F.B.(N).O – Relationships and Break-Ups in the Age of Social Media


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These days we live our lives with one foot in the real world and the other on social media. It’s almost as if it isn’t on Facebook, it didn’t happen. As #zlotybaby discussed in her recent post, Facebook is full of oversharers and we have all probably been guilty of this at some point. Whether you are one of those people who post too many ‘my precious child just threw up all over me’ statuses or like yours truly, feel the need to ‘check-in’ at all of the coolest places in Cape Town, just to let the world know you aren’t a complete Sad Spinster stuck at home watching the whole back catalogue of SATC with only the cat for company – we are all somehow complicit in this social media obsession.

But how about when it comes to relationships? How much should we be revealing on social media? Just last week Facebook announced plans to help ease the pain of break-ups by launching a new feature that hopes to spare users from constantly seeing posts and pictures from the ex. This tool is designed for people who want to show some semblance of maturity and not totally block their ex-lover from Facebook but still want discreetly avoid being slowly tormented by thoughts of what could have been.

It seems like a good idea in theory, right? Breaking-up is always difficult. But in the pre-Facebook era, at least you could simply avoid places where you’d be likely to bump into the ex, distance yourself from mutual friends and burn all the artifacts that reminded you of that chapter of your life. But these days, even if you’ve removed or even blocked your ex on social media, they always have a way of popping up when you least expect it. Maybe they’ll comment on something or a mutual friend will tag them in a post. And then all those memories just come flooding back! Let’s face it, none of is above having some reaction to our past relationships – whether it’s sadness, regret or anger, no matter how ‘mature’ we pretend to be we are all susceptible to these emotional triggers.

At the end of the day, most exes (unless you’re an ivy women/man who has too many to name) probably had some significance in our lives and even removing all traces from them from our lives isn’t going to erase them from our memories completely. There comes a time when you still have face the people, places and even inanimate objects that’ll remind you of that someone who maybe broke you heart. So while the new Facebook feature may help in the aftermath of a break-up, it’s hardly a fool-proof solution.

So when it comes to social media and relationships, I’ve think the best approach is prevention rather than cure. Like many people I was once young and naïve and in that honeymoon period of a new relationship decided make things F.B.O ( Facebook Official for all of you elders out there) and declare to the world that: ‘I AM NO LONGER SINGLE BIAAAATCHES!!!! ’. Sadly, this enthusiasm died out quickly when that little encounter came to an end and I had to be far more discreet when it came to revealing my new found singledom.

Clearly, the moral of the story (I am pretty sure many have had a similar experience) is that no matter however sure you are about having found your Prince Charming, nothing in life is certain (apart for death and taxes) so it’s best to keep social media oversharing to a minimum. It may seem like a great idea to tell the world how wonderful your significant other is (simultaneously rubbing your single friends noses in it), but maybe in the long run its better you just tell him personally in a WhatsApp message. That way if/when the relationship falls apart, you won’t have to face this additional public humiliation.

Now give us your thoughts Dear Rinsers. How do you feel about sharing the intimate details of your love life on social media? Is it destined for disaster? Does our generation’s obsession with social media simply serve to make relationships more complicated and break-ups more difficult? Answers in the comments below.  

Papa don’t preach – Parents don’t know best

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This post is mostly inspired by “parental control” experiences of my own and of my friends. Even though their children are not really children anymore, the parents tend to preach and to think that only THEY know what’s good for their children when it comes to love.

Most people who have been single for a while experienced the get yourself a boyfriend/girlfriend pressure from their parents’ side. Between relationships they give you a time gap of more or less three months after which they start to ask you again whether you met someone interesting. In the time when you’re single they ask you whether you’re not too picky, they remind you you’re not getting any younger, they enumerate your friends who already have families and even point at your personal traits as potential partner deterrents (“you’ve always been a bit difficult”). In doing that they don’t help you find the right partner. They make you resent them and feel bad about yourself. Bad news is that it never ends. Get a boyfriend and they’ll start to mention moving in together, then marriage and finally kids. You can never be where your parents think you should be. Even if you feel happy they’ll make you question it.

Another thing is the choice of partner which parents tend to disapprove of. The good news is that the closer you get to your 30th birthday the less pressure they put on the choice of a partner (just get one already!). You can’t be too picky if your child is a slightly-aged good that’s approaching their “sell by” date. When I was younger, however, my mother used to disapprove of my partners on silly grounds such as – comes from a small village, different nationality, a journalist (not a serious profession), must be lying about him being a doctor etc,etc. The rule seemed always the same – get someone but we both now that someone will never reach my expectations.

The most twisted things about the parents is that they do all that because they love us and THINK that what worked for them and what they think is right will work for us. Only that times have changed. We reach independence later partly because of the labour market that exploits students and young professionals, partly because every one else does. A wedding isn’t something girls write about in their diaries every day anymore. Like children we want it but  someday somehow and not right here right now. When we find someone special we want to live and experience life together but the rest isn’t a priority. After all if others are preggies only after 30 why do we have to cut our life enjoyment short? Because our parents think we should?

Parents want to help but often instead of doing that they become a nagging presence that’s never happy with what is. Maybe through their children they’re trying to sort out their own lives, maybe they can’t accept that their children are adults and actually know what is good for them and what makes them happy. They should really just chill.

So Dear Rinsers, have you experienced parental pressure and other instances of parents thinking they know what’s good for you? Share your stories.

Shameless in ‘Love’

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Love (or more likely lust) makes us do crazy things. And that is the beauty of it. It makes us throw caution to wind and move to deepest darkest Africa. It can make us sing Ed Sheeran in the street and ballroom dance down the aisles in Pick and Pay.  It gives us the courage to make epic declarations a week into an encounter which subsequently leads to major life upheavals and the purchase of a puppy.

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, the city of romance and such, I think it’s important to celebrate LOVE and the somewhat crazy cute things it makes us do.  Events like this are a reminder that life is short and we need to take risks when it comes to finding our fairytale. But where should one draw the line and realise that there comes a point when those grand gestures we make when our hormones start racing at the speed of light have the potential to be hugely embarrassing? When does a bold move go from being sweet and endearing to making a person look totally shameless and more like an unhinged lunatic who just made a break from Valkenburg?

Life is all about taking chances. But even when we are caught in the moment risks should be calculated. For instance, reciting a Shakesperian sonnet to the object of your desire in a private setting is a move of minimal risk. At worst, he’ll laugh in your face which will possibly make you cry and lock yourself inside for a few days but eventually you’ll dry those eyes, put on a brave face and start searching for an alternative Prince. And then there is always the chance, he’ll sweep you up into his arms and whisk you off into the sunset.

However, there are other instances where people end up committing social suicide in the name of ‘love’. I remember once having to physically restrain a friend of mine as she attempted to chase the man of her ‘dreams’ around the dance floor. It must have looked like a scene from a Tom and Jerry cartoon and it did not end well for her as onlookers rolled their eyes as she lay in drunken heap crying as her beau ducked out of the club.

And that’s not even the worst of it. ‘Love’ also makes us blind of certain red flags. Say for example, there is a dude you’ve got your eye on and you’ve made some subtle moves, sent a bunch of flirty messages, fluttered your eyelashes but there’s no response. A weaker woman may admit defeat and go drown her sorrows with her girlfriends. But no, not you! You are in LOVE after all. So you decide to put on your sexiest lingerie, drag a buddy along for moral support, and pitch up at this jerk’s work place. Maybe he’ll go weak at the knees and have his wicked way with you? Yay! But a brief analysis of his past actions should indicate that he is just not that into you.

Anyway for what its worth, I am still a big fan of going out on a limb for someone you are interested in. At the end of the day, you can rest easy knowing that you gave ‘happily ever after’ your all. That way there are no real regrets as such.  However, it’s the nature of each individual move that we need to watch out for. Whatever you do in the name of ‘love’ try and maintain a modicum of self-respect and remember it takes two to tango so if the other party doesn’t reciprocate don’t be shameless and through your dignity out of the window simply to get their attention. Know when to cut your losses and walk away with your head held high.

OK Rinsers tell us what is the craziest/most shameless thing you’ve done for ‘love’? Did the risk end in happily ever after for you? Or is it just a cringe worthy story you’d rather not rehash? What are your tips when it comes to getting someone’s attention without becoming shameless and throwing all your self-respect out of the window?

Review: Date-Onmics by Jon Birger

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For all those single girls out there (like yours truly) who have to deal with constant questions about when they plan on finding a man and settling – this book has ALL the answers and comebacks you’ll ever need.

I’m not exactly a rocket scientist or anything like that but I’ve been on dates with some seriously stupid dudes. To the extent, that I was told by one lovely Afrikaans guy that I needed to stop trying to ‘out-clever’ him (his words not mine). I don’t recall the conversation being overly intellectual to begin with. Actually I think we were just discussing the weather 😉 There was even a point where I thought maybe it was my ‘immaturity’ that was attracting such idiots.  But this book uses statistical evidence to prove that it really isn’t us girls, it’s them!

The book provides a detailed mathematical analysis to show that the number of university-educated women significantly outnumbers university educated men in much of the USA. While much of the research is based on universities in America I think the trends they talk about are more or less true for most Western societies or even the world in general.

So what? Women are cleverer than men – nothing new there. Yay for us! Surely that’s a good thing, right? Nope. Not really. Especially when it comes to dating. This ‘Man-Deficit’ as Jon Birger calls it isn’t a good thing for us girls. To overcome it either we have to move to a place or work in an industry which is more male dominated or some of us have to take one for the team and ‘date-down’ and settle for someone who is not our intellectual equal.

Seems a little bleak, right? But maybe dating a clever guy isn’t a deal breaker for everyone. And plus life isn’t all about being book smart. There are many highly ‘intellectual people’ who don’t know a thing about the world and have no emotional intelligence when it comes to interacting with other human beings. Surely, it is harder to date someone who is socially awkward than someone who might just not be as well read. Being street smart and having a bit of banter definitely counts for something, and that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with having a university degree.

Beyond our selfish needs of finding the right husband, the book also describes how the ‘Man-Defecit’ has wider implications for society.  The fact that there are more guys than girls at university campuses contributes to the growth of hook-up culture and a greater willingness to push sexual boundaries . One of the chicks interviewed said she gave away her V-card in a threesome basically because she felt that despite being an attractive girl no man would be willing to have a real relationship with her when he has the upper hand and could play the field for as long as he wanted.

Then things get even more complicated when you add other non-negotiables into the mix, such as religion. The author does some in-depth analysis into how the man-deficit has effected behaviour within Orthodox Jewish and Mormon communities. To simplify things, women are having to work harder to get a man’s attention (boobs jobs are more popular with Mormons than you’d think), many are effectively forced to marry outside the community (oh dear God…could there be anything worse?), we are seeing an increase in the number of mummy’s boys (no kidding!) and the pressure of not finding the right man is getting too much for some as suicide rates and eating disorders amongst women increase. Not all fun and games.

Anyway, the book is worth a read. Full of interesting findings which won’t really help you find Prince Charming but will at least prove to you and everyone that you aren’t all that picky and it’s not all your fault that your still single (and FABULOUS!).

Knocked up and planned parenthood

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You’d think that people these days know how to make babies and avoid making them when they don’t want them. In some parts of the world, there’s no sex education and no access to contraception, often due to religious reasons. In most parts of the Western world, however, especially the middle class, is lucky enough to be able to easily access contraception. And yet, I have so many friends and acquaintances who get themselves knocked up. How is this possible?

First of all, you never get a full story. As a loyal contraceptive user I get a fright every time I hear about an unexpected pregnancy. Because how unexpected can it be? Are they a victim of a feared by many statistical error? Did the chick forget her pill? Did the condom break and they didn’t use the morning after pill? Or maybe they didn’t use contraception at all? No one will ever tell you. They just say it was an accident and it finishes at that.

Second of all, I can’t help but be slightly upset with these people. With the costs of education, living and upbringing, children are a very expensive commitment. Of course once the child is already there one should do their best with giving it all they can. However, isn’t contraception not there to avoid having children before we can properly provide for them?

I can relate much more to honesty. I could understand if people said that they weren’t planning it but also they weren’t planning against it. I can understand people saying that they just became baby crazy and all they wanted was to have a baby. We’re all humans and sometimes our deep needs are stronger than our sense of reason. I also can believe that parents of a baby that was so deeply wanted will make their best to provide for all its needs.

What I can’t understand is the lack of thought behind the baby having. Not knowing whether we want it or whether we don’t, just going with the flow that could have been so easily prevented. Things always fall in place one way or the other but I don’t think that a baby should  be ever an experiment to see whether a relationship is strong or not. It should not be a test in whether we’re actually fit for parenthood or want it either.

Having said that I’m aware that not everything in life can be planned and that sometimes just jumping in and seeing what happens is a good idea. I just think that it’s better to use the modern inventions reasonably and to only start thinking about reproduction in a stable relationship and when one is quite sorted financially and not with your boyfriend of a month when waitressing through life and still studying.

Now it’s time for your opinion Dear Rinsers! Do you know many accidents of that sort? What’s your opinion on unplanned parenthood in the cases of people who have the means to plan it?

Pushing the Boundaries: How much ‘sexperience’ does one really need?

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It’s not easy being a prude in this age of promiscuity. In my mind, while one may not be ready to settle down/settle just yet, playing the field doesn’t necessarily mean a girl should lose all her inhibitions and go completely crazy doing everything with a pulse and trying every new-fangled sex craze known to man.

As I was saying in my last post, when it comes to relationships, dating and such, people have lots of options to explore these days. A while ago, I was told that it was important to fully explore all avenues before I even considered a relationship never mind the whole marriage and babies thing. I see the logic, especially when you look at our elders’ generation, where people settled down early but subsequently felt the needed to broaden their horizons later in life by joining Ashley Madison. I guess it makes sense to get all those sexperiences out of the way before you choose a more vanilla type of lifestyle.

However, the problem as I see it is that there really are too many sexperience options out there. Whether it’s that we have a whole tinderverse of people ready for a hook-up with just a simple swipe on your smart phone or the fact that the more ‘adventurous’ types can now try out things that go beyond even the world of Christian Grey. From beastiality, swinger’s parties and sex toys to a romp on top of Table or a little affair with your best friend’s grandfather… both men and women today seem to be pushing the boundaries.

In all areas of life, people are in competition with one another to have bigger(!) and better experiences. If it’s not about who can go the most exotic holiday, it’s about who has the craziest sexperience story to share with the world (as I said, with fewer boundaries these days, it won’t be too shocking to find people oversharing their sex business all over Facebook).

While I’ve become a fan of making the most of one’s single time as opposed to crying about the lack of marriage material available, I think it’s important to question where one must draw the line. It’s one thing sitting around a map and making ‘around the world in 80 shags’ jokes as you tick off the country of origin for each of your bedroom conquests but how about when you push these boundaries too far and people start getting hurt?

Being young, free and single it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling indestructible and not stopping to think about the consequences. For instance, a girl may think being the Other Woman is all fun and games and another sexperience to tick off her list of dreams – but has she stopped to think about the wife and kids that he has left crying at home?

And how about the damage that chasing all these weird and wonderful sexperiences does to a person’s self-respect? How about when you have to start hiding your perverse antics from your friends because it becomes too much for their fragile minds to handle and all they do it roll their eyes and judge you?

So rinsers tell us your thoughts. Are people these days becoming too obsessed with pushing the boundaries? Does our hook-up culture simply encourage such behaviour? Is having an open-mind when it comes to bedroom department always a good thing or is it sometimes best to incorporate an element of prudishness?

Settling

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‘Some people are settling down, some people are settling and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies’

– Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City

Settling down is something that has probably crossed the mind of every almost 30-something girl. When constantly bombarded with Facebook albums documenting those momentous events in the lives of your peers such as engagements, weddings, baby showers,etc you do have to start considering the fact that maybe you missed the boat. Maybe while you were living life, getting drunk, travelling the world, playing the field and generally being immature…all of the sensible people were settling down?

Look, I’m not a total hater and I am happy for my friends who’ve truly found their happily ever after. But you just need to look at the divorce stats to know that the chances of success are not always in favour of people that settle down early (ish). Just because someone has followed the conventional path of marriage and babies doesn’t mean that life is a fairytale in any sense. We never know what goes on behind close doors. It’s much easier to pity the ‘lonely’ singleton than those that seemingly have the whole package.

On the flipside, beggars can’t be choosers and none of us is getting any younger. As we become more ‘mature’, our priorities change. Once upon a time maybe we’d only go for the guy with James Dean-esque good looks but after having our hearts broken by enough bad boys, most of us are willing to let go off some of our more ridiculous ‘deal breakers’ and formulate a more realistic view of our Prince Charming.

Luckily, unlike our grandmothers, women today have choices. Choices which don’t necessarily have to involve some dude who lives down the road or in the next village. While it’s always good to be open to romantic opportunities (cos I am not a fan of being a Sad Spinster aka a Hater of Men) this no longer stops us from enjoying all the other things that this world has to offer. We are fortunate in that we don’t have to settle for just anyone because our biological clocks are ticking (freezing your eggs is apparently a totally legitimate thing – so we effectively have longer to find someone as equally fabulous as ourselves before procreating! yay!).

Thankfully, even here on the tip of deepest darkest Africa, women are becoming more independent (well, actually they are generally the breadwinners) and society’s attitudes towards women are also becoming more progressive. These developments alongside advances in technology, mean there is really is no excuse for just settling. Girls these days don’t have to conform – marriage and kids by 30? Tfu to that! Seriously though, if it happens – great! But if, like Carrie Bradshaw in SATC, your life takes a different trajectory, that’s totally cool too.

While it’s important to be realistic while searching for ‘the One’ (remember Carrie’s Mr Big was far from perfect; a twice-divorced, somewhat emotionally unavailable, commitment-phobe) there really is no need to rush into ‘settling down’ (Carrie was 40 and fabulous when she got married!). So let’s stop conforming and listening to what society’s definition of who Prince Charming should be and instead enjoy single-time and wait for those butterflies.

What are your views on ‘settling down’ dear rinsers? Is there too much pressure on us to ‘settle’ and follow the path that society deems to be normal? And are so many of us still single because we have too much choice or because we set ourselves ridiculously high standards?    

Sex, Lies and Rinsing Guys – The Documentary

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I actually first came across the concept of ‘Rinsing’ when I watched a Channel 4 documentary back in the UK. The show follows a new breed of women known as ‘Rinsers’ who basically exploit men’s weaknesses to get whatever their heart desires (From basic utility bills to Gucci handbags, Chanel watches, Apple iPads, KitchenAid mixers and even a trip to New York).

Before you get ahead of yourself, Rinsing is not some nuanced form of prostitution. The Golden rule of Rinsing is that sex is strictly not part of the deal – so while the bloke’s wallet may be wide open, the chicks ensure that their legs stay firmly closed.

Some rinsers are happy to meet a guy for a drink, dinner or even an exotic holiday but they make it clear that the only thing they are offering in return for the gifts received is ‘friendship’ (although, this might be written into the terms and conditions, I am sure the men still wish for more). However, in the extreme cases there are members of ‘Rinsing Royalty’ who manage to do the job while never meeting the guys in person. One of the girls (Playboy model-esque pretty type) does all her rinsing via the internet. So the guys pay for her time and all she basically does in flirt with them on skype or send them a sexy photo (and seriously, some people sext for nothing!).

And flirting is one thing? But there is another rinser whose strategy involves emasculating her rinsees and telling them that they are lame mama’s boys. Even when they’ve given her nice gifts (by nice I mean Jimmy Choo shoes and a Husky!!) she asks them whether they are so broke-ass that was all they could afford. You’d think that this kind of general bad behaviour would eventually send these men running for the hills, but all they do is keep coming back for more.

When asked why they do it? There are a range of reasons which range from liking the idea of being kept women without any of the additional baggage to the fact that some of the rinsers consider this nothing more than a business interaction. One girl actually refers to herself as ‘entrepreneur’ – which I guess is technically true. Hmm… It’s all a little strange for my immature mind to handle.

It sounds like some sort of parallel universe, right? Apparently in Cape Town we have it good because there are still some guys who’ll buy us the odd glass of wine. But in London and New York it’s the norm to go Dutch. So, one really has to seriously wonder how these Rinsers manage it? Is it all based on giving guys false hope and is it really any different to the men who have backpocket girls? Or are we now living in the Age of Mr Grey where all types of relationships are based on strange power games? Can rinsing be regarded as a mild form of prostitution although no sexual favours are ever exchanged?

There’s some food for thought Dear Readers (I think with the context of this post, it would be wrong to call y’all rinsers). So give us your views… and maybe even watch the documentary on YouTube to get a better insight.

It’s not going to happen: Ghosting vs Overtalking

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My friend and colleague #englishrosiee has discussed before decent ways of breaking up with someone. What, however, if the liaison was only just starting or even before the first date one side decided it’s not going to happen? How should we say goodbye then?

Rejection is never an easy feeling to deal with. It doesn’t matter whether we really liked someone or not, we don’t like to be the one who’s going to be told “I’m sorry, but I don’t think it’s going to work out”. On the other hand if nothing is said at all and the person just stops talking to us (ghosts us) we’re even more upset.

Let’s have a look at ghosting first. You’re talking to someone you’ve met in real life or on Internet dating. It seems to be going well. Then all of a sudden the other side that seemed so eager starts to reply less often and eventually not at all. It feels bad and we’re trying to figure out what went wrong. Maybe you’ll send few more messages but the conversation just lost its spark. What should you do? In my opinion nothing. As shit as it feels if you actually saw the potential, you must just leave it. You need two to tango and it’s sending a desperate vibe if you keep chasing someone you spoke to for a few days or even saw but only a handful of times. If you force them to tell you “what happened” they’ll probably give you the real reason which isn’t much more pleasant. That leads me to the second technique which is overtalking.

Ages ago, in my single times, I went out on a date with a guy that was both smart and not an absolute ogre. The conversation was intellectually engaging but there wasn’t really much spark and we lived far from one another. I thought I should give it one more date,  even though my gut feelings were telling me we wouldn’t work out. Maybe it’s a female thing that we tend to try too much sometimes. Anyway, after the date we chatted for a while and then he stopped talking to me. I should have left it at being ghosted. But no, I needed the reason why (didn’t I truly know it myself?). At the date he mentioned he didn’t like stupid and fat girls so I sent him a message asking him which one was I for him to go silent, wink wink. My oh my, I got what I wanted. In an essay he wrote back he said that I was attractive and smart (duh!) but that there was no spark and that it didn’t really make sense for us to go on a second date especially given where I lived (plus, a bit of  his dating story and about his fear of commitment). I felt more rejected (and humiliated too) after this conversation than before. Ghosting isn’t the worst thing after all, it seems.

Do I have any tips on how to say goodbye early? Make it quick. Say you’re not feeling the blues and don’t go into details. If a person insists on trying to convince you just keep telling them you’re not feeling it and then you can stop replying. This is the world of dating. There’s someone right for you out there and you just can’t force things.

Dear Rinsers, what’s your opinion on the matter? What’s better in the early days? Are you a ghost or are you an overtalker? Share your stories in the comments below.