You’re So Vain. You Probably Think This Blog is About You!

Vain

 

When #zlotybaby and I started this blog over 2 years ago we didn’t have any real concrete ideas about the direction it would take. It was born out of numerous conversations we were having with our friends about dating, love and romance. We felt that the stories we were hearing and the things we were experiencing/experienced ourselves were so sad/laughable in some instances that they’d be worthy of a blog. Furthermore, we knew from discussions with people around us that most of us were going through similar things in their dating/romantic lives and therefore would be able to relate to our posts.

While we always planned on drawing inspiration from our own sad/happy/weird and wonderful experiences, very rarely is anything we mention in this blog so unique that any given post could be based on a single experience with a SPECIAL person.  That said, if there was a particularly story or quote that was remarkable enough to receive a mention then I think we were always careful to protect the identity of the characters/tinder boys/dirty perves /sad spinsters; using pseudonyms only where they are absolutely necessary.

Despite our best efforts to keep things as light, fluffy and vague as possible there have still been a number of people who not only identify wholeheartedly with what we write but actually see themselves in our posts and take offence. In most cases, no offence was ever intended and those posts aren’t even about the person hurling abuse at us. Believe me, there is more than one mummy’s boy in the world. Think your the last racist standing here in SA? Think again! Sure, gymming maybe YOUR thing but seriously Richard Branson wouldn’t go bankrupt if you cancelled your membership at Virgin Active.

I’ve said it time and time again. Dating is a numbers game. As you are working your way through the deadwood of the Tinderverse, you are bound to realise that the guys and girls that you tend to date share lots of common characteristics. Perhaps this simply due to where you find all your victims – that stereotype about people on Tinder being somewhat superficial and most likely just after a hook up? Well, in most cases (not all) it’s true. Internet dating sites being populated with IT geeks – well, what do expect? They like computers! Duh!

Alternatively, it could be the fact that you, yourself, are to blame. Perhaps you simply have a ‘type’ that you are attracted to? The truth it most of us do. Whether it is that you keep chasing Silver Foxes in the hopes of finding your George Clooney or you always end up with that ditzy yoga chick that can’t stimulate intellectually (sure she sorts you out in other ways), there are likely to be certain common features among all the people you tend to crush on. Even in cases where you fight it and ask the universe to find you your male equivalent chances are the clumsy bookish girl will always somehow find herself falling (literally) into the nice arms of hottie!

Of course, there are people that come into our lives and have an impact for whatever reason. Maybe they’ll receive some vague reference in the blog now and again but honestly these aren’t the stories that give you the best LOLs or result in us receiving abusive comments. Often these are just some valuable lessons that have taught you something more meaningful about yourself and human relationships.

So let’s cut to the chase. What I am getting at here is to the people that secretly stalk their exes on facebook (sure, we all do that), reading into Whatsapp status’ or in this case blogs posts – PLEASE stop flattering yourself. Yes, maybe one statement that came out of your mouth was worth directly quoting but in most instances the people we’ve dated aren’t original enough that they deserve such glory.  Stop over analyzing everything (yes, I’ll try to take my own advice there) and realize in this fickle age of Tinderizing we are all simply one of many.  Of course, to that special someone (whenever you do eventually meet them) you’ll be one of a kind. But honestly, when that does happen I’m sure we’ll all be to busy living life to be bitching and moaning about things on WordPress.

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Matchmaking – Can it Work These Days?

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Back in the days a lot of parents used services of matchmakers to find a spouse for their children. They were mostly interested in the future husband’s financial status (how many cows and chickens does he have), the dowry (how many cows and chickens can her parents pay him and his family) and whether the bride was pretty. Love was something that happened to the lucky ones but wasn’t considered important in marriage. This sort of matchmaking is still used in some parts of the world but most kids these days listen to their heart and choose their partners themselves. Could a matchmaker still help them with the choice?

Certainly thanks to dating apps and online dating services there’s much less shame associated with looking for a partner. Tinder may be considered a more chilled and fun thing to do, but many aren’t ashamed to say they’re looking for something serious (or are ashamed but tick the right boxes on their profiles anyway). Online dating apps and websites widen our options but the computer generated matches have their limitations and we still have to put a lot of effort into the search. Now imagine someone does that for you. Instead of you going through hundreds of profiles someone you paid will look for the matches. They’d filter their database for your deal breakers and the treats you desire, hopefully coming up with someone worth your time. Sounds like a sweet deal but at the same time seems a little bit impersonal. Using dating apps at least you end up talking to a person you’ll go on a date with and very superficially you can get a “feel” of them by their looks. Your matchmaker will send you on a date with a complete stranger. Additionally, using such professionals limits the choice of people to those willing to pay a lot for such a service. It can be a plus for people with high status or gold diggers, but maybe average mortals prefer a more personalized approach with a wider number of options. Last but not least, going on dates is a good experience in terms of deciding on you preferences and building your social skills. To minimize the dates can be therefore counterproductive.

We’ve discussed the professional services, but what about the more traditional matchmaking? I’m not talking here about elderly ladies in your community but your family. Surely you experience this or that relative trying to set you up on a date because you’re not getting any younger? I’m afraid your aunt worried about your spinster/bachelor status may be to eager to set you up on a date with anyone. “I know a nice boy/girl” usually means “I know someone who’s single and you shouldn’t be too picky”. We have a saying in Polish which translates into “He can have one eye as long as it happens this year” and I find it very relevant in this scenario. Because of the desperation factor chances of a success are quite slim and you don’t want to be dealing with a family member forever reminding you how “nice” Jeremy or Gillian were and how they don’t get why nothing happened. Rather avoid such set-ups. “Helpful” parents can be even worse aiming at the types with high paying jobs, regardless of how dull they are. Don’t forget that very often our family (especially extended) doesn’t know us too well so don’t get into the trap of giving it a chance. You surely will be better off doing the search yourself.

Last but not least, there are friends. Are their matchmaking skills worth anything? Your friends are likely to know you better than your family or this lady from a paid matchmaking service. I think of the three here’s your biggest chance of success. Of course some may just want to set you up with anyone because “you deserve to be with someone” and secretly they just want to double date with you. Such forced dates can be super awkward and the matches not much better than your aunt’s choices. Most of your friends, however, will genuinely keep their eyes open and if they meet someone they think would click with you, they can arrange a meet up. An introduction at a party is less awkward than a double date sort of vibe but the latter gives you an opportunity to learn more about the person. Of course it doesn’t have to work but I think if you’re on the lookout it’s worth a shot. I’ve matchmaked people (both couples broke up, though), seen people happily matchmaked and even know one married couple, who met in this way. The only disadvantage is that, in case of an unsuccessful date, you may end up seeing such a person a lot due to a mutual circle of friends. It’s not too bad, if you just remember to postpone the panty dropping time till you know it’s worth it.

To conclude, matchmaking can certainly work. Nevertheless, the professional services limit our range of options. Family just doesn’t seem to be a good dating database as they tend to oppose your singledom a bit desperately. Friends are probably your best bet in terms of successful modern matchmaking.

So, Dear Rinsers, what do you think about matchmaking? Have you ever been set up with anyone? Perhaps you played a matchmaker yourself?

Sore Loser Syndrome – When To Stop Bitching and Moaning

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Sure, I’m more guilty than most when it comes to bitching and moaning about the men I have dated. And I’ll admit I probably spend far too much time talking about my exes. Gosh, I even blog about it (well you have to forgive me because the writing saves me thousands of rands on the threapy I need after all the trauma I’ve had to deal with!). But the truth is the past is the past and at some point we all need to be reasonable, admit that it took two to destroy a ‘relationship’, and eventually move on and continue the search for happily ever after. Right? Well, not for some. Today, dear Rinsers, I want to talk about people who have succumbed to a sort of victim mentality aka Sore Loser Syndrome.

Unless you are a 30 something virgin or one of the lucky few that were content to marry their high school sweetheart, most of us have had our fair share of bad relationships/romantic encounters.  It is OK to have the odd bitch and moan/LOL session with your girlfriends, reminiscing about an a date’s terrible fashion sense or how utterly blinded you were to miss the ridiculously ignorant stuff (e.g how girls of a certain ethnicity should stick to  people of their own kind because getting involved with someone of a different race is purely an example of your low self-esteem and an attempt to climb the ladder of social class) an ex would witter on about.  But there does come a time when we need to draw a line and realise that this mindless chitter chatter doesn’t lead to anything productive.

Telling a girl that you just started dating that your ex wife was a FAT PIG only serves to show her how superficial you are. Alternatively, going on and on about how your ex cheated on you and broke your heart, isn’t going to change what happened. Sure, people feel sorry for you but eventually even your bestie will get tired of seeing you wallow in self-pity. What we need to acknowledge is that it’s rare for an old relationship to have ended beautifully but painting an ex as an evil, wife-beating, ogre and yourself as the innocent victim is really not that believable, however much we may wish to kid ourselves. The people we talk to have pasts as well and while they may nod sympathetically, they’ll still probably take your little nightmare-ish story with a pinch of salt.

Now for the flipside. What do you do when you meet someone who constantly bad mouths people from their past? Well, listen carefully to what they are saying.  Try to spot if there is a common thread running through their stories. Ask yourself why they are constantly being shafted by people? Why are they always the victim? Remember there are always two sides to the story.  Then as hard as it maybe try to picture a point somewhere in the future where maybe this little thing you’ve got going disintergrates and imagine what they’ll be saying about you. Just think, all those FAT PIGs they used to date, those MEAN girls, those chicks with low self-esteem, well all of them were probably once in your position – standing on the cusp of a budding romance and now? Well, they are nothing more than horrible, fat pigs that took advantage of this poor little soul.

The point I’m making here? Yes, it’s only human to vent about our exes and how they did us wrong. Just be selective about who you have the bitch fest with. And most importantly, know when to stop because there comes a point in all the whingeing and whining when you start to sound like a sore loser. Calling your ex a brain dead troll says more about you than it does about them. If they were so ugly and stupid, why were you dating them in the first place? Seems like you are the stupid one now doesn’t it? As hard as it sometimes, we all need to play nice. Although, it may not be easy to remember, we all must have had some fun with our exes once upon a time so just let go of all the negativity and move on. It’ll increase your chances of finding your happily ever after I promise!

 

The Things Out of Our Control

beyondcontrolI may be stating the obvious by saying that Disney and the world of fiction in general set unrealistic expectations towards our love lives and our partners. Such expectations mean disappointment and pain. You can keep fighting with how life/people/guys are but it won’t change the reality and will just exhaust you. Working on oneself is a must but it has to do with the things in our control. Some, however, are out of it. Therefore, a good attitude towards life is the acceptance of such limitations, even if we don’t like them.

Firstly, we all have our natural tendencies we should be aware of. I often stress the importance of work on oneself but accepting what we cannot change is as important as working on our weaknesses and strengths. That also means that there are limits as to what we can do to change ourselves. We’re not born a white sheet of paper, as it was claimed once upon a time. Our genes that influence certain traits and so does our environment. The scientists have been fighting about what’s more important since forever but these days they seem to lean towards the idea that the division of importance between the two in the formation of human beings is fifty fifty. This means that we can only do so much with what we were given.

In our love lives we should grow awareness of the limitations of ourselves and of our partners. This doesn’t mean to settle! Certain things are non-negotiable. Respect, love or the fact that we can depend on each other, for instance. There are also treats that we truly want in a partner and we should keep looking till we find someone endowed with them. At the same time, we shouldn’t be expecting Mr Universe if we don’t look like Wonder Woman, to take the most superficial example. We should only want what we represent ourselves. If what we can get doesn’t satisfy us we have only three reasonable actions to take 1) better ourselves, 2) accept something as it’s beyond our control, 3)give up in self-improvement and lower our expectations .

The truth is there are some things we just cannot change. Other things cannot be repaired or improved beyond certain levels. If we missed out on some crucial things in our childhood, as adults we may do our best to work on our self-esteem, self-love and the like. At the same time we must remember we started our existence at level 1, while others commenced at level 100. This means we will most probably never catch up with them. It’s a similar situation like with “from rags to riches” success stories. They’re very very very rare. Most poor people end up having poor children. A realistic success is when each generation does a little bit better than the previous one. Don’t fool yourself with hopes of becoming a completely different person. All you can do is the best version of yourself with what you’ve been given.

This inevitably means our partners will have vices and most probably these vices will be the traits we saw and disliked in our parents. I don’t think one can erase certain tendencies. If your father was absent you most probably will end up with some sort of absent partner. What we can work on, is the degree to which it will be true. If your father was never there, perhaps with enough self-work you can end up with a partner who’s mostly around but you’re rather unlikely to fill the gap completely. If you hated how your mom did all the housework you may choose someone who wants to help at home but because you yourself keep doing everything, he’ll eventually settle for this model too. As long as we’re doing our best, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. We should also appreciate what we have, instead of focusing what we don’t and possibly can’t have.

When we manage to be more healthy and set our deal breakers reasonably, we have a good chance of finding someone with whom we’re happy. This is what we can influence. At the same time, no matter how well we do certain things are just beyond our control, like the fact that our partners will have their bad sides. If we enter the relationship happily and consciously, we should always remember that there’s nothing in the world that’s flawless. That means that we should accept the good in our partner as well as the bad. We cannot control the latter but we can control our reactions to it. We can also come up with remedies to some behaviors. For instance if your partner is constantly late (like your dad used to be or whatever) you can get upset about it and feel that your partner doesn’t love you enough. Or you can be a big girl, realize this is how he is, that it has nothing to do with you and always give him the time of the events that’s half  an hour early.

There are things in our control and those outside of it. We should be aware of it and stop fighting the fights that are pointless. When you can’t change something accept it and then you can choose your course of the action, including your own reaction and reading of certain behaviors.

What do you think, Dear Rinsers? Is managing our expectations a big part of happiness? Do you believe we can change entirely?

 

Destructive Insecurity and Why It’s Important to Work on It

securityWe all have a certain level of insecurity. It’s much easier to feel comfortable in our own skin when life’s treating us well, but it things are a bit rough, little insecurities can grow into real problems. This is why we shouldn’t brush it off, when it currently doesn’t bother us. Otherwise eventually it can be a source of big problems in our life and relationships.

Problem no 1.

Jealousy and Possessiveness

Insecurity is the biggest factor in developing possessive and envious behaviors. We may feel jealous of someone we know, who’s dating a great person while we’re still single and just seeing losers. Sometimes, already in a relationship we may feel a temptation to limit our partner or feel not at ease when someone more attractive is around. Jealousy may also change our perception of what’s really happening (“I see how you were looking at her!”) and turn an innocent event into a fight. Such behaviors come from one’s own sense of not being good enough, which can be intensified by temporarily fragile state of mind. Something that usually is a passing thought a day after we screwed up at work or had a fight with someone, may grow to a size of a decent problem. Be aware of your own tendencies and work on them when they’re still crawling, because they much more difficult to fight once they stand on their two feet.

Problem no 2.

Bad Dating Choices

It’s one thing if you have a reliable and trustworthy partner and from time to time you feel a bit insecure. Nevertheless, many people are so limited by the diminished sense of self-worth that they don’t even get to that stage. They keep dating people who treat them in a bad way, simply because they think that this is what they deserve. Do you know the saying that we accept the love we think we deserve? It’s very true! In other words, there’s nothing that could make a person unlovable but if someone feels that way, they’ll keep finding partners who’ll prove them right in their conviction. Of course, a relationship that deepens one’s sense of unworthiness makes the person’s issues even worse and here we go again, soon enough their end up in the arms of another Don Juan who’ll break their heart. Active looking for a partner is one thing, but if you don’t work on the way you feel about yourself, you’ll never find the happy partnership you’re dreaming of.

Problem no 3.

Becoming a People Pleaser

The feeling of insecurity isn’t a nice one to deal with, which is why a lot of people try to kill it by making others like them. If they go to meet new people, for instance, they feel insecure. Will people like me? Will they accept me? – the person asks. It doesn’t seem like there’s anything wrong with it but the point of meeting new people is for us to enjoy the company of others, not the other way round. Sure, it’s sad when we really liked someone and they don’t want to follow up but in most cases but the need to be liked should never be stronger than the need to like. If we focus on the desire of being wanted, we are just a small step from changing one’s behavior in order to be liked. This in return leads to 1) not being ourselves and 2) being liked by people whose company we don’t really enjoy. Apply this to dating and you end up having people dating someone they don’t like that much just because the person likes them.

Problem no 4.

Insecurity Killers

Long term effort to increase someone’s self esteem is tedious. This is why a lot of people decide to rather than work on themselves find quick fixes for the way they feel. Of course the most socially accepted insecurity killer is alcohol. Who’s not getting more talkative and cheerful after two glasses of wine? The problem is that once we choose to kill the way in which we feel with a substance of a temporary effect, it isn’t easy to stop using it. First we go out socializing and have a glass, later we start having it at home after an anxiety provoking day. People these days drink A LOT and you really have to be not getting up to work in the mornings for anyone to even think you have a problem. And yet, regular alcohol intake does influence your system in a way that long term you end up filling more not less insecure (and therefore more likely to drink again). That everyone does something doesn’t make it right. Most people are not happy, so it’s up to you to decide whether you really want to be like them or do you rather aspire to be like the rare high-achievers.

Problem no 5.

Being a Walkover

If you feel insecure about yourself and the fact that you deserve to be respected, you easily become a walkover. After all, if you think you’re worthless why would you stand up to someone who offended you? How will you defend you life choice in the face of someone who’s criticizing you? How will you stand your ground at work and tell them that you don’t want to do free overtime and the fact that others do it doesn’t make it right? Most importantly what will you tell to an abusive partner who tells you, you should be grateful that he’s not cheating on you? Standing up for yourself requires for you to feel secure about your rights. Working on your insecurity is the only way for you t be able to have a life you want and not the one that happens to you.

The solution

There’s no quick fix for this one. If you started your life with a belief that you’re an ugly duckling, you may have turned into a swan years ago but your psyche didn’t necessarily catch up. There’s exercise and good diet that make you feel more wholesome and make you look better which can be a bit of a self-esteem booster. You can meditate to calm your mind and silence the inner critic that makes you feel worthless. Most importantly, you should just work on your core beliefs that make you feel inadequate and change them into the ones that are more true. You may try to use numerous self-help books for that purpose or get into therapy. We all deserve to be loved, liked and respected. The problem is that unless we feel that we do, we won’t get it. People don’t give you what you’re worth but what you think you’re worth.

The comments section is all yours, Rinsers! Have you ever struggled with insecurity? Do you know people who do? Any tips for how to deal with it?

 

Review : Renaissance @ The Alexander Upstairs

 

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Another date night with my darling #zlotybaby at one of our favourite venues the Alexander Upstairs…

Renaissance is the story of Leon, a socially awkward South African guy doing that typical expat stint in London. He is a failed actor who has ended up taking up a job as a security guard at the National Gallery in London. Leon is from one of those small backwater towns (probably somewhere in the Northern Suburbs :P) where it isn’t much fun growing up, especially as a young gay guy.

Like many of us at one stage in our lives, Leon leaves his homeland hoping that all his dreams will come true in the metropolis. As is usually the case, things don’t go according to plan. Not only does he find himself doing what is possibly the most boring job in the world ever but he also sees his five year relationship come to a miserable end.

However, things start to look up for the protagonist as he strikes up a little ‘romance’ with Yoram, a Syrian refugee who works in the gallery gift shop. Yoram gives Leon a bit of a masterclass in art appreciation and (through the protagonist’s eyes) we see the artworks coming to life during long night shifts at the gallery.  Each of the renaissance paintings has a story and Leon can draw parallels between them and things going on in his own life.

The play was quirky, clever and brilliantly un-PC, which we totally loved (although possibly not something you want to view with a Churchy Tinder date!). The acting from David Viviers who plays Leon as well as Jazzara Jaslyn and Len-Barry Simons was excellent and the jokes were on point. The play also touched on a lot of real-life issues – the challenges of being an expat in a foreign land, the highs and lows of inter-cultural dating, that gut-wrenching moment you cross paths with the ex you just wish had never existed and hopeless stage in our lives when you reach your mid 30s and realise you are not quite where you wanted to be.

The play covers a lot of ground in just over an hour and it’s definitely thought provoking (I mean how often to we get to hear Mother Mary’s opinion of all that went down in that Christmas story!). If you are looking for a bit of theatre that is slightly different from the norm then go see Renaissance.  The Alexander Upstairs is a pretty intimate venue and the opening night had a full house so I’d recommend booking your tickets ASAP.

 

Tough ‘Love’

 

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There comes a time in our sad little lives when we have to come to terms with the fact that the fairy tales told us lies and real life relationships are less about slaying evil witches, saving the damsel in distress (more likely to be a dude these days anyway) and eventually getting that elusive happily ever after.  Even the best relationships have their ups and downs. Spending a huge chunk of your time with anybody isn’t easy. While it’ll allow you to see the best of a person’s character, it’ll also inevitably give you some insight into your partner’s flaws, insecurities and generally less favorable attributes, some of which no doubt will irritate the hell out of you. Naturally, if we let such irritations build up things are likely to get out of hand and lead to tensions, arguments and maybe in a worst case scenario DIVORCE! Jokes aside, it would be advisable to address any concerns you have about your other half before things escalate to such a level. But how does tackle difficult issues in a relationship tactfully without causing offence? Today Rinsers , we’ll be talking  about Tough ‘Love’.

As much as some of us would like to believe (read: kid ourselves) we are not perfect. Sure, we may be lovable (possibly only in the eyes of our partners) but everyone has things they can work on. Maybe it’s that you are carrying a little bit of extra puppy fat, perhaps you are a burning yourself out by being a people-pleaser who doesn’t have the ability to say no or maybe your significant other has noticed you look for answers to your problems at the bottom of a vodka bottle. For some, these kind of issues could be potential deal breakers that send them running for the hills and for others they could just be minor problems that if addressed properly will be nothing more than a bump in the road.

When you are involved in a meaningful relationship there are tough (ish) times when you need to stand by your significant other and help them work through something, rather than giving up at the first sign of trouble. However, sometimes in order to help someone you care about you may also need to be willing unpopular and play the bad cop. This isn’t always easy though. Sometimes the truth hurts and the fear of a backlash from your special someone can make you shy away from telling them the truth. Thinking about the repercussions is scary as you might offend them and do irreversible damage to your relationship. On the other hand, you can stay quiet let your other half spiral out of control and suffer in silence as you watch these issues cause cracks in your relationship. It looks like it is pretty much a lose-lose situation.

Well, it doesn’t have to be. As long as you are just a little bit empathetic you should be able to express your concerns to your significant other in a suitably tactful manner. Start by asking yourself why you feel the issue is a problem and the extent to which rectifying it will improve your relationship. There is a distinct difference between someone who is concerned about their partner’s sudden weight gain and the impact this is having on their self esteem and a nasty bully who tries to bring a person down by telling them they are morbidly obese.

Dishing out tough love isn’t simply a case of being as bitchy and horrible as possible in the hopes that your nastiness will inspire a person to change. Of course, sometimes you just need to say it as it is but there is also a need to be constructive and offer practical assistance. For example, telling your unemployed bum of a boyfriend that he’ll never amount to much due to his lack of education isn’t really going to help matters but is likely to simply become more depressed about his situation. Instead perhaps encourage him to think outside the box when it comes to careers and help re-write his CV. That way you are still showing him that you aren’t happy with the situation but also that you are willing to help solve the problem – as should be the case in any healthy partnership.

At the end of the day, if your actions and advise come from a good place the hopefully one day once the issue is a thing of the past, your partner will realise that you had their best interests at heart. If on the hand, you are nothing more than a school yard bully that failed to grow up and find joy in manipulating other people’s weaknesses in order to make your self feel like a BIG MAN then perhaps it’s best not to be in any sort of human relationship and instead do a bit of self-reflection (that or seek professional help) and deal with your own problems instead of offering to help others under the disguise of tough ‘love’,

Rinsers, now your turn. Have you ever used tough love to get your significant other to sort out their life? Were you successful? Or have you had someone use this approach on you – did it work or were they nothing more than a big fat bully? Share your stories in the comments below.