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!

 

 

 

 

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!

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!

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.

8 Peculiar Ways Guys Deal With Break-Ups

Break-ups aren’t nice by any means, but they have always fascinated me. It’s incredible how being on the wrong end of a break-up can eradicate every shred of common sense or self-worth we proudly once possessed. Much 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 (so naive). We’d dated for around 10 months, she’d been in the year below me at school and had made a name for herself in all the wrong ways by sleeping with a guy on a bouncy castle in her back garden – true story. When I heard this I judged her in all the wrong ways, but then two years later we ended up dating. The relationship was actually pretty good until she started working at a popular Japanese restaurant chain, she struck up a friendship with her boss to the 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 two questionable ‘snakebite’ lip piercings. When she saw them her response was anything but ‘wow’ in fact she saw it more like self-harm than anything impressive. 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, to cut a long story short boss man broke up with her after a month of dating and she promptly tried to patch things up with myself. After around a week though I was well and truly over it, making it even more embarrassing that I’d stuck metal in my face to impress her. I’ve discovered that if you have to stick metal in your face for love, then it’s probably 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.

 john cusack say anything GIF

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 there to try and win her back, I got lost in a small town just outside of Dublin and eventually never found my way to her countryside home. I left without her knowing anything about it. I was 18, had no credit on my phone and remain embarrassed about the incident to this very day.

We give up food – I’ve spoken before about my craziest and longest relationship ‘the compulsive liar’, but never before has this ‘foodie’ lost his appetite quite like this. 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 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 this very blog – the right kind of reactions you might say. But don’t ever ever give up food for love folks!

Papa John’s football nfl pizza diet GIF

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 may take your mind off the break-up, but only ever temporarily. The second they leave, your mind wanders straight back to everything you were trying to forget. We all need a bit of fun from time to time but some dalliances will only make you feel a million times worse, be wary of hurting yourself and others.

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 it’s over”…”fine, whore.” He was actually a really nice guy too, but it just proves how our emotions can get the better of us in these situations. I’ve lost count of how many times love can oh so 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’. 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 at the back of the bus, gazing out of the window feeling sorry for myself thinking I was in some depressing music video. 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 Valentine’s Day she bought me the most hideous medallion ring complete with eagle engraving and words that loosely translated to ‘United States of Mexico’. She actually expected me to wear this monstrosity 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 it to her (harsh but it really was that hideous). What I hadn’t expected was for that girl to then parade it in front of my girlfriend’s face. Not nice to give it away I know, but bare in mind I was only 12 years old. My girlfriend of course 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 of my neighbours to hear. My Mum and Dad were beyond mortified – as am I at this very moment.

 rose titanic jack dawson titanic gif my heart will go on GIF

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 people do lightly and it’s important that you 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. If they ask for space and you don’t give them it, I guarantee you’ll push them further away than ever before.

Piercings, performances, insults, pity parties and hunger strikes don’t work. Simple, common sense, adult behaviour will see you through – I learned this the hard way.

PTB

 

My Reality Dates Experience With Match.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

PTB Meets Frank Turner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looks vs Personality? Personality, every time.

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

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

Any Deal-Breakers? Astrology!

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

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

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

Main Image: Sarah Louise Bennett/Upset Magazine

PTB Meets Big Brother Legend Nikki Grahame

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

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

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

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

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

Any deal-breakers? Bad breathe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PTB Meets Emmy Nominated TV Chef Ching-He Huang

As we all know dating and relationships affects every single one of us irrespective of who we are or where we come from, as a result I like to try and interview quite a diverse range of people to share their experiences and advice. When the opportunity arose to interview culinary wizard Ching-He Huang I jumped at it. Emmy nominated and the pioneer of BBC 2’s ‘Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure’ alongside Ken Hom, Ching is globally recognised as one of the finest Asian Chefs of her generation. Married to actor Jamie Cho, I recently caught up with Ching to talk life, love and dating.

Hi Ching, you’ve enjoyed great success in your career so far, is it ever difficult to prevent fame interfering with your personal relationships? The media are more interested in my food than my husband so I’m lucky I get to keep that part of my life private. The only time I think fame can interfere with personal relationships is if there is an affair or a scandal and you’re in the public eye, but we (my husband and I) are quite boring so we’re ok!

Do you think people often put too much pressure on themselves to meet the one? I think there is a pressure in society for people to have the perfect ‘everything’ so not just work, life, but of course relationships too. This is too much pressure – better to just relax and ‘the one’ will find you.

You married husband Jamie in 2014, what were the key qualities that made you think this is the guy I FullSizeRender (18)want to spend my life with? We married after 12 years together and he has always been there. I knew he was ‘the one’ not long after we met, we just never got round to making it ‘official’ until recently.

Any funny dating experiences from the past? An ex once gave me his house keys for a date, I put the keys in and his mum opened the door! What an introduction!

Your idea of the perfect date? A good meal in a cosy restaurant, with good food, wine, and ambience – preferably in a quiet romantic corner. Now, finding the ‘the perfect table’ is tricky – so a sign of a good date is how much homework they do! After all, preparation equals success!

What advice would you give to young women struggling with confidence issues? I think most women are hard on themselves. I take my advice from my mum who is no-nonsense. Life is too short, there is no point worrying about what others think of you, only what you think of yourself – so embrace and celebrate who you are. Only if you are happy in yourself will you find true happiness and be able to give and share it. Without that, no relationship can fulfil you.

Beauty magazines are a major contributor to such issues, is there anything we can do to limit this? Beauty magazines are there to try inspire us, but remember beauty is only in the eye of the beholder. There is beauty all around us and mostly in our hearts. Don’t look outward, look inwards and find peace. Every flower wilts and that’s what happens to all of us. Life is fleeting and beauty is fleeting. It is better to focus on your skill, personality and charm, than on ‘looks’ because that won’t last. Limit what you expose yourself mentally to and detox what is not healthy for your mind, personal growth and inner development.

51a8e42a320cb71160Teen crush? Too many! Growing up it was Keanu Reeves, Brandon Lee, Robert Redford – anyone with a good mop of hair. Did I mention Johnny Depp too?

What’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you? My husband carrying me everyday, in and out of the bed for 3 weeks when I had an operation and couldn’t walk. He was the perfect house husband.

Relationships can be difficult at the best of times, what do you think is the key to maintaining a happy home? Treating your partner like your best friend and communicating honestly without any blaming or guilt tripping. You can’t put a fire out with more fire.

Do you think old school romance has gotten lost in a world dominated by technology? Yes! Where have all the love letters gone? And that first nervous phone call…asking someone out…now it’s a swipe! Too fast and not enough build up – fire’s out before it’s started!

Do you believe our perception of love changes as we get older? Yes, I do. I think our needs change and instead of the attention that is exciting and self-fulfilling at first it evolves from self validation to true love for your partner. As you become a unit and more compromising, love becomes unconditional and selfless as times goes on the more that we give. We all want someone to love and to hold forever, and that means wanting the best for your partner and ultimately you reap the rewards you sow.

Ching’s Amazing Asia premieres on the Food Network tonight at 9pm, Freeview 41 | Freesat 149 | Sky 248 | Virgin 291. In her new 10-part series, produced by Sentient Films, Ching travels the continent and showcases the amazing diversity, innovation and originality of Asian food, placing delicious flavours at centre stage set against the rich and exciting backdrop of Asia.

PTB Meets Former Corrie Star Charlie Condou

Veteran of a variety of challenging roles, Charlie Condou is perhaps best known for his portrayal of midwife Marcus Dent in Coronation Street. An ambassador for the gay community, Charlie is a proud supporter of Manchester Pride and a patron for charities Diversity Role Models and The Albert Kennedy Trust. Recently I caught up with Charlie to talk acting, marriage and his idea of romance.

Hi Charlie, you’ve starred in a number of vastly different roles over the years, at what point did it really click that you had made it as an actor?

I’m not entirely sure I have made it! I suppose Corrie gave me the fame side of the business but I’d worked fairly consistently for a good ten years before that. I guess when I realised that I could support myself and my family through acting without having to get part time work in between jobs, that was when I knew I was successful. I’m always convinced each part I get is my last though!!

As a profession, a jobbing actor can often be portrayed as a struggle, was there ever a time when you were tempted by the 9 to 5?

Oh God yes! Many, many times. Being an actor is HARD. Not the acting part – that’s the bit we can do. It’s the long periods of being out of work that’s the real struggle. I’m sure I would’ve jacked it all in on a number of occasions if there’d been ANYTHING else I thought I was any good at

You’ve featured heavily in a number of pride lists in recent years, what advice would you give to men young and old struggling to come to terms with their sexuality?

It’s very difficult to advise anyone in this situation because you’re asking them to confront their fears and that’s something people have to come to themselves. But in my experience (and the experiences of many friends), it’s not nearly as frightening as you think it’s going to be. Be true to yourself, lead an honest life as best you can and accept yourself as you truly are. The rest is easy.

Appearing on British soaps such as Coronation Street can often propel an actor into the limelight, how did your role as Marcus affect your every day life?

It’s very strange going from basic anonymity to suddenly being recognised by a huge part of the population virtually overnight, but that’s what happens when you’re on a show like Corrie. It’s been a good few years for me now so Im used to it, but like most of the cast, I found it quite overwhelming at first.

Congratulations on your recent marriage to the handsome Cameron, how did you know he was the one?

I’m not sure he is the one, I just wanted to get my first marriage out of the way early! Seriously though, I knew very early on that I was in love with him, but more importantly, that he was someone I wanted to spend my life with. We’ve been together 10 years now and while it hasn’t always been a bed of roses, I love him more now than I ever have. It doesn’t hurt that he’s fairly easy on the eye either.

Any dating horror stories?

Yup, loads, and none that I’m sharing! They all know who they are.

What’s the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for you?

It’s the small things that Cam does that I love. We’re not ones for big romantic gestures; we don’t buy flowers or even celebrate Valentines day. But he brings me a cup of tea and something to eat when I’m working hard or he cooks a meal that he knows I love. I suppose he thinks about me first and often knows what I need before I do. That’s the stuff I find romantic.

Online dating: Curse or Convenience?

I’ve been in a relationship for a long time so Grindr and the likes have passed me by. But I remember Gaydar and I think like all things, it’s fine if you know what it’s all about. Sometimes you just want sex, and that’s ok. But those sites can become compulsive and that can be a real problem for gay men.

Teen crush?

Rob Lowe, who I’ve actually just worked with. He’s a lovely man and still as sexy as he was when I was 15.

Does our perception of love change as we get older?

No idea, I’m still working it out. But I think what we want changes, so we look for different things.

What’s next for Charlie Condou?

I have two shows coming out, one for Channel 4 and one for Sky. Im developing a comedy series, working on a book, getting a treatment together for a documentary and trying to focus on my company Out With the Family. This, while trying to spend more time with Cam and the kids. So it’s fairly quiet at the mo!

Check out Charlie’s website www.outwiththefamily.co.uk, an organisation aimed at bringing together LGBT families to aid networking of gay parents and children of same-sex parents.

*main image courtesy of Magweb

At What Point Do We Say Enough Is Enough?

How many people are in relationships they shouldn’t be in? How often do we stay together because quite frankly, it’s easier than breaking up? Fear of being alone, fear of regret, fear of being honest…these are all reasons (or perhaps excuses) why we stay together, even when our gut tells us to run. We have to ask ourselves though, how much can we really take? How much happiness are we sacrificing with someone else? How many times can we use the same old excuses and ultimately, when will enough be enough?

It’s often difficult to make sense of our relationship problems, sometimes it’s near impossible. The struggles of every day life can often give these issues a back seat. Problems at work, paying the bills, making sure the kids are ok – there’s always something taking priority. But if we don’t address these issues one way or another then we allow them to fester, the resentment creeps in and before we know it we’ll be 60 years old wondering what might have been.

Often in an unhappy relationship we talk ourselves out of ending it. We obsess over hypothetical situations, how would I feel if I saw them with someone else? How would I cope without their financial contribution? You have to realize it simply doesn’t matter! All that matters is how that person makes you feel every day in the here and now, are you truly happy, are you content that this is what it’s going to be like for the rest of your life or deep down do you desperately crave an escape?

Still can’t decide? Ask yourself these questions…

Do you make excuses for them? Ok so you’ve been with someone for a while and you’ve had doubts for a while too. They mess up constantly and by messing up I don’t mean mixing the whites in the washing, I mean those times when they have quite literally punched a hole in your heart. But still, we forgive. We say to ourselves the next time this happens that’s it over… ok the next, next time it’s definitely over…and still it carries on, over and over again. Where does it end?

Does the thought of ending it fill you with relief? It doesn’t always have to be a bad or abusive relationship, sometimes it’s really simple. They’re great, they treat you with respect, they’d do anything for you…your Mum likes them. You’re just not in love.

Is the sex too good? That’s right I said it. Your partner is hot, really hot. You have an incredible, passionate sex life and in those moments you find them utterly irresistible, you can’t imagine your life without them. But the second it’s over, your doubts magically reappear. Don’t let physical attraction mask the obvious.

Are they compromising your life goals? You’ve always wanted to travel, you’ve always wanted to work abroad, you want a high-flying career that makes a white dress and a veil fade into irrelevance. Whatever it is that you want, don’t bin your bucket list because you were with the wrong person.

Are you scared of breaking their heart? You know how much they love you, you know it will destroy them, you’re a nice person and you don’t want to do that – does that mean it’s ok to break your own? Be fair, on both of you.

Feeling the pressure? Time is cracking on, you’re not as young as you used to be, you’re partner is nice, good, reliable, loyal, they’ll be great with kids…but they’re also boring, snore loudly and dress badly, there’s no spark and you feel more unchallenged than you ever thought possible. This is your life, not your parents, not the gossipers at work, you’re allowed to be picky, you’re allowed to look for that spark, never ever settle – ever!

Is the problem taking over your life? You know that way when you have a dentist appointment you’re dreading and every time you laugh or smile in the run up to it you suddenly remember sh*t I’ve got the dentist next week and the smile is instantly wiped from your face? Well that can be true of a bad relationship also, you might be laughing away with friends and suddenly you remember, oh dear I need to go home to him/her tonight. Imagine feeling like you have a dentist appointment booked every week for the rest of your life!

Are you scared of being alone? I’d rather be alone than be with the wrong person. Who is going to want me you ask yourself. Maybe, ‘the one’ was also with the wrong person but they’ve taken the leap, now you have to as well. One door closes another one opens, the one is waiting just around the corner…take your pick of tired cliches. All that matters is, it’s true. Besides, what’s so bad about being on your own? Travel, sit about in your pants, take those dance lessons…smile again.

I know what you’re thinking, easier said than done and I don’t disagree, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Don’t forget to live the life you wanted. There’s always a way to make a change, irrespective of age. Just adapt, be brave and make it happen.

PTB

5 Things Guys Don't Want To Hear

As I’ve spoken at length about before, guys aren’t particularly great at sharing their feelings. In fact a lot of men are more accustomed to biting their lip than actually expressing their honest opinion to their partners. Now that might sound a bit harsh, but ultimately it saves us rather a lot of trouble, an easy way out if you like. So ladies, if you ever feel like your man is being uncharacteristically quiet when you bring up certain subjects there’s probably a very good reason why. Here’s my list of comments that guys never ever want to hear…like ever!

c50fc643a30a2fbc9f277dafb4db58f81. “I’ll always love him” – Everyone has a past, we all hate that fact but in the end we learn to accept that it’s a part of life and sure you might not be your partner’s first, second or even third love, but that doesn’t mean we want to hear all about it. A friend of mine was recently telling me about how things didn’t work out with her ex, but that he’ll always be the one and she’ll always love him no matter what. I said please tell me you’ve not said this to your boyfriend?! “Oh he just knows” was her response. No, no, no, no!! Whether it’s true or not don’t ever let your partner feel like they’re always going to be second best, no matter what they do. There should only ever be two people in your relationship.

2. “I like it when a guy does this…” – So this continues from point one but leans more to the physical side of the relationship. How many guys have been with a girl in the bedroom and she’s let slip a comment that leaves your stomach numb and your mind full of images? We know you’ve got a past, we’re already trying our best not to think about it, but please don’t give your guy sex advice based on your past experiences. After all, actions speak louder than words. Show him, don’t tell him!

3. “I’ve had bigger” – No explanation required.

4. “I’m outside” – So you’ve got a night out planned with your friends or colleagues and sure we’d spoken previously about you meeting them and maybe even going on a double date sometime, but please oh please don’t surprise us! It’s not that that we’re ashamed of you or that we’re up to something we shouldn’t be, it’s just that this is your man’s time to lead-large_trans++eo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumAhave some ‘me’ time. If he wanted you there, you’d have been invited. Tough love I know, but sometimes it needs to be said.

5. “We need to talk” – History dictates that this is code for ‘we need to break-up’but if you’re saying it just for effect, attention or to prove a point then please just leave it out. Guys can be sensitive souls as well (whether we admit to it or not) and well it upsets us more than you think. (I’m laughing at the sad face I unintentionally pulled as I wrote that).

Guys don’t think you’re getting off lightly though, these comments of course work both ways. But yeah be wary of what you say, within every burly builder is a sensitive Sally pretending that you are in fact untouched in every way…deluded aren’t we.

Confessions of a Cam Girl

Over the past few months I’ve done a lot of research into the pros and cons of online dating, with some surprising outcomes that I’d never previously considered. During this process I discovered that the biggest complaint of women was the quality of men on offer, but interestingly enough the biggest complaint of men was the plethora of ‘fake’ women on offer, i.e Cam Girls. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a Cam Girl is someone who strips off on camera and gets a tad playful for the benefit of willing participants and their credit cards. It’s a concept I’ve always been aware of, but naturally taken no notice of. However, the more the term cropped up in my research, the more I was intrigued to dig a little deeper. No I didn’t pay for one, but I did interview one. To protect her identity I’ll call her Sandy, it’s the least sexy name I can think of haha.

PTB: What made you want to become a Cam Girl in the first place?

Sandy: I quit my job as a Corporate Manager after ten years due to my frustration with unequal pay with my male counterparts who had much less experience. I wanted to do something that allowed me to be my own boss and provided me with unlimited earning potential.

PTB: How exactly does the process work?

Sandy: Basically the more the guy pays the more they’ll get within the means of a web cam. It isn’t always about taking your clothes off though, some guys just want to chat or will have more specific requests, I don’t do anything too weird though.

PTB: What does a typical day involve?

Sandy: Hair and make-up, picking out clothes and then sitting around trying to make small talk with people I don’t know. It can be surprisingly boring at times.

PTB: What’s the most money you’ve made in one day?

Sandy: $200 is the most I’ve made in a day, on average I’ll make $50 a day which doesn’t sound like much but remember that’s for only a few hours work and gives me a minimum of around $1500 a month.

PTB: And that’s better than your previous career?

Sandy: In terms of money it’s slightly less, but I have a much easier, more satisfying life and generally I suppose I’m happier.

PTB: What’s the strangest request you’ve had from a customer?

Sandy: To crush mice with my heels, which I of course refused.

PTB: Any stalkers?

Sandy: There is one guy who I’ve never spoken with and he never pays for a show, but he’s always online. It almost feels like he’s watching me without properly watching me if you know what I mean, it’s really creepy

PTB: Is it hard to do a job like that and be in a relationship at the same time?

Sandy: Surprisingly no, my husband actually gets really turned on by it.

PTB: Do you see this as a temporary thing or are you in it for the long run?

Sandy: It’s definitely only temporary, there’s an age-limit to this thing, no one wants to watch an old chick writhing around.

PTB: Are you quite open about your job to family and friends or do you worry about people finding out?

Sandy: I’m not open about it with anyone except my husband. It’s not something I shout from the rooftops, but other than family I don’t really care who knows. At the end of the day I’m not actually having sex with anyone so I don’t feel like I’ve got anything to be ashamed of.

PTB: What is your response to people who call the whole thing a scam?

Sandy: Some guys might think it’s a scam because whilst trying to generate business we may copy and paste the same message to any number of different guys, however when you click on that link you’re always going to get what you pay for. It would be an extremely rare case where someone runs off with your money and credit card details, at the end of the day every girl wants repeat business, we all need to earn a living. I think some guys may label it a scam because they don’t like the idea of the girl not being interested only in them, but you have to remember it’s just business. It surprises me when people take things personally, when you pay for a cam girl you do it for a quick fix, not for love.

So there you have it, a little bit of insight into a world that’s entirely alien to most of us. Obviously it’s an industry that I can’t throw my weight behind, but I do respect everyone’s story regardless of their occupation. I don’t know enough about the industry to know if there is any scandal or fraudulent activity, but from what Sandy has told me it seems to be a little more straightforward than we may think. If you’ve had any experiences of cam girls or heard any stories please feel free to share. Is it really straightforward after all or is this an industry with a few dirty secrets to tell?

10 Things I Love About You

There’s a lot of difficult stuff going in the world right now and nothing I could ever say in a blog is going to change that, however today I thought it might be nice to focus on something positive. It seems on an almost daily basis we are confronted by the frustration and anger of relationship problems and if not our own, someone else is always ready to weigh in with theirs. This is an understandable part of life of course, but this week I spoke to ten different people and asked them to explain the one thing they love the most about their partners. The results, were just what I needed to hear.

“Do you remember the time we were all dressed up, I had a fancy dress on and you were in your bow tie. I was so nervous before the big event that I got blind drunk before we’d even arrived. You had to pull the taxi over so I could be sick and you looked after me even though for some unknown reason, I was screaming abuse at you in the middle of the street as dozens of people passed by. I ruined your big night, but you still made sure I got home ok, I was even still giving you abuse later that night when you called to check on me. I really didn’t deserve you that night.”

“I’d lost my job because of an absolute moment of madness, it was completely my own doing and it affected our entire relationship. Out of nowhere we struggled to pay the bills, our holiday was cancelled and we only just managed to scrape by. It took me three months to find a new job and you carried us through that entire time. Your patience and understanding was like nothing I’ve ever seen, in fact I don’t think you ever complained once, for that I love you.”

“There’s no great twist to our story I just love you and I have from the very first day we met. It seems too good to be true at times but I hope we never change.”

“From the first day we met you knew how important my family was to me and when I took you to meet them for the first time you were more nervous than I’d ever seen you. That night however, you worked your way around every single one of them, chatting, laughing, getting to know them. You even had a dance with Gran. I’d never loved you more.”

“He already knows how much this means to me, but from our very first conversation he knew I had a daughter and unlike a lot of guys he showed nothing but interest in her and couldn’t wait to meet her. I was probably more nervous about this than he was, but from the very moment they met they were like best friends. He never tried to be her Dad, he was just there for her as a friend. It’s a shame we didn’t work out, but I still love him for that.”

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“Sometimes it’s the simple things in life and to be honest I didn’t have much of a sense of humour before I met you. Without fail, you always make me laugh and you might not think much of it, but to me it means the world.”

“You are the quirkiest girl I’ve ever known and the first girl I’ve met with one of those colourful hair braids you get on holiday since about 1999. I was pretty content with life before you came along, but looking back my life was probably a tad boring. I fell in love with you the night I came home from work and you had lit lots of candles and prepared marshmallows for us. I thought you were totally bonkers, but I loved it and still think about that night constantly.”

“I’d been in an abusive relationship for more than four years. You were my best friend, I couldn’t have asked for any more from you during that awful time. On so many occasions I took his side instead of yours, I’d scared myself into loving him. I wish I’d realised you were the one all along so much sooner, I was an idiot. That was a long time ago and you’re there for me now even more than you were back then, that’s why I love you. You never ever left my side”

“I consider myself to be a complete oddball to the point where I never thought I’d meet someone. You are a very different kind of oddball, but the way you accept, encourage and support me is so very normal and as odd as we both may be there is something incredibly simple about our relationship. I can’t imagine finding that with anyone else.”

“We’ve been together since school, that was around 30 years ago now. I’ve always hated the term but high school sweethearts, that was us. I wasn’t the easiest person to be around, but you always stuck by me no matter what and today we have three amazing kids and have built a life together. It would’ve been so easy in the early days just to think we’re too young for all this and call it a day. When I think about what we would’ve missed out on if we’d done that, well it scares the life out of me. I love you because you were the energy that kept us going, you made all of this happen.”

To be perfectly honest this is one of my favourite posts I’ve ever written, purely because the research was so rewarding. In a time where we are so engrossed in the negatives of the world it’s such a refreshing change to go back to basics and see first-hand the extraordinary depths of love people have for one another.

Stay safe everyone.

PTB

 

 

 

The Insecurity of Man

As strange as it sounds, insecurities affect even the most confident of people. In fact sometimes over-confidence is the clearest cut sign of anything but confidence. Over the past few years there’s been a lot of bad press about glossy magazines having a particularly negative impact on the confidence of young women and rightly so. A negative impact on ordinary people should always be highlighted, no matter what the industry. Magazines need to look pretty and appealing so people will buy them, that’s why thousands of pounds is spent on stylists, make-up artists, designer clothing and of course, Photoshop. But no one really explains to these young girls what goes on behind the scenes and instead girls burden themselves with an unnecessary expectation to look perfect. With this in mind I decided to take a look at the male perspective of body confidence. There’s a huge health and fitness wave which has exploded all over the UK and beyond and although there are obvious health benefits, again we have this pressure to be ripped or to be drinking anything green or to have a fully stocked Instagram of half-naked selfies. Now us guys often have problems with being open about our feelings and emotions, so I’m going to do it myself in the hope that I can inspire other guys to be big emotional teddy bears who don’t live in the gym. Here is my own list of guy’s biggest insecurities:

Age – many of you will know that girls tend to be a little bit more mature than guys. I’ve recently turned 29, but a girl at 29 probably has the mental age of about 35 so that then leads me to feel like I should be dating someone slightly younger. But then when you do date someone younger she wants to go out until 5am when you’re ready for bed at 10pm after The apprentice finishes (or maybe that just me?) The problem with age is we totally over-analyse it. Maybe it’s not an issue at all, maybe it’s all in our head but it’s definitely something we need to pay less attention to – so long as it’s all legal of course.

Our profession – what’s one of the very first things you ask when you meet someone? “What do you do for a living?” Love or hate your job we all know our job title is going to go some way in forming their first impressions of us and again we start to overthink things. It’s a bit like what Subway did with their job titles, I mean ‘Sandwich Artist?’ I’d probably rather tell a girl I was a ‘Road Hygiene Technician’ a.k.a Roadsweeper. But of course there’s no shame in any job, it’s just amazing how much we care all of a sudden when we have to tell someone what we do. How many times have you heard people jump into a big rant about why they do what they do and how the people are great, the money’s not bad, how you’re still looking around and how it’s definitely not a forever job, before the other person has even responded to your initial answer? The funny thing is, most women are happy just to meet a guy with a steady job, no matter what the title.

How much money we have – I’d say the vast majority of people between 18-35 live payday to payday, but as you get older you start to place an expectation on yourself where you must have money put away. Personally I ended up spending every penny I had travelling and I’d do it all over again, but there’s a small part of me that wishes I could go on sporadic holidays whenever I could, but I guess everyone feels a bit like that sometimes.

Our bedroom performance – This is a big one (no pun intended). The problem is everyone is different. A guy could have been with a girl for years perfectly comfortable in the knowledge that she is completely satisfied in every way possible. They then break up and the guy does the exact same stuff with the next girl and she falls asleep. You then become very aware of this problem and yet again you begin to overthink things (spot the theme yet?) and you find yourself caught in two minds. Before you know it doggy style turns into what can only be described as ‘an atomic 69.’ It’s not easy that first time with a new partner, again first-ish impressions are being made, just try not to break anything.

Who their ex is – Personally I turn into a big immature kid when it comes to people’s exes. Some guys don’t care who the ex is as long as they aren’t better looking than they are. I’m a bit different, the immature teenager in me is thinking “nah I don’t like this one bit, his thing has been in one too many places for my liking.” Thankfully, the 29 year old (almost) adult in me calmly says “it’s all good, everyone has a past” – at least most of the time anyway. It’s a tough one, no one likes the thought of someone they love doing atomic 69’s with another guy, but that’s life.

Our physical size – I was reading an old blog of mine and I remembered a story I’d told a while back. As a teenager I was a cross-country runner and when you’re running anything up to 50 miles a week it’s impossible at that age to put on weight, this was way before protein shakes and bars were commonplace. I’d met my first ‘proper’ girlfriend and I was really insecure about my blatantly obvious skinny frame. I didn’t look ill or anything, there just wasn’t much to me. On our first date, a ridiculously hot summer’s day, she happened to notice I was wearing three t-shirts. I don’t know why I acted so surprised when she pointed it out, as if I didn’t know. It was basically my feeble attempt to look bigger. So yeah, as much as we try to accept and love ourselves it’s hard not to envy the Christiano Ronaldo’s of this world. Not his diamond earrings though, they belong in 2004.

These are the typical insecurities that I myself and many guys I know find to be the most common. Everyone is different of course, but it’s always interesting to hear what men have to say when they’re being honest and not hiding behind the bravado that develops when more than one man is in the room.
To the girls I say it’s ok not to be perfect and to the guys I say it’s ok not to be ripped, if you want to be bigger or slimmer then go for it and if you want to eat Dominoes and fall asleep the moment The Apprentice ends then me and you are going to get on great.

“Just be your beautiful self.”

PTB

An Unusual Case Of Online Dating

I’ve already sat for ten minutes trying to decide what to call this article, but in the end I decided to call it exactly what it is. This is one of those stories you read in magazines and you think to yourself there’s no way that can possibly be true, but this one, to my surprise, is.

About 18 months ago I started a new job in Glasgow and in my training group I met an older gentleman who’d recently moved home to Scotland having lived in America since the age of 5. He was fascinatingly interesting and yet strangely peculiar, pleasant and odd all at the same time, but ultimately a decent bloke.

I came to learn he was the religious type. His views were at times outdated, even if he did always have the best of intentions. He had split from his wife some years ago, the epitome of a bitter divorce battle and yet he still spoke with such warmth and respect for women and longed only to find someone to settle down with. It sat well with me the way he spoke, a gentleman in it’s truest form even if it was a tad cringeworthy at times.

As I got to know him better however, I realized that his ‘longing’ to meet someone was verging on utter desperation. I’ve spoken at length before about desperation. It’s not a crime and it fleetingly happens to us all at some point in our lives, but desperation can be a very dangerous thing. It clouds our judgement and more often than not, leads to poor if not crazy decision-making.

A few months had passed by when he told me he’d signed up for an online dating site, no surprises there. It’s quick and easy and has become more and more commonplace than ever before. What did surprise me however, was the particular website he had singed up for. If you’re eager to meet someone and want to settle down as quickly as possible surely you’d sign up for a site that allowed you to meet people in your local area or your city or at least your country! Why on earth he had signed up for ‘RussianCupid.com’ I’ll never know. I’m convinced he’d fallen for a pop-up advert somewhere and genuinely believed Svetlana really was ‘waiting for his call’.

I asked him more about the website, I was curious as to how it all worked. It was then that his eyes instantly lit up as he told me with great enthusiasm that he’d already ‘met’ someone. He couldn’t believe his luck, a girl had messaged him within minutes of signing up, even though he hadn’t added a profile picture yet. I was mentally holding my head in my hands. He went on to tell me how lucky he’d been that she’d messaged him first because for men to make first contact it cost an extra £14.99. It was a scam in it’s purest form.

Thankfully, within a few days he realized this. Sadly though he was convinced that only this particular person wasn’t real and had decided to persist with the same website despite numerous warnings from anyone with a brain. A week later came Russian girl number two. This one less than half his age – naturally. I warned him to be careful this time, to keep in mind what had happened before, to tread with even just an ounce of caution and to recognize the usual warning signs. He didn’t – naturally.

‘Oksana’ was a nurse in the centre of Moscow who didn’t have internet access at home and so could only message him from work. She only ever messaged at the same time – 7pm, Monday to Friday. Warning sign? Of course it was. What 20 something living in a big city doesn’t have internet access? A few days later I asked how it was going and he gave me an almost breathless look of sheer joy. He stuttered for a second as he pondered where to even begin with his declaration of love for yet another fictitious Russian girl. Once again he’d been drawn in hook, line and sinker. By this point he’d become a scam artist’s wet dream.

I asked if he had any pictures, “oh I have 16 pictures” he replied in a fading American accent. Sixteen? Very specific I thought to myself. Sure enough he’d been sent a fair few pictures. What didn’t seem to alarm him however, was that every single picture was a poorly shot amateur modelling picturing. Photo after photo in fields, lying in grass, bent over a sink, on the train, at a bus stop, even in the frozen food section of a supermarket. No selfies, no photos with friends or family, just a steady stream of photos from what looked like a low budget Eastern European porn flick.

I must stress at this point I do not wish to be overly harsh on him. He was a nice guy after all, but the excruciating naivety of a man of his age was infuriating. How could he convince himself so strongly that this was real? He wouldn’t listen, no matter how many times myself or anyone else tried to tell him.

Eventually the messages dried up and he admitted his mistake. This realization was sheer relief for me, he wasn’t my responsibility but I seemed to be the only one with any persistence in trying to make him realise what he was getting himself into. His latest failed romance however, would not deter him. He was insistent that online dating was still the right path for him.

This time I was expecting him to join Match or Plenty Of Fish but no next up was ‘Christian Dating’ a site notorious for scam artists looking to capitalize on the naivety of generous Christians and sure enough more messages from Russians! Nothing against Russians, but If I were him at this point I’d be running for the hills at the sight of anything remotely Russian – unless it’s white and comes in a glass.

This one was a little more blunt, I almost respected her for it as it would save me weeks of watching him get his hopes up only to be let down again. Within two days she was asking for money to fly to Scotland and start a life together. Two days?! It seems online dating is serious business in Russia. My colleague, sadly, gave in to her request following a very creative sob story she drip fed to him over a series of late night messages. With the best of intentions, he handed over his entire three month bonus. I’d seen first-hand how hard he’d worked for that bonus. I was sad for him but also overwhelmingly disappointed – I’d warned him so many times. From this point onwards he was convinced she would be moving to Scotland. He went as far as to moving to a bigger house in preparation for her arrival and had planned to greet her at the airport in full Highland dress – honestly. As the days and weeks passed by I kept asking when she would arrive and was given the same answer for nearly two months “in two weeks”. As it turns out she had been demanding more and more money and when he refused, she stopped messaging.

I hoped this would be the final time he would fall for such schemes and thankfully it was. This wasn’t to be his final venture into the world of online dating, but at least it was the end of a pretty horrendous run. He’s the only guy I’ve ever known who’s had three successive relationships without hearing their voice or having any form of physical contact, must be a new record.

The final twist in this tale involved a Dutch woman, half a tank of petrol and a migrant crisis at Calais. One last bash at Christian Dating proved to be a bit more fruitful this time. He met a woman called Christina. They shared his religious beliefs, her love of experimental cooking and a mutual love of all things Bruce Springsteen. They talked for hours on the phone most days, not just at 7pm, Monday to Friday. After three weeks he flew to Brugges where she had been working to surprise her, not knowing that she had in fact already returned home to Amsterdam. Christina, touched by his gesture drove all the way back to Brugges with no money and half a tank of petrol to pick him up. What was supposed to be a spontaneous weekend turned into a three week holiday thanks to the ongoing ferry issues at Calais and in those three weeks it seems they both found a soulmate. It all seems a bit too much to comprehend even now, but it’s a true story nonetheless. Christina has now moved to Scotland, living in the house he’d rented for the Russian.

This is obviously an extreme story, a complete one-off. In the end it seems online romances aren’t the evil of the dating world after all, but my old colleague certainly made things difficult for himself. There are endless lessons to be learned from this story. Don’t let desperation make your decisions, don’t sign up to obscure websites, don’t date fake Russian models, don’t send strangers money and if you travel abroad to meet your new squeeze make sure you go to the right country. Ultimately though, don’t give up. You’ll find what you’re looking for – eventually.

PTB

PTB Meets Former Corrie Star Mark Moraghan

It’s not often I get the chance to speak to a housewives favourite, but it was also a pleasure to speak to a genuine entertainment all-rounder. Not only has Mark Moraghan been gracing our screens for over two decades in a number of gripping roles, he is also an accomplished musician. Recently I caught up with Mark to talk acting, music and of course dating (I had to promise myself not to ramble on about my past love of Dream Team).

Mark, you’ve played a variety of roles over a number of high profile shows over the years, what’s been your favourite?

That’s a tough one. I’ve enjoyed most TV jobs I’ve worked on. But my top 3 would be Corrie, Holby City, and Dream Team all very different but great fun.

As well as acting you’ve been heavily involved in music, was there ever a time when you had to choose one over the other?

I was in a band called Personal Column for a while when I was 17 and I had to make a choice of either investing in some percussion instruments or continue with acting. I think I made the right choice.

How did being thrust into the public eye change your every day life? Do you enjoy being recognised or do you savour the quiet life?

Being recognised is a double edged sword. Without people noticing you for your work you wouldn’t have a job to begin with, people are generally very nice and I always say thank you for watching . Very rarely you come across the odd plonker. I have an array of one liners at the ready for such occasions. I often get strange looks walking around the supermarket, which amuses me.

When you were a young actor starting out, did you ever imagine you would go on to appear in a show so pivotal to British culture like Coronation Street?

Starting out, you always hope that your career will take off, but it’s a long hard road with many highs and lows along the way. I wouldn’t want to be starting nowadays though! But I don’t regret a single day as an actor it’s given me a nice life and I’ve met lots of interesting people on my journey.

Dating and relationships these days seems to have been taken over by the world of online dating, how does this compare to when you were a teen?

I find the idea of dating on the Internet a bit tacky. It’s seems from an old farts perspective, to be about instant gratification, what happened to the thrill of the chase ? But with technology now it seems that’s the way of everything. The Internet has given us more choices and made us greedy in a sense, it eats up news, opinion etc. There is a big thirst for tomorrow’s next big thing, only for it to be forgotten in an instant. And so it goes on, if that makes sense?

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to go out and make it happen. Don’t wait for the phone to ring because it won’t. I spent a few of my early acting years treading water until a light got turned on in my head when I was around 25 years old. As they say youth is wasted on the young. If I knew then what I know now!

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner?

Loyalty, the ability to listen, affection and a great sense of humour.

Any deal-breakers?

Racism , bigotry, incessant talking and swearing too much – although I’m guilty of the latter.

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

Definitely. I don’t think you fully get to grips with what love is until you’re well into your 20’s or even 30’s and it’s something you have to work hard at to maintain. I like most people have made many mistakes in that department, but thankfully I’m very happy and content with life.

You’ve had a career spanning nearly four decades, would you do it all again?

I’ve always said I will never retire. The job or ill health my retire me, but I’d do it all again in a heart beat.

PTB

PTB Meets Opera Star Lucy Kay

Lucy Kay rocketed to fame on last year’s Britain’s Got Talent with a stunning rendition of ‘Vissi D’Arte’ from the opera ‘Tosca’ by Giacomo Puccini. After finishing runner up to musical theatre boyband Collabro, Lucy went on to land a number 1 record in the UK Classical Charts with her debut album ‘Fantasia.’ Recently I caught up with Lucy to discuss life after BGT and bringing classical music to the masses.

Hi Lucy, you were thrust firmly into the public eye with a rather moving audition on Britain’s Got Talent, how has appearing on the show changed your every day life?

Since the show last year it’s been pretty hectic. I’m traveling to London almost every week for meetings, recording and traveling around performing in some of the most beautiful venues.  I was at The Royal Conservatoire of Music in Glasgow before I entered the show so I’m no longer a student and graduated literally just after the show had finished. So no more student ways and straight into performing for a living. It’s tiring and hard work but I love it.

Has being in the public eye made simple things like dating difficult at all?

I wouldn’t say it has actually, I live in Glasgow so it’s a pretty relaxed environment and I feel I can be myself with my partner and not get any hassle. It’s nice to just enjoy being normal when we head out on dates but when we are in London it’s a little harder.

Die-hard classical music lovers have been known at times to be a tad disapproving of talent show stars, how have you found their reception to your work?

Oh awful haha, as I expected really. That’s why I decided to enter a Talent show I felt that classical music has a stuffy image, it feels very elitist most of the time and I wanted to show that opera and classical music is for absolutely anyone. I certainly wasn’t brought up with a musical background – I did it because I enjoyed it. When I was at music college, I really felt like one of the odd ones who didn’t want to go the ‘proper route into music’. I didn’t want to be in full blown opera companies, I just wanted to be a commercial singer – like Katherine Jenkins for example. Some singing teachers I had were very disapproving with my decision and refused to teach me for my end of year exams – I found it all a little sad but carried on never the less. I’ve been criticised for going down that route and performing opera arias on TV, especially for singing the world famous ‘Nessun Dorma’ which is written for a male voice (Tenor) – I decided to break the rules a little and perform it. Lots of opera buffs had a lot to say about that one. But You just keep going, trying to make it more readily accessible and acceptable for people who would never really get a chance to listen to classical music had it not been for these types of talent shows.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Hmm there are so many people I’d love to collaborate with one of them I’ve already ticked off my bucket list which was Andrea Bocelli, but I’d really love to collaborate with Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge and Killswitch Engage actually and maybe even Metallica!

Are you ever conscious of someone wanting to get close to you for being a famous face as opposed to who you are as a person?

Yeah there are a lot of people who do that and I’ve had my fair share of them trying to niggle their way in after years of no contact. Funny to see actually.

What qualities do you look for in a partner?

I know most girls always say that they look for someone who can make them laugh but I really do think that it is so important. It takes the edge off the seriousness of relationships. Don’t get me wrong I love being in a long term relationship but you have to have laughter for it to work in my eyes. I’ve been with my man for 3 years now and he makes me laugh everyday. Even when we argue or have the typical bad days he somehow always manages to make me laugh and that’s what I love. Personality is a must have! If a guy hasn’t really got a great personality there’s no point in perusing if he’s just good looking. Those are the relationships that never work. A girl just wants to feel like she can be sexy, safe and loved and that you can trust him and know that he is by your side through whatever life throws at you. I’m not asking too much here, am I?

Any dating horror stories?

I dated someone at college who was pretty much hobbit size, I’m 5″2  so pretty small myself! I had seen him around the place but I was always sat down in the cafe bar so I didn’t see much of a height difference – so  he asked me out via Facebook messenger – very modern. I accepted and when I met up with him that night I really couldn’t believe I hadn’t been aware of how short he actually was. He was incredibly sweet, good looking and ticked all the boxes. Just not the height one I’m afraid. It just felt so wrong… Sorry!

Snog, Marry, Avoid…David Walliams, Stephen Mulhern, Ant & Dec?

I would snog Ant and Dec two for the price one one there! Marry David Walliams (he can make me laugh) and avoid Stephen Mulhern I’m afraid! He’s got some crazy eyes on him.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Not to wear my heart on my sleeve so much and don’t ever feel guilty for living the life the way I want for fear of what others might say. Do things that make you happy not just to please others.

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

Oh yes I believe so – when you’re young, you mainly go for hot guys and soon you get to the point when you realise that looks really aren’t everything. The idea of love itself is a tricky one at such a young age, you find yourself believing that because you have a boyfriend you must be in love. But really what is love?? It comes in different forms I guess and it’s different for everyone. I know when I’m in love because I see no one else that can come close to what I have with my partner. He gives me stability, warmth, laughter and a deep connection I can’t really put into words.  It’s also being able to put up with someone through their bad days. Which is when I do feel sorry for David as I have my ‘bad days’ at the same time every month haha! He’s worked out what not to say and how to handle me at my worst. Now That’s love!

What’s next for Lucy Kay?

Well I’ve recently changed management and I’m now with an incredible team who are working on my next phase. I’m going to be working on more lighter classical crossover music for a second album, currently taking more dancing and acting lessons and auditioning for some big roles in the west end as it’s something I’ve always loved and wanted to do. I’ll be touring on my own in September as well as with guest appearances on Rhydian’s solo tour and G4’s reunion tour.  There’s also a big project coming up next year which is something quite different from what I normally do – I can’t say too much about at the moment but keep your eyes peeled!

PTB

How Not To Blow Your New Relationship

So often I come across people who put endless amounts of pressure on themselves to find a relationship but when they do it’s all too easy to carry that pressure into the relationship itself.

To want something so badly for so long – you could be forgiven for not knowing what to do with it now that it’s finally here.

So here is my simple guide to making a success of your new found love.

Be Yourself.

Firstly let’s get the obvious out of the way. An age old cliche but when it comes to relationships never was a truer word spoken. Have faith that who you are is enough because if it’s not then you are with the wrong person. It really is as simple as that.

Sometimes when we meet new people it’s very easy to disguise our flaws and occasionally adopt personality traits which deep down we know aren’t true to ourselves. But at the end of the day if this person really is ‘the one’ then who you are and I mean who you really are should always be enough. I’m a firm believer that there is at least one true love out there for everyone – don’t waste your time on those who don’t deserve it.

Don’t Get Ahead Of Yourself.

I admit, this can be difficult. When you meet someone you really click with enjoy it but try and stay grounded. If it’s meant to be then it will be – what’s the rush?

Talks of wedding bells and kids mere weeks into a relationship could be described as romantic but only if you’re both in the same place. Try and maintain a steady progression in the relationship don’t risk ruining things early on with signs of desperation. All these things will come in time, don’t sell yourself short with irrational expectations that will send them running for the hills.

Know What You Want.

One thing I’ve learnt from experience is to know exactly what you want from a relationship. Sometimes when we like someone enough we compromise everything we’ve ever wanted and as touching as that is it may lead to future resentment and ultimately a lifetime with the wrong person (see point one).

Have Fun.

As much as I don’t want you to blow your new relationship, I also don’t want you to stress about it. The beginning of a new relationship is one of the most incredible feelings you can experience in what can sometimes be a tough life – embrace it!

Make the most of every second. Stay positive and enjoy your new found blessing. Every single day is a new opportunity to create lifelong memories, give it a try.

Get To Know Your Partner.

Obviously you know each other to an extent otherwise you wouldn’t be a couple but I mean really get to know them. Find out what makes them tick, what makes them laugh and what makes them cry. Knowledge is power and understanding the way they work (as difficult as this sometimes is) will increase your chances of a successful relationship. Talk and be open with each other, no one ever enjoyed a closed book.

Overall, trust that you are on the right path whether it be for long-term success or for a further learning curve. Avoid over-analyzing and try to go with the flow, a relationship shouldn’t be a case study – let things flow.

If things don’t work out try not to be too downhearted. Time (and laughter) is a great healer and you just never know who else’s path is about to cross yours. When people tell you everything happens for a reason don’t doubt them or try and prove them wrong – just be patient.

PTB

PTB Meets Former TOWIE Star Pascal Craymer

International model, champion gymnast and a stint on TOWIE it’s been a busy few years for Pascal Craymer. Throw in a couple of relationships with Mario and Luigi, ahem Louis, you wonder how this girl remains so refreshingly down to earth. Recently I caught up with Pascal to discuss her taste in men, dating in the public eye and her plans for the future.

Hi Pascal you’ve led a rather exciting life from a very young age but how did you find the transition from aspiring gymnast to model and reality star?

Well my whole life was gymnastics and I never thought I would be able to make a career out of modelling. It kind of just fell into place when I moved over to Spain. I was approached to model and thought why not and it has all gone from there. I never would have thought in a million years that this is what I would be doing as a career after gymnastics. I’m very grateful to be able to do something I really love.

Your time on TOWIE firmly put you in the public eye. How did appearing on the show change your every day life?

TOWIE literally happened over night. Suddenly your life becomes not so private. Relationships become very public which can put a massive strain on things. I have a great loyal fan base that I’m truly grateful for, a lot of them have been with me from the very start and I couldn’t be more thankful for them.

You’ve dated some high profile personalities. Is it difficult to maintain a normal relationship when you’re both in the public eye?

Relationships can be difficult as it is but when they’re in the public eye it can put a massive strain on the relationship. I got a lot of messages from people claiming they were cheating etc which is difficult when you’re only just getting to know that person yourself. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve managed to keep my relationships relatively private.

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What are the key qualities you look for in a guy?

The key qualities I look for in a man is ambition, personality and loyalty. I love a man that is ambitious and knows what he wants. Personality is a must! Someone who can make me laugh and has great conversation. I get bored easy so I like someone to keep me on my toes. Loyalty is also a must, who doesn’t want a loyal man! I also like a man’s man. No sunbeds! No fake tanning! No plucking!!! And it really puts me off when they take selfies.

What would be your perfect first date?

Everyone likes being wined and dined! Good food, nice wine and great company is perfect for me.

Worst Date?

I’ve not really had a bad date but I hate the awkward goodbyes! If they lean in for a kiss and you’re not feeling it and you have to dodge it with a kiss, awkward!

Any strange requests from fans?

I get proposed to a lot! Might need to accept one soon!

Teen Crush?

Oooh I had a few! Peter Andre being one of course! Mysterious girl!

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

Stop looking! The minute you stop looking someone comes along!

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

Yes massively. Well in my case yes. I believe as you get older you become wiser and learn a lot about yourself. Based on this I believe our perception of love changes because as you get to know yourself you begin to realise what type of person it is you will fall in love with.

What’s next for Pascal Craymer?

First and foremost I am sticking by my gymnastics past and my fitness which I seem to be becoming a bit of a role model for. I can’t really talk about any projects yet but there are some exciting things in the mix. I’ve never really followed the rules in terms of plans with my future and my work as I believe living in the moment is the best way to be!

Follow Pascal on Twitter: @pascalcraymer

PTB Meets Jethro Sheeran

Some things run in the family. It’s a tough task sharing a name with your global superstar cousin but Jethro ‘Alonestar’ Sheeran has built a worldwide reputation of his own – credible artist, writer, producer and of course doting Dad. Personally, I have great respect for just about any type of musician, whether you’re the busker on the street corner or the chart-topping pro it takes grit and determination to follow a dream of any kind and Alonestar is the perfect example of this. But as much as I love music, today I caught up with Jethro to talk about dating, relationships and well groupies (I had to ask).

As a dedicated musician do you find it hard to juggle your career and relationships?

Yes it’s very hard being away a lot, especially working weekends and late nights in the studio it does put a strain on your relationship at times. Also, when you’re gigging or travelling there’s a lot of trust issues so you have to make your partner feel secure.

What are the main qualities you look for in a partner?

Trust and loyalty, being supportive of my career and total honesty between us.

Any deal-breakers?

If my partner cannot accept my daughter Skyla Rain Sheeran.

Are groupies a thing of the past in music or do you still find the usual cluster of people hanging around?

There’s always groupies around when it comes to musicians but for the most part they don’t know you as a person at all. They just see you walk off stage after a performance and jump at you, I think it’s weird. I’ve been in a club before a performance and seen a beautiful girl who didn’t bat an eyelid at me but when I performed she was right at the front staring at me and afterwards asked to buy me a drink. I accepted but thought she was a little fake.

Online dating: curse or convenience?

Online dating is awesome I think, for everyone. It’s like an online night club without the bullshit of dressing up, dancing, drinking, catching her eye then having the courage to chat her up. On dating sites your pictures represent who you are which can be both a good and a bad thing, but if we’re honest we need that initial attraction so we shouldn’t see it as a bad thing if we end up scrolling through until we find someone we like. A lot of my friends have met their wives online so I think it’s a great thing especially if you’re working hard and don’t get out much.

Any strange fan mail?

I’ve had lots of fan mail, mostly really cool letters about how my music has helped people get through some hard times in their life but also a few odd things. One time a girl threw a sex toy with her number attached to it on stage and my singer picked it up and kept it. Her face was priceless and she was frantically pointing that it was for me, was funny.

Looks Vs Personality?

For me it has to be both.

Teen Crush?

My teen crush was wonder woman.

Does our perception of love change as we get older?

I think so. My first love was so passionate, we were obsessed with each other, the love we felt was so powerful. I think it still does feel strong but you also put barriers up to protect your heart especially if you’ve been really hurt before. You also start looking for a relationship with someone you really trust where you can let the love grow and have mutual respect for one another as opposed to someone you are besotted with but they don’t treat you right and cheat or whatever. You yearn for them and it hurts – I’m not sure if that’s real love or infatuation.

Download Alonestar’s work at Jethrosheeran.com or on itunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/real-life-feat.-ed-sheeran/id940742964#

Twitter: @alonestar1

Office Romances: Is It Worth It?

The office can be a fascinating place. The politics, the flings, the teacher’s pets, the endless gossip, the lack of common sense of those in authority. The global success of the TV show itself proves firsthand the endless entertainment provided by office dynamics. But if truth be told, we really need look no further than our own workplaces for something to talk about it. In my own experience, nothing gets people talking like an office romance.

As a writer the office is a great place to find inspiration. Sometimes it’s good to just sit back and watch. If you take away the menial tasks being performed by workers then what exactly is an office?  In my opinion a social hub – filled with friendships, hatreds and of course physical attractions. How many scandals have you heard in your time emanating from the traditionally wild office Christmas party? Exactly. Twelve months of secret crushes, flirtations and sheer lust flooding out in one alcohol fuelled evening.

If we look at the idea of convenience well sometimes it is simply that – convenient. An office caters for just about every type of person on the social spectrum. Take your average call centre for example – dozens maybe hundreds of young single men and women. Relationships, trysts, flings whatever you want to label them they’re bound to happen in such a testosterone filled environment. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s quite possibly the easiest way to meet someone outside of online dating. However, physically meeting someone isn’t really the issue – it’s the aftermath.

What happens if or when it all goes pear-shaped? I find it difficult at times to promote the idea of a workplace romance because personally I’ve seen so many bad outcomes but that’s certainly not to take anything away from the success stories out there nor should it deter anyone from trying, after all what’s meant to be will be. The harsh realities however are difficult to ignore. Break-ups are tough at the best of times but imagine having to work with your ex every single day. What’s one of the toughest things about a break-up? Getting over them. How can we possibly expect to get over someone when we have to look at them through the little gap in two computers all day? Think of all the games that come hand in hand with the situation as well; making each other jealous, flirting with other people. Life is way too short to have to put up with such things. In my time working in offices I’ve seen everything from the most awful of break-ups to demoralized teams to disciplinary proceedings to people having to leave their jobs. All as a result of office romances. But on the flip-side maybe it’s just the price we pay to find love? Nothing wrong with taking a risk once in a while.

All in all I’m not a great advocate of office romances but neither am I an advocate of pessimism when it comes to finding love. If you like someone at work just go for it! Why let something you actually have in common deter you from potentially finding the one? Let’s be honest we all rule with our hearts when it comes to love anyway so why don’t we all just seize the day and deal with the consequences later. You will always hear stories good and bad whether it’s from me, your parents, friends or even your boss but we only ever truly learn from our own decisions, our own mistakes, our own happiness’s. Just live, it’s your life. There’ll be other jobs.

PTB

PTB Meets Gail Porter

Any time I grab the chance to speak to a household name, I prefer speaking to those with character and life experience. After all, what can we really learn from the squeaky clean? Twelve years ago I sat in the audience of a now defunct celebrity game-show. An adolescent sixteen year old I gazed at a real-life FHM model sitting happily alongside one Mark Owen – quietly confident that I would soon be the envy of all my friends. Today as a real-life grown up I look beyond the cover shoots of old to have an even greater respect for this TV presenter, writer, documentary-maker and of course doting Mum. Recently I caught up with fellow Scot Gail Porter for a brief chat about life, love and dating.

Hi Gail, you first came to our attention in the mid-90s. How did your everyday life change once cast into the public eye?

My everyday life changed in the fact that I went from a wee girl from Edinburgh who would plod around unnoticed, then suddenly strangers would come up to me in the street to talk to me. I love a chat, so that wasn’t a problem. Paparazzi scared me though. I never like dressing up and I hate makeup and suddenly I was having my picture taken wandering out of Budgens. I never understood what was interesting about my shopping habits.

Was there a time when dating had to take a backseat in order to pursue your career or was it easy enough to juggle the two?

I was not a big dater. If it happened, it happened. To tell you the truth I loved working and dating was not a big concern of mine.

Were you ever concerned that guys might be interested in you purely for your celebrity status as opposed to who you are as a person?

I guess I am quite naive. I always believed that if someone wanted to take me out it would be for myself as a person, not my job. Unfortunately I was proved wrong on quite a few occasions.

Any odd requests from fans?

I have been sent a request to send a picture of myself naked with whatever cereal I had for breakfast covering my lady parts!

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Any dating horror stories?

The worst date was with a guy who wanted to sing to me over dinner. Awkward…and he had a shit voice and loved Mariah Carey.

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Teen Crush?

My teen crush was Nick Kershaw. I think it was a height thing.

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

No advice to give. Single and 43, say no more!

What do you look for in the ideal partner?

My ideal partner would have to be breathing. Oh…and funny!

Any deal-breakers?

Ignorance and shit shoes.

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

Love is love. I haven’t found it but I won’t stop looking.

@paulthomasbell

@gailporter

24 Hours On Tinder

Many of you will know that I’m not the biggest fan of online dating. I’d describe myself as sceptical but open-minded. I’ve known so many people let down by the online process – conversations which held much promise quickly turning to bitter disappointment and regret. That being said there are many online success stories so regardless of my opinions of the online game; I fully accept its place within 21st century dating. So with this in mind I decided to try Tinder. I say try but I really just mean see what it’s all about. The growing popularity of the Tinder app has been rather astounding, in fact many people now have it in the same way they would have any other app irrespective of what if anything they are looking for. So in 24 hours here’s what I discovered:

1. Girls love baths. Tinder has introduced a new ‘moment’ feature simply allowing you to post a temporary picture with a message. Remember all those beach photos in the summer: legs or hot dogs? Well be prepared for lots of these except in the bath. They are of course legs this time I might add, no hot dogs in the bath – I hope.

2. Guys seem to (mostly) only want one thing. This doesn’t go for every guy of course but one of the most common complaints from girls was the vast amount of dirty messages being sent to them. It seems ‘would you like to see my penis’ has replaced the popular greeting known as ‘hello’ for many men. This is a similar complaint that I’d heard a while back from the women of plentyoffish.com so I was a tad disappointed to find a similar trend on Tinder. If you are only after a casual relationship there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but there’s ways of going about. I countered this with a ‘moment’ of my own: “Post dogs not d*cks” accompanied by a picture of my beloved Cocker Spaniel. The girls loved it, probably out of relief more than anything.

3. EVERYONE loves a selfie. The world has officially gone selfie mad. What more can I say?

4. Some people really are just lonely. This isn’t a criticism of course I genuinely felt a bit sad realizing this. There were girls posting their phone number publicly meaning just about anyone would have access to it, I found this slightly alarming. I decided to investigate this a little bit more and engaged in a few different conversations. It was incredible how each of these conversations took the exact same turn. It started with ‘oh I’m just bored’ but then slowly as they began to open up a sea of confidence and anxiety issues are revealed. I’ve written about this in some depth in the past, I wish people could see the good in themselves sometimes but easier said than done I know. They may not be who they want to be yet but that doesn’t mean they’re not a great person. I always say for every person who spurns you there are twenty others who would kill to be with you.

5. Looks are everything. Well at least on Tinder anyway. It’s incredible how often you hear people saying ‘looks aren’t everything’ and I agree looks may spark initial interest but it’s personality that determines the longevity of a relationship. On Tinder however that all goes out the window. It’s fascinating really and perhaps even a little bit of an ego boost but it’s incredible to see how quickly our every day rationality simply disappears.

So Tinder, I’m not yet convinced. I’m not sure Tinder quite knows what it is yet? I speak to so many people looking for love but I don’t think Tinder is the answer nor does it seem like a particularly good ‘hook-up’ site, in fact the mere suggestion of it is met with a barrage of hostility – but like I say there are ways of wording your intentions and it doesn’t begin with ‘do you wanna see…’ All just my opinion of course, I’ll let you make your own mind up.

Happy Dating

PTB

A Thank You To My Readers

As we start the countdown to 2015 I wanted to write a quick post with one very important message – thank you. For me 2014 has been a year of extreme highs and heartbreaking lows but my new found love of writing and the support of my readers has been by far my greatest highlight.

I began the year in a far away land, Australia to be precise. I’d moved out there feeling rather lost but delighted to once again be surrounded by the incredible friends I had made on my travels to
America. Going to Australia was one of the scariest things I’d ever done. I’d walked out on my job, packed a bag and flown to Oz via stops in Istanbul and Bangkok. When you do something like that it’s difficult to know if you’ve done the right thing. Abandoning every possible form of stability in search of an adventure. Some people thought I was crazy and maybe I was a little bit but no regrets, I had my reasons. There were days when it made my stomach turn wondering if I’d done the right thing but the following weeks of exhilaration, endless Melbourne sunsets and the manner in which new and old friends adopted me as an honorary Aussie, more than dispelled those fleeting moments of doubt.

When I returned home I was even more lost than before I left. I’d spent so long depressed in my bed (about three weeks to be exact) that I’d almost caused an intervention with my family – funny but true. This is one of the major pitfalls of travel – unbelievable highs to the inevitable ‘what now?’ This is when I discovered blogging. Not exactly a return to stability but a step in the right direction, in fact I was enjoying it so much I was reluctant to find a new job. Not many of my readers will know this but my blog was originally an ‘experimental food’ blog – it lasted approximately 3 hours. I realized the key to blogging was writing about something you are truly passionate about or at the very least something you have a little bit of knowledge about. Experimental food? Must have been the jet-lag.

When I started writing I was astounded by the feedback I was getting, it’s a wonderful feeling to know people can relate and genuinely benefit from your stories. The emails and messages I get from people unlucky in love and young writers starting out looking for advice leaves me completely blown away and incredibly thankful. It’s a real privilege to know your opinion can make a difference to someone’s life. Five months and 30,000 readers later I simply want to say thank you, to each and every person who took the time to like, read and comment on my posts, it genuinely means the world to me. I’m so happy to have discovered the blogging community and long may it continue.

Wishing every single one of you an incredible year ahead.

With Love

PTB

Deciding What You Want

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

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

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

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

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

PTB

Twitter:@paulthomasbell

What My Father Taught Me

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

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

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

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

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

In Loving Memory of Thomas Cox

PTB