Self-summary

I rarely have to force myself to edit down my words online. I’m verbose in reality, but less so on paper, and more often than not I find myself struggling to meet minimum word counts than to come in under the maximum.

Here, I know who I am, because I’m honest, but honest in the moment: what I say is true today, but it might be less so tomorrow. That said, the blog isn’t everything I am, either: it’s love, anger, disability, MH and food – all things that matter, but make up a fraction of the ‘real me.’

Of all the things I hate about internet dating, the self-summary is high on the list. Is it easier to be able to say as much as you want, OK Cupid style, or to be confined to 500 characters, à la Tinder?

So, how would I summarise myself? There’s the stuff that’s true every day: that I won’t have seen that film you’re talking about, that I live on chocolate and wine, that I’m Charlie almost as much as I am RL me, that I have a disability, that I sometimes struggle with anxiety, that I chat, a lot, that I love books, bath oil, and words, that I want children, and hugs, and long walks in the rain.

But there’s also the stuff that shifts. And, as this excellent piece by Jilly Boyd proves, the little details of someone’s life are often far more fascinating than the bigger picture. Some days, I’m a Dairy Milk girl, other days Galaxy. My signature scent is Dior Pure Poison but at the moment I flirt with YSL Opium every time I go in John Lewis, because it matches the way I feel right now. I’m the book on my nightstand, the recipe I return to again and again this month, the track on permanent repeat on my phone, the short story floating around in my head.

I’m all of that, but on Tinder I’m a ‘sometimes scary-seeming, but actually super-soft feminist, working in publishing, baking, writing, and learning to run (badly!) in my spare time.’

It’s not the best thing I’ve ever written.

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Time is a feminist issue

I’ll begin this by saying that I think a lot of people may disagree with what I’m about to say. Certainly the friend I mentioned it to this evening did. Please do add your thoughts in the comments, whether you agree or not – I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts.

Anyway. In comparison with a lot of women, there are very few claims on my time. I work full-time, sure, and there are a couple of hobby-related regular commitments in the evening, but I’m not raising children, working hours and hours of overtime or caring for someone who’s sick or elderly. I’m a single woman, a free agent, and my diary is relatively uncluttered.

None of that means that my time isn’t valuable. There are lots of things I need/like to do when I have free time – meet friends for drinks, laundry, food shopping, blogging, writing. And I like to know in advance where those things are going to slot into my week. That makes me neither a better nor a worse person than someone who likes to fly a bit more by the seat of their pants.

I should also, in the interests of full disclosure, remind you that time keeping is not one of my strengths. I’m regularly 15-30 minutes late. I’m occasionally guilty of doing that thing where you send a ‘Just leaving now!’ text when you still have wet hair and are wearing only your knickers.

But I don’t bail. Last night I went to someone’s birthday drinks. She’d invited somewhere between 15-20 people. Most had replied to say that they’d be there, but when I turned up, halfway through, the majority had texted some excuse as to why they had to cancel at short notice. This kind of shit drives me crazy. As she said herself, if people had said no in the first place, or the week before, she could have made the decision to cancel. The way it actually worked out, as the night wore on the pub kept moving us to smaller and smaller tables as it became obvious people weren’t going to show. I doubt it ruined her birthday, but it can’t exactly have made it, either.

So yes, both men and women can be lame. But in my experience it’s far more often men who are guilty of suggesting plans, promising to confirm by a certain time/day, and then not bothering, so the woman has to chase, which makes her feel needy, naggy and generally pretty damn unattractive. Once or twice I’ll forgive this, but if it becomes a pattern, not so much. If it becomes a pattern I will nag you, I will become shrill and needy, and I will pick a fight, even though it won’t help.

Why a feminist issue, though? Well. You could (and I’m going to) argue that men call the shots much more in dating than women do, especially in the early days. I see tweets every day from women about men who’ve arranged dates only to cancel at the last minute. And, something which I’ve had more experience of myself, and which I hate even more: men who initiate conversations via dating websites, who want to flirt, who want to sext, who want you to give up a good chunk of your time to interact with them online but who have no intention of meeting up in person, Men who can’t even be bothered to take the time to draft something new when they message you via said sites. Men who clearly haven’t even taken the time to read your profile. Men who, essentially, think their time is *much* more important than yours.

That’s the impression it gives too when, a bit further down the line, a guy suggests meeting up on a Sunday and says he’ll confirm by, let’s say, Friday evening. I generally like to have my weekend plans firmly in place by Friday, but I like him, so, ok, I can wait till Friday. Friday comes and goes. Nothing. Saturday evening comes. Still no word. I text, and ok, by now I probably sound a bit stroppy. I say something like ‘I guess tomorrow’s not happening, then? And the reply, of course, says ‘Sorry! No, couldn’t make tomorrow in the end.’

There are of course other explanations here. That he’s generally flaky. That he just doesn’t give a fuck about me. There’s probably some truth in both of those statements. But I do think it’s partly because he’s a man, and because he’s been socialised to believe that his time, his wants and his needs, take precedence. And even if he doesn’t believe those things, he has *no idea* how often women’s time is at the mercy of the decisions men make. So boys, if you really want to be feminist, start by texting when you say you will.

I wouldn’t buy a 3D telly, so why would I want a 3D man?

This post has been many inspirations in the making, but I nearly didn’t write it. Believe it or not, if it’s deeply personal, I don’t write about it here.

Men on paper (or, more likely, on screen) are full of promise. There’s a guy on OKCupid at the moment who likes long walks in the country, pub lunches, and, get this: art house cinema (Do you know how rare that is?!) I should message him. And yet, somehow, I just can’t get that excited.

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Ur beautiful

I was going to title this post On Beauty, but then I realised that Zadie Smith got there first. Dammit.

Anyway. There were years and years of my life when I longed for boys to tell me I was beautiful. I’ve written before about the impact that my early nightclub experiences had on my life, and wanting to feel pretty was a massive part of that. As a teenager, I wasn’t particularly interested in fashion, but I was precociously interested in sex, and I wanted to be kissing boys. What did the boys want from me? Someone to do their homework.

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Sleaze, yes please (occasionally)

Another blog post hot on the heels of last night’s – partly to make it clear that I have no intention of this becoming a largely protected blog and also because this was the post I wanted to write last night but wasn’t thinking coherently enough to pull all the strands of together.

It started with reading Justine Elyot’s short story, Thames Link, which opens with this line:

” I sing the praise of the sleazy man.”

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OK, Cupid, we’re done

I was talking to a friend the other day about New Year’s Resolutions. Her theory was that you should save them for Spring, because the desire for change is greater when the weather’s warmer and the whole world feels like it’s renewing itself. It’s not a bad theory, but  I’m even more in favour of an even gentler approach: that we put too much pressure on ourselves generally and resolutions should be avoided at all times. Life is pretty damn hard: be kind to yourself.

With that conversation in mind, as well as this blog post which I wrote a few weeks back, I spoke to another friend. I told her that my plan is (eventually!) to stop focusing on my short term pleasure/happiness, and instead to dedicate myself to the long game. She assumed, unsurprisingly, that by ‘the long game’ I meant finding a guy to settle down and have children with. I didn’t, actually, or at least, not entirely, I more meant that I want to find a calmer, more steady sense of contentment than the one I have now. Quite a few people have commented on my post about babies, saying that yes, it probably is best to call it quits on friends-with-benefits type relationships, and work harder at finding something more meaningful if that’s what I want in the long term. I agree, with the first part, at least, and so 2014 will be the year I stop sleeping with the boy. Honest.

‘Great,’ she said, ‘I’m sure you’ll meet someone fantastic, there are loads of great guys online.’ 

‘I’m going to stop internet dating, too.’

There was a pause. A long pause. Then she said ‘Well, I can understand why you’d want a break, but I’m sure you’ll feel more like it if you have a month off.’

‘No,’ I said, ‘I mean it. I hate it, and I’m not doing it any more.’

We went back and forth like this for a while – her trying to persuade me that I’d feel better about it after some time off; me increasingly pissed off that she just didn’t seem to get what I was saying. Sure, OKCupid and Tinder can be fun; and can be flattering, but they also exhaust me and play havoc with my already fragile mental health.

Earlier this year, I had a few weeks of back and forth flirting with a guy on OKCupid. The conversation repeatedly came back to his desire that we should meet for drinks, and then get a hotel room and fuck each other senseless. The bit that made me wary was that we couldn’t just go back to his. When I mentioned it to a friend, she said ‘He’s married.’ And so I asked him outright. And sure enough, yes, he was. His wife though, apparently, was ‘fine with it,’ so I went along with it too, enjoying the flirting and the potential for some dirty, no-strings sex like I used to have. I was nervous, sure, but I had no intention of backing out. He, however, did – the night before we were supposed to meet.

That was my last serious interaction with anyone on the site. I still have an active profile, still reply to the odd message, but not really with the intention of it going anywhere – I genuinely hate the emotional ups and downs, as well as just how hard you have to work at the communication, all, it seems, with very little return. 

So, I plan to start 2014 by deleting both my OKCupid and Tinder profiles. Meeting someone is important to me, but feeling calm and emotionally stable is so much more so. I have much more to say about this blog post by Juniper, but suffice to say for the moment that the first few months of this year will be given over to rediscovering the state of solo contentment that she describes so beautifully. Maybe, eventually, I’ll rejoin one of what I consider to be the more serious dating sites – match.com or the like, but for now, I’m giving myself a break from boys.