How Much Is Too Much Compromise?

banner-1183407_1280As much as in a prefect world we would be doing what we want to 100% of the time in life it’s not really possible. Especially in a well functioning relationship one needs to say “yes” to things that don’t seem too exciting and “no” to others that seem amazing because of prior arrangements. Even as a single person one needs to compromise to accommodate  friends and dates. So how to know when too much is too much?

I actually do know someone who refuses to compromise almost entirely. I have this friend who for years has been upgrading her selfishness levels. She did have a serious relationship in her university years but since then she kept fighting for her absolute independence. She doesn’t like to commit, full stop. Not even to meetings with friends and is famous for last minute cancelations even with bigger things like holidays. If you dare to be upset she replies that “she didn’t promise you anything” and that “you should stop trying to limit her”. The me, Me, ME attitude is certainly alienating. One cannot have a healthy, deep relationship, including a friendship if he or she never compromises. However, if ultimate freedom is one’s highest goal then a busy life devoid of things we need the most during the time of trial is the result. After all, the people we have never compromised for are unlikely to be there for us when things go downhill and the absolute freedom won’t help us when we just feel sad and lonely.

This is precisely the reason why we have to learn to sometimes put others before ourselves. On the other hand, one has to be careful not to overdo it because then we can find ourselves living a life we never wanted in the first place. That someone asks you, doesn’t mean your default answer should be “yes”. One’s lifetime is limited and precious. I guess it’s up to each and every one of us to establish what works best. I don’t think you should say “yes” every third time to a thing that doesn’t particularly excite you. Maybe a better technique is to always agree to things that you feel lukewarm about and save your vetos for the times you REALLY don’t want to do something. That applies to plans with partners, dates and friends but the rule also works for bigger decisions. The every-third-time-yes rule doesn’t work well, for instance, if let’s say, your partner suggests you get a kid as his third question 😉 A strongly felt “no” should always be a “no”. If there are too many disagreements with a partner (or even a close friend to be honest) about big things than it may be a compatibility issue as you ignored these red flags and weren’t firm enough about your non-negotiables. After all, you guys are just into different things, what’s the point of compromising on everything when you could rather find someone with more compatible interests, views and ideas about spending free time. A break up or a degradation to a coffee friend, depending on the situation, may be a good idea.

This leads me to my last point which is never (NEVER!) let anyone make you feel like your passions, interests or goals are stupid. These are the things that should matter to you and people around you are there to nurture them. Sure, they should tell you when your shit stinks but you know who’s worth listening to as an advisor and who you should steer clear of. If your partner or friend ridicules the things that you find important, do not compromise on them. Be it a passion for computer games or your secret collection of My Little Pony, you have the right to your weirdness and this is precisely what makes us all unique. While finding people with the same weirdnesses may be challenging, it is possible and necessary to find those who give you space to cultivate your quirks. Do not compromise on being yourself for anyone, even if they’re the prettiest girlfriend you’ve ever had and you think you can’t do any better… Everyone deserves to be loved and liked for who they are and if they’re not it’s not really love or true friendship.

What do you think, Dear Rinser? Can we live without ever compromising? Do we sometimes compromise too much? What’s the “middle way” of compromise for you?

The ‘One Day’ Wager – Waiting in Vain?

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The Tinder Generation (which whether we like it or not, most of us are now part of) is often criticised for being fickle when it comes to relationships. Unlike our grandparents generation (I’m not gonna say parents generation because I think they are the ones that got the whole divorce trend started) us millennials aren’t known for working on fixing things – when our iphone breaks we simply upgrade to the latest version and the same applies to our attitude towards fellow humans. When things don’t go to plan with a relationship people these days are said to be quick to call it quits because in their minds there are plenty more fish in the sea. Well…I beg to differ here.

Sure, many of us are quick to swipe left and dismiss a person for taking to many selfies (no friends to take the pic?), having a body plastered with tattoos or posing by a fancy car which they are unlikely to own. But this is actually only the case at the initial stages of dating (well not even that) when it’s important to sift through the deadwood in an efficient manner. It’s further down the line where things get complicated and where a lot of us (myself included) are actually more likely to stick things out even though this isn’t in our best interests.

Today rinsers, I want to take to you about the ‘One Day’ Wager.  As much as I hate to admit it I’m plagiarising the term from Matthew Hussey, a YouTube sensation and relationship ‘guru’ of sorts   To summarise, he says that there are a lot of us who stay in a unfulfilling relationship that is well passed its expiry date because we are unable to admit we are essentially incompatible with the other party and we are just hoping that ‘One Day’ that this person will change. He calls it a wager because by waiting and waiting… and waiting in vain, you are basically gambling with your time, money and emotions.

Sounds like a familiar story, hey? We’ve all been there. That one relationship that you were so invested in that you just thought that if you just gritted your teeth and tried a little harder then the universe would grant you that much-needed miracle. The guy you were with for 10 years but refused to pop the question because he didn’t believe in all the hype surrounding marriage. The chick that always promised to consider the prospect of children after ticking just a few more things of her epic bucket list (then flew off on an Eat, Pray, Love style adventure never to return). The dude who you always told yourself would start looking for a job but only after he finished one more game on the Playstation. We’ve heard it all before.

Because you’ve already invested a fair amount of time and emotion into the relationship it’s harder to let go. It may be a case that that things actually started off pretty well between the two of you. Maybe when you met the guy he was a high roller (or faked being one) and only further down the track did you find out that the Mercedes-Benz he drove was borrowed from a distant cousin.  Or that you only saw this person’s true colours when the going got tough. As decent human beings, there are lots of us who try to remember the good times and as a result feel an obligation to stay around a little longer waiting for that ‘One Day’.

But you see, speaking from experience, that ‘One Day’ rarely ever materialises because often the thing that you are wanting to change is more of an  entrenched character trait than simply a matter of circumstance. Even if you gave that chick who had no motherly instincts a ticket around the world just to get the travel bug out of her system the chances are she’d probably still not want to pop out screaming brats on her return. The dude that says there are no jobs available for him? Well even if you offered him the perfect job on a silver platter, well he’d probably last no longer than a couple of weeks before quitting the job to pursue that lifelong dream of playing computer games. As much as you may love a person, in most instances, this won’t be enough to action the change you so badly need for the relationship to progress any further.

And my advice to you if you find yourself dealing with a ‘One Day’ Wager situation…Well, it would be easy to tell you to have more self-worth, cut your losses and walk away. But I know that this is unrealistic especially when feelings come into play.  As unfortunate as it is though, there will come a breaking point when somehow you’ll realise that enough is enough and either find the strength to turn your back on the relationship, or even have that power taken away from you as you watch the farcical encounter tumble down around you. I just hope that for everyone’s sake that this breaking point comes sooner rather than later and preferably while those reproductive organs are still fully functional (well, for those of you are that way inclined!).

Anyway, that’s me over and out. Rinsers, have you ever dealt with the ‘One Day’ wager? How long did you play this dating game? With hindsight do you have regrets or do you think we need to let things take their natural course? And does it always end in disaster or do you think there are times when a person’s patience is rewarded and that change they are wishing for really does happen? 

Review (And Signs From The Universe): He’s Just Not That Into You – Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

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I’m the kinda girl that asks the universe for a sign to delete her Tinder profile. When that sign never arrives this hopeless romantic then just deletes it regardless (well, it’s not like you’d be missing much during a bit of hiatus anyhow). Sure, the universe has a pretty good game when it comes to subtlety. But then there are some signs that are so glaringly obvious that they slap you in the face so hard even someone with an amazingly well-developed pain threshold (from all those marathons I used to run) can’t even ignore it. This book was THAT kind of sign!

Oddly enough, there I was attending a friend’s braai with the man of the moment in tow (who as it turns out was just not that into me) when this piece of higher grade literature popped out at me from what looked like a book sale my friend was running at his braai (a book sale at a braai?! Go figure. I told you it was a sign!). And if that wasn’t enough another drunkard friend then started shouting her mouth off about how this book was made for me and it’s destiny (cheers guys – just in case the message wasn’t received loud and clear already!). Anyway, like much of the book itself, this revelation was a pretty painful pill to swallow.

So back to the book. To give you a bit of background He’s Just Not That Into You is the brainchild of two writers who once worked together on the script/storyline for Sex and The City. As the chick who considers herself to be Cape Town’s answer to Carrie Bradshaw, it’s sacrilege that it took me this long to get my hands on a copy of this bestseller (and that I haven’t seen the movie version either). Greg Behrendt, the main author, was inspired to write this book after seeing so many of his beautiful, intelligent, ambitious, established female friends and family members continuously getting involved in relationships (and other such encounters) with men that were quite frankly a little bit half-hearted about it all. He was fed up of seeing women wasting time dating down, settling for less than they were worthy of and pursuing men that for whatever reason weren’t fully committed to them.

In his responses to letters from his readers, he pretty much covers every scenario us chicks have found ourselves in when it comes to dating and relationships. Whether it’s the guy that only texts you when he is drunk (booty call much?), the guy that wants to keep things light and fluffy, the one that never introduces you to his family, the dude that doesn’t want to get you into bed and rip your clothes off or the fool who torments you with a half-decade long prison sentence but won’t put a ring on it. Well, Greg has the fool-proof answer for you every time…yes, you guessed it – He’s Just Not That Into You!

As painful as it is to relate to the scenarios he describes, it’s good to get a straight up insight into the male mind. What’s even better is that he has taken the time (and obviously worked with enough to women) to pre-empt all of the lame excuses us ladies make to justify these unsatisfactory relationships we settle for. From being well aware of the stats not being in our favour to telling ourselves to exercise a little patience while the 40 something takes his sweet time to find his direction, it seems like Greg has heard it all and is not willing to stand for it.

The book is great on many levels – it’s an easy read that is full of witty banter and I have no doubt that most of us will have many light-bulb moments while reading it. But what I liked most about it was how co-author Liz Tuccillo manages to temper Greg’s well-meaning but sometimes unrealistic advice by drawing from her real-life dating experience and offering us a female perspective on things (she also stops us from being to harsh on ourselves by reminding us that we aren’t the first woman ever to lose every ounce of intelligence we’d ever accumulated over a man!).

While I’m a bit of an old-fashioned girl there were some points where I did eek a bit at the thought of what the hardcore ‘Feminazis’ would have to say about some of the advice given here. For instance, apparently if we want to know whether a guy is truly into us then we shouldn’t be the ones asking them out, ladies! Hmm…seems that probably goes against much of the modern day way of doing things but whatever if it means avoiding rejection then I’m on #teamgreg! In some ways, He’s Just Not That Into You was a book that leaves you wanting more…more insight into why the hell these men do what they do. But this type of overthinking has probably what accounts for most of my troubles so let me just stop there…

So although I certainly appreciated the book I’m not going to jump the gun and sing its praises already. I’ve learnt from experience (remember when I thought that by reading Why Men Love Bitches I had found the answer to all my dating woes) to be a bit apprehensive about self-help books. While they are great in theory, the truth is you’ll only ever really know whether the message got through your thick skull when you next meet a guy with piercing blue eyes, the million-dollar smile and the best banter who gives you butterflies (and inevitably makes you forget all the best self-help tips you tried to commit to memory!). Believe me, it’s easy to succeed at playing hard to get, standing your own ground and not compromising on your deal breakers when a guy is nothing more than mediocre but it’s only when you meet someone who really gets under your skin is that you truly get put these things to the test.

Your turn Rinsers – Have you read the book? Or watched the film (someone stole it from the DVD store so I couldn’t watch it – boohoo!)? What did you think? Could you resonate or did you think taking the advice in the book too seriously would just leave us girls eternally single? Shout your mouths off in the comments below!

Stuck in a Fantasy World – When Your Relationship is Just in Your Head

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Each and every one of us has surely experienced a crush that had nothing to do with the person’s actual characteristics. However, for some people living in a romantic fantasy world becomes an unhealthy pattern that continues long after the growing pains should be over.

It’s certainly a trait of the young and sensitive to develop crushes on people they barely know because of how they look like and the “feel” they get from them. As a teenager I used to constantly have an object of admiration about whom I’d spend hours fantasizing. Eventually the reality would always catch up with me. Sometimes I’d see the guy I “liked” with his girlfriend I didn’t know about, or even worse, I’d eventually talk to him and such conversation would teach me that the absent look in his eyes had more to do with his limited intellectual capacities rather than his deep inner life. It seems to be a privilege of youth to see more than there really is and to imagine things to be in reality how we want them to be. It may have to do with innocence, wild imagination and more pragmatically, the lack of choice. Some such teenagers grow out of their tendencies once they go to university or join the labour market. The often limited high school world opens up and they’re presented with numerous romantic possibilities which encourage them to stay out of their heads.

Sometimes, however, such tendencies are a sign of deeper issues such as low self-esteem, fear of intimacy and commitment. In such cases, those living in a fantasy world don’t want to deal with reality because they’re scared of truly being with someone. A fantasy is safe and even if it will never give them what they want (i.e. the love of their life) dreaming of it will let them stay in the imaginary world till the dream is crushed by reality. After that, instead of finding fault in their unhealthy pattern, they just find a new object to fantasize about.

I had a friend who in high school developed a crush on a famous artist just from watching him play piano a few times. She kept sending him letters and he agreed to meet her. She didn’t really knew what to say or do with the real person but once the awkward date was over, she continued to write to him even when he eventually told her to leave him alone. The guy couldn’t understand what she wanted from him. Of course, she didn’t know him at all but in her head she created a full image of him. She continued with the same romantic pattern for years after that, till eventually she realized she was wasting her time and things had to change. I was not much better and I kept my pattern throughout most of my university years, jumping from one crush to the other. I had some relationships in this period of my life but these were mostly long distance ones. In this pattern, I could still live in my imaginary world most of the time. Spending very limited time my partners wasn’t enough to see them for who they were, even though to keep up the fantasy was a bit more challenging in such scenarios. It helped that I always used to have an explanation ready for behaviours and utterances I didn’t like (he meant something else, someone else sent this message, he’s scared of showing his real feelings, etc.). Such an exercise long-term is truly exhausting!

The problem that appears later in life for those prone to choose fantasy over reality is lust. As teenagers we often innocently dream about someone and if they show us their sexual interest (or any other) we’re startled. As adults, however, we end up often trapped in a fantasy because of lust. The sexual experience we had (or are hoping to have) with a person blinds us to their actual characteristics even more than our imaginary wishful thinking. Young women who like to fantasise are perfect backpocket girls. They don’t need much to keep going – an SMS or a call from time to time and a date once a month will be enough for her to think that she has something going. The relationship will never develop, of course. She doesn’t really know the guy and the real relationship with him wouldn’t survive. The person suffers but at the same time she’s too scared of real intimacy and commitment to try to change anything.

If someone keeps living in their head as an adult they probably have a whole bag of issues enough to spend a fortune on years of therapy. However, the latter along with self study and work on oneself is the only way for a brighter future if you see these behaviours in yourself. Learning to appreciate first oneself for who you truly are is a first step of doing the same for others. The stakes are high as it’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with such unhealthy patterns. We can’t talk about a real relationship if we only see what we want to see and trying to mould the person to our vision of them. True partnership is about seeing the person as they are, with their disadvantages and loving them despite them.

Dear Rinsers, your turn! Have you ever had an unrealistic crush? Or maybe living in a fantasy world used to be your romantic pattern? Tell me all your secrets in the comments section.

The Opinions That Matter (And Those You Can Take With A Pinch of Salt)

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In an age dominated by social media, where everyone is an award-winning journalist or YouTube sensation, it’s easy for people to convince themselves that their opinion matters and needs to be heard. But as I always say there is an appropriate time and place for everything. Sure, an informed opinion on the state of global politics should be welcomed even if it stands in opposition to our personal beliefs. There is nothing better than a good INTELLECTUAL debate. Then there are those issues that not everyone and his dog needs to have a say on. One such place is when it comes to another individual’s romantic life and general lifestyle choices. This brings me to the topic of today’s post, when we are inundated with advice on how we are conducting our personal lives, how does one differentiate between the opinions that matter and those which are a totally waste of time.

As a 30-something chick who hasn’t ever been married or knocked up, one gets used to comments including but not limited to the following : ‘ Still single? Are you a lesbian? ‘, ‘Beggars can’t be choosers. You aren’t getting any younger, you know !’, ‘ Maybe you’d get more attention if you lost a couple of pounds!’, ‘Ooooo have you heard so-so just got divorced so he’s on the market again! Shall I set up a meeting for you guys ?’. Whether it’s your best friend who just wants you coupled up so you can double date with her and her other half or THAT aunty who is no beauty queen herself but is ever so concerned about your BMI that she’d offer to pay for you to see a dietician if only her hubby hadn’t spent their pension fund on hookers, people these days really need to take a lesson in keeping their noses out of it.

As much as we may like to tell our friends, family members, neighbours and randoms on the bus where to stick their opinions on out love life, the truth is relationships don’t exist in a bubble. At some point couples need to surface from beneath the bed covers, face the light of day and interact with other members of the human species. And while we may not be able to stop people voicing their opinions, we certainly have the power to choose whose advice we take heed of and how we let these comments affect us and our subsequent relationship choices. Here are a few factors you may want to consider when deciding who to take seriously and who to ignore:

Who are they? How well do they know you?

We all have a tendency to be a bit blind when it comes to matters of the heart. Sometimes we want something to work out so badly that we ignore the glaring red flags. The people that know us well are probably going to have a good insight into what makes us tick and therefore do have some idea of who we’d be compatible with.

Being told that the smoking hot Adonis you are dating has nothing in common with you is likely to be a hard pill to swallow. However, it’s probably a message that is better coming from your BFF who knows you better than you know yourself rather than the cash cow that helps you pay off your bond each month!

What is their motivation?

Let’s admit we can all be selfish at times. So consider the motivation behind someone’s advice/opinion. What do they have to gain from sharing their pearls of wisdom? Is this friend being a Debbie Downer about your new beau because you are her only friend in the world so she is afraid of losing you? Or has she mopped up your tears enough in the past to spot your patterns and have the foresight to know that this will only end in disaster?

People who are unhappy about their own love lives (or lack thereof) are usually the first to pipe up about another person’s flaws. That witch who questions your relationship status everytime she sees you, well let’s be honest, her marriage is probably on the rocks and she just spotted her husband flirting with you from across the room so just shake if off.

Are they speaking from experience?

So, you think you’ve caught an STD? Whose expert opinion are you going to seek on the matter – that of a medically trained Doctor or your pet parrot? Exactly! People who offer advice should know what they are talking about.

Anyone who has had their heart horrifically broken would probably do just about anything to stop it happening to someone they care about. So, if in the past you’ve wasted half a decade of your life with a deadbeat that promised you that one day he’d make it big and contribute to helping you guys getting that house in the ‘burbs, when you see your bestie going to a similar track with some douche, you aren’t going to keep quiet about it now, are you?

Comments and advice from someone older (maybe) and wiser, who has been there are done that may save you a lot of heartache in the long run whereas listening to a sad spinster who last had a physical contact with the male species over a decade ago well, that’ll probably just lead to nothing more than a dry spell in the bedroom!

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The moral of the story here…we live in a world where everyone considers themselves to be an expert on life, so take everything you hear with a pinch of salt. Understand that everyone is shaped by their own experiences and situation so question the motivation behind a person’s words. The majority of what people tell you will be nothing more than unsubstantiated BS which just reflects their own unhappiness. But then there are also those people who are willing to take a risk and be unpopular because they have your best interests are heart. However harsh their words may seem and however much it is not what you want to hear, the fact is that the sentiment behind their advice comes from a good place.

Rinsers – share your thoughts on the matter. Are you tired of people interfering in your love life? Are there people you take more seriously than others? And how do you differentiate between advice/comments that are motivated by self-interest and that which is told with the best of intentions?

“The Edge of Seventeen” – a Bitter-Sweet Teenage Movie

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When I saw the trailer of “The Edge of Seventeen” I wasn’t sure whether it was something I’d like to watch. A teenage cutsy, uplifting movie didn’t seem like something someone almost 30 years old could relate to. And yet, judging the movie by a trailer, similarly like judging a book by the cover, turned out to be rather misleading.

While we start watching the movie, “Napoleon Dynamite” immediately comes to mind. The awkward protagonist, Nadine (Hailee Steinfield) doesn’t seem to be dealing well with her high school reality and she has only one friend. Her hot mom is forever unsuccessful in search of a new boyfriend and her brother is the popular guy. How will our protagonist deal with a reality in which her only friend hooks up with her brother and they seem to be rather into one another?  That’s for you to find out, once you watch the movie.

“The Edge of Seventeen” is witty and has a lot of dark humor which I do often miss in the mainstream cinema. Of course, the protagonist is a bit too attractive and her legs are a bit too good for her unpopular status At school, but it is Hollywood after all. The young actress still does a great job at playing a rather awkward teenager who is forced out of her comfort zone by her circumstances. Another bright star of the movie is Woody Harrelson who’s at his best as a teacher who doesn’t take shit and tells people what he really thinks about them. I’m not sure how such a figure would really survive in the overly PC American education system, but that’s another story.

Apart from great acting and humor, the “Edge of Seventeen” often doesn’t comply with the viewer’s expectations. There’s a clear difference in the movie before lust and love, which teenage movies often tend to treat as one. The popular kids are also not exactly what we expect them to be. The criticism of unfair labeling seems to be an important part of the movie. The message is that the fact that people seem to be in certain way (popular, weird, lonely) doesn’t mean that it’s all there is to them. We just see a tip of an iceberg looking at people’s everyday behaviors and we’re not doing ourselves a favor assuming that we know all about them.

The ending of the movie does leave a viewer with a bit of a sour aftertaste. It’s a teenage movie so there has to be more sweetness than bitterness. It’s probably a good message for teenagers but I felt that the solutions to the problems of the main character were just a bit too smooth and required massive oversimplifications.

To sum up, “The Edge of Seventeen” is a more ambitious and quirky version of a typical feel-good teenage movie. It’ll remind you of films such as “Napoleon Dynamite”, “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine”. If you enjoyed them, you should have fun. As a “Twilight” fan you may not get what you expected, though. I recommend the movie and give it 7.6/10.

Have you seen the movie, Dear Rinser? Do you feel teenage movies these days give teenagers what they need to survive in the cruel world?

Valentine’s Day: Yay or Nay?

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When you’re single Valentine’s Day seems to be a really big deal. It seems like everyone around you has somebody to love and that you’re the only single person left in the Universe. This is, of course, not true and these days more and more single people organize Valentine’s Day parties and events for singletons. Even coupled friends organize parties for people with mixed relationship statuses (some of which openly boycott Valentine’s Day). Is the whole thing nay or yay, then? It depends how you look at it.

The commercial side of it, is crap. Disgusting Valentine’s Day presents lacking taste are all around you and the hype around the day makes it all quite yucky. Like with Xmas and New Year’s Eve there’s a lot of pressure around the day, everyone expects you to be doing something. If you’re single you should get a date or at least attend a party, if you’re coupled you should propose or conceive a child. It’s the Day of Love, after all! The imposed obligation makes us forget what it’s really about and makes it yet another “to-do” on our list. Additionally, some coupled people seem to take pleasure in making this day difficult for singletons out there. You know who I’m talking about – this married friend who asks you whether you’ve received any Valentine’s cards even though they know you’re single and who underlines that it’s been AGES since you broke up with your last boyfriend… Good news about this person is that you’re probably happier than she is, putting other people down makes her feel better.

To me, Valentine’s Day is a reminder to do something special with the significant other. The haters just keep repeating that they can have a special date with their other half whenever they want and they don’t need an annual event for that. The question is, however, how often do they do something out of their routine? How often do they spoil their loved one and add a little bit of magic to the romance? Most of us, say stuff like this but actually don’t mean it at all. In a busy world relationships get routinized and people forget to do anything extraordinary. If Valentine’s Day is in the calendar to add some sparkle to someone’s love life, it’s a good reason to have it there.

Valentine’s Day is also a good reminder of what you have in life, regardless of whether you’re single or not. A good group of friends who’ll drink with you till you pass out or a partner who’ll do the same, is all you need for to feel good about yourself ;). On a more serious note, it is a special day and as with any special day it does remind us about both good and bad things we have in life. Yet again, if Valentine’s Day is there just to make someone realise that they can’t keep raging about the opposite sex and should rather have a look at why they’re making wrong choices because they’ll end up as a sad spinster/bachelor, it’s a good reason to have it. If for someone else this day means an enlightened moment in which they understand that their partner is all they want and proceed to tie the knot, then the Day of Love serves its purpose.

To sum up, the commercial side of Valentine’s Day that has to do with pink roses, fluffy teddy bears and other last minute and out of obligation gifts is shit. Similarly crappy are any attempts to make people feel bad about being single that can happen on that day. There’s still a positive side of Valentine’s Day and that’s all the good things that can happen to people when they’re reminded about the Power of Love 😉 Oh and last but not least, if you’re wondering about the picture it’s a self-made card I prepared for my husband during an event organized by WomenInTechCPT.

Dear Rinsers, do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you have any particularly horrible or beautiful stories to share? The comments section is all yours!

Unapologetic

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We all understand that there is an appropriate time and place to voice our personal, somewhat un-PC, opinions. Revealing you are a raging racist at your workplace won’t go down so well for most people. In fact, unless you are the President of the U.S of A, you’ll probably end up being fired for making such discriminatory comment on a public forum. However, there are also instances where I feel people not only have a right but, a duty, to be unapologetically honest about their feelings on important issues. One such place where we should feel free to say it as it is without fear of the repercussions (although inevitably there will be) is in our PERSONAL love lives.

Let me start with a little story for you. So after nearly 2 years roaming the tinderverse (and some wise words from #zlotybaby) I’ve attempted to take my own dating deal breakers more seriously. No longer do these important non-negotiable simply exist in the archives of my mind where they can conveniently sidelined when the next smoking hot member of #teamgod walks into my life. I finally decided to take accountability by putting pen to paper and declaring my deal breakers to the outside world on MY dating profile.

Sure, I understand there is a risk I may miss out some great experiences by openly ruling out any interaction with men over 30 who live at home with their mums, those with children and right wing bigots but this is a risk I am willing to take. Time is precious, especially for 30 something girl who is constantly being reminded of that ticking biological clock. In fact, I think everyone’s time is precious and I don’t intend of wasting years stuck in unsatisfactory relationships to find out somewhere down the line that the guy I’ve fallen for never intends on doing a job in his life because he is only after finding himself an Alpha Female or that he wants his children to go church every Sunday!

Sadly, not everyone appreciates my new honest approach to my deal breakers. For example, there was this one douche bag who started a conversation with me. It was going fairly well (well, anything that doesn’t begin with DTF is good these days) until he asked whether I would consider backtracking on one of my deal breakers. In hindsight, I should simply responded with a NO! But my slightly softer, more reasonable side asked him which one. He then went on to tell me about these kids he had spawned his reckless youth. Ugh. I eventually told him (what was already clearly written on my profile) that I was too young to play the evil step mum. He subsequently lost it with me saying that with my gummy smile (#gumsforday was the actual hashtag he used) it was no wonder I was still single. Talk about being a sore loser!

The thing I find is that people often want to make you feel guilty for having strong opinions whether it is about charitable giving or dating baby daddies. The thing is I don’t hate little people (well, maybe some of them!) and I have friends with children who I totally love for their cuddles (and the fact that I can pass them back to mummy when they start crying) and sure one day I might even pop out little brats of my own. But I also have the right to say I don’t want to take on the burden of somebody else’s progeny. Of course, there are those that will judge me and say I’m selfish but I’d rather that than fast forward 10 years and be dealing with a stroppy teenager reminding me they don’t have to listen to anything I say because I’m not their biological mother and such.

At the end of the day we each need to pick our battles. I’m not saying I’ll never compromise on a deal breaker ever but by now I certainly have enough experience with bad relationships and heartbreak to know that it is easier to dismiss people that don’t meet your requirements at the early stages of dating rather than trying to fit square pegs into round holes only to eventually realise it’s not going to happen. Experience has taught me that trying to ignore deal breakers and finding excuses to convince yourself that one day everything will fall into place just leads to more heartache in the long run. Before you know it you’ve lost a decade of your life to something that was at best a bit of a learning curve.

So I think it’s high time that we were all clear about what we want/don’t want out of a relationship from the get go. That way no one wastes their precious time. As much as I am repulsed at the ‘DTF’ guys I have to admit I can’t hate them because nobody can claim not to know what they were after. Of course, nobody wants to be judged or branded a bad person but can anyone truly hate on a person for being clear about they want and saving innocent people heartbreak in the long term? I think not!

Rinsers what are your thoughts on the matter. Do you think people should be more open about their deal breakers from the outset instead of wasting time dating those they are incompatible with? Do you fear being judged for having opinions that aren’t PC and don’t correlate with those of the majority? Tell us about your approach to your deal breakers in the comments below.

Guest Post : Forever-alone or Heart-eyed? Here’s what you should cook this Valentine’s Day.

Today on Rinse Before Use we have a special guest by Megan from the Homemade Cook. She gives you some great ideas on how to stay away from all Valentine’s Day hype by cooking at home. Whether you a happily single or love up this V-Day. First a bit about Megan ….

Meh.jpgAn introvert who loves people, Megan needs time alone to stay sane and time being hospitable to stay happy.  She’s happiest when she has a group of people crammed into her little flat and is making food for them. She can’t live without pasta (and butter, and parmesan cheese), her journals (yes, plural), her sisters (they live nearby and are her closest friends) and trees.  See her on The Homemade Cook Facebook and Instagram.

Are you going to spend your Valentine’s Day with your one true love? Yay! You have what many would kill for. Instead of fighting your way into a terribly clichéd, overpriced and crowded restaurant, I suggest you consider eating a special meal at home. I have a menu and recipes for you down below that will make the night sparkle.

If you’ve resigned yourself to a Valentine’s Day alone with your own awesome self, you have three options: 1: Make the heart-eyed menu and eat it all yourself. There are worse things than eating alone – just keep your tears out of the pavlova, else it will go soggy. 2: Make the heart-eyed menu and invite some friends over. You could have a ro-tic evening (you know, romantic without the man) and watch chick flicks. Or (like me) 3: make the forever-alone menu below. It’s the perfect “I can eat whatever I feel like eating” menu. I recommend you pair it with either About Time if you want a great love story movie or The Martian if you want “I don’t need anyone because I’m awesome enough to survive anything alone”.

Heart-eyed Menu

Here are my requirements for the perfect Valentine’s Day meal:

  • It should be prepared in advance.
  • It should be so delicious it makes you groan. You know, that “umhmh, so good” as you take mouthful after mouthful.
  • It should have that special something, either in terms of presentation or awesomeness of the dish, or both.

This is the menu I’d put together for a couple adventurous enough to try something fun and new:

Starter: Bacon-wrapped dates, stuffed with goats cheese (ahem, no pun intended)

Main: Lebanese-style stuffed eggplant

Dessert: “I’m in love with this chocolate pavlova”

Recipes, with South African translations and tips, below.

Forever-alone Menu

My criteria for the perfect alone-meal:

  • Cook whatever I want
  • Eat it all
  • No one to judge me if it’s all carbs

Here’s the menu I’d suggest:

Starter: Why waste time with a starter? Spaghetti is waiting for you
Main: “Just me and a bowl of pasta” spaghetti with caramelised onions
Dessert: “I’m going to eat this all myself just because I can” pizookie

Recipes, with South African translations and tips, below.

Recipes, interpreted for South Africans

Recipes for Heart-Eyed Menu

Bacon-wrapped dates, stuffed with goats cheese, from Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine (Zondervan, 2013).

Recipe online here. As Shauna writes “Bacon-wrapped dates? More like bacon-wrapped clouds of heaven!” They are the perfect combination of salty, sweet, gooey and crispy.

For 2 people maybe you should halve the recipe? But my cousin Paula and I once ate an entire batch, just saying…

Let me give you some South African translations:
– 8oz is 226g of pitted dates.
– 4oz is 113g of goats cheese. Get soft goats cheese like this. And don’t be shy, it just tastes like a smooth, soft, slightly crumbly cheese. Not goat-y at all.
– 16oz is 450g of bacon. I’d get streaky, because imo it’s the most like typical American bacon.
– Bake at 205°C.
Lebanese-style stuffed eggplant, from Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen

Here’s the recipe. I suggest you halve the recipe for two hungry people (i.e. 3 eggplants and 1/4 cup rice etc.)

Some South African translations:
– You’re looking for the small eggplants / aubergines / brinjals we often get – about 13 to 15 cm long.
– In place of the 1 cup of chicken stock I’d use 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of chicken stock powder (or equivalent. Be careful of chicken stock cubes, they are super salty, so use about ¼).
– The tin of chopped/diced tomatoes the recipe tells you to use is the standard 410g one we get. So use half if you are halving the recipe
– Full quantity “ground beef chuck” is 340g of beef mince. Remember to use 170g if half quantity.
– Ground allspice is possible to get. I got mine from Woolworths. It’s worth looking for, because it really gives the recipe the perfect flavour. But this recipe does use very little, so I’d understand if you pass on it. I suggest ground cumin as a replacement.
– Don’t have a melon-baller? A spoon will work, just be careful. Or make hollowed-out boats instead.
– Attaching the eggplant tops back on with a toothpick makes them look like they have little hats on.
“I’m in love with this chocolate pavlova” from Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen

Recipe here. Seriously, go read her writing. She’s awesome.

You should 1/3 this recipe for 2 people (so 2 egg whites). Even so, you’ll have a lot of dessert!

Never separated eggs before? Here’s the traditional way or the life-hack way. Just make sure there is no yolk in your whites, else they won’t fluff properly.

Some South African translations:
– Granulated sugar is ordinary white sugar.
– Semi- or bittersweet-chocolate is dark chocolate or extra dark chocolate. I’d use Albany Dark.
– Heavy cream is cream for whipping. Don’t get pouring cream or the cream that foams out of a can.
– 350°F is 180°C. When the pavlova goes in drop it down to 150°C (that’s 300°F).
– Parchment paper is baking paper (find it with the tinfoil at the shops). It will make serving your pavlova happy rather than chipping-it-off-the-tray-sad. Don’t get wax paper, because wax on pavlova isn’t yummy.
– If you are one-thirding the recipe you should make a circle a bit smaller than 22cm (9in). It will spread, probably not quite as far as 30cm (12in) across.
– To serve, she means invert the pavlova to peel off the parchment, and then flip it right way up to serve, obviously.

Recipes for Forever-Alone Menu

“Just me and a bowl of pasta” spaghetti with caramelised onions. Adapted from Andy Ward from Dinner: A Love Story.

Follow the recipe for Cacio e Pepe here, but after melting the butter and olive oil you must caramelise some onions:

Slice 1 or 2 large onions thickly (they cook down a lot, so I’d go with 2, because caramelised onions are everything). Sauté them over medium heat until deep brown, softened and sweet.

It will take about 45 minutes, but you’ve got time – you aren’t going anywhere tonight.

Just keep stirring them every now and again, and sprinkle with salt half way through.

Then proceed with the Cacio e Pepe recipe.

“I’m going to eat this all myself just because I can” pizookie

A pizookie is a deep dish chocolate chip cookie, served slightly undercooked and gooey, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. We’re making a single-serving size, and you’re going to eat the whole thing. You’re welcome.

Recipe here.

Some South African translations:
– We usually get salted butter here, so use that and skip the pinch of salt.
– Granulated sugar is ordinary white sugar
– Baking soda is bicarbonate of soda
– Semi-sweet chocolate is dark chocolate. I’d use a slab of Albany Dark chocolate, chopped.
– 375°F is 190°C.
– 6 oz ramekin is a little, oven-safe, round dish about 9cm across. If you don’t have something similar, an oven-safe mug would work. Or use a mug and cook it in the microwave; it will probably work fine. I’d estimate about 1 min cooking time in the microwave, but keep an eye on it and go longer or shorter.

I hope that your Valentine’s Day contains some really spectacular food, whether or not there is a hot someone there with you!
If you cook one of these recipes, tag me in the photo on IG (@homemadecookza) or share it on The Homemade Cook Facebook page. I’ll give you a round of applause!!

If these recipes seem like gibberish to you or if you feel like you don’t have the skills to even attempt them, you should probably sign up for one of the online cooking courses I’ve made. The Homemade Cook is for beginner cooks (read: non-cooks), zero previous knowledge required. Next course starts on Monday 13 Feb 2017 – just a few days!
MORE INFO: https://goo.gl/co3kmL
EMAIL me with questions: megan@thehomemadecook.co.za
SIGN UP NOW: https://goo.gl/Jp7w3a

Review : MATE @ Alexander Upstairs

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Being a single girl in your 30s is hard. Constantly being reminded by your friends, family and even randoms on the street that you are no longer a spring chicken and that the biological clock is ticking is not much fun. But the thing is you are not alone on the shelf (and this my friends is part of the problem!). Set in a ‘Love Recovery’ workshop led by a therapist (played by Samantha Gray) who doesn’t hold back when it comes to giving it to her clients straight, MATE is a hybrid live/filmed performance which follows the trials and tribulations of three very different 30 somethings (all of whom are played amazingly well by Alicia McCormick) attempting to deal with the painful realities of modern dating.

The first of the three singletons is the ever-so-sweet hopeless romantic Sarah who is simultaneously trying to get over her ex and doing everything in her power to find happily ever after (she even tries to do the whole Eat, Pray, Love thing by going to Paris). Then there is the somewhat crass Afrikaans chick, Jeanine who has been through her fair share of douche bags and understands that at some point one has to cut her losses and settle for a one-legged shop-keeper. Finally, there is the ‘Sloaney’ one, Elaine. A career woman of the highest pedigree, a typical Alpha female who has failed to meet a man who meets her high standards (or even just some basic understanding of English grammar!).

This humorous two-woman show, based on real-life experiences, really gets stuck into the nitty gritty of life as 21st-century woman. While having a laugh at the expense of the Tinder generation has become quite a thing these days, what sets MATE apart from other similar shows that it also makes light of how seriously a lot of us take our mission to find love; investing lots of time and money in self-help books and therapy, when actually the people peddling this stuff are probably just as hopeless as we are. At some points, this tragicomedy does get painfully close to the bone and I could certainly tell from the audience’s reaction and comments that there were lots of people who could personally identify with the stories.

Anybody who has tried their hand at online dating will be able to relate and even those that are happily settled down will enjoy the humour. I have to say I was surprised at the number of guys in the audience – but they all seemed to enjoy themselves so it’s all good! So whether you are just looking for some light entertainment or for a little bit of cynicism during this sickly sweet month of love, I’d definitely recommend seeing MATE. It is playing at the intimate Alexander Upstairs theatre till the 18th February and the first two nights were sold out so book ahead of time to avoid disappointment.