A Recipe For Relationship Success

We all want to have our cake and eat it too and, as the old adage goes, if you’re going to bake a cake then you’re going to need to break some eggs.  You may be happy with a Coles-brand sponge or maybe you’re the kind of person that dreams of a multi-layered rainbow cake romance. Perhaps you’re a new-age paleo/vegan/ gluten-free  romantic and you need some kind of flourless carrot cake love. Whatever your hungry heart desires, like cake, a good relationship requires some methodical mixing of ingredients and a good pinch of patience.

We’ve all sat back and wondered why such a promising love was such a flop. You started out with a picture of a Women’s Weekly birthday cake and before you know it you’re elbows deep in a singe-crusted, oozy topping, food dyed disaster. You’re weeping on the floor of the kitchen, covered of course, in the main ingredient: flour. No relationship, no love, no cake. Just a big bloody mess and a torn up photo of a multi-layered, dinosaur cake with green butter icing and peppermint leaf spikes.  The white dust settled on every surface quietly transforms into gelatinous papier mache glue as it mingles with your cascading tears.

Such life events show us that it’s not a matter of following a simple recipe. Being human – all too human – we rush into things. We miss crucial steps, skip ahead, think we know best, ignore the oven timer and become completely distracted watching Family Feud, delivering a half-baked, lackluster love, droopy and distinctly lacking some key ingredient. So what are the essentials?

Obviously there’s got to be flour, you are trying to bake a cake after all.  I’ll call the flour (or almond meal if you’re that way inclined) love. . All you need is love, right? Love is all you need. That’s what I was told. Wrong. Whatever it is your heart desires from love, you’re going to need more than just flour. You’re also going to need a raising agent, a spark, a chemical reaction, something to turn a bowl of beige stodge into a fluffly delight. Without baking powder, you’ll end up making friendship crepes. Now, if you have flour and baking powder then you can have a crack at damper – you might even magic up some play-dough or a scone – but you’re still only half way to a relationship.

Holding the cake together is the eggs, the milk, the butter or the mashed bananas for my vegan friends. Key binders in a love cake might seem critically obvious, but they are often the most neglected component. Your eggless cake is the relationship your peers turn their nose up at. The foray that causes you to fall out with old friends. It’s trust, respect, communication, equality, understanding, acceptance, openness. Without a minimum of three of these components the partnerships skews towards ownership. Old eggs in your love meringue ruin your chances at that soft, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth goodness, delivering instead a disappointing dish that really should go straight in the bin.

A cake should be sweet and it needs measures of kindness, caring, thoughtfulness; all that vom-worthy couple stuff. But there’s no level of garnish that can can uncook a catastrophy. No extravagant couple holiday, kissing selfie profile pic, overtly affectionate post or tacky couple tatt that can overcome a blundered base. There is no measure of silver cashews that can convincingly bedazzle a bland bundt cake. Some of us think we want a hot partner, nice dinners, holidays, presents. While a thick layer of icing can mask a dry cake, remember that the best chocolate brownie needs no extra decoration.

In truth, you can’t make a cake without flour. You also cannot call a bag of flour a cake. It’s not enough to fight for a relationship because you’re in love. If you are missing trust, respect, dignity, honesty and communication, it’s going to be a shitshow,  not a souffle . Too many times I hear vile, unhealthy and downright repulsive behaviour condoned and defended by love. So babe, what you’re telling me Neanderthal Neil can be excused for crushing you confidence, destroying your friendships and ruining your life? “…but, but you don’t understand, we’re in love.”

Mmm. Cool story. Neil is not a masterpiece, he’s got less personality of a bag of sugar and is not a healthy or balanced addition to your diet. You may as well throw fistfuls of flour at each other to show your love, it’s roughly the same result as your dysfunctional relationship. He makes everyone around you sick, most of all you, whilst you trip-out on some kind of delusional sugar high. “Ohhhh doctor I know I have type two diabetes…. But, but you don’t understand, Neil and I are in love. Neil doesn’t mean to destroy my health. I couldn’t possibly end it with Neil, Neil, love, Sugar, love blah blah blah”

*Self-destructs in a puff of sprinkles*

In the past we’ve all hoped for a bombe alaska and instead landed a cream pie to the face. In hindsight it’s generally safe to say the measurements were a bit off. Next time if you’re thinking of baking a cake with someone check your shopping basket first before you hit the check out.

The proof is in the pudding.

img_2407

 

Don’t forget to ‘like’ Life in Arcadia on Facebook and join in for daily lols on instagram and twitter @lifeinarcadia (links in menu tab) xx

 

 

 

“So, What Are We?” 5 Questions from the Grey Area

It’s a tale as old as time: boy and girl meet, boy and girl date, girl is too scared to clarify the nature of relationship, girl goes insane (see Gone Girl for further details). Grey-lationships, as I’ve coined them, can carry on for weeks, months or years, with sufferers meandering through love limbo, trying to play it cool but forever wondering “So, what are we?” Somewhere between a flirtationship, a fling and a relationship is a grey-lationship. It’s always one of two things, a transitory state or a holding pattern. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, “what am I holding out for? And how long am I going to be kept hanging?” Here are a few common questions that plague punters, rest assured you’re not alone.

How do we respond to the public?

“Hey guys, this is my…. *awkward pause* ahffffriend (?!)” Then you endure curious looks from everyone there as they wonder how many of your ah-friends you are currently sleeping with. Noticing that friend was not a very suitable description you improve an already uncomfortable situation by clarifying exactly how many dates you’ve been on (six, if you include today) so that people don’t think you’re easy or desperate. Mmm, well, that was awkward for everyone involved! Now you smile meekly at each other and wonder with fierce curiosity what the other person is thinking as your date is continuously mistaken for your boyfriend.  You both nod politely and cringe internally, ignoring the elephant in the room.

What are the boundaries?

So let’s say a grey-lationship has been in full fling for a month or two. It’s hard to decide at what point you get to institute reasonable accountability. You’ve been trying to act like a cool girl, not reacting when he bails on plans and/or feigning amusement when you see a Snapchat of him licking whipped cream off a stripper; you wonder where to draw the line. Like de facto status is to marriage, it seems plausible that after a certain time you should be entitled to half their stuff and to tell them they are being an inconsiderate a-hole. I would say berating them on a late reply after three dates is a bit premature but disrespectful behaviour from a regular beau needs to be addressed, either directly or indirectly. Guerrilla Snapchat tactics are not advisable, as posting revenge videos of hot boys in your story is unlikely to help him realise the error of his ways.

In a grey-lationship, you walk a fine line between girlfriend and fling. Can I date other people? Is kissing someone else cheating? Is he seeing other girls?! Who are they?! Tell me, I know you know. Not setting boundaries leaves you in love limbo. If you take yourself off the market you might miss an opportunity but if you get caught out dating when he thought you were exclusive you might stuff up what could have been a great thing. You didn’t know if he was dating other people and whether you should be too, all because you guys never had the talk. As always with grey-lationships, you should proceed with caution. It’s good to have a few cards up your sleeve but don’t risk an ace for a number card.

Where do you stand?

If you don’t know where you stand, it’s pretty likely you’re not in control of the situation. When a relationship goes on for a long time in a thus-far undefined state it’s usually because one person, quite clearly, has the reins. Whether we like to admit it, we are either the one leading or the one following. If we are both on the same page, then the necessary conversations tend to happen quite naturally because you both have something to gain. When there’s inequality in an arrangement, our motivation to get clarification is low. Why don’t we ask the question we’re dying to know the answer to? Because we’re not ready to hear that the answer is no, or that the timing is wrong; that he’s not over his ex; or that dreaded “you’re so amazing but…” Any of these textbook platitudes can confirm your worst fear: he’s just not that into you. Instead, you ignore the obvious signs and cling to tiny actions or phrases that undeniably confirm he’s in love with you. Taking two days to reply, well, he’s just busy of course, but two emojis in that long awaited text message proves undeniable infatuation. 😉 ❤

Where is this going?

Start by asking yourself whether it’s realistically going anywhere – and if not, then why not? If you’re having fun with your hot neighbour boy but stalling every time he hints at meeting your friends and there’s no way in heck you want to meet his parents, are you leading him on? We all feel hard done by by fuckboys, but there are plenty of fuckgirls out there messing with innocent guys’ emotions because they want a Saturday night booty call (“come save me, I’m drunk”) or a Sunday snuggle (“bring me Chinese”). Does this sound like you?

Casual flings are only casual if there’s a consensus, and frankly it’s just mean to let someone think you really like them just because you like some of the benefits of their company. Yes, it’s nice to have someone pick you up from airport, but if they don’t mean more to you than an Uber driver then you really shouldn’t ask. Similarly, if your prospective bae lets you bake him brownies and iron his shirts but has neglected to invite you to his last three group dinners or family events then you better stop for a reality check on you way to the 24hour K-Mart where you were headed at 10:30pm because he forgot to pack work socks.

When do I give up?

“I’m going to talk to him,” and other famous last words escape your lips, just before you lose your nerve completely and the light drains from your eyes. All anger is replaced with fear and you start to bargain: “it’s fine, we basically are together anyway, right? Yeah, he buys me lunch, we’re having a physical relationship, I’ve met a few of his friends – we’re together. It’s the same thing, it just doesn’t have a label.” Yeah, well, that’s a nice thought but how can you know you’re the only one if you’ve never asked? How can you be sure he won’t cut off his own arm and run for the hills once he realises he’s cornered in enemy territory? If you’re having to justify and defend his half-hearted actions to your friends it might be time to call it a day. Being busy is just not a justifiable excuse anymore, we are all living below the time-poverty line.

 

Figuring out if your situation is a natural transitory state or a hostage situation of the heart is the turning point of most grey-lationships. Love is a gamble, its part strategy and part luck. You gotta, know when to walk away and when to run. No one wants to be the first to give the game away but showing some of your cards is the only way to work out whether to hold or fold. Enjoy the grey while you can but if you want to walk away a winner end you’ll have to take a risk or cut your losses. Happy gambling.

Handling Dating Fluctuations: Feast or Famine

Romance is a tropical island, subject to unpredictable weather and extreme conditions. The rainy season may be overwhelming at first, but what follows is plentiful feasting. As a single twenty-something I’ve observed two states of polarity in our romantic lives: lonely as a bottom dwelling hermaphrodite from a deep-sea abyss or popular as Harry Styles at a tween-ager convention. There is rarely a middle ground, so eat while the goings good. A feast can quickly become a famine.

One day out of the blue, it really does start raining men. God bless Mother Nature! It’s thrilling when out of the blue every Tom, Dick and Harry starts trying to hit you up; suspiciously you wonder if somebody has written your contact details on a bathroom stall: “Call for a good time.” But regardless of the cause, the sudden influx of boys blowing up your phone gives you a Ke$ha-like feeling of celebrity. “Yassssss, I am queeeeen,” you hiss as you skip merrily along, tossing your hair and giggling with delight while a pied-piper trail of men follow along behind you. The drought has passed – hallelujah, you’re saved! Line up in single file Bachelors, you get a rose, you get a rose, get a rose, you all get a rose.

Once you get a grip of your intoxicating ego trip you start to realise the logistical nightmare ahead of you. How should you prioritise your options? Do you pick the guy with the nice hair, or the one with the dog? What about the PT, or maybe the businessman? What on earth have they put in the water to send all these men shooting out of the ground where there was once only barren soil and optimistic exes? Now you’re wading through oceans of devotion and tossing up whether to dip a toe in the water or dive in head first, but the question is, at what stage does interviewing multiple candidates become unethical? Because if this was a reality TV show it would be okay to start dating all twenty as long as I slowly whittle down the numbers week by week. Maybe play it safe and start with five. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it?

Wining, dining, flirting, banter; everything is going so well, you can’t even remember what it was like to be trapped in the barren desolate wasteland of the drought days. It’s all fun and games for a few weeks then, suddenly, your show has been axed. You were basking on the beach of love until you saw your top three guys have mutual friends and they’ve all just checked in at the same event: game over. You thought in this modern age it was okay for girls to play the field? Well, apparently not. Due to your silver-tongued antics your popularity has significantly dropped and suddenly you’re alone and confused like an ousted Australian Prime Minister. Yesterday you were on top, now your swarm of suitors have disappeared, leaving you to wonder if it was ever really real or just a mirage.

You start to really regret throwing away your favourite volleyball, Wilson. Sure, he wasn’t great at conversation but he was good listener and they are getting hard to come by. It’s an all-too-familiar feeling when the sky stops raining men and all the dateable/mate-with-able guys seem to disappear from the planet. Now there’s only tumble weeds rolling across a grim social media feed. Your ovaries shudder in terror and your browser history is filled with cat memes and baby sloth videos. You’re back on that tropical island all alone, catching fish with your bare hands and washing your hair once a week – at the very most. You wonder if it was a bad idea to go on a  spree of saying “yes” and kissing babies like a sleazy politician when there was no way you were ever going to follow through.

You surrender back into your life on Single Island. This is where you live now. It seems this may be the end. Your dating show has been axed and this is the final curtain, the end of all love. Climb into your adult-sized onesie and nurse a bottle of moscato; make yourself comfortable as you settle in for a full Bridget Jones montage of sad, single moping. ‘Allllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll by myself’ humming in the back of your head as you relentlessly check your phone for the buzz of a direct message or cheeky “like,” but there’s nothing except your friends tagging you in Instagram memes about insane single girls and binge drinking.

Moving further into single hysteria, you start uploading falsely glamourous Instagram selfies (#TBT to when I wasn’t a hot mess) and Snapchat stories (I’m cute, remember!?) to test the waters. But alas, the only bites come from three creepy guys who’ve messaged you sporadically over the past six years telling you (and probably 15 others), again, how beautiful you are. *Ugh* Thank you, Creepy Greg, but puh-lease, that selfie was not meant for you. Why not try again in another six weeks when my self-worth has plummeted just a little further?

“Pull yourself together woman,” a voice inside your head says. “You can stay here rehashing history and living in your pyjamas, leading a sad half-life consisting mainly of Grey’s Anatomy repeats, desperately scavenging social media affirmations of your worth, or you can fashion a raft out of drift wood and save your sorry self. You can’t sit around your whole life praying for rain because the only thing you can rely on is this: it won’t happen when you want it to. Remind yourself that being single is a situation, not a character flaw and get on with being a girl boss!”

You’re most attractive to the opposite sex when they are the last thing on your priority list. Whether you’ve devoted yourself to travel, your career, being a better friend/ relative/ human, or you’ve completely given up on Homo Sapiens and finally bought that puppy.  The only time you find what you once wanted is when you stop looking for it, and the less you want it, the more likely you are to find it. Like a dripping naked toddler that’s escaped from the bath that refuses to be clothed, the faster you run away the harder they will try to catch you. “Let me be free,” I scream, whilst they try to wrangle me into restrictive dating patterns. That’s when you realise that, actually, things were so much easier when it was just you and Wilson.

 

It’s good to be back in Arcadia, thanks for stopping by! Jump up to the menu box in the top right hand corner of the page to subscribe by email so you never miss a post!  Jules x

Don’t Let The Assholes Get You Down

Assholes. We all know they are bad for us, but just like methamphetamine, one hit and you’re hooked. They corrode away your identity, leaving you a painful, weeping burden on the friends who told you to dump that d-bag six months ago.  The ice epidemic is certainly real, but the relatively unexplored addiction to assholes has been plaguing hopeless romantic for decades. Why are we so attracted to people that treat us badly? Why do the good girls pick the worst guys and why do the nice guys fall for ball-breaking dictators? It’s a sick, sad world, folks.

An asshole can be any guy or girl whose general behaviour, manner or emotional instability causes constant unhappiness, insecurity and hysteria for the opposite sex. There are many ways to be an asshole and it’s not dictated by age or gender. Yes, girls are definitely assholes as well (but generally try to be more subtle about it). Girls will torture a guy in a friendzone grey-area for years when he has no real chance. Just by giving him enough hope to get his attention, but never enough to imply a commitment, maybe a drunken pash every two years when she’s feeling lonely and needs cheering up. “Oh, Dan? Nooooooo, he doesn’t like me, we’re just really great friends. Don’t be silly” *Denial face*  – Yeah, sure you are. All of my friends have a bubble gum sculpture of me in their closet and a book full of emo poems about how majestic I am too.

The tragic thing about assholes is that people think that they can save them, releasing them from their shackles of douche-baggery. Kids, this is not Free Willy, and who said they even wanted to change? Most assholes are blissfully happy in their current condition. So, getting upset because an asshole hasn’t been miraculously cured after two months of dating is like yelling at your cat for not fetching the newspaper: futile. If you wanted a golden retriever you should’ve bought one, if you wanted a nice guy/girl then you should have chosen one. You can open the gates but you can’t set free a performing sea mammal if they are happy with their easy pickings at the water park.

Unrealistic expectations are the cause of much of the heartbreak in good guy/bad guy relationships. Sadly, the burden of blame is with you, Mr. Nice Guy. You’re hurting both parties when you blame the other person for not changing. The real failure here was your expectations. Treat a jerk like a national park and you will both come away a lot happier: enjoy the experience if you can, leave nothing but footprints and take nothing but pictures. They were an asshole when you found them and they’ll be an asshole when you leave, and with careful conservation they will go on to be an asshole for decades to come. Don’t mess with the ecosystem.

You can drive yourself insane trying to get to the root of their problems. But what makes an asshole as asshole is not really the question you should be asking yourself. Perhaps a more valuable question is this: what draws you to this kind of person? Is it some combination of low self-worth and boredom? When the nice guys are boring you to tears, the temptation creeps in, saying, “Come here, you beautiful Bastard. I haven’t made any really bad decisions in a while.”  If it’s not boredom or a Mother Teresa complex, then your self-worth may need to be re-calibrated. This quote from The Perks of Being a Wallflower just about sums it up: “We accept the love we think we deserve.” Assholes think they deserve the best and that’s why they often end up with incredibly kind and generous people. On the flip side, the best of us tend to be the most humble, meaning they are willing to accept more than their fair share of bullsh*t.

Dating an A-grade A-hole is a valuable experience, the key here being that it should be a chapter of the story, but not your shot at a happy ending. Dating an asshole is an important lesson in figuring out what you need in order to flourish – and what you don’t. Like puberty it’s an uncomfortable embarrassing time, but you should come out a more developed adult. Dating an asshole will also help you to realise if an asshole as well, or contrarily, that you’re an absolute door mat. Ditch the saviour complex and check your self-worth: I can change him, I’ll make her happy, blah blah blah bla-ullllllllllsh*t. They won’t change and you’ve really got no right to ask them to. You can’t tear down half of someone’s existing personality and install a new one just to suit yourself. The solution to your problems lies not in the ability to fix jerks, but to stop selecting them in the first place.

Serial dick-dater I urge you to please take a moment to reconsider your selection criteria. You’ve been down this road before so you know that when you jump on the jerk-wagon you leave your good friends (and your dignity) behind. There’s only so many times your friends will support a relapsing jerk-a-holic. So, it’s time to learn that lesson: if you want a long lasting love then stop shopping for diamonds in the bargain bin. No matter how crafty you are no one can turn a sequined cowboy hat into a crown. Save you pennies for someone who is really worth it, because it’s time to drop the door mat act and start asking for the love you deserve. After all, you chose the jerk-life, it didn’t choose you.

Self-Esteem Saboteurs: The Spineless Art of Seduction

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, is the way to a woman’s heart through her insecurities? It’s an old fashioned sexist recipe for fat men and unhappy women. Courtship is like language, there are no universal rules: “’I’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c’, except in fifteen circumstances that are impossible to predict”. The word “banter”, used to describe flirty repartee, has become a widely accepted measure of compatibility. I’m sure I heard the phrase first used on Geordie Shore, which is always a worry, but I can’t deny it’s on the radar. The ability to have a cheeky conversation and take the mickey out of one another is definitely a desirable trait. But where do you draw the line between banter and verbal battery? Why do I keep hearing put downs instead of pick-up lines?

Though my confidence invariably fluctuates, I do have a fierce ambition to accept myself, warts and all. But the journey to self-acceptance is a tumultuous game of Snakes and Ladders. One week will have you at the top of the board and the next week you’ll slither back down square one at the mercy of a cold blooded reptile.  Some days, mustering enough courage to leave the house without flinching at your own reflection in shop windows is an achievement (note: the serious stare of a window shopping female is usually 30% shopping and 70% checking oneself out in shiny full length surfaces). It’s crushing enough to hear an overweight middle aged woman comment on my cellulite through an open car window and the constant bitch of unhappy females: “I don’t even know why he likes her, she’s not even that pretty” (both true stories… ouch). Not only this, but if you’re a lonely heart looking for love you’ve now also put your self-esteem in the hands the opposite sex who are waiting to hiss at your most noble attempts to feel adequate.

Made popular by some greasy-haired sleaze-ball pick-up artist in the 90s, “negging” is a sickening interaction tool men are encouraged to use to garner success with the opposite sex. Delivering a back-handed compliment is supposed to induce some strong desire for the woman to seek the rude man’s approval. Another example from my personal repository of dickhead encounters: “Why would a pretty girl like you dye her hair that colour?” Such a remark is supposed to render me senseless and desperate for approval. To his dismay I bit back by asking why an old guy felt the need to go to night clubs and insult young girls. It’s disturbing but many argue it works and I’m certain I’ve fallen for it before.

I’ve certainly tried to brush it off and put it down to bad taste in company or poor choice of venue, but recently this relentless bullying has even followed me across state lines and international borders. I could be a magnet for douche bags (I’ve definitely entertained that hypothesis before) however I feel it’s an uncomfortable symptom of a larger gaping global wound in the fabric of romantic interactions. I love to laugh at myself and everyone else, but verbal abuse from romantically inclined strangers is taking it a little too far. On a recent “relaxing” beach holiday I found myself close to full berserker status after meeting seven different males in close succession who after a polite introduction proceeded to insult me with unapologetic candour, waving a matador’s red cape at me in the hope that I come charging straight for them.  Why, how charmed I am to hear that “I’m nice for an Australian” or “funny for a woman”. Indeed, you’re lovely yourself for a spineless, talking reptile from the bottom of a scum filled swamp. As a refugee from poor male etiquette in Australia I was terrible abashed by the false asylum. Are insults the new “come hither?”

I have been made to feel so frustrated by this unrelenting negativity that I’ve taken it upon myself to push back at the subtle insulters and the outright creeps and dish out some offensiveness of my own. Sick of short and defensive conversations with men trying to offend me in order to compliment me, like a 3rd grade boy pulling my hair in a love-induced spasm, I have developed a semi-automatic defensive mechanism. TBH, as much as I love men and their cleverness and charm, as much as I want to stroke their beautiful hair, make them reach things I can’t reach and lift things I can’t lift, I will not play this unholy game.

My instructions are fairly straight forward: if you don’t like a girl don’t talk to them, if you do like a girl try to act like an adult human instead of a horny monkey throwing faeces. I truly feel bad for kind and gentle guys who handle the backlash of fierce and defensive women. These guys are bearing the brunt of the anger when they’ve done nothing wrong and it’s because we’ve already had our daily fill of insults and don’t want to risk anymore. Sorry to the unwitting romantic who tried to compliment me at the next bar: “Wow you so are beautiful!” Yes, beautiful, but just like a poisonous amphibian, if you touch me I’ll probably kill you.

Frankly I’m sick of bang-out-of-line assholes insulting my nationality, occupation, appearance, gender or telling me I’m too cocky, confident, proud or whatever. Excuse me buddy, I cop enough criticism from myself, I do not need your two cents’ worth. If you’re not going to make polite conversation then best to back the f*ck up before you get smacked the f*ck up. I didn’t dislocate my shoulder applying the most optimum and sumptuous layer of fake tan on my back for you to tear me down with your BS comments. “Wow that’s a lovely top you’ve got on honey, but I think you forgot your pants.” Go bury yourself in manure you worm. It’s sad to think that you will probably one day procreate.

I wonder when people deleted the memory of their grandma teaching them “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” You will always catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar, remember that. Women shouldn’t be treated like a country that needs to be destroyed in order to be conquered, we prefer to be treated like human beings. We have enough on our plates dealing with internal battles raging without dealing with after dark guerrilla tactics. Try engaging us as you would in full daylight and sobriety rather than howling like a scare-wolf sending usrunning frantically in the opposite direction.

Negging someone into submission is like stunning a deer with headlights and smashing into it with your car: you can’t claim you’re a hunter. There’s no glory in making a horrible mess of your target by brutalising them into submission. There’s quite a difference between banter and brutality. Why not try good old fashioned humour or intelligence to woo the lady, and in the words of the great and wise Ellen DeGeneres, “Be kind to one another.”

Be an Arcadian on every platform, check out the menu icon in the top right hand corner to subscribe to email notifications &     follow the journey on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Everyone is welcome in Arcadia. Jules x

Navigating Murky Waters: The First Date Dilemma, Dinner or Drinks?

Like setting sail on the high seas, casting off for a first date can be a tumultuous journey into the great unknown. Unfortunately Facebook stalking, your drunken judgement or riotous text message banter are about as reliable as a Melbourne weather forecast for predicting date success. One minute it’s sunny, the next you’re running for cover in the ladies room, sheltering from a cataclysmic storm of clashing morals, offensive narrow-mindedness or not-so-good-looking-in-the-daylight disasters.  Our inner Napoleon wants to believe that we will return the victorious conqueror of unchartered territories but sadly, mid-sail motion sickness often forces us abandon ship as we desperately try to keep our eyes on the horizon.

Alas, the waters are treacherous in a dating pool and filled with pirates, sharks and pollution. It’s no wonder that both men and women deconstruct and analyse first date semantics in order to decode the best first-date scenario. Do you go casual or formal? Who chooses the venue? Do you split the bill? Do you kiss goodbye? How do you escape if he’s a surprise vegan life-coach?

The first date is an honoured tradition and there are certain protocols and traditions that both help and hinder our romances. Typically, dinner or drinks is the standard first offer. This leaves many stressed out at the idea of a full-blown dinner or the possible sleaze associated with catching up for drinks. Whether or not you’re eating, I find that symbolically smashing a bottle of champagne between you may bestow good luck upon your voyage (or at least launch you into smooth sailing small talk).

Where I grew up, meeting someone for a drink was usually code for “I’ll meet you at the bar at 10pm when you’ve already gotten yourself white-girl drunk, buy you two vodka raspberries and try and get in your pants” so forgive my reluctant cringe when you invite me for drinks. Call it a scar from the past (first glimpse of baggage and it’s not even the first date… Check.), but I am not going to respond with “Oh why certainly, I’d love nothing more than to ditch my girlfriends and meet you in a dark bar, half-wasted, knock back a few stiff drinks before you suggest we go somewhere quieter ‘so we can talk’.” If talking was his priority, then his level of effort was as poor as his knowledge of bar-side acoustics. Enchanté, Sailor, but I must bid you adieu as I run off into the night via the nearest 24-hour bakery.

But now that I’m older and living in a bigger city, I find myself invited out for drinks more frequently. It seems to be the convention, but I still struggle to understand the meaning of it. We probably met at a bar so the assumption that I drink is fair, but meeting for a drink on a weeknight is problematic in many ways. Firstly I am a grown woman and I have a job and somewhere to be in the morning, secondly because I expect to drive to the meeting place. The two are compounded by the fact that I’m a small woman who has only had avocado and Kruskits for dinner (since I had to buy my own) and I can’t realistically have more than about 1.5 drinks without abandoning my car and taxiing home, which judging by my budget-friendly dinner is not likely. What a kerfuffle, and all because you don’t want to get stuck at a dinner date with a relationship blogger who will probably tear you to pieces in her next post.

In theory, going out for a drink with someone is a great, low pressure situation where you can have a few drinks, loosen up and get to know someone in an informal setting. I totally understand the functionality of it; it’s just like a coffee date but at night, with alcohol and the chances of getting some action are about 4000% higher. Maybe it reflects how disinterested I am in dating at the moment, but the appeal of risking a D.U.I on a first date, on a Wednesday night (when The Bachelor is on) with a guy that wasn’t confident enough in me to invite me for food isn’t a very strong draw card. Looks like Bachie Woods will be the only one keeping me warm this winter.
I can’t help but feeling that drinks are the runner up prize. It leaves uncertainty as to his intentions:  were you not worth the outlay for actual dinner date? Does he think you’re a two-rum strumpet?  Is he Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love (pre-Emma Stone entrance) with more dates this year than a calendar? Drinks tend to be deployed as a bit of a “cool guy” calling card, showing that they are easy going and confident but it doesn’t do much to reassure the chronically insecure female that whispers bitter cynicisms in the back of our mind.

Dinner seems more comforting because the likelihood they are dining out with a different girl in a different port every night is unlikely. Obviously he’s not a serial dater because taking every girl out for Teppanyaki is just not economically viable. On the other side of the coin, however, when a guy takes us out for a too-fancy-for-a-first-date dinner it can be just as concerning.  The good thing about dinner is that it shows effort, planning and that he trusts his own judgement.  Alternatively it might mean he’s desperate to impress, he has no friends of his own to dine with or he simply wants some nice eye candy to entertain him while he sets sail on a food safari across the city.

So by my calculations you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. No matter how you approach it, first dates are always going to feel like walking the plank into shark infested waters.  Slightly safer options include coffee dates, brunches or delightful strolls in the park but they occupy prime hours of daylight in the weekend. The chances of drunk driving or sleazy pick-ups are much lower, but  you are going to end up in the water either way, so you can choose whether to jump in the deep end or wade through shallower waters. Some days, dating feels like throwing yourself in an ocean of awkwardness and confusion, and wondering how can you opt out (Text “STOP” to 13 13 11, throw your phone in the ocean, quit your job and go be a pirate).

Yes m’hearties, this is what goes through our heads. Happy sailing.

Five Things That Are Making You Unhappy

image

Nothing sends us fruity like trying to settle into a daily routine after returning from a vacation. After escaping from reality for a while you might come back and notice that the things you once blindly accepted start to seem a little bizarre and the values that motivated you have change. Or maybe some of you will come back and cry, simply because your suntan is fading, solariums are banned and you’re still shallow A.F. Having just returned from a short vacation I’m feeling uncharacteristically zen and wondering why so many people are so habitually unhappy? Why am I paying $400 for a juice cleanse? Why do I care who J.Lo is dating? Why do I have to wear shoes? Holidays can’t last forever but they are a good reminder of the things we do almost instinctively to suck out the enjoyment of the other 49 weeks of the year. Here’s my quick pick of serial happiness threats: please be alert, not alarmed.

1. Caring more about fashion than friendship.
Throw out your insecurities: I’ve never once judged my friend for a repeat outfit or rocking a bit of 2008 wardrobe vintage. If I ever fall in with people who are vain enough banish me for not being in new season Alice McCall then push me in front of a bus call me Regina George. Not wanting to go out with the girls because you’re embarrassed about your out of date wardrobe means you either need to rethink your priorities or your friends.

2. Letting people that don’t care about you control your happiness.
Six words: He’s just not that into you. He may be nice as pie when you see him but if that is only ever on his schedule, if either of you are drunk or you’re both naked then chances are you’re not the Bey to his Jay-Z. It’s disappointing if your affections aren’t returned, even more confusing when they try to keep you on standby. But instead of trying to play the player move on. These hoes ain’t loyal? Why the eff would we be when you can’t even write back to a text message in a timely fashion.

3. Complicating the uncomplicated.
If you don’t like where you live, move. If you don’t like where you work, find a new job. If you don’t like who you’re dating then break up. Don’t all stand up and heckle me screaming “It’s not that easy!”, because often it is. In a modern, affluent society we are lucky enough to actually have choice and control over these things. You can always make more money but you can’t make more time. Live life simply by prioritising your happiness and quality of life over BS problems like housemates that steal your food or corporations that suck joy out of you for 50+ hours per week. You’re not a turtle: move out and quit your job. You could probably use a holiday.

4. Comparing yourself to others.
Comparison is the thief of joy. I was happy as Larry playing Uno with my imaginary friend until Jo Bloggs next door throws in a wild card with his new Tamagotchi. Suddenly all of my unembittered joy turned into sadness and longing because an imaginary Tamagotchi with imaginary digital poos just wouldn’t cut it. As we get older we get better and better breeding inadequacy and self-doubt. Treasuring items is not a crime but when obsessing about what you don’t have steals enjoyment away from what you do have and that’s where the problem lies. Rest assured, kids across the world with no clue of what they are missing are still screaming with delight and hitting each other with sticks like the good old days.

5. Wanting more stuff than you need.
The desire to accumulate possessions is strong but for most of us sitting on a big pile of shiny junk doesn’t make you feel like queen magpie. Vast piles of pointless, obsolete and out of season but “too good to throw away items” start to clog your living space like cholesterol in arteries. Accumulating lots of unnecessary stuff is not just bad for the environment but it will also mess up your Feng Shui and take away the peace and sanctity of you home. Like a questionable boyfriend, if in doubt, chuck it out. Re-gift it, recycle it or sell it and move on. You don’t need that useless crap in your life.

Running around shoeless in the sunshine maybe is one of the simplest joys there is, along with sharing good food and good company. The key is simplicity and enjoying what you have instead of pining for what you don’t have. You don’t need to take a holiday to escape from negativity, squash it at first sight like ants in your kitchen. Don’t covet thy neighbour’s wife, no use crying over spilt milk and mo’ money, mo’ problems, am I right?

Don’t forget to ‘like’ Life in Arcadie on Facebook and join in for daily lols on instagram and twitter @lifeinarcadia (links in menu tab) xx