at the top and to limit the attention from passing cars – yeah yeah, how hard can it be?

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to climb a gate under pressure before, but it’s REALLY friggin’ hard. I ended up getting stuck at the top, panicked, shrieked a bit and then awkwardly fell/jumped onto Tom with them shouting at me to hurry up and people staring over to see what we were up to. For someone so small, I’m apparently not very nimble!

After entering the grounds, doing a commando style shimmy under scaffolding gates (I was far better at this bit) and negotiating the nailed-shut doors, we were finally in.

And it was epic.

The sprawling floors were eerily quiet, only the obscene graffiti tags highlighting previous visitors’ activity. Feeling slightly spooked and with enough photos clocked up for the boys, we headed up to the roof to take in the city at dusk.

Believe me, Leeds has never looked so good. The 360° view allowed for us to see our city in all it’s glory. It was so calm high above the bustling ring road and busy streets, I could’ve stayed there all night watching everyone come and go with no idea that we were spectating.  

After playing around for an hour – the boys taking photos and me climbing rickety structures whilst Tom shouted at me to get off before I killed myself – we decided it was time to call it a night and head back home.

If this is what lurking is all about, sign me up.

 

You can check out their Instagram here: Leeds Lurking

And see Tom and Wiz’s blogs here and here.