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.

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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.

Five Things That Are Making You Unhappy

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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?

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Love and Other Fast Moving Goods

In this life of fast cars, fast food and fast money things that take time tend to take a backseat. We are so used to instant gratification that it is an almost-alien concept to nurture and grow something for more than a few minutes. If our seeds don’t propagate, reach maturity and bloom in the space of two minutes we ditch gardening all together and do what any self-respecting Gen-Y should do: move on. I don’t like to fuel Gen Y biases but I feel as though were born at the tail end of a revolution and our concept of success, hard work and even love are shaped by the rapidly changing world we grew up in. I’ve spoken before about my propensity to cash in phones (iLove You, iLove You Not… iDunno) the same way I cash in relationships: yearly. This is because like you, I have been raised to feel the like obsolesce is inevitable and that anything I have is temporary until the next big thing comes along.

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty disheartened by the transient nature of friendships, jobs and love. This eternal optimist has had her flame for life dampened by the idea that, in fact, nothing does last forever. I wistfully recall the glorious lyrics from Pooh’s Grand Adventure, where the two odd buddies cheerfully quarreled about how long their friendship would last. The highly cynical Christopher Robin sceptically advised “Forever and ever is a very long time, Pooh.” To which the charmingly overweight, binge eating, dependent-wreck Pooh replied: “forever isn’t long at all, when I’m with you.” For a long time I thought I was Pooh (I’ve also thought I was shit at times too) but recently I’ve been taught by the school of Chris Rob. Turns out poor Pooh was just a stepping stone on the path to the next best thing. He knew that in the big wide world there was going to be more for him than an engorged stuffed animal with stupendous charm. He was already plotting his next move long before old Pooh Bear realised he was the last man standing in a three-legged race to forever.

For the last twelve months I’ve been wildly optimistic about love, friendships, careers and life. But as the optimism fades, like a general anaesthetic, I am left wounded and bemused as I hurtle back to reality. Life was so much simpler when forever and ever didn’t seem like such a long time. But these days, a month feels like a lifetime. Life is full of Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) and more and more I’m starting to feel like one of them. FMCGs, as the name suggests are products that are sold quickly and at a relatively low-cost. They are items like chocolate bars that generally have a short shelf life, either because customer demand is high or because product deterioration is rapid. It’s a low-margin business that demands trade in high volumes in order to reap a significant profit. Well, that sounds like modern life right there: always scrambling to upgrade to a newest version before we have truly extracted worth from the first.

We keep churning through life’s offerings so quickly that we perpetuate this FMCG cycle and become a part of it by default. I’ve been busy investing in myself, pouring my heart and soul into my friends and relationships and searching relentlessly for a fulfilling career for an end goal of securing a life of slowly-maturing, stable investments that yield hefty returns. But how wrong was I? I’ve been treating people like property (The Dating Game) and they’ve been treating me like ice-cream (We Can Dish It Out, But We Can’t Take It).  I’ve been paying my way through life with fat stacks of cash but accepting dividends paid out in Monopoly money. I’ve been trying to in vain to build an empire, because lord knows Rome wasn’t built in a day, but when I look around all I can see is young upstarts bragging about how fast they got Park Lane with four houses (hotel coming soon), whilst getting ready to sell up big and move onto the next thing before the game is even finished. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

We’re all aware of this easy come, easy go attitude because we are its greatest advocates. Routinely we ask ourselves: why should we bother trying to repair something when it will cost just as much to replace it? Sure that might be the case when it comes to laptops or vacuum cleaners but not relationships and careers. These things should be regularly serviced and patched-up. They are not a tub of yogurt that’s gone a bit sour, more often than not they are a car that just needs a bit of oil. We are constantly abandoning opportunities that just need a little bit of TLC in order to keep reaping returns. But alas: try and fix a four-year friendship? Nah. I’ve got 3000 friends on Facebook, I don’t need that bitch. Ride out a rough patch a work? Damn, have you seen how many jobs there are on Seek? Then there’s the old “Hey, its been ages! We should catch-up ” (aka “do you still think I’m cute?!”) messages that start popping up in your inbox when someone is preparing to exit a relationship and looking for a soft place to land.

A new boyfriend every week, a new best friend every month and a new job every year. Keep. ‘Em. Coming. Companies wonder why young talent won’t stay when they’ve been contracted, probationed and treated like visitors in an organisation that wants them to feel at home. Friendships these days seem to go out of style faster than most reality TV contestants and don’t even get me started on long-term relationships (apparently a terrifying prospect for FMCG fans). Love and romance now inevitably die like cut flowers because everyone wants a bouquet of roses but no-one wants to take care of the plant. Quite honestly, I’m sick to death of being someone’s impulse purchase that gets picked up and dropped like a packet of Mentos. Don’t buy into FMCG life choices and don’t ever let someone treat you like one. In life, although they might be part of your appeal, you should never be chosen solely for your affordable price, convenient location or cuter-than-most aesthetics.

Breaking the Bro Code

Article 150. No sex with your bro’s ex. It is never, EVER permissible for a bro to sleep with his bro’s ex. Violating this code is worse than killing a bro.

Amendment: A bro is entitled to have sex with his bro’s ex if she initiates it, is really hot, or his bro is out of town or in a different room.

The Bro Code: an age old set of rules and expectations between one friend and another that stipulates “bros before hoes” or “sisters before misters”. The basic premise is that you don’t screw your friends over for the opportunity to get your kit off with someone of the opposite sex. Also included in what I thought was a universal set of rules is the notion that you generally do not try and consort with one of your best mate’s exes, especially behind their back. In a tough dating landscape where the upper quartile of candidates is not always readily accessible there will be times when you want to cross over dating pools with significant friends, but these should always be navigated with honesty and communication: “so babe, you know that smoking hot babe of a guy that you chewed up and spat out for no good reason at all, apart from some flimsy reasoning like “he had a funny walk” or, “I dunno really, just wasn’t feeling it?”… Can we talk about that?”

Obviously you don’t want to be some sad homeless person cashing in people’s discarded exes for a 5c refund at the collection depot, but sometimes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This means that it’s always going to need assessment on a case by case basis. I have witnessed desperate girls throw away year-long friendships for a guy that they know full well was an absolute jerk. Yet still they ruin a friendship by trying to date this guy against their behind their best friend’s back or against their wishes. When karma comes around and he ditches you in a few months you’ll be left in friendless, boy-less limbo. Didn’t you get the memo, sister? Unauthorised bro breaches will get you banished.

So in the world of mates-before-dates what is acceptable and what is not? I am not going to try to write a set of rules about waiting periods or measures of loyalty or subsequent strategies for tackling a hoe vs bro situation but I’m more than happy to give you a few instances of what is not cool and you can work out the rest for yourselves. Recently, whilst I’ve been minding my own business and going about my life in the usual haphazard manner, I have encountered some rather disconcerting advances from bros who are painfully oblivious and – frankly – totally unconcerned with the code.

I have found myself being engaged on just about every platform you can imagine by guys who have been romantically associated with my friends or are chums with guys I’ve dated. I am not exaggerating when I say face-to-face, Instagram, Facebook and even LinkedIn (believe it or not) have all been hunting grounds for these avid recyclers. So far, pretty much the only medium I haven’t been contacted on is Twitter… but please feel free to tweet your date invites to @_JulesReed with the hash tags #brofail and #shitbloke2015.

If you can sense a little bit of harboured resentment then you are not wrong. The fact that a guy would try to chat me up without his mate’s knowledge is incredibly insulting because it implies that he thinks I’m the kind of girl that might want to be a party to that. Dude, I am far from a hoe and I have no intention of creeping around in the shadows with you, which would only cheapen us both. You obviously have incredibly low Bro Code standards and if you don’t take me seriously enough to inform the relevant parties then kindly jog on, mate. I am not an easy target and I certainly am not a group project for you and all your friends to contribute to. I have zero interest in your poor morals and terrible judgement and I have half a mind to issue a public warning to your friends and all their exes: watch out, snakes on the loose.

I know it can be really hard meeting people – especially if your friend is some kind of lady killer or serial dater. When you keep company with people who have excellent taste but unrealistically high standards, there are likely to be a lot of high-quality factory seconds that never make it to market. What a waste. If your friends go through candidates with potential talent like a man-flu victim goes through tissues then you need to weigh up the situation and decide if the risk is really worth the reward.

You’re entering dangerous territory so you need to be sure that they are a high quality pre-loved garment and not a shiny piece of trash. I am sure there are a lot of potentially amazing relationships that haven’t happened because everyone was trying too hard so uphold the bro rules that they never risked asking for permission. Categorically, the appropriateness of pursuing something like this is going to be very different if there is a two Tinder date history compared to a two-year relationship (proceed at your own risk).

In all parts of life you have to remember that if you never ask the hard questions then answer is always no. Even if you do ask and the answer is no then at least you won’t die wondering, but with a sensitive topic like this you really need to pick your battles. It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be dogging your mate for an easy target; if all you’re looking for is a bit of fun then don’t shit where you eat. Go get a dating app, go to a night club or try some good old-fashioned Facebook stalking rather than trawling your bro’s dating archives for inspiration.

To summarise, it should be overwhelmingly obvious that if you are not willing to have a conversation with your mate about your intentions but you are willing to bang their ex then you are being a selfish, disrespectful tosser to everyone involved. For instance, if the situation was reversed and you would feel inclined to smack your mate for trying to mess around with your ex then you are in serious violation of the Bro Code. So please, save us all the hassle and just punch yourself in the face.

Cheers bro.

[Thanks for reading, remember to subscribe to email notifications via the link in the menu tool bar so you never miss a post, Jules x]

Love Maths: Inverse Relationships  

By Misha Saul

This post is in response to “Love maths: Equations and Probabilities” by Jules Reed posted on 11/03/15

Plenty of fish. Plenty. But how many?

I was a little flummoxed by the maths in Jules’s wonderful article. What an optimistic romantic she must be to count 25 loves in a lifetime. Or just a sucker for punishment. Thank god I count fewer. I mean, don’t get me wrong – it feels like I fall in love every time I walk down the street or swipe left accidentally (No! She was the one and now she’s lost to the Tinder-verse!). If a love lifetime is between the ages of 17 and 35, generously speaking, how many loves do we experience in a period of 18 years? Sure, I loved the girl at the desk beside me in grade 2, and I’m sure there’s a Humans of New York story about love at first sight at 60. But let’s be real here.

You meet someone new, you court, discard a runner up, magic carpet into the sky and flitter away some years on high, only to find yourself sliding down Mount Doom into a sea of consolatory brunches and faux fun drunk nights out. How long did that take? Call it 3 years? So Jules and I agree on that arithmetic. So let’s say you have the energy for 6 of those in your (generous) 18 year love lifetime. You’re a trooper – you haven’t let cynicism or bitter ice cream eat away at your Peter Pan complex. Realistically it’s probably more like 3 to 4. That’s 3 to 4 opportunities to find the partner with whom you’ve dreamt of spending the rest of your life. How many lads have you nixed so far?

But there are plenty of fish in the sea! There are. Don’t believe the One Soul Mate Showtime crap. Plenty of Sallys for every Harry out there and vice versa. Thousands of them. But you have 3 to 4 windows to get it right. You’re not an invincible fishing trawler on the high seas: you’re a crazed one-eyed whaler with a handful of harpoons.

And even that hides the real story. This is where the maths really kicks in, but let’s look at it in terms of market analysis. You’re a smart, beautiful, educated, professional woman. Who are you going for? Who you’ve always gone for: smarter, older, richer, attractive men. This isn’t a jibe at society’s shallowness blah blah – it’s an evolutionary reality, which is as obvious as it is understandable. Any dissent is wishful thinking with a dollop of self-deception. So what is happening to your preference pool? It’s diminishing. You’re getting only more successful… and older. Your pool of Prince Charming candidates is rapidly shrinking.

And here is where it really gets fun. What’s happening to that ever shrinking pool of desirable men? Their target market has never been larger. See, men are less fussy. They want an awesome girl, sure. But they’re more age and career agnostic. Their floor doesn’t rise. Yours does.

Ladies, you’re pricing yourselves out of the market. This isn’t a critique – kudos to you wonderful women. It just explains the plethora of miserable lawyers and accountants and marketeers complaining to their girlfriends that there just aren’t any good guys out there.

Remember those poor doleful pimply boys of yore? What a sticky, Tantalean hell they inhabited. Remember how you scorned them? And who wouldn’t – you were top of the world and they were…well, gross. You were gorgeous, fun, 21. Remember that 28 year old you dated? You loved a man in a suit, and he loved you. Probably flung him off in a fit of youthful exuberance. You could do better, life was an ocean and you a majestic trawler, breezing through fish by the tonne. Well maybe you could have done better. And still can. But the odds have narrowed. That 30 year old hunk you’re eyeing now is eyeing the 21 year old behind you with whom you now share your pond.

What does this mean? Plot the charts of the mating market in terms of how attractive one sex is to the other and the size of their target market: Men’s prospects start low and steadily rise through their twenties, peaking around their early thirties, to plateau and slowly decline but remain more or less marketable indefinitely (or say until 40 for all intents and purposes). Women peak in their early to mid-twenties and slowly decline until a rough and tumble slide after around thirty. It’s a more or less inverse relationship. And it’s unfair: careening into your happy-ever-after-cum-vicious-jungle unarmed and with the distinct taste of anti-climax.

On this one your country and early bird sisters have a point. Lock it down young at your peak. Hindsight’s a peach though isn’t it?

It’s a funny justice of sorts. But we men didn’t make the rules.

None of this is a secret. This is a conversation I’ve had in countless versions with single women in their late twenties – or early twenties if I’m playing a nasty Cassandra. There’s a moment when it hits, and it’s usually wrapped up with the kids thing. It prompts the pause, the decision, even if you decide to go it without the ankle biters. Certain options have an expiry date – it’s not a societal invention, it’s a biological reality. Working backwards with the number of kids you want, how long it takes to work through the love lifecycle and you realise you better get snapping…suddenly you look around and realise a bunch of the lads are taken, a bunch have degenerated to new and horrifying levels of ineligibility, and the rest…well, the rest have these big fat grins. Because they know. And you know. And the game is up. It’s maths.

Happy hunting whalers. There’s only a can of tuna at the end of this rainbow, better snap up your marlin now.

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