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

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

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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 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.

Click on the menu button to subscribe to Life in Arcadia and get notified of new posts view email, Jules x

Love Maths: Equations and Probabilities

It’s another girl. The timing is wrong. He’s just too busy with work; he’s been abducted by aliens or more likely than not he’s been recruited to the secret service and has had to cut ties with me for my own safety. Whatever the reason, it couldn’t have been my fault. If my calculations were correct we should’ve been holi-dating in Thailand by now and posting obnoxious couple selfies. Instead, the red carpet has been pulled out from under me and I’m left red-faced and licking my wounds after making a public spectacle of myself.  Someone must have fed me corrupted data.  How did this all go so horribly wrong? Holy shit Neo, there’s a glitch in the Matrix.

After falling flat on your face in front of a bemused crowd of onlookers, it can be hard to regain composure. In trying to make sense of our stumbles, we tend to blame everything under the sun except ourselves and get very hung up on the idea of closure. As if falling ass-over-tit for someone who doesn’t want you back isn’t embarrassing enough, people then want to pinpoint the exact moment things went astray. When people tell you not to worry because there’s plenty more fish it’s typically not very comforting. Oh wow really, what sea? What fish? Okay, there’s like 2 billion fish out there but they are probably all weird looking, undersized, bottom feeders. No thanks.  I want a Marlin, not a tin of tuna. I thought I’d hooked a big fish, if only I knew what went wrong. That would change everything, wouldn’t it?

The word itself – closure – indicates some kind of finality, as if knowing what the turning point was will make you feel instantly better and the whole saga will magically fade away into a distant memory. Keep dreaming. Of course it’s not that easy: since when could you blame one straw for paralysing a camel when there’s a whole bale underneath it? It’s never as simple or logical as “rise over run,” so analyse as long as you want but you are more likely to catch a unicorn then the mythical closure beast. Relationships don’t follow a logical, linear progression; the best you can hope for is to find some kind of trend in the chaos so you can manipulate future equations. Jules + Jerk Face = Sad Jules. Subtract the boy, carry the Jules, + gal pals x brunch = awesomeness2.

When you finally accept that you probably won’t ever be able to solve ‘x’ to uncover the exact reason for the relationship failure then you can start looking forward. Perhaps you forgot to carry the two, divide by 36 and move the decimal point; maybe you just weren’t his cup of tea and maybe he likes coffee. It doesn’t matter, post a passive aggressive quote on Instagram and move on. In fact, screw algebra. Thank you, high school maths teachers, for your years of hard work, but I don’t need a graphics calculator to tell me that love doesn’t bear resemblance to a text-book slope. It’s full of curves – positive and negative – and is generally much more of a white-knuckle roller coaster than a bell-shape or an exponential.

Don’t get so hung up on finding a logical answer for the one that got away. It’s nothing more than a necessary dot to your data set. So you put together a forecast based on an algorithm built with situational data and this time your prediction wasn’t even in the ball-park. You got it wrong… But that’s life. You’re not the first person to put all your eggs in one basket before elegantly face-planting right into them, crushing them to smithereens.  Wipe the yolk off your face, honey, and move on, because if you want to bake a cake you’re going to need to break some eggs and what’s that saying again? Oh yeah: “There are plenty more fish in the sea”…but how many exactly!? “Plenty more”’ isn’t a very compelling number– plenty more than what? Plenty more than none or plenty more than a New York City fish market?! Let’s crunch numbers.

By the time you’re in your early-to-mid twenties, it’s likely you’ve already caught a few fish. The newest guy/girl is the second, third – or in my case, 47th – love of your life. For the sake of the argument lets presume you’ve been casting lines into the dating pool for six years approximately. Now in that time you’ve met probably two life-changing loves, which averages out to one every three years (or every three months, if like me you fall in love like it’s going out of fashion). Therefore, conservatively, in a lifetime of dating that could be upto 25 people who could potentially turn your life into the blissful day-dream that is love. [Rough workings: 75 adult years/ 3 year love spells= 25 eligible candidates out there! Yiew!] Now, don’t give me crap about diminishing dating pools and declining probabilities, that’s not the point. I’m not a mathematician I am just a hopeless romantic trying to make an argument. So buck up, Chum, there actually are plenty more fish in the sea. Just keep on catching them and throwing them back until you find the one that’s right for you. And if nothing else, be comforted and a little grossed out by the fact that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise among the elderly… So you’ve got plenty more years of love to look forward to.

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Jules x

Let’s be alone together

Somebody asked me the other day if I was lonely and I nearly fell off my chair.  I have not been lonely since I was a soppy, 14-year-old emo trying to figure out my place in the world, back when the feeling of misunderstanding felt terminal and heavy eye-liner was the only accessible medication. Back to the present day, though, am I alone? Yes.  Am I lonely? Never.  What a pointless waste of time. The absurd accusation that a person would be lonely because they don’t have a partner is about as robust as the assumption that all gay guys are “faaaaaaaabulous” and all pretty girls are dumb. Certainly, there will be instances of each but if you think it’s a blanket rule then you need to get out more.

To the young and carefree loneliness can be a bit like mould: if you’re complacent it can creep in and before you know it you’re sprouting mushrooms out of your shower grout. Much like the hygiene issues in your bathroom, you can’t trust other people to come along and clean up your mess. It’s you’re responsibility now and (I sincerely hope) your mum’s not going to come around save you. Roll up your sleeves, grab the bleach and take care of it like an adult, because – like cleaning the bathroom – the more regularly address it the easier it is to manage.

In a world where we are constantly attached to smart phones it can be easy to dilute friendships down to reciprocal post-liking or regular photo comments. Shout out to my Instagram bffs from around the globe with whom I share a magical double-tapping, girl-crushing, like-for-like commitment. I am here for you babe, and if you’re really struggling with that selfie I promise to like it across all three of my Instagram accounts – until death do us part. That being said it’s common in this day and age to let too many friends drift away from the physical world and get sucked into the digital vortex. Because of this, loneliness can catch you by surprise: while everyone else is driven mad by your loud, bragging message notification tone, you fail to realise the real-life organic relationships you once had are stale or rotting. Sure, I get a kick from pulling in mad stats on my latest highly filtered, artistic, over-exposed masterpiece (‘WOOHOO 100 likes…. Don’t touch me Bitch, I’m famous’) but that doesn’t take away my need for physical contact. I want to see your facial expression, read your body language – even smell your BO if I must. Nothing will ever replace the warmth of a whole-hearted laugh or the tingle of a rib-squishing hug.  Thinking that social media ‘connectedness’ can cure isolation is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound – it’s just not going to stick.

If you’re a capable young adult the difference between being lonely and being alone is choice. I chose to be alone but nobody wakes up in the morning and chooses to be lonely. If I wanted a relationship I’m sure I could find one. There’s a plethora of delightful gents out there who might just be up for the challenge (Wanted: tall, dark and handsome… or tall, blonde and handsome… Or tall and handsome… Ok, ok. Just handsome will do).  I chose to be alone because at this stage there isn’t an offer on the table that would justify rearranging my over-flowing calendar of commitments. With work, study, fitness, friendship, writing and my demanding hair-washing routine I am not willing to compromise my lifestyle for the sake of having someone to constantly harass me via text. So until the male cast of Vampire Diaries comes knocking down my door I’m more than happy to just keep doing my thing.

Loneliness happens when you stop proactively filling up your life with awesome things and waste your time moping that the man or woman of your dreams hasn’t tracked you down and put a ring on it yet. God knows why. Maybe they are too busy out living their own exciting, fulfilling lives to waste time trawling through Tinder profiles, Mutual Friends and Instagram galleries chasing you. The reality is you’re not going to get swept of your feet if you spend the majority of your time alone on the couch. I’m not saying you should sign up for insincere activities in the hopes of meeting someone, because that probably won’t work either. Trust me; a happy person can smell desperation like a shark can smell blood in the water. Only they won’t be creeping up on you like Jaws, they will be running for the hills in case you’re contagious. There is nothing less attractive than a stage-five clinger who has no real life, friends or interests of their own. You don’t want to be that guy and you definitely don’t want to be with that guy so always carry salt.

Finding someone won’t necessarily cure your loneliness anyway.  Personally, I’m more likely to feel alone when I’m in a relationship that’s constantly letting me down than when I am in a committed relationship with myself.  I know what I like, I manage my own expectations, I never have to fight over what movie to watch, I don’t have to shave my legs every day and I’m free to be as ugly as I like without judgement.  If all of that is wrong then I don’t want to be right.

In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre, “if you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.’  If you can accept your flaws and embrace your strengths you can do away with the need for the continual reinforcement sought in a relationship. Put down the i-solation-Phone and make an ongoing commitment to your friendships and making life as full and rewarding as possible. You don’t need to settle for Joe-Blow, or worse, become boring old barnacle joy-riding on someone else’s life. Concentrate on yourself and it won’t matter if you have someone or not because you will be kicking life’s butt regardless.

Bottom line: You never have to be lonely if you can be comfortable being alone.

(Image courtesy of usamedeniz at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)