The Perfect Proposal: Win A £250 Rox Voucher

This may come as a surprise to many of my readers, but I was once engaged. A surprise because I’m a little bit of a commitment phobe in my old age, but less of a surprise to those who know what an old romantic I once was. Too young, too foolish, too excited, too in love – it was the engagement that should never have happened. It was however, kinda perfect.

However much of a commitment phobe I am now, proposing is something I strongly believe in doing
right – and hopefully only once! I was 22, and we’d only been together three months. Yes, that’s right, three measly months, I hadn’t even met her parents yet. It was however one of those intense relationships where from the very first date we’d been completely inseparable and sometimes when a relationship becomes that intense so quickly, getting engaged doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea.

It was a bit of an ‘us against the world’ type of situation. We knew people would think we were crazy but we never once batted an eyelid – so naïve. So how did it come about? We were walking through town one day hand in hand when we walked past a jewellery store. We used to play that game where you look at a section of rings and mentally choose one, then see if you picked the same one, well much to our amazement we did. “It’s a sign she said,” I wasn’t entirely convinced but in we went regardless – ‘just for fun’. We came out an hour later, her smile a few inches wider and my bank account a thousand pounds lighter.

We’d agreed that we would keep the ring, but when I proposed would remain a surprise. Me being me I knew I wouldn’t wait long. About a month later I booked us into a swanky apartment in Edinburgh. We spent the day strolling around the city. I had planned to propose that evening, but I carried the ring in my pocket all day long just in case the perfect moment arose but no such luck – onwards with the original plan. I told her we’d be hitting the town that night and to get dressed up to the nines. I knew she’d take forever, giving me plenty of time to prepare our temporary living room for the big moment

The bedroom in this apartment exited into a straight corridor leading towards the living room door, on the door I left a post-it note which read “So will you?” As she came through still holding the note she was greeted by a roomful of candles, ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias (kill me now) playing softly in the background, and me standing in the middle of the room tentatively clutching the ring. Yes, I did get down on one knee and yes she agreed to marry me. We sat down to what was now a very cold dinner that I’d prepared but quickly abandoned it in favour of a local restaurant. We ended the evening with one of Edinburgh’s classic tourist attractions, a midnight graveyard tour. Strange I know, but it was so us.

I always find it incredible how much we refuse to listen to those around us when we get as carried away as I did – young love and all that. In hindsight getting engaged so young and after such a short period of time was a huge mistake, it didn’t last long and we’ve not been in touch for a number of years now. The one thing I don’t regret, however, is the way in which I proposed.  I’m sure there are much more extravagant ways to propose to someone, but it was perfect for us, like seriously perfect. At the end of the day you and your partner are the only two people it needs to be perfect for, no one else matters when it comes to a moment like this. I put so much thought into every tiny detail of that evening, from the post-it note to the lighting to the timing of the song, I was on it. For that reason I still look back fondly on that moment, it’s something I’ll never forget.

If all goes well, you only want to propose once in your life. Therefore it’s imperative that you make a memory of it, if not for you, then for this incredible person standing in front of you that you’re going to spend the rest of your life with. Tailor your proposal for you, not for what will impress people on Facebook.

Planning to propose??? Here’s the exciting part!!!

I’ve teamed up with the lovely folks at luxury Jewellers Rox as part of their #ROXperfectproposal
campaign to give away a voucher worth £250, the perfect contribution towards that sparkler you’ve been dreaming of! Oh and if you’re having trouble choosing a ring, this guide to buying an engagement ring might help.

To be in with a chance of winning, just log in through the link below using your Facebook account or your name and email address, entries close at midnight on Wednesday 5th October.

Click Here To Enter

ALSO! If you REALLY want to win, you can gain further entries by tweeting about the giveaway using #ROXperfectproposal and following ROX on Twitter and Facebook.

Good Luck!!!

The Importance of Impotence

As if I didn’t already admire Cricket legend Ian Botham enough as it is, the serial charity fundraiser has won me over yet again by publicly speaking of his fear of impotency. I’ve long spoken of my commitment to encouraging men to open up about issues which are perceived as being not very ‘manly’ and so imagine my delight when respected public figures do just that, ultimately, we want more men to follow suit.

Impotency is defined as the inability of a man to not only achieve an erection, but to achieve an orgasm as well. On the funny side, I guess us men have to laugh when we hear of such things being described as an ‘achievement’ – high fives all around! But at the same time, why is impotency considered a bit of a joke subject? Myself and my female friends have very few boundaries when it comes to discussing the issues between men and women and from what I understand, it’s not uncommon for a woman (of any age) to struggle to get ‘wet’ (the medical terminology sounded worse). But I can’t imagine anyone ever berating or ridiculing a woman in this particular circumstance – although I’m sure there is the occasional oddball who does. I have to ask though, do guys perhaps get a bit of a raw deal when it comes to this subject?

I’ve always said if it happened to me I would probably laugh about it, it’s just the way I am. However, in researching the issue I discovered exactly why impotency needs to be taken more seriously. Impotency in all it’s glory (or disappointment) can be a warning sign for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurological problems, hormonal inefficiencies and not to mention the obvious confidence and anxiety issues which may occur as a result. So would I still laugh if it happened to me? Yes, that’s just my sense of humour BUT, my sensitivity and awareness is tenfold.

Sir Ian this week revealed that he has recently underwent four sessions of the latest impotency treatment – Vigore Linear Shockwave Therapy. Regarded as non-invasive and pain-free, the treatment uses low intensity shock-waves in different areas of the groin and penis to increase blood supply and help encourage an erection.

Botham told the Sun on Sunday “It’s prevention rather than cure, I didn’t need the treatment, but I
didn’t want to be worrying about it in ten years time.” In an attempt to encourage more men to open up, Sir Ian reiterated that there was nothing to be ashamed of and said “What’s more embarrassing? This, or going to a chemist and popping some pills and saying to your partner, I’ll be with you in twenty minutes I’m just waiting for this to work.”

And I guess he’s right, particularly as we get older. There’s so much pressure to make relationships work these days and what happens in the bedroom is a massive part of that and be warned, you don’t need to be 50+ to lose your sex drive. It can affect anyone at any time.

I guess my point is, no matter how embarrassing you think the issue is: acknowledge, talk and fix. Whether you are the tallest tree in the forest or the floppiest bush in the back garden, never be afraid to open up.

The more we talk, the less embarrassing it becomes.

PTB

PTB Meets Tanni Grey-Thompson

I’m always excited to speak to people of interest. Not necessarily celebrities, but anyone with a story to tell irrespective of background or occupation. It was however a real privilege to be able to speak with Paralympic legend Tanni Grey-Thompson. Winner of eleven Olympic Gold Medals, Tanni finally retired in 2007 and in 2010 was inducted into the House of Lords. Recently I met up with Tanni to discuss juggling Olympic success and family life, as well as taking a brief look at some of the confidence issues facing the young women of today.

Hi Tanni, you obviously come from a sporting profession that required a serious amount of commitment and dedication, was it ever difficult to get the right balance between training and your personal life? It can be very difficult – when you are in full training you don’t have a lot of social time or really want to go out that much.  Training for us was 6 days a week, 50 weeks a year, so even things like Christmas and birthdays was a struggle. If you spend a lot of time abroad then it’s hard for the partner at home. It can be hard to meet different people too, I was lucky to meet Ian.

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A lot of people dread the thought of working with their partner, but you were coached by yours. Did achieving such great success together ultimately make you stronger as a couple? We were very clear when we were working together as athlete/coach how we spoke to each other – it was a bit odd for other people around, but I couldn’t have husband/wife conversations with him in a coaching environment.  As he was technically my boss (he was Squad Director for a couple of years) it would have been inappropriate for that to cross the line for the other athletes on the squad as much as for us.  I think we did quite a good job of it in the end.

A lot of young people struggle with confidence issues and either convince themselves they won’t meet someone or end up stuck in abusive relationships with completely the wrong person. What advice would you give to teenagers for example, who are finding their feet in life? There is a lot of pressure on young people i.e that you can only be happy if you are in a relationship – abusive relationships don’t just suddenly start, they can build up over time and people can wake up one day and realise that’s what they are in.  I would say to someone who feels they are in that situation (or when they realise that they are) that they need to find help to get out.  Often there is a lot of psychological abuse that goes on like telling a person that they are worthless and no one else will ever love them. It takes a lot of strength to stand up to that.

There has been endless publicity about the negative impact of certain magazines being the cause of confidence issues in young women and yet not much seems to have changed, is there anything more we can do to tackle issues like these? Some of the magazines put huge pressure (especially on girls) to be a certain size (size zero is so impossibly small – the size of a 12 year old girl pre-puberty) or how their hair and make up should be.  I think what has been good is that a lot of more famous people have spoken out about photoshopping – everyone wants to be shown to their best side, but how they make some women look is completely ridiculous.  I think we have to look at developing girls confidence more so that when they look at those pictures, they realise that happiness is not about what bag you are carrying.

How did having a child affect the dynamic of your relationship? I had never really had a lot to do with children before we had our daughter.  It was a bit of a challenge as it was all so new and also I was competing so I had to get back into training – we were lucky in that we were able to take her to competitions and events.  I think suddenly it changes from just being about the two of you for so long to then having this extra person, which is a huge responsibility. We never did that ‘date night’ thing – partly because we didn’t really ‘date’ before the birth of my daughter or go out all that much. The hardest part was not realising just how tired I was going to be – all the time.

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Was it important for you to achieve certain professional goals before you considered starting a family? Yes, as a female athlete it is challenging because you have to plan some time off – not always easy in a Paralympic cycle – we went for having a baby in 2002. I recovered from Sydney, had a bit of a think about whether we wanted a family and then started trying.  We also had a cut off date that if I didn’t fall pregnant for her to be born in early 2002 we were going to wait until after Athens. You have to plan competitions etc differently and then at major games you have to think about what would happen to your child i.e. they can’t be in the village – you just have to be incredibly well organised.

Was it difficult to return to competitive sport after the birth of your daughter or did it give you extra motivation? Different motivation – you can’t waste time, and it makes you stop being quite so selfish. There were people who thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I had lots of help and support throughout.

It may be a scary thought at this early stage but what advice will you give your daughter when she finally starts dating? My Mum always told me to have enough money for a cab home and if I didn’t like them, just leave! I think I would say the same to her, but also always have your phone charged so you can get a cab home! It’s hard to give advice. I guess the best advice I could give would be to find someone that you can have a laugh with. There’s always going to be tough times, but Ian is also my best friend which makes all the difference.

What’s the most romantic thing Ian has ever done for you? Ian bought me a carbon fibre front wheel – not sure that other people would see the romance in that but for me it was perfect.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? Wow – not sure how to answer that one. I think if you are with someone for a long time then the relationship changes.  I compromise more on certain things and less on others. I think it’s more that your priorities change as you get older.

 

Meet The Dating Entrepreneur Who's Got Your Back

Having been involved with the Dating world for over two years now, I’ve come to learn that the industry is both fun and exciting but also extremely challenging. When I started writing about dating and relationships it was due to its relevance to just about every single person on the planet, but it seemed everyone else had the same idea too. With growing popularity, came a raft of poor apps and dodgy websites all promising the same thing. At times it seemed impossible to know which sites you could actually trust, not just with your love life but with your bank details as well! With this in mind you’ll understand my excitement when I introduce you all to Queek’d, the UK’s first comparison website specifically for the Dating world. Queek’d it’s fair to say, have been making waves amongst industry experts in recent weeks, partly due to their commitment to promoting safer dating and partly because, well, it just works! I caught up with founder Elisa McLean to find out more.

Hi Elisa, so tell us a little more about Queek’d…

Well Queek’d stands for “Quick and easy kind of dating,” and our main focus is to help UK singles find long-term relationships. I guess we’re unique in that Queek’d is a portal, as opposed to a dating site itself. Call it the GoCompare of Dating if you like.

What was the inspiration for starting your business?

The idea for Queek’d came about when I found myself single and was keen to get myself back out there. IQueekd pr 2 was familiar with online dating, but I wasn’t sure which sites specifically focused on long-term relationships and I found myself in need of some advice. I started searching Google for anything whatsoever that would help me compare the various dating platforms, but to no avail; that’s when I had my lightbulb moment and Queek’d was born.

The Dating industry is notoriously difficult to crack, what’s been your biggest challenge to date?

The biggest challenge has always been the technical development, but over the last few months things have actually gone rather smoothly. From the very start I wanted to dive in at the deep end with no tech knowledge, but I’ve now spread my plans over 2 years which is far more realistic for my ambitions. Finding dating sites and apps that advocate long-term relationships has also been a challenge as so many have begun to focus solely on casual encounters. However, we’re on the case and have worked exceptionally hard to whittle down our list to very credible sites. Overall, I’m passionate about helping singles date effectively and connect long term. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s become my life’s purpose. So although there have been difficult moments, the journey has been more than fulfilling.

As times change the popularity of online dating has grown stronger and stronger, but do you think we run the risk of losing some of the romance along the way?

I think we may find ourselves less romantic as a society further down the line, particularly if people continue to be oblivious to the effects of technology and dating. People are suffering from ‘cognitive burn out’ and think ‘bigger is better’ when online, which doesn’t seem like the best terminology for dating and romance.

72d79a6e4a3db565220750c761e44f96I do joke with friends that one day men and women will connect through virtual reality the way Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock did in the film Demolition Man. I think it’s really important to raise awareness of the benefits of being online, which is one of the reasons I offer transformational dating advice through Queek’d. Technology in general is making everyone a little more introverted in all areas of life, but we can’t lose romance – romance is what dating is built on. If those who are serious about finding someone use online dating in the right way, everything will be fine.

Which Dating sites do you personally feel offers the most to its users?

The big players do a great job in offering useful and innovative features and have big databases which of course means more potential matches. eHarmony in particular are really passionate about creating long lasting marriages and I’m a huge fan of their ethos. Match, have an app which is really user-friendly which is always a plus, and of the newbies I like Bumble. Bumble offers both a dating and friendship service, which I think is pretty cool.

Do you think more traditional dating sites can still enjoy the same impact as before when up against the popularity of apps such as Tinder?

Definitely. I feel there’s huge growth potential for traditional sites within the industry. Tinder is great if you’re not looking for anything serious or you want to act out your desires online, but if you’re looking to settle down, the traditional sites offer so much more. We don’t aspire to have casual relationships, one day we all plan to settle down with that special someone and I feel it’s difficult to use the likes of Tinder to find a lasting relationship, the majority of people simply aren’t on there for that.

Tinder makes casual hook-ups really accessible but that’s not what traditional dating is all about. Any company that puts its users first and really focuses on creating happy couples, will be massively successful in my opinion. Online dating is an emotional industry and plays a massive part in real life interactions – singles are crying out for sites that really care.

Are there any ‘hidden gem’ sites that you would recommend to Queek’d users?

We’ve recently welcomed on board a new dating app called LINKD which is fantastic and DatePlay have an interesting concept too. I’ve recently heard of an app called JigTalk that hides profile pictures, revealing one jigsaw piece at a time when a match exchanges messages and I love that originality. There are quite a few new dating companies that I’m in talks with about featuring on Queek’d, but I won’t reveal the details just yet. However I am always on the lookout for sites and apps with a genuine ethos and innovative features who go above and beyond to keep users safe whilst online dating.

You’ve been praised by a number of industry experts for your commitment to promoting fun, long-lasting relationships and ‘safer’ dating, how important are these values to the Queek’d brand?

This is something that we feel really strongly about. People need help in these areas and many sites have strayed away from these values and so people really seem to find our efforts quite refreshing. We advocate long-term relationships and feature sites that fall in line with our ethos, we feel quite strongly that singles need a platform that separates serious from casual dating and aim to be the first port of call for singles who are genuinely trying to find something special. Although we’re now recognised for being the GoCompare of the dating world, we also share transformational dating advice through our website and social media pages. Ultimately this ensures singles get the absolute most from their online dating experience.

What are the top 3 mistakes you find people make when using online dating?

Besides all of the generic stuff, the biggest mistake has got to be people not being clear about what they want from their online journey. So many people hop online out of boredom or to get attention, flicking from one profile picture to the next and not really achieving anything – even I’ve been guilty of this in the past. The second is signing up to the wrong dating site. I suppose with over a thousand dating sites in the UK it can be a bit of a minefield, but so often I see people on casual sites looking for a long-term relationship and vice versa. It’s so important to join the right dating site as it saves time and will give better quality matches – our quiz is great for this. Lastly I’d say people pretending to be something they’re not. I see lots of profiles with women dressed way too sexy, pouting men or the inevitable dick pics which is so not cool. This isn’t the real them, it’s who they think they have to be to look attractive. I think people need to focus more on being themselves when online dating. Oh can I have a fourth? People lying on their profiles, this is a big no-no too. Always start a relationship with honesty is my motto.

You briefly mentioned Dateplay which is the brainchild of former Apprentice star Vana Koutsomitos. Dateplay last week overfunded on their Crowdfunding campaign raising in excess of £150,000, what impact do you think this will have on the industry? Do you think it will attract more entrepreneurs like yourself to the Dating world?

I think DatePlay is a great concept and overfunding on Crowdfunding is amazing news for them. I’m sure they’ll hit their target, there’s definitely room for gamification in dating. Making their platform thatAAEAAQAAAAAAAASwAAAAJDYxNGU2MzhmLTI5MmEtNDlkZS1hYjIxLWI5NTU1NDQ2NGMyMA little bit different will be a big hit and I’m sure we’ll see a few more existing companies following suit. We do need to be mindful of any damaging effects that gamification and tech in general will have on dating and future connections, but I suppose the key is awareness and balance. I don’t think we’ve seen the half of it yet. Although the industry is saturated, more innovation is needed, so examples like this will definitely bring about more entrepreneurs and investors.  It is hard work though, so how many will see it through is another question.

You can follow Queek’d on Twitter: @Queekd, and of course take the quiz at Queekd.com.

Happy Dating

PTB

Done With Summer Loving? Get Ready For Winter Dating With House of Fraser

It’s been a bit of a stop-start summer this year (nothing new there) and as we cling to hopes of a sunny August, I’ve teamed up with House of Fraser to plan ahead to your Autumn/Winter Dating wardrobe – just because we’re nice like that. So lie back in your shorts, drink your lemonade and enjoy our Top 5 early-bird tips sure to light up even the coldest of Winter nights.

You can’t beat a bit of tailoring. Baggy won’t be big in A/W 2016, and casual will no longer be the look of the fashion-forward fellow. Instead, you need to be thinking tailoring, and by that we mean structure, in the form of dress trousers and blazers. Don’t want to be trussed up all winter long? Try contrasting with baggy knitwear, but keep the trousers (ankle grazers especially) and accessories sharp.

Monochrome plus a splash of colour. With every winter wardrobe, blacks, whites and greys feature heavily in the A/W 2016 collection. If you’re a man who likes to include colour in his wardrobe, it’s all about khakis, teals and reds, chosen in splashes of knitwear and accessories.

Tartan and plaid are the patterns of choice. If you’ve always been a fan of tartan for winter, you’ll be bang on the money in A/W 2016. Tartan is expanding from the classic shirt and scarf, and moving into suit trousers and fitted blazers. Tartan suit for the Christmas party, anyone? There’s going to be a couple of monochrome plaid coats on the market, if you want to rock the print from the top down.

Never give up on stripes. Horizontal stripes have never not been big, and this year they’ll be bigger and bolder than ever. Usually popular in monochrome, horizontal stripes will also include teals and reds, especially in loose knitted jumpers and patterned tees.

If in doubt, pick a pattern. If you’re not a fan of stripes and tartan doesn’t float your boat, we anticipate a lot of other patterns to choose from. There’s polka dots, busy florals (trust us) and multi-coloured designs for you to try something a bit different.

Will you give it a go? Check it out for yourself http://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/Tops+T-Shirts/S207,default,sc.html&fix&spcl

The App That Could Save Your Relationships

Ever had that one relationship where you love someone deeply, but just don’t see eye to eye no matter how much you try? Well Dutch tech entrepreneur Johan Hagenbeuk has set out to change all that.

The free PersonalityMatch app does what just about every over-priced therapist in the country does, so perhaps it’s time we started saving our money? Users of the app can take the personality test given and then invite loved ones to do the same, at which point the app will assess your compatibility with one another. Perhaps it will lead to the revelation of a few home truths, but on the flipside maybe the outstanding kinks in your relationships will at long last be ironed out?

Reminiscent of the world famous ‘Myers-Briggs’ test, the app asks around 20-30 questions relating to your approach to: people, to working life and to how you might handle certain situations. The result? A detailed personality profile which you can then use for everything from a chuckle with friends to progressing your professional development.

As much as this is a social app, what struck me most was how useful this tool could be in business. My own team recently completed the Myers-Briggs test and to our surprise found out we were a room full of extroverts with high emotional intelligence. But what we are often guilty of in business, is approaching every client in the same way, when in fact their personality type is most likely very different to your own. So imagine the results you could achieve if you had a way of understanding your client’s personality type and what makes them tick. You wouldn’t even need to ask them to fill out the questionnaire, simply using the app with loved ones will progress your understanding of the many personality types out there.

“What is the one thing most people do every day?” Hagenbeuk asked me. “We spend our lives trying to understand the people around us and figure out ways of ensuring we all get along. I decided to create the PersonalityMatch app to facilitate this complicated process and offer everyone a fun and easy solution. If you want to develop a clear understanding of where your partner, friends, colleagues, fellow students or others close to you are coming from, then give PersonalityMatch a try. What do you have to lose?”

And Hagenbebeuk has a point. How many times have we heard of people putting up with insufferable partners or tolerating colleagues who just won’t listen to reason? PersonalityMatch could help determine if that relationship should grind to a halt, or, it could teach you exactly how to fix it!

Strictly from a dating perspective, it could signal the end of apologetic cards and flowers. With an app like this us men might just get it right first time!

Of course I too have signed up! If you’d like to connect just click here.

PersonalityMatch, the innovative new way to assess compatibility with those around you, is available now in the App Store at:https://itunes.apple.com/app/personalitymatch/id1098507017

A dedicated Android version is also available via Google Play at:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.personalityperfect.app

Further information can be found at: http://www.personalityperfect.com/app

PTB Meets Frank Turner

Singer-Songwriter Frank Turner will soon release new LP ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’, but before that I grabbed a quick chat with the famed folk singer to discuss finding success and his ultimate deal-breaker.

Frank you’ve enjoyed success in the music business for a number of years now, at what point did you really feel like you’d made it? That’s a tough question; in some way I’m still not confident that I have – this is a very fickle business to be involved in. In other ways, I think I made it when I stopped having to have another job which was a long while back now.

How did your every day life change after finding success?  Touring has been my life for more than half of it now and I was on the road before and after being successful. I guess the buses just get more comfortable (laughs).

Musicians are often perceived as living particularly hectic lifestyles, do you ever find personal relationships and projects taking a back seat for the sake of your music? Yes. I don’t have much luck in the relationship field but it’s part and parcel of the live I’ve chosen to lead so you get used to it. No one makes me do what I do.

Are you ever conscious of ‘hangers on’ who be interested in you for your fame as opposed to who you are as a person? Yeah you have to keep an eye out for them but it’s not overly challenging filtering out the d*ckheads.

Any dating horror stories? Yes, but none that I can share (laughs).

Looks vs Personality? Personality, every time.

Teen Pin-Up? Uh, probably the bass player from White Zombie haha, or Kim Deal from The Pixies.

What are the most important qualities you look for in a partner? Honesty and Loyalty.

Any Deal-Breakers? Astrology!

Does our perception of love change as we get older? Yes, as with everything else in life.

What’s next for Frank Turner? A new record and much, much touring.

Would you do it all over again? Of course, I’d definitely do it all again.

Main Image: Sarah Louise Bennett/Upset Magazine

Online Dating Success Stories…With A Twist

As I was doing my usual rounds of networking within the dating industry, one name kept cropping up that I previously hadn’t been too familiar with – Badoo. Whether it be dating, friendship or business related I’ve always preferred meeting people in person, but who knows, maybe that’s about to change?
I may be showing my age here, but what I always found off-putting was the lack of reliability in online dating. Between catfishing, fake profiles, two-timers and on a more extreme level, sexual predators. badoo 3What I loved about Badoo was discovering their commitment to safer dating on a level that I hadn’t quite seen before. Online dating no longer has the stigma it once had, and as its popularity continues to grow, safety for its users becomes all the more important. This is where Badoo goes the extra mile. As recently reported in TechCrunch.com, the company with over 300 million global users has introduced photo and profile verification as part of its dedication to keeping women safe online. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, particularly as younger age groups have started to adopt the online trend. Corporate responsibility like this is what will open my eyes to the online dating world once more, and perhaps the so called giants of the online dating world should promptly follow suit? Just swipe right if you agree.

With my new found curiosity for the online world firmly in place, I decided to ask some of my readers about their own online success stories, and to my surprise stumbled upon some very interesting results:
“I was using a particular dating app and I spotted this girl I really liked the look of, but when I went into her profile it turned out it wasn’t her profile at all, she was just a friend who had been in13625288_1048004385248552_933055941_n the other girl’s profile picture. So I wondered if I should take a chance anyway and just send her a message, which I eventually did. I tried to be really polite, particularly knowing what I was about to ask her but the girl wasn’t overly impressed by my message and pretty much told me where to go. That was the end of that I thought. But then the following day I was astounded to find a message from her that included just a name and a phone number. She’d shown her friend my picture who thankfully had approved and passed on her details. We dated for a couple of months, in the end it was nothing serious but it just goes to show what can happen when you take a chance in life.” Aidan, 23, Dublin.

“I was pretty new to online dating, it was really just a case of ‘well everyone else is doing it’ and so I thought ok let’s give this a bash. I actually really enjoyed it at first, but my big mistake was agreeing to go on a date with the first guy who asked. My approach was all over the place, it just seemed like a bit of a free for all. He was reasonably good looking, seemed a tad shy but I was open-minded and was interested to know more. As it happens he was extremely shy and had turned up pretty 13625065_1047999811915676_1027037733_nmuch inebriated as a result of trying to calm his nerves. One drink, I couldn’t understand why he was so nervous? His behaviour culminated in him swearing at me and dropping my phone, smashing the screen in the process. Thankfully the barman asked him to leave and escorted him out of the door. I hung back so as not to bump into him outside. Anyway, that very barman is now ‘my Kev’ and has been ‘my Kev’ for three and a half years now. In the most roundabout of ways, online dating very much led me to the man of my dreams.” Kerry, 33, Bristol.

“I’ll be honest, I was absolutely terrified of using dating apps. I’ve no idea why actually, I just always had a bit of a barrier with the whole thing. A close friend of mine finally managed to convince me to do it together on the proviso that any dates would be double dates. Fair enough I thought, so we both got talking to different guys. Funnily enough, it was the guys who were more hesitant about the 13624815_1048001011915556_1737809261_nwhole double date idea than we were, but after what happened next I probably can’t blame them. Basically I really liked my friend’s date. She liked him too, but her date liked me instead of her. Whilst my date didn’t seem to like anyone! After the double date, he asked me out and we met up behind my friend’s back, which in no way am I proud of but there was just something between us that I couldn’t put my finger on. I lost a friend, but gained a fiancé.” Ellen, 25, Slough.

So online dating, not always what you expect it to be but it seems at the very least you’ll gain a bit of life experience from it. If you are dating online or are considering signing up, then listen to people’s stories. As boring as it may sound, your safety is the most important thing and that goes for the guys as well! My advice? Be cautious but never negative and most importantly have fun! Who knows, you might just create a few stories of your own?

Fancy checking out Badoo? Just click here

PTB Meets Big Brother Legend Nikki Grahame

Would you believe me if I said it’s been ten years since “who is she? who is she?” bellowed from our TV screens? Well it’s true, a whole decade has passed since Nikki Grahame left her mark on Big Brother 7 and such is her longevity, she is still hard at work whilst other contestants fade increasingly into obscurity. Although still busy with media duties and her never ending Big Brother legacy, Nikki has learnt to appreciate the quieter side of life and even spent time in living in France where she used Tinder of all things to improve her language skills. This week I caught up with the 34 year old to discuss love, dating and of course what’s going on in Big Brother.

Hi Nikki, you’ve been in the public eye for a full ten years now, how has fame affected your approach to dating and relationships? Before I did Big Brother I used to go for really elite guys. I dated a couple of footballers and some really good looking guys, but since Big Brother its been harder to meet people. A lot of guys think that because you’ve been on TV you’re completely unapproachable which isn’t the case at all. I think some people are a little put off because of how I was in Big Brother, but you need to remember what an exceptional circumstance that was. Living in a house with so many strangers is never going to be easy, I’m definitely not like that all the time of course I’m not. These days as busy I am, I do like the quieter side of life and I’m more focused on enjoying my downtime.

Would you be put off dating a fellow celebrity now or would you prefer someone who is away from the limelight? I’m always open-minded I mean never say never, but I’m an extremely good judge of character so whether they’re a celebrity or not I would never waste my time on someone who wasn’t worth it.

Are you conscious of people wanting to date you for your public profile as opposed to who you are as a person? Well I’m actually really attracted to gay men and believe it or not I’ve met a couple of guys who have pretended to be straight to spend time with me. Don’t get me wrong it’s a nice compliment, but unfortunately I have absolutely nothing to offer a gay man in the bedroom.

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner? Sense of humour! I’ll tell you what if you can make me laugh you’re on to a winner. There has to be a physical attraction though of course, I really like guys in glasses. Generally my taste is quite varied though, I love that classic look that Leonardo DiCaprio has in films but I also like Johnny Depp’s kind of alternative style.

Any deal-breakers? Bad breathe.

Worst date? Bad breathe guy (laughs). No, I went on a Tinder date once and I was actually on a girls night out when this guy messaged out the blue to meet him so I went and he was just so dull, I actually fell asleep and he just sat there. It was actually a friend who came and woke me.

What are your thoughts on the increasing popularity of online dating? I don’t think there’s that stigma with online dating anymore. This is the generation we’re in and i think it’s quite normal now, I’ve been on Tinder and I’ve just signed up for another one with my friend and we’re going on a double date from it so yeah I’m all for it. I do prefer using online dating abroad however, just because of the Big Brother thing it’s easier to use it where I’m less known.

Teen Crush? Oh Duncan from Blue. He’s actually a really good friend of mine now and I’m a huge supporter of everything he does, he’s wonderful and extremely good looking.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self entering the world of showbiz? Just to keep your eyes open and be very aware of who’s around you and the company you keep. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve had the same group of friends for about 16 years now who’ve always been good to me and kept me grounded, but I’ve also had a lot of people tag along for the fancy parties and then when the sh*t hits the fan they’re nowhere to be seen.

Do you think our perception of love change as we get older? Yes definitely, it becomes much more meaningful as we get older. People know exactly what they want from a relationship, whereas when you’re younger you’re really still learning and getting to know yourself.

Big Brother has gotten off to a fiery start this year, what do you make of the new batch of housemates?
It’s insane isn’t it, I really don’t like Marco he’s just awful! I think him and Laura are taking the raunchiness too far, it’s actually really distasteful. It’s too violent as well and there’s far too much confrontation. I think some of these people are on the wrong show, they need to get themselves on Love Island.

To catch up on all of Nikki’s adventures around the world, check out her official YouTube channel by clicking here

PTB Meets First Dates Star Fred Sirieix

He’s everyone’s favourite chiselled Frenchman and the man who has welcomed dozens of potential couples to London’s swanky Paternoster Chop House Restaurant for a bash at finding love on Channel 4’s First Dates. The straight talking maitre d’ does the show in his free time having been approached by producers as a result of his charismatic reputation on the Hospitality scene. This week I grabbed a quick-fire chat with the man himself:

You’ve become something of a heart-throb for viewers of first dates, how have you dealt with the attention? My feet are well and truly on the ground and I am a very well balanced individual. For one I am still working as General Manager at ‘Galvin at Windows’ at the London Hilton on Park Lane so nothing much has changed for me.

Do you think people often put too much pressure on themselves to meet the one? Sometimes yes, as such love can become overrated and this can lead to unnecessary feelings of loneliness and possibly nostalgia.

What’s the strangest date you’ve encountered during your time on the show? The strangest dates are the ones when people are not quite sure why they are there or when they do not make the necessary efforts.

What advice would you give to young men struggling with confidence issues? Work on yourself and condition your mind like a Champion, just like Mohamed Ali did.

Your idea of the perfect date? Caribbean, beach, a cocktail, nice music and the hot sun.

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner? A partner that is good at heart. And also kindness, reliability, loyalty, good judgement, a sense of adventure and responsibility.

Teen crush? A few. They all ended in tears.

Most romantic thing you’ve ever done? Sent flowers and bought nice shoes, unexpectedly.

Do you think fame and a happy relationship can successfully co-exist? For sure, but you should ask people who are famous to know the answer. (so modest)

Do you think old school romance has become a thing of the past in a world of technology? Old school romance is well and truly alive, but technology in fact, enables much more romance.

Do you believe our perception of love changes as we get older? Not if you are always young at heart.

Fred also confessed to me that he’d never had a bad date – maybe he can teach me a thing or two then!

 

At What Point Do We Take Things To The Next Level?

I had a really interesting question put to me this week and it wasn’t the first time I’d been asked this: “under normal circumstances, at what point is it OK to take things to the bedroom?” Now sex has always been a fascinating topic, in modern society sex often comes with a degree of judgement. It’s such a normal part of life, everyone does it and everyone enjoys it, and yet still eyebrows are raised at anyone considered even remotely promiscuous. As every female I’ve ever known will agree, it seems even more judgement is saved for women. A girl who sleeps with multiple people is called every name under the sun and a guy who does the same, is simply a lad. Is it fair? Well obviously not.

It’s almost disappointing to hear women ask me this question because deep down I believe the main reason for asking is due to that fear of judgement. This expands into two key points: are they going to scare a guy off by rushing into things and giving off the wrong impression? Or are they going to scare a guy off by doing the complete opposite – waiting too long?

It’s always difficult to generalise men (or any other group in society for that matter) because naturally everyone is different. There is a general assumption about men that we quite literally want sex as soon as physically possible. Sure it is true of some guys and yes it’s most likely crossed our mind within two minutes of laying eyes you (don’t hate the player, hate science), but fewer than you think would actually act on such an urge.

The important thing to remember, however, is that the decisions we make when it comes to relationships shouldn’t be dictated by numbers. 1 date, 3 dates, 5 dates, how much does it really matter? Should we really deny the inevitable just to save face and feel a little bit more lady-like or gentlemanly? I’m not saying throw yourself at the next guy or girl who comes along, I’m just saying don’t stress about it. At the end of the day it’s the individual circumstances that matter and how your individual relationship transpires, not the number of dates you can count on your left hand.

For me personally I would rule out anything beyond a kiss happening on a first date, not because I would be judgemental in any way, but because it’s nice to leave something to the imagination and ultimately have something to look forward to. The start of a new relationship is always the best bit in my opinion, and I’d want that to last for as long as possible. So it’s never ever about judgement for me, I just prefer a build-up.

After the first date try and let things take its natural course, over-analysing things will only send you round in circles. Any reasonable, down to earth guy or girl should have the common sense to judge a situation on its own merits and not jump to the conclusion that their partner automatically must have a few hundred notches on their bed post. So never worry too much about what your new partner is thinking. When it comes to how you’re perceived, the right people will always make the right call.

PTB

 

Preparing For A First Date in Glasgow (One For The Guys)

Usually I recommend just going with the flow, but for many, preparation is everything. As I walked into the office the other day I saw an array of new women’s magazines neatly spread across the reception coffee table. As I looked a little closer at the usual celebrity faces gracing the covers, I noticed how incredibly similar most of the undercard articles were:’what not to wear on a first date,’ ‘5 ways to impress your new man,’ ‘5 talking points to avoid on a first date.’ So I thought to myself let’s do one for the guys, but let’s keep it really simple and focus on three key areas: before, during and after.

Before:

I always say don’t overthink dates, your lifetime’s happiness believe it or not isn’t dependant on the outcome of this one simple evening ahead. At the end of the day it’s a drink, a coffee, a meeting, a chat, whichever way you look at it it’s not a big deal, at least not yet anyway. It is however, important to feel your best. Looking and feeling your best will promote confidence, reduce any pre-date jitters and ultimately allow you to have a really good time. So what first? Haircut. Whether it’s three inches off the top or a trim around the sides, nothing makes a guy feel fresher and ready for the night ahead than a visit to the barber’s chair. So where to go? For me there is only one place. House Martin Barbers.

HM2Winner of ‘Best Barbers’ at the Scottish Hair and Beauty Awards in 2015, House Martin Barbers is fronted by Stephen Martin and his ridiculously talented young team. There’s a uniqueness to this place that I haven’t found anywhere else during my ten years of touring Glasgow’s best barbershops. From the reception area’s country pub feel to the bank vault and poker table through the back, a visit to House Martin is more of an experience than just a haircut. The most important thing of course though is the cut itself. These guys have cut hair for some of the biggest names in fashion, music and ahem blogging (thanks Michael) and you won’t leave disappointed. I’m also very pro-beard, but if like me you can’t shape your beard without looking like Ming the Merciless by the end, then these guys will of course do it for you. Alternatively, the cleanest of clean cut shaves is equally on offer.
Plus, if the moment takes you pick-up a Cuban Cigar on your way out. Located on Glasgow’s Bath Street, check them out at http://www.housemartinbarbers.co.uk

Next up is the outfit. This is where guys are most guilty of trying too hard. Leave the over-sizedDBArmani logo shirts at home and almost always keep it simple. For me, David Beckham is my style hero, post-sarong days of course. His entire wardrobe is based on simplicity and yet he always dresses impeccably. There’s a few ways you can approach this, let’s start with the feet, the one thing that seems to go with everything at the moment is a nice pair of brown Chelsea boots (my favourite purchase of the year so far). I recently picked up a second pair for a mere twenty quid at the Topman sale, no pressure! Jeans, I don’t think I own a pair of jeans that aren’t ‘skinny’ but if you’re not a recovering emo kid like me then a good pair of bootcut jeans should do the trick, but no white jeans, never white jeans! On top depends on your colour of jeans. Black jeans go well with the old, trusty denim shirt and blue jeans go well with a plain, tight-fitting (but not too tight) black t-shirt. Hopefully with the summer months approaching there won’t be any need for a jacket, but if you do need one you can’t go far wrong with a little leather number, but none of these ones with the big white stripe across them, I’ve never understood those?

During:

78So first off, location. This is one thing I do recommend thinking about because it’s the one thing that could ruin all of your other preparation. Go somewhere that will actually maximise your chances of getting to know someone and of course let them get to know you. Somewhere that you can get a seat and don’t have to shout over the music. One of the worst dating mistakes I ever made was allowing a girl to talk me into going to the cinema on a first date, not only did we not get to know each other, I ended up sitting behind her because it was so busy! Ideally you want somewhere that plays music but not too loud, is busy but not too busy, dark but not too dark, close enough to other places in case you decide to go for a wander and isn’t too expensive. Easier said than done? Maybe not, check out ‘The 78’ on kelvinhaugh Street. This is a place I stumbled upon on an unplanned night out with friends and wow what a place! Drinks, ridiculously cheap home-cooked food and a surprisingly enjoyable night of reggae music in the later hours. Throw in a coal fire, comfy armchairs, chunky tables and French windows and you have a place that might just lead to this date being the first of many. It’s different and girls appreciate originality.

Conversation is next on the agenda. There are certain things that you just don’t talk about i.e exes. Leave the past in the past, tonight, no one cares about who you’ve dated. So what do you talk about? I should mention that this advice is basic and it’s only for when you need it. The ideal scenario is that the chat flows from start to finish, you have a natural spark and every word is said without a moment’s thought and zero repurcussions. However some people are shy, it’s only natural, so be prepared to go the extra mile if it helps a girl open up. Show interest in them before you start talking about yourself and to do that you have to ask questions. Work, family, music, movies, food and travel, stick to these topics and you’ll be set. Politics and religion? Time for another drink.

After:

Whether you say it out loud or not, your only concern is that they get home ok. Never leave a girl by Young-Beautiful-Woman-Sitting-at-Bus-Stop-102513BA890BFDD9herself to make her way home, walk her to the bus, put her in a taxi, whatever it takes – even if you didn’t like them! Be caring but casual about it, you want her to get home ok, but you’re not her Dad. A quick text later on to make sure she made it and thank her for the night. Now let her make the next move. You’re now a dating machine, level completed.

Body-Conscious, Insecure, Emotional…Male.

Bravado is a curious thing when it comes to some men. It’s like our philosophy for life – don’t ever let people see the truth, bury your weaknesses in the deepest, darkest corner of your being and ultimately just pretend everything is OK. Men have struggled to show their cracks for centuries now, but why? Is it the way we are brought up? Are we too concerned with maintaining a presence of strength, power and masculinity? Whatever the reasons I’ll let you in on a little secret – it’s mostly a load of rubbish.

My Dad was from a very working class background. Super tough and never one to be messed with. He was brought up fighting in a poverty stricken area of Glasgow. His best trait? The ability to throw a good punch. A man of many jobs he was a butcher, a baker, a window cleaner, a mechanic and a soldier before retiring with the emergency services. He was what I would call the true definition of a man’s man. My Dad did however have very poor hearing and yet point blank refused to wear a hearing aid. My family knew this would make our lives a lot easier, for him because he could actually hear properly and for us because we would no longer have to shout all the time (the neighbours mistake our shouting for aggression). Still, he would never wear it and avoided the subject at all costs. But why? Inconvenience? Laziness? Not at all, in his eyes it was a sign of weakness that he didn’t want others to see. Even the toughest of old boots can have their insecurities it seems.

At 29 I get by OK without too many problems. I’m very lucky, not because I think highly of myself but because over time I have learned to fully accept who and what I am. Over the years I’ve been described by people as confident, funny, a bit cheeky and a real people person who can chat away to just about anyone. But what was going on in my head was a very different story.

My honest assessment of myself went something like this: crooked nose, funny shaped head, squint teeth, 13866734_1059985577383766_821057246_ndouble chin, oversized brow bone, too skinny, sticky out ears (one of which is higher than the other), over emotional and deep down a bit shy. This was how I saw myself without exaggeration and as much as I’d like to think I’ve made the most of myself, the majority of those things are still true today. The only thing that’s changed, is my attitude.

A lot of men both young and old, suffer with similar self-criticisms on a daily basis but often bury them behind a mask of jokes, arrogance, over-confidence, sarcasm, rudeness and basically anything that will hide the reality going on in their heads.

In my youth, I found accepting my ears to be an endless struggle. I would stare in the mirror for hours analysing them. One day after school I tried to stick them to the side of my head with double-sided tape just to see what they would look like flat – much to the amusement of my Mum I might add. I would also wear tight beanie hats to bed and hope that if I pressed my head hard enough against my pillow my ears would in time, stick to my head. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?

At the age of 18 I grew my hair long. It fitted in well with the whole indie and later emo culture, but in truth I’d grown my hair long to cover up my ears. The funny thing is, my ears aren’t even that bad (check my photos). I was just a paranoid, insecure, adolescent who was still growing into himself.
maxresdefault (1)Being skinny, that was another problem. I was a cross-country runner for many years which made it virtually impossible to put weight on. Even on the hottest of days, I would wear three t-shirts just to add a little extra bulk. I find it hilarious that my intention was to give myself the tiniest shred of self-approval, when in reality I was just a plonker in three t-shirts on a sunny day. All those t-shirts and my ears taped to my head! Can you imagine if I’d had my way?

Showing emotion is another touchy subject for men. Being emotional is actually one of the few things I genuinely love about myself. I find that if I allow myself the opportunity to really feel something then I can experience life’s moments in their fullest capacity. Don’t get me wrong, in the past I’ve mustered a tear or two for some pretty trivial things including football, home improvement shows and on one occasion even just looking at the moon! (Don’t ask). But for every cheesy American TV show there were emotional goodbyes, breathtaking scenery and the marriage of close friends – times when showing emotion served to enhance a life-long memory.

One of my close Australian friends is another of the ‘real men’ in my life. He’s from a very male dominated family and enjoys the simplicity of fishing, rugby, beer and his dog. I lived with him for a few months on my travels and at a time when he was going through some real personal turmoil. He wasn’t the type to talk about his feelings, but it was clear to see he needed to. I discreetly probed for weeks on end, gently encouraging him to open up and on a few occasions there was the tiniest glimmer of hope, but each time he clicked on to what he was about to do and promptly shut off.

He moved in circles that didn’t allow much room for emotions, it just wasn’t very ‘manly’. I really wantedrowan_atkinson_actor_tuxedo_gray-haired_brooding_27333_3840x2400 him to know that I was there for him, that I would listen without judgement and help him in any way I could, but it was all to no avail. I still wish today he would see the benefits of just, talking.

British actor Rowan Atkinson once said “I like to walk in the rain, no one can see me cry.” I think some men are starting to improve when it comes to showing emotion, it honestly is such a release to just let go and really feel something. And no it doesn’t mean falling to your knees and bursting into tears and it doesn’t make you weak, just human. Why wait for the rain to come?

I hope from this post women can gain a slightly better understanding of why men are the way they are sometimes, not because I excuse certain behaviours but simply to raise awareness…awareness that behind every arrogant pig there is a 12 year old boy standing in front of a mirror trying to tape his ears to the side of his head.

PTB