Tag Archives: relationships

The First Move- A Dilemma

I usually love being a woman.

However,  a few niggles include the gender pay gap (which makes me steam and rant for hours), the fact that I can’t sing bass lines, and the following situation.

The scenario is a date, or another situation that ends with the two of us alone. It’s likely we have been talking for a while, that we’re quite close, and that all the official date happenings are already finished. The movie credits have rolled, the bill in the restaurant is settled and everything so far has been going well. If this were still the rom-com we’ve been watching earlier, the audience could predict exactly where this is headed: the first kiss, some frantic making out, possibly a bedroom.

However, because this is reality, we’re both required to traipse around this obvious conclusion and instead wait till one of us makes the critical first move. Movies tell us that this first move is a long gaze into each others’ eyes, followed by a seamless swoop of the head leading to a long and passionate kiss. I’ll call this “the smooth swoop”.

Reality teaches me that the first move more likely pans out in one of three ways:

1) “the Mad Chicken”
Our heads are sort of close, then one of us suddenly moves their head a bit closer, the other turns their face slightly, we both attempt a kiss, but one of us ends up licking a cheek and the other finds their nose lodged in an eye. Not terribly sexy, but comic relief goes a long way, and as this situation establishes a solid awkward baseline it’s often possible to recover from there and turn the night around.

2) “the Scared Rabbit”
Our heads are sort of close, we look into each others’ eyes, and then both realise that the other one is watching for our next move. We don’t want to take that responsibility, so instead of moving in for the kiss we both freeze in space, occasionally blinking nervously.
It’s very hard to get out of this scenario. We might be saved by a fox howling outside, or a flatmate walking into the living room, shocking us out of your frozen pose. However, the embarrassment of our inaction is hard to recover from, and chances are that the evening will end quickly, with a mumbled goodbye at the door and quiet relief when the other has left.

3) “Cat and Mouse”
My least favourite scenario – this is when we’re both game for a kiss to happen, but as soon as one of us moves in, the other one, just to prolong the chase, wriggles out.

(nota bene: I’m not referring to situations when only one of you wants to make out!)

The first person takes this as a display of disinterest, and retreats. However, the tables turn and now the second person takes up the chase, trying to move in for a kiss.

This can be repeated almost endlessly, if both of us are stubborn enough. And yes, the chase can be sexy and fun.  My dislike for this last scenario is partly that I’ve so often observed it with straight men who are simply not comfortable with being the one that “gets kissed”. They retreat just so they can take the active part seconds later. Sometimes I’d like to be the one who makes the first move though!

In order to avoid getting cat-moused, I’ve settled on this final gambit as my preferred opening move:

4. “the (Power-) Drunk Super-Villain”
In most action movies, there comes a time when the villain has captioned our hero, bound him in chains and is planning his slow and ugly demise. Being a narcissistic psychopath, however, he appreciates finally having an audience and then wastes a good ten minutes of precious potential rescue time.  He explains exactly what evil things he did, what his evil motivations were, how he’s planning to do evil from now on and probably shares his social security number and bank details while he’s at it.

This never works out, because the pretty sidekick arrives in this spare time, frees the hero and they proceed to undo all the villain’s evil plans. Do not make this mistake as a super-villain. Silence is gold!

However, at the end of a date, this behaviour works brilliantly.

You lean in, you say “I think you’re really hot and I want to kiss you”, you look at them briefly to confirm that they’re not horrified by this proposition. Then you kiss. Dilemma solved.

Just hope the sidekick doesn’t come barging in at this moment.

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Taking My Own Advice- A Timeline

Over the last few years I’ve accrued a certain experience with consoling friends who newly got out of relationships. I don’t think of myself as a particularly emotionally tuned in or apt at dealing with other people’s crises, but most of the time being online late at night and not being a complete dickhead is sufficient to be approached by friends and acquaintances in distress.

Either way, I’ve talked to a lot of people who’d just been broken up with. And in a way, each one of these people had a unique story. A story about long-term partners, recent dates or fuckbuddies. A story about cheating, fighting or slowly fizzling out. A long, drawn out, painful epic, or a quick text on a Thursday night.  The uniting element is that someone, in some way told them “What relationship we have will end here”.  And however unique the circumstances are, however unique the pain feels, there is something fundamentally universal to being broken up with. This means that the limited helpful advice that can be given will be almost insultingly similar to every victim of a breakup. I’ve dealt out this stuff verbatim for years.

The two rules that stick out are:

1)  Stay away from your ex.

and

2) It will take time, but you will be ok

2011 was the first time I had to put this advice into practice myself.

The first rule  is very straightforward and practical, a clear guideline for behaviour and questions. Should I call him? Should I go to his best friend’s BBQ? Should I let her know that I downloaded that program she likes? Should I set my facebook status to “thinking of you…”? Please refer to rule 1.  No, you shouldn’t.

Don’t call, don’t visit, don’t hang out where your ex hangs out. Don’t provoke “chance” meetings, or organise awkward run-ins at third-party friends’ karaoke parties.

In my case this was relatively easily achieved by not living on the same continent as my ex. Changing some settings in my favourite chat protocols was all that was needed for successfully avoiding my ex and not talking to him for the next 6 weeks.

Rule 2) is a bit trickier, as it doesn’t present any clear-cut advice, but some rather vague reassurance that at some point in the future, life will suck less than it does right now. There’s no deadline, no definite answer. There’s also no consequence to your own behaviour, no guideline apart from “hang in there, dude”. It’s undoubtedly true in almost all cases (after all, due to natural fluctuations in happiness, at some time things will be better, and you’ll overcome the local minimum you’re experiencing right now). However, it’s not immediately helpful to hear, especially when no-one can tell when this magical ok-ness will happen.

Ever the social scientist, I’ve volunteered for my own little case study and took detailed notes.

This is highly subjective, I’m not aiming to replicate the results anytime soon, and of course your timeline might be vastly different from mine. But if you’re at a local minimum, and asking all your friends “WHEN THE FUCK WILL IT BE BETTER ALREADY?” maybe you’ll take a little consolation from this tale.

Perceived Happiness over Time from Day 0 (Break-Up)

Interpreting the graph should be easy. X-axis represents time in days, Y-axis represents level of personal well-being and contentment. For future reference: it took me about a two weeks to a month to be fully functional in daily life again, two months until things were normal 90% of the time, and three months until I could genuinely look back on the relationship without pain.

And yes, sticking to my own advice was the right strategy for me. Following the first rule and not being around my ex let me appreciate that my life without him is as colourful and complete. Instead of dwelling on what was missing I filled the empty space with old and new friends. The second rule became a mantra that brought me hope. In future, I will update it to “It’ll take time (approx. three months) but you’ll be ok”. It might be universal advice after all.

Although all my friends were helpful and supportive throughout this experience, this post is dedicated to K.

You’re wonderful, and everyone can only wish for a friend as caring as you are. Thank you.

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FWB- a Three Letter Word

The topics for most of my blog entries usually come to me in the guise of dates I go on myself, occasionally through a story a friend tells me. Today’s post is inspired by not one, but two friends, who told me virtually identical, and in any case similarly frustrating stories.

Casual relationships, fuckbuddies or friends with benefits are a common occurrence in the realm of modern dating. This form of relationship offers people who don’t want a romantic relationship, or who haven’t met a suitable candidate, the opportunity of stability, familiarity and regularity while dispensing with the need for intense emotional involvement and romantic commitment. At its very best, a casual relationship can tick all the boxes. The prerequisite is that this level of involvement is what both parties want – a  casual relationships makes a rubbish consolation prize when you’re madly in love with someone.

However, all too often you’ll find that after a few dates you have two people with different levels of emotion and expectations. Person A is happy to keep dating casually, is open to a sexual relationship, but doesn’t want to become more involved romantically. Person B however is falling in love, would prefer to make the relationship more committed and exclusive, and wants to bind person A to them.

This outset can lead to the following scenario.

B: I really like you – I think we should consider a serious relationship!

A: Hm, this is fun, but I don’t want a serious relationship (right now/with you, etc.). If you’re interested in more, we should probably stop seeing each other,  otherwise you’ll get hurt!

B: Oh, don’t worry, I promise I won’t get hurt. Let’s just continue to see each other casually.

A: Sounds good to me!

We have two people, two different demands, two different emotional perspectives. Yet almost invariably, B will step down and through some sort of jedi mindtrick absolve A from the guilt of hurting them, while continuing the relationship to A’s specifications. In both of my friends’ stories, this was the case.

Let me make this really clear: I’m all for friends with benefits. Being FWB can be absolutely wonderful, giving two people exactly what they need. But in this scenario, only A  gets what they need, whereas B ends up making unreasonable concessions, out of fear of losing what little affection A is prepared to give them. Surely that can’t be right?

But how can you avoid this situation? What if you’ve fallen for your friend with benefits?

Oh, honey. Yes, it’s tempting to think that things between you and A are going to be complicated either way, and that being fuckbuddies is a good way of keeping them in your life. However, if what you really want is a proper monogamous doves-balloons-and-heartshaped-lollipops relationship, you’re setting yourself up for heartache. If A is willing to risk that just so they can still sleep with you, they’re not really worth your love, and they certainly don’t make a good friend.

Step away, please.

And what if you’re on the other side? What to do when you find yourself in A’s shoes?

What is the appropriate response when you realise your friends with benefits  is way more into you?

The usual answer from A to this is: Surely it’s not just my responsibility to deal with this.  B is a grown-up who is responsible for their own emotional well-being, and I should be able to trust them when they ensure me that they won’t get hurt.

That sounds nice, but somehow the resulting scenario feels all wrong. I’d therefore  like to offer the following caveat: As the less involved party you have a certain responsibility to protect the more vulnerable B. If you’re indeed friends, this might be the moment to look out for your friend. As previously mentioned on this blog, it’s unreasonable to expect someone in a state of mental delusion to make a responsible choice. Tell B that you don’t think its a good idea for you two to hang out anymore and then stick to it!

If you’re not friends, just fuck them over and enjoy your ride. But please don’t complain to your other friends afterwards about how you didn’t see it coming, and really wish B would get over things and you could still be friends.


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The Other Side of the Fence

Someone asked me whether I was really always the one being asked out, always the one doing the picking, choosing and ditching.

In short: No.

But the main purpose of this blog was to entertain and spark some debate, and that’s easier to achieve (I think) with anecdotes of dates that I actually went on, than with the story of me waiting desperately for that one phonecall/text/facebook message from that one person. Which is a true story.

Yes, I get asked out, but not always by the right people, hence the funny anecdotes. And sometimes I wish I had the guts to ask someone out, but I don’t dare to or get really clear “don’t even bother” signals.

So really, I spend about half of my time on the other side of the fence. But this blog isn’t meant to be about emotional turmoil, but rather about social conventions regarding emotional turmoil, and so the stories are skewed in that direction.

That said, I did get asked out recently. Stay tuned.

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