Going Speed Dating? Don’t Forget Your Screwdriver!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Dating!

PTB

Matchmaking…The Instinctive Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Dating

PTB.

Confidence Killers: Acne

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you have to lose?

 

Why I Still Love Dating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PTB

5 Online Dating Alternatives

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

Singlepin

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

Smudged Lipstick Events

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

Speed Dating

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

Meet-up

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

Grab a friend and hit the town

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

My First Kiss Went A Little Like This

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and my personal favourite…

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

8 Peculiar Ways Guys Deal With Break-Ups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PTB

 

Be Careful Who You Sleep With

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

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

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

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

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

PTB

 

The Single Resolution

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year,

PTB

 

Winning Back The Single Women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PTB

Five Dating Mistakes (I Made)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Dating!

PTB

How To Give The Best Blow Job Ever

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week ahead!

PTB

Would You Date A Single Parent?

This seems to be a common stumbling block with many relationships, often before they’ve even begun. But is dating a single parent as big a deal as it once was? It’s become apparent to me in recent times that single parents are getting younger, it’s not necessarily divorced middle aged people, it’s people who fall well within the 18-30 bracket. When I was a teenager, having children at a young age was looked down upon or at least something you were strongly warned against. It was made clear, particularly at school, that you’d be wasting your life and that you would never amount to anything. Scare tactics perhaps, but in my experience those warnings couldn’t be further from the truth. So would I date a single parent? Well yes, I did.

I remember a time when a girl having a child would’ve been a definite deal-breaker between my friends and I, however looking back I think that was just a youthful naievity. As you get older, you start to understand circumstances more and you begin to think “who am I to dismiss someone for that reason?” I’ve always understood people’s concerns: do I need to play Dad? Will I get on with the actual Dad? Will they still want more kids further down the line? There were endless questions and yet, the relationship itself seemed surprsingly simple.

My biggest concern was my relationship with the child, it was a new experience for me and I knew how important it was to the Mother that we got on. I never wanted to be the child’s Dad, she was lucky enough to already have a great one and I certainly wasn’t there to step on anyone’s toes. I decided to go down the friend route. She was two, but ridiculously smart for one so young, she seemed to know exactly what was going on. In the end my sense of humour won her over, laughter was the key to everything with that child. In the end I cared for her more than I thought possible.

As for her Dad, I think this tends to be the biggest concern for guys in particular. It’s not easy to have your partner’s ex still so prominent in their life, but in fairness to this guy, he couldn’t have made things any easier for me. I knew there wouldn’t be a problem unless he made one, but thankfully he was just a genuinely nice, normal guy. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t best buds or anything but there was a nice, calm, mutual respect between us.

As the months wore on I realised my relationship with the Mother wasn’t working out. Sometimes we were like the best of friends and other times I was worried we might kill each other (much like most relationships these days I guess). Looking back, our problems were mostly my fault. She was ready to settle down and rightly so, but me, I still had a hell of lot of travelling to do. Selfish I know, but it had been my dream to travel from a really young age and I got the feeling she wouldn’t accept me taking off and why should she? The more time that passed, the more I felt ridden with guilt. My guilt stemmed from this incredible little family who had both welcomed and accepted me and not only that, they wanted me to be a part of their family, forever – I think. That’s difficult to walk away from.

It was probably my most difficult break-up. I had to end it with two people – neither was easy. I remember the Mum dropping me off at the local train station, the child was in the back seat sound asleep. I just knew in my heart of hearts it was the end. I reached behind me and squeezed her foot. It was some form of goodbye, a bit of a pathetic one, but in the moment I didn’t know what else I could do. The break-up was both the scariest and hardest part of dating a single parent. I didn’t want out, I just needed out – for everyone’s sake.

But all in all, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from dating a single parent. Maybe it isn’t ideal, maybe it’s your worst nightmare, maybe it’s the best thing that could ever happen to you? You just never know what lies ahead, I had some really great times. The best advice I can give to any parent is to wait a while before introducing your new partner to your child, although I’d be surprised if there were many parents out there who didn’t already adhere to this rule. Be sure it doesn’t bother you as the outsider before you commit to anything, the further the relationship goes the harder it will get for everyone involved. I was naïve, the child didn’t bother me for one second but my life goals just didn’t fit in with the whole setup and I should’ve realised this way sooner than I did. If you are keen to meet someone, however, never rule out a single parent – three isn’t always a crowd.

PTB

The Importance Of Flaws

“You have always worn your flaws upon your sleeve and I have always buried them deep beneath the ground” – it’s one of my favourite songs and seeing as it’s in the title of the song, I was inspired to think about ‘flaws’ in a little more depth. How we treat flaws goes back to that whole idea of nine good meals and one bad one – which do you remember? It’s amazing how much we overlook the good in our prospective partners because we’re so focused on their strange laugh or their crooked nose, but it’s not always about how we see other people, the real importance of flaws is to recognise them in yourself.

So do you recognise them? If you did, would it change how you treat others? One of the best things I ever did was to begin accepting my flaws, because when I did, I actually lost some of my other flaws. Self-awareness changed everything for me and as it turned out accepting isn’t about excusing them. Acceptance encouraged me to start changing the bad things and helped me understand when or why other people were angry or frustrated with me.

My flaws? I was always very selfish. I spent four years in a relationship where I gave absolutely everything and got nothing in return and when that ended I said never again, but sometimes it’s easy to take that too far. One thing you should never do is punish the new people in your life for what the old people did. Bad tempered, those who know me will be surprised by this, but I used to have an extremely short fuse. Don’t get me wrong I would never physically hurt anyone, I never let myself cross any dangerous lines, but I put more holes in walls and broke more phones and remote controls than I care to admit. That reminds me, never punch a brick wall – you will lose every time. This was all a good few years ago now and after realising just how embarrassing I was being I managed to deal with my emotions in much healthier ways (a little anger-management and a good sense of humour go a long way). Over-thinking, I’m perhaps the world’s greatest. I think about too many things in life and from every possible angle and perspective – it literally keeps me awake at night. This level of over-thinking can lead to a ridiculous amount of indecision which take it from me is beyond detrimental to a relationship.

I’m a big believer in loving yourself, as you are, but for me my flaws were affecting others too much not to do something about it. A strange laugh was probably a bad example, because what one person finds strange, another person might love you for. Physical flaws in general however are a completely different kettle of fish. Who even decides what is a flaw and what isn’t? It’s all just stereotypes and traditions and society crap that have ultimately led most of us to strive for what we perceive to be ‘normal’. With physical appearance, I do believe in the importance of physical attraction but everyone has a different idea of what they find attractive (thankfully). For example did you know that a prominent chin indicates a strong sex drive and a prominent brow bone indicates a need for sexual dominance? Some people might be thinking those are unattractive facial features and others might be thinking ‘I need to get you in my bedroom!’

At the end of the day flaws are what make us human, it’s up to you what you do with them. Love yourself for you, but don’t be scared to strive to be the best possible version of you – just stay away from those walls!

“All of your flaws and all of my flaws,
When they have been exhumed
We’ll see that we need them to be who we are
Without them we’d be doomed” – Bastille

PTB

Dating: Have We Been Doing It Wrong All Along?

The concept of dating stretches back to a time I know absolutely nothing about. In fact I often wonder what the very first date was like (can you imagine a time when we didn’t have our phones to check every five minutes?) but as times change and as people change, perhaps our dating habits need to change as well?

In the two years I’ve been writing about dating, the majority of feedback I’ve heard about individual dating experiences is vastly negative. As the world of dating becomes increasingly digital, with it has come a raft of creepies, cons and invites for ‘Netflix and…’ – I can’t even say it.

In fact the interference of technology altogether, seems to have slowly diminished the human aspect of dating that was once more prevalent in years gone by. The more bad Tinder experiences we have and the more people who hound us to reply to their last message all of three minutes after it was sent, the more we become that little bit more cynical towards the next person. I’ve lost count of how many profiles that say: “no hook-ups, must drive, must have own place, must be employed, must be over 5’8. How bad have things gotten that the first thing we read about a person is a list of demands provoked by bad experience? It all just seems a bit bitter to me – dating should be fun! So what is the solution?

When I was on my travels last year I met people from just about every country you could possibly imagine, the most intriguing being my wonderful South-American friends. The more I got to know people, the more we began to discuss life, relationships and interestingly, how we went about meeting people back home. In the UK I suppose the most generic way I could describe a date is to meet someone for a drink or dinner, chat and spend an average of around two to three hours in each other’s company. In South America however, things couldn’t be more different.

In Brazil, a guy may invite his date to more of a gathering as opposed to some one on one time. It’s not uncommon to meet in a bar and find the guy surrounded by friends, their partners and other individuals accompanied by first dates of their own. During the small gathering you might not even chat to your date for all that long, instead you gain just enough insight into each other’s personality within a group setting to allow you to decide whether or not you want to see each other again. This isn’t the norm for every date of course but it was extremely common.

On the whole, everything is very brief but relaxed which people seem to have a strong preference for in that part of the world. When I explained to my friends how in the UK you may spend anything up to three hours alone with a first date, I was greeted with both strange looks and what verged on hysterical laughter. “What if you don’t like them? You’re stuck there!”

Maybe we’re just a little too polite on this side of the world, but I suppose on some level they may just be right.

When we go on dates we’re often guilty of putting the whole occasion on a pedestal, perhaps it’s just the hopeless romantics in us or maybe it’s just convention to an extent? Go abroad however and a date is often considered no more than a simple, social encounter with someone you may or may not be interested in. In fact it’s so simple it’s almost considered irrelevant until you’ve established if there’s a connection.

It seems almost heartless to think a date should have to earn relevance, but on the other hand has dating perhaps become so fickle that this idea now makes sense? I think one of the reasons people’s cynicism is because even one or two bad dates can feel like so much wasted time, wasted money, wasted outfits, the list goes on. But if dates were more casual and I suppose shorter, you may feel like you have a little less to lose. As result, you might just remain more positive and open-minded to future ‘meets’.

This approach may not be suited to everyone and as I’ve written before I’ve had some really memorable dates, but having heard the feedback, read the bitter Tinder profiles and listened to a fair few tales of heartbreak, it might just be the way forward. I’ve long been a supporter of Speed Dating because I feel it’s the closest thing to this philosophy. Having once hosted such events I’ve realised I’m not particularly a fan of overly organised social interactions (try telling 25 women only 4 men have shown up) but the actual concept itself is definitely on the right track.

So if you are genuinely seeking love, why not consider changing your own outlook? There’s nothing wrong with still getting excited about the dating traditions we’ve all grown up with, but if what you’ve been doing just isn’t working, what do you have to lose by mixing things up a little?

If it works in South America and places like New York where this kind of dating has also taken off, then who says it can’t work for us Brits? I don’t think getting a date to bring all of his friends and family along is necessarily the answer, but the philosophy of approaching dating with more of a laissez-faire attitude, could potentially offer a more positive outcome.

Happy Dating!!

PTB