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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Tips For Creating The Perfect Dating Profile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Promoting Safer Sex With SextraSafe

There’s something really difficult about the subject of STDs that I can’t quite put my finger on. There’s such a horrible stigma attached to the subject and yet it’s something the majority of us have been affected by at one time or another.

The stigma has always seemed ridiculously unfair to me as many STDs are caught quite innocently and can stem very much from someone else’s carelessness as opposed to our own. Picture the scene, you start dating someone, you take it slow and you wait a reasonable amount of time before getting physical only to find them sat on the edge of your bed in floods of tears whilst confessing to a chlamydia infection. It just happens, and some STDs are caught easier than you can possibly imagine.

I recently caught up with a former Coronation Street actress friend of mine (who has politely asked to remain anonymous), in her own words “I live with a b*tch named herpes.” The herpes virus is one of the easiest caught and one of the few STDs with the worst long-term implications.

She went on to explain: “I caught it from a guy who was a typical 3 month relationship, he didn’t tell me he had herpes and I guess it just wasn’t something I thought to ask about, I mean why would you? You can’t start every relationship asking about what diseases they have! Eventually you accept that you’ve caught something, but then every time you meet someone the whole cycle starts all over again. It’s such a horrible feeling to build a rapport with someone and then the moment things look like they’re getting physical you know there’s a horrible conversation to be had. What people don’t realise however is that it’s not just about sex, the harsh reality of my life now is that someone could catch it just from kissing me, am I supposed to have that conversation every time someone wants to kiss me? It puts me in such a horrible position and frankly makes me feel a bit yucky even though I’ve never done anything wrong, it’s just not nice.”

And I agree. What a horribly frustrating situation for all involved and again I can’t help but reflect on how innocently these viruses can be contracted. So is there a solution? Is there an easier, more convenient way of doing things or having those awkward conversations?

Well step forward, SextraSafe. SextraSafe refers its members to STD test centers for a standard STD panel of tests, often available for free. They verify their ID, profile photo and test results and for a small fee (a portion of which is donated to safe sex charities) they provide their members with verified and anonymous profiles which they can choose to share.

Business Development Manager Alex Williams goes on to explain: “with over 25 million daily matches on Tinder alone, online dating has never been more active. Unsurprisingly the Centers for Disease Control has been reporting cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis at its highest numbers ever. At SextraSafe we support safe sex through encouraging sexually active people to test for STDs and provide a platform to share verified test results anonymously.”

According to Planned Parenthood: “getting tested for STDs regularly is also part of safer sex, even if you always use condoms and feel totally fine. Most people with STDs don’t have symptoms or know they’re infected, and they can easily pass the infection to their partners. So testing is the only way to know for sure whether or not someone has an STD.”

This is exactly what happened to my Actress friend and when presented with the concept of SextraSafe she had this to say: “I’ll be honest, before this happened it’s not something I would’ve considered as I didn’t think it would be necessary, but personally I’ve learned a very tough lesson and it’s one I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through, so do yourself a favour and make use of something which ultimately allows all of us to stay safer and healthier – it’s a no brainer!”

How could anyone disagree? Dating is a minefield to say the least and most of it is completely out of our control, but what SextraSafe does is proves that this one little thing can be within our control and given the long-term implications of certain viruses, perhaps it’s the very thing that we need to have control over? I was delighted to stumble upon the launch of Sextrasafe as it’s something I can really throw my weight behind – never ever delay staying safe.

You can find out more information at SextraSafe.com or tweet them @SextraSafe.

Happy Dating!

Can Your First Love Really Be ‘The One’?

It was Freshers week 2004 at Glasgow University. I was a fresh faced 17 year old straight out of high school,  enjoying a freedom that previously had been alien to me. I never really enjoyed school, I achieved good grades and then wanted to leave as soon as possible. I never drank, rarely went to parties and led a fairly dull existence if I’m quite honest. University was where that all changed. In my eyes it was the first step into adulthood and to an extent, the real world (although years later I would come to learn student life is not ‘the real world’).

Freshers week was where I finally let go. The buzz around campus was truly addictive and I was lapping up every second of it. Only a few days in and I was getting female attention that had alluded me for most of my teens. On one particular night I was standing outside of the guy’s toilets waiting for a friend when a girl milky-skinned with celtic dark features approached me. She said nothing, just pointed at my hair. A few awkward seconds had passed when my breathe was taken away by the most incredible Irish accent – “I love your hair.” I was instantly smitten, to say I had fallen hard and fast was an understatement. A year older than me her name was Jennifer, we spoke for a few minutes, exchanged numbers and arranged to meet the next day. The following night we watched a then unknown band by the name of Biffy Clyro take the student union by storm. Later that night we ended up at a small gathering thrown by a young lad called Dan from Manchester – to this day the only person I’ve ever met with a poster of Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin. We had been lying on the floor (as students do) and had been quietly chatting away for a good couple of hours when we realised that there was actually someone else sleeping on the floor just a few feet away from us. Curled up in the corner we asked each other “who is this guy?” we’d never seen him before and hadn’t even noticed him entering what was a very small room. We weren’t bothering him but Dan awoke rather angrily and told us to leave him be. Little did Dan know that this guy (whoever he was) would wake up moments later in a drunken state and urinate all over Dan’s floor and much to our amusement, his vast CD collection. Hilarious as it was this was our cue to leave. It had been a memorable introduction to student life and Jennifer, it seemed, was about to become my first love.

We dated for a year. It was incredible at first, so young and naive, not a care in the world just happy to be in love. When I think back to that time I always laugh about how horrifically we used to dress and what our poor mothers must have been thought. I used to walk around in flared, black chords and band t-shirts, I long shoulder length hair and two lip piercings. Jennifer had a penchant for multi-coloured leggings, chunky cardigans and generally anything that was six sizes too big for her. As the months passed by the relationship soured a little, Jennifer became consumed by homesickness which sadly became the focal point of our relationship. She was counting down the days until she could go home for the summer whilst I dreaded them, in the end I think I was just there to help her get through the remaining months of first year. I put up with a lot during those months, I don’t know if I felt sorry for her or if I was just madly in love – perhaps a bit of both.

When the summer came she beamed, whilst I was heartbroken. When she left I had zero concerns for our relationship, in spite of the hardships of the previous months I still had complete and utter faith that we were happily in love but youthful naivety had struck once again. A few weeks had passed when I was awoken in the middle of the night by Jennifer calling. She was having a panic attack, “I just love you so much, I never want to be without you” she cried. I hadn’t been particularly worried up to this point but it was certainly some welcome reassurance and after calming her down I fell back to sleep. When I woke up the very next morning I had a text message, “I’m sorry but I don’t think we should be together.” I had to read the message four or five times for it to sink in, what had the phone call during the night been all about then? I replied to her message still rather confused, but sure enough it was over and by text message! For the very first time in my life, I was completely and utterly heartbroken.

In the coming months I struggled desperately to get over her, I was still absolutely certain that when she returned after the summer I would win her back. When she did return however I met a ‘new’ Jennifer, I honestly didn’t know who this girl was anymore. Gone was the sweetness of the girl who had curiously pointed at my hair that night and in her place was a party animal  who seemed to be dating a different guy every week. I never held it against her, after all that’s just what we do in our teens but the heartbreak was still devastating. We lost touch soon after, I left university and she moved back to Ireland.

I hadn’t spoken to Jennifer for about 9 years when in the summer of 2013 she messaged me out of the blue and asked to meet up. I had mixed emotions to say the least, would it be too awkward? I hadn’t spent years thinking she was the one that got away but we all hold a special place for our first love no matter what, don’t we? I hesitantly agreed to meet up but was actually quite pleasantly surprised by the outcome. When I saw her, I felt nothing. When we spoke, nothing. It was a bit like chatting to a distant relative, she was pretty but I wasn’t attracted to her anymore and found her a tad dull in comparison to the girl I once knew. It wasn’t that I had gone on to better things and she was a mess, she’s actually really successful and still a quite lovely person, but it did make me think back to those heartbroken days. At times I had been truly inconsolable, but it just goes to show that sometimes things do happen for a reason and that’s something I suppose you could say about most broken relationships. No matter how bad things seem, they definitely do get better.

So what was the purpose of my first love? I don’t think she was ever supposed to be ‘the one’. When I thought long and hard about this the purpose of that relationship actually seemed really simple – it was to learn. They say that everyone always remembers their first love and this is true, but for me it’s more like remembering a mentor or guardian than a lost love. That relationship taught me so much and to Jennifer, well I just hope she realises how grateful I am to her. She taught me so much about women, introduced me to music that existed outside of the top 40 and of course got me out of my shell by making me wear ridiculous clothes. I don’t miss her, I don’t think about her and I don’t love her, but I’ll be forever glad that she was my first love.

PTB

The Single Resolution

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

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

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

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

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

Happy New Year,

PTB

 

PTB Meets Chloe Madeley

When it comes to dating and relationships they say we learn a lot from our parents, but what happens when your parents just so happen to be TV’s most famous husband and wife duo? Now a household name in her own right and with a growing fitness empire in tow, I caught up with Chloe Madeley to get her take on confidence issues, online dating and finding the one.

Hi Chloe, would you say being in the public eye has affected your outlook to dating and relationships at all? Were you ever concerned about someone wanting to date you for your fame as opposed to who you are as a person? I don’t think men have ever been interested in dating me because of my inherited fame. However, I do think young men in particular enjoy a sexual conquest story and being Richard and Judy’s Daughter probably made me a prime candidate for such stories. You can tell right off the bat who wants what from you though, so it was never a problem and it never upset me – boys will be boys.

What are your thoughts on online dating: curse or convenience? I personally would feel uncomfortable entering into that world and I’m very lucky that so far I haven’t had to. However my current boyfriend chased me over Twitter, so perhaps we fall into that category after all?

You’ve firmly established yourself as one of the UK’s leading fitness gurus, how important do you feel it is for a partner to support their spouse’s ambitions and lifestyle choices? I learned very early on that you can never control another person, nor should you try to. Everybody is different – different thoughts, feelings, actions and goals determine who we are as individuals – if you can’t accept that fact, then you’re not ready for a healthy relationship. My boyfriend plays rugby, which can be very hard to watch at times. He DJs house, which is a type of music that I absolutely hate. He’s obsessed with his phone, which drives me mad, but here’s the thing, all of the above make him happy and I genuinely love him, so that is the most important thing of all. He doesn’t like it when I do photoshoots that lead to other men seeing me in my underwear, but it’s part of my job and I love the shoots I get to do, so he supports me 100%.

What are the key qualities you look for in a partner? A sense of humour, a kind heart and a high libido. I’m a 29 year old woman and I don’t want to waste my time with someone who can’t laugh with me, doesn’t give a shit about me, or doesn’t want to have sex with me. As far as I’m concerned, these three qualities are non-negotiables.

Any deal-breakers? I have definitely fallen out of love with partners with an ugly right-wing point of view. I can’t abide lazy, judgemental, ill-informed or misplaced opinions.

Teen crush? Justin Timberlake. I actually got drunk last night and went on a Britney / Justin rant for my very confused and very uninterested boyfriend.

Perfect date? Good food, good wine, a cosy setting (anywhere with a booth is a winner) and good conversation.

Any dating mishaps? I have been known to get a little too drunk on a first date…

What advice would you give to young women struggling with confidence issues when it comes to dating? What is standing in the way of your confidence? You don’t like your hair? Your clothes? Your makeup? Your body? Change it. You think you’re not funny or interesting? Ask your friends and family what they love about you. Why do they want to keep you in their life? Listen to their answers and remember them. Are you nervous about a first date? Of course you are. It’s awkward. Somebody is about to judge whether or not they like you. Everybody hates first dates for these exact reasons. But remember, not everyone will like you and you’re not going to like everyone, and that’s perfectly OK.

Do you think people put too much pressure on themselves to find the one causing them to meet ‘the wrong one’? Yes, and I’ve been guilty of this. Then I remember that two out of three marriages end in divorce and if I can avoid being 50 years old with three kids and getting a divorce by taking my sweet time, so be it.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? God yes. The way I act and feel in a relationship has changed dramatically as I’ve gotten older, and that’s because my perception of love has changed. I’m a lot less selfish now, a lot more forgiving, much more at ease with the peaks and troughs of love…you calm down a lot as you get older.

What’s next for Chloe Madeley? My nutrition app launches in January and I have a clothing line and book on the horizon!

PTB

(Photo: Nigel Crane/Hungrydog Media)

 

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

The App That Could Save Your Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Online Dating Success Stories…With A Twist

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

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

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

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

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

Fancy checking out Badoo? Just click here

PTB Meets Big Brother Legend Nikki Grahame

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

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

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

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

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

Any deal-breakers? Bad breathe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PTB

 

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.

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?

PTB Meets Strictly’s Camilla Dallerup

Camilla Sacre-Dallerup has spent over 25 years as a successful athlete in the world of ballroom dancing, leading her to join the original cast of Strictly Come Dancing in 2004. After six years and successfully winning the trophy in 2008, Camilla left to focus on her Life Coaching and Wellbeing business and to further her training. 2015 has been equally hectic, Camilla has continued to forge a career as a respected motivational speaker and her first self-help book ‘Strictly Inspirational’ was published in the UK and US around the same time as she returned to the Strictly Come Dancing Tour – this time as a judge. Recently I caught up with Camilla to discuss the world of dating and settling down with Hollyoaks heart-throb Kevin Sacre.

You were thrust firmly into the public spotlight when Strictly took off, how did this affect every day things like dating and relationships? Work took centre stage for a while whilst I got used to it all and mended my broken heart. I found it so strange to be back on the dating market after eight years, I didn’t really understand the whole texting thing and games people were playing, but other than that nothing really changed except perhaps I became more cautious about who I chose to confide in.

Do you find it helps having a partner who is also in the public eye? Yes, because you understand each other’s situation and you can support each other from a place of knowing. We always managed to keep our relationship quite private, although we are performers and we like social media we are actually quite private people.

How does dating in the UK compare to Scandinavia? I’m not quite sure as it’s twenty years since I dated in Scandinavia so I really couldn’t say. But I remember when I was dating before I met my husband I couldn’t get to terms with the fact that people were dating multiple people at the same time, call me old fashioned but I thought it was more special when you focused on one at a time.

It can often be hard to find the right person to settle down with, what were the key qualities that attracted you to Kevin? From day one there were no games. I found that so refreshing. He was honest, kind and so down to earth and extremely understanding of my busy schedule, perhaps because he was used to intense work schedules too. It was just easy when we hung out and he called me straight away after our first date and said “if you feel how I feel, I consider myself off the market”. We never had to worry about whether it was the right time to text or whether we should meet up the next day or the day after, it felt like the most natural thing ever to be together. I met his whole family within our first month of dating.

Any dating mishaps/horror stories? No not really. I don’t think I dated enough, but I do remember somebody once handing me a napkin in a restaurant when I was single as in to say you need this as you have food all over your face and I proceeded to use it to wipe my mouth and ditch it by the plate and then he very awkwardly said “erm sorry that actually had my number on it,” oops not so elegant on my behalf.

How do you feel about old-school romance? Is it becoming a thing of the past? FullSizeRender (13)No it will always be around just maybe packaged differently.

Often insecurities lead us to attract the wrong kind of people, what advice would you give to young women struggling with confidence issues? I live by the sentence “Perception is projection” which means if we see things we don’t like in others first make sure we have healed that within and know that it’s your right to love yourself and respect yourself and that you are always good enough.

Ideal first date? My first date with my husband, it was at a local pub near my home in Surrey where we sat outside by the river and chatted for hours. Nothing fancy just so lovely and real.

Strange fan requests? I tend to remember the lovely ones instead. A few times on the Strictly tour I received some very beautiful flowers from a secret admirer, very thoughtful. It did however have a card on it with a request on it for me to call him, but I left it to just admire the flowers.

What advice would you give to your younger self? Have patience and always believe what’s for you won’t go by you. Sometimes we think everything needs to happen in an instant, but as I have gotten older I have realised that when things are delayed it’s because the timing isn’t right and when they finally happen you realise why they didn’t happen before. My husband and I often have this conversation as we truly believe that if we had met one year earlier, we would not have been a match as we both had things to learn first.

Do you think our perception of love changes as we get older? I hope not. I want to always be a romantic and always believe in love. I have heard so many stories of people finding love at all ages that I believe there is love out there for everyone, but it starts by loving ourselves and believing that it’s possible to find it too.

For more information on Camilla’s Life Coaching business check out http://www.camillasacredallerup.com and to purchase a copy of her awesome book here’s a link http://www.amazon.co.uk/Strictly-Inspirational-Camilla-Sacre-Dallerup/dp/1780288662

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

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 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

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

PTB Meets Former X-Factor Star Laura White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Any dating horror stories?

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

Ever had any strange requests from fans?

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

LW2Who was your teen crush?

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

What do you look for in a guy?

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

Any deal-breakers?

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

What’s your idea of the perfect first date?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What My Father Taught Me

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

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

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

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

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

In Loving Memory of Thomas Cox

PTB

PTB Meets Singer/Songwriter Ben Harvey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Age Gap Relationships

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

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

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

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

PTB