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.

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