Breaking The Mold With TENGA

Noted public health expert Dr Joycelyn Elders once said “We know that more than seventy to eighty percent of women masturbate, and ninety percent of men masturbate, and the rest just lie.”

When you market yourself as the guy who’ll talk about anything, there’s very little you can say no to. This week Japanese firm Tenga put that notion to the test when they asked me to examine the topic of male masturbation, a new one for me but a piece of cake in comparison to what Marie Claire have asked of me in recent times.

I guess masturbation is probably a more interesting topic than I first realized, particularly when it comes to the male species. To me it’s always just been ‘one of those things’ that was of no relevance or interest to anyone whatsoever – although try telling that to those poor celeb boys who were caught out on the old webcam recently! As it turns out, when you delve into the topic more you’ll find a whole host of key discussion points.

A common misconception about males who masturbate often is that there’s a problem with their relationship, but ladies (and men) that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact masturbating has a number of interesting health benefits and no not in the way that you will live longer (sorry lads) but as a stress reliever, clearing your head or even just to help you sleep at night.

I was glad TENGA reached out to me, it really opened my eyes to the fact that there is a distinct lack of discussion when it comes to male masturbation whereas for women, global phenomena like Sex and the City has really broken the mold. Many assume that male masturbation involves guys going at it five times a day pulling a face that can only be described as ‘ungodly’, which is wholly untrue (well the five times part anyway). Female masturbation on the other hand I’ve heard being described as everything from sensual to even ‘art’ on one occasion – but that of course is no fault of the ladies, it just is what it is.

This however led me to do a bit of digging. I asked several males why they never spoke about masturbation and the answers were glaringly similar. It seems that some men think they will be deemed as ‘dirty’, ‘rude’ or just being a ‘typical lad’, whereas in truth it’s just a natural, everyday part of life that shouldn’t be shied away from – in the right context of course.

So where do TENGA come in? Well TENGA have been described as ‘the Apple of the sex toy industry’, the company uses a consumer stylist and aims to do away with the obscene imagery related to sex toys to instead focus on design, technology and functionality. In essence they want to bring male sex toys to the mainstream and FINALLY open up the lines of communication amongst men. So without further ado let me introduce you to some of the groundbreaking products that landed on my desk this week.

 

The TENGA Onacup – Deep Throat £13.99

That woke you up didn’t it? The TENGA Original Vacuum CUP’s hourglass shape provides a sublime tightness. Special valves create a virtual vacuum inside the CUP to deliver an amazing sucking sensation – yes that’s right guys it basically replicates a blow job (don’t all rush off at once).

 

 

The TENGA Flip Hole – £63.99

One of the hottest selling sex toys in the world today, the TENGA Flip Hole was designed by an engineer to be both stylish and efficient. Once you have experienced the TENGA Flip Hole, simply flip it open and clean ready for the next sexual encounter.

 

 

 

The Eggs by TENGA – Original Variety Six Pack £44.99

Proving that great things really do come in small packages! The TENGA Egg now has seventeen different varieties and are available as single units or in half dozen boxes to bring you a little bit of random excitement each time.

Want to see how it works? Check out this video https://youtu.be/W_zKPRhZe-w

 

For more information on all of these greats products and many more, click here.

Introducing…’ The Furniture Pre-Nup’

Break-ups can be a messy business, especially when it comes to dividing up all of the possessions that you’ve bought together as a couple. But, what if there was a way to prevent all of the stress and time spent awkwardly negotiating who takes what? The Furniture Market created a solution to this common issue by creating a Furniture Prenup Form, so that couples can agree on who gets what at the beginning of the relationship before things turn sour and avoiding any potential conflicts further down the line – pretty smart huh?

In a survey which asked the public which pieces of furniture would cause the most arguments, the TV and entertainment unit came up trumps (27% of people voted for it as their priority piece of furniture), but there were some interesting results that revealed the wider scale of the problem and plenty of room for arguments.

The document clarifies who is the rightful owner of each piece of furniture, should there be any disputes when it comes to separating. It splits out the ‘Separate Property’ which belonged to either party before the relationship and ‘Marital Property’ bought during the relationship, then each piece of ‘Marital Furniture’ is given designated ownership in the event of a separation…simple!

Here’s the low-down on which furniture was found to cause the most squabbles in the study:

In the battle of the sexes, men were prepared to fight hardest for the TV with 30% of men prioritising this as the item they’d like to hold on to. What with all those single nights in playing FIFA on the horizon, it makes sense. Women cared more about hanging on to the sofa and the bed, with sentimental items, like interior decorations and the wardrobe, voted the second most essential.

Men came out as the most stubborn sex with 58% admitting that they were willing to pay out their other half in order to keep the furniture. Women were less motivated by this, with only 42% prepared to the pay the other half for the privilege.

How old you are influences what pieces of furniture you find most important, with those who were aged between 18-24 voting the bed to be equally as important as the TV. This could indicate the student lifestyle influencing their choices, with hours spent lounging in bed essential in between lectures. However, those who were 55 and over were least concerned about the whereabouts of the furniture overall and happy to buy new.

Different areas of the UK prioritised their furniture differently, with those in Chelmsford, Wolverhampton and Leicester having the biggest disagreements over the TV but those living in Glasgow, Bristol and Sheffield all choosing the bed as the main source of arguments and couples in Birmingham, Coventry and Norwich decided to prioritise the sofa above all else.

With the pain of a broken heart to deal with and so many potential disputes when dividing up furniture in the shared home, it’s easy to see why the Furniture Prenup Form makes so much sense.

PTB

Fighting With Anger

Those who know me well would be surprised to hear that I once had issues with anger management, those who know me best would simply say “oh yes, I remember those days.” I’m very laid back by nature, easy to get on with, never aggressive, never violent, wouldn’t hurt a fly kinda guy – but there was a period in my life where no wall, glass, plate, mobile phone or remote control was safe from my temper.

Going back a few years I remember realising there was a problem when I saw my Mum’s face at the site of a hole I’d put in my bedroom wall. We were decorating and I’d forgotten that one of my posters had been concealing the aftermath of a tantrum I’d had when I’d gotten into trouble for something my Sister had done. What my Mum didn’t know however was that this was anything but an isolated incident, nor was it the last.

Looking back now the majority of my outbursts stemmed from being in very toxic relationships. With that in mind I guess it’s important to highlight that I’ve never physically hurt anyone and as much as you lose control in that split second I always knew I didn’t have it in me to do that. The real concern was the hurt I was causing myself. When it comes to anger there are a couple of moments from the past that really stand out for me. The first being when I broke my hand. I’d had a history with partition walls but punching a supporting beam was a different kind of fight. I’d been in a relationship which to this day still represents a huge learning curve for me when it comes to relationships. I’d put up with a hell of a lot in this relationship and without going into too much detail a lot of revelations came out which still baffle me to this day. Punching a wall wasn’t even an initial reaction, it was the following day when my ex tried to defend what had to be described as the indefensible. The unusual thing about anger is that nothing is planned or pre-meditated, it’s like something else completely takes over and in the space of mere seconds it goes from just a feeling inside you, to quite serious physical pain. That’s what happened to me, I didn’t want to punch the wall and I certainly didn’t plan to, it just happened.

My hand was pretty much stuck in one position and a few hours later I came to the conclusion that it was broken. I went to A&E only to find that the fracture clinic wasn’t open on a Sunday and I was promptly sent home where I slept on the floor all night with my hand balanced on a cushion. The next day I went back to hospital where I made up some spiel about dropping furniture on my hand, the Doctor just laughed and left the room. A few minutes later he returned with my x-ray and showed me what he explained is commonly known as ‘a boxers fracture’ – that’s when I told him the truth. He was actually quite amused and simply said “man versus wall, man never win” – little did he know I was 21-0 until that point, but 21-1 wasn’t a bad record to finish up with.

The other occasion which has well and truly lived long in the memory was punching through a large framed picture. IT smashed everywhere and I had tiny shards of glass stuck in my knuckles for days, I could hear a kind of crunching every time I flexed my hand. Need I say more?

There’s nothing big or tough about these kinds of outbursts, trust me when I say I look back with nothing but embarrassment. As much as I knew I wouldn’t physically hurt anyone else, I can’t guarantee that they knew that themselves and the thought of anyone being even remotely scared of me quickly fills me with shame. If anyone reading this is suffering with anger issues, then you will know exactly what I mean by that split second of losing control. Well what happens when that split second progresses into something more? That’s when things could get really scary.  There’s no shame in admitting you have a problem, the real shame is when you let that problem hurt or scare innocent bystanders. What people need to realise is that when you reach a certain stage, getting help becomes only a win-win situation.

Seeking help was a massive weight off my shoulders. I’d decided to go and speak to someone and do what I try and encourage all men to do more frequently – open up. I told this woman more than I’d ever told anyone in my life, I got every single little thing off my chest and guess what – I loved it and I mean I absolutely loved it. I used to look forward to my weekly session like it was a cup final. It was so good to just put everything out there and listen to an impartial person give their feedback. As it turned out I was just a normal guy who’d let too many problems build up for far too long and with every angry outburst a little more was spilling out. It made perfect sense, I always knew it wasn’t in my nature to behave the way I was.

What really bugs me is when people dismiss the idea of seeking help for whatever reason. Maybe it’s a pride thing or maybe it just feels too much like weakness, but in my opinion admitting you have a problem and seeking help to fix it is a truly incredible sign of strength. We’re only human after all and humans have problems, why would you not fix those problems whilst you still have the chance? What I’ve learnt from my own experiences is that problems with anger can happen to just about anyone, even me. It’s been three years since I sought help and I’m pleased to say I’ve never punched or broken anything since. Take it from me, a full crockery cupboard, an uncracked iphone, a working remote control and no more plastering bills is a much simpler and happier world to live in.

How do you deal with anger?

PTB

My Reality Dates Experience With Match.com

So after all the hype I guess I should fill you in on my speed dating adventures with the folks at Match. As you may remember this was speed dating with a difference, instead of the usual face to face conversation, dates involved the construction of several items of furniture – and yes to my surprise I did return home with a pretty nifty bed side cabinet!

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the event given that I despise flat pack furniture and the mere sight of an Allen key, but ultimately, the night was a whole lot of fun. I always think the people are what makes these nights and this event was no different. The Match team were absolutely spot on and my fellow participants who ranged from Entrepreneurs, Marie Claire Writers and even a Nuclear Engineer, were so interesting that I ended up having a night out on the town with them – and yes whilst still carrying the furniture through London!

The event itself took place in Camden Town’s Gilmagesh, the restaurant’s artistic features were out of this world and the food was equally incredible, even if I did choke on a sausage (no jokes please). The most important thing, however, was of course the quality of the dates and I’ve no doubt every single person left having had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Initially I got super competitive and my only goal was to build better furniture than everyone else, but once I reminded myself that I wasn’t on an episode of Changing Rooms, I relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know my perfectly lovely date.

I still find it fascinating in these situations how we subconsciously judge people based on looks alone, not in a malicious way of course, but it’s incredible how much people can prove you wrong or contradict your first impression and it’s something I rather welcome. My past experiences of hosting speed dating involved a lot of complaints about the quality of men on offer, however on this occasion there were certainly no complaints from the ladies. I was so intrigued by the Nuclear Engineer and hearing about his work that I had to remind myself that I was there to meet women (and that I was straight). My point being I could’ve chatted away to him all night, it’s a rare thing for someone to feel so comfortable with strangers in these situations. I’ve literally had people turn up to events shaking like a leaf, it’s really not that uncommon, so huge credit to the organisers and my fellow participants for making everyone feel so welcome.

On that note I think Match deserve a huge amount of credit for being brave enough to try something a little outside the box. In recent months I’ve realised that people have grown steadily weary of traditional dating; too much swiping, wasted money, wasted outfits, wasted time – singletons have been crying out for something new. Match’s event was an absolute breathe of fresh air and I can’t wait to see what they’ll bring to the table in the future – so long as it doesn’t involve me choking on a sausage.

As for speed dating, it amazes me that more people haven’t tried it! Imagine going on a date and you don’t like the person after 5 minutes and yet still need to spend a good couple of hours with them, well go speed dating and when those 5 minutes are up you get to meet someone else. Surely it’s a no-brainer??? If your usual dating habits aren’t working for you then don’t be scared to follow Match’s example and shake things up a bit, you might even meet a handsome, well-paid, chatty, funny Nuclear Engineer! Still straight, I promise.

For more info about Match’s Reality Dates series get in touch here.

Going Speed Dating? Don’t Forget Your Screwdriver!

After reading my stories for the past three years you’ll all know by now how much I love the world of dating, right? Well for every memorable mishap and love story that’s happened to me many of you (understandably) still grumble that dating has become tedious, boring, predictable and ultimately a waste of time. Well as it happens those lovely folks at Match are here to rescue you.

In the past you’ll have heard me talking about ‘online dating vs offline dating’ and how I’m a big advocate of rediscovering the lost art of conversation whether online or offline. Well Match are once again making all the right waves with the introduction of their brand new speed dating night. Now I myself used to host a speed dating event which take it from me culminated in a fair few stories of it’s own, but throw in some flat pack furniture and what do you have? Well you have Match’s very own, very original brand of speed dating of course!

Tomorrow evening Match is launching a speed-dating event with a difference. Following on from their own research which found that a third of all couples feel most stressed when doing DIY, singles will be paired up and challenged to construct their very own piece of flat pack furniture – an activity thought of as the ultimate test of a relationship (Amy Poehler even joked that Ikea is Swedish for ‘argument’).

The event takes place at Gilgamesh in Camden on the 12th April from 6.30pm – 9pm and at the same time and place on the 19th – which is when I myself will be there! Singletons will receive a free drink and toolkit before meeting a fellow dater and being given a piece of furniture to assemble. Pairs will be given 30 minutes to complete the task before teaming up with a new date with a different item to construct. I know what you’re thinking – what the hell do I wear to build!?

This might sound like hell on earth to some people, but in all seriousness a Taxi Driver (pearls of wisdom that they are) once told me that the problem with dating these days is that people spend too much time sat face to face in a pub running out of things to say. What they really need to be doing, he continued, is introducing an activity into the date (behave) to break up the conversation, and I agree wholeheartedly.! So why not make that activity flat pack furniture?

Statistics say that romance is most likely to bloom when a male tries to show off his DIY skills but ultimately the female ends up being the real brains behind the project – I’m not sure what statistics but they’re out there somewhere.

Fancy signing up? Just click here. Ikea will never be the same again!

Happy Dating!

PTB

Matchmaking…The Instinctive Way

Over the past few years online dating has very much dominated the industry, but as much as I feel apps have earned their place in the dating world, I’ve long championed the use of more face-to-face alternatives. Much of my blog stems from past dating experiences, and although still only 30, my most memorable stories come from a time when online dating hadn’t really taken off yet and as a result, I have an almost emotional attachment to the more traditional methods of meeting people. With this in mind it was my distinct pleasure to spend some time with Yorkshire-based Instinctive Introductions where I would re-discover the (slightly) lost art of Matchmaking.

Headed up by Lead Matchmaker Shirley Hopkinson, Shirley has been trained and certified by award-winning dating and relationship expert, Caroline Brealey, at the Matchmaker Academy in London.
Shirley was a delight to spend time with and being so personable herself, it was quickly obvious to me what prompted her decision to go down the Matchmaking route. Her previous career has seen her travel the globe as a Television Producer where she worked with Rolling Stone Journalists, Stunt Men and Women, Politicians, Architects, Supermodels and even the infamous Jo ‘Supernanny’ Frost – fair to say then that she’s dealt with all manner of colourful characters!

What really struck a chord with me was the agency’s commitment to building their own philosophy on matchmaking and doing right by each and every individual member. I guess that’s the beauty of being an independent company, with franchises many are governed by guidelines which on paper sound okay, but simply aren’t fitting to the individual personalities on their books. As Shirley went on to explain “we are very much dedicated to finding our clients the best possible matches, we meet absolutely everyone in person, this allows us to gain a full insight into who that person is and who they would be suited to, and of course, allays any security concerns.”

Instinctive Introductions are one of only a handful of agencies in the Yorkshire area and pride themselves in working with the very best in the industry. So what can you expect if you sign up with Instinctive Introductions? Well, full membership includes a professional photoshoot with renowned Photographer Saskia Nelson of Hey Saturday, as well as a coaching session with your choice of three coaches including BBC featured James Preece. What better way to boost your confidence before finding that all important match?

What I also find rather appealing about Instinctive Introductions is that members have just about zero online presence – what a refreshing throwback! Over the past few years I’ve met countless individuals who either lack the confidence or simply don’t want to plaster themselves all over the internet and there was something about this environment that just felt extremely safe, comfortable, professional and yet ridiculously fun. You really couldn’t feel like you were in safer hands and having witnessed firsthand the stresses that come with endless swiping, the matchmaking process was quite simply a breath of fresh air.

Thinking of joining? Well if you’re a professional person, single parent, divorcee, retired, reentering the dating world after some time away or simply want to try something different… keep an eye out for the agency’s Spring offer of Complimentary Membership for a limited time only. To find out more get in touch by clicking here.

My day at Instinctive Introductions really did take me back to a simpler time. It put the smile back into dating, I guess as well there’s something in the name ‘Instinctive’ for someone who has spent her career working in the madcap world of Television, Shirley really is a natural at this stuff.

It’s important to remember that applauding matchmaking isn’t about criticizing online dating, it works for many, but as I always say if something isn’t working for you then don’t be scared to change it up. So if you have grown a little tired of the digital dating world then give Matchmaking a go, in Shirley and her team, you will most definitely be in safe hands.

Happy Dating

PTB.

Confidence Killers: Acne

What do Cristiano Ronaldo, Daniel Radcliffe and Colin Farrell all have in common? All famous men, all good-looking guys, all wealthy – all acne sufferers. I’ve written a lot in the past about issues affecting male confidence when it comes to dating and relationships, but predominantly these issues have focused on such things as physique, crippling shyness and even bedroom performance. However, in acne, I’ve found an even bigger confidence-killer.

I’m fortunate enough to have never suffered from acne myself, but until I did my research, I don’t think I ever realised just how fortunate I was. Until recently, my only experience of acne was knowing the many years of torment an old school friend went through in his teens. If I’m honest I didn’t take his condition seriously, ‘bad spots’ was all I saw it as – how naive was I? I remember him telling me about the painful ‘zapping’ that took place as part of his treatments and his fear of long-term scarring – a fear which unfortunately came true.

What I’ve had to remind myself, however, is that acne is by no means restricted to adolescent teenagers. In fact cases of adult acne are very much on the rise – just ask any of the names above! You can never underestimate the difficulty of growing up with acne, but with adulthood comes an array of new situations and with it, new problems. Job interviews, dates, weddings, meetings, perhaps you’re terrified just to go near anyone with a camera?! I’ve come to learn that acne will well and truly make you want to shrivel up inside yourself. The harsh reality is that many people will not overcome these situations; they won’t get the job, they won’t get the girl, they won’t get the big client, they won’t even have the photographic memories to look back on – acne really is that serious. As for us men, you all know we’re not so good at opening up about our issues. Laid bare, we might argue that we don’t have make-up to at least attempt to cover up acne. That’s certainly not to take anything away from female sufferers whatsoever, but it is a little bit of a reality for the majority of men. Try putting make-up on a typical man and they’ll only be left wondering whether people are staring at their acne, or staring at their make-up?

So what is the answer? I can’t tell you how much respect I have for people who are loud and proud about their problems, not just acne but any problems physical or otherwise. The whole ‘this is me, I am what I am’ approach is truly admirable. Long-term, however, I think most people would admit that if it were a choice between being proud of your acne and no acne, the choice would always be the latter. Having spent the past few weeks speaking with acne sufferers, there was one form of treatment which kept cropping up as a solution to my new least favourite confidence-killer, and that was ‘blue light treatment.’ Blue light treatment doesn’t come cheaply, but it’ll certainly be cheaper than years of purchasing skincare products. That’s what I love about blue light therapies, there’s no temporary fixes here, once it’s gone it’s as gone as that ex who cheated on you with your best friend.

The product that’s really caught my eye on delivering safe blue light treatment is Lustre Pure Light. It would be very easy to be swayed by the endorsements of ITV’s This Morning and a host of reality stars, but for me, it was watching the video diary of a young Blogger named Liv from staticgypsy.com. It’s easy to assume that celebrities have been paid to endorse products which I’m certainly not suggesting is the case, but in Liv’s video diary documenting her use of Lustre Pure Light, the proof is there for all to see. Not only can you see the difference in her skin, you can see the difference in her mood as well – that smile gets bigger and bigger with each passing week.

So to any men out there reading, we’re very lucky to now have a pain-free solution to acne that wasn’t around when we were teens, so why not use it? What do I waste my money on? Football, trainers, gym gear I don’t use…doughnuts. The bottom line is YOUR SKIN IS WORTH INVESTING IN. Again, I can’t stress enough how lucky I feel not to have suffered from acne, but had I struggled with the same problems as those I’ve encountered in recent weeks, I would have zero hesitation in tackling acne – once and for all.

What do you have to lose?

 

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.

PTB

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

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.

Singlepin

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

Meet-up

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.

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