Deciding What You Want

The older we get the more we begin to analyze what we really want in life, at least in my experience. The years of experimentation fade away and we start to consider our decisions with our heads firmly screwed on, perhaps for the very first time. Naturally I believe this applies to relationships just as much as anything else in life. Those three month non-starters and dead-end flings are no longer good enough and more than ever before we ask ourselves – what do I actually want?

I don’t really believe in compromise when it comes to relationships. By this I mean our specific choice of partner. You only live once, what could be worse than a life spent with the wrong person? There’s nothing Odd-Couple-590x3941-590x385selfish about being picky – it’s your life after all. If you fear the idea of settling for convenience or choosing the person that suits your family or someone else’s expectations then you’re doing it wrong. Ultimately it only has to suit you. Relationships of convenience are a curse in my opinion, I compare it to jobs I’ve had in the past. Steady, comfortable, and nice but completely unremarkable. The ever wonderful Sheldon Cooper once said “Howard is perfectly justified in seeking out the optimum mate for the propagation of his genetic line.” In human terms quite simply – aim high.

I would never of course try to determine who is the best kind of partner. For some it might be the person with the best job or the flashiest car. Me? I just want a good spoon and some Netflix but everyone is different. One of my readers messaged me recently asking for advice, something which I am continuously flattered by. I always say if my writing helps even one person then it was worthwhile doing. For this guy, years of being single were taking it’s toll. Online dating, speed dating, blind dates, being set Woman-peering-over-crowd-001up by friends – every attempt as fruitless as the next. I spent so much time trying to convince this person of his qualities. ‘Convince’ him – I find that so sad. We all have flaws but we should never shy away from acknowledging our qualities, even if it’s just privately to ourselves. After all, we should be proud of these traits it’s what makes us good people. To listen to such a genuine person be so self-critical was genuinely quite upsetting, particularly as I know that for every person to ever reject him there are fifty women out there who would kill to be with him. Trying to convince him of this was another story. I tried to make him see that he had just as many qualities as any other guy out there he just needed to believe it and find the right person to appreciate and acknowledge those qualities. I know it will happen for him sooner or later, even if he doesn’t.

I remember being 19. For the first time I found myself dating someone who I knew (on paper) was way out of my league. With regret I changed for her, I would’ve been anything she wanted me to be. Naturally we grow as people and learn from experience but I can’t help but cringe at the thought of doing that for someone even if I was only 19. Who we are as people is the one permanent fixture we willimages always have in life until the very day we die, don’t compromise it for the wrong people. No one is worth that. I remember being so lost in this facade of being someone I wasn’t that I would just freeze mid-conversation, not knowing what to do or what to say. What a horrible feeling. To completely lose sight of who you are through your pathetic desperation to be someone else. It was like losing the very foundations of the person I was and who I was brought up to be. I had become nothing and all to impress a girl. Back then I was just a lost teenager but I still see grown adults doing this every single day. If this is you I urge you to stop, take a step back, think about your relationship. Do you really want to live your life like this? Acting?

Be yourself, have faith, have hope, have confidence, recognize your talents, your qualities, even the gap in your two front teeth. Not everyone will appreciate these things but someone, somewhere – will. That I promise. As for me, ten years later have I learnt my lesson? Well, someone tried to make me give up writing. I politely declined With Much Love,

PTB

Twitter:@paulthomasbell

PTB Meets Former X-Factor Star Laura White

As X-Factor reaches the closing weeks of this years competition I decided to catch up with one of my all-time favourite contestants. “By any standard I have ever heard that was incredible” love him or hate him when music mogul Simon Cowell hits you with comments like this then you know you’ve got a little something special. In 2008, Wigan girl Laura White captivated British audiences with her expresive, soulful tones and such a shock was her week 5 elimination that it even sparked an Ofcom investigation. Recently I spoke to Laura about life post X-Factor and of course dating and relationships.

Hi Laura, you first came to our attention in one of the most notable seasons in X-factor history spawning the likes of Alexandra Burke, Diana Vickers and JLS. How did appearing on the show affect your day to day life?

I was a working artist and musician before the X-Factor and had written songs, gigged, really worked hard in getting my music out there for years before, but I still found the show to be a big change to my life. It made the UK who have been amazing to me  immediately know everything about me and my music. Being quite a shy girl to start with was crazy at first to deal with but I was just so grateful for the fact that they listened to me and loved my music so much.

There is often a rather unfair stigma attached to being a talent show contestant, is the X-Factor label something you’re proud of or something you would rather shake off?

Some people may say there is a stigma attached but I think every case is different. If u go on the show and end up in theLW finals but have no talent the UK still won’t be fooled you know? In the same sense I am proud to say every decision I’ve made in my music career has been for the music and still is something I feel proud of. I feel even on the show, creatively, I picked my songs and music so I’m proud of the show being a stepping stone in my music life. I worked independently after the show with my fans touring, gigging, writing non-stop day and night we did it alone! The EP was number 1 in the singer/songwriter charts in November and these moments of tirelessly never stopping and believing feel even more amazing when it’s an independent music release.

How did being in the public eye affect your relationships? Were you ever concerned people would approach you because of your new found fame as opposed to who you are as a person?

I think for me I’m a private person so this was tough too be honest. You meet a lot of people along the way. You have to be tough-skinned as people talk no matter what you do, it’s tough and yes I think after becoming a person known to the UK it’s often tough in meeting someone who understands that and doesn’t feel threatened. It’s crazy though I’ve been out with people with similar careers and it doesn’t bother me, I think it’s all about being comfortable in yourself. No one in life is perfect everyone makes mistakes I’ve been out with some great guys and out with some awful guys but every single one of them has made me wiser and stronger

Any dating horror stories?

Worst ever date was probably just turning up and not being into a guy. I’m still like hey and cool about it but it’s terrible if you are thinking how do I get away and not have to kiss this guy.

Ever had any strange requests from fans?

This guy came to every gig with toys for me!! Craziness!! Some guys message me really rude things and ask me to send them pics thinking I will!! So funny though!! 

LW2Who was your teen crush?

My teen crush was defo Shane from Westlife, I met all of them except Shane and I still think I would die if I met him!

What do you look for in a guy?

I look for a good heart, caring, trustworthy, funny, ambitious and someone who I’m attracted too and I guess someone positive who supports me in every part of me. Also I love a guy who is romantic! 

Any deal-breakers?

I can’t date someone arrogant, not good-hearted and someone I just wasn’t attracted to too be honest. It’s not about looks it’s about feeling them you know? And lazy I don’t like lazy guys!

What’s your idea of the perfect first date?

A night of dancing. I love to dance, I love a cocktail and kisses in some crazy place where no one would see us, a beautiful moment. If I’m into a guy I’ll happily stay out until 7am with them. Dancing only though. 

What advice would you give young women out there looking for Mr Right?

My advice for them is to be happy in themselves. No girl needs a guy. Never settle, you really only live once and you deserve to live the life you’ve dreamed of.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you when it comes to men?

Best advice I’ve ever been given is to never text a guy first when you meet him Boys love a chase girls! 

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older?

Yes. We get wiser and we know what we want more. We know ourselves more, we know what we need and I think the older we get the better love gets. Love should be respected and looked after like a gift.

You’re still only 27. What’s next for Laura White?

I will be releasing my debut album through my management, Climax and Island Records. My song ‘To Be Loved got picked up by Radio One so it’s all progression. Working and meeting the fans, getting the music out to as many places as possible u know? My dream is to win a Grammy for my songs as I write all of my own music and for the world to hear my songs and to heal others in the way the songs heal me. When people come to my shows I love to see them having fun, forgetting their problems, dancing on tables and telling their hot dates for the night that they are into them when they hear ‘To Be Loved’. I just want girls and guys to love who they are and accept themselves like my music made me accept who I am.

What My Father Taught Me

Some of you will know that my Dad passed away suddenly, two weeks ago today. It’s moments like this that we never ever forget in life and for so many different reasons. As a writer I couldn’t not write about this and as a son I couldn’t not share a little bit about the man who had such a profound influence on my life – more so than I had ever realised.

My Dad was 78. We almost hesitate to tell people this because his age didn’t give a true reflection of the person he was. Often when we read that someone elderly has passed away we tend to think “oh ok they lived a good life,” but in his case age truly was just a number. He was so full of life, so funny, still so handsome and just as cheeky as I imagine he was when only a young boy. It pains me to say it, but he wasn’t ready to go. For now though I’ll put that to one side because if there’s one thing my Dad wouldn’t have wanted, it’s me depressing you all with some morbid post about death!

He was a joker. Anyone who has ever worked with me knows I’m a bit of a prankster and love a good joke and anyone who has ever worked with my Dad knows exactly where I get it from. His humour was his most endearing quality. It’s also been a bit of a saving grace for us over the last couple of weeks. To find ourselves hysterically laughing at a time like this seems rather strange, but it’s proving to be the mark that he has left on all of us. A few years back my Dad was hospitalised with pneumonia and one evening when we went to visit him, his bed was lying empty. We looked at each other confused as to where he was as we all know what an empty bed can mean in a hospital. Moments later we noticed his feet popping out from behind a chair at the back of the room, he was crouched down hiding, waiting to jump out and scare us. It made me smile then and I’m smiling now as I write this three years on.

Humour isn’t the only thing I’ll take away from him. As you’ll all know my writing is centred around the subjects of dating, relationships and I guess to some extent, love. I never claim to be an expert on any of these subjects, because I believe that every single on of us are experts in our own way through life experience. But it isn’t always our own experiences that we learn from. My Dad was hilarious, but he was also grumpy and annoying at times and like all of us had many flaws. But at the end of the day when I reflect on the things that really matter, he would’ve done anything for anyone, he doted on all of us. The way he felt about my Mum and the way he looked after her set an example to any husband. My Dad had lived a long life before our little family and would be the first to admit that he made many mistakes over the years, but I believe from the bottom of my heart that he learned from all of them and in the end he lived for us. When I look back now, I can proudly say that he was always there for us – always.

My Dad never asked for much just a newspaper on my way home from work and a quick chat at the end of the day – I only wish I’d done it more often. It’s so sad to think that our parents won’t be around forever but whilst they still are; talk to them, hug them and make sure they know just how much they mean to you. I guess that goes for all of our loved ones as well. As for me, I will remember the good times and I will laugh and I will write through the pain and then I’ll laugh some more. He wouldn’t have had it any other way.

In Loving Memory of Thomas Cox

PTB

PTB Meets Singer/Songwriter Ben Harvey

Ben Harvey made me late for work. Every morning I jump on the bus, put my headphones in and zone out for the brief 25 minutes of peace I get before reaching my desk. You know that way when you’re browsing through iTunes and you look up one artist and it starts making recommendations and you end up looking at another and another and another? Well that’s what happened on this particular morning and as I found myself lost in blissful contentment I realized I’d missed my stop and not by one or two – I wasn’t actually sure where I was. I’d been listening to ‘turn off the light’ by Ben Harvey. Recently I caught up with Ben to find out more about a talent that wouldn’t look out of place alongside acoustic heavyweights like Ben Howard and Benjamin Leftwich Francis (what is it with the name Ben?) and of course – talk about girls.

Hi Ben, how has your success so far affected your day to day life? Do you enjoy being recognized or do you prefer to keep your head down?  To be fair, it hasn’t affected my everyday life. I still work to support my music and to do what I do at the moment and once in a blue moon someone will recognize me and to be honest, its actually quite nice! It’s always nice when someone pays you a compliment when you don’t expect it.

photo 3 (2)How does girlfriend Paris react to seeing you on stage? Paris is great! She’s been really supportive and understanding of my music! She loves coming to the shows and enjoys the whole ‘music Life’ with me. I’m sure by now she must be bored of seeing me play as she’s seen me quite a lot! 

Has there ever been a time when your relationships have suffered as a result of pursuing music or is it easy enough to find the right balance? I wouldn’t say ‘suffered’ but there have been times with a few past partners where they may not have liked the attention I was getting on and off stage. It’s never really been a huge problem though.

Have you ever received any odd requests from fans? Haha actually nothing really strange to be honest! I wish I had something ridiculous to tell you but I honestly don’t! 

Are groupies becoming a thing of the past or do you still see a few sights backstage involving other acts? I have seen a couple of backstage things before but never at my own shows! I’m an acoustic singer songwriter so the shows I play are quite tame and chilled! I haven’t seen it much in my career but I’m well aware it does happen and it probably will for a very long time in the music industry.

What do you look for in a girlfriend? Laughter, honesty, patience, someone easy going, and someone with a big heart! I love to laugh and I think that’s one of the main attractions I had for Paris. We’re both very similar and I think that’s why we get on so great. Shes everything I want and more in a girlfriend.  

Any deal-breakers? As I said before I love to laugh and if you really don’t have a sense of humor and you’re afraid to laugh at yourself then that’s a big turn off for me. Jealousy and arrogance really doesn’t do it for me either plus bad hygiene.

What did you and Paris do on your first date? Me and Paris had been talking for a few weeks online. I met her on Twitter when she decided to use my music in one of her beauty videos. Then one day I said I was going to be in London for a live video shoot with Fortitude photo 2 (3)Magazine and why not come down. We met at Waterloo Station and I did the video, then after that we spent the day together. We went to Ripley’s Museum then got some food, had a few drinks and got to know each other some more. We got on great, I really wanted to see her again so I said to her that I was going to see Lewis Watson live in a couple of weeks and would she like to come. It’s honestly one of the best dates I’ve ever had.

Who was your teen crush? Wow, this is going back! I had a mad crush on Rihanna when she did the ‘Umbrella’ video – to be fair still do now.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? Definitely! Maybe ask me in a few more years as to what I think and I’ll give you more of an elaborate answer. Love is shared and viewed in so many different ways and it definitely changes as we get older.

Lastly being a big fan myself could I be in one of your music videos? Yeah? Good I’m glad that’s settled. Haha Of course! Why’d you even ask? I’ll let you know on the time and place of when we start shooting. We’ll give you the lead dance part! Sound good?

Follow Ben on Twitter @BenHarveyMusic and download the awesome EP ‘#TWO’ available on iTunes now.

Can Your First Love Really Be 'The One'?

It was Fresher’s week 2004 at Glasgow University, a fresh faced 17 year old straight out of high school I was enjoying a freedom that previously had been alien to me. At school I’d never been particularly sociable, I achieved good grades but then instantly wanted to leave as soon as possible. I never drank, rarely went to parties and led a fairly dull existence. University was where it all changed – in my eyes the first step into adulthood and where life truly began.

Fresher’s week was where I finally let it all go. For my overseas readers, Fresher’s Week is basically a week long party before the hard work starts. The buzz around campus was truly addictive and I was lapping up every single second of it. A few days in I had kissed what we call in Scotland a few ‘horrors’, 4ef9bf632261f55ddf8b7b287fda0148one girl from up North approached me saying “I’ve just won a bet with my friends that I’d be the first one to talk to you” at the time I thought “Oh wow what is this wonderful place?” but looking back I realize it was merely a rather poor chat up line – which I fell for hook, line and sinker. There was also the girl who gave me a rash from her stubble and the girl who confusingly declared me a womanizer when I refused her advances. Then one evening like the calm after the storm, I was standing at the bar waiting for a friend when a girl milky skinned and with Celtic dark features approached me, she said nothing just pointed at my hair. A few awkward seconds had passed when I was blown away by the most exquisite Irish accent, “I love your hair.” I was instantly smitten. 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 then unknowns Biffy Clyro take Glasgow’s student union by storm. Later that night we ended up at a small gathering thrown by an old-school rave enthusiast, Dan from Manchester (the only human being I’ve ever known to plaster his walls with pictures of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin – much to my horror I might add). We had been lying on the floor (as students do) and had been quietly chatting away for a good couple of hours when we realized that there was actually someone else sleeping on the floor just yards 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 enter the room. Dan woke up and told us to leave him be. Little did Dan know that this guy whoever he may be would wake up moments later in a drunken state and urinate all over his floor and much to our bewilderment, Dan’s vast CD collection. Hilarious as it was this was our cue to leave. It had been a memorable introduction to student life and as for Jennifer, she was my first love.

We dated for a year, it was incredible at first, so young and naive but not a care in the world just happy 957641cc3406fea518f3b65527cd251ato be in love. When I think back to that time I always laugh about how oblivious we were to our truly horrific dress sense, I can only imagine what my mother must’ve been thinking. I would walk around in flared, black chords and band t-shirts with long shoulder length hair and two lip piercings. Jennifer on the other hand had a penchant for multi-colored leggings and chunky cardigans. As the months passed the relationship soured a little, Jennifer became consumed by homesickness which in all honesty became the focal point of the relationship. She was counting down the days until she could go home for the summer and I began to feel like something to keep her occupied in the meantime. I knew this deep down but at the time couldn’t quite bring myself to admit it. I put up with a lot during those months, I don’t know if I felt sorry for her or if I was just in total denial.

When the summer came I was heartbroken to watch her leave as we parted ways at the airport, she on the other hand had the biggest smile on her face with home j-r-eyerman-young-couple-snuggling-in-convertible-as-they-watch-large-screen-action-at-a-drive-in-movie-theaterawaiting her. When she left I had zero concerns for our relationship, in spite of the hardships of the previous months I still had complete faith that things would work out but this would soon prove misguided and highlight my youthful naivety once more. 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.” I hadn’t been overly worried anyway but it was certainly a welcome reassurance and after calming her down I fell back to sleep. When I woke up in the 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 and how in the space of a few short hours had it turned to this? I replied to her message completely bemused but sure enough, it was over. For the first time in my life I can openly admit I’d had my heart broken. It’s funny saying those words ‘my heart is broken’ it evokes the very strongest of emotions in us all. It’s incredible how an experience or period in your life can so quickly become a distant memory but I honestly believe you haven’t lived until you’ve had your heart broken, that’s when you know you’re alive – not when you start fresher’s week.

In the coming months I struggled desperately to get over her. I convinced myself that when she returned after the summer I would win her back. When she did return however, I met a ‘new’ Jennifer. I ab927a75a913dc1f34aeb4d9747e16bfdidn’t know who she 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 throwing herself over a different guy each week. I never held it against her, after all that’s what we do in our teens experiment and explore but the heartbreak was still written all over my face. 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 last summer she messaged me out of the blue and asked to meet up. I had mixed feelings about the idea, would it be too awkward? Would all my old feelings be unnecessarily dragged from the dirt? In the end I agreed and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I felt nothing.

It was like chatting to a distant relative. I didn’t even find her attractive anymore and found her dare I say it a tad dull, she’d certainly mellowed at the grand old age of 28. It made me think back to those heartbroken days. At times I had been inconsolable but it just goes to show that sometimes things do happen for a reason and perhaps that’s something we can apply to any broken relationship. No matter how bad things seem, they really will get better.

e3b3f19c16a4bda5d295ba4bf87e3c38So what was is the true purpose of our first love? I thought long and hard about this and the truth was simple, to learn – at least for me anyway. That relationship taught me so much. As I mentioned before this had been my first steps into adulthood and so I’ll always be grateful to Jennifer for being a part of that period of my life and for everything she taught me about women – intentional or not. They say that everyone will always remember their first love which is true, but for me it’s more like remembering a trusty teacher or guardian rather than a long lost love. If you do long for them, just appreciate the time you had together and if you feel like they were the one that got away, try not to be too disheartened you might just look back and laugh one day.

When people say everything happens for a reason, don’t try and prove them wrong – just be patient.

PTB

Breaking Up With The Single Life

women-tears-black-and-white-photography-sad-woman-b6bea3eec80fde5b0772a6435f4b8193-hToday feels like a good day to write. I’ve never claimed to be a dating expert, my words stem from experiences (the good and the bad) and it’s experience which has made me sit down and write today. I’ve always been quite emotional for a guy, sometimes it’s the smallest things that hit you the hardest. Today I’ve reflected on times when I myself have hurt people, not because I’ve done something really bad, but because I am the way I am – over complicated, too much in my own head and often non-committal.

I’ve spoken previously about the pressures people put upon themselves to find love, to find the one, to settle down. There comes a time in life where it consumes us. I myself was a quiet kid up until about the age of about eighteen and had never really had a proper girlfriend until then. Fast forward ten years and I’ve wracked up a solid seven or eight serious relationships one after the other and spent a grand total of just five months being single.  This decade of relationships is where my experience comes from and what inspires my writing, but it is also one of my biggest flaws and I hope people can learn from that.

The point I’m making is that being single doesn’t have to be a negative thing. I’ve heard loved ones speak about being single as if it were a disability. This of course is complete nonsense. I ask myself how many of my relationships I regret and as much as I try not to regret things in life there’s certainly three or four I could’ve done without. We need to learn to value the positive side of being single and no not playing the field, I mean self-development, discovery and finding out what you actually want from life. These are the very things which can lead to long-term happiness. What is it they say ‘short-term pain, long-term gain’? I truly believe this can be applied to dating and relationships.

I always champion the idea of loving yourself before you can love someone else, but perhaps I’ve too often been guilty of not taking my own advice. When I have taken that advice however, life seems to be that little bit smoother. Then when the time comes for that long-awaited relationship, you’ll feel like Rocky reaching the top of the steps (somewhere I’ve been – take a jacket it’s freezing).
What happens when we put too much pressure on ourselves to meet someone? We end up with the wrong person. Simple as that.

Have faith that the right person will come along at the perfect moment. In the meantime, make the most of the single life. Get to know yourself before you get to know someone else. If you do, breaking up with the single life will be harder than you ever thought possible.

“Trust the path you’re on, if you don’t
nothing makes sense.” – Paolo Coelho

PTB

follow me on Twitter @paulthomasbell


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Age Gap Relationships

Lehmuth_Lehmuth_Rachel_Brenke_Photography_lauren28bw_lowFrom your classic gold-digger generation to modern day cougars age gap relationships have always been of great interest to me. There’s no great secret to my enthusiasm for the subject, it stems solely from my parents who have nearly three decades between them – 28 years if you’re counting. My mother is a youthful 50 and my Dad still as sprightly as ever at the age of 78. Has it affected their relationship? Honestly? Yes it has. But do they regret it? Probably not.

Growing up my Dad never held back from his parenting duties, already in his mid to late 50’s people would constantly ask my sister and I – “is that your Grand-Dad?” We never once hesitated from proudly proclaiming “no, that’s our Dad!” An old Dad is better than no Dad I always said. The setup between my Mother and Father has always fascinated me – perfect material for a relationships writer you might say. Age differences can be tricky at the best of times, even five to ten years can sometimes prove event_225976522.jpegdifficult, so how do you make a gap of three decades work? When they got together my Dad was the most devilishly handsome (and surprisingly young looking) 48 year old you could feast your eyes on and my Mum – a fresh faced 20 year old who’d only recently left her seaside town for the big city. Perhaps my Dad was the strong arm my Mum needed to help her settle into her big move or perhaps he really was just incredibly handsome. I can only imagine the two of them complimented each other perfectly in the same way I still observe them do to this day. My Dad is funny. It’s my favourite quality in him and any person for that matter, I love people who make me laugh and I guess my Mum is the same. My Mum on the other hand is organized, sensible and well – motherly. In fact it’s incredible just how much I am like my Dad and my sister is like my Mum but it just goes to show that with the right balance of characteristics in a pairing, age gaps really do become irrelevant. For just about every time I have seen my Mum stress over a phone bill I have watched my Dad reduce her to tears of laughter only moments later, maybe these are the true great qualities of a successful relationship? Not appearances or money or how you might look on paper, just the purest form of balance. I envy them every day.

One of my fondest memories of seeing them together was on holiday in Devon (England) as a youngster. We’d taken a trip to the zoo and my sister and I sat on a bench devouring ice lollies whilst my Mum and Dad went for a wander. My Mum was more the sun bathe by the beach type whilst my Dad (like myself) was quite the explorer, in fact we often took gruelling day trips just to keep the peace more than anything. The zoo of course was fun, but as my Mum marched ahead with her arms crossed my filmnoirpage-e1319841938815Dad blissfully trundled along gazing at every animal, bird, leaf, plant, tree etc that came his way – ‘Father Nature’ I used to call him. As my sister and I watched from a distance they came to a bridge overlooking a stream full of exotic fish, it was one of those bridges that you could shake and sway from side to side, my Mum who has suffered from vertigo for many years naturally walked across as quickly as humanly possible, my Dad on the other hand stopped in the middle to admire the fish in sheer wonderment. What happened next still makes me laugh and to this day I have never seen my Mum laugh harder – she was quite literally floored. My Dad in his mid-60s at the time is only around 5ft 3, a group of young and very excited German tourists had spotted the bridge from afar and in their excitement hadn’t even noticed my Dad innocently watching the fish as they sprinted to the middle. They bounced around on that bridge like kids on a trampoline at Christmas. The bridge wasn’t high so he was in no immediate danger but watching my Dad’s face as he hung on for dear life whilst this group of athletic young men almost twice his size bounced around was a sight I’ll never forget. This was the beauty of my Dad’s persona, whether he was making a joke or just finding himself in yet another comedic situation there was always laughter. It was in these moments that I knew my Mum would think that loveable little man…is mine.

It’s not easy to brush aside the opinions of others and although I wasn’t there at the time, I can’t 13-wedding-kiss-photography-in-the-1950s-uncovered-on-ebayimagine a 20 year old on the arm of a man approaching 50 sat well with those around them, but did it put them off? I wouldn’t be sat here on this cold Autumn evening if it had. I talk a lot about not caring about what others think, frankly I believe life is too short and I spent most of my teens trying to make the world around me like me before I myself even liked me. It’s only tonight that I’ve realized this attitude comes from my upbringing. So to those suffering the strain of a scrutinised relationship, if you’re not hurting anyone – just do whatever the hell you like.

PTB

What Women Want (In My Experience)

The age old question, what do women want? Only Mel Gibson has ever really come close to an answer with help from the most spectacular super-power ever created within the halls of Paramount Pictures. Frankly I just don’t have the time or the enthusiasm to be electrocuted in a backstreet Chinatown apartment, however I decided to mak emy own light-hearted attempt at answering this question. Now before I start I cannot stress enough that these are based strictly on my own experiences and are in no way an attempt to generalise all women – can’t have Emma Watson knocking on my door.

Babies, babies, babies, babies. So yes I agree there is no more natural thing in the world than a woman giving birth to a child, but a man carrying a used nappy bag with mushy peas stuck to his forehead is wholly unnatural. Remember, men mature at the rate of daffodils growing in a baking hot desert, for your own sake (and your childs) don’t force a man to have kids before he’s ready – this is my only point here. You might be lucky and your partner springs into action and becomes the man you so desperately need him to be, but on the flipside he may regress back to his 14 year old adolescent self. Before you know it, you will be the mother of one beautiful baby and one stubbly, teenage man-child who cries himself to sleep. Hope it’s the former, but don’t force it.

My Money yes the little I did have was always very quickly spent. Cue the unemployed ex-girlfriend who begged me for a holiday, I stupidly obliged and agreed to pay for two weeks in the sun on the condition that she find a short term job and take her own spending money. She finds a nannying job, works three weeks and makes £600, perfect I thought – that is until she turned up at my house with forty bags of bikinis and maxi dresses. You win some you lose some.

For My Friends To Dissapear I know they’re not perfect but come on at least they’re nice to your face. In any relationship it’s important to strike the right balance between each other, friends and family. Don’t make us give up our friends they were there before you and should anything ever happen they’ll be there long after you, however, this of course works both ways.

Stop Looking At Other Women I get this one honestly I do, but try and remember that just because our eyes are open doesn’t mean we’re looking at other girls. I remember once upon a time having a full blown argument with an old girlfriend in the cinema, she accused me of looking at another girl whilst I was intently READING THE MOVIE LISTINGS!!! One of the most embarassing public altercations I’ve ever experienced and to this day I still have no clue who she was talking about.

For Us To Love You (No Matter What) this pains me, honestly, I love women whether it’s a girlfriend, my mother or my sister I love you all, but why do some girls expect to get away with absolutely everything? I borrowed your favourtie t-shirt it’s now covered in fake tan but it’s fine because you love me, I sold your season tickets on ebay  but it’s fine because you love me, I slept with your brother but it’s fine, YOU LOVE ME!!! My ex once turned up on Christmas day with not a single present for any of my family and then the very next day returned to my house with several hundred bags of shopping from the boxing day sales, again not a single present for anyone and yes, it was the same person from point two (moreful me).

Ladies don’t take any of this to heart, you know it’s my fellow man I normally pick on. I often wonder how aware both men and women are of their crazy or irrational behaviours? Have you ever been stuck in a heated moment and you know you are completely off your head and yet it doesn’t stop you from carrying on the madness? I’ve been guilty of this myself, but still, it’s always fun to reminisce. I guess that’s how we learn from our mistakes and grow as partners and as people. Then again, perhaps deep down we all secretly love a little bit of crazy?

PTB

Great Myths About Men Explained

Being a guy, who knows guys, I unfortunately am all too familiar with some of man’s great failings when it comes to women. I could never claim to have been a perfect boyfriend, but every now and again friends, colleagues and often complete strangers will share their stories with me, and as much as I am happy to listen occasionally my head falls into my hands with unfortunate ease. I could never judge anyone, way too many mistakes made on my part to do that, but are all the negative myths about men actually true? Or are they just that – myths.

bedroom-black-and-white-couple-cute-love-Favim.com-2807121. We’re only after one thing. I get asked this question constantly and the truth is, a bit of both. I know someone who uses online dating and when asked what he’s looking for he is always completely truthful, “a bit of fun.” Hardly the romance girls are after but so long as it’s done respectfully is there really anything wrong with such honesty? This person’s explanation is “I travel a lot for work so it wouldn’t be fair for me to get seriously involved with someone”. So yes sometimes guys are after only one thing but believe it or not we also like a bit of romance, courtship and dare I say it – butterflies. Guys do think about sex constantly, it’s in our DNA after all, but that doesn’t mean we’re all predators. Girls if you’re concerned look out for the early warning signs, some are more obvious than others – requests for dirty photos, innuendos, and the classic “I’m in bed, wish you were here” – we try and pass it off as ‘banter’ but that would be a lie (guys you know exactly what I’m talking about). If you’re still worried sometimes the best thing you can do is actually the simplest, just ask.

2. We constantly lie. This isn’t true of all men of course but yes you’d be surprised at just how barnes_liarmuch men tell porkies. Guys are too often guilty of saying what we think women want to hear rather than what’s actually going on in our heads. The peculiar thing is that guys are often berated for lying, sure it’s not ok but you’d be surprised how often guys lie simply to protect your feelings – we’re actually big softies deep down we worry about you! It’s a part of our often backwards mentality but not necessarily acceptable and frankly it probably should worry you. If a guy thinks he can get away with lying then he’ll probably continue to do it, not necessarily for his own gain but because it very quickly just becomes a bad habit. Learn to know when you’re guy is lying and nip it in the bud before it escalates. Don’t be a bunny boiler about it though, we aren’t always lying – believe it or not.

Subscribers-of-the-Ladies-Who-Love-the-Lord-Facebook-fan-page-were-asked-to-discuss-whether-or-not-an-open-relationship-is-still-revered-as-adultery-before-the-eyes-of-God3. “Once a cheater always a cheater”This one drives me crazy, I cannot stress enough how much I disagree with this. Obviously I don’t condone cheating but people do learn from their mistakes. I’ve known guys who’ve cheated and continue to cheat with numerous different women, it’s a sad fact of life, but I also know guys who were so wracked with guilt from cheating that they couldn’t eat or sleep for days and wouldn’t dare go near another woman ever again. It’s down to personal choice whether you forgive a cheater or not but when making that decision don’t assume that he will always cheat, just keep a casual eye on him – time will soon tell if you’ve made the right decision.

4. Our feelings don’t get hurt. Definitely not true. Even the biggest, buffest guy in the gym cantumblr_m8ej1rWkaz1rx9nz2o1_500 be a delicate little flower inside. Guys don’t express feelings very well but don’t mistake this for being made of stone. Sometimes we’re just as insecure as women. I’ve written in detail about this before but more recently I did a small photoshoot for a friend and you’d be surprised at just how much a good quality camera can reveal your every flaw. I cried myself to sleep that night – ok not quite but you get the picture.

5. We hate all of your friends. Not true at all we just hate when you’re in a group! I had an ex-girlfriend and individually I loved every one of her friends but as a group? Don’t get me started! There are few words to explain the frustration of a man having to spend an evening with a group of hyperactive, ranting women. Yes we’ll be gents, keep quiet and politely listen to every one of your meaningless conversations about “that bitch from work” but sorry girls we don’t want to be there, please don’t make us be.

tumblr_static_tumblr_mcq51kmosc1rrmua6o1_500So girls we’re far from perfect but don’t always believe what you read and be wary of the words of a woman scorned. People can only speak of their own experiences but not everyone is the same, try your best to be a good judge of character and never be afraid to ask questions. Failing that just come and ask me – I promise I don’t just want sex!

PTB

PTB Answers Your Questions

I can’t tell you how much I love when my readers send me questions about men and dating. I don’t claim to be a relationship expert but there’s very few situations I haven’t found myself in. I’ll always give my honest, sincere opinion of your dilemmas, dancing around a subject doesn’t do anyone any favours. Here are some of the latest questions put to me:

PTB, I’d been on about four or five dates with a guy in college, things were going great, we had an amazing time and after a few weeks we slept together but ever since he’s been completely distant and I’m feeling a bit used. – Lacey, NY.

couple-relaxing-on-a-bedHi Lacey, when things start to go wrong so soon after sex it’s natural to assume that all he wanted was to get you into bed and sadly some guys are like that but not all of them. I’d be a little surprised if he’d put in so much ground work over a number of weeks just for sex, most guys of that nature tend to give up a lot quicker when sex is their only intention. When you get to about date four or five you tend to find people are in the process of asking themselves is this going to be a long-term thing? Sadly you may find that he has decided this isn’t going to go any further and sex unfortunately coincided with that. Although if this is the case I certainly can’t condone him sleeping with you in the first place. I’m sorry if that’s not the answer you want to hear but the way you’re feeling you have nothing to lose consider asking him straight up how he’s feeling, you deserve that much. Try and be casual about it though just in case he’s being a bit grumpy and there wasn’t anything wrong in the first place. Men can be just as difficult to read as women.

Hi Paul, pretty straightforward we love each other but we want different things, I want to travel and he wants to start a family, any thoughts? Beth, Brighton (UK)

tumblr_n24r7sLACo1r4ueyro1_250This is always a tough one. The biggest problem is potential resentment. If you stop one another from achieving what you want in life there’s going to be an elephant in the room for the duration of your relationship. Everyone has a bucket list in life, ask yourself what means more your partner or the list? Ask yourself how you’ll cope if you lose him? The best thing I could suggest is to sit down and have a really honest conversation about the things you want and determine if you can both reach a compromise to make the relationship work. Whatever happens don’t let yourself be forced into doing something you’re not ready for, kids are for life!

Everything in our relationship is perfect except when it comes to the bedroom there’s no spark, it doesn’t work. Emma, NY.

Dead_Flower_by_SneakOneThis is so common, so many couples get too embarassed to talk about sex and they end up plodding along in the most unsatisfying, routine way. Naturally everyone has different tastes and different things that work for them, talk about it, what’s the worst that can happen? You end up having more fun? Don’t be afraid to take the lead and show a guy what you like, you don’t have to hit him with ‘you’re doing it wrong,’ some very subtle pointers can go a long way. Some experts are too quick to suggest ‘spicing things up’ in these situations when all you really need is to talk more. Good Luck.

I keep catching my boyfriend talking to girls online, he swears he’s not cheating so what is he up to? Antonia, NJ.

tinder-life-dateHi Antonia, the thing with guys is they love a bit of attention. In no way do I think it’s acceptable for guys to be doing this but as stupid as it sounds it doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you or that he wants to go out and physically cheat on you. I have a friend who always says to me ‘I love my girlfriend more than life itself but sex is sex,’ again I can’t defend statements like this but maybe it will give you a better understanding of how some guys think. Guys tend to do these things without even thinking about it, just like a bad habit. If it upsets you tell him, I’m sure he wouldn’t be too happy if it was the other way around?

My ex-boyfriend wants to get back together but I can’t decide if it’s right. Rebecca, Edinburgh (UK).

couple-eyesThe fact you even have to ask the question probably says it all. It’s easier said than done but I’m a big believer that if you love someone enough you should just know you want to be with them, there shouldn’t be any question marks. It’s also very difficult to go backwards, think about the reason you broke up in the first place and ask yourself if you go back will you still have the same issues?If you’re still struggling consider meeting up for a casual date, nothing too fancy, see if the feelings come flooding back or if you well and truly have moved on.

Thanks again for your questions keep sending them to paulthomasbell@outlook.com

PTB

 

First Date Survival Guide: The Do's and Dont's

So she said yes. You saw the girl, you swooped and you got the number. Some might say the hard part is over but then again you still have the first date to consider. You don’t want all that hard work to be for nothing, do you? Ok, now it’s time to really impress her. Even the most confident of guys lose their cool on the first date, here are my tips to ensuring that doesn’t happen.

DON’T!

Talk about your ex let’s get it out the way now, the golden rule of any first date. No one wants to know how heartbroken you were or how she was just using you to get close to your best friend. This is your chance to leave all of that behind you, take it!

1395346699297Overdress so you’re getting ready and can’t decide what to wear? Remember this is a date not a prom, leave the bow tie at home – unless you are a master of geek chic of course. You also don’t want to look better than her, let her be the star for the night you’ll have other opportunities to be the showstopper. You wont go far wrong with a casual short-sleeved shirt, slim-fit jeans and a decent pair of shoes but not the Italian pair you wore to work that day, no one likes a pair flippers.

Get Ahead of Yourself don’t set yourself up for a fall, she’s agreed to meet for a drink not be the mother of your children! Remember this is just a date, there were other girls before her and there’ll be many more after her, this is NOT your one and only chance to find love! If you’re secretly already telling yourself she’s your girlfriend in your head then we have a serious problem. Desperation can be spotted a mile off. However much you want this, stay cool!

Take her Somewhere Loud you’re trying to get to know her not deafen her. Avoid places where you’ll have to shout your every word, quite frankly it gets exhausting. That’s not to say take her to the library either,  pick somewhere that you can sit down and chat with relative ease. Have two or three locations in mind before you even meet her. The cinema is also a major no-no for different reasons. I’m sure I don’t need to explain why.

best-date-notPlay With Your Phone you’re supposed to be listening to her pretending she loves her job not playing Angry Birds! Don’t text either, if your teachers could see you doing it under the table at school your date can too, save it for the bathroom breaks.

Talk About Sex whether you’re a sex addict or just having some playful banter save it for the boys in the pub. Some girls can be quite frigid about the subject and it’s probably too early to judge her sense of humour. Don’t blow your load too soon or you’ll find yourself on the next bus home. Likewise no one wants to know how many times you’ve been to the clinic in the last six months.

Be Too Nice be respectful but don’t be her best friend. Find the right balance of ‘cheeky’ and ‘gent’ and your on your way to a second date. Give her a casual compliment when you see her and I mean “you look great” NOT “dat ass girl”.

Be Negative a girl doesn’t want to know about your miserable luck with the ladies and why you hate the world nor does she want to know about your dark poetry phase. Be someone who can add a little spark to her life. Her best mate wont stop crying about her ex she doesnt need you adding to her problems as well. If the date isn’t going well don’t get fed up, you now have nothing to lose. Just enjoy it for what it is – a night out!

passed-out-drunkGet Wasted remember you’re the boss here, you need to stay in control. Have a few drinks to take the edge off but know your limits. The last thing you need is your date getting dressed up only to be covered in your sick after yet another jaeger bomb. Similarly you don’t want to put yourself in a position where your date proves she can drink you under the table.

DO!

Ask Questions but not too many, it’s a date not a job interview. Show that you are genuinely interested in getting to know this person, you may even find that you have more in common than  you first thought. Try to let things flow – no one likes an awkward silence!

man-paying-for-date1Pay For Everything Yes I know it’s expensive but your new x-box game can wait until next month. The best girls offer to pay but politely decline, tonight is on you. Take more money out than you’ll need, you don’t have to spend it all. Going dutch is second or third date material but don’t ever make money an issue, save it for when you’re married.

Relax I know it can be nerve-wracking but you’ll just have to get over it, man up! Your date is the priority after all and if you can’t relax she won’t relax. Like I said before don’t overthink things this is just a drink, she’s not the dentist, what do you have to be nervous about?

Be Yourself the most obvious of cliches I know, but it’s true. Pretending your something you’re not might be easy enough to do once but you’d be surprised how quickly that can spiral. Before you know it you’ll be up to your eyeballs in payday loans funding all those trips to Marbella that you said your ‘mate’ Mark Wright would hook you up with.

casablancaKiss Her but only on the cheek, linger for half a second and if it feels right it might just turn into a proper kiss. Don’t dance about on the spot like a bumbling idiot, be confident and know your plan before the moment even comes. Just don’t give too much away, always leave her wanting more.

 

Good Luck

PTB

Dumped? The Fast Track Guide To Getting Over It

Let’s face it break-ups suck. There’s nothing worse than that overwhelming numbness in your stomach, forcing yourself to watch ‘The Notebook’ for the hundredth time and of course your sudden lack of interest in all things nutritional but it doesn’t have to be this way. I myself have been there, the skinny emo kid crying in the rain secretly believing life is a movie and that she will indeed come running back into my arms. Sadly there are few situations I haven’t found myself in, here’s my guide to coping with a break-up without resorting to a rendition of  “Hey there Delilah” outside her bedroom window.

dawson_cryingDay 1: The toughest day of all. It’s still raw, you have a lot of unanswered questions in your head and you’re craving answers but whatever the situation, trust me when I say turn your phone off! As someone who has been both the dumper and the dumpee, giving each other space is vital. The worse thing you can do is continue pestering someone when they so clearly need a bit of space. This also applies if you are trying to win someone back, let them miss you! Cry, there’s no shame in it. Let it all out, we’re only human and break-ups hurt, cry as much as you need to but the second you stop, look in the mirror and laugh at the state of your face. Laughing is an amazing cure for most things in life.

Day 2: So yesterday was tough, really tough, but you got through it. Things still wont be easy but you need to shake yourself off and at least attempt to be positive. Make a playlist. We’ve all been there, when that one song that reminds you of your ex comes on, the one you used to lie in bed together listening to, planning a lifetime of memories. Sadly this too is now a memory, don’t let this happen or you’ll find yourself back at the beginning of day one. Listen to all the music in the world but be strict with yourself, stick to positive, uplifting songs, nothing slow, depressing or romantic and under no circumstances are you to listen to Adele! I personally recommend old school rap, you may find yourself shaking your butt in the mirror at a time when even getting out of bed seemed impossible.

Worn_Sneaker(3)Day 3: Time to get the running shoes on. The benefits of even a ten minute run are incredible. Clear your mind, get David Guetta booming on your ipod and just run! It worked for Forrest Gump (without the Guetta) and it worked for me. I pounded the pavements like a marathon runner almost every day. Do not stay in bed!

Day 4: Spend time with friends and family. It’s important to remember there are other people in your life, people who love you and actually want to spend time with you. Avoid the subject of relationships. If your a guy moan about the football, laugh at your mates dodgy new tache and if your a girl ask your gal pals ‘omg, what is she wearing?’ Or if you’re like me, do all of the above.

Day 5: Remember all those things you wanted to do but couldn’t because your partner drank your money away last weekend? Well here’s your chance, have some you time. Now more than ever is when you’re allowed to be selfish. Treat yourself! It’s been a difficult few days and you probably need a little pick-me-up. Go and buy that leather jacket you wanted or those sickeningly expensive shoes, you deserve it. Or even better get a makeover, a new haircut for a new you.

Day 6: Keep busy.  Occupy yourself, it wont always stop you from thinking about your ex but it’ll certainly help. Take evening classes, learn to cook, remember how they used to complain? The world is your oyster, you’re a talented person you just never had the time to show it.

tumblr_mb3bd08Tjs1qe1a2ao1_500Day 7: Let your frustrations out. Possibly one of the most important days of all. It’s time to let it all out again but crying is a little too morbid at this point. Be a badass, hit the gym and hit that punch bag harder than you’ve ever hit anything in your life. Show them what you’re made of, it’s a release that can be just as good as sex.

Day 8: Delete the photos. You knew this day was coming but you’ve already proven how strong you are, rip the band aid. Once it’s done it’s done. We both know looking at them was only making things worse. Your focus is positivity remember!

Day 9: Let’s be honest you haven’t been eating all that well this past week, it’s time to give your body a break. Go to your favourite restaurant and order your favourite meal, do not stop eating until your shirt is literally popping buttons! Trust me your newly visible ribcage says you need it.

black-and-white-cute-fashion-happy-photography-Favim.com-137587_largeDay 10: Plan ahead. You may still have dark days from time to time but your over the worst and by this point you know what works for you. Try and remind yourself of your ex’s bad points, of your good points and of all the opportunities at your disposal as a result of being single. Be grateful for the good times you shared but trust that everything happens for a reason and that eventually, you will meet someone else. Focus on your career, book a holiday, just be you again. Life could be worse.

PTB Meets Heart Radio's Charlie O'Brien

Radio Presenter and Popular Culture blogger Charlie O’Brien holds the enviable feat of finding career success and the man of her dreams along the way. I recently caught up with the lovely woman herself to get her career tips and find out just what makes the perfect guy?

Hi Charlie, congratulations on your successful career so far, what advice would you give to anyone looking to break into the media industry? WORK EXPERIENCE, WORK EXPERIENCE, WORK EXPERIENCE! As unfair as the thought of unpaid work may seem – I think it’s the only real way into the media. You don’t really see media jobs advertised, so you need another ‘in’ to the industry. I must have done about 3 years unpaid work in total, and have to sometimes! Work experience DOESN’T mean going to sit in a radio/tv station or newspaper for a morning though and thinking you’re qualified. We had a teenage girl who sat in on our radio show for 2 hours the other day. After her 4th cup of tea she announced “well I can now add radio to my list of work experience!!” No! Real work experience is getting your hands dirty, staying late, being willing to do anything and everything and not turning down any opportunity. Oh and making the tea. (Good tea, not stuff that looks like dirty dishwater with bits floating on top). Also in this age of amazing technology – take advantage of it! Write a blog, start a Youtube channel, a Soundcloud account. It’s all there for you, waiting!

You’ve obviously landed some pretty high profile gigs in recent times, what have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in getting to this stage of your career? There have been lots – right from funding my way through two universities and then starting out in journalism on a pittance, to trying to prove myself as a female. I think the media industry is still fairly biased towards men. Women have to work harder. Reinventing yourself is also a challenge. I started out life as a news journalist. I had to work hard to prove that I could make the move to lighter presenting and be funny after people were used to me being serious. I hope I’ve achieved that.

You’ve been with boyfriend Jay for 2 and a half years now, what set him apart from other men? He’s real! And just the loveliest, most uncomplicated person I’ve ever met. We’d both had enough of awful, destructive relationships when we met – and were in the same place emotionally. It’s cheesy, but he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I adore him. Hopefully it’s reciprocated!

CHARLIE AND JAY MALLORCA How did you two meet? On twitter! We work for the same company so we knew of each other – but one day out of the blue I got a tweet saying “hey fellow breakfast presenter, how are you?” and the rest is history! Although he likes to tell people that I tweeted him first. It was definitely him!

Who was your teen crush? Mark Owen, Andre Agassi and Marti Pellow. You couldn’t see my bedroom walls for posters.

What is your idea of the perfect first date? Again, cheesy, but mine and Jay’s first date was perfect. A sunny evening, drinking wine out on the pavement in a restaurant just off Regent’s Street, followed by dinner, then dancing and one or two jaegar bombs!

Any ‘deal-breakers’? Good teeth, good conversation and even better sense humour.

What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on? Is it weird to say this – but I haven’t really been on many dates?! There was one guy who was obsessed with hummus … maybe that counts!

What are your thoughts on internet dating and the increasing popularity of apps such as Tinder? The world and technology has moved forward, so why shouldn’t dating move with it? I know a girl who recently married a man she met from a dating site. It can work. I’m slightly disturbed by Tinder though. I don’t like the idea that you can dismiss someone in one swipe. It makes people very disposable. I’m an old romantic – and Tinder doesn’t seem very romantic to me. But if it works for you, go for it.

What advice would you give to any women out there still searching for Mr Right? Don’t give up – it happens when you least expect it. A week before I met Jay, I said to my mum “I’m giving up. I’m never going to meet Mr Right or get married and have babies, it just isn’t happening for me.” 3 months later I was moving into a gorgeous flat with the love of my life!

How important is physical attraction in a relationship? I think physical attraction is important, especially initially. Let’s face it, you’re not going to get through the tougher spells if there was no attraction there to start with. But it’s only one part of a much wider picture. Being great friends, having the same values and wanting the same things out of life is just as important in my opinion.

Do you think our perceptions of love and what we look for in a partner change as we get older? Definitely! In my teens and twenties I used to think it all had to be hearts and flowers, like The Notebook. But as you get older those priorities change. Feeling safe with someone is very important to me now after bad past relationships and feeling a sense that you’re a team and working through life together. When you get to your 30’s and want to settle down I think it’s more usual to look towards your parents perhaps and how they made it work, or maybe didn’t. You have a clearer, less cluttered vision of what you want. But hearts and flowers is still good occasionally too of course 😉

Finally, how will you be spending the rest of your summer? Working on the radio, blogging, working on my joint radio and media ventures with my partner jay, all topped off with a week on our favourite island, Mallorca in September. I can’t wait!

You can catch Charlie on Heart Breakfast in Kent, Monday-Friday 6am-10am. Charlie is also a fellow blogger check her out at realgirlramblings.com and also see her vlogging with partner Jay at www.youtube.com/user/JkCharlieShouldWe

and….

Lastly, Charlie is an ambassador for The Children’s University, check out the amazing work they do at www.childrensuniversity.co.uk

*For bookings contact sue@chasemanagement.co.uk

Problems In The Bedroom? PTB Meets Huffington Post’s Susan Winter

A recent survey conducted by Author and Psychologist Dr. David Schnarch found that of almost 20,000 people asked, 36% of couples had desire problems almost all of the time and 25% just before sex. I recently caught up with ‘The Oprah Show’ and New York Times featured relationship expert Susan Winter to get her take on the matter.

What in your expert opinion are the most common problems couples face in the bedroom? The bedroom serves as a mirror to the couple’s partnership. Intimacy problems can occur when issues are not being addressed, behavior has been hurtful, communication breaks down and resentments build without resolution. These factors affect our romantic desire,as well as the quality and quantity of sexual expression.

Is it essential that couples are open and honest enough to talk about such things? Honesty is the hallmark of a vibrant and loving relationship. Without honesty, there is no intimacy. Honesty allows for trust and safety, which serves as the foundational glue for a couple’s longevity.

How important is it to address these problems early on? The longer issues go unaddressed, the wider the division between the couple. Long standing resentment is much harder to heal so it’s imperative to keep the slate clean with our partner.

Often people forego physical attraction in a relationship to be with someone with the ‘right’ personality, do you think it’s in any way possible that this could later lead to problems in the bedroom? I’ve known many a person who chose the “appropriate” or “right” partner for his or her lifestyle goals. The partner wasn’t their first choice of sexual mate. In this type of construct physical attraction was of less importance than other qualities. From that basis, it’s unlikely the sexual attraction will grow in time even in a solidly functioning relationship. Chemistry is illusive, but we know it when we experience it. Without enough chemistry to spark desire, eventually it will reflect in problems in the bedroom. 

Do you think sex is too easily dismissed by couples who reach a certain age? Sexual desires do change over the course of a long-standing relationship, as do priorities. Often companionship replaces the drive for sex in some aged couples. But the need to connect physically and maintain intimacy keeps a couple bonded, and should be a goal throughout the length of any relationship.

How significant are problems in the bedroom when it comes to people straying in their relationships? Straying sexually is often attributed to a lack of satisfaction in the bedroom. And while that’s certainly a factor in infidelity, I believe the underlying cause is a lack of appreciation. One or both partners no longer feel valued, respected or admired. Infidelity can be the hunt for “another” who does see and relay their worth.

 Do you think in today’s society people have sex too freely or is it important that we express this side of ourselves as much as need be? Today’s sexuality is open and freely expressed. It leaves many seeking commitment in a confused state. Sexuality isn’t the promise of partnership. It’s the chip thrown on the table at the beginning of the game. Therefore, it’s imperative to live by our own code and set of standards, no matter how we construct our romantic connections. Each person is free to choose how they engage, and under what conditions. Regardless of what’s ‘en vogue’ we need to know ourselves and be true to our values. 

How long do you think a new couple should wait before having sex? Can rushing into things affect the longevity of a relationship? As a woman, I come from the standard of allowing enough time to really feel comfortable with a man before jumping into bed. Sex too early is for his convenience. There’s nothing wrong with waiting to get to know a person. It increases the bond and the desire. When two people like each other and there’s attraction, sex is inevitable. So why rush?

What is the biggest misconception men make about women in the bedroom? Today’s men have been raised on porn as their educational format for human sexuality. They’re under the misconception that women like, want and crave everything they’ve seen in these films. Not everything shown is mutually enjoyable or desirable, regardless of how compelling the actress. Female porn stars repeatedly share this in their interviews. What they do for the camera is very different than what they do with their mate. So instead of doing what you’ve been watching, I’d ask men to learn what the woman wants and needs.

Finally, what advice would you give to couples on the verge of giving up as a result of problems in the bedroom? Counseling is a powerful tool for couples in peril. An objective and credentialed outside source can shed new light on old problems. But there has to be a willingness to “try” for a change of attitude and behavior in order to experience a better romantic outcome. 

Catch Susan being interviewed about her controversial Huffington Post article “9 months. 98 men” on ITN News 4pm GMT on July 25th.

The Great Battle: Looks vs Personality

Over the past few weeks many of you have commented that personality is what matters. Looks of course are merely just a shell protecting the person inside, call it fancy packaging if you will. I popped into my local Saisnbury’s supermarket recently and saw a large bag of Doritos for £1.49 and a similarly sized bag of ‘Sainsbury’s basic Tortilla Chips’ for 29p. Very different on the outside, completely the same on the inside. A friend of mine recently commented that she’d had to ‘work’ to fall in love with her boyfriend because the instant physical attraction just wasn’t there and so I asked myself the question ‘does your partner always have to be a Dorito’?

In researching this topic I found myself watching a classic episode of Sky Living’s ‘Dating in the Dark’. For anyone not familiar with the show three men and three women enjoy a series of dates in a pitch black room, forging bonds and enjoying undoubted chemistry before choosing who to see in a light reveal. There really isn’t a better way of analysing the subject than watching this show, the outcomes are truly fascinating at times. I watched as Katie an aspiring model and beauty therapist enjoyed a succession of dates with David, a policeman who described himself as looking like ‘Shrek’s stunt double’. Although on paper you wouldn’t have placed the two together, David quickly won Katie over with his ‘cheeky chappy’ personality, wit and unquestionable charm. When the two were together it was like watching the unfolding of one of life’s great love stories, they were quite literally inseparable. However when the lights came on, it was a different story altogether. David looked like he’d just found a winning lottery ticket, Katie on the other hand pulled a face as though about to vomit. I’m very easy going by nature but I was honestly rather appalled by Katie’s reaction, so rude, so hurtful, so unneccesary. I couldn’t quite believe that this girl, beautiful to look at yes, but quite frankly lacking intelligence, charm, charisma and apparently any form of manners had the audacity to dismiss this guy so bluntly based on looks alone. Perhaps that chemistry was merely a mirage until she could give his looks her seal of approval?

I must admit I have long championed the importance of physical attraction, but watching Katie and David made me question this. Don’t get me wrong I would never judge or dismiss anyone in the moronic way that Katie did but looking back to even my earliest crushes as a ten year old boy I’d always believed that physical attraction is what sets ‘friends’ and ‘girlfriends’ apart. After all do we really want to find ourselves in a physical situation with someone we’re not attracted to? Why not just be friends? This however is just my individual opinion and personal opinion is what I believe to be key to the subject. It’s important that we all remember that what is attractive to some people is not attractive to others. Put it this way, right now I have a bit of a beard going on, some girls love it, like really love it but then I’ll go home to my Mum’s house and my sister will say “shave that off it’s disgusting…and it’s turning ginger,” not that I’m trying to impress my sister but you see my point. I do think personality is essential though, I dont believe a truly ‘happy’ relationship can exist without it but I also don’t think anyone should be berated for saying looks matter, as long as they go about it in the right way of course. I suppose we also have to think twice before calling people shallow, shallow to me is the way Katie behaved, not someone who simply has a ‘type’.

When I reflect on some of my own experiences the question of looks over personality becomes even more difficult to answer. In my early 20’s I dated two girls, not at the same time Of course. One was short and slightly ‘podgy’ but with a nice face and a personality to die for and the other, a size zero with the potential to be a catwalk model. The girl with the amazing personality, we had so much in common, music, films, food, everything but sometimes we got on too well in that respect and I quickly found myself falling into what many of us call ‘the friend zone’. She was a pretty qirl there’s no question about that, there are plenty of guys out there who would have killed to be with her but there was just something missing for me. The size zero girl, she made me feel like a billionaire with a beauty queen on my arm, but it just wasn’t me, it wasn’t what I wanted. Even she wasn’t what I would class as ‘attractive’. As an outsider looking in you could say she was quite simply ‘stunning’ but I actually found her too skinny, superficial and quite frankly rather irritating, in fact there were times when she made me want to jam my fingers in a toilet seat and have someone jump up and down on it. If truth be told, neither made me happy. So what does that say about me? Men are impossible? I’m impossible? Maybe things just aren’t as clear-cut as valuing one quality over the other. Everyone has their own tastes, perhaps there’s no set criteria. Maybe we only know what we’re looking for once we find it? But never tell someone they aren’t beautiful, we simply don’t have the right.

As for my crisp selection, I bought both and mixed them up. Couldn’t taste the difference.

PTB