Single... and Never Right

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 20 February 2011 20:11 1 comments
Since I was thrown back into singledom I have learned a few things; how to build a flatpack desk all by myself, how to cook lasagne properly (we used to get the ready meal version), and more recently, how we single girls just can't get it right no matter how we're feeling. Someone is always there to question us.

I did the heartbreak, the anger, the throwing myself into another 'relationship'... I did it all, and my friends saw me through it for which I am eternally grateful. But now, now that I am for the most part enjoying being my own person in my single little life, I go through phases of not wanting anyone to come and mix it up followed by phases of wanting a man in my life - but no matter which phase I'm in, someone has to put in their two cents and tell me I'm doing it all wrong.

I know they don't mean to - it's usually my friends that put their foot in it so I know they wouldn't try to make me feel rubbish intentionally - but really, must my love life be commented on just because I am single? I don't meet up with my attached friends and tell them what they're doing wrong in their relationships, so unless I'm asking you what I'm doing wrong (I tend not to ask that, unless there is a lot of wine involved and it's with my best friend who feels the same) I'd prefer a little support rather than all the questions or jibes. Pretty please.

Recently, out in a bar, I made a half-joke that they should have a door policy where they just let in single people who are all over a certain height (I'm talking men, here) so that the likelihood of being chatted up by someone with potential was heightened. I may not have put it quite like that - a bottle of Pinot Grigio had mysteriously been consumed by this point, but it was along those lines. Instant reaction from my (also single but far better at dating) friend - 'Wow, desperate much?'. Ouch. And this just to a joke about wanting to chat to a decent man for a few hours. 

So if I want to find a man and I talk about it, I'm desperate; the lovely Mullies' column over on Cosmo summed that up perfectly, complete with all the cliches I am sick of hearing. No, it won't happen when I least expect it, because to be honest my expectations have been pretty low, or non existent since the last guy I saw and nothing has cropped up thus far. But on the flip side whenever I am more nonchalant about it, and mention that actually I am quite content being single and am not really looking for anything, I get asked why? Why do you not want a boyfriend? What's wrong? 

I was asked this by a very annoying tourist in Zebranos once. His mate had bought my mate a drink so he thought that entitled him to hassle me, while I politely sipped my own drink and prayed he'd disappear. The conversation went something like this after he asked, with a smirk, if I was single:
'Yes.'
'Why are you single?'
'Well, I just am, why is anyone?'
'So, do you want a boyfriend then?'
'No, not right now.'
'But why not? Every girl wants a boyfriend, don't they. I could be a good boyfriend.'
I gulp my wine and tell him I'm off to get another drink.

If it's not random men in bars who won't get the hint that they are pushing ancient on the age scale and could really do with reigning in that pervy tongue, it's friends who just don't understand how I could not be desperate (there's that word again) to get back into a relationship. 'How's your love life?' they ask, as if everybody has to have a love life. 'Why not try online dating?' 'You need to just get out there',  etc etc. I simply can't get it right.

As seen in my recent blog posts, there are pros to being single and cons to the lonely life. Everyone knows that, even those of you who live in perfect pairdom. Sometimes I crave having someone to come home to and snuggle with, and other times I feel secretly lucky to be so independent. But if I am telling you I wish a bar were full of eligible men just for me, don't call me desperate. Pay me a compliment to make me feel better. Or if I am telling you I'd rather be a nun than have a man in my life, don't jump in with the cliches - just let me be right, for once. After all, I don't have anyone else to win arguments with...
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Having recently dipped my toe back into the rather cool - icy even - pool of internet dating, I found myself wondering whether this now common way of finding a date is turning us into more critical singletons, with expectations that are far too high. 

With shows like Take Me Out getting me fired up (just check the Twitter feed - sorry to my dear followers), about both the men and women on it, it's all too easy to dismiss someone almost instantaneously because of a less than perfect first impression. Not as tall as you'd like? Lights out.  Lives with his mum? Blackout. Dresses his puppy in little outfits? Bit weird. Likes to dress as a woman and sing? Well, that might be pushing it. 

Back in the day (and this isn't even that far back, for me anyway), you used to see someone, get to know someone and see where it went. Now, in a dating world where it's harder to find a date and anyone and everyone is online in some shape or form, we're getting snappier and stricter with our judgements. And it's not just that we can find them online - even after a first date we can Google them, Facebook stalk them, find them on Twitter or on their blog and see what makes them tick before making a decision, without so much as sending them a message to say thanks for the drink.

With this immediate approval or disapproval in mind, we online daters seem to be looking for Mr or Mrs Perfect - and nothing less will do. I'm hardly in a position to be fussy, that much is clear - and I'm trying to be quite open minded online, putting age differences and usual type aside when browsing. But flicking through some profiles on a site recently left me feeling really rather inadequate (and then, when my senses kicked in, just disappointed) because I wasn't sure I could meet the 'would like to meet' criteria of most of these men. Are we so used to getting the right stuff in just a few clicks that we expect dating to be the same? The top profile put-offs for me so far have been:
  • Wanting a girl who is really happy, because you are super positive and upbeat.  I don't know about you, but I can't stand people who walk around with permanent smiles on their faces. In fact I am pretty suspicious of them. What's so wrong with being the one to make a slightly-less-than-happy girl happy? After all, is that not what we're all looking for? Know your audience.
  • Wanting a girl who is 'open to trying new things'. Well what does that mean? Are you going to make me sky dive on our first date? Force-feed me curry even though it makes me sick? Or are you just kinky as hell? Either way, I don't want to make a promise I can't keep. I will try what I want, with or without a date. 
  • Writing specifically that you are after a good-looking girl. No, 'someone who makes me laugh', no 'I happen to like brunettes', just pure and simple you want someone who looks good. To make that announcement you should look something along the lines of Brad Pitt back in his earlier years yourself, or George Clooney who everyone  loves - because otherwise, you're just a shallow and average man who doesn't get that even the best looking people in the world aren't everyone's cup of tea. And with that assumption, you are not mine.

So guys, (and girls) - can I make a suggestion? Rather than describe in detail the absolute ideal of the person you are looking for, perhaps make it a little more open to, you know, real people. Cheryl Cole (or enter perfect woman/man here) isn't going to be looking for you on there, but the One might be - don't make them click off in the first second just because they're scared of heights or not a fan of Indian food. You at least want them to be interested enough for them to try and Google you...


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The Downside of Being Single

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 10 February 2011 23:55 2 comments
OK, so despite my last post things aren't all rosy in the singles camp. They can be a little prickly at times. While I am enjoying my arguments-less, toilet-seat-down freedom, there are a few cons to balance out the pros of being all alone...
 
1. Valentine's Day
This one is in both lists because let's face it, even though it's irrelevant rubbish when you're single it can become dull to be the grumpy unattached one who cries out that Clinton's simply invented it to make money out of us all for the first thirteen days of February. Most of those in a relationship can look forward to a guaranteed night of attempted romance, a present, some alcohol and maybe even an engagement. Will he, won't he, ooh the excitement. (He probably won't. It would be a bit uninventive to put it in your dessert at TGI Fridays). 

2. Manly Jobs
Get your minds out of the gutter, I am talking DIY. Around the house. I live in a house with very high ceilings and I do not own a ladder, nor do I want to for heights are not my strong point. This means changing a lightbulb when one of our spotlights goes bang is basically impossible and I have to live in the dark(ish). A man would find some way to sort it out I'm sure - that's his job*. He would also put manly things in my man drawer (Michael McIntyre reference, look it up), and generally be my DIY hero for anything I couldn't manage. (I say this, having built my very own *cough* flat pack *cough* desk, thank you very much). 
*Promise I'm not sexist... I swear boys like to play with tools. And lightbulbs. 

3. Hugs
Probably the single reason that could sway me away from liking being single is the lack of hugs going around. There are two people that give amazing hugs: my mum, and my (currently non existent) man. I don't see my mum anywhere near enough since evil National Rail and co keep boosting train prices so much that I struggle to even go back home once a month. Friends give hugs but they are always a quick hello or goodbye - but for the ones I miss, I'm talking about the kind of wrapping-you-up, not letting go for a good half hour type of hug. I miss those. 

4. Weekends
I would like a weekend boyfriend. I pretty much had that when doing the long-distance thing and it suited me quite well - too busy in the week for anything but work and sleep, and then lots of spare time at the weekend that needed filling with fun, hugs and getting to know someone better. These days my weekends tend to see me exhausted trying to be creative while also trying to remember how to relax, but really it would be quite nice to have someone to get a Sunday roast with or to watch films all day with... sigh. 

5. The Plan
As we saw from my rant about turning a QUARTER OF A CENTURY OLD (I'm not over it yet), being single at 25 wasn't in my plan. Just a few years ago I was thinking about how I would decorate the flat that me and my now ex would buy together one day. Silly, silly me. While that plan is well and truly de-planned (a good thing), a lot of my friends are looking to buy houses, looking at rings in jewellery shop windows, looking at baby scans... and well, they're all settling down a bit. Which makes me feel a little odd, since in my head I could easily still be 18 and the thought of settling down scares the bejesus out of me, because all I want is someone to travel with and to still party with the girls on a Saturday night. It would be nice to have a new plan forming though, or at least some unplanned fun which shows a glimmer of possibility of a plan later on. You know, before I turn 30. Which is just five years away *gulp*...

I'm sure I've missed out a whole load of romantic stuff but let's not depress ourselves, shall we? I still stand by my pros of being single and at the moment, aside from a dark bathroom (seriously, anyone got a ladder they fancy using?) I am pretty happy. Most of the time...

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The Sunny Side of Being Single

Posted by Judy Johnson On Tuesday, 8 February 2011 00:26 2 comments
What's that you say? There are good things to be said about singledom? Why yes, I believe there are. Not having a Match.com-advert-like life is actually not the worst thing in the world (it's brilliant, in fact, since I despise those ads). Romance is great, but relationships? Not so much, not always anyway. Just in time for that ridiculous date in the diary that we like to call Valentine's Day and circle with a red heart, I thought I'd put together a little list of things to be grateful for, all thanks to being happily single. And no, it doesn't mean I fail at life, hate couples, am gay or an angry feminist - I just quite like the freedom of being free.

I'm not saying all you gorgeous loved-up people have it bad - we all know you're pretty happy and we're happy for you. (There will, for balance, be a follow up blog on the cons of all this fancy-freedom).

1. Valentine's Day
The obvious one to start with - we singles are free from the pain of Valentine's Day. The overpriced cards, the overpriced presents which we have to buy at the last minute because the sweet little handcrafted gift didn't turn out so well, the pressure of finding something to do together that isn't just a meal in Pizza Express. With a coupon. Ahhh, bliss. This Valentine's Day is a Monday too so I don't even have to find a single-but-still-doing-something alternative. Amazing. Thank you, calendar.

2. Money
Closely connected to numero uno but definitely a point (or ten) in its own right is the money, honey. The money I earn goes on me (well, rent), my friends (read: wine with friends), family and nobody else. When I take a little trip to Matalan, I can skip the men's section. I tend to skip the women's section too and head straight for the home bit, but that is not the point. I used to spend a fortune when I was non-single - trips across the UK because of long distance fun, expensive presents, little presents, underwear, cinema trips, petrol, the list went on. Now Christmas is easy because I just spoil my family and I no longer think it's acceptable to go into my overdraft just to travel across the UK for a kiss.

3. Nights out (and in) with the girls
You can have nights out with your friends when you're not single. (No really, you can). But some ladies don't understand that you can also leave the man at home, or that you can put your phone in your bag and he shouldn't mind too much that you haven't updated him about how busy the bar is and what your outrageously drunk friend is up to. Most of my friends are great at enjoying themselves when their other halves are at home or likewise out with the boys, but you can always spot one girl in the room who's got her Blackberry out (fine, iPhone, cool kids) or the one who is stood next to her guy because he had nothing to do and decided to tag along, but is now bored because dancing isn't his thing. My nights out are spent catching up with best friends, laughing as much as possible and dressing to impress - and I will keep that up even when/if I'm not in singlesville. (I do have some great friends though whose other halves are as much fun as they are on a girls' night out - so I hope my next man is one of those, please).

4. Arguments
I didn't have too many of these back in the day thankfully, but when we did argue I hated it. I hate confrontation so tended to go quiet and stare at my phone wondering why it wasn't beeping with apologies. I don't miss the disagreements, the questioning of feelings, the second-guessing what the other was thinking - obviously, that relationship ended so clearly wasn't right, but I'm sure every relationship has its little quibbles. These days, the only arguments I have are with the adverts I hate on TV (here comes Match again) and the amount of calories in a Pop Tart. I win every time.

5. My space
No, not Myspace. My space. Though Facebook probably features in here too, thanks to the lack of relationship status updates, stalking and anguish over why he hasn't put up that lovely photo of you both as his profile picture (this is a general point, not about me, promise). As a detached damsel not-in-distress, I get to do what I want, make a mess of my room if I want (actually, I prefer not to), do my makeup if I feel like it, stay in my perfectly acceptable non-silky pyjamas on a Sunday if I want to and generally have my own space whenever I need it. Wash his smelly socks and give up my bathroom? No thank you. 


Ok, there are plenty of downsides to being back in the world of dating - but while I have a think about those, what have I missed from the sunny side up? 


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