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

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

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)

Valentine’s Day Special: 5 Signs You’ve Settled

Happy Valentine’s Day lovers! It’s that time of the year again, the time where blissfully happy singles are made to feel like second-rate citizens due to their lack of arm-candy.

I’d like to take this opportunity to divert your attention away from those of us who are currently proud members of a one-man wolf pack, however, and highlight the real sob story here. The real losers here are neither those of us who are happily single or, heaven forbid, happily taken.  The ones I feel for are those in sub-par relationships where days like Valentine’s remind them what they are truly missing out on.

Being single is not terminal and it does not mean you’re defective. I’m not losing any sleep over the fact that King Arthur hasn’t yet arrived to pull the sword from the stone; Prince Charming must’ve had too many ales and fallen off his horse; I haven’t stumbled upon a royal amphibian looking to lock lips; and my hair – alas – is still not long or strong enough to support the weight of a fully grown man. What does concern me is the amount of people who have settled prematurely into unhappy relationships. Men and women alike, who are so desperate to stay out of the Lonely Hearts Club that they’ve jumped into a relationship with someone who barely meets their minimum standard.

Let’s take a moment of silence to commemorate those who have battled through the mundane and given up their freedom for the sake of a not being single.  Their sacrifice has been in vain, and I hardly doubt that a crappy stuffed animal on Valentine’s Day is going to offer any consolation. So, as a present to you guys out there I thought I’d put a little bit of a list together to help you identify some key indicators that you might be in a dead-end relationship.

  1. You’re embarrassed by them:

If you’ve been here then you will know the guilt and shame that comes from having a partner you’re not proud of. You will come up with reasons why they wouldn’t want to come to your friend’s event, work party or family dinner; frankly, you just don’t want them there making you look bad. When someone asks you about them you instinctively ‘white lie’… “His job in the film industry [Village cinemas] is going great and he’s really into creative arts [drawing male privates on every Snapchat he sends]. Also, when it comes to P.D.A you feel more inclined towards a public display of vomit. You don’t want anyone to know you’re together because you’re secretly hoping strangers on the street think he’s your brother or a homeless person you’re philanthropically sponsoring. For guys, maybe you’re bragging about her looks to try to distract your mates from her obvious lack of brains and ambitions.

  1. You don’t include them in future plans:

This sets off alarm bells. Better grab a bucket because your relationship is going up in flames. Your only hope now is to cling to a handsome fire fighter or sultry paramedic and get out before this whole place burns to the ground. Jokes aside, if you are planning a new life overseas, an investment property, a puppy or even a new tattoo and they haven’t crossed your mind in the process then this is a worry – particularly if they are the type of person who won’t even get a haircut without your consultation. If your life is moving at a million miles an hour and you don’t want to offer them a VIP ticket for the ride then you’ve got to ask yourself why you’re letting them hang around in the airport lounge for a plane they are never going to catch.

  1. The attraction is gone:

He used to get your heart pumping like Channing Tatum in Magic Mike. Now, the only place you’re likely to experience an elevated heart rate is in spin class, or when you see your food coming at the restaurant. Somewhere along the way all of his or her endearing charm has disintegrated; suddenly you’re left with an over-grown teenager whose general approach to life is so different to yours that it has overshadowed their magnificent cheekbones and you can no longer see the beauty through the bullshit. I’m talking about that feeling you get when you look at your partner some days and wonder if you are actually dating the most disgusting creature ever to walk the earth. The magic has gone and you feel like you’d rather make out with a Saint Bernard than kiss him for the 4 millionth time; Or when her triple chin selfies are no longer cute but more resemblant of Jabba the Hut. It feels like whatever hallucinogenic drugs you must have taken have worn off and you wonder why you ever found them attractive in the first place.

  1. Your friends think you can do better (and you agree)

From the start your friends have been saying you deserve better and their friends have been applauding them for batting above their average. At first you thought your friends were just being negative old spinsters but as the relationship has progressed, the cracks have started to show. For fear of hearing “I told you so,”’ you’ve started to avoid any talk of your relationship in front of your friends. Deep down you know you could aim higher but it’s easier to be with him/her … you’ve let yourself go a bit and you’ve been avoiding manscaping or waxing for so long that you’re hairier than a wildebeest. You’re not ready to get back out there and you’re pretty sure your muffin-top isn’t going to bring anybody to the yard.

  1. You treat them more like a pet than a person:

Come here. Sit. Stay. Behave. Eat. Lie down. Good Boy! Thatta a girl!! Don’t laugh; I know I have definitely been in the situation where I was treating my significant other more like a Labrador than a lover. You shouldn’t have to scold them for stupid things, train them how to behave in public or tie them up outside when you go into a shop. Chances are you’re already day-dream about what your next relationship will be like because you know this one is not your last. If you’re treating your man like man’s-best-friend or using your lady as a show pony then it’s time to take stock.

For any of you empowered singles – meet me at the ticket box, because we are going to the movies this V-Tines day. Thank God we have 50 Shades of Grey to remind us that even most fictitious relationships are screwed up and borderline abusive. Just remember ladies and gents, it doesn’t matter how strong his Christian Gray game is, or if she’s the hottest girl you’ve ever touched. If they are a secret from your friends and a massive tool, what’s the point? Take a little look at your relationship – maybe the best present you could have this Valentine’s Day is a little bit of Candy Heart advice: life’s too short to settle.

(Photo Credit: theinvictusgroupinc.wordpress.com)

We Can Dish It Out, But We Can’t Take It

This week I’ve been wondering: why do women handle rejection so badly? Of course I’m not implying that guys are immune to rejection, it’s something we all suffer from occasionally, like bad breath or a terrible haircut. But, compared to us they do seem to take it with a grain of salt. I’m not sure anyone likes being rejected, but I have found that females get terribly dramatic about the whole thing. “My life is OVER – I can’t cope – I’m going to post passive aggressive quotes and adorable selfies on Instagram until he realises what he’s lost.” (Ladies, it’s a bit sad, stop it). All I can say is that we’ve become used dishing out the rejection but we don’t like the bitter taste of our own medicine.

Let me break it down for you: girls reject guys every week. We avoid your glances, we don’t reply to your texts/direct messages/ snap chats, we decline your ‘friend requests’ and we laugh in your faces at the bar. We can start to get a bit of a big head and become very picky about who we our spend energy on. We get so used to shutting down male advances that we forget what it’s like to be shut down ourselves. For us, getting rejected is a lot like spending hours online searching for the perfect dress only to find your size has suddenly gone out of stock at the checkout. We spend so long scrolling past the ugly sweaters and ill-fitting bum shorts that life throws at us, that we get pretty disheartened when we finally find the garment of our dreams and its ‘currently unavailable’.

If you cross over the border into dating territory and it doesn’t work out that’s where things can start to get complicated. If you realise one day that Mr. Right is actually Mr. SO SO Wrong it can be harder than you expect to get the message across. Women often bank on the silent treatment; which is counterintuitive considering a lot of guys are deaf. Men are not so obsessed with decoding subtle messages, they want to be told in simple terms is this a ‘go’ or a ‘no’. Even if you think you have been placing glaring stop signs at every intersection, unless you are upfront with a guy, you are not going to get your message through. We assume that after six unanswered texts our lack of interest would be glaringly obvious, but I’ve had pet rocks that understand me better. “Hey, how are you?” “Out tonight?” “How was your weekend?” “Nice Selfie 😉 xx” “Wanna hang out?” “Happy /birthday/ Xmas/ Chinese New Year” “Hey Stranger”*cringe*

I’ve spoken to a few guys and they’ve told me they would much rather be told straight out “Sorry buddy, you’re just not my type,” than try and play the guessing game. Understanding women is like playing Scrabble in the dark – unless you lady-friend is willing to shed some light on the situation there’s not much point trying, so just pack up and go home. Believe me, we think we’re being obvious, but in reality there can be a pretty fine line between the behaviour of a woman brushing you off (because she’s not interested) and one playing hard to get (because she’s already planning your wedding). Maybe as women we could be a little more considerate about announcing our intended journey, so that we are not taking anyone on an uncomfortable ride… “Attention passengers: This train is running express to friend-zone station, this is a one-way service.”

If you’re a guy and the girl you’ve been dating has gradually changed from Amazing Amy to Psycho Sally then you’re in trouble. When it comes to letting a girl down easy, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Giving a girl the silent treatment will open up an extensive investigation into your online activities as she tries to triangulate your movements. As she uncovers you activities she’ll turn from Sherlock Holmes into an hysterical mess as she calls her BBF to ask “Why the heck hasn’t he replied to my message from 7 hours ago?! I can see that in the past hour he has liked some skank’s Instagram photo and uploaded a new Snapchat story. Hang on, WTF…I’ve just seen that he was active on Facebook 2 minutes ago! What’s going on!?” …. “I dunno babe, I’m sure there’s a good reason he’s not replying to you… maybe he’s been kidnapped or he’s on a bad acid trip.” (Or maybe he’s hoping if he ignores you long enough you’ll go away…. He’s wrong.)

If he doesn’t offer up a good enough reason for his lack of interest we are probably going to squeeze it out of him by force, like the last ounce of toothpaste. The problem is that women really don’t want to know the truth – but they will ask for it anyway. Gentlemen, proceed with caution. Explaining your point of view requires the same tact used to handle the age old question “does my butt look big in this?” Even if our butt looks like a misshapen cantaloupe we don’t want to know; in the same respect we don’t actually want to know which of our weird/psychotic/annoying traits turned you off us. We don’t want to know that you are just not that keen, we’re not your type or you’re still getting over you’re ex-girlfriend from five years ago (seriously…who was she?! Flipping Adriana Lima – get over it already). In fact, we would much rather attribute it to your immaturity, poor self-esteem, fear of commitment or any other fabricated flaw we can make up to put the blame back onto you so we can sleep better at night.

Like I said, we tend to take rejection very, very personally. We see it as some kind of failure or inadequacy on our behalf. We get crazy over it and we beat ourselves up about it relentlessly. Then we buy the latest Taylor Swift album and listen to it on repeat as we cry into a pillow, wondering why we are so repulsive to the opposite sex. I can’t speak for guys, but outwardly they seem to take it on the chin when they get knocked back. I think we could learn a thing or two from them about just brushing ourselves off and getting on with it. Sorry babe, cancel the pity party.

For the record if you get turned down, it’s not the end of the world. That person isn’t telling you’re worthless, what they are trying to say is you’re not their favourite ice-cream flavour – and that’s okay, because you’re still delicious. Don’t sit at home crying over them, because I can guarantee they are not wasting any time sitting at home thinking about you. Maybe they prefer Fro-yo, maybe they just don’t feel like ice-cream at the moment … or maybe they are just secretly gay. It doesn’t matter. Just keep doing your thing, and don’t ever let a Bubble O’Bill make you feel like you’re not a Magnum.

(image via fyicecream.tumblr.com)