Lumen For Beginners

So this is one review that may not be of direct benefit to my usual readers, but I do guarantee that it will be of benefit to someone you know. The first thing you need to know about Lumen is that FINALLY someone is catering for the over 50’s and in a way that doesn’t make people feel, how do I put this – old!

Personal Thoughts. In 2018, 50 is not old, it’s as simple as that. It’s no secret that people are living longer and the ongoing fitness and well-being boom of the past few years has ensured that this trend will only continue. People look younger, they feel younger and as a result, are more open than ever to new experiences – irrespective of age. There was a time when turning 50 coupled with being single or divorced would mean the death knell for your love life, but no longer is that the case. Whilst most dating apps are available to the over 50’s they aren’t always the most effective for this age group and as a result, they’ve been left very much to their own devices on some of the more outdated sites. This is where Lumen co-founders Antoine Argouges and Charly Lester are really onto something – modern dating for an increasingly modern demographic. It’s time to make the over 50’s feel special again and rightly so, if anything, I’m surprised no one did it sooner.

So How Does It Work? Firstly register using either your phone number or Facebook profile (as with other apps this information is used purely for log-in purposes and is not shared). Next you’ll be asked to take a selfie – this isn’t shared with other users and is for security purposes only. This age group is unfortunately the most commonly targeted for scamming and cat-fishing and so every single Lumen user is photo-verified. Rather than swiping individuals left and right, you can see everyone who fits your parameters using the discovery section. The app strives to encourage higher quality conversations and so limits users to contacting three new people per day, this is to promote being picky in your choices – it also makes someone contacting you even more of a compliment.

Location. Lumen launched in the UK in September and is growing rapidly. Available worldwide but expect to have more luck in the UK in these early stages.

Casual Vs Long-Term. Lumen recognises that everyone has different life circumstance and so generally is quite flexible. In terms of audience, however, it’s more Bumble than Tinder.

Security. As you’ll see from the photo verification process security is paramount to Lumen. The usual block and report functions are also present and for an extra layer of security, the company uses anti-scammer software.

Cost. Free for the most part with some paid options (as is standard with the majority of apps these days). If you’d like to extend your conversation limits you have the option of upgrading to Lumen Premium priced at £7.99 per week or £24.99 per month. Interestingly there are no paywalls, i.e you can always reply to messages and users will never be hidden from you (as can be the case with some other paid for apps).

Co-Founder Charly Lester’s Top Tips For Getting The Most From Lumen

1.  Make the most of your three messages. Every day they will reset so make the effort to message three new people per day and reply to any you receive yourself. Lumen is all about the lost art of conversation, so read their profile and tailor that important first message as best you can.

2. Use all 6 photo options. Lumen allows up to six photos on your profile and statistics show that profiles with more pictures are significantly more successful. As always just make sure they are recent so as not to cause any unwanted surprises when you meet someone (it works both ways).

3. Check back regularly. This ensures that you’re replying to your messages promptly, but more importantly that you’re not missing out on the thousands of new members joining every single day.

One final thought from me…

Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Antonio Banderas, Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman and Halle Berry are all over 50, I’m not saying they’re on it, but it gives you an idea of what 50 can look like these days. Now what are you waiting for? Get your Mum off Tinder!

Happy Dating!

10 Things You’ll Know If You Met Your Partner Online

1. You have an alternative story about how you met – The stigma of online dating has well and truly gone but for some reason we can’t quite admit yet that we found love online. Perhaps we had such low expectations of online dating that it takes us completely by surprise, either way, you tend to find people sticking more to the ‘friend of a friend’ line.

2. You both agreed to delete your dating profiles – Or maybe you MADE them delete it! So you’ve now been a couple for a few weeks and things are going great, but you can’t help but wonder if they’ve deleted their dating profile yet. Don’t panic if they haven’t – it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been using it.

3. You wonder if they’ve dated someone you know – Just about EVERY single person uses some form of dating app these days and so chances are you’ve probably encountered someone your partner knows. Fingers crossed you didn’t say anything inappropriate to the best friend!

4. You wonder just how many dates they went on – Were you their first choice? Probably not. It’s easy to worry about how many dates your partner had before you – particularly when you reached double figures!

5. Online dating ‘is’ all it’s cracked up to be – Yeah you get a little bit embarrassed and yeah your friends mock you but if truth be told online dating gave you everything you ever wanted and so it’s hard not to feel a little grateful – even if you don’t like to admit it.

6. You forget to change their name on your phone – You’ve been dating for a year and yet their name in your phone is still ‘Sarah E-Harmony.’ Surely they’ve earned a surname by now?

7. You lied about being online as a ‘one-off’ – When you started dating you told your partner that you don’t usually do this, a friend signed you up, you were drunk or it was just a one-off. Now be truthful, you have six dating accounts that you’ve been flitting in and out of for years, you’ve had photoshoots arranged specifically for a good profile picture and you’ve deleted and reinstalled your profile countless times in the hope that failed matches will change their mind.

8. You’ve found out all the little white lies – We all tell a few white lies when we meet someone new and most of them you can’t hide forever. No you didn’t used to be in a band, no you’re not over six feet tall, no you didn’t meet One Direction you were pushed of out the way by their bouncers and no you did not invent Pokemon Go.

9. You hope a friend meets their partner online just so you’re not the only one – Your partner is great and you’re deliriously happy but the fact you met online still casts the slightest of unwanted shadow, if only your BFF would also meet someone online everything would be just fine.

10. You wonder if you picked the right one – There’s so much choice online that you start to wonder if you’ve made the right decision. Did you settle too quickly? Was there someone better just a few profiles along? Chances are you should have a little more faith in your decision-making.

5 Tips For Creating The Perfect Dating Profile

Sometimes in life it’s the little things that count and when it comes to online dating it is most definitely the little things that count. By paying attention to detail and making just that little bit of effort, well, it could be the difference between finding love and staying single. With this in mind here are our top tips to creating a dating profile with a difference.

1. Be picky with your profile picture – your profile picture is the first thing other users will see and your biggest opportunity to grab someone’s attention. It doesn’t need to be of you dressed to the nines but it should be clear, of just you (no group selfies) and offer a nice, friendly representation of what you look like. Brownie points if your profile picture offers a little bit of insight into your personality as well.

2. Show who you really are – never be someone you’re not, you’re perfect just as you are. When it comes to listing your likes, dislikes, hobbies, personality traits and everything in between, only ever be yourself. Total honesty is essential to finding a successful relationship. Remember to make the most of your photo options as well, seeing is believing and if a site or app allows eight photos to be uploaded then make the most of it. This is your chance to showcase just how wonderful you are.

3. Be a perfectionist – following on from point number 2 remember you’re looking for love not a roommate. With this in mind become the ultimate perfectionist when it comes to creating your dating profile. A nice balance of good quality pictures and a descriptive bio will work wonders for you. Also, watch out for poor grammar, according to 39% of users of comparison dating website whichdate.co.uk this was the single biggest gripe of online daters.

4. Give negativity a miss – people often fall into trap of turning their profile into one big list of what they don’t want. “No bald people, no one under 5ft 8…” but online dating is about positivity, optimism and endless possibilities and your profile should ultimately reflect this. Negativity will serve only to put people off before you’ve even exchanged that first hello.

5. Get a second opinion – sometimes what we think is interesting or funny isn’t quite as interesting or funny as we thought it was. Before you go live grab a second opinion from a friend or loved one, regardless of what they say, however, still be you.

How Sure Are You? Introducing HIV Self-Testing Kits

Last month, Superdrug announced it’s the first high street retailer to offer a HIV self testing kit across all of its 200 Pharmacy stores.
The launch of the HIV self test kits in-store coincides with The Lancet’s recent findings of a ‘dangerous complacency’ to global HIV epidemic risks. In the UK while HIV rates are falling overall, they do remain persistent in marginalised groups, particularly heterosexual women, younger people, and those over the age of 50 – this age group accounted for 9% of new diagnoses in 2006 and 17% in 2015.
Early diagnosis is crucial for HIV treatment, and self testing provides a vital role in the prevention of late diagnosis. During 2015 61% of women and 51% of HIV positive men were diagnosed late. Resulting in mortality within this group being 24 times more than that of the UK population.
About BioSure
BioSURE HIV Self Test offers a new way to think about HIV, it’s simple, accurate and convenient for anyone who wants to test and know their status on their own terms.
The BioSURE HIV Self Test is the global first approved to use blood, similar to those used in a clinical environment. No HIV test is easier, it needs only a fraction of a drop of blood and gives an easy to read results in just 15 minutes – compared with an often agonising 72 hour+ wait.
Brigette Bard, CEO at BioSure, said; “It’s time to change the conversation, take control, and end this epidemic! We are passionate about allowing people to make informed choices and assume responsibility for their own healthcare.
“Knowing your status is the necessary first step. Around 37 million people worldwide live with HIV or AIDS and there are an estimated 1.8 million new cases every year however, it is an entirely manageable condition with normal life expectancy. Once HIV is virally suppressed (undetectable) you can’t even pass the virus on – meaning together with education and innovation we can end this epidemic!”
The facts:
  • Did you know that HIV is now completely treatable and a person can have a normal life expectancy, and, with the right treatment, the person can’t even pass the virus on…but early diagnosis is the key?
  • During 2015 over half of all new HIV diagnoses in the UK were diagnosed late, resulting in mortality rates being increased by 24 times more than that of the general population.***
  • Around 37 million people worldwide live with HIV or AIDS and there are an estimated 1.8 million new cases every year.
  • Despite being treatable HIV/AIDS remains the biggest killer of women aged 15-44 years.
During this year’s hugely impactful and successful International AIDS Conference 2018, Prince Harry and Elton John both spoke out about the importance of self testing for HIV.
Why? Because it is so discreet, easy and empowering, and therefore vital in ending the epidemic! So…BioSure is asking; do you know your status?
BioSURE is available now from Superdrug stores priced £33.95, which you can purchase here.

Dating Advice For Single Parents

So first off I have to be upfront and say I am not a parent, but I was asked for advice by someone who is struggling and so I feel it’s only right to give my take on it.

In all honesty it’s a sad state of affairs when single parents are treated like they’ve done something wrong, particularly when being welcomed into the life of someone’s child is in fact a great privilege. Divorce rates are higher than ever and the tradition of only having children within the walls of a marriage is well, no longer a tradition, but who says you need a piece of paper to welcome a child anyway? My point is, I think single parents get a little bit of a raw deal when it comes to the dating scene and with that in here are just a few little tips that might make life a bit easier – if you’re not doing them already that is.

Total Honesty – Of course I know you would never deny the existence of your beloved children but don’t be scared to put it out there that you’re a parent. It’s better to be upfront about it on your dating profile rather than have to spring it on someone further down the line and risk having a very awkward conversation. It’s unfortunate that some people will be put off but definitely best to best to weed these ones out early doors.

Be Thorough With Your Matches – As I write this I’m sympathising more and more because even if you adhere to this the challenge doesn’t always stop there. I know it sounds cynical but the harsh reality is that some people lie, some people are only after one thing and some people will lie to get it. You can’t risk introducing your child to someone who was only after one thing, do your utmost to make sure you’re both on the same wavelength. In other words this is where you need to be an excellent judge of character, try and be subtle though so as not to put off the good ones. Easier said than done I know, the challenge continues!

Delay The Introduction – So lets say you meet what appears to be a stand up girl or guy, it would be very easy to rush that introduction to your child out of excitement for your blossoming relationship. The truth is later is always better. You don’t need to be a psychologist to work out that the introduction of a new partner could be confusing for a child, take your time and build up to it. Every circumstance and every child is different of course, but the child always has to be the priority in this situation as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Keep The Other Parent Informed – This one can be tricky and again every circumstance is different of course so don’t take this too literally. There’s an obvious argument that you should be able to date whoever you wish without the approval of anyone else and this is true to an extent, however, the other person does have a right to know who is spending time with their child. Fingers crossed for everyone’s sake that this particularly situation remains as civil and uncomplicated as possible.

Be Positive – Yes I sound like a fridge magnet, but never ever let anyone dampen the joys of parenthood for you. Some people will be negative you can’t get away from that, but just remember no matter what happens in your love life, YOU, are already the lucky one.

Good Luck!

 

 

 

 

Blame It On The Boogie?

Well what a week that was for Strictly and I’m not even that much of a fan. From the off I just want to say that I actually think Seann and Katya have been a bit hard done by. What they did was completely inexcusable but the backlash they’ve received? C’mon folks they haven’t murdered anyone.

The whole story does however bring added scrutiny to the famous ‘strictly curse’ – I mean lets make no bones about it, it is most definitely a thing! Strictly it seems is the ultimate test of trust for even the strongest relationships. ‘Nothing’ happens more often than ‘something’ happens but when it does the media goes crazy for it. So fourteen years on from the show’s inception, lets take a look at just who has foxtrotted their way out of a relationship and rumba’d their way into the arms of another (sorry I had to).

Seann Walsh and Katya Jones – Okay so let’s get these two out of the way first of all. Caught red-handed kissing on a night out with rumours circulating of many more clinches not caught on camera. A lot has been said about Seann’s girlfriend Rebecca Humphries who released a public statement which I felt was a smidgen on the melodramatic side, although granted there is a possibility that more has happened behind closed doors than we may be aware of. My advice, a swift kick to the balls is far more effective Rebecca. It is Katya’s husband Neil Jones, however, who really gets my sympathy. Not only has the incident happened, but he has to now watch on as they continue dancing together right in front of his very eyes and lets not forget with millions of people watching at home. Much was made of his icy stare as he stood behind the pair on last week’s show but erm, can you blame him? I think he’s dealt with the situation pretty well to be fair.

Louise Redknapp – I actually really admire Louise. Louise split from husband Jamie shortly after the show eneded and from the outside it looks to me like Louise was stuck in a rut for a very long time, Strictly, gave her a new lease of life. I have no doubt that this was a horrible situation for all involved and I hate to see a family break up but I have no doubt that Louise needed this. To her credit she gave up her career at a relatively young age to look after her family, and with the kids that bit older now she’s right to want to have something for herself again. I sincerely hope the decision was the right one for both Louise and Jamie, and if it wasn’t, then I’m sure they’ll both find their back to each other once again.

Ben Cohen – My heart broke a little for Ben’s wife Abby, this whole situation seemed to knock her for six and who can blame her. Married for eleven years and with a beautiful family, it all came to an end when Ben fell for dance partner Kristina Rhianoff. The only minor consolation is that Ben and Kristina are still together and have just welcomed a child, so at least it wasn’t all for nothing. I hope Abby has also been able to move on and find a similar kind of happiness.

Flavia Cacace, Matt DiAngelo and Jimi Mistry – Well Flavia is certainly a woman who knows what she wants. Flavia left boyfriend and fellow professional Vincent Simone for dance partner Matt and then left Matt for new dance partner Jimi Mistry, the couple are still together and married in December 2013. Brutal in some ways but everyone deserves to find their happily ever after.

Rachel Riley – I feel particularly sorry for Rachel’s ex-husband Jamie Gilbert, because to be frank Rachel is the dream woman of many a man. I imagine there’s a sense of ‘what if’ with this situation, what if she’d said no to the show? What if she’d been paired with someone else? What if she’d been voted off sooner? Sorry Jamie, I’m probably not helping. Four years later Rachel and Pasha Kovalev are still together, so at least it was love.

As you can see, surviving Strictly is the ultimate test for a relationship, BUT, as head judge Shirley Ballas recently commented “if the relationship is strong enough, it WILL survive.” As for Seann, Katya and poor old Neil, the next few weeks could be very interesting.

 

Get Kitted Out By QUIZ Man

So I’m heading off for one last bit of sun for the year and I’ve decided to team up with QUIZ to try out their new menswear range to make sure I look every bit the part. The QUIZ menswear range was launch earlier this year much to the delight of men all over the UK. It’s fair to say that men have been very limited for affordable choice over the past few years and it was a pleasant surprise to be presented with a new option outside of the usual Topman, River Island, H&M and New Look.

Although initially a trial period for the brand, judging by the early reaction to the range it looks like QUIZ Man might just be here to stay. Sheraz Ramzan, Chief Commercial Officer at QUIZ adds: “The QUIZ brand is increasingly recognised as a leading omni-channel destination for the latest looks at fantastic value prices. As the brand grows in awareness, we are exploring extending our offer to fashion conscious men with the exciting launch of this capsule collection aimed at men who want a tailored look for any occasion, whether that’s an important work meeting, a day at the races, a party or a night out. We look forward to seeing the reaction to this exciting trial.”

So what did I go for?

The first item I went for was my absolute favourite piece on the entire site. I love patterns, I love summer shirts and I definitely love this. A lot of Hawaiian style shirts can at times be a little bit naff and so it’s nice to find an item that encapsulates a little bit of summer fun but can also be worn as evening wear. Modelled by everyone’s favourite curly haired Love Islander Eyal, this black and gold tribal print shirt is available for £19.99, to order just click here.

To go with my shirt I needed the perfect pair of shorts. Now, I’ve played it fairly safe with this choice but given the shirt I’ve chosen I couldn’t exactly go too wild and unless they were matching shorts (which I still wouldn’t recommend) any patterns would horrifically clash. So I’ve went with these black stretch chino shorts again at £19.99. I like my shorts a tiny bit shorter than this but one little more roll up and they are perfect. Very comfortable and perfect for all non-wintery occasions. To order, just click here.

Lastly, I am hitting the beach so I need that perfect summer t-shirt and I’ve went for this pink palm print t-shirt again modelled by the wonderful Eyal. I love a pattern as you’ll see from my shirt choice and I also love a little bit of pink which is nicely subtle in this piece. Again perfect for daytime and smart enough for evening wear also. Available for £7.99 you can order this in several colours here.

It’s of course early days for QUIZ and their menswear range but there’s no doubt about it, men are crying out for more choice on the high street and so far, I’ve no doubt whatsoever thag QUIZ can take advantage. Also, check out their latest range of blazers for men perfect for the new season.

Suitcase packed. Time for a Pina Colada!

10 Things You Should Know About Dating In Glasgow

So, you live in the wonderfully cultured city of Glasgow, you’re single and you want to get out there and date? Well, before you start, there’s just a few little things you should know…

1. Things don’t always go to plan

Dating in Glasgow always has a little bit of an ‘anything can happen’ feel to it. I once planned what I though would be a nice, fun and relaxed ten-pin bowling date. It was all those thing, but it ended with us dancing to some buskers on Sauchiehall Street at 2am on a school night! Oh, to be young again.

2. ‘One drink’ will almost always turn into a pub crawl

Some Glaswegians will tell you there’s no such thing as one drink and, more often than not, that turns out to be true. Glasgow’s night life is better than ever before, and with the stylish merchant city and rejuvenated Finnieston area, your choices are endless.

3. Glasgow is FULL of characters

I say this without judgement, of course, but this can be a good and a bad thing. I’ve rarely met anyone in Glasgow that doesn’t have a story to tell about that one guy or girl on that one date that they’ve never forgotten. Sometimes that person is so bizarre that they provide a story you can tell for years to come and sometimes, we marry them. What kind of person am I talking about? I don’t know, maybe the girl who turned up for our first date with my face printed on her T-shirt? She was a hoot.

4. You will always bump into someone you know

If you’re from Glasgow and you’re getting back out onto the dating scene, you will see someone you know. Nervous about bumping into a colleague, friend, family, or even an ex? Go to Edinburgh.

5. People will be watching

Yes, that’s right but not in a creepy way; this is a city of people-watchers. And there’s nothing people-watchers love more than watching people on a first date. If this puts you off, avoid restaurants at all costs. How to deal with it? Turn the tables of course, people-watch the people-watches – it can make for a surprisingly entertaining date.

6. Glasgow likes burgers

If you do insist on going to a restaurant on your date, be prepared to end up at one of the many (many) burger joints that have appeared in the city in recent years. In fact, at one point all four corners of a busy city centre junction were populated by gourmet burger restaurants. Chew on that!

7. I hope you can sing

By that I don’t mean you have to be able to hold a tune, you just need to be willing and able to make a bit of a fool of yourself. Glaswegians love to belt out a tune and you’ll find karaoke sessions happening in some of the most surprising places, just about every night of the week.

8. Never date on old firm day

As you’ll probably know by now, Glasgow’s sport scene is dominated by two particular football teams. Yes, this comes with a lot of banter and good times for many people but, if football isn’t your thing, save yourself the trouble and arrange your date for another night. Unless it was a draw, of course.

9. It isn’t always about alcohol

Honestly, it’s not. As good as the nightlife is, Glasgow now offers a range of fun, activity-based date ideas, which is something I always highly recommend. I even revisited my youth and went on a date to an adult roller disco. It was the best throwback of my life, even if I did leave with some very impressive bruises.

10. Glasgow is full of singles

This is perhaps the most important thing you’ll want to know about dating in Glasgow. No matter what age you are, and no matter how many loved up couples you think you know, you will meet someone! Online dating is booming among Glaswegians, dating events are popping up all over the place, and even just the natural Glasgow art of politely striking up conversations with strangers makes it hard to go wrong. This city was made for socialising.

*originally written for E-harmony

Bumble For Beginners

Personal Thoughts. I’m a bit fascinated by Bumble and the back story that comes with it. Bumble to date is the closest challenger to Tinder’s dating crown, so you might not be surprised to learn that Bumble founder Whitney Wolfe is in fact a disgruntled (with good reason) co-founder of Tinder. Wolfe left Tinder in acrimonious circumstances in 2015 and since then has set out to take the dating world by storm in her own right, and as it happens, she isn’t doing too badly at all. Bumble is near enough identical to Tinder but where it differs is the way in which it puts women back in control. Once matched, the woman must make the first move, something which as a man I’m not at all adverse to, but maybe I’m just lazy. What has really impressed me is Wolfe’s commitment to promoting the right kind of feminism. “I’m so tired of this notion that women only need to support women, why can’t we all support each other?” she says. “I’ve run into women who can be highly problematic, detrimental and mean, just like I’ve seen in men.” She adds: “We as women, (with) this modern feminism, I’m worried we’re alienating the good guys. It’s not really living up to true feminism, which is really equality for everyone, right?” An outlook on feminism which has proven to be a breathe of fresh air for many.

So how does it work? Much like Tinder, connect Bumble through your Facebook profile which will in turn populate a number of your profile pictures, set your location and age range and simply start swiping. Apart from the female control element there is one major difference between Bumble and Tinder – no swipe limits. For anyone familiar with Tinder you’ll know that after a certain number of swipes you will not be able to swipe for another twelve hours – Bumble has no such limits.

The no limits feature is interesting, at first I thought it was a fantastic idea and was a remedy to what has been considered a major negative of Tinder, however, over time my thoughts have drastically changed. When you have no limits you find yourself swiping endlessly to the point where your decision-making starts to go out the window and your thought process goes down the drain. with Tinder, you know your swipes are going to run out and so you carefully consider each and every swipe.

Another popular feature, however, is your three chances per day to swipe back if you decide you’ve wrongly swiped left – we all make mistakes after all!

Location. Bumble is growing everywhere, North and South of the border, so much like Tinder you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a few matches irrespective of your location.

Casual vs Long-Term. Again it varies, this may be a controversial opinion but I find the users on Bumble to lean more towards long-term relationships, they just seem to be that little bit more ‘proper’ for want of a better word – sorry Tinder girls. Although to completely contradict myself, you will find a lot of the same people on both apps.

Security. As with most apps you have the option to unmatch, block and/or report.

Cost. Free for the most part, with some paid options. If you’d like the opportunity to extend matches beyond 24 hours on an unlimited basis and rematch with expired matches, these features can be yours for £20.99 for one month or £7.50 for six months – completely unnecessary in my honest opinion.

There is also an option to ‘super swipe’ for £1.99, much the same as Tinder’s ‘super like’ although Tinder’s option is free to use once every 24 hours.

How to delete? Simply go to settings and scroll to the very bottom where you will be given an option to delete. You will also be presented with the option to pause your account which will make your profile invisible to other users.

Bumble Alternatives – It’s head to head with Tinder for this one. The two apps as you’ve heard are near identical with a few minor differences.

My Top Bumble Tips

1. Guys, be patient when waiting for the ladies to make the first move. If you match someone you are particularly interested in, keep an eye out on the expiry time, if they don’t message you within 24 hours and you miss your small extension window then you have no way of getting in touch again.

2. If you like someone try and move it offline as soon as you feel the time is right, Bumble should just be an introductory tool, it shouldn’t be the basis of your relationship – a common trap to fall into with any dating app!

3. Stay away from the paid options. The sheer volume of potential matches and unlimited swipes makes the paid options completely unnecessary.

Happy Dating!

What Does It Mean To Be A Real Man?

My work in the mental health arena has allowed me the opportunity to analyse a number of different aspects of this increasingly important issue, and in particular men’s mental health. One question that crops up time and time again is ‘what do you think makes a real man?’ There are many misconceptions and stereotypes about what makes a real man and when I started to write about this, it seemed to come out as more of a poem or spoken word piece than a blog. I’m delighted to say my words have been made into a short video by men’s mental health charity Brothers In Arms, which I’ll post as soon as I can. In the meantime here are my words on this subject.

‘Real Men’

What does it mean to be a real man?

Real men know how to put their foot down, and throw a punch.

Real men lift weights, watch football, they love a day at the races and a night at the boxing.

Real men build houses, they build roads and the engines that occupy them.

Real men are the life and soul of the party, and have all the best jokes.

Real men have a short back and sides, they love fast cars, expensive suits and have sleeves of tattoos.

Real men had tough upbringings and have all the scars to prove it.

Real men are bread winners, they never complain and never see a doctor.

Real men can drink you under the table.

Real men have all the best chat-up lines.

Real men join the police force, the fire brigade, the military.

Real men are independent, dominant, assertive and never let anyone or anything bother them.

Real men, are killing themselves, every single day.

Real men show emotion, they open up, talk about their feelings and don’t judge others when they do the same.

Real men need an arm around them, more than you know.

Real men get their heart broken, they get nervous, shy, show vulnerability.

Real men suffer from anxiety, stress, panic attacks.

Real men are meat eaters, vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians.

Real men are dancers, hairdressers, flight attendants…nurses.

Real men are from all backgrounds, classes and religions and come in all shapes and sizes.

Real men cry…for as long as it takes.

Real men, are only human.

and real men,

Are missed by those they leave behind.

I’ll ask you again, what does it mean to be a real man?

The Dating Terms You Unfortunately Need To Know

Modern dating can be complicated at the best of times but when new terms are introduced on an almost weekly basis, dating can become nothing short of mind-boggling. Personally these terms do my head in haha and I’d love to know who actually comes up with them but to avoid looking like Joey Tribiani with his ‘V’ encyclopedia it’s important that you know them. Enjoy…or don’t. EDUCATE, that’s the word!

Benching – So mean it’s unreal. Benching is dating your second choice until your first choice becomes available. Prepare to be ditched at the drop of a hate.

Breadcrumbing – When someone is ‘breadcrumbing’ they give you just enough to keep your attention. A message here, a like there, a random text now and again but NEVER anything more. Someone who may just like a bit of attention from time to time. More often than not it’s completely pointless to pursue a ‘breadcrumber.’

Catch and Release – This is the practise of hooking up (catching) and then never speaking to them again (releasing).

Cuffing Season – In the summer most of us like to party but in this Winter months (particularly over the Christmas and New Year period) we all seem to suddenly want a boyfriend or girlfriend. Cuffing season is essentially Winter.

Cushioning – This is all about softening the blow, but not necessarily in a nice way. Cushioning usually takes place when a relationship isn’t going so well and behind your partner’s back you start to develop a back-up. Someone you may hook up with immediately after your relationship ends.

DTR – This stands for ‘define the relationship.’ Refers to that very awkward but often rewarding conversation when you finally ask ‘so what are we?’

FBO – This stands for Facebook Official which to many is the ultimate confirmation that you are now in fact a proper couple. Congrats!

Fuckboy – The most hated of modern day men. Fuck boys are basically selfish users who will get everything they possibly can out of you without ever giving anything back. No commitment, no effort, no nothing. When will you hear from them? When they want something of course.

Ghosting – Never a nice situation! When a relationship ends without any explanation whatsoever and all attempts to contact you now ex proves futile, you have been ghosted.

Haunting – When someone who has already completely and utterly ghosted you but then reappears out of nowhere and acts all interested again. More often than not a complete time-waster who will do it again and again if allowed to.

Shipped – When a relationship is ‘shipped’ it means you have officially received the seal of approval of all of your loved ones. A slightly more mature version of FBO.

Slow Fade – When you’ve started a budding relationship of some sort and then realise you’re not interested, some people will gradually disappear from your life rather than just being upfront about it. Two texts one day, one the next, zero the next, you get the idea.

The Ick – Made famous by those lovely guys and gals on ITV’s Love Island. Have you ever liked someone but then after a few days they start to absolutely repulse you?

The Lemming – A lemming of course is someone who follows the crowd. From a dating perspective? Picture this, your best friend is in a relationship but ends it and so you end your relationship too because you don’t want to be the only one in a relationship. A tad pathetic.

Thirst Trap – This is when you may be craving a little bit of attention and so post a deliberately provocative picture on social media knowing full well that someone, somewhere will most likely feed your ego just the right amount.

Thirsty – This is when someone may be just a little over-keen. If you’ve made it pretty clear you’re not interested in someone but they still persist, they are most definitely what you would call ‘thirsty.’

Tuning – A bit like breadcrumbing but way more thought out. A tuner is someone who shows plenty of interest in you but never wants to take things to the next level. A tuner gives enough to keep you interested without ever really committing. Can be a little bit methodical, a tad sneaky and utterly frustrating.

Zombieing – Just another term for haunting.

Phew. I’m glad that’s over.

Happy Dating!

 

Tinder For Beginners

Personal Thoughts. Where do I start with Tinder? The fact that it took the industry’s most successful app two years to make a penny demonstrates just what a tough industry this is. Nonetheless, Tinder was the game changer for the world of dating and is consistently the benchmark to which other dating apps aspire to reach.

For me Tinder is the ultimate convenience. What I would look for in a dating product is something that solves problems originating from other platforms. For my own lifestyle Tinder would destroy the need to use more traditional dating sites such as Match, Plenty Of Fish and E-Harmony. As someone on the go all the time I need something quick, fast and to the point, and contrary to popular belief I don’t agree that such features means a compromise on quality. Whilst conducting past research on online dating it was consistently fed back to me that there was an element of ‘over-politeness’ on the more traditional sites. For example you may message someone on Plenty of Fish and they reply just to be nice, as opposed to replying because they have a genuine interest in you. For people intent on finding love this is time-wasting that they really don’t need, what Tinder does is confirm at least an initial attraction on which you can build on, what more can you ask for?

Of course Tinder isn’t without flaws of its own. The app has been known to crash on occasion but I guess that’s common of most apps. The biggest problem I have, however, is my suspicion of fake profiles which I can only assume have been inserted by Tinder themselves (it’s not uncommon of dating apps to do this when they first start out). Living in Glasgow I was surprised to see users who studied at ‘Telford College’, and not just one, more and more started appearing and I’m pretty sure Glasgow isn’t heavily occupied by Telford College alumni. I understand why apps might do this but I do find it quite misleading and dishonest, although Tinder is most definitely not alone in this practice.

So how does it work? Download the app and sign up using your Facebook profile. This will pull through your age, location and a few profile pictures (these can be changed if you want to use something different), it also means you’ll be able to see if you have friends in common with other users. Once you’re decided on which photos you wish to use, write out a short bio, choose an age range between 18 and 80 and choose the distance within which you wish to search. Once that’s all done (shouldn’t take more than two minutes) you’re good to start swiping. To indicate that you are interested in a user swipe right and if not interested you swipe left, if you swipe right for someone and they return the compliment then that is what’s called a ‘match’ and you are now free to message them.

Location. Tinder will prove popular just about anywhere in the UK, so no matter where you are you’ll never be short of potential matches, irrespective of sexual preferences.

Casual vs Long-Term. There’s no getting away from the fact that many people use Tinder for hook-ups, each to their own of course, but if you are looking for something long-term then just make sure and establish expectations early on in the conversation – it’ll save a lot of time.

Also try not to judge anyone too harshly for looking for a casual relationship (so long as they go about it in the right way of course). Tinder is very popular amongst millennials, many of whom are very career focused and simply don’t have the time for a serious relationship. Likewise, don’t judge anyone looking for ‘the one’ – everyone deserves to find it.

Security. Always do your utmost to stay safe on any dating app, trust your gut and never meet anyone you have even the slightest concerns about. If someone is sending you inappropriate messages you have the option to unmatch them and in extreme cases report them to Tinder.

Cost. Tinder is free to sign up to but now offers an option called Tinder Gold. Being a gold user allows you to immediately see who has swiped right for you without having to browse through the app’s many users. There’s no doubting this to be a very useful feature but at £11.67 for 12 months is it worth it? I’m not convinced. In my honest opinion Tinder gives you more than enough to work with without having to resort to its paid features.

How to delete? Simply go to settings and scroll to the very bottom where you will be given an option to delete. You will also be presented with the option to pause your account which will make your profile invisible to other users.

Tinder Alternatives – The one true contender to the swipe format at the moment is Bumble. To read my review on bumble click here.

My Top Tinder Tips

1. Don’t hide away in your profile pics with group shots, grainy images and obscure angles. The stigma of using online dating is very much a thing of the past and has been for a long time now – there’s nothing to be embarrassed about!

2. Don’t be negative in your bio. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen bios that have nothing but a list of ‘Nos’. I realise we’ve all had bad experiences in the past that we wish to avoid but it’s extremely off-putting to potential matches.

3. Don’t have any major expectations. No app is the answer to all of your problems, enjoy online dating and keep an open mind but don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

4. If it isn’t working for you switch it off. It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to dating apps. If you’re not finding what you’re looking for then give it a break, try a different app or another form of dating. If you leave it too long, you start to question why it’s not working which can be detrimental to your confidence and even your mental health.

5. If you are going on a Tinder date, please always use common sense for your own safety. Be sure of who you are meeting, add them on Facebook, Instagram etc and always meet in a public place.

Happy Dating!

Top 10 Date Night Movies

So I’m a bit of a movie buff and as much as I love a good night out, sometimes you can’t beat a good movie night in. No, I don’t mean Netflix and chill, I’m talking about some seriously good viewing that’ll get you crying with laughter, jumping into one another’s arms or even reaching for the tissues – no not like that. Here (in reverse order) are my top 10 films for the perfect night in.

10. Cruel Intentions – the film of a generation – my generation – the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Friends and ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’ generation. A gripping and at times raunchy film about some seriously messed up rich kids, it has a little something for everyone. The trailer is seriously 90’s and doesn’t quite do the film justice but here it is regardless.

9. Casino Royale – No not exactly a hidden gem but Daniel Craig’s first outing as 007 was the film that finally got me into Bond. A slick action thriller, it’s also the first Bond film a few of my female friends were willing to give a chance – nothing to do with those little blue trunks of course.

8. Wicker Park A minimalist love story with a creepy stalker and a stunning final scene played out to Coldplay’s ‘The Scientist’ that will make you want to fall in love all over again. Stars the massively underrated Josh Hartnett – where did he go? I seriously can’t handle the cheesiness of these old trailers but again here you go…

7. Urban Legend – I couldn’t not include a good horror film from my teen years. The last time I watched a horror film with a girl I couldn’t sleep for a week, anyone who has actually seen ‘Sinister’ will know exactly what I’m talking about. Urban Legend on the other hand is your classic ‘whodunnit’ slasher film that will have the pair of you chuckling away as you watch through your fingers. Watch out for a young Jared Leto and a peroxide blonde Joshua Jackson.

6. Dear John – granted a little bit of a chick flick, but a chick flick that had me in tears (seriously). A cracking story with the perfect combination of the meet, the romance and the heartbreak.

5. Lucky Number Slevin – another Josh Hartnett classic, who knew I was such a fan? One of the cleverest storylines you’ll ever see including gangsters, hitmen and quite the endearing little love story thrown in for good measure. Be warned, Lucy Liu will become your new secret crush.

4. High Fidelity – I’ve spoken before about how music is really important to me in a relationship and this was one film that really opened my eyes to life outside of the top 40. Exploring the trials and tribulations of adult relationships, High Fidelity is both an incredible novel and film.

3. I Love You Man – Paul Rudd at his finest. Laughter is the way to win me over and if humour is what appeals to your date then I promise you can’t go far wrong with I Love You Man. The ultimate bromance movie but still perfect for date night. “Slappa da bass”

2. Jeff Who Lives At Home – one of the most underrated films you will ever see. Starring Jason Segal, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon, this is a movie about one of life’s greatest clichés ‘everything happens for a reason’ but my God will you end up believing it. If you don’t feel like you and your date are meant to be by the end of this movie, then you probably aren’t.

1. Armageddon – I really didn’t want to go with the obvious, but how can you possibly ignore the greatest tear-jerker of all time. I find myself in floods of tears during at least five different parts of the film (particularly when he leaves the rocket on the pavement for his son, oh and the animal crackers bit and…). Classic action and romance all rolled up into one, it just never gets old.

What are your favourites?

Do You Ever Feel Depressed After Sex?

So a friend of mine recently came to me and asked me about a sex related issue – which of course isn’t always easy for a guy to approach another guy about. It wasn’t quite what you might expect though, he asked me – “do you ever feel depressed after sex?” From personal experience I couldn’t really say for certain, but I realised very quickly just how serious he was about the question he had posed. He went on to explain further and described how immediately after sex he would often feel depressed and emotional and pretty much like he wanted the ground to swallow him up. Not the feelings you would typically associate with regular, consensual sex.

As it turns out, he is not alone. Yes, Post-coital dysphoria or Post-coital tristesse as it turns out is a very common condition. To be more specific these are the terms used to describe feelings of sadness, anxiety, agitation and aggression immediately after consensual sex. Upon further reading, I noticed consistent references to feeling ‘teary’ and when relaying this back to my friend this was the one word he really honed in on. “TEARY, that’s it! I feel like I just want to burst into tears and I have no idea why. It’s embarrassing, how on earth do you explain to your partner why your eyes are filling up immediately after having sex with them?” I really did sympathise at this point, this was clearly a more serious issue than I had ever realised – in fact I didn’t even know the condition existed.

Was this a mental health issue? Was it biological? I really couldn’t say, and I suppose these things become all the more frustrating because you have absolutely no logical explanation for the way you feel. Denise Knowles, sex therapist and counsellor at relationships charity Relate did however try to offer more insight into the condition, she told The Independent: “It’s not uncommon to feel sad after sex. It’s not necessarily due to a trauma or because they’re regretful and it doesn’t have to mean anything sinister is going on.”

“Having sex is a hugely intimate act and an orgasm releases lots of wonderful feel-good bonding hormones. Those hormones drop following the peak of an orgasm, and as you separate from the closeness that brought it about, a sense of sadness can follow.”

“You go from absolute joy and pleasure to being separated. That in its own way can cause women, and some men, to feel a bit sad.”

However, in doing a little bit of my own research I found another, simpler explanation. I spoke this time with a female friend who started to tell me a few stories about a relationship with an ex-boyfriend. She told me of how they had always enjoyed a very normal relationship but that a few years down the line she had realised he simply wasn’t ‘the one’ and sooner or later would have to end things. It would actually be another full year before she did end it! During that time she continued to have sex with her boyfriend in the very normal way that they always had, only she no longer initiated it. Because of her longing to get out of the relationship, every time they had sex she felt not only like she was leading him on, but like she was almost selling her soul a little bit. The sex was of course consensual, but she didn’t want to do it. As a result, every time they had sex she would fall into a deep sense of depression and regret and more often than not felt like she had let herself down. As complicated as that may sound, I think this situation may be even more common than Knowles’ hormonal explanation above. Perhaps sometimes there is a more ‘standard’ happiness related explanation to these kinds of feelings?

Of course that’s not to take away from the feelings of my male friend, who assures me he is blissfully happy in his relationship. I guess these things are never quite straight forward and relationships can of course be complicated enough without experiencing problems during what should be happy, intimate moments. I did a little online search for more advice on this subject but there seems to be a distinct lack of resources out there. I did however find this little article from Cosmopolitan where four people describe their experiences with the condition, if you or anyone you know is suffering with post-coital dysphoria you may find it helpful.

It seems this issue is prominent in both men and women, but the most important thing of all is that you do something to address and open up about these issues, to a therapist, a friend, your partner or even me! Apparently I’m a good listener.

Stay healthy.

PTB

Is Speed Dating The Future Of The Industry?

Over the past 12 months the online dating industry seems to have plateaued a fair bit. The buzz of 2016/17 has died out, several dating bloggers have called it quits and more and more apps have shut up shop. There is however one bright spark in the industry at the moment and that’s the increasing resurgence of speed dating which hasn’t gone unnoticed amongst industry bigwigs. With this in mind I decided to go and spend an evening with the UK’s top speed dating company, SpeedDater.

The thing I’ve always loved about speed dating is the way in which it offers viable solutions to some of the most common complaints of today’s singletons. A lack of human interaction for example. The whole point in dating is to interact, to find a spark, to get nervous, to get excited, to let your body language run wild and more often than not all of these little things are missing when it comes to online dating. Well, that’s where speed dating stands head and shoulders above its online rivals, it provides all of this and more, it’s a back to basics human experience that you just don’t get with online dating and frankly, it just feels more real.

Dating isn’t always worth the effort say many people. Picture the scene, you build up to a date for days, maybe even weeks, you wait for payday, you get a haircut, you buy an outfit, you finally meet your date and the first impression kills it. Was it worth it? You need to take chances when it comes to love but naturally this scenario can become quite tiring, so why not try speed dating? 10-20 dates in one night all lasting just 4 minutes, meaning any bad first impressions simply won’t matter because before you know it you’re on your next date. People have long claimed there’s a convenience to online dating and perhaps that’s true, but if online dating is convenient then speed dating must be an absolute God send in the context of meeting people.

So how did my evening pan out?

I arrived to what was a really cool setting, The Drygate Brewery in Glasgow. This place is awesome and is a big favourite amongst locals so it’s really nice to see that they’re on board with speed dating. Our host for the evening was a really pleasant young guy, very helpful and he took the time to explain how everything works, most importantly he really did his bit to put the more nervous daters at ease.

Everyone was allocated a number, took their seats and off they went – yes it really was as simple as that! It was a nice surprise to see just how nice everyone was, both sexes for that matter. I chatted away with the guys beforehand and every single one of them was extremely respectful towards the women which is always nice to see, and the ladies, they were all perfectly lovely. It just goes to show how wrong some of the assumptions people make about nights like this can be. I assure you one million percent, this was NOT a room full of the ‘desperate stalker types’ that some people expect.

The atmosphere in the room was buzzing with excitement, everyone seemed to be having a thoroughly good time and rightly so, there was even some friendly banter about the guys moving too slowly and eating into other people’s date time, but it was all in good humour. The night ended with both the guys and girls hanging back for a friendly drink and it was clear to see that there were a fair few sparks in the room.

What next? Simply log in to your SpeedDater account and register your ‘ticks’ for the evening and then wait and see who you’ve matched with (this bit is particularly exciting for obvious reasons).

Would I recommend it? Well I think you know the answer to that by now. Absolutely! My advice to any single person is TRY IT, at least once.

So yes perhaps speed dating is the future of the dating industry, it was here before the online revolution started and it looks like it might just be around after it as well. SpeedDater run events all over the UK, to find an event near you click here.

12 Places To Go On A Date In Glasgow

There are so many things to plan when it comes to dating, but one of the most important is, of course, location. Go somewhere boring and it could kill the mood, go somewhere too wild and it might stop you getting to know one another. But don’t worry; with these 12 suggestions, you’re guaranteed a great date night in Glasgow.

1. Finnieston

Just a short taxi ride but within walking distance from Glasgow City Centre, the Finnieston area is the new hub for hipsters, but its unquestionably magnificent all the same. Whether you’re a meat eater; committed vegan; gin lover; whisky connoisseur; or fan of a tropical Pina Colada, Finnieston truly has something for everyone. It can be a little expensive, but the area is really the best place to go if you’re looking to impress. My top recommendation? Rioja; great cocktails and even better tapas.

2. Flip Out

I’ve always been a big fan of activity-based dates and you won’t find much better than Flip Out. These kinds of dates are fantastic, particularly if you’re nervous. Sometimes going to a bar or restaurant puts too much pressure on the conversation, but somewhere like Flip Out breaks the ice instantly. Humour is often the key to a successful date and after a few minutes on a trampoline, this is exactly what you’ll get. Highly recommended!

Flip Out, 89A Southcroft Road, Rutherglen, Glasgow G73 1UG, +44 (0)141 406 1600, flipout.co.uk

3. RollerStop

You can’t get much more nostalgic than a roller disco. Cheesy tunes, 80s skates, and plenty of bruises – Rollerstop was undoubtedly one of my favourite dates ever. One or two people might think a roller disco isn’t quite ‘cool’ enough for a date but, I promise, once you get going it’s near impossible to wipe the smile off your face.

RollerStop, 139 Middlesex Street, Glasgow G41 1EE, +44 (0)141 429 7298, rollerstop.co.uk

4. Sub Crawl

Sub Crawl is one of the world’s most famous pub crawls. If you’re not familiar with Glasgow’s underground system (aptly nicknamed a clockwork orange), it’s essentially a circle of stops. The famous sub crawl encourages a drink at every stop. You may not want to stop everywhere on the route – especially if you want the date to end on good terms – but generally it’s a guaranteed good time.

5. A play, a pie and a pint

What more could you want? The stunning Oran Mor – a converted church – is home to some of Scotland’s best-known playwrights. In Glasgow, we love a pie and we love a pint. Throw some theatre into the mix and you have the makings for one very good date.

Oran Mor, Top of Byres Road, Glasgow G12 8QX, +44 (0)141 357 6200, oran-mor.co.uk

6. TRNSMT Festival

The city centre replacement for T in the Park, 2017’s inaugural TRNSMT festival was a roaring success and it’s back on Friday 29th June. Granted it’s a once a year kind-of-thing but with headliners including Liam Gallagher, Stereophonics, and The Killers, this is one date idea that could end up being the highlight of your year.

TRNSMT Festival, trmsmtfest.com

7. Soar

Formerly known as Xscape, Soar could’ve been made for first dates. Ten-pin bowling, laser quest, bumper cars, crazy golf, rock climbing, and even snow-boarding – there are endless things to do at Soar. And, of course, there are plenty of great restaurants to settle down in after the madness.

Soar, Kings Inch Road, Braehead, Renfrew PA4 8XQ, soar.intu.co.uk

8. The Stand

If there’s one thing Glasgow has it’s a sense of humour, and there’s no better place to celebrate that fact than at The Stand. Located in the West End, close to Glasgow University, The Stand is open seven nights a week and hosts everyone from local talents to some of the UK’s best-known comedic acts. Strictly’s Susan Calman is also a regular. If you do go, prepare to the butt of a few jokes – comedians love a first date!

The Stand, +44 (0)141 212 3389, thestand.co.uk

9. The GFT

The cinema is perhaps not ideal for a first date, but there’s something a little bit magical about the Glasgow Film Theatre. If you’re feeling romantic, take your date to watch an old black and white movie. There’s something about it that’ll make you feel like you’re starring in your own rom-com.

Glasgow Film Theatre, 12 Rose Street, Glasgow G3 6RB, +44 (0)141 332 6535, glasgowfilm.org

10. The Corinthian

With a selection of different rooms, bars and a very impressive underground casino on offer, you can’t really go wrong at The Corinthian. If you’re looking to impress, head to the piano bar, which offers a menu of themed drinks sound-tracked by romantic songs. Get dressed up and prepare to loosen the purse strings a little (it’s well worth the extravagance!)

The Corinthian, 191 Ingram Street, Merchant City, Glasgow G1 1DA, +44 (0)141 552 1101, thecorinthianclub.co.uk

11. Royal Exchange Square

I’m not ashamed to admit that I love fairy lights, and Royal Exchange Square is the home of fairy lights. When the square is lit up, it’s truly one of the most romantic places in all of Glasgow, especially on a cold night. Royal Exchange Square is also the home of the Gallery of Modern Art and some very fine dining at Rogano, a favourite of Paolo Nutini.

12. Tennents Factory Tour

Why go to a pub when you can go a brewery? Nothing says Glasgow like a tour of the Tennents factory, even if you don’t drink Tennents, or drink at all! If you’re looking for something original to do on a date then this is a great choice. Be ready to get a little tipsy along the way.

Tennents Factory Tour, Duke Street, Glasgow G4 0UL, +44 (0)141 202 7145, tennents.com

*Originally written for E-Harmony

The Effects Of Alcoholism On A Relationship

Over the past 18 months I’ve been working with a blogger by the name of Graham Wilson, once a student of mine and now a great friend. Graham is an alcoholic, but now 4 years sober he writes about his experiences in the hope of helping both those struggling with addiction and their loved ones. To say I’m full of admiration for Graham is an understatement, his commitment to brutal honesty, even when detrimental to his own name, is something that should be applauded. Having read his work with great curiosity I caught up with Graham to gain a full understanding of how and why alcoholism has impacted his relationship over the years.

When did you first notice your drinking was affecting your relationship? I didn’t realise until the very day I stopped drinking, that was the day Mrs W told me that she’d had enough and was thinking of leaving me. I remember looking at her and for the first time ever I noticed the pain in her face, like really noticed it. She’d been struggling for a long time and I just never saw it.

Do the effects of alcoholism make you forget what it means to be a good partner? Definitely, in my head the only relationship that was benefiting me was the relationship I had with alcohol. I’d forgotten what it means to love someone and equally forgot what it felt like to be loved. The truth is I was loved immensely but couldn’t see it due to being so wrapped up in myself and my drinking.

What was your worst behaviour towards your partner whilst under the influence? I had to ask Mrs W this question because I honestly believed I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Mrs W says it was the humiliation of me wanting to be the centre of attention all the time at any expense. I would just leave her on her own on nights out whether she knew anyone or not. There were also a fair few incidents involving Christmas and birthday presents.

Was she understanding that this wasn’t the real you, this was the alcoholic you? Yes, she knew there was a good person behind the mask of alcoholism, it was just about how long was it going to take for him to resurface and would she be able to wait that long. There was also a genuine fear that I would die before the real Graham came back.

Were you ever scared you’d pushed her too far? Again this was at the very end of my drinking and this is a difficult thing for me to admit but I honestly believed I wasn’t doing anything wrong. When I look back now, however, I’m struggling to remember anything I actually did right during those boozing days.

You’re now 4 years sober which is an unbelievable achievement, do you feel like you’ve now earned her forgiveness for your past behaviour? No, I put Mrs W through a good 10 years of hell and I know it’s had a lasting effect on her and I don’t think I’ll ever truly forgive myself for my past behaviour. If you ask Mrs W she would probably say yes I have earned her forgiveness but forgiving myself is a different altogether. I feel like I can’t forgive myself yet as I still see her struggling with situations today that I believe have been brought on by my alcoholism.

How are things now and what does the future hold? Amazing! We’ve just moved into a new house. Our relationship is what I would describe as normal now, we have great times and we have not so great times. What has really changed is the honesty and trust that exists in the relationship that was missing for so many years. Mrs W believes what I tell her now and doesn’t need to question or second guess me all of the time. In the future we hope to have a family, my alcoholism prevented this in the past but we’re hopeful that it’s not too late. Probably most of all though we’re just focused on making up for lost time and creating some truly happy memories that will last forever.

Graham is a proud supporter of Dry January and an Ambassador for men’s mental health organisation Brothers In Arms. As featured in the Metro, you can read more of Graham’s stories here.

Men’s Leggings Just Went KAPOW!

Yes after discovering Kapow meggings the gym has indeed become that little bit more interesting for me – and perhaps even a Saturday night out or two! Kapow men’s leggings are specifically made for men who attack life with the confidence of a rock star. Founded by Sydney brothers Ben and Jordan, the brand champions self expression, having fun, and standing out in a crowd. They make men’s leggings for fitness, festivals, and in their own words “supercharging your street style.” However simple an item, leggings are not to be underestimated and it is indeed these Aussie brothers who are taking this multi-purpose wardrobe essential to the next level and beyond. 

The meggings revolution began around 2010, driven by sports stars and celebrities. Basketball players and American footballers took to the field in compression tights to aid performance and recovery, and fashion-forward celebs like Justin Bieber, Lenny Kravitz, Russell Brand, Diplo and Shia LaBeouf were also snapped wearing meggings. Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers even got international press coverage just for performing in meggings at the 2014 Superbowl. Don’t believe me? See below.

The ‘athleisure’ movement gained momentum – from street style to gym wear to rocking festivals, outfits got bolder and brighter. Men wanted to express themselves through their fashion choices, but their options were limited. Most brands only sold men’s leggings in black. Demand for killer colours and epic prints increased until Kapow Meggings was born to meet that growing demand.

Kapow Meggings are available in a wide range of wild prints and killer colours. The unique prints are designed are engineered to fit like a second skin, look like a million dollars and ultimately, turn a few heads. ‘Kapows’ are worn by rock stars, wrestlers, yogis, base jumpers, acrobats, DJs, athletes, models, and everyday heroes all over the world. Find out more at www.kapowmeggings.com.

Oh and of course, I’ll be wearing mine…

 

Tackling Homophobia In Football

Make football a place for all. That’s the pipe dream.

Anyone who knows me knows that homophobia in football is an issue that I’ve always felt strongly about. As a heterosexual male I’m extremely fortunate never to have experienced such prejudices, but some subjects (whether they directly impact you or not) just get you where it hurts.

For a multi-billion pound industry, football is guilty of living in the dark ages at times. Homophobia being so prevalent in the sport is the perfect example.

There are 92 teams in the English football league each consisting of on average 25 players, that’s 2300 players in England alone and not a single individual is openly gay. I get it, but I also DON’T GET IT. Is it fear of a fans backlash? Fear of losing a contract? Fear of press attention? All I know is ‘fear’ should not be a factor when it comes to anyone’s sexual orientation. More has to be done by the powers that be to create a safe environment that doesn’t force players to hide their sexuality. Perhaps tackling this issue once and for all would be FIFA’s chance to redeem themselves for all the bullsh*t of the last 20 years?

It’s important to acknowledge that not all players want to come out, but it’s up to everyone involved in the sport to ensure that the ones who do want to – can.

The LGBT community is full of incredible spokespeople who fight these issues on a daily basis, but I also believe in ALL OF US doing the little bit that we can to show our support, and proudly wearing these stripes is the little bit that I can do.

What we need to remember is that people aren’t looking for an excuse to flaunt their sexuality in our faces, they’re simply just looking for a safe space to exist as who they truly are. How can anyone in football (and beyond) argue with that?

I have to give a massive shout-out to both Deportivo Guadalajara and Real Vallecano in Spain who released these rainbow strips to support gay pride and an to push for an end to homophobia in football. The gesture went widely under the radar in the UK when it happened back in 2015, but perhaps sooner rather than later British clubs will start to follow suit.

Let football be about 90 minutes and let footballers be who they are, as they are .

Meet The Prince Of Print Rory Hutton

I first met fashion designer Rory around two or three years ago in what seems like a past life now. I was immediately struck by his sophistication and polite matter, but it was upon witnessing his undoubted talent that I was truly won over. Now dubbed one of fashion’s next big things, it was my pleasure to catch up and find out more about the man himself.

Where did your love of fashion originate from? I’ve always been interested in art and art history so I think it grew from this.

Did you always want to be a fashion designer? Actually no, I went to art school because I wanted to be a fine art painter and accidentally emerged a fashion designer. The discipline of design has always really appealled to me.

Were there any designers or fashion icons that particularly influenced you growing up? I always admired Vivienne Westwood as a designer but also as an individual. I like when people embrace who they are and make that the essence of their brand. I was privileged to work for Westwood when I first lived in London.

The items you specialise in could be described as ‘timeless,’ was that part of your decision-making when you first started out? No, it was never conscious but I do think accessories have a longer life than clothes, people tend to keep scarves, ties etc occasionally adding to their collections. I remember my grandfather had a drawer full of ties and my grandmother a drawer full of silk scarves, built up over a lifetime these objects become a biography, told through the medium of fashion. I love this concept!

Your designs have been featured in some of the most prestigious publications in the world, where does your inspiration come from? I grew up in the countryside and I love nature and history. I have an MA in Design History and I’ve also dabbled in the world or art and antiques. All of these interests fuel my work.

If you could dress one individual from the present day who would it be and why? Grayson Perry, I’m really drawn to eccentrics and he’s just so charming and always himself.

If you could dress one person from history who would it be and why? Louis XIV, the Sun King. I’ve been obsessed with him since I was a child, and Madame de Pompadour if I was dressing a lady, although to be honest I’d rather have her dress me!

The fashion world is ever evolving, what’s next? I think we are seeing a Renaissance in print and a return to decoration. I’m very pleased, I’m not a minimalist, as Iris Apfel says ‘more is more, less is a bore’. Also, people are increasingly interested in traditional craft processes and understanding where clothing comes from. Clothes should have a soul and tell a story, otherwise why bother, l’d rather wear leaves!

What’s next for Rory Hutton? I will continue developing my prints and decorating everything! I recently started a line of ladies scarves and I would like to develop a homeware collection next. Print is an incredibly versatile medium, why stop at accessories when you could have a printed world!

To find out more about Rory and view his full collection of accessories click here.

Happn For Beginners

Personal Thoughts. Happn launched in the UK in early 2015 and proved particularly popular following a widescale social media campaign to promote the app. However, I have to be really honest from the get-go, I am NOT a fan of this app. This may be a tad harsh but I think Happn sounds like every stalker’s dream and no matter how good it may be for those with the most innocent of intentions, I can’t help but feel like the security concerns more than outweigh the positives. What I don’t like is the lack of control users have, it’s not like Tinder and Bumble where you can choose who you want to interact with, with Happn other users can see where you are or where you’ve crossed paths whether you want them to or not. For example, as I write this on a cold wintery evening I can see that there is a young woman who has just crossed paths within 500 metres of me, possibly walking home alone. I just can’t shake this feeling that in the wrong hands this app could present some serious safety concerns to people.

The founders of course have the very best of intentions. They want you to be able to find out who the guy or girl that gave you the eye on the train was, and yes, there’s something slightly special about that, but does it outweigh the safety concerns? I’ll let you make your own mind up on that.

So how does it work? Happn is similar to Tinder and Bumble in that it creates your profile by linking up to your Facebook profile, after that it’s just a case of selecting the gender you’re interested in and the age range.

The next bit is where I get concerned. The app uses GPS tracking to show you a list of people within 500 metres of your present location. It tells you if you’ve crossed paths with them, gives you a map of roughly where you crossed paths as well as all the usual personal info. Alarm bells ringing for anyone else?

Location. Happn originated in France before moving to the UK, so naturally it’s pretty big in France. In the UK you’ll find a sufficient number of users in all the major cities. The quieter the area, the less users you’ll find. Due to the short radius on offer as opposed to the hundred miles of Bumble, it’s a bit of a common sense approach with Happn.

Casual vs Long-Term. Although not the intention of the founders, Happn has proven most popular for hook-ups.

Security. Don’t get me started.

Cost. Free for the most part, coins can be purchased to access additional (but unnecessary) features. Coins range from £1.49 for 10 to £23.49 for 300

How to delete? Great question. The option given is ‘deactivate your account’ which will make your profile invisible and log you out. When you log back in should you choose to, your old details should still be there.

Happn Alternatives – just about any other app. It’s a very unique idea but is it better than using Tinder or Bumble and changing your settings to the minimum distance? I don’t think so.

My Top Happn Tips

1. Just be careful. There are some odd people out there and although the app won’t tell someone the ‘exact’ spot your in, it could certainly send danger into your path.

2. Swap numbers ASAP. It’ll save the need to purchase coins for future interactions.

Date Night In Dublin

A city of culture, discovery and a fair few pints of Guiness is Dublin, but if you’re planning on a visit to the emerald isle don’t just go where the review sites tell you to go, go where the locals go. Do as the locals do, drink what they drink and sing what they sing, do that and you’ll enjoy the most traditional and romantic of Irish experiences – that’s what makes the perfect date in Dublin. So where oh where should you go?

1. Howth – How do you say that? Just a twenty minute train ride from Dublin City Centre Howth is your classic sleepy little fishing village with mass appeal to couples of all ages. What really sets it apart however is the walk up Howth Hill where you can view a stunning panoramic view of Dublin City. Howth has been the setting for many a proposal and in recent years local residents have included everyone from U2 drummer Larry Mullen and recent Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan.

2. The Shrine of St.Valentine – Yes, did you know the remains of St.Valentine were moved from Rome to Dublin in 1835 in what the Pope called “a gift to the Irish people.”What could be more romantic than paying homage to the very person who started it all off?

3. Vintage Cocktail Club – okay even the most untravelled of us have heard of Temple Bar, but are you familiar with its very secretive Vintage Cocktail Club? Hint: look for the black door.

4. Hughes Pub – Easily found on Chancery Street, Hughes Pub is the number one location to both enjoy and sing along to, traditional Irish music. Be warned the snugness of this charming little pub ensures just about everyone is encouraged to have a song so make sure those vocal chords are warmed up nicely with a pint of you know what!

5. Secret Food Tours – For all the foodies out there Dublin hosts some truly mouth-watering food tours. Prepare to enjoy some of the finest foods, eateries and market places that Dublin has to offer as your very knowledgable guide takes you to a number of locations loved by the locals. Meet up at the famous Trinity college and get ready for an experience to remember.

PTB Meets: Farrah Abraham

Have you ever met someone in the public eye only to feel completely deflated at how rude, arrogant and generally irritating they were? Well to my surprise, Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham proved quite the opposite. With Teen Mom UK hitting our screens last week I felt it was the perfect time to catch up with the show’s biggest star from across the pond. From past press coverage I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I’m always wary of being sucked into the personas created by the careful editing of shows like Celebrity Big Brother. What I found with Farrah was in fact a pleasant surprise – a young women with her head firmly screwed on and a strong desire to help young women learn from her life experiences. Here’s what MTV’s most colourful character had to say:

Hi Farrah, as a society we often feel pressured to settle down and find the one, how important is it to love yourself before you can love someone else? It’s the most important thing in this world, easy to say when momma’s happy everyone’s happy and I also feel when you feel love for yourself then you can really show everyone else love around you. I feel at my best when I have my self love where it needs to be and after having children that can be hard, but  remember what you love and you will always find it again through the ups and downs of life.

What are your thoughts on online dating: curse or convenience? I would say Curse and Convenience. I have dabbled and some years your good and other years not ok. As you become a public figure more so, you leave yourself vulnerable to online super fans and Teen Mom fans and that can lead to an untrue match- be careful.MTV Movie Awards red carpet farrah abraham movie awards 2016 mtv movie awards 2016

What’s the best piece of advice you could give to an expecting young mother? Learn as you go because all of life’s variables are different and pay attention to what your child needs and life is easy.

1 in 4 women are said to experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime, what advice would you give to anyone suffering at the hands of an abusive partner? Time to leave, as you saw in my story I come from an abusive family and I chose to move on and I still to this day make sure i’m changing the cycle in this way. Volatile relationships are not good for anyone, especially our children and it’s been proven time and time again.

Marie Claire magazine recently reported about the worrying increase of sexual assaults on University campuses, why do you think this problem has become so prominent in recent years? Should women fear campus life? Between hormones, parties, classes, stress…campuses no doubt increase the chances of a sexual assault taking place. I personally hurried and graduated early, I didn’t feel comfortable at college campuses and it’s truthfully not for everyone, but safety should definitely be heightened on campuses so everyone can feel safe getting their education, since that’s why we’re all there in the first place.

Who are your role models? God

How important is self-sufficiency to a woman? Self-sufficiency is everything in my world. I have a frozen yogurt store, furniture store, children’s boutique, an international brand and so much more I oversee, I owe it all to my sense of self-sufficiency. Mastering self sufficiency leads to making all of your passions come true.

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner? Honesty, trustworthy, integrity, funny.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? My daughter.

Any regrets? No regrets thanks to my intensive therapy and understanding why everything has it’s purpose.

Teen Mom UK continues Wednesdays @ 8pm – Sky 126 Virgin 134

Main image courtesy of FilmMagic.

 

The Ultimate Date Night Playlist

Knowing my love of music I’ve been getting this request from readers for months now and I’m finally giving in to give you all a bit of cheese – well sort of. Music for me is a huge part of any relationship, for every relationship I’ve been in there’s been at least one song that went along with it and if there wasn’t, well that relationship didn’t to last very long. The music that means the most to me has always been the music that represents a particular time in my life and naturally that has at times crossed over into my relationships. There are of course a few pitfalls when it comes to dating and music (anyone who’s ever been doing the deed with music playing in the background and ended up doing it in time to the beat knows exactly what I’m talking about) but all in all, music is more important than you probably ever realised. The song that was playing during your first kiss whilst having a glass of wine on your couch, years later that song might just be the first song at your wedding – so don’t be scared to put a bit of effort into your playlist on date night. So here are my top 10 background tracks for the perfect night in and no they ain’t all love songs, just the perfect combination of tracks that will keep the mood just right.

10. Ryan Adams – Blank Space

I struggle with Taylor Swift. She infuriates me beyond belief – although some might argue that constantly p*ssing people off is the mark of a good artist these days. However, in spite of my dislike for ‘Swifty’ I did fall in love with her 1989 album when Ryan Adams came along and covered the entire thing in his own unique style. I have to give Taylor some credit in that these are her songs at the end of the day, but for me, Ryan Adams turns every song into a masterpiece and this version of ‘Blank Space’ is pure mellow perfection.

9. Russian Red – Cigarettes

A few years back I walked across the whole of Spain (just for fun) and one day walking through a remote part of the countryside, I came across a rather annoying American girl who was playing music through a makeshift speaker made from a paper cup. I was just about ready to walk on when she played ‘Cigarettes’ by Russian Red. It completely stopped me in my tracks and I instantly fell in love with it, so impressed by her taste in music it even changed my opinion of her! A short, but stunning little song.

8. Milky Chance – Stolen Dance

Slightly more upbeat, but not so much that it changes the mellow date night mood. I challenge you not to be hooked once the song kicks in after a few seconds. Again, perfect background noise, but from a more serious music perspective watch the video and admire the effortless talents of lead singer Clemens Rehbein.

7. The War On Drugs – Suffering

No I don’t always know what lead singer Adam Granduciel is singing, but the fact they’re still one of my new favourite bands proves just how good they are. If this one is a little too slow for you, check out ‘Red Eyes’ and let both your feet tap away in perfect sync.

6. Grace Grundy – I Took A Pill In Ibiza

Forget Mike Posner, forget Avicii (he ain’t cool) this song is all about Grace Grundy. Don’t get me wrong the original is good but Grace Grundy’s emotion-filled cover takes this track to new heights.

P.S Don’t take a pill in Ibiza kids.

5. DNCE – What’s Love Got To Do With It

So a surprising one maybe but Joe Jonas is onto something with this one. It’s not emotional, it’s not sexy (sorry Joe) but what this cover of Tina Turner’s classic will do, is give you and your date a bit of a chuckle. It is a great cover actually, but there’s more than enough cheese to go around with this one. Listen, laugh and enjoy.

4. Old Man Canyon – Phantoms And Friends

I’m a big Suits fan and anyone else out there who loves Harvey and the gang will know exactly what I mean when I say I find myself ‘Shazaaming’ the hell out of every episode. The music throughout the show has been incredible and this is just one of many hidden gems I’ve discovered along the way.

3. Verite – Somebody Else

I’m a huge fan of the 1975 but when I first heard ‘Somebody Else’ I was a tad underwhelmed, that was until I heard Verite’s version. Prepare for some serious goosebumps, this is this kind of song that could very well become the soundtrack to your relationship. Incredible, I can’t say much more than that.

2. HONNE & Izzy Bizu – Someone That Loves You

HONNE were my band of 2016 and I still don’t think they’re getting the recognition they deserve. I first saw them on Soccer AM of all places and they’ve even become the new favourite band of a music snob pal of mine. Just missing out on the top spot, this collaboration with Izzy Bizu is pure perfection. Heads up – they also do a mean cover of my number 1.

1. Jamie xx feat. Romy – Loud Places

In the past I’ve tried to rebel against the XX as I’ve found some of the art school, music snob fanbase to be quite tiring, but then I realised a lot of these people are friends of mine and decided that maybe I should be a little more forgiving. Anyway who am I kidding, the band and Jamie in particular absolutely reeks of genius and originality. ‘Loud Places’ was first played to me by a friend (shout-out to Riona Gray) and I got lost in it from the very first listen. Once I’d read and understood the lyrics my mind was officially blown and the song went to another level for me. ‘Loud Places’ is one of those songs where you could lie beside your partner, not speak a word and just get completely entranced by it. A beautiful work of art.

One Ron To Rule Them All

The Ronaldo vs Messi debate is one which will surely rumble on for many years to come, but for me there is one undoubted winner. On the 15th of June this year I sat in a crowded square in the city of Logrono, surrounded by hoards of Spanish fans I did my utmost to celebrate quietly as Ronaldo effortlessly put three goals past Spain keeper David De Gea. Sadly Portugal could not repeat their achievements from the 2016 Euros but for at least one game, we saw a timely reminder of why CR7 is considered one of the greatest of all time.

In spite of such heroics, the football world was still stunned to recently learn that Ronaldo had completed a reported £99.2 million transfer to Italian giants Juventus. Ronaldo had teased a move several times before, but it was often seen as merely a negotiation tactic in attaining an improved contract offer from former club Real Madrid. Even at 33 years of age you could argue this to be a sensational piece of business from football’s ‘old lady’ and I can’t help but wonder if legendary keeper Gigi Buffon is somewhat now regretting his recent switch to French champions PSG. Ronaldo has long stated his intention to play to the age of 41, which may sound far-fetched at the present moment but given the ease with which Ryan Giggs achieved the feat, perhaps this isn’t completely out of the question – not yet anyway.

Going back to the Messi debate however, this is a discussion which has dominated world football for over a decade now, so much so that no player outwith Ronaldo and Messi has won the prestigious Ballon d’or since AC Milan’s Kaka in 2007. Personally, Ronaldo will always have the edge in this debate, not because I believe him to be a significantly better footballer than Messi but because where Messi’s talent is so clearly god-given, anyone who witnessed Ronaldo’s careless passes and pointless dribbles of his early career will surely agree that his success today is the result of sheer hard work and graft. That being said, my obvious admiration for Ronaldo stems not just from what he does with a football at his feet, but even more so what he does away from the pitch.

There’s an arrogance to the Ronaldo we see on the football pitch. As a player there’s a side to him that’s very unlikeable, particularly the Ronaldo of years gone by. That resolve to be the star of the show each and every time can at times grate on people, he reminds me of the kid in school we’d refer to as ‘a wee greedy’ – infuriating but ridiculously talented. Away from the pitch, however, exists a side to CR7 that I’m not sure many people are even aware of, qualities which are not only the stamp of a footballing idol but the mark of a respected humanitarian also.

In 2016 Ronaldo won his third Ballon d’or, but that same year was also named ‘the world’s most charitable sportsman’ – recognition which went massively under the radar in footballing circles. His generosity over the years has included the funding of a paediatric hospital in Chile, raising £600,000 at auction for the make a wish foundation, donating a reported £5 million towards relief efforts in Nepal and offering a further £150,000 towards funding the cancer centre which treated his mother.

“My father always taught me that when you help other people, then God will give you double,” Ronaldo said in 2013. “And that’s what has really happened to me. When I have helped other people who are in need, God has helped me more.”

Winning you over yet? Well if that won’t do it Cristiano also kept his promise to celebrate his 2013 Ballon d’or win with children suffering from leukaemia. It’s true to say that if the majority of us had the same kind of wealth, we too would be equally generous to those around us and beyond. The fact is, however, he’s the one doing it.

So the next time we watch on as this reported ‘narcissist’ celebrates a goal on our television screens with both his teammates and his abs, remember that watching with you are people from all over the world who have been helped in some way by this once poverty-stricken boy from Madeira.

No doubt about to take Serie A by storm, the very best of luck to both an exceptional player and human being.

Keep your shirt on though eh Ronnie?

Images: Getty/Juventus FC.

PTB Meets: Dame 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.

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.

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.

 

Break-ups: Fight It Or Accept It?

I’ve long been fascinated by the subject of ‘the break-up’, probably because I was such a rubbish boyfriend when I was younger that every girl would break up with me (it’s okay to laugh). But yes, my article from some time ago Dumped? The Fast track guide to getting over it is to this day one of my all-time favourite posts. Why? Because it’s advice that I wish I’d taken – but who ever takes their own advice! What interests me most, however, is our reactions to a break-up and with that in mind one particular question, do we fight for the relationship or do we accept the break-up?

Almost every girl who has ever broken up with me has asked me the same question – why are you so okay with it? But the truth is I wasn’t okay with it. I’ve always been too easy-going for my own good. I very much go with the flow, what will be will be and all that and more often than not that transpires (negatively) into my relationships. The problem I have is that people mistaking this outlook this for not caring. You see, I believe that to break up with someone is such a horrible thing to have to do that they wouldn’t do it unless they absolutely wanted to and so more often than not I have chosen to accept and respect the break-up. So when all I hear is “PAUL, why won’t you fight for me?!” I have to wonder what the hell I’m doing wrong, haha. I don’t like the idea that anyone, man or woman, would say it’s over” as a game or some sort of test, but when they’re encouraging you to try and change their mind in spite of what they’ve said, you do wonder what on earth is going on.

I really do understand where people are coming from when they say “fight for me” but is it wrong to be of the opinion that you shouldn’t really have to? It’s apparent you don’t make them happy and as soon as you have to fight for someone it’s almost like you’re in their debt, the relationship becomes tilted and it’s very difficult to get back to that happy medium. It’s like one person all of a sudden calls the shots but in the unhealthiest of ways. There’s nothing worse than feeling like the lesser half of a relationship. So what’s the alternative?

Well over time I decided that it was best just to accept it, not because I didn’t care but because I honestly thought I was doing them a favour. I didn’t always have such calm reactions though. When my first love broke up with me at  18 I reacted horribly. I verbally abused her (on MSN) for days and to her credit she felt so bad for ending it that she kind of just took it. Very immature and a huge learning curve for me and of course a reaction I never wanted to have again. A few years later, I was with this girl for around eighteen months and she’d gotten a job at a certain Japanese chain restaurant. One night she threw a party and her head chef came along. I vividly remember him sitting miserably all night on the stairway, moaning about how much he wanted a girlfriend. MY girlfriend then decided to take it upon herself to set him up with someone. It wasn’t working at all and eventually she set him up with…herself! It sounds horrible but I’m honestly laughing as I write this. When it all happened I was devastated but learning from past experiences I stayed calm, I left them to it and I sulked privately for a couple of weeks. Funnily enough he dumped her rather quickly and she came running back to me, but I took no pleasure in that – okay I did a little bit. I decided however that it wasn’t a good idea to get back together, I had chosen to accept her decision and although I hadn’t fully moved on there was no absolutely way I was going to re-open that story when I’d worked so hard to respect her decision.

When it comes to relationships and break-ups in particular, we all seem to lose our marbles a little bit. All common sense, dignity and self-respect go out the window and for at least that first couple of weeks we live our lives like we can’t go on without them. But let me ask you this, have you ever desperately hated a job you were in but as soon as you leave you all of a sudden convince yourself that it was the best job ever and that you’re making a huge mistake in leaving? Well relationships can be like that too, we desperately want what we no longer have. Personally I’m a big believer in ‘paths’ and if a relationship comes to an end then I like to believe that it’s just the next natural step on our path. There isn’t a single ex-girlfriend I wish I was still with, no matter how much I loved them, why? Because I’m confident that we’re all on the right path, even the ones I really miss as people I know they’re really happy and if they’re happy, I couldn’t be happier for them – irrespective of how we ended.

So for me I think I’ll stick to accepting a break-up, I mean hopefully there won’t be too many more but for me, it’s what works. When you calmly accept it, it’s like you’re soul and your character remain that little bit more in-tact. That sounds mega deep for me but I really do believe that. Importantly, acceptance allows you to give your partner or ex-partner space and one thing I do know from experience is that the last thing you should ever do is pester someone who has asked for space, you will only drive them further and further away at a time when you want them to miss you. So as difficult as it may be, stay calm people.

For the love of God though, stay away from Chefs.

PTB Meets: Sarah-Jane Crawford

TV’s Sarah-Jane Crawford is a seasoned pro when it comes to the art of presenting, but more recently you may have seen her starring in E4’s hit show ‘Celebs Go Dating’. This week I caught up with the London beauty to get her thoughts on all things dating and relationships and even found out the surprising story behind her teen crush.

Hi Sarah, so you’ve recently finished your stint on Celebs Go Dating, was it difficult having your private life put under such public scrutiny for the duration of the show? I hated it at first, I felt totally cringed out to think people would watch me discussing issues I’d usually keep out of the public eye. BUT, it was actually a great experience and it was needed as I was way too caught up in worrying what people think of me when actually nobody really cares. I’ve learned to just crack on with life and do as I please.

Online Dating: curse or convenience? I’ve never tried but I have close friends, family and even one of my agents who have all found love online and some are married with kids, so yes, not just convenience but a gift in this current climate.

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner? Someone who is authentic – this is so important to me as I can smell bullsh*t from a mile off. Someone ambitious and focused, charismatic, funny, comfortable in their own skin and kind-hearted – not much haha.

What advice would you give to your 18 year old self? Don’t react, always respond. Take a moment to consider whether your emotions are clouding your better judgement. Also, trust in the universe and relinquish control and know faithfully that whatever is meant for you will not pass you by.

Any strange fan mail?  The obvious body parts get DM’d to me – ugh. Other than that just people reaching out trying to be sweet asking for dates. Girls are usually so lovely and share that I may have inspired them in some way which which is always so nice.

Teen crush? Edward Furlong from Terminator 2, Tyson Beckford who’s now a friend which is hilarious and Trevor Nelson, who ended up as my work colleague so the law of attraction worked well for me haha.

What’s your idea of the perfect date?  Not the zoo, not rock climbing and nothing too manic haha. I just enjoy one of those days or evenings that go on for hours since you both get on so well.

Any deal-breakers? Someone with a terrible temper who can’t control it and people who can never apologise. Also, fame-seekers or social climbers – via their girlfriend.

Do you think people put too much pressure on themselves to meet the one, ultimately leading them to meet ‘the wrong one’? Oh for sure. When you are under pressure for whatever reason you act in ways that don’t really suit the real you. Don’t be desperate, trust in the universe.

Any dating horror stories? When I was about 17, a guy took me for dinner and tried to pay with fake money – I mean the queen was smiling on the note.  Needless to say I didn’t answer any more of his calls.

Looks vs personality? A bit of both is key, but I’d rather date a funny and confident 6 out of 10, than a wet drip 9 and a half!

Does being in the public eye make you wary of people wanting to date you for your fame as opposed to who you are as a person? It never used to feel that way, but these days yes.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? Definitely. Love yourself first and then it opens you up to a better standard of relationship.

What’s next for Sarah-Jane Crawford? I’ve just co-hosted another series of World’s Strongest Man for Channel 5, which airs over Christmas and New Year. I’m also releasing my vegan app VIAPPI which is a veggie and vegan restaurant finder and recipe database available from January next year. People can register at www.viappi.co.uk to be made aware of the exact release date and stay in the loop.

8 Dating Concepts You Probably Didn’t Know About

Over the past year I’ve researched the many forms of dating. From online, to speed dating and even the odd blind date, everyone seems to have mixed opinions about what works best. But what are some of the more alternative ways people meet prospective partners? This week I’ve been looking at some of the more unusual ways people find love with a mix of interesting, funny and downright ridiculous results.

Shhh Dating – This is an organisation who have introduced an event whereby you are quite literally not allowed to speak – silent speed dating if you will! I really love the idea of trying different things and I admire people who try and shake things up a little bit but for me personally there is absolutely no way I could keep a straight face for five minutes of ‘eye-gazing’! shhhdating.com

Meddlers of Honour – As featured in Grazia, this event is all out dating war. Imagine trying to impress someone whilst trained ‘meddlers do everything in their power to sabotage and even steal your date. Insecure about your receding hairline? Expect it to be publicised to everyone in earshot. Anything goes in this event with the end of goal of retaining your date until the end. You certainly need a thick skin for this, but to me it sounds like bags of fun! meddlersofhonour.com

Adult Baby Dating – I can’t help but shiver as I write this but yes, ABDLMatch, a website for adult babies really does exist. To be more specific these ‘adult babies’ are basically adults who dress and act like babies in each other’s company. “We love helping adult babies connect with Mommies and Daddies and vice versa”(shiver, shiver, shiver) Each to their own and all that but I couldn’t bring myself to investigate this any further than reading the initial description. Sorry but you aint getting a link to this folks.

Lock and Key Parties – This is basically a party consisting of anything up to fifty participants. The girls have padlocks attached to their wrists and the guys are given keys to start working their way around the room. With enough people I think this could be really fun, just don’t lose your key! Sign up here.

Dating In The Dark – Some of you may remember the TV show on UK Living a few years back, I LOVED this show! Well now the Original Dating Company have introduced this event to their roster. Imagine forty people sat in complete darkness dating, I did wonder how they move from table to table in such darkness but the confusion perhaps makes it even more hilarious. This is an event I would love to see introduced to the Glasgow Dating scene, even if you don’t meet someone I think the comedy value would be tremendous! originaldating.com

Zombie Passions – “A 100% free online dating and social networking site for zombies, zombie lovers and people who have been working in a dead end job too long.” Need I say more? zombiepassions.com/

Gluten Free Singles – I guess this one is all about convenience for when the time comes to do a weekly shop – although I still maintain most people don’t actually know what gluten is. Basing your dating preferences on having allergies in common seems crazy but I suppose for some people it makes perfect sense. glutenfreesingles.com/

CanDoBetter.com – This one really is bizarre and I’m not quite sure what the purpose is nor do I understand why you would let your partner use it. Basically, you and your partner upload a picture of you both allowing members of the website to vote on which one of you can do better! Whoever wins gains full access to the site. Strange stuff but people are going for it. candobetter.com

 

5 Ways To Save A Failing Relationship

I’m no expert, that’s for sure. I have however seen it all a million times before. On paper the perfect couple, you look good together, you live together, you’ve known each other for a long time, there’s a healthy mutual respect and attraction, but ultimately the spark has very much gone. Ideally if your relationship is failing you want to act sooner rather than later, but of course only save a relationship if it’s truly worth saving. With just a little bit of effort, however, your relationship could be salvaged easier than you thought possible.

1. Remember why you got together in the first place – This is easily the best time in a relationship, that indescribable buzz when you first meet, you like them and they like you back. It’s a special feeling almost impossible to recreate, but what you can do is reminisce (in a happy way of course). Revisit those old places where you shared your first date, your first kiss and relive stories of how and more importantly, why, you fell in love.

2. Never underestimate the power of ‘date night’ – Couples are often guilty of simply not making enough time for one another. Whether it’s work, friends or family, ‘life’ all too often gets in the way – which as many of us know can be detrimental to even the closest of relationships. Try and make the effort to have even just one date night a month, a night for just the two of you and no one else. Also, be picky with your location choices, don’t just go to the same old pub you venture to every Sunday afternoon. Mix it up and even try doing something completely different month by month.

3. Talk – You’d be surprised at how many couples are guilty of horrendous communication – no matter how long they’ve known each other. It’s bizarre just how bad most of us are at having a simple honest conversation with one another – perhaps we’re terrified of what we might hear? Generally though it’s so important that as a couple you’re both on the same wavelength. Kids, career, marriage…you need to know where one another’s head is at, otherwise you might just be engaging in one big time-wasting exercise. However, never fear ‘the talk’, it might turn out to be the weight off your shoulders you so desperately needed.

4. Invest in yourself – In an ideal world your partner will love you no matter what, but that’s no excuse for being lazy or letting yourself go. Life isn’t all about being the fittest or the best looking but you should at least try to make the most of yourself. The aim is that you feel good and if you can accomplish that as individuals then there’s a pretty good chance you’ll also feel happier together as well.

5. Never take your partner for granted – Often the one overwhelming feeling that sparks and even reaffirms a break-up. Sometimes the longer a relationship lasts the more we take each other for granted. My advice, take just one moment to really think about how grateful you are for everything they do for you and if you’re feeling really brave, tell them!

So there you have it, 5 key points that could save you from returning to ‘singledom’. Relationships are never straightforward, they require time, effort and compromise something I often found out the hard way. No two relationships are exactly the same so adapt my advice in a way that suits you and you won’t go far wrong. Good luck!