Relationships and dating

Anything that isn’t specifically to do with online dating but is more to do with general dating and relationship issues. Of course, these cross over to online dating, but the topics covered here are generally much broader.


Guest Post: Top 5 Destinations for a Romantic Weekend in the UK

Ben Holbrook from www.driftwoodjournals.com takes us on a journey to the country’s best romantic getaways.

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It’s difficult to really get to know someone whilst in your comfort zone, especially if you both live in the same city. And there’s only so much time you have available for your new flame during your normal working week. What you really need is a weekend of fun and intimate quality time, and what better way to do it than to escape to somewhere new, somewhere exciting, neutral. A place where you don’t have to worry about bumping into people you know, a place where you can focus on nothing but each other. That’s right, you need a romantic weekend! Here are a few excellent suggestions.

1. Camping in Cornwall – Sun, Sea and Surf

What could be more romantic and fun than a camping trip in the UK’s southern surf capital. The water is clean and the waves are big. You can rent a surfboard or two and take part in a surf lesson at Fistral beach, before taking a stroll along the golden sands, stopping only for a drink and a bite to eat at one of the famous pubs and cafes. And then, as the sunsets and the temperature drops, you can head back to your cosy little tent, aka “the love nest” and keep each other warm.

2. Hiking in the Scottish Highlands – Cold Kisses and Warm Whisky

There’s something incredibly romantic about Scotland’s blistering winds and misty moors. The burnt orange ferns setting the hills alight, contrasting against the mossy greens and starry skies. Stay in an ancient castle hotel, or rent a ramshackle little cottage and see in the days with hot toddies and log fires. Scotland is a seductive surprise not to be missed.

3. Music Madness in Manchester – Slow Dance Magic

here is no better city on earth to visit if you’re a music fanatic. With a wealth of musical heritage, live venues and clubs, Manchester is the place to go for loud music and quiet kisses. Don’t worry, it’s not all about rock and roll in Manchester, there’s definitely something for all musical tastes.

4. Candyfloss and Fun Fairs in Brighton – Bright Lights and Flying Kites

On a warm summer’s evening, with the neon horizon and soft ocean breeze, Brighton feels more like the Mediterranean Coast than the English Channel. Flocks of loved-up tourists walk the promenades, enjoying vintage sweets and nostalgic fairground games. Hailed as one of the UK’s hippest and most vibrant alternative cities, Brighton is a must for any creative couple looking to indulge in some quality one-on-one time. Pack your skateboard and do as this quirky couple did, if you dare.


Video credit: #Sk8seeing – Brighton on a Skateboard by HotelClub Brighton

5. Good Food & Great Fun in London – Sky High Smiles

There’s always something new to do in London, even if both you and your love interest are London residents. As the saying goes, If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life. Drop in to one of the famous theatre productions, dine at a restaurant with epic views over the River Thames, or take it easy with the hipsters at an edgy Shoreditch coffee shop. Your options are unlimited, and it won’t take long to work out whether your new relationship is the real deal.

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Add comment December 11th, 2013

Guest post: How To Get Your Ex Boyfriend Back And Keep Him Forever

Regular guest poster K Thompson is back for another great post on the site, dedicated to those of you looking to get back with your ex.

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I know that it sucks your relationship ended, but the fact that your ex-boyfriend left you means that there was something majorly wrong with the relationship you had with him. And even if you do get your ex back, chances are your relationship will end again unless you do something that will make this relationship much better than the last one.
There are a few things you can do to make sure that when you get your ex boyfriend back, you keep them forever.

1. Analyze Your Relationship

What was the reason your ex left? Most of the times, the reason they give while breaking up is not the real reason. Something like “It’s not you, it’s me.” Or “I just don’t love you anymore”. In most cases, the reason they left is because they have lost attraction towards you. Men, usually are not in touch with their feelings and they can’t understand what’s wrong. But when they feel that something’s wrong, they are quick to bail.
In most of the cases, neediness plays an important role in breakups. Men can sense neediness form a mile away and it usually turns them off. Many relationships start with the girl being confident and attractive but ending up being needy over time. When men lose the thrill of chasing and realize they already have you, they start analyzing whether or not you are a good match for being a long term partner. And if you show too much neediness or low self-esteem, they start thinking about leaving.

2. Work on Yourself

Working on yourself, including your confidence, your self-esteem and your self-actualization is going to serve a double purpose. It’s going to help you get your ex back and it’s going to help you keep your ex forever. Here’s why.

- When you work on yourself, you are going to look more confident, independent and attractive. These are the qualities that your ex can’t resist. And when you meet him, he is going to fall head over heels over you. He will be second guessing his decision of leaving you and will start thinking about getting back together. If you play your cards right, there is nothing stopping you two from getting back together.

- When you do get back together, you are going to keep the attraction going because you have worked on your self-esteem before. If you don’t fall back to your old ways and continue working yourself, your ex will do anything to keep you with him forever.

3. Put Yourself before Him

Your boyfriend should not be your priority no. 1 in life. It’s good to have a relationship and he should be important for you, but if you put yourself before him, he is going to walk all over you and then he will leave you, again.

If you make your happiness the no. 1 priority in your life, then you are going to find happiness. However, the problem is that most women think of their ex-boyfriend as the only source for their happiness. If your boyfriend really cared about your happiness, then why are you so miserable without him? If you really made your happiness your no. 1 priority, then you wouldn’t let your source of happiness be someone who left you. You would learn to be happy without your ex boyfriend.

When you learn to be happy without your ex boyfriend, you instantly become more attractive to your ex. And when you do win your ex back, you are no longer needy (because you know you don’t need him for your happiness) and as a consequence a thousand times more attractive.

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K Thompson helps people with breakups. He has been writing online and helping broken hearts for the past two years.

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Add comment November 5th, 2013

Facebook can tell your relationship future

Check out this interesting piece of research just published, dealing with Facebook connections and what they say about your relationships and whether they’re likely or not to succeed. The way your significant other influences your social connections is the key, apparently, or rather, a lack of such influence may well show that your relationship is doomed to failure.

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Add comment October 30th, 2013

Guest post: Why Online Dating Is Your Friend After a Breakup

If you just broke up and are thinking of getting back in the dating game, then online dating might just be the thing for you. There is always a little hesitation after a breakup to meet someone new after coming out a big relationship. With online dating you don’t really have to hesitate because unless you are completely ready, you are not forced to meet anyone. You can just flirt around and have fun before even going on an actual date.

One of the most common pitfall after a breakup is losing hope in yourself and in relationships. You feel like you will never find “the one” and you are doomed to be single for the rest of your life. But just creating a profile on an online dating site will give you a lot of perspective. Its one thing to tell yourself there’s plenty of fish in the sea and another to actually experience it. When you are on a website with millions of other singles searching for a partner, it’s hard to feel like you will never find someone for you. Just surfing an online dating website will help you realize the odds are in your favor.

Of course, you should have the proper mindset before you actually start dating someone. One bad date can make you start craving for your ex and start thinking about getting back with them. The truth is, you are bound to go on a few bad dates. And that’s completely OK. You should not look at dating as something you should do to finally be in a relationship again. Sure, that’s why you are doing it. But if you think of it as an experience, you will have a lot more fun going through the good, bad and ugly of dating.

Another reason why online dating after a breakup can be beneficial is because you are probably a little rusty with your pick up skills after being in a relationship for a long time. With online dating, you increase your chances of meeting people interested in dating and getting someone to actually go out on a date with you. It’s much easier to learn how to make an attractive dating profile than to learn how to approach people at a bar.

Online dating can help you jump head first into the dating game again. You just need to have the right mindset and remember that you should not go into a relationship unless you are completely over your breakup and are ready for one.

Kevin Thompson has helped thousands of people with breakups. He writes about breakups and getting your ex back at unbreakup.org.

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Add comment July 11th, 2013

How mature singles are finding love in the UK

If you’re above the age of 60, dating can seem a daunting affair. You might have been out of the dating world for some time, whether you are widowed or alone due to divorce. Dating when you’re older may feel scary, but finding love is just the same at any age. These days, there are plenty of ways to meet your match. Here are some ways you can find your way back onto the dating scene.

Take up a hobby

Join a club or class which focuses on an activity you enjoy. Classes are a really good way to meet people who share your interests. This will put you in great standing for a good relationship. Whether you enjoy sports, reading or the theatre, you’ll be able to find a class which will suit you.

Be spontaneous

If you’ve just come out of a long relationship or a marriage, you may be feeling like you’re in a rut. Long-term couples can become too accustomed to each other to the point where they lose sight of what they want. If you try something you’ve never considered before, you could give yourself a new lease of life.

Use an online dating site

In recent years, dating websites such as eHarmony have shot up in popularity, and new profile matching features make it easier than ever to find a mate.

It is no longer unusual for older people to find new love online – for more information about how to get started, visit this page.

Try a matchmaker

Another way to meet a potential match is to visit a local matchmaking service. Matchmaking services have been around for a long time and provide a personalised way to meet your perfect mate. Potential matches are hand-picked by staff and dates set up according to your personal preferences.

Take a trip

Holidays for singles are offered by many cruise lines with group activities and flexible trip plans for any individual. Groups can be organised by age, giving you the best chance to meet singles in a similar position to yourself. The best part is that you may get to visit a place you’ve never been to before while searching for love.

Be patient

The world of dating may have changed somewhat since you’ve been married or in a long-term relationship. There are many different ways to meet people, particularly with online dating services. Ask advice from those around you and pay attention to your wants and needs. Though times have changed, you’re still just as likely to find happiness.

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Add comment November 19th, 2012

The fidelity hormone found? Some thoughts about the future of relationships

The big news this week is that oxytocin, the bonding/attachment hormone can make men more faithful to their partners. A while back, some researchers put some of this hormone into a spray and tested it on couples in committed relationships to see how it affected the quality of their communications. They found that couples dosed with the hormone were able to discuss difficult topics to do with their relationship with more ease and mutual trust. It basically took out that whole mutual mistrust and accusatory tone issue that taints most difficult emotional discussions, as the couples were flying high on the love hormone, thus acting from a place of love. I mused then about the possible commercial implications of something like that. Some people might see it as the fast, cost effective alternative to relationship counselling and who doesn’t like a quick fix you can just spray up your nose, right? I see the need for some sort of marketing campaign to convince people to have awkward relationship conversations (with or without the magic spray). After all, a less wholesome “love drug”, MDMA, was supposedly originally touted by dealers under the cuddly name “Empathy”, but it didn’t become a hit with the clubbers till it rebranded as “Ecstasy”. So if someone were to market oxytocin spray based on that particular research, they’d probably get better results by talking about the effects of oxytocin on mutual orgasms, or something. But now, this new research has gone and told everyone that a dose of oxytocin can actually make men in committed relationships stay faithful in the face of sexy women. I doubt there is any interest at the moment at marketing oxytocin spray to the masses, but can you imagine? It would be to bad relationships what Ritalin is to boring tasks. And it wouldn’t surprise me if at some point in the future people just didn’t care. After all, if a man (and probably a woman, too. After all, this research hasn’t been conducted on women yet) is feeling the urge to stay and the prospect of relationship problem-solving or a break up seems daunting or impossible, what could be easier than just spraying something up your nose a few times a day to keep things together? Gone would be the days where people stopped to think about the reasons behind their dissatisfaction, of wondering whether there is a reason why they keep feeling the need to move on. Just like the case of Ritalin, there are undoubtedly people out there who are prone to straying even when they’re in a happy relationship with a person they truly love. But I can very much see a future where a one size fits all solution would mean people stop trusting themselves and thinking about their own motives and needs and just spray themselves into fidelity. Can’t you?

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Add comment November 17th, 2012

Why men (and women) stay in controlling and abusive relationships

I’d only just finished writing a post for the Parship Blog in response to an article about why men “secretly love bossy women”, when this article came up on the Daily Mail site, asking why women stay in relationships with controlling men. I thought it was going to be the perfect balancing answer to the other article, but, being the mail, it’s more about celebrity gossip and personal story telling, without actually getting into the real reasons as to why women are attracted to bossy men. All it tells you is that women who are in such relationships blame themselves for their partner’s behaviour and let them get away with it. Why do these often intelligent, attractive women go for such men? Short of saying “low self esteem and boredom”, the article leaves you in the dark.

Now, this article talks about the extreme cases – stalkers, utter control freaks, people who could even end up being violent. There are obviously controlling relationships that aren’t so extreme. So the question you need to ask is what do the women engaged in such relationships gain from them in order to keep them there? Is it a validation of their home lives as children? A validation of the guy’s passion and interest in them or, as in the men in the relationships I discussed in my Parship article, the freedom to not worry about the hard decisions one generally has to make in life. You can talk about these things for days, but ultimately, if you’re one of these women, then the only reasons you should be looking at are your own. Once you realise you’re in a controlling or abusive relationship (and for that, as much as I hate to say it, articles like this one are actually quite useful, as they lay down the symptoms and name the disease) then you should do your own soul searching, possibly with professional help, to see what it is that attracts you to a man that holds you back so much.

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Add comment October 19th, 2012

What a chore – sharing the housework, divorce and dodgy research

After the flurry of surveys and studies proving that splitting the housework evenly does wonders for your long term relationships and marriage (from making men feeling happier, to making your sex life better and more), now comes a Norwegian study which, if you believe the snazzy headlines from papers like The Telegraph, shows that sharing the housework actually leads to higher divorce rates. Of course, looking at the study itself and taking into account comments by the guy in charge, it’s clear to see that this is not at all the case, but I’m sure pubs everywhere will be full of guys telling each other things like “and then I told her, if you want me to do the dishes, fine, but be warned that it could lead to divorce!”. Laughs all round. So what’s the deal? Well, it seems that sharing the chores is part of being a part of a “modern” couple with “modern” values, i.e. the woman is most likely educated, middle class and financially independent. Marriage is not the end all and be all to such women, plus people with modern values tend to want more out of their relationships and, for better or worse, are more likely to bolt if things are looking hopeless. People with traditional family values tend to also believe marriage is for life. That’s pretty much it. Sharing the housework is a symptom of being in a particular type of couple, a couple more likely to split up if things aren’t going well. So all you guys thinking of an easy way out can put your apron back on. You’re not getting off that easily!

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Add comment September 30th, 2012

Are sex tips ruining sex or is it bad sex that’s ruining sex?

I spend a lot of time actively looking for relationship and dating articles online, but sometimes these things just turn up. I found this article while following a link to an article totally unrelated to dating. It’s a bit long, so I’ll sum it up for you, though it’s worth reading. Basically, it says that the abundance of sex tips in women’s magazines is ruining sex for people, because it makes it sound as if sex needs to be this ultra-complicated pursuit you see people do in porn. In fact, the article goes as far as saying that many of these tips originate in porn and that they are mostly aimed at pleasing men. Ultimately, says the author, people end up feeling that “just a bit of oral followed by the missionary position” is not good enough and feel that they have to turn the sexual act into some sort of hard labour. Well…

I’ll start by saying that it’s been a while since I’ve read any of those things, so my memory might be a bit out on what sort of stuff they suggest. I know myself that when your job involves writing a lot about the same subject, you end up struggling to find ideas. I’m sure a lot of the people who write these sex tips do actually get their ideas from porn, probably because their own sex lives are not that exciting and they need to come up with a bunch of new stuff to please their editor, rather than necessarily please the man or woman reading the article if they end up trying it in bed. I’m also sure they get briefs requiring them to include whatever fad that’s popular at the time. So if some celebrity was caught doing something in a sex tape, you can be sure that’ll be all over the mags faster than you can pull out a tissue. So yeah, some of that stuff can be pretty ridicilous and won’t have been tried by the people who wrote it.

On the other hand, sex within the context of a long term relationship can get pretty boring if all you ever do is the one position.

When your guy has that new boyfriend smell and you’re still getting to know each other sexually, you get excited about every bit of physical contact. If you swap partners often, then the fact that you’re with a different person is exciting enough, even if you stick to your usual positions and moves. But when you’re having sex hundreds of times with the same person over time, things are different. You’re basically going to have lots of different types of sex, according to your mood, your physical state, your circumstances, etc.. So there does need to be room for lazy sex, quick sex and even not very good sex (you can’t expect every single time to be perfect when you’re having lots of sex), but you also can’t go around limiting your sexual vocabulary to the basics without expecting things to eventually go very stale. I feel a bit mean saying it, but an article that jokes about oral sex “usually causing jaw ache rather than cataclysmic mutual orgasms” kinda screams “you’re doing it wrong” at me. I can’t help being reminded of the argument between British and French scientists about whether or not the female G-spot exists. Talk about living the “no sex please, we’re British” stereotype. Also, I think there maybe some flawed logic at work here. While women’s mags are definitely guilty of putting women in an obsessive state of mind about pretty much everything (“15 diet tips that work”, “how to keep your man from leaving you”, “is your vagina too ugly?”, etc.), the fact that they advise women on how to spice up their sex lives by pleasing the man doesn’t mean it’s unrealistic for women to want to stretch the limits of their own sex lives, nor does it mean that women don’t have fantasies that extend beyond the obvious.

So yes, there’s nothing wrong with any sexual position or move on its own, but if you’re a guy and your whole repertoire consists of the missionary position and you’re looking for a long term relationship, you’d better find yourself a woman who’s not really that much into sex, otherwise she’s gonna get real bored real quick. Spending hours setting up the bedroom with all kinds of silly stuff just so you can have a bit of a fondle can certainly be a chore, but so can having exactly the same shag every single time. While the sex tips offered by the freshly post virginal 20 year olds and frustrated demi-spinsters who write for women’s mags may be a bit far fetched and stupid, there’s no shortage of good stuff out there written by people whose sex lives are actually a tad more adventurous for real. The Internet is your friend and there are also books and videos out there that do a better job. So remember, kids consenting adults, experimentation is not a dirty word.

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Add comment August 26th, 2012

Stressed men are easy, say scientists

Sometimes you have to wonder about research people come up with and the logic behind actually funding it. This is one of those times. New research is linking men’s stress levels to their preference in female body types. The smashing, tabloid-like BBC headline tells me men are drawn to heavier women when they’re stressed, but when you read the actual article, you realise stressed men simply preferred a larger range of female body types. Basically, stressed men are easy. Put a man under pressure and he’ll be more open to sleeping with women he might not otherwise be attracted to.

Interesting, if perhaps obvious information. I leave it up to you to decide what to do with this valuable information.

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Add comment August 9th, 2012

Women’s sex lives affected by…cycling?

OK, this made me laugh, mostly because I actually hate low handlebars on bicycles. Apparently, apart from making me feel dangerously unbalanced, bikes with low handlebars can actually affect women’s genitals, making some bits numb enough to actually make for less sexual enjoyment. We’ve heard it all before about serious guy cyclists and their genitals (lower sperm count, I believe?) but now it seems women can suffer as well. It’s all down to angles, saddle pressure and things like that.

The full article is here. It’s enough to make me really glad I never left my trusty old mountain bike!

Makes you wonder how many women have had sexual issues as a result of this and put it down to something completely different (psychological issues, lack of compatibility with partner, depression, stress, etc.). Sometimes problems can be the result of a completely unrelated, seemingly random factor you wouldn’t normally even consider relevant…

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Add comment July 31st, 2012

Our idea of evolutionary psychology is based on what now?

OK, so if, like me, you’ve heard all about how men are programmed to “cheat” by nature and women are the homemakers who are programmed to stay at home with one man and the kids, then you may be interested in this little bit of information, which I’d like to file deeply in the WTF pile. Apparently our understanding (as a species) of the genetic programming supposedly found in nature that inclines men towards cheating and women towards remaining faithful originated in a 1948 study conducted on…wait for it….fruit flies!

Yup, that’s right, the underlying assumption that has coloured countless studies since the day it was published was based on research into an insect. They didn’t even electrocute a monkey or anything before coming out with their far fetched conclusions, which seem to not really take into account that there is a teeny tiny difference between a human and a fly. More importantly, no one ever came back to the original study to try and recreate it to see if it really works as described. Until now, that is, when a new team of researchers have disproved it. As always, as humanity (in part, at least) moves gradually away from oldschool values, science eventually catches up with some proof or other to validate something people with common sense already know to be true.

So there you have it. Apparently women are just as programmed to have multiple partners as men (and fruit flies). Science approves this message, just like it recently acknowledged the fact that bisexuals exist. It’s a good thing we have female (and gay/bisexual) scientists nowadays or we’d forever be stuck in the past.

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Add comment July 8th, 2012

Single woman in your late 30s / early 40s? You most likely can’t have it all.

It’s funny how your opinion about stuff changes as you get older, isn’t it? Here’s another article I saw about a woman in her late 30s trying to find the husband she’s always dreamed of and, so far, failing. This particular woman explains how she found a man who was “perfect on paper” but left him because there was no real passion there and has gone back to the drawing board, looking for a man to tick every possible box.

Now, when I was in my 20s, I’d be completely understanding of this and tell this lady to ignore everything her family and friends are saying and carry on with the search. Nowadays…Well…Now I think women should think carefully about what’s really important to them in life. I look around me and I see a lot of women in their late 30s or early 40s who are so determined to have it all that they can very easily end up with nothing, at least for a while. Now, to be clear, I’m not actually the sort of person who thinks a woman is defined by having children and that starting a family is the right choice for every woman. I’ve seen many woman discover the hard way that the romantic notion of family life is not exactly what they expected and my own personal views about bringing children into this overpopulated, violent world are somewhat less determined by my hormones or my desire to clone my own genetic make up.

Everyone has a vision of the perfect relationship, the perfect family, the perfect happily ever after. It’s never quite like that, whether you have children or not. So for me, it’s a perfectly valid choice to say to yourself that you’d rather not have a family than have it with the wrong person and you’d rather keep searching for the perfect guy than to settle for someone who’s not your perfect soulmate. It’s also perfectly fine to say you don’t want to have children at all, but would like the focus of your relationship to be the feelings you and your partner have for each other.

Also, let’s keep in mind that now that the world (parts of it, anyway) is moving away from puritan religious values, we’re beginning to understand that the Catholic-style version of perfect love is, frankly, not realistic for most people. The majority of people in the west engage in “serial monogamy”, which comes far more naturally to most than the vision of eternal coupling. In fact, most people in the world engage in some form of polygamy (whether it’s cheating, open relationships or “emotional cheating” – the annoying term for what is basically having normal human urges and not acting on them). It makes you wonder whether there is such a thing as a lifelong soulmate at all. The answer to this, I believe, is a positive one. Some people do find a partner they’d like to be with for life. On the other hand, cases of genuine, lifelong “soulmatism” are actually relatively rare. It’s a lot more common for people to stay together because they believe they have to or ought to.

So, unlike what I thought in my 20s, nowadays I look at such articles as the one above and women who write or identify with it and I say – grow up, ladies, it’s crunch time.
Your deadline approaches and, like it or not, as women we do have a deadline beyond which we are no longer fertile. I look around me and I see children whose parents are going to most likely die when said children are still way too young (because if you have a child in your 40s, you’re going to be in your 70s by the time he’s 30), the result of people holding off having kids while they have their career and choose the perfect partner. Not the end of the world, but not ideal either. Still better, in my honest opinion, than deciding to have and raise a child on your own (i.e. sperm bank rather than say, adopt one) “because you want one of your own”. And no, I don’t have anything against single mothers at all and most single mothers don’t start off intending on raising a child on their own. They end up in that situation and do the best they can for their children. On the other hand, I think that it’s not the ideal situation for a child, so knowingly choosing to place a child in a non-ideal situation before it’s even conceived because you want to experience motherhood is, to me, a very selfish decision.

If having a child is the most important thing to you to you and you’re getting to the point where you may not be able to have one, then yes, you may have to bloody settle. Sure, as I’ve said before, don’t go for someone who repulses you or bores you to tears, but do accept that you may not find prince charming in time for your perfect baby shower. Also, keep in mind that even prince charming may lose much of his charm after your baby comes out anyway. The way I see it, if you can’t stop thinking about your own needs and desires and keep wanting to have it all instead then either you don’t want children as much as you thought you did (which is absolutely fine, but you should come to term with this) or you’re just not ready to have them. Let’s be honest, chances are, you and most people around you will not have the happily ever after relationship you’ve envisioned. Hell, most women in their 20s won’t have it all either. They just have a few years before they have to face that realisation. People change, life changes and relationships change. You may as well decide what’s important to you and get ready to compromise and take risks. Be it risking not having a family (or adopting one later on) for the sake of finding someone truly compatible for life or settling for a relationship that’s likely to not last forever for the sake of having a child. You could also seek out alternative parenting arrangements with gay couples or men who want a child but not a relationship. Not ideal, but then again, what is? You most likely can’t have it all, but it’s OK. You just need to come to terms with it.

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1 comment May 28th, 2012

Some ideas for spring dates in London

It’s spring! The sun is shining and if you’re suddenly feeling more in the mood for love, then you’re definitely not alone. You can totally cash in on the nice weather by getting out in the sun with your date and doing springy things.

Personally, I love a picnic in the park and considering the whole financial crisis thing, it’s also the perfect way to save some cash. You could stock up on sparkling wine, cheese, nice bread and even posh dips for a lot less than you’d pay for a meal at a nice restaurant and have a truly relaxed time outside.

You can turn your park experience into something more active (or comical) by doing all kinds of random things like boating (which is random enough to be ironically cool), rollerblading (endless potential for hilarity) and, my personal favourite – feeding the ducks with endless slices of stale bread, which requires no special skill but shows that you care.

But before you head off into the great unknown with the great unknown you’ve picked up on a dating site, you might also want to check out these lists of great al fresco dining options in London and the UK plus London’s and the UK’s best pub gardens.

If you’re looking for something a bit more informative, then you can opt for something inoffensive like a short walking tour (in London, there are loads of new ones gearing up for the Olympics), or, if you and your date are into fitness, why not try this crazy thing?

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Add comment March 26th, 2012

Relationship and dating insights from Glamour Magazine

Glamour recently published a couple of interesting surveys. First, there’s the UK Guy Survey which asked men about their dating, relationship and sexual habits (including the opening question which is the charming “which of these places have you masturbated in?”). Frankly, there was little in it that is groundbreaking or comes as news to anyone who’s either a man or has dated a man, though I did like the fact that most men (85%) find women who reply to texts quickly to be efficient, rather than desperate.

Meanwhile, in the US, Boston women have been found to be the unhappiest of US daters in a Glamour survey, sponsored by match.com. Boston was also found to be the US city with the highest percentage of men who expect to get laid on the first date, although the percentage was still not particularly high – just 14%. Boston is a student town, so you have to wonder, really. Is this an indication that more guys in Boston are after casual sex? Sleeping with someone on a first date shouldn’t really indicate that you’re not looking for anything serious, but many people have this stupid idea that women who’d sleep with you on a first date are not marriage material. Ho hum. I guess until we know where Boston women stand on the sleeping with someone on a first date issue, we won’t have an answer, plus, as I said, 14% is not really such a high percentage, when you think about it.

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Add comment March 19th, 2012

A great and inspiring article about women and sex over 50

I have to share this interview on Huffington Post giving insight into what the sex life of a successful, confident 50something woman is. It’s an interview with Cindy Gallop, who shares information about her love life and views on female sexuality over 50.

With all the crap out there making women feel like they’re increasingly old and past it with every day that goes by, it’s so wonderful to read about an actual, working alternative to both ageing related self-hatred and traditional dating and relationship models. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that even though the article talks about an older woman having sexual relationships with significantly younger men, the word “cougar” wasn’t mentioned. I cannot hate that word enough. Seriously.

I both love and hate that in this world, sometimes just being yourself and living out the life that’s right for you can be a radical act of rebellion against society (or, if you want to be softer about it, an act of active re-education). I wish society was more accepting of just letting people be. Maybe if more women follow in Gallop’s footsteps and be true to themselves as they go through life, things will slowly get better.

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Add comment March 17th, 2012

Should women settle “before it’s too late?”

Found this article on the Jezebel site, talking about whether it’s good advice to tell women to “settle for a man who loves you more than you love him, even if he bores you”. It was a really good read (go, read it!) and the conclusion seems to be that no, it’s not good advice at all, for a variety of reasons.

I tend to agree (and have written about this issue in the blog before), though I would say, it very much depends on what the woman wants out of life at that point in time. For some women, making a home, having children and being a part of a relationship are more important than finding the perfect relationship. If a woman is in in her late 30s with seemingly no better prospects than a man who’s “good enough” who can give her most of what she want (i.e. a caring relationship, children, etc.) and make her happy enough in an every day sense, then I wouldn’t tell her to ignore him in favour of someone else she may or may not meet. Yes, if you stop looking you’re (probably) less likely to find the perfect man and I do resent the advice mentioned in the article that makes women doubt their own feelings, but a woman’s freedom to choose also sometimes involves realising that what’s in front of you can be better than what you could potentially have by virtue of being available. Also, some women get to the stage in their lives where they feel having and raising a baby is what they need to be happy, rather than a man who excites them every day of the week. You may disagree with it, it may not be the right choice for you, but the truth is, for many women, it is. The truth is, there is risk in giving up what you have (or what you can easily get a hold of) for something you may or may not one day get. And while I would encourage any woman who feels in her heart that she shouldn’t settle to follow her heart and go looking, I would also say that you shouldn’t feel that you are failing yourself and your dreams if you choose to settle for someone with whom you can have a comfortable life, raise children and generally be content. Dreams change. Priorities change. It’s OK to be happy with what you have without constantly striving for something better because pop culture and TV adverts tell you there’s more that can be had out of life.

What I do resent in this sort of “settle for less” advice is the dogmatic approach that assumes all women would prefer being with someone who bores them to being alone and trying to find someone more interesting. That and the incredibly derogatory underlying assumption that all women have to offer suitors are their looks so you should “act now, before it’s too late”.

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2 comments February 12th, 2012

Valentine’s Day 2012 events in London and beyond

There are some fun things happening in London and around the country this Valentine’s Day. If you’re single and looking for stuff to do, while not join in and have a laugh? I know it’s a day where a lot of singles enjoy wallowing in self pity or doing the whole bah humbug thing, but there is another way!

First up, I’ve noticed this event on the 12th, that’s run by MySingleFriend.com. It’s basically a food walking tour where you can take in some sights and get some info about the Brick Lane area, have some great food and meet some of the cool people from MSF.

The bonus? If you scroll down the page, you’ll see a few more interesting Valentine’s Day London events you could sign up to. Somewhat different than your average speed dating event!

And if you’re in the general Brick Lane / Shoreditch / Bethnal Green area, you may also be interested in the Valentine’s Love A-fair at the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club from 12:00 – 18:00. It’s the perfect place to get cards and retro gifts, as well as get done up retro style for your big date night.

Here’s the Facebook event page.

For official singles’ parties and speed dating events in London and the rest of the country, try the big companies.

Speed Dater have two London singles’ parties on. One massive one for people up to 40 years of age and a smaller one for people up to 55.
They also have events all over the country – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Cambridge, Guildford, etc. on V-day itself and around. Some have sold out of women’s places, but all have spaces for men.

Also try SlowDating and SingleSolution for more events on and around Valentine’s Day all over the country.

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Add comment February 7th, 2012

Are you and your date compatible? Here’s a fun test to try

I first found a version of this so-called psychological test online about 6 years ago. I think it was supposed to be some Jungian thing, but I actually have no clue who came up with it. I’ve been reminded of it recently and of the fact that it can be quite a fun way to get to know new people. I reckon it would be a great thing to use on a first date to see if you and your date are on the same page. The answers to these questions tend to change many times throughout life, depending on where you are, your mood and one’s changing outlook on things, so they are never set in stone, but they can certainly be quite telling. I wouldn’t go basing whole relationships on this test, but you’ll be surprised at how accurate it can be. Try it on yourself first, before scrolling down to read the answers. Obviously, there are no right or wrong answers, although there may well be answers someone could give that would make you think you’re not entirely compatible.

Ask your new friend the following questions:

1. What is your favourite wild animal and why?

2. What is your favourite domestic animal and why?

3. What is your favourite body of water and why? (things like the ocean, rivers, ponds, springs, lakes, etc.).

4. What is your favourite food and why?

5. What is your favourite flower and why?

6. What is your favourite tree and why?

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Answers and meanings

The wild animal is how the person sees themselves and the why is the qualities they value most in themselves.

Domestic animal is what they look for in friends.

Body of water is their attitude towards love and sensuality

Food is their attitude towards sex.

Flower is the way they see spirituality

Tree is their attitude towards life.

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Add comment January 24th, 2012

Blah blah evolutionary psychology blah blah (or: another book defending non-monogamy in men)

Vicki Larson, writing in the Huffington Post interviewed Dr. Eric Anderson, author of a new and “controversial” book that talks about how monogamy is wrong for men, who need to be having sex with different people to be happy. The non-monogamy thing becomes a hot debate every once in a while and while I’m all for opening it up again and again, I’m kinda fed up of the whole evolutionary psychology bull that comes with it and seems to put men in the centre of the need to have different partners, while women are assumed to be more into picking a partner that would care for the children. Then again, I’m also fed up of hearing about how men cheat because their brains are programmed to make them spread their seed and women cheat because they want to breed with alpha males but have the betas look after their young. I’m not saying this book says this last bit, by the way. I’ve not read it so I couldn’t tell you for sure. It’s just that whenever the non-monogamy debate is raised it’s all men men men and, frankly, we’ve already had the school of man-only polygamy being the norm (and in some countries it still is) and focusing on it from a pseudo-scientific angle seems dangerously close to the school of thought that claimed the female orgasm doesn’t exist – it completely ignores the fact that many women experience the same urges and have the same psychological needs as men when it comes to relationships.

In the conservative society we live in (and conservative it is, even though it pretends to be liberal) saying that men need to stray to be happy may be controversial, but it’s certainly not groundbreaking or new. It would be nice, just for a change, to have a broader debate about the whether monogamy is suitable for either men or women. I suspect, though, the answer to that is a little bit more down to the individual, which would paint a much more complex picture than going on about how men need to get off with other women all the time to be happy.

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2 comments January 5th, 2012

What do men’s mags and rapists have in common?

A new UK study has found that the language used in men’s mags is surprisingly and frightfully similar to the language used by rapists to talk about their victims. Obviously women have been complaining about this sort of thing for years (and often branded “feminazis” for saying it), but you’d think men themselves would be able to easily tell the difference, showing the feminists they’re totally overreacting to the whole issue. After all, rapists are evil, whereas men’s mags are harmless fun, right?

Well well well…

It seems men themselves can’t tell the difference between a rapist and an article in FHM. So now a Middlesex Uni study showed some men quotes from FHM, mixed up with quotes from something called “The Rapist Files”, a collection of transcripts from interviews with convicted rapists. All the men had to do was say which quote came from where. They failed miserably. You can actually test yourself with a few quotes here, to see how you’d do.

Then there was a follow up study, where men had to grade each quote according to how derogatory it was to women. FHM quotes actually came out as worse than the stuff rapists say.

Now, people who know me know that I have absolutely no problem with non-PC and even offensive humour, but when you’re a magazine publisher and the stuff you publish is actually seen as worse than the stuff a convicted rapist would say to justify sexually assaulting a woman, then you have a serious serious problem.

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Add comment January 4th, 2012

Bad first date. Worst post-date communication

This post first-date email is doing the rounds on the net right now and is possibly the perfect example of what NOT to do after a first date with a woman. Nobody quite knows whether or not it’s real (though it at least appears to be real on the surface), but speaking both as a dating professional and a woman, I can tell you such men really do exist. Basically, this investment manager guy went out on a date with a woman. The date, according to the woman, was absolutely horrible. Then the guy texts and leaves messages for the woman, which she never replies to. The man then goes and sends here a terribly long, freaky email which you can read here.

Note to guys who think that’s acceptable behaviour – if the woman didn’t reply to your texts, she’s sure as hell not going to reply to your strange and detailed rant. She’s just going to run away and, if you’re unlucky, she’s going to put it up on the Internet like this woman did. But, what struck me most about the email “Mike” sent “Lauren” is that “Mike” has obviously spent some time reading about body language and subconscious, non-verbal signals to the point where he considers himself an expert on the matter. The fact that he accuses the woman of leading him on using what are generally accepted to be subconscious signals is pretty precious too, but this should be a lesson for anyone who spends too much time hunting for signals and not enough time paying attention to how the date is obviously going badly. Nobody owes anyone anything after the one date so just accept things and move on. Save the 1000 word rants for your breakup with the woman who actually dates you more than once.

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Add comment December 20th, 2011

The meaning of love according to children – so cute!

If you want a little “awww” moment, take a look at this. It’s quotes from a bunch of kids talking about the meaning of love as they see it (often as a result of looking at their parents’ marriage or the way their grandparents are with each other). Some of it is pure poetry. I’m not even sure if it’s real or not, but who cares? Love it!

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Add comment December 12th, 2011

Trouble ahead for same sex marriage in Scotland

I thought Christianity was meant to be a religion of tolerance. Words can’t describe how annoyed I get when I read stuff like this. Seriously, people, if you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex then don’t, nobody’s forcing you to do it. But to fight for the denial of rights to people who are in love and want to make a commitment to each other in this day and age is seriously unnecessary. I just hope the Scottish parliament goes ahead with the plan anyway.

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Add comment December 2nd, 2011

UK speed dating and singles’ events in December 2011

Here’s a quick run down of speed dating and singles’ events companies that are holding events across the UK in December. See my post about singles events and speed dating in London for info about London events in December.

December actually starts tomorrow and these parties seem to be selling out fast, so if you’re keen to go speed dating this December or to attend a bowling night, lock & key party, a Christmas party or any other specialist singles’ event, I suggest you get your tickets early before other hungry singles get there first.

Speed Dater are the UK’s biggest organisers of speed dating events, lock and key parties and singles’ parties. They have events all over the UK, generally in trendy / semi-upmarket bars and venues with a few events at more upmarket places, as well as special events like bowling nights, cocktail parties, etc.. They have plenty of parties all over the place in December, including big Christmas parties and a massive NYE party in London. They cater for quite a few age ranges, as well as having events for professionals, international professionals, Asian singles, Muslim or Christian singles, etc.

Here’s what they are offering in December:

Speed dating in Aberdeen, Bristol, Cambridge (4 different events), Newcastle, Reading and St Albans.
Speed dating, singles parties, lock & key events and a big NYE party in London

There are even more cities covered in January, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester.

SlowDating have similarly good coverage, similar (or lower) ticket prices and also use trendy bars and venues. They only run speed dating events as far as I can tell. They are running a lot of parties in December, but they are selling out fast.

Cities where speed dating events are happening include:

London, Edinburgh, Leeds, Norwich, Brighton, Oxford, Sheffield, Liverpool, Nottingham, Reading, Swindon, Exeter, Glasgow, Southampton, Bath, Birmingham, Bournemouth and Plymouth.

UrbanSocial specialise in speed dating events, singles’ parties and wine tasting parties for singles (also the occasional beet tasting singles’ events and singles’ cocktail parties).
The speed dating and singles’ parties event are similarly priced to the other companies, but the wine tasting events are slightly more expensive. Over the month of December they have events in London, Brighton, Norwich, Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow), Wales (Cardiff), Northampton, Leeds and Milton Keynes.

SingleSolution cater particularly to “well educated professionals” and offer speed dating and singles’ parties all over the country. In December you can attend in London, Aberdeen, Brighton, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Guildford, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Norwich, Reading, Oxford, St. Albans and Windsor.

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Add comment November 30th, 2011

What are the top dating and relationship deal breakers for men and women?

Ever wondered what the top dating and relationship deal breakers are for men or women? eHarmony actually asks its users exactly that question as part of its personality matching process and they’ve released the data. I came across a post on the Detroit Free Press site listing the top 10 of each. Handy if you want to know what to avoid if you’re looking for a long term relationship or marriage.

It seems both men and women (on eHarmony at least) see lying, cheating and rudeness as the top three deal breakers, in that order. Infidelity follows at number 4 for women and is, interestingly, number 6 for men, preceded by poor hygiene and mean-spiritedness. I am at a loss as to how infidelity and cheating differ on this particular scale. Could it be that cheating at cards or cheating people out of money is further up the list than cheating on your partner? Ho hum. Men will surely be encouraged by the fact that poor hygiene is only number 7 on the list of women’s turn offs and being overweight isn’t even in the top 10. Women, on the other hand should note that excessive weight is the number 9 male turn off.

See the full list here.

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Add comment November 29th, 2011

London speed dating and singles’ events December 2011

London is one of the best places in the UK to go speed dating or enjoy singles’ parties, lock and key parties or even bowling or wine tasting events for singles. Seeing as December is usually big on parties anyway, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise to you that the last month of 2011 is jam packed of opportunities to hook up with eligible Londoners. I figured I may as well write about some of these parties here, as I keep getting asked about party options.

Below are some dates to keep in mind, including classic speed dating, more standard parties and some more creative options. You can find out more about the companies that organise these in my post about UK singles’ events companies.

December 1

Speed dating event for graduate professionals at Firefly for singles aged 24-38, £23.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 2

Speed dating event at Firefly for singles aged 21-31, £21.95. (organised by Speed Dater)

Wine tasting event at the Flame Bar for singles aged 24-38, £35 (organised by UrbanSocial)

December 3

Speed dating event for graduate professionals at The Warwick for singles aged 24-38, £23.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

Bowling night for singles aged 24-40 in Bloomsbury. £25.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 6

Speed dating event at the Carbon Bar for singles 25-37, £22 (organised by SlowDating)

Speed dating event at Anexo for singles aged 25-35, £21.95, (organised by Speed Dater)

December 7

Mixology / cocktail party at Revolution for singles aged 24-38, £29.99 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 9

Christmas Cocktail Party at Alibi for singles aged 24-38. £39 (organised by UrbanSocial)

December 10

Singles’ party at The Union for singles aged 41-62. £16.99 – £19.99 (organised by SingleSolution)

Merry Kissmas singles’ party – lock & key, speed dating and photo wall at the Abbey Bar for singles aged 24-40. £13.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 16

Speed dating event for graduate professionals at the Bond Club for singles aged 24-38, £23.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 17

Speed dating event for international professionals at The Warwick for singles aged 24-38, £21.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

Christmas party at the Punch Tavern for singles of the 36+ age range, £19.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

Singles’ party at the Abbey for singles aged 25-47. £19.99 (organised by SingleSolution)

Speed dating event at Kanaloa for singles aged 21-31, £21.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 20

Speed dating event at Anexo for Graduate professional singles aged 24-36, £23.95, (organised by Speed Dater)

December 22

Free Christmas / cocktail party at the Patch Bar for Lovestruck.com members and their single friends. I’m not sure if you have to be registered as a Lovestruck member to attend.

December 28

Speed dating event at the Dover St. restaurant and bar for singles aged 32-42, £21.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

December 29

Speed dating event at the Dover St. restaurant and bar for singles aged 38-50, £21.95 (organised by Speed Dater)

New Year’s Eve Singles events

See my post about 2012 NYE singles’ parties and speed dating events in London for more information.

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Add comment November 28th, 2011

Did threesomes really destroy Demi Moore & Ashton Kutcher’s marriage?

Maybe it shouldn’t surprise me to find an overly-generalised, simplistic and nosy article on a site called “Hollywood Life”, but when I was surfing the web for dating-related articles, I couldn’t help but read the “experts views” about whether having threesomes destroyed Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s marriage. The answer, apparently, is yes and there follows a bunch of conjecture about said relationships which is somewhat derogatory to say the least.
Apparently, “cougars” (oh how I hate that term) like Demi will often turn to having threesomes to make their men happy (cause after all, what sort of man would be happy with an older woman, right?) but find that those will lead to “twosomes” not involving them, resulting in the end of the marriage. So we’re back to the age thing, it seems.

But are threesomes really that bad? I was getting pissed off at the article’s stance, but the end of the post does include a quote from one expert who admits to knowing people for whom threesomes work as a regular thing and I personally know plenty of people in open relationships for whom there are clear and comfortable rules and no jealousy, so I’ll let that one slide, but seeing as the norm is still monogamous relationships, maybe we should talk instead about the reason why normally monogamous people would want to invite someone else into their bed.

Feeling insecure or bored is not just for older women, you know. When people have been together for a while, they may sometimes want to experiment and that experiment may lead them to realise the relationship is over. Threesomes, therefore, are more likely a symptom, rather than a cause, so sweeping that desire under the carpet to “save the marriage” may result in exactly the same unhappy ending. Relationships where threesomes work are always ones where the partners are honest with themselves and each other about their needs and willing to cater to their partner’s needs when expressed. At other times, threesomes are indeed a stepping stone on the way to breaking up, as people try to hide their dissatisfaction or insecurity from their partner or themselves.

Moore and Kutcher were together for six years, so maybe their love had simply run its course. Who knows what would have happened if the age gap was smaller, but do we really need to go over every minute detail of their relationship and make sweeping generalisations about “cougars”? Apparently so.

You can read the Hollywood Life piece here.

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Add comment November 27th, 2011

Should you state your political views in your online dating profile?

Politics are a sensitive issue, obviously. So when you’re trying to land yourself a date, a marriage or a relationship, should you talk about yours openly in your personal description or dating profile? Dating sites vary in their offerings when it comes to giving you the choice of listing your political leanings alongside things such as favourite music or whether or not you smoke or drink. It would seem that this is because the vast majority of people choose not to disclose their political views when dating online. In fact, recent research quoted in The Big Think has found that only 14% of online daters disclose their political views in their profiles. But considering the fact that most married couples share political views, you have to wonder why more people don’t put this in their profile. Even people who don’t see politics as an important activity (i.e. don’t particularly like debating politics with their partner) prefer to be with someone who shares their overall political views, so why don’t more people state theirs? The answer seems to lie in the fact that people are keen (desperate?) to find a partner and want to attract as big an audience as possible to their dating profile without forcing any difficult issues. Apparently, the less desperate you are to find someone, the more likely you are to express your political views. Older people are also more likely to express these views openly.

The Big Think article compares this to the fact that most people won’t state in their profile that they want to meet someone of their own race, but end up with people of their own race anyway. No one wants to come across like a racist, which is why people leave this information out of their profiles, while secretly only messaging people who fit the bill.

While mentioning your politics is not likely to make you come across as a bigot (unless your political leanings include bigotry), it would make you come across as actively political, which may well not be the case. Most people are not activists, though most do harbour opinions about the world. If you take the time to write about your views in your personal description (as opposed to or alongside things like hobbies, likes and dislikes) it sends a clear message of the role of politics in your life.

On the other hand, if your dating site allows you tick boxes, pull down menus or compatibility tests where you can quietly state your beliefs without making too much of a big deal out of it (such as on eHarmony), then I suggest you make use of it, unless you’re looking for a casual relationship or sex, or unless, of course, you genuinely don’t mind what your long-term partner’s political leanings might be.

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Add comment November 25th, 2011

Behold, the female orgasm!

This is so awesome – the female orgasm captured with brain imaging technology. It clearly shows how practically all parts of the brain are activated during orgasm. Apparently only an epileptic seizure activates more of your brain. Scientists hope to use the information gained by this brain scan to help the 25% (!) of women who rarely or never orgasm.

Check out the full article and video here.

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Add comment November 23rd, 2011

Are you marriage material? Should you care?

For the purpose of full disclosure, I must start this post by saying that I personally really don’t understand the obsession some people have with the actual act of marriage Vs long term commitment. My own personal view of it is that the obsession with the wedding ceremony and what it represents is mostly to do with religion / tradition, sometimes disguised as something else because of family or society pressure.

So when I read articles like the one I recently found on IOL Lifestyle, talking about why men marry some women and not others, it actually takes me some time to adjust to the mindset, which, of course, I have to, as the marriage question is a big deal for most people.

Big enough, apparently, for men to be sharing their lives with women for years without seeing the woman as “marriage material” and for women to be sharing their lives with said men while secretly feeling dissatisfied for the lack of the ultimate declaration of love and commitment.

The article I read references John Molloy, author of Why Men Marry Some Women And Not Others. I’ve not read the book, so I can’t comment as to whether the book itself is as simplistic and as shallow as the article would make me believe, but essentially, what we’re looking at here is yet another one of those guides to women written by men, feeding on women’s fears of being “left on the shelf” and teaching them how to become the “wife material” of their dreams.

The news is, of course, that there’s no news. Men, apparently, prefer women who are presentable, well groomed and can be “taken anywhere” (hence, perhaps, the fact that so many men say in their online dating personal description that they would like to meet women who are “as comfortable in jeans as they are in a little black dress”). And although the article doesn’t say it in so many words, it seems men still don’t like “sluts” – women who are too sexy and flirty or wear clothes that are too revealing. Instead, they prefer women who are “discreet”, “loyal” and “kind”. While the book, or at least the article, didn’t go into factors such as the woman’s level of education compared to the man’s, it did offer the curious revelation that men (Western, I assume) don’t actually like women who cook and clean for them all the time, but prefer those who are “aware of their own worth”. It also suggests that women looking for a husband should start hunting around the age of 28.

So basically, while cooking and cleaning as a full time job may be a thing of the past, the so called big news is that women should be pretty to look at, demure and not too overtly sexually liberated. There you go ladies, your carriage awaits! Do your nails, button up that cleavage and off you go. What a depressing society we live in when there’s a market for a book such as this (and let’s not fool ourselves that there isn’t – chauvinism is as popular among the ladies as it is among the men).

But wait, women can do more to assure a happy marriage – not be too fussy! If you turn down a reasonable man now, you may find yourself single in your 40s and who’d have you then?

Oh, and do push the marriage issue, because apparently a high percentage of women who are married made it clear they expected a marriage proposal.

This last point is interesting, as the article opens with a story of a woman who was co-habiting with a man for years, didn’t push the point and ended up with the man leaving her and marrying another. One wonders whether pushing the issue would have resulted in A. a marriage (as opposed to a quick break up) and B. a happy marriage. As Molloy’s book treats marriage as the point of happily ever after, the form a marriage takes when you’ve molded yourself into the shape of the perfect trophy wife is irrelevant to our current fairytale, but I do agree that women who view marriage as such an important thing should ensure their man knows this at some point.

On the other hand, it also makes me wonder whether all these women who hang on to these men without making any demands aren’t secretly aware of the fact that the man himself is not “marriage material” and are letting things carry on regardless because it secretly suits them.

But that is perhaps a story for another post, because for this book / article, we’re apparently limiting ourselves as women to simply wanting to “land the husband of our dreams”.

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Add comment November 23rd, 2011

An interesting article about lesbians in India

Having recently been in India, I’m still quite interested in how relationships and dating work there. It’d been 15 years since I was last there and I remember reading in my guidebook then about the fledgling gay scene (lesbianism was never discussed then) and how, even though physical contact between men is far more accepted in India, once it it seen to go beyond friendship, things are not tolerated. So I was quite interested when I saw this article about lesbians in India. It seems things have somewhat moved on a bit since the 90s, though there is still a long way to go. In a country with arranged marriages, people living with their parents till a very old age and heavy expectations on producing heirs, I’m frankly amazed and impressed some people dare to be openly gay. Here’s hoping things will keep getting better for the Indian LGBT community.

Read more about this fascinating scene here.

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Add comment November 13th, 2011

Arranged marriages Vs free choice – a brief note from India

It’s funny how your work follows you wherever you go. I used to watch detective shows on TV and joke about how convenient it was that the detective would always get caught up in some sort of mystery, even while on holiday, visiting family or friends or just going about their daily business. Since I got into the dating industry, though, I’ve found that it’s pretty much impossible not to end up talking about dating and relationships sooner or later. At the moment I am actually in India and it only took 2 days before I found myself having a conversation about love and marriage with my Indian tour guide in Delhi. He’s in his early 30s, married for 4 years, one son (2) and expecting another baby. His marriage was arranged by his parents. I asked him if he loves his wife and he said he didn’t know. I asked him if he was happy with her, he said he said so so. He did, however, say that when he saw her he immediately agreed to marry her. I told him the whole concept seemed incomprehensible to me, which it is, but I must say I’ve heard all kinds of stories about arranged marriages in my time and they weren’t all bad. If anything, people I’ve spoken to and others stories that have been related to me show that many young people in India and elsewhere are actually quite happy with the concept of arranged marriages. I’ve also been told of a more modern compromise that’s been doing the rounds here, where single women are introduced to several men by their parents and can then choose between them. Many people here say that you can actually learn to love a partner you’ve been married to by your family. On the other hand, I also gather that divorce is on the rise in India and that there are all kinds of sad stories of people in love with one person who are practically forced to marry another.
At the end of the day, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this concept, but the picture I get from speaking to people here is that the arranged marriage love life is no more or less diverse and complex than the Western one.

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Add comment October 23rd, 2011

Scottish men least sexually satisfied in the UK, says survey

I may be a bit of a cynic, but I always snigger slightly when I see a survey that has a whiff of something cooked up in the PR lab. First, there was the recent one conducted on behalf of Pfizer (who just happen to be the people responsible for viagra), which found that European women were most turned off by bad breath, followed by erectile dysfunction and flatulence. Now, there’s a new survey that’s come up on behalf of Bayer Health, who also make a pill aimed at curing erectile dysfunction. This survey takes things a step further and suggests that while Scottish men are the least sexually satisfied, they’re also least likely to go and talk to a doctor about it.

The solution is, of course, to go to your doctor, which is fair enough. Getting treatment can really help and people would do well to get over the embarrassment involved. For all I know, Scottish men really are the worst out of British men for hiding their sexual problems and it’s important for men to know they’re not alone.

On the other hand, these surveys are funded by big pharma who want to sell more pills but are prevented from advertising their wares in the usual way (in the USA they can just have TV ads). I just hope GPs are smart enough to not just dish out tablets. Underlying conditions are a serious factor and are mentioned on the NHS site, but so are psychological conditions, which are often ignored.

Barring serious underlying physical conditions (which are pretty common and require separate treatment), I can imagine a quick fix tablet is far more appealing than costly, lengthy treatments involving, for example, going to a psychologist and talking about your childhood issues (after all, the attitude towards mental health in the UK is embarrassingly poor compared to other Western countries). Even lifestyle changes can seem too much when you can just pop a pill. There’s no denying that these pills do work and do help many men all over the world, but as tempting as that can be, I’d like to suggest that if you are in that situation (or a woman who’s sleeping with a man in that situation), you should get over the urge to keep taking pills to fix the symptoms and make a serious attempt at looking at the underlying causes. Being dependent on big pharma for sexual satisfaction should be a last resort, not your first choice.

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Add comment October 4th, 2011

The old monogamy debate rages on

There’s an interesting article in the Telegraph about controversial columnist Dan Savage and his suggestion that monogamy may be one of humanity’s greatest problems. Savage, who’s gay, suggests that heterosexual couple should follow the model common among same sex couples and in particular gay male couples where successful long term relationships are maintained without sexual monogamy. The idea that serious, loving relationships can thrive without the imposed sexual exclusivity of monogamy is still groundbreakingly radical and / or intolerably controversial for many people. Savage created quite a stir after making his suggestions in his blog, which ought to be quite surprising in this day and age.

There is no question about the fact that monogamy is not right for many people. The fact that marital infidelity is relatively common can certainly serve as proof. Even those who are faithful to their partners throughout life are not always free of the desire to stray. While it’s true some people remain true because being in a monogamous relationship with the person they love is enough for them, I would hazard a guess that many others are held back not by love but by fear of doing something that is understood to be morally wrong or of hurting their partner – much in the same way some gay men and women in conservative societies choose to deny their true feelings and live “normal” heterosexual lives.

It’s interesting to think about why gay men are more likely to have open relationships, male libido aside. After all, straight men can be just as sex obsessed as gay men and there is no huge campaign for making heterosexual non-monogamous relationships the norm. I often wonder if the fact that gay relationships were traditionally placed outside of “normal” society and the fact that any post-coming out gay man (or woman) have had to go through some sort of personal awakening means people are more aware of their needs and able to live the lives they want to live without having to make allowances for any more pressure from society. But considering the fact that monogamous relationships are a growing trend among same sex couples as well, could it be that gradual acceptance into “normal” society is making gay couples accept or feel obliged to follow in heterosexuality’s footsteps? If so, it is certainly a shame. A certain crossover of relationship values resulting in more personal freedom would be far preferable.

You can read more about Dan Savage’s original claims here.

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1 comment September 14th, 2011

It’s official: marriage is bad for you!

OK, joke headline aside, apparently while research has now shown that married / cohabiting couples often live longer and tend to give up bad habits such as smoking, now there’s another bit of research that says that apparently some people actually pick up bad habits from their long term partners. In straight relationships, it is apparently the men who are seen as the bad influence. Gay couples just tend to blame each other for promoting unhealthy habits such as smoking, drinking, eating junk food, etc.

How does this fit in with previous studies showing the opposite? Well, you know, I guess some people go one way and others the opposite way – same as with anything else in life. We all know some people bring out the worst in us and some bring out the best in us.

So if you’re looking to get healthy together with someone who shares your vices, you’d better make sure your potential partner is also keen, or you may find yourself slipping back into your old habits. Of course, if the longevity studies are correct, you may still add a few years to your life just by being married.

You can read more about this new research here.

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Add comment August 20th, 2011

Dating: to compromise or not to compromise?

Here’s a dating thought for the day. There’s often talk of how fairytale romance (think Disney) has made us have unreasonable standards when it comes to love. Little girls are taught to wait around for Prince Charming and many of us grow up feeling like we’re missing out on something amazing, always looking for the perfect man or woman and feeling vaguely disappointed by the reality of our relationships.

So the answer to that? We’re told compromise is a must, that nobody’s perfect (including, of course, us) and that we need to accept the fact that there is no Prince Charming. All good, important stuff, but here’s the thing. Take this backlash to the extreme and what do you get? Another fairytale! In this fairytale, the beautiful prince is trapped in a frog’s body. You kiss the frog (i.e. compromise) and it turned into your wonderful Prince Charming, giving you the ultimate happiness you desire.

Now, I’m not disputing the fact that relationships often involve compromises, especially the ones you want to last. I’m also not disputing the fact that a significant number of happy couples would never have gotten together had they not compromised on things they once thought mattered.

What I’m saying is that it’s important to know when to compromise your standards and when to hold out. The mere act of compromising won’t be your magic key to unlock the door to ultimate happiness.

In matters of love, you should lead with your heart and your body and not with your head. That is, unless all you want is a child and you’re willing to make your love life nothing more than a business transaction to attain said child.

If you don’t fancy someone and there is no chemistry between you, don’t force it. My experience of talking to couples who got together even though they didn’t fit each other’s “type” has taught me that there was always some sort of spark there that made whoever it was who was uncertain at first give their partner a chance anyway.
If you feel that you have to ignore your heart or your body because you feel that you ought to be in a relationship for some reason or other, then you’re onto a loser. All you’ll get at the end is the same frog you started off with.

As much as some online dating sites would like you to think that your intuition and instincts fail when it comes to forming happy, long-term relationships, let’s not forget that people have been loving each other for thousands of years.

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1 comment May 26th, 2011

A new survey from Match.com shows how some things in dating never change

match.com in the USA just released their latest survey results about the current so called rules of dating in the USA. It’s an interesting look into how online dating has changed American dating habits and, more interestingly, how it hasn’t.

It seems most women would still expect men to pay on the first date and while 41% of them would offer to pay, the majority of the men asked (37%) felt that they should pay.

Fast paced modern life aside, it seems the vast majority of people (80%) disapprove of sex on the first date and prefer post date phone calls to texts and email (80% again).

Men are still expected to make the first follow up call and the majority of them will wait at least a day before calling.

You can read the full article here. It has some other interesting facts.

I quite like surveys like these because they remind me how, with all the technology advances and social networks and all these new and exciting ways of meeting each other, we are still just people and doing things in quite traditional ways.

Some might say we need time for our brains to catch up with what technology allows us to do. Maybe our children would have a totally different outlook as to what makes proper dating etiquette and behaviour. On the other hand, I for one hope we never evolve past the need to hear a friendly human voice, although women going halves on the restaurant bill is bound to make quite a few men happy. :)

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Add comment April 2nd, 2011

5 things you shouldn’t do on a first date

First dates can be stressful, but they really needn’t be. When meeting someone off a dating site for the first time, most people nowadays opt for a casual meeting, rather than a full blown, romantic restaurant date. But no matter whether you’re going for a meal or for a coffee or a beer, there are still things you need to watch for that could easily make the other person not want to see you again.

I’ll ignore things to do with physical appearance as I’ve already written about those in this blog, but let’s talk about behaviour today!

  1. Don’t be late
  2. To be clear, every rule has exceptions, especially when it comes to love. This one in particular can be forgotten in cases when you’re off to meet someone in another city and get terribly lost. For more normal dates in your own city, though, there is no excuse. Being late to a first date can make your date think you don’t care about meeting him or her. While being 5 minutes early or right on the dot can seem a bit nerdy, being more than a few minutes late is going to set you off to a really bad start. That feeling of “oh my god! Have I been stood up?” is not going to put your date in the mood for love, that’s for sure. If you find that you might be late, text or call the person to say so at least 5 minutes before the time you’ve arranged, so that they know you didn’t ditch them.

  3. Don’t split hairs over the bill
  4. This is especially for the guys, as there’s always that discussion about whether guys should pay and some guys get twitchy about it. For the record, I personally think on a first date people should split the bill, but even then you could still screw things up by going over every little thing your date had ordered and pointing it out to her. If you want the woman to think you’re super nice, offer to pay for the whole meal (and follow through if she doesn’t insist on paying). If you’re sharing, just go halves or, if you had more expensive stuff, offer to pay more. No one like’s a cheapskate.

  5. Don’t make or take overly long phone calls
  6. If your date is boring you, make your excuses and leave, but never just “hint” at it by having your whole social life on the phone while on your date. I know some people will do it even if they’re not bored on the date, but then it’s even worse! Being accessible by phone while on a first date is important, especially for women who may need it for security, but give your date the benefit of your time and attention, rather than make them feel second best.

  7. Don’t be rude or dismissive to service staff, homeless guys, etc.
  8. Even on a casual date, you’re still being somewhat assessed. If you act like a jerk to people around you who may seem less important to you, your date will know you’re a jerk. Annoying waiter? Laugh it off. Presistent homeless guy? Be assertive but polite. Even if you shower your date with attention and niceness on the date, he or she will view your rudeness to others as a really bad sign.

  9. Don’t forget about the safety rules
  10. If you’re a saavy urbanite, you could easily make the mistake of thinking the safety rules are not really for you. But while I don’t suggest you bring a bodyguard with you to your date, the basics should really be on your mind. Always. So meet in an easily accessible public place and make sure you have your own transport to and from the date. Let a friend know you’re going on a date and that they should maybe check up on you later. How much of a checking up is up to you. Some people are happy for a text, some prefer the friend to call half way (to quickly say if they need a rescue from boredom or worse) and some even go as far as to have their wingman sit somewhere nearby just in case or openly bring a friend as a chaperone.

    Either way, it’s better to be oversafe than sorry.

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Add comment February 25th, 2011

Is workplace romance dead and buried?

A new survey conducted among American singles seems to imply that falling in love on the job may be a thing of the past. Apparently 5200 singles were questioned and only a third said they would be willing to date someone they were working with. Now, this survey was actually funded by match.com, and conducted by a team headed by their resident advisor Dr. Helen Fisher. while I would never imply that the results were doctored in any way (Dr. Fisher is highly regarded), I seem to recall a different survey that seems to imply otherwise and another from 2009. Here’s a report echoing the generally agreed upon fact (though I can’t find the original source) that 80% of businesses serve as a setting for some sort of office romance. Another survey, conducted amongst HR managers, found that a significant amount of these office romances end in marriage. In fact, it seems that the bigger the company is, the more likely it is that an office romance will end in marriage. A staggering 68% of office relationship result in marriage in companies with over 300 employees. Granted, the last survey was from over 10 years ago, but have things really moved on that much? Are we all working from old data when the world has already moved on?

Dating sites tend to publish the results of surveys that will make online dating seem more attractive and popular. I’m all in favour of pushing online dating as a viable dating option, but not to the exclusion of all others. Singles should be open to anything if they want to find someone. While the workplace may not be the ideal place (complications, sexual harrassment laws, possibility that the crush is short-lived and not based on real compatibility) the fact is that it can be as good a place as any to meet likeminded singles. While I’m not going to advocate dressing up in sexy clothes and throwing oneself at one’s boss, I’m also not going to belittle the amount of relationships that have sprung in offices.

I’ve not seen the raw data of this new Match survey and I don’t even know where the people surveyed came from, but it would be an interesting read. For example, if those surveyed answered an ad placed on an online dating site, it could explain why they have less of an interest in finding love through work (or have given up on finding someone through their job). I guess with all these surveys it depends on who’s conducting them and who’s filling them out, but my own very personal and unsupported anecdotal view is that office romance is far from dead. As long as people continue to spend a lot of time in an office together, some sort of romance will ensue. We may think it’s a dumb idea, but these things happen all the time.

Either way, I dare you to find me a single office where no office romance ever occured. Answers on the back of a postcard, please…

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Add comment February 18th, 2011

A questionnaire for catcallers

In the world of the dating and male / female interaction no nos, the catcaller deserves a special mention. I never get men who think it’s OK to catcall and whistle at women. Does this sort of thing ever work outside of, you know, the jungle? I bet even chimp ladies would turn their noses at catcalling male chimps.

I’m never really sure why guys do it. It’s disrespectful and annoying and not likely to get anyone any action, apart from maybe a slap.

The Riot came out with a hilarious questionnaire that you can print out and hand out to unsuspecting men who harrass you on the street. Might be more amusing than just turning around and shouting at them, which is what I usually tend to do.

The questionnaire resides here. It’s very explicit, so reader beware if these sort of things bother you. It would probably go over the heads of most of the guys in question, but I’m sure it would feel good anyway. Beats looking them straight in the eye and handing them a Christian conversion tract. Or does it? Hmmm.

I’d be interested to hear guys’ opinions about the reasons behind catcalls. All the guys I’ve come across in my professional and personal life wouldn’t dream of doing this sort of thing, so I am at a loss as to who does. It’s obviously a cross-cultural thing and some sort of macho group behaviour thing, but you’d have thought it would mostly die out by now, at least in countries where women are allowed to go about their business without covering up to the point where not even their eyes are showing.

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Add comment February 17th, 2011

Michelle Obama’s Valentine’s tips

Happy Valentine’s Day! Valentine’s Day is when everyone has something to say about love and relationships and there are tie ins everywhere you look. I saw plenty of stuff about romance on the lead up to today, but so far I like this one best. It’s Michelle Obama’s tip for a happy, long lasting marriage – laughing with your partner.
She adds that it helps that President Obama is romantic and always remembers important dates and birthdays (makes you wonder whether he employs a secretary to remind him). So there you have it – sharing a laugh with your partner and remembering significant dates in their lives (and doing things to show that you care, one assumes) can oil the wheels of a happy, 19 year relationship that’s very squarely in the spotlight.

That’s certainly encouraging for the rest of us, I’d say and a good reminder of what’s already been said a thousand times – you don’t need to wait for Valentine’s Day to show your partner how much you care.

You can read the full article here.

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Add comment February 14th, 2011

Go on a Great Relate Date this Valentine’s Day

Parship dating and Relate, the UK’s relationship counselling charity, have banded together for a great charity campaign this Valentine’s Day to raise awareness of the great work Relate do. Take your online dating belle or beau on your first date this Valentine’s and you could win some fab prizes, including vouchers for yummy meals at Italian restaurant chain, Carluccio’s. Actually, you don’t have to go on a date with someone you just met. Friends, couples, family members and work colleagues can all join in, go on “dates” and earn a chance at winning a prize. Just go on your date, take a picture and submit it to be judged on the Relate website. The most creative picture wins the prize.

While you’re at it, why not text Date to 70007 to donate just £3 to Relate? Your £3 will pay for 15 phone calls for people who really need relationship counselling.

For more details about Relate and The Great Relate Date campaign, visit the Relate Site

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Add comment February 10th, 2011

What you should be doing if you’re looking for love

Valentine’s Day looms ever closer and the pressure is on to find some sort of romantic date. If you’re currently searching for someone to love or even just someone to date, there are definitely some things you can do to make your search go faster. The following list of tips is written from a woman’s point of view, but don’t think that if you’re a man these don’t apply to you.

  1. Always go out looking your best.
  2. You never know when you might meet someone you like, so while you’re on the prowl it’s important you feel confident and ready for action all the time. What “looking your best” means is whatever makes you feel you’re attractive to the people you want to attract. For some women, it could mean doing your hair and make up for an hour before you go out, for others it could mean putting on your lucky jumper. I’m sure you know how to tell the difference between times when you feel like you could pull anyone and times when you don’t.

  3. Let everyone you know and meet know you are looking.
  4. I’m not proposing you hang on to everyone you meet on the street for dear life and shout “I want to get married!” into their frightened faces, but it won’t hurt to make it known that you are single and looking. Friends can be outright told, others can be given gentle hints. You never know how far the news might travel and what it could bring back with it.

  5. Say yes to every opportunity to go out in public.
  6. See point #1 above: you never know when you might meet someone, so even that really boring gallery opening, former work colleague’s birthday drinks or family wedding could end up giving you exciting new opportunities for romance. Dress up and socialise as much as you can if you’re serious about finding someone.

  7. Make your own opportunities.
  8. Saying yes is great, but rather than play cargo cult with offers, it won’t hurt to choose ones yourself as well. Look up interesting events in your town, join an evening class or a meet up group and start increasing your social circles. I know someone who started going rambling recently and it really opened up his social life in a massive way. The possibilities are endless and even if you live in a tiny town, there’s always online dating, online forums and hobby-based chatrooms.

  9. Don’t make your happiness depend on meeting someone at any given point.
  10. There is nothing more boring for yourself and others than being so obsessed with finding someone you lose sight of everything else around you. A nice evening out could be all but ruined if you judge it by whether or not you met the man or woman of your dreams. Try to go out for the sake of going out, hanging out with friends and meeting new people. Not every night will deliver your new lover. In fact, chances are the vast majority of them won’t. Accept it all as part of the process and enjoy being a social butterly, dressing up and having fun.

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Add comment February 4th, 2011

Dating in London

In spite of its huge size, London can be one of the toughest places to meet people in. Yes, there are millions of people around, but finding the right London singles to date isn’t just a matter of numbers. If you live here, you already know how cliquey people can be compared to other major cities in the world. If you’re new in town without a wide social circle, it can seem impossible to make friends, let alone date in London.

Luckily, London is the city best served in the UK by online dating, speed dating and singles’ events, so if you’re struggling to meet people in London through other means, you won’t have any problems at all meeting people online or at singles’ parties.

Here’s a quick rundown of what’s available.

Online dating in London

All of the UK’s major dating sites cater for London quite heavily, so you won’t have a problem there. See my post about UK dating sites for more information about the UK’s big dating sites. But even dating sites from outside of the UK will often cater for London daters. This should give you even more of a choice when dating in London. If you’re looking for a particular type of dating site in London (free dating, casual dating, Christian or Muslim dating, etc.) you can take a look at my dating site reviews category.

There are also some dating sites specifically aimed at London singles. For example, if you are a professional single looking to date in London, you could try Lovestruck.com, a site aimed at busy professionals who want to fit dating around their schedules (and we all know how busy things can get in London!).

Speed dating in London

Just like with online dating, all of the UK’s major speed dating companies hold plenty of events in London. Not only that, but you also get the most variety of events — not just general speed dating, but also speed dating for professionals, international professionals and various religious and ethnic groups. For example, you could have special singles’ events for Muslim singles in London, or for Asian London singles. Check my post about urban dating sites for a list of good places to go speed dating in London.

So if you’re single in London, don’t despair. London may be cold, grey and miserable at times, but it does offer you plenty of opportunities to meet people, probably more so than any other city in the UK. You just need to know where to look.

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Add comment January 24th, 2011

Attractive people are smarter too

Next time somebody tells you you’re being shallow when looking to date someone who’s attractive, you can show them this article talking about some very interesting new research. Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics tested over 50,000 people and found that good looking people generally did better in IQ tests than those who are not as pretty.

His theory is that smart men usually do well and achieve a high status, allowing them to get better looking women, thus passing on both intelligence and beauty to their kids.
I’m not sure how this gels with the Hot or Not theory of attraction and accounts for the unattractive genes passed down by unattractive rich guys, but the statistics seem to speak for themselves.

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Add comment January 20th, 2011

It’s OK to be single

I was watching a talk show yesterday where the topic of conversation was the “new middle age crisis”, the one you hit when you hit 30 and realise you’ve not achieved as much in life as you’d have liked to.

There was a bit of a discussion where this guy who’d written a book about the subject was explaining how this works. He talked about issues with feeling the need to find and realise your purpose in life and being faced with so many options and obstacles.

One of the other guests (or maybe he was one of the hosts) turned around and started going on about how the only true purpose is marrying and having children as that is what ensures the continuation of the human race. He said everything else was “this generation’s fault” for looking up to “unrealistic goals” instead of just pairing up and raising children.

Now, I am pretty sure the guy was playing devil’s advocate, because the author guest was pretty dull, making for pretty dull TV. On the other hand, this view, to a various degree, is shared by many. If you’re single, then you’re probably not a stranger to the pressure society exerts on you to find someone, settle down and have kids.

You might expect me to be all for it as an online dating professional, because I make my living because people want to find love. Let me tell you, though, I find this sort of view on relationships and families really annoying.

There is no need for it. It’s perfectly OK to be single in this day and age. It’s OK to be single and looking and it’s also OK to be happily single. Basically, wherever you are in your life right now – it’s OK. People should just accept that and let you be.

Firstly, the belief that you can only fulfil yourself as part of a couple is really really damaging. It doesn’t even make sense. It takes the power over your own life out of your hands and places it, at least partially, in the hands of someone you may have never even met yet. And as for having kids, this view makes personal fulfilment (usually women’s) depend on a biological function that is simply not an option for some. It also, in my eyes, belittles the contribution women can make to this world. The vast majority of women can become mothers. It doesn’t require any education or skill apart from those skills required for parenting. An illiterate mother can be just as good a mother to her child as a woman with a PhD. Once again, we go back to the post-feminist view that women shouldn’t have careers and education — or at least not place so much importance on them — as their role is really to stay at home and care for kids. Women who are unable to have children are made to feel inferior, as if they would never be a “real” woman without becoming a mother. Talk about kicking someone when they’re down.

Now, I’m not against having kids, of course, but I often wonder why, in a world that is bursting at the seams with people already, society is still leaning on everyone to have children with such great force. I also wonder how in a world where there is a shortage of single men or women in the population of certain countries (i.e. China), people still uphold the notion that single = bad and relationships, practically at all cost = good. Sometimes, it’s simply not an option for people to pair up. At other times, it’s not the way some people wish to live their lives.

Shouldn’t we just learn to let people be?

If you’re single but you want to meet someone, that’s great. You should definitely keep looking. But do you really need people pressuring you while you search and making you feel like less of a person? Wouldn’t it be nicer to just enjoy your single days without feeling like you’re failing as a person every day you’re not sharing your bed with someone your family and friends think should be right for you?

Ultimately, the only person whose life you can control completely is you. Many people have achieved great things in the world that were nothing to do with their personal lives whatsoever. Some people did it while having familes and some without.

I’m not saying you should abandon the search for a relationship if this is what you want. The fact is, most people in this world who are single dream of finding love and raising a family. It’s not all about being pressured by society. It’s something that comes from deep within.

I am, however, saying that you are within your rights to live your life the way you see fit and tell all those well-wishers around you to back off, at least in your own mind. It’s OK to be where you are in your life without feeling like a failure even if you didn’t tick all the boxes your family, your friends or society as a whole think you should have ticked by now.

So if you’re single, relax. Do something nice for yourself. Try to think a little bit about how you can make your life more enjoyable in the place you’re in right now. Dedicate some time to finding someone to love if that’s what you want, but for god’s sake, don’t become obsessed with it. Being single doesn’t make you any less of a person.

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Add comment January 13th, 2011

Is searching for your soulmate a waste of time?

In his New Year’s Day article in the Guardian, Oliver Burkeman offers some interesting advice on how to face the coming year. It’s a good article and I agree with a lot of it, but one thing made me groan.

He talks about compatibility in relationships and how a study called The Pair Project seemingly disproves the need for compatibility in successful relationships. This is apparently supported by US psychologist Robert Epstein, who cites the so called “success” of arranged marriages that were freely entered into as proof.
The article quotes The Pair Project’s founder, Ted Huston, who says:

The happiness of a marriage just isn’t much correlated with how many likes, dislikes or related characteristics a couple does or doesn’t share. Compatibility does play one specific role in love, when couples start worrying about whether they’re compatible, it’s often the sign of a relationship in trouble. “We’re just not compatible” really means, “We’re not getting along.” “Compatibility” just means things are working out. It simply renames the mystery of love, rather than explaining it.

Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, I disagree.

The way I see it, compatibility is not just about how similar your interests, life goals and ideas of gender roles are. It’s also a function of your willingness to compromise and your ideas of how much of your lives you should share in a relationship. The amount of time you’ll stay in a marriage, whether happy or not, is also a function of social conditioning. The more conservative a society is, the more likely a person is to stay in a marriage, because that is what is expected.

Arrange marriages are usually freely entered into in very conservative societies where it is still believed that marriage and procreation is a duty and should be entered into as a business transaction that will be benefitial to both families. I am a great believer in the power of belief to shape one’s world. If you believe something is your inescapable destiny, you will find ways to make it work. Will you be truly happy in it? You’ll probably convince yourself that you are, because you’d believe there is no other way. Therefore you may well be happy. The body has hormones to make you become addicted to someone you have sex with on a regular basis. That is how evolution works. Most young people entering into an arranged marriage will also have no idea of what it’s like not to be in one. This is especially true of women.

Of course, would a woman in say, Saudi Arabia tell a researcher she isn’t really happy with her arranged marriage even if she were? That I seriously doubt. Would most women in such a situation even admit to not wanting to wed their arranged spouse? I seriously doubt that as well.

From what I’ve read about Saudi Arabia (and I use it only as an example of a wider part of our world), husbands and wives often lead pretty separate lives. They come together mostly to make children, but have separate friends, interests and even spheres (women usually spend most of their time at home, while the husband spends most of his time outside).

If this is your expectations of a relationship then yes, similarity of interests is probably not that important. Things like kindness, the ability to provide and care and your ability to accomodate each your partner’s differences are far more important. Compatibility in the form of agreeing that this is the form a normal relationship is, of course, essential, but in traditional societies it is usually a given.

Now I must admit that I’ve not read all of the findings of The Pair Project, and I am not sure I found the bit of research Huston is referring to (please point me at it, anyone?) I did go and look at some of the abstracts of the research articles released and found a few things that would imply compatibility is a major issue.

For example, this article: Compatibility, leisure, and satisfaction in marital relationships (with D. Crawford, R. Houts, & L. George) Journal of Marriage and the Family, 2002, 64, 433-449.

And I quote (emphasis is my own):

…We found that the association between companionship and satisfaction is less robust than previously believed, and that it depends on how often spouses pursue activities that reflect their own and their partner’s leisure preferences. Over time, involvement in leisure liked by husbands but disliked by wives, whether as a couple or by husbands alone, is both a cause and a consequence of wives’ dissatisfaction.

So basically, time spent doing stuff together is not enough. If one of you doesn’t enjoy the stuff you do together (especially the woman), it will be a cause of unhappiness in the relationship. By the same token, if you are unhappy in a relationship, you will resent your differences more (which appears to be what Huston is talking about). Sounds like a compatibility issue to me, not to mention, a vicious circle.
While my personal view on relationships is that they should be big enough to accomodate each person’s individuality and freedom, this research seems to show that many people disagree and crave a certain homogeneity of experiences in long-term relationships. Another abstract even showed how men and women choose each other based on various compatible aspects of their characters (interests, leisure activities, etc.) and not so much because of age, social standing, etc. and how these continued to be important throughout the early years of marriage.

Now, I do agree that you can spend an entire lifetime looking for the perfect person while letting a lot of good people pass you by. If you’re a fussy woman whose main priority is to have children, for example, and you want to have them with a partner at your side (rather than visit a sperm bank), you may end up having to embrace compromise and settle down with a man who’s finer qualities are being able to be a good father to your kids. A lot of people end up having kids with spouses they would never in a million years have imagined pairing up with. There is even something to be said for raising children with a partner whose interests are separate to yours, as your sole alone time in your child’s early life may be spent away from your babysitting partner. Yes, many people find that when the children are old enough to allow for the parents to have personal time with each other, the relationships break up, continue on unhappily or carry on with both partners leading predominantly separate lives. However, I am yet to meet a parent who’s regretted going through the process of having kids. Nature has a way of making us fall in love with them too.

On the other hand, seeing as life in the western world has moved beyond accepting one’s little role in society in most aspects of one’s life (for better or for worse), I think many of us have bigger ambitions than simply shacking up with someone whose only role in our lives is to produce and care for offsprings and not beat us up. In fact, many couples are individually financially independent and choose not to have kids at all nowadays, which changes the rules of the game completely as the provider / carer dynamic is of no consequence. In that case, why bother pairing up at all unless you are compatible and can enrich each other’s lives?

For women, especially, the desire and search for a compatible partner who’d complement them and be more than just a provider and a father is somewhat of a feminist big deal, considering our dark past.

This is why when I see someone (usually a man) calling for a move back to “simpler times” when people just accepted their arranged marriage was their lot and “made it work”, it smells a little bit like post-feminism to me and I don’t like it. After all, a woman in a conservative society where women are taught to know their place would not find it a problem if her man was spending his time away from her doing things she does not enjoy. It’s not a woman’s role to share or even understand her husband’s activities outside the home, so such issue would not be a cause of friction unless the activity itself was dangerous or illegal — i.e. potentially harmful to the man’s ability to act as a provider and a father.

The freedom to choose someone who is more than just a facilitator of procreation and a beard for your fear of loneliness is something that should be embraced by both men and women. Finding someone who’s not a total loser and brainwashing yourself into being happy with him or her seems like a poor substitute to me.
As long as you are levelheaded and honest about your priorities and how to meet them, I say let the search continue.

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3 comments January 10th, 2011

This is what happens when online dating experts watch rom coms

Dating experts should probably never watch romantic comedies. I don’t really define myself as one (I’m an online dating expert, which is different), but apparently online dating experts shouldn’t watch rom coms either. Why? Because apparently it’s too close to my chosen profession to count as entertainment and it sends me off thinking about stuff that’s way too deep and meaningful when you consider the idiocy and lightness of the actual film.

So I was visiting my mom and Six Days Seven Nights came on. It got me thinking about good relationships and bad relationships and how Hollywood shoves crazy fantasies down our throats all the time (and how we happily let it and why).

Continue Reading Add comment January 7th, 2011

Brain scans show that love is universal and blind

An interesting new research shows which parts of the brain light up and shut down when lovers view pictures (or the face) of their loved one. Apparently the parts that are responsible for judgement are switched off, proving that love is blind. :)

Also, in case you didn’t already know, this works the same for heterosexuals and homosexuals. As much as I am happy that there is now scientific research to prove this point, I feel a little bit sad about living in a world where this still needs to be pointed out as anything but obvious (and that this will undoubtedly be dismissed as something or other by those people who are still living in the dark ages and don’t believe in scientific research anyway).

The full text of the article can be found here.

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Add comment January 5th, 2011

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