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

5 Tips for the Guy Who Dates Everyone:

For us hungry singles, the solo life is a little like roaming the plains of the savannah: nothing but dust and tumble weeds as far as the eye can see and there’s not a soul in sight to make you feel guilty about eating no-fat yoghurt for dinner or fighting climate change with hairy-leg forests.  Whether you’re swaggering through the open plains like the bossest lion in town or you’re optimistically searching the horizon for the Simba to your Nala we all crave one thing from the opposite sex: attention.  In your twenties you’re at the top of your game and you want to know that someone somewhere has you in their crosshairs and is lining up to take a shot. Who wouldn’t want such a magnificent trophy stuffed and mounted on their wall? Isn’t that what dating is all about anyway?

Whether your game is hunting for the king of the savannah, chasing some sexy poacher booty or making easy pickings of a wounded, newly-single gazelle, girls are not idiots. We have a secret network of informants and we will find out if someone is out spraying bullets around with a machine gun trying to hit every target in his sights. We all know those guys who have messaged every girl in a friendship circle and had a crack at them all…. Simultaneously. Bravo, buddy, but what are you trying to achieve? The odds of an all in orgy are pretty low, as are your chances with anyone of them if your game is that weak.

Girls talk, if you hadn’t noticed. So if you want to play the field and date more than one at once then you need to avoid overfishing in the same ponds. I’m not going to tell you to only date one person at a time and get up on a high-horse, because girls are multi-dating too and that is fine. Everyone is so busy trying to look busy that it’s hard to see someone more than once a week anyway, so if you are craving a little romantic attention you might need to start a rotation to get your needs met… people are getting harder and harder to nail down. But lads, you’re doing a community service really, aren’t you? You’re a handsome young stallion that can’t be tamed; it is your moral duty to go sow your wild seed while you’re still young. Heaven forbid you should settle down prematurely and let all that talent go to waste. Run free, break hearts, have “fun” and make memories that will make your sixty-five year old self proud.

But here are some simple guidelines that can help you be a little more subtle in your quest for world (girl) domination:

  1. Make sure your candidates don’t know each other.

Honestly, these days it takes about 10 seconds to look at mutual friends and even if you find that a stretch too far, try a little common sense. Girls are the same age, you met them at the same place and they both live within a 5km radius. Chances are they know each other, they are probably friends or worse: enemies. We have all stuffed up an opportunity with a hottie by being greedy and targeting a not so hottie at the same time only to find out they are friends, colleagues, cousins or archenemies. Shame it’s always the better looking one that backs down.

  1. Think about location.

Try to define suburb parameters. You can’t be jumping into Lady A’s territory for a quick romantic brunch with Lady B because you will probably get spotted by the neighbourhood gossip girl if not Lady A herself. Also be smart about the venue, as much as you want to take them all to your favourite restaurants, by the time you’ve taken six different dates to your local it starts to get a bit awkward and not just with the staff, who are worried you’re an escort (or just a general jerk), but also when you get your dates mixed up and wax lyrical about the amazing tapas you shared only to be uncomfortably corrected: “Sorry that wasn’t me, I had the eye fillet and you got salmon…” Awks.

  1. Monitor your level of commitment.

Dating several people at once is just a fact of life these days but it’s a transitionary period rather than a long term commitment, just like living in share houses until you find you own home. Don’t be setting up joint bank accounts with your Tuesday girlfriend and picking out a puppy with your Friday fling. If you want to date several people at once then keep it light. Men are terrible for over promising and under-delivering, sorry lads but there’s a bit of the McDonald’s effect where you get us excited telling us you’ll take us to Tahiti in six months. You’re lathering on the mayo without thinking, but girls believe that kinda crap and you can bet your bottom dollar they will spit in your face when all they get is a soggy burger and a bunch of broken promises. If you’re playing the game remember the spirit of fun and keep the future plans to a minimum.

  1. Be honest

Look, I’m not telling you to number off your hoes or write a press release detailing your dating goals. However, if questioned, you really need to be prepared to be honest about your intentions.  Feelings get hurt when people don’t know where they stand. Lucky for you multi-daters, people want to believe they are the only one and usually they don’t ask questions they don’t want to know the answers to. Questions might lead to an awkward conversation but honesty is the best policy because the truth will come out sooner or later, regardless. Don’t hate the player, hate the game right?

  1. Don’t leave it on a bad note.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and even if you’re in a big city the young, attractive, smart people are a small minority.  If you don’t manage your recruitment and termination processes with sensitivity, news of your bad reputation will spread faster than a wardrobe malfunction at a Victoria’s Secret show. If Lucy decides she doesn’t want to be on your rotating roster try to part on good terms. In short, don’t piss in the pool: avoid nastiness at all costs and don’t kiss and tell – we all have to swim in this water. Just because you don’t want to date someone doesn’t mean you have to hate them. Be a grown up and keep it civil.

Evidently, the dating landscape these days can be a bit like the Hunger Games. It’s wild, dangerous and there are a lot of losers. You get a whole group of contenders and let them battle it out with each other until the bitter end whilst trying to manipulate the game so it’s as entertaining as possible. So, until you’ve found your champion try to follow these simple rules to manage your band of tributes. Happy dating kids. May the odds be ever in your favour.

The Curse of the Distracted Man

As I sit down to write the fourth introduction to this post, I am painfully aware of how highly distractible I have become. Today I’m running off about four hours of sleep and three lattes but that’s pretty much my usual state. I currently have four-zillion-and-fifty-one things running through my head or buzzing through my phone, hurtling into my consciousness and bumping me off track like some obnoxious fat kid in a dodgem car. Boom. I’m halted. Productivity at a standstill once again as over-weight Bobby cackles maniacally and rears up for the next assault. Right, where was I? Oh yes, blog post: I was going to write about  being distracted or something like that but I can’t seem to sit still long enough to get anything out on the page.

With push notifications and unlimited Wi-Fi connections it’s bloody hard to focus our attention long enough to cook a piece of toast without losing interest, calling three friends and organising brunch instead. We are so overloaded with commitments and responsibilities that we can’t sit still for more than a minute without with churning through more unique thoughts than a nun on LSD. I like to call it the Curse of the Distracted Man (or Woman) and it’s a modern day epidemic that has us constantly disconnecting from the people around us. Example: I find it hard to take phone call in my own home without switching to speaker phone so I can trawl my Instagram feed, catch up on my emails and start a beginner’s course in Mandarin. Is it because I’m not interested in what my family/ BFF/Bae has to say? Not at all, I’m just so pressed for time and overcommitted than any unused opportunity to multitask seems like a careless waste. Sorry, Mum.

So, Sexy Singles, maybe Mum will put up with your constant distraction and your repetitious “uh, what, sorry… pardon?” but what about Mr. Distract-a-babe or Little Miss Disinterested? How can you capture someone else’s attention when you can’t even manage your own? Now that is a challenge. No matter how happy you are being single, you still want to know that all that hard work and glamour isn’t going unnoticed. Thank God for the constant buzz of our smartphones reminding us that we are still hot and still relevant. Naturally it makes sense that the majority of dates no are organised online nowadays. It’s easy, accessible and not to mention it softens the blow of rejection and allows for calculated flirty banter. Just one problem, when we finally make it down to dating town sometimes we can’t remember how to communicate without the aid of emoji’s.

For us, the distraction-afflicted phone addicts, how do our over-loaded minds affect our dating prospects? It feels like everyday life is a juggling act with 100 applications running and it gets harder and harder to prioritise them as we take on more and more responsibilities, let alone write back to text messages. I saw a great quote the other day, it read: “my brain has too many tabs open.” It was like a one-line description of this whole generation. As a group we often do a bloody terrible job at dating because we can’t follow a single train of thought for more than about 30 seconds. In theory, dating is pretty straight forward concept, just like going to the supermarket. Unfortunately, when I try and go to the supermarket I set off looking for some wholesome skinless chicken fillets and come home with 2 Curly-Whirlies, a tub of yogurt and a trashy mag (then wonder why my cupboards are bare and my stomach is growling).

Has anyone else struggled to get through even the simplest coffee date without an attack of the Gen Y phone-checking interlude? A few years ago it was downright rude to text or call in the company of someone else but now it’s become common place. Trying not to look at your phone on a date is the new generation blinking contest, both parties dying to moisten their eyeballs in the sweet pool of notifications that have gathered during the time it took to cover-off small and place your order. What is the meaning of those five loud vibrations my phone has emitted throughout dinner… maybe I should excuse myself for a “bathroom/selfie/Snapchat/Instragram/e-mail/Whatsapp break”. Maybe I can get away with sneakily checking my messages whilst photographing my dinner (thank god that’s also widely accepted these days… Phewww).

I don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to telling my date to put his phone away. If anything, I jump at the opportunity to whip out mine for a quick sweep. We are so over stimulated it’s hard to sit still and have a regular conversation with someone without compulsively checking for messages or sharing inane memes from our endless collection of screenshots.  The cat doing yoga and pictures of my past brunches may have shown how worldly and hilarious I am, but more likely they pointed out that I’m just as distracted and self-involved as everyone else. And so the curse claims another victim. But wait, no it’s okay, he didn’t even notice my self-indulgent rampage because he was too busy sending urgent emails. Alas, it’s no fun playing hard to get when the other party has resigned themselves to a liking-spree on Instagram during dessert, before I’ve even had a chance to flash my catch-me-if-you-can smile.  *winky face, blowing a kiss emoji*

The guys that can leave their phone in the car while they’re at dinner and the girls who can mute their notifications for two hours without collapsing from FOMO are becoming a rare breed. So – if you’re trying to work out how to keep a date’s attention while you’re out eating (short of finding someone different to eat with) all I can suggest is that you try texting them.