Why I Still Love Dating

So according to the statisticians at Buzzsumo.com the most popular dating article online at the moment is ‘Why modern dating makes me want to punch myself in the throat’ which you can read here.

Wow, yet another bash at the dating world. I honestly don’t know when everyone became so miserable about dating and why being single seems to be considered a traumatic experience these days, but frankly it’s starting to get a bit old. Although I’ve had many happy memories dating, believe me, I do understand why struggling to meet someone is difficult. In the past I’ve felt as low as low can go when it comes to dating, but it seems to me that too many people take the easy option of blaming ‘modern dating traditions’ for being single, with little or no effort to change it. I cannot stress this point enough – Tinder is not the only way to meet someone.

How many people do you know that consistently berate dating apps and websites and yet continue to spend more time swiping strangers than talking to the people they actually know? Well I to used to be one of those people.

Author of the aforementioned article, Melissa Moeller, states “I’m pretty much living in the thickest part of the modern hookup culture – perfecting the art of getting the right guy to buy you a drink at a bar, crafting the perfect response to a text to make you seem just interested enough, taking the proper five seconds to adequately judge a person and determine whether or not to swipe left or right on Tinder. That’s the world I live in now and I have to confess: I hate it with every fiber of my being.” Personally I enjoy the madness and over-thinking of crafting the perfect text (it reminds me of being a teen again), but the rest I agree with, I’m well and truly on your side Melissa Moeller! Except there’s one little thing you said that’s niggling away at me. “That’s the world I live in” – I disagree.

As much as I love the influx of technology and how I can have my food shopping delivered at the push of a button or find out who crossed paths with me that day (although I still find this a bit weird folks at Happn) it doesn’t mean I let technology dictate every aspect of my life. As a society we’re constantly looking for ways to make everything…simpler, faster, easier…and that’s what dating apps do, but the ways of old, they haven’t gone anywhere Melissa, they just don’t have big marketing budgets.

I was recently paid to review an award-winning dating site. I signed up, I did a search, I promptly sent them their money back. Why? Because despite the site’s popularity and despite the fact I live in a major UK city, there must’ve been about four people on the site who lived within 100 miles of me. So Melissa you’re not the only one sick of ‘modern dating’, in fact I would go as far as to say that most dating sites are filled with fake profiles to boost the numbers. So where is everyone? They’re all gathered in that little place we forgot about – ‘offline’.

Online dating has earned its place in the world, a nuisance to many but the source of success for countless others. However, no matter how many people you find online, there will always be more people offline and this is where my problem lies – no one has to accept these so called modern dating traditions if they don’t want to.

So why do I still love dating? Because my attitude changed. I’ll say it one more time – Tinder is not the only way to meet someone. I’m a big believer in not necessarily looking for someone, but putting yourself in situations where you might meet someone. For example, a friend of mine went to a night class in the city – Italian cooking for beginners. He went to that class to learn and to have fun but as a singleton what he actually did was inadvertently put himself in a situation where he might meet someone. If you do something where your sole purpose is to meet someone and then you don’t have success, that’s when you start to beat yourself up and hate the dating world. He left that final class with a homemade Carbonara and a future fiancé

If you enjoy online dating, brilliant, crack on with it! But what was it Melissa said about modern dating? “I hate it with every fiber of my being.” If this is you, put the phone down, give the seedy bars a miss and stop repeating what clearly isn’t working for you. You’ll never know until you try.

and please, oh please…don’t punch yourself in the throat.


Can Your First Love Really Be ‘The One’?

It was Freshers week 2004 at Glasgow University. I was a fresh faced 17 year old straight out of high school,  enjoying a freedom that previously had been alien to me. I never really enjoyed school, I achieved good grades and then wanted to leave as soon as possible. I never drank, rarely went to parties and led a fairly dull existence if I’m quite honest. University was where that all changed. In my eyes it was the first step into adulthood and to an extent, the real world (although years later I would come to learn student life is not ‘the real world’).

Freshers week was where I finally let go. The buzz around campus was truly addictive and I was lapping up every second of it. Only a few days in and I was getting female attention that had alluded me for most of my teens. On one particular night I was standing outside of the guy’s toilets waiting for a friend when a girl milky-skinned with celtic dark features approached me. She said nothing, just pointed at my hair. A few awkward seconds had passed when my breathe was taken away by the most incredible Irish accent – “I love your hair.” I was instantly smitten, to say I had fallen hard and fast was an understatement. A year older than me her name was Jennifer, we spoke for a few minutes, exchanged numbers and arranged to meet the next day. The following night we watched a then unknown band by the name of Biffy Clyro take the student union by storm. Later that night we ended up at a small gathering thrown by a young lad called Dan from Manchester – to this day the only person I’ve ever met with a poster of Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin. We had been lying on the floor (as students do) and had been quietly chatting away for a good couple of hours when we realised that there was actually someone else sleeping on the floor just a few feet away from us. Curled up in the corner we asked each other “who is this guy?” we’d never seen him before and hadn’t even noticed him entering what was a very small room. We weren’t bothering him but Dan awoke rather angrily and told us to leave him be. Little did Dan know that this guy (whoever he was) would wake up moments later in a drunken state and urinate all over Dan’s floor and much to our amusement, his vast CD collection. Hilarious as it was this was our cue to leave. It had been a memorable introduction to student life and Jennifer, it seemed, was about to become my first love.

We dated for a year. It was incredible at first, so young and naive, not a care in the world just happy to be in love. When I think back to that time I always laugh about how horrifically we used to dress and what our poor mothers must have been thought. I used to walk around in flared, black chords and band t-shirts, I long shoulder length hair and two lip piercings. Jennifer had a penchant for multi-coloured leggings, chunky cardigans and generally anything that was six sizes too big for her. As the months passed by the relationship soured a little, Jennifer became consumed by homesickness which sadly became the focal point of our relationship. She was counting down the days until she could go home for the summer whilst I dreaded them, in the end I think I was just there to help her get through the remaining months of first year. I put up with a lot during those months, I don’t know if I felt sorry for her or if I was just madly in love – perhaps a bit of both.

When the summer came she beamed, whilst I was heartbroken. When she left I had zero concerns for our relationship, in spite of the hardships of the previous months I still had complete and utter faith that we were happily in love but youthful naivety had struck once again. A few weeks had passed when I was awoken in the middle of the night by Jennifer calling. She was having a panic attack, “I just love you so much, I never want to be without you” she cried. I hadn’t been particularly worried up to this point but it was certainly some welcome reassurance and after calming her down I fell back to sleep. When I woke up the very next morning I had a text message, “I’m sorry but I don’t think we should be together.” I had to read the message four or five times for it to sink in, what had the phone call during the night been all about then? I replied to her message still rather confused, but sure enough it was over and by text message! For the very first time in my life, I was completely and utterly heartbroken.

In the coming months I struggled desperately to get over her, I was still absolutely certain that when she returned after the summer I would win her back. When she did return however I met a ‘new’ Jennifer, I honestly didn’t know who this girl was anymore. Gone was the sweetness of the girl who had curiously pointed at my hair that night and in her place was a party animal  who seemed to be dating a different guy every week. I never held it against her, after all that’s just what we do in our teens but the heartbreak was still devastating. We lost touch soon after, I left university and she moved back to Ireland.

I hadn’t spoken to Jennifer for about 9 years when in the summer of 2013 she messaged me out of the blue and asked to meet up. I had mixed emotions to say the least, would it be too awkward? I hadn’t spent years thinking she was the one that got away but we all hold a special place for our first love no matter what, don’t we? I hesitantly agreed to meet up but was actually quite pleasantly surprised by the outcome. When I saw her, I felt nothing. When we spoke, nothing. It was a bit like chatting to a distant relative, she was pretty but I wasn’t attracted to her anymore and found her a tad dull in comparison to the girl I once knew. It wasn’t that I had gone on to better things and she was a mess, she’s actually really successful and still a quite lovely person, but it did make me think back to those heartbroken days. At times I had been truly inconsolable, but it just goes to show that sometimes things do happen for a reason and that’s something I suppose you could say about most broken relationships. No matter how bad things seem, they definitely do get better.

So what was the purpose of my first love? I don’t think she was ever supposed to be ‘the one’. When I thought long and hard about this the purpose of that relationship actually seemed really simple – it was to learn. They say that everyone always remembers their first love and this is true, but for me it’s more like remembering a mentor or guardian than a lost love. That relationship taught me so much and to Jennifer, well I just hope she realises how grateful I am to her. She taught me so much about women, introduced me to music that existed outside of the top 40 and of course got me out of my shell by making me wear ridiculous clothes. I don’t miss her, I don’t think about her and I don’t love her, but I’ll be forever glad that she was my first love.


PTB Meets Cruiserweight Boxer Isaac Chamberlain

I’ve interviewed a lot of interesting people in recent times but I was particularly excited to meet with British Boxer Isaac Chamberlain. Boxing is something I’ve developed a keen interest in over the last few years and I’m fascinated by how Boxers manage to find a balance between the intensity of training and living a normal life. Last week Isaac spoke exclusively with me about growing up, relationships and of course, life in the ring.

Isaac, you’ve had an incredible start to your professional Boxing career, but what made you get into the sport? My Mum brought me to Miguel’s boxing gym in London as there was a lot of gang violence where I was growing up. My Cousin got stabbed just after he passed his GCSEs and it really hurt my family a lot. My Uncle Ted Bami mentioned to me about getting into Boxing to my Mum and as soon as I saw those bags and the ring and sweat dripping off the walls, I never looked back.

Who were your Boxing heroes growing up? It was always the humble soft- peaking technical fighters that caught my eye. Like Marvin Hagler, Mike McCallum, Bernard Hopkins and Andre Ward. I loved how they adapted to everything and anything thrown at them.

A lot has been made of the very ‘peaceful’ build up to the Joshua V Klitschko fight, do you think it’s refreshing to see this kind of respect before a fight or do you prefer to see a bit of a war between opponents? Definitely, I love it. That’s the type of approach I have to boxing. No talking, jut let your performances talk for you. It’s good to see athletes that respect the game and put it into a good light by showing that kind of professionalism

It’s well documented that Boxing is more a way of life for boxers and not just a sport. Do you find you have to sacrifice other areas of your life like dating and relationships, or is it easy enough to maintain a balance? Life is all about balance. You can’t have too much of something or it will be dull. I have to sacrifice a lot like partying and going out with friends, but if that’s all to be a champion then I’ll pick sacrificing every day of the week. I have a beautiful woman that understands my career and lifestyle and supports me endlessly, so it makes it a big help.

Confidence is a massive part of what you do and something a lot of men struggle with in many different aspects of life, how do you find the confidence and belief to go out there and perform in front of the crowds and television cameras? It’s all about the work that takes place when no one else is watching. That’s what makes you shine under the lights. Everything that’s happening to me now is because of what I do inside the ring and no matter how big I get, I can’t forget that. It’s all about finding your ground and remaining humble. That way you can see things for what they are instead of getting blinded by the lights, the crowds and the cameras.

Ideal woman? I’ve found the perfect one already haha, she supports me in every way and is incredibly loyal.

Were you ever concerned about girls being interested in you for your growing public profile as opposed to who you are as a person? Not really. I’ve been with my girlfriend for a while now. We met when I was just beginning to have a big profile in the boxing world, I never told her I was a Boxer and when I did she wasn’t even interested. It was a major relief actually.

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner or anyone for that matter? Loyalty, and a good head on their shoulders. Someone that I can talk to about anything and isn’t materialistic or parties constantly.

Any deal-breakers? Someone that wants you for what you do and your worth, not for who you really are.

You spent a fair bit of time training with undefeated WBC Heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder, did he give you any advice? Most of it was tactical advice after sparring, but he said there’s going to be a lot of hangers on. Just keep your circle small and love what you do no matter what. Enjoy the ride.

Teen crush? I never really had one. I was a weird kid. I just played PlayStation and watched cartoons haha.

What’s the dream fight for you, who would you love to get in the ring with? I don’t have a dream fight. The person I’m trying to beat every day is the man in the mirror. To better myself and test myself to the point where no one can beat me at my best.

You mentioned in your ‘Straight Outta Brixton’ documentary that no one had ever told you that you could make something of yourself. What was expected of you? Where might you be if you hadn’t found boxing? Wow, I don’t know. Going down the wrong route. As a child I’d already experienced being around guns and drugs as if it was a normal thing, so it looked inevitable. At one point I wanted to be a fireman, anything that helped people.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? Definitely, it’s not all about the looks and body (although luckily my girlfriend is also beautiful). Most importantly, you need someone that vibes on the same frequency as you and loves you for who you are, those things don’t seem as important when you’re younger.

What’s next for Isaac Chamberlain? At the moment I’m working hard in the gym preparing for my return since winning my last title fight. I dislocated my shoulder in the 3rd round but still managed to win over 10 rounds. So I’m planning on putting on an exciting show on St Patrick’s Day for my Irish supporters in the East End of London. I may just change my name to ‘O’Chamberlain’ for the evening haha.

Catch up with all the latest news on Isaac’s blossoming fight career here.
With special thanks to all of Isaac’s sponsors…
Mike Fellows at Fastline Steelservices UK Ltd (http://www.fastlinesteelfabrications.co.uk/)
Andrew Marjeram at Martin & Conley Ltd (http://www.martinandconley.com/)
Trevor Lloyd at Orford Investments (http://orfordinvestments.co.uk/)
Paul Jackson at Carter & Haines Vehicle Specialists (http://carterandhaines.co.uk/)
Amanda Elliott & Neil Smith at Björn Borg (https://www.bjornborg.com/uk/)


5 Online Dating Alternatives

So this one isn’t about bashing online dating. As apps become more and more progressive, I’ve learnt to see the benefits – so long as they’re used in the right way of course. However, what I’ve come to learn even more so, is that online dating isn’t for everyone. So here are my five alternatives for those sick of the swipe.


Probably the most controversial option, Singlepin sparked a mass of debate in 2016. This one grabbed my attention purely because well, I’ve never come across anything quite like it. Singlepin is the work of London based Artist Dianne Harris and has already been adopted by both men and women up and down the country. Harris after growing increasingly frustrated with dating in the digital world decided to introduce a sterling silver pin worn to indicate that you are both single and that you are a true believer in the lost art of face to face conversation. Praised by some, derided by others, there was something about this concept that appealed to the ‘old romantic’ in me. Check out www.singlepin.co.uk and make up your own mind.

Smudged Lipstick Events

Calling all single Londoners, if you aren’t familiar with the brainchild of my fellow dating blogger Jordi Sinclair then you are seriously missing out. Putting the fun back into dating, Smudged Lipstick promote having fun first and meeting someone second. This philosophy is something I’ve been championing for years now and finally, someone has nailed out. Go out with the sole purpose of meeting someone and more often than not you’ll either meet no one, or you’ll meet the wrong fun. Go out with ‘having a good time’ your top priority and the outcome may be altogether very different. Highlights include ‘Dirty Scrabble’ and ‘The London Spelling Bee’. Who says dating needs to be a struggle? Check out http://smudgedlipstick.co.uk/ to find out more.

Speed Dating

As the stigma of online dating has worn off in recent years, I’m hoping the same will soon be said of speed dating. When asked to review an event by a newspaper, I threw myself into the process and had so much fun I ended up hosting the event for 6 months. Even if you don’t meet someone it’s great just to be back out there in social situations – perfect for building confidence with the opposite sex. Also, it’s not uncommon to go on a normal date and realise you don’t like them within the first 5 minutes, well at speed dating you can just move on to the next person after 5 minutes. If you do like someone, catch up with them at the end. Still completely underrated, but speed dating in my opinion is a no-brainer. Company I recommend – http://www.speeddater.co.uk


Something I’ve heard a lot of good things about, meet-up is rapidly growing in cities all over the UK. It’s something I can really throw my weight behind and relates back to the idea of putting yourself in situations where you might meet someone without necessarily going out with that intention. No matter what your interests are, you’re bound to find a group for you, in fact I only discovered Meet-Up when I found a group relevant to my social media work. The beauty of meet-up is that the pressure is well and truly off when it comes to meeting someone, meet up in a group for drinks, a gig or even just a quiet coffee. If you hit it off with someone great, but if not, you’re at least guaranteed a good night out. Check out www.meetup.com for more info.

Grab a friend and hit the town

Stop reading dating blogs, grab a friend, down a glass of wine and see where the night takes you. Controversial I know.

My First Kiss Went A Little Like This

So I was walking through town the other day and I spotted the girl I shared my first ever kiss with. It was really strange as I literally hadn’t clapped eyes on her for what must have been about 17 years. At the time I was twelve, had just started first year and she was in third year – something which scored a few cool point with my new classmates.

It was one of those early relationships where you don’t talk much, dates were to the sports centre and every kiss was planned at least three days in advance. We’d been on a so called ‘date’ to play badminton – romantic I know. About halfway through she said to me “let’s go and see what’s up there” which confused my innocent young self as all she was referring to was the back of an empty sports hall. I followed on regardless then as we reached the wall she turned around, grabbed me and just went for it. I was a bit startled to say the least, I stood completely still the entire time, in fact I still had my racket in one hand and the shuttle cock in the other. Afterwards, barely one word was spoken. When I got home I became increasingly mortified about how utterly motionless I was, why didn’t I at least put the racket down?

Reminiscing about my youth got me talking to a few other people about their own first kiss experiences. Whether it was their first kiss ever or their first kiss with a new partner, it seems I wasn’t the only one who made a bad first impression.

“Don’t judge me but I was actually only about six or seven at the time. It was summer and I was obsessed with Grease the musical. I was always running around singing and pretending to be Sandy, then one day the boy who lived next door to me said you be Sandy and I’ll pretend to be Danny. This basically culminated in the two of us climbing onto a car bonnet and kissing, no tongues though haha.” Michelle, 21, London.

“I had arranged to meet this boy in the park, I was nervous as hell and there was an unusually big build up. Anyway, we finally got around to it and only a few seconds in one of his friends kicked a football and smacked him right in the side the face. He bit my lip and made me bleed and cry. Welcome to kissing!” Tracey, 31, Newcastle.

“This boy just started licking my lips from side to side, I don’t know what else I can say?” Alice, 25, Glasgow.

“I was on a first date which had went terribly, this however didn’t put him off going in for a kiss! I was actually trying to say goodbye and as I went to turn around he flew in for a kiss at about a hundred miles an hour, I trying to dodge it and he ended up head butting my ear. A terrible end to an even more terrible date.” Wendy, 35, Glasgow.

“I went on a blind date once, we’d barely said two words to each other all night, I didn’t dislike her or anything it was just obvious weren’t right for each other in any way. If I’m honest I really wasn’t attracted to her at all and I know this sounds awful but she had really bad breathe. As we were saying goodbye she closed her eyes, pursed her lips and just leant forward waiting for me. After a few awkward seconds I felt like I had no choice but to reciprocate, the whole thing was like a comedy sketch. Worst kiss of my life to this day.” Tony, 31, Glasgow.

“My first ever kiss was after school at the back of the P.E hall. My mum was picking me up as usual but I’d kept her waiting because I was very anxiously waiting for a girl in my class to come and meet me. As we started kissing my phone started vibrating, it was a heavy duty Nokia 3210 with an even heavier duty vibration setting. It felt like it went on forever, starting and stopping as she got to voicemail then calling back over and over again. Eventually I tried to switch my phone off whilst we were still kissing but all I managed to do was answer it. All we both could hear was my Mum shouting “Sean, Sean! Where are you Sean! You think I’ve nothing better to do than sit here waiting for you!” We both awkwardly carried on as if nothing was happening. Who knew my Mum would play such an active role in my first kiss.” Sean, 26, London.

and my personal favourite…

“We were kissing in the street and someone rode a push bike right into him.” Lainey, 23, Brighton.

Introducing: Ask Paul & Renee

So I’m delighted to announce a new monthly feature for the blog. From February onwards I’ll be teaming up with Mob Wives and Celebrity Big Brother star Renee Graziano to answer your questions about all things dating and relationships. You may have read my interview with Renee earlier this month and having being blown away by her background and stories, I feel Renee has the kind of life experience that people can really benefit from. From time to time I notice agony aunt columns in magazines and newspapers and I can’t help but think, who are these people? Well trust me, Renee Graziano has lived!!

Renee and I are from exceptionally different upbringings (New York/Glasgow) and although we may agree on a lot of things, I think the contrast between us works perfectly. It’s also nice to be able to give readers both an honest male and female perspective on issues that at times may be quite difficult to talk about. So without further ado get sending those questions!! You can email them to paul@lucky52.co.uk and I’ll make sure they’re featured in the next post – please also feel free to remain anonymous if you wish.

Happy Dating!

Paul & Renee

8 Peculiar Ways Guys Deal With Break-Ups

Break-ups aren’t nice by any means, but they’ve always fascinated me. It’s incredible how being on the wrong end of a break-up can remove every shred of common sense or self-worth we proudly once had. Like everyone else, I too have been on the wrong end of break-ups and albeit a good few years back, some of my reactions still make me laugh to this day. With that in mind here are just a few examples (including my own) of how guys can react to being dumped.

We get questionable piercings – I was 19 years old, she was French and love of my life number 3 by this point (I was very naive). We’d dated for around 18 months, she’d been in the year below me at school and had made a name for herself by sleeping with a guy on a bouncy castle in her back yard, at the time I wrongly judged her for it, but then two years later we ended up dating. The relationship was good until she started working at a popular Japanese restaurant chain, she struck up a friendship with her boss to a point where she’d started trying to set him up with different women. Eventually she set him up with herself. That first two weeks after we broke up all I could think about was winning her back. I decided I had to be even cooler than I of course already was *jokes*, and so I got ‘snakebite’ lip piercings. When she saw them her response was anything but ‘wow’, in fact she rather dramatically called it a form of self-harming. My poor Mum was horrified and I walked around the house for three months covering my mouth with a scarf to hide it from my Dad before eventually giving up on them. Back to her though, boss man broke up with her after a month of dating and she promptly tried to get us back together. After a weeks though I was well and truly over it, making it even more embarrassing that I’d stuck metal in my face to impress her. If you have to stick metal in your face for love, it’s not love.

We recreate John Cusack’s famous scene from ‘Say Anything’ – a friend of mine actually went one better. He hired a busker to duet with him and perform Plain White T’s hit ‘Hey There Delilah’ outside of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment. I seem to remember I encouraged this at the time, but no, he has never lived it down and no, it didn’t work.

We turn up in a foreign country to surprise them – I say foreign, I mean Ireland. My Irish first love broke up with me when she went home for the summer, what did I do? I booked a flight over to try and win her back, got lost in a small town just outside of Dublin and eventually never made my way to her countryside home. I left without her knowing anything about it. I was 18, had no credit on my phone and generally was a bit of an idiot.

We give up food – I’ve spoken before about my craziest and longest relationship, but never before has this ‘foodie’ lost his appetite like I did during this break-up. I quite literally just couldn’t bring myself to eat, it only lasted a few days but it was just unheard of for me to go off my food. As it turns out that break-up turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me, it sparked my love of travel, getting my own place, a better job and eventually it inspired my blog – the right kind of reactions you might say. Please don’t ever give up food folks!

We sleep with everything that moves – we all have our one night slip-ups but choosing a one-night stand kind of lifestyle isn’t by any means the best route to take after a break-up. The thing about one night stands is that it doesn’t really solve anything, it takes your mind off the break-up but only in that moment. The second they leave, your mind wanders right back to everything you were trying to avoid. We all need a bit of fun from time to time but some notches are just too pointless.

We get nasty – sometimes the heartbreak can turn guys into monsters, at least verbally anyway. I remember sitting with a female friend on ‘MSN messenger’ back in the day whilst she was talking to a guy she’d broken up with. The conversation went along the lines of…”babe I miss you, please take me back,”…”no, I’m sorry”…”fine, whore.” He was actually a really nice guy too, but it just proves how our emotions get the better of us sometimes. Love can very quickly sound like hatred.

We cut contact – us guys love a bit of attention even when it’s not warranted. We’ll always deny this but we thrive on a bit of a ‘pity party’ sometimes. I remember when I was in my teens I used to love it when I had a fall-out with a girl because it meant I could play the silent, heartbroken emo kid on the bus, gazing out of the window feeling sorry for myself. Fun times.

We turn up the power ballads – so this is a story I may regret sharing and I realise it’s starting to sound like I get broken up with a lot but regrettably I’ve had more girlfriends than I’d like to admit. When I was in first year at high school, I had a girlfriend who was in third year (this got me a lot of brownie points with the ‘cool’ kids). We dated for around 7 months or so when for Valentines Day she bought me the most hideous medallion ring complete with eagle engraving and words that translated to ‘United States of Mexico’. I was actually expected to wear this thing and politely I did. The relationship turned sour not long after when a girl in my own year complimented the ring and in return I gave her it. That girl would then parade it in front of my girlfriend’s face. Not nice to give it away I know, but I was only 12 years old. My girlfriend broke up with me and being the old romantic that I was at the time I was completely devastated. That night I went home, plugged in my ‘ghettoblaster’ opened the window and played Celine Dion’s ‘My Heart Will Go On’ as loud as it would go for all the neighbours to hear. My Mum and Dad were beyond mortified.

My advice in dealing with most break-up situations is always to focus on bettering yourself . I think it takes a lot to break-up with someone, it’s not something you do lightly and it’s important to respect your partner’s decision. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up. I’ve rarely been through a break-up where an opportunity to get back together didn’t arise further down the line. The key is to give them space and a reason to miss you, make them wonder why you’re dealing with the situation so well.

Piercings, performances, insults, pity parties and hunger strikes don’t work – trust me.



PTB Meets Mob Wives Star Renee Graziano

More often than not reality TV is considered to the weak link of the smallscreen, however, in Renee Graziano star of the thoroughly entertaining ‘Mob Wives’, I knew I was speaking with more than just another reality star. Being the daughter of a notorious New York City mobster does nothing to diminish the obvious warmth which emanates from her character – although clearly not to be messed with – you’d be surprised at just how pleasant a mob wife can be. As someone who’s been there, done that and worn just about every t-shirt you can imagine, it was a real pleasure to catch up with Renee and talk all things dating and relationships.

Hi Renee, you’ve always come across as someone who is very head-strong and independant, was it ever difficult to develop such traits growing up in surroundings full of what I imagine to be ssome very powerful men? I think I was born strong and and both my Mother (who is extremely strong minded) and Father just added to that strength by showing me ways to use it as an asset, but I can’t lie I didn’t become totally independent until I was shooting Mob Wives.

You’re obviously extremely proud of your roots, but did you ever find it difficult to date when you were younger? Were some guys scared to get involved with you in case they annoyed your Father? (laughs) dating for me was horrible, oh my Jesus you have no clue! My Dad made it almost impossible for me to date, he would scare the shit out of the boys, and then he would tell me if they don’t ask you for a second date they didn’t have good intentions – that rang true many years later.

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner? He must be close to God. Loyal, honest, trustworthy and smart and a sharp dresser not afraid to spend! He must have a very great job and make at least six figures, i.e financially established and owns his own home. He has to be respectful. He must be passionate about living life and passionate in the bedroom. He must remain teachable (like me). He has to be adventurous and willing. He has to be a good man. He MUST have great hygiene. Tall like 6’2 and over, dark hair and well-built.

You’ve spoken very openly about being a domestic abuse survivor, is there room for forgiveness or help in these situations or is it an automatic deal-breaker? I am a survivor, you have to forgive, not for them but for yourself, that is the only way you heal and that applies to any type of abuse. I’d never ever date a man that puts his hands on a woman.

What advice would you give to women struggling to escape such situations? Well as you know my situation is different, but what I can advise is to get yourself and your kids out, NOW! It will never stop and the longer a woman makes excuses for it he will continue to degrade her and those kids. Remember our children learn from their parents. I was fortunate to get (son) AJ and myself out, and because I did that, AJ is a good solid man.

Often young women (and men) put pressure on themselves to meet the one, ultimately leading them to meet ‘the wrong one’, what advice would you give to those eager to settle down? Don’t rush forever. Enjoy dating, but have standards, don’t date someone who you know has a history of cheating. Make a ‘must have’ list, jot down 4 or 5 definites like good job, good family, good up-bringing, clean, not cheap!

The UK really embraced you after your Celebrity Big Brother stint during which you spoke passionately about your relationship with your son AJ, what do you feel is the key to maintaining a healthy Mother/Son relationship? First off let me say thank you to everyone in the UK for all the love I received, it truly warmed my heart. As for the mother/son relationship; be open, be honest, be his best friend when he needs one and of course be his mother, show him how to be a man that a woman wants and respects. AJ and I have a unique bond because of all that he and I have gone through since he was 5 years old. How I maintain that is by vacationing together from time to time and recently I’ve stepped back a little to let him go and become the man that I know he is. He’s also expecting his first child which is a boy, so he’s soon going to understand the love a parent has for their kids.

Do you still keep in touch with any of your Big Brother co-stars? I’ve been in Katie’s company in Miami two weeks ago and I occasionally speak to Aubrey (O’Day) and Chloe (Khan).

You famously described yourself in the house as ‘The Michael Jordan of blowjobs’ what advice would you give to couples struggling to make the most of their time in the bedroom? Sex is a huge part of the relationship, if you aren’t sure what to do to spice it up well Google can be surprisingly helpful! As for my perfected skill, well not everyone is born with it (laughs).

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self? Listen to everything your parents say about boys and girls, they’ve already been through it so they know. 

Any strange fan mail? I have a fan that has tattooed me on their arm and I’ve been receiving letters from a prisoner while in rehab, very intrusive and stalkerish at times.

Teen crush? Scott Baio (Happy Days) and in my early 20s I fell in love with (and still have a huge crush on him) Mark Harmon from NCIS, I just love him.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? Love is the most beautiful thing you can give to another. My perception is still the same, but I do know that love for some people my age means a security blanket. I just wanna find the man I’m going to grow old with and sit on a swing and drink lemonade – in our very big vacation home (laughs).

What’s next for Renee Graziano? Well my book ‘Playing With Fire’ is coming to the UK very soon and I have an incredible new jewellery range which you can buy online at ReneeGraziano.com. I’m also starring in Marriage Boot Camp and writing a book about recovery – everything from love, lust, drugs and how to get over an ex.

main image: WENN




Be Careful Who You Sleep With

We’ve all had dalliances we’ve regretted and usually for very different reasons. Last week I had the pleasure of catching up with an old friend, Alice, who was back in town visiting from her new Barcelona home (jealous much). Naturally we got reminiscing about some of our old shenanigans from back when we were just a pair of emo kids living off KFC buckets, super noodles and Green Day.

At the time I was living in a ridiculously expensive flat that I couldn’t afford, I had no job, no money and even less furniture. I’d moved into the flat with a friend who had equally little money but a large inheritance with which he had agreed to fund us both for a couple of months until we found jobs. That agreement turned sour all too quickly when he blew all the money on turning his bedroom into an Ikea showroom to impress his new girlfriend (the things we do for love). Gradually the situation worsened and I came home one day to find he had moved out, I was heartbroken, no I wasn’t really it was quite the relief actually. I decided in the following days that before I moved out I would throw one last party.

I didn’t throw parties that often but when I did, I made sure it lived long in the memory. I turned the living room into a dance floor and later a wrestling ring, my friends and I took turns at both crowd-surfing and then later throwing each other across the room (oh to be 18 again). The next morning I woke up in my bedroom to find my plain white wall had been turned into a surprsingly detailed comic strip with nothing but a permanent marker. Alice waltzed in surprisingly fresh-faced telling me of two confessions she had to make. Firstly, my wall. Secondly, “Paul, I slept with your friend Ben”. If there was one person I would have reccomended she don’t sleep with, it was Ben. She hadn’t known, but Ben was engaged. They were both mortified, as it turns out bumping into one another in the bathroom had quickly turned into bumping uglies.

Over the coming weeks Ben and his fiance broke off their engagement after he reluctantly confessed. Then one night myself and Alice found ourselves at another party where I spotted a familiar face, it was a young guy who had been looking over at me quite sheepishly. I went over to him, patted him on the back and said “I’m sorry about Ben” before unintentionally leaving him alone with Alice. The young guy asked Alice, “so how do you know Ben?” Alice very casually replied “oh, I slept with him at Paul’s party, how do you know him?” After a long pause he replied, “he was engaged to my sister but he slept with someone else.”

To my surprise they both laughed it off (eventually), it helped that Alice wasn’t malicious in any way and hadn’t known of Ben’s impending wedding. That wasn’t the only story we reminisced about last week, but it was certainly the most memorable. Lessons learnt all around I guess.



The Single Resolution

So we’re just over a week into the New Year and I wondered how many of us have already broken our resolutions? Yes, my hand is up. Understandable of course, it’s never easy but good on you if you’re smashing it. Resolutions I’ve found are often influenced by our relationship status and during a dinner conversation over the festive period, I was surprised to hear of a refreshingly different kind of resolution.

“My resolution this year is to stay single” proclaimed a friend of mine. At 35 years old he’s drifted from one questionable relationship to the next, many of which have compromised his personal and career goals year after year. I had to applaud him (not literally). I rarely hear relationship resolutions from singletons that don’t end in finding the love of their lives. However, sometimes we forget to make the most of aactuallly being single and remembering that being single does not make you a leper. I’m a big believer in being happy by yourself before being happy with someone else, being in a relationship isn’t always the answer to life’s problems. What happens when you pressure yourself or rush into the wrong relationship? You find the wrong person, simple as that.

Being single isn’t something to be ashamed of or to hide away from. No matter what age you are and what the opinions of your friends and family are, there’s no shame in living your life, not the one people expect you to live. Sure relationships can at times be incredible, but so can career development, friendship and travel and all the other things that sometimes aren’t possible when you’re in a relationship – particularly when you’re with the wrong person.

When I was younger I was in a relationship with someone who I’d wanted to break up with for about two years of our three year relationship, but I just couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. I made being single out to be a much scarier prospect than it actually was. Eventually, she broke up with me – it was the best thing that ever happened to me. For around a week I was inconsolable, but once I was past that initial shock, everything changed for the better. I genuinely believe that had she not ended our relationship I would still be working in a call centre, would never have travelled and generally would be a shell of the person I am. Ever since that relationship I’ve always sworn to never underestimate the benefits of being single. I firmly believe to this day that if you use your single time in the right way, it could very well be the making of you.

So this post is just a little reminder – never ever beat yourself up for being single. Relationships can be great, magical, whatever you want to call it…but life shouldn’t depend on it.

Happy New Year,



PTB Meets Chloe Madeley

When it comes to dating and relationships they say we learn a lot from our parents, but what happens when your parents just so happen to be TV’s most famous husband and wife duo? Now a household name in her own right and with a growing fitness empire in tow, I caught up with Chloe Madeley to get her take on confidence issues, online dating and finding the one.

Hi Chloe, would you say being in the public eye has affected your outlook to dating and relationships at all? Were you ever concerned about someone wanting to date you for your fame as opposed to who you are as a person? I don’t think men have ever been interested in dating me because of my inherited fame. However, I do think young men in particular enjoy a sexual conquest story and being Richard and Judy’s Daughter probably made me a prime candidate for such stories. You can tell right off the bat who wants what from you though, so it was never a problem and it never upset me – boys will be boys.

What are your thoughts on online dating: curse or convenience? I personally would feel uncomfortable entering into that world and I’m very lucky that so far I haven’t had to. However my current boyfriend chased me over Twitter, so perhaps we fall into that category after all?

You’ve firmly established yourself as one of the UK’s leading fitness gurus, how important do you feel it is for a partner to support their spouse’s ambitions and lifestyle choices? I learned very early on that you can never control another person, nor should you try to. Everybody is different – different thoughts, feelings, actions and goals determine who we are as individuals – if you can’t accept that fact, then you’re not ready for a healthy relationship. My boyfriend plays rugby, which can be very hard to watch at times. He DJs house, which is a type of music that I absolutely hate. He’s obsessed with his phone, which drives me mad, but here’s the thing, all of the above make him happy and I genuinely love him, so that is the most important thing of all. He doesn’t like it when I do photoshoots that lead to other men seeing me in my underwear, but it’s part of my job and I love the shoots I get to do, so he supports me 100%.

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner? A sense of humour, a kind heart and a high libido. I’m a 29 year old woman and I don’t want to waste my time with someone who can’t laugh with me, doesn’t give a shit about me, or doesn’t want to have sex with me. As far as I’m concerned, these three qualities are non-negotiables.

Any deal-breakers? I have definitely fallen out of love with partners with an ugly right-wing point of view. I can’t abide lazy, judgemental, ill-informed or misplaced opinions.

Teen crush? Justin Timberlake. I actually got drunk last night and went on a Britney / Justin rant for my very confused and very uninterested boyfriend.

Perfect date? Good food, good wine, a cosy setting (anywhere with a booth is a winner) and good conversation.

Any dating mishaps? I have been known to get a little too drunk on a first date…

What advice would you give to young women struggling with confidence issues when it comes to dating? What is standing in the way of your confidence? You don’t like your hair? Your clothes? Your makeup? Your body? Change it. You think you’re not funny or interesting? Ask your friends and family what they love about you. Why do they want to keep you in their life? Listen to their answers and remember them. Are you nervous about a first date? Of course you are. It’s awkward. Somebody is about to judge whether or not they like you. Everybody hates first dates for these exact reasons. But remember, not everyone will like you and you’re not going to like everyone, and that’s perfectly OK.

Do you think people put too much pressure on themselves to find the one causing them to meet ‘the wrong one’? Yes, and I’ve been guilty of this. Then I remember that two out of three marriages end in divorce and if I can avoid being 50 years old with three kids and getting a divorce by taking my sweet time, so be it.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? God yes. The way I act and feel in a relationship has changed dramatically as I’ve gotten older, and that’s because my perception of love has changed. I’m a lot less selfish now, a lot more forgiving, much more at ease with the peaks and troughs of love…you calm down a lot as you get older.

What’s next for Chloe Madeley? My nutrition app launches in January and I have a clothing line and book on the horizon!


(Photo: Nigel Crane/Hungrydog Media)


Here’s To Louis…

I don’t often write about things that happen in the press, but I was beyond moved by Louis Tomlinson’s performance on X Factor last weekend, so much so that I just couldn’t ignore it. For anyone unaware, Louis’ Mum, Johannah, passed away just a few days prior to his performance after a year long battle with Leukaemia. I’m not a huge fan of either X Factor or One Direction (except Night Changes that’s a tune!) but nothing could stop me looking on at Louis with anything but admiration and respect.

Around this time two years ago I lost my Dad unexpectedly. I found grief to be a very curious thing, it rips you to shreds inside, it challenges you in every way imaginable but in the end, you realise you’re stronger than you ever thought possible. When my Dad passed away I found myself in situations the stuff of nightmares are made of – the immediate aftermath, the days that followed, even now there are days when it hits me like a tonne of breaks.

Which leads me to Louis. For that young man to stand up in front of millions of people and perform, mere days after his Mother’s death, well it just shows how much he loved her, because God knows it wasn’t for anyone else. I know One Direction tend to get a lot of stick from anyone who isn’t a fan but whether you like them or not, I hope everyone will give this guy the respect he deserves. Believe you me, it’s difficult to even get out of bed when you’re grieving, never mind perform. My deepest sympathies to the entire Tomlinson clan.


Winning Back The Single Women

Something’s not quite right and I can’t quite decide who’s to blame. When you chat to anyone about dating – guy or girl – they seem to instantly hone in on the negative aspects as opposed to the good. Perhaps the bad experiences are just a tad more memorable or maybe the good experiences are just fewer and far between? Not to sound all Family Fortunes on you all, but over the last few weeks I’ve spoken with exactly 100 women across several different dating platforms and I’ve noticed one rather alarming trend – more and more women are getting seriously fed up of dating.

I couldn’t help but recognise how women are becoming increasingly sceptical about what you tell them. Admittedly, I’m probably quite annoying asking question after question about their love lives, but so many women simply don’t believe what you’re telling them and I think it’s important to ask ourselves why…

When I said I was a dating blogger, I was called a liar. I sent them a link, they said “hmmmmm”. I said I wasn’t online looking for a relationship, they called me a ‘cheater’. They even suggested that I wasn’t using my real picture, but I’ll take that one as a compliment. As frustrating as all that was however, I couldn’t quite blame them. I was surprised to find that the more honest I tried to be, the more my every word was deemed either ‘a line’ or a lie, HOWEVER, do us guys only have ourselves to blame? Perhaps platforms like Tinder have given men way too much freedom to do and say whatever they please? Maybe the temptation to be someone we’re not is a little too appealing to turn down and maybe most women have simply just, had enough?

I spoke with one lady who told me of the countless times men had commented “if only I wasn’t married” or “if only I didn’t have a girlfriend” and yes fair play to them they’re being honest that they have a partner, but more often than not that sentence continues into “if I didn’t have a girlfriend…I’d do this to you…” so it’s not really OK after all is it?

This may sound a tad strange but consider the ‘friend zone’ early on in your conversations online. It’s the best way of showing you’re not just after one thing, but you also don’t know each other well enough yet that the friendship to can’t turn into something more. If women are cynical, nine times out of ten it’s some other guy’s fault, but just be a friend (at least initially) and you can’t go far wrong.

Listen to what she has to say. Speaking to a cynic can be a bit off-putting, in fact it’s tempting to end the conversation almost immediately. However, if you can get past that early negativity and listen to what they have to say, you tend to find that behind even the harshest of cynics is someone who just wants a little bit of a love story – allow the idiots of the past to make you look good.

Don’t push things. Being pushy doesn’t work in any relationship situation never mind trying to win over the toughest of cynics. I suppose this comes hand in hand with being a friend and a good listener. Seriously though, don’t overstep the mark by being a friend, listening and then a week later invite her for a late-night Netflix session!

Be funny. You don’t need to be Glasgow’s answer to Chandler Bing, but have a sense of humour about things, make them laugh. As odd as it may sound, being a cynic won’t win over a cynic, in fact you’ll both just end up rather miserable together. Learn to laugh at your past experiences and life will most certainly become that little bit easier.

All in all, let’s remember that dating is supposed to be fun. Whether you’re a guy or a girl try and take everyone at face value, otherwise dating is going to be a long hard slog that we could all do without – life’s too short as it is.


Five Dating Mistakes (I Made)

As a recovering serial dater I’ve had my fair share of stories to tell, mistakes to make and lessons to learn. Naturally, much of the above has been of great inspiration to my writing (even if it does mean revisiting some of my most embarrassing moments). I’ve always found dating to be fascinating. I understand why some people see it as quite a daunting experience, but I really wish they wouldn’t. Dating did wonders for my confidence as a teenager and if anything, really helped shape my sense of humour when it comes to relationships in a really positive way. So without further ado let me share with you all the top five mistakes made by a much more youthful PTB…

1. Don’t get so drunk at your friend’s flat-warming party that you ask her goth roommate out on a date. I of course have nothing against goths, I’m a former emo kid after all, but certain extremes of goth culture aren’t to my personal taste when it comes to girls. So why I asked out my friend’s roommate I’ll never know – she looked like Marilyn Manson had been shopping at Halfords. Nice girl though. This was the same night I stole a beer keg from a local pub and rolled it all the way back to the party, the police even gave me directions, but that’s another story.

2. Don’t turn up to meet a girl dressed in the same outfit as her. You’ll be surprised to hear this one follows on from the previous point. I was held to that date by my friend, which was definitely fair enough. I knew she was a nice enough girl and I just reminded myself not to judge anyone, particularly as I’d gotten my ears pierced sat in the window of a Claire’s Accessories a week before. However, we met up to discover that we had both come dressed in the same outfit. She’d tried to ‘goth down’ and I’d tried to ’emo up’! We were both wearing identical black hoodies, black skinny jeans and similarly scuffed white Converse trainers. Together, we looked like a dare. What made the night worse was her preference that we went to the cinema where it was so busy we had to sit in separate rows! There’s nothing more romantic than distance is there? Nice girl, strange night, funny to look back on.

3. Don’t laugh at their accent. It was hard, really hard. I once went on a date with a girl from Finland and the only time she seemed to speak proper English was when she was mocking Scotland. It didn’t bother me in the slightest, I love all that banter as much as anyone, however it was when she kept pronouncing ‘coke’ as ‘cock’ that really took the biscuit. She insisted we go to KFC where she promptly ordered a Zinger Tower Meal with a large cock. Then as she drank her large cock, she told me all about how she doesn’t normally like cock because they use cock to clean the car park at the hotel she works at back home. Even after everything she’d said about Scotland she was fuming when I tried to correct her pronunciation. If you can’t laugh in that situation, you’re not human.

4. Don’t get their name wrong. Going back to my past life as an Insurance Underwriter here (shivers). I’d been working on a one-off project with a woman named Kelly which basically involved us being locked in a room all day trying not to kill each other. There was just a serious personality clash and we were the last two people who should’ve been working together. This woman was grating on me all the way up to my date that night. I called my date Kelly six or seven times and to this day can’t remember her actual name because I still think ‘Kelly’ when I picture her face. I hate Kelly.

5. Don’t ditch her for The Backstreet Boys. So I was on a date in a quiet hotel bar and my seat is facing the door and as she’s talking in walks the bloody Backstreet Boys! Turns out they were playing a concert in the city and this was their hotel. Don’t get me wrong they’re not exactly my favourite band (although I did once serenade a girl with ‘I want it that way’ when I was 13) but they’re kind of legends aren’t they? To cut a long story short, she wandered off to the toilet and I wandered off to meet the Backstreet Boys and returned to my seat an hour later. No excuses, I totally messed up on this one – totally worth it though.

So what did I learn? Don’t drink too much, don’t correct Finnish girls and don’t fanboy over grown men when you’re on a date with a gorgeous girl. We live and learn.

Happy Dating!


How To Give The Best Blow Job Ever

OK so it’s not what you think. Recently, the lovely folks at Marie Claire magazine gave me the challenge of writing this piece. Having never given a blow job, I was of course hesitant and well not exactly keen to give it a bash, thankfully they just meant from a receivers point of view. So as much as I’m a tad embarrassed to write this and hope this is one article the family choose not to read, I’ve always promised to give an honest male perspective on just about anything. So here it goes…

Now blow jobs have always been a bit of a taboo subject. It might seem straightforward enough but believe it or not, there is such a thing as a ‘bad blow job’. Guys always think a blow job is a bit of a privilege, it sounds bizarre but sometimes we can’t actually believe a girl would want to do such a thing (but trust me we’re grateful).  There are however those times when a blowjob is just downright painful and those squirms we make, aren’t always because we’re loving it – it’s because we fear for the life of the poor little guy. So girls, on behalf of myself and every straight man out there we are truly appreciative of what you do, but here are just a few little pointers that will help you along the way.

A little teasing goes a long way – there’s nothing like the build up to a blow job. When a guy knows it’s definitely going to happen it’s a similar excitement to his team about to score a goal – except this time there’s a girl on her knees ready to give you everything that your footballing heroes can’t. With this in mind girls, enjoy the control you have over him, a guy will never be more at your mercy. Make him squirm with a few gentle touches of your lips and the tip of your tongue, it drives us crazy in all the right ways.

Fancy a stare out? – It should be awkward looking each other in the eye at such a moment, but if there’s one image we’ll be reminiscing about days later this is it. When you look us in the eye it’s like you’re saying “look what I’m doing, you love it don’t you?” meanwhile your man finds his inner teenager screaming inside “oh my God, oh my god, oh my God.” You’d also be amazed at how much guys want to marry you in this moment, just saying.

Never leave a man (or two) behind – this is a tricky one because I know not all guys are into it. I certainly wasn’t when I was younger but when I relaxed and let it happen, I loved it. Whether it’s giving the balls the same treatment as the penis or even just grazing them with your fingertips it all contributes to enhancing the experience. Not essential, but a massive bonus to any guy who’s into it. One word of caution though, we’re very delicate in this area – like really delicate.

My penis is not an apple – there really is nothing worse than a ‘toothy’ blowjob. I always sympathise with girls because I know a lot of guys are different and what your last boyfriend liked isn’t necessarily what your new boyfriend will like. One thing I am confident of however, is that no man likes a toothy blow job. Again, grateful for what you’re doing but when it’s ‘toothy’ it’s just sore, as I’m sure it would be if the shoe was on the other foot. I’ve known guys to withstand it and hope for the best, but can you imagine how embarrassing it would be if a guy had to stop a blow job? It would be like stopping Christmas before you’ve had dinner. As a guy it’s one conversation I never want to have with a girl, one because well I don’t want to be in pain and two because I would never want to embarrass someone by putting them in that situation.

Dig a little deeper – deep throat is another thing that takes a guy by surprise in all the right ways. It’s not an expectation (it’s not always physically possible after all) but it’s definietly a welcome bonus. IF you’re going to do it though, only do it if you’re comfortable with it. I’m not a big fan of the choking and tears streaming from the eyes. Remember, guys want you to enjoy the experience just as much as they do and if you look like you’re in physical distress, well it’s a major turn off and at the end of the day why would we want to see you in distress? Deep throat is however some much-appreciated next level stuff and if you can do it with ease, then by all means show us what you’ve got.

So those are my top tips, always reme,ber foreplay should be fun and always, always stay within the boundaries of what you’re comfortable with.

Have a great week ahead!