Taking a Break vs. Breaking Up – Can some breathing space be good for a relationship?

How-Taking-a-Break-in-a-Relationship-Works

Relationships are a very necessary element of life (I’ve already made my thoughts on haters and 30-something virgins clear in previous posts). That said, relationships (even the seemingly perfect ones) are inevitably difficult. Even if two people share a lot of commonalities, there’s bound to come a time where both parties won’t see eye to eye on an issue or predicament. Add to that the general obstacles that life throws into the mix and it’s no wonder there are times you feel like pulling your hair out. Naturally, in any good relationship things will be peachy most of the time and with a little bit of work two mature adults can probably iron out issues and come to some sort of understanding on their differences. However, there are also some life problems that can drag on and may not be even within the control of the two parties themselves.

Of course, there are quitters that run at the first sign of trouble. And maybe, for them, that’s a good thing. But there are others who try to find ways to fix things. When you hit a rocky patch in a relationship, and it carries on a little too long the easiest option may be to cut your losses and call time on the union. However, things aren’t always so clear cut or ‘fixable’.  In some instances, while you may feel like a tortoise running in peanut butter when it comes to relationship issues a break up may not be an option in your mind because your feelings for your partner are just too strong. So, you may reason that ‘taking a break’ and spending some time apart may give the much-needed breathing space necessary to reevaluate the situation.

Of course, there are some people that ‘a break’ is nothing more than cowardly precursor to an actual break up. But we’ve also all seen those couples that are constantly breaking up and making up which is nothing more than annoying drama queen behavior. So perhaps taking a step back is the most mature way to deal with things when your getting close to breaking point and feeling that the pressure could force you to make a bad decisions. That said, what the hell is ‘a break’, anyway? The term can mean different things to different people so it’s good to set some parameters when it comes to any sort of trial separation. Here a few things worth considering before making the move…

 

What are the reasons behind the ‘break’?

Pressing the pause button on your relationship certainly shouldn’t be the first line of action when it comes to your problems. Ask yourself whether you’ve sufficiently communicated with your partner about the issues. Simply taking some time apart to stare mindlessly into space isn’t going to solve anything unless you’ve addressed the issues and had some sort of discussion about it beforehand. Remember no one is a mind reader so make sure you are both on the same page before embarking along this path.

 

Is it just a way to avoid the inevitable?

As I said before, some people believe that taking a break is a bad sign and means doom for the relationship. Maybe? Maybe not? Again, look at the nature of the problem you guys are trying to solve. Is it something that can possibly be overcome? Or is it something bigger than the two of you? Be honest with yourselves. It’s tempting to want to try to wean yourself off someone you are attached to rather than calling it quits one time but if deep down you know your aren’t meant to be then perhaps you should simply rip off that band-aid and get things over with?

 

What are the ‘break’ rules?

Remember when in Friends when Ross and Rachel took a break and he cheated but thought it was OK because they weren’t technically together at the time. Yeah, that’s exactly why people need to lay some ground rules. You are taking a break because you’ve got problems, try not to exacerbate things by leaving things open to interpretation.

I think it’s important to state how ‘open’ you want your relationship to be over the break period. Firstly, establish whether you want to sleep with/date other people when  you are apart or whether this is solely a period for actual alone time to reflect on the relationship at hand. (Personally, I’m not a fan of the whole open relationship thing and think that bringing new people into the mix will only really serve to complicate matters).

Secondly, set a time limit for the break. You can’t stay apart forever (unless things do escalate into a full blown break up) but you also need to give yourselves real time to work through things (the last time I tried a break it last all of 48 hours where we talked constantly anyway!). This leads me to the next point, set some rules about communication…do you still plan on checking in on each other or does a break really mean a break on all fronts?

 

Will absence really make the heart grow fonder?

Well, that is the million dollar question. Of course, in an ideal world absence would make the heart grow fonder and the time/distance you’ve given yourselves will refuel your love and longing for one another and you’ll both return to the relationship re-energised and ready to take on whatever the world throws at you. But things aren’t always so. Be aware that the break may also have negative implications on the relationship. One or both parties may realise that in fact they hardly miss each other and single life is far more fun. So while it is OK into the break hoping for the best, you should probably also prepare yourself for the worst.

So all in all, making the decision to take a break from a relationship shouldn’t be seen as an easy option. If you truly want the best outcome (remember the best outcome could in fact be a break up!) it’s important to be talk things through and be clear of what you want and what is expected. Life really isn’t all hearts and flowers and the path to happily ever after isn’t always linear. In some cases, the breathing space offered by a break from the relationship may offer the clarity needed to overcome certain issues. In other instances, it may just prove that some problems truly are insurmountable. Ultimately, I think taking a well-thought out break can be a sign of a mature relationship as opposed to a childish one where people make spontaneous rash decisions without thinking about the repercussions. And at the end of the day, even if the outcome of the break is that it marks the end of a relationship, at least you can both walk away knowing that you gave things a fair shot.

 

Alright Rinsers, time for your thoughts. Have you ever taken a break in a relationship? Did it work out well for you or did it simply mark the beginning of the end? Do you think taking a break is a sign of weakness or a mature course of action? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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Review: Lovesick

lovesickYay, a Netflix comedy series about love! And a British one! Seeing that in my Netflix suggestions I immediately thought about Monty Python, Peepshow, Fawlty Towers… Unfortunately, “Lovesick” turned out to be a bitter disappointment.

Let’s have a look at the premise first. Dylan is a 20 something young and mostly single gentleman who learns that he has an STD. Now, he has to contact all his former sexual partners. The main narrative of the present is mixed with the recollections of the numerous women he slept with. In both the past and the present, he’s supported on his quest to find a true love by his two best friends and flat mates, Evie and Luke. Sounds like a reasonable idea, non?

Not quite. “Lovesick” is crap. I chuckled a few times when watching the first season but the series has a big disadvantage for a comedy: it’s not funny. It’s also not a good drama, even if it seems to make the audience emotional too. The characters are just not convincing. Luke is a woman eater with issues about which we learn nothing. Dylan and Evie has feelings for one another but handle them immaturely, choosing to jump into different relationships rather than discussing them. In general, it’s just this kind of series about a bunch of adults behaving like teenagers. I guess it’d be fine, if the series was meant to be purely comedic (after all, no one was taking the characters of “Peepshow” seriously). It’s fine to have cartoon like characters if the style of the show encourages that. You can’t, however, oversimplifies characters and then make them have “serious” problems. It does come off as fake.

I guess the series does address a few important issues. STDs are a threat in the modern, more sexually liberated world. The show doesn’t go on sending any message about responsible sex life, though. Everyone just keeps having sex in the circumstances suggesting that they didn’t use any protection. I mean if you’re a bad series you could at least teach people something about the magic of rubber? Then of course, there’s the quest for true love that Dylan is supposedly on, by sticking his penis without a condom into a lot of women. Last but not least, there’s a question of men and women being “just friends”. Don’t look for depth, though. The series is just bad. I’m not sure why people enjoyed it and why there’s season 2. What can I say, Brits are weird. They voted for Brexit, love their royals and call dessert pudding.

The big advantage of the series is that it consists of only a few 20 minute episodes. I don’t feel like I wasted too much of my lifetime watching it. Besides, anything to protect my Dear Rinsers from watching something that is just not worth it.

Have you watched the series, Dear Rinser? Do you like British comedies in general? Which one is your favorite?

What to Watch Out For When You Start Dating Someone

sea-sunset-beach-coupleYou’ve made it past date three and you’re already imagining yourself in a wedding dress or writing down a proposal script? Hold your horses! You should still be looking out for potential bad signs at this stage. It’s quite easy to pretend you’re a completely different person for a short period of time. I’m sure, you’ve had the experience when after a glass of wine or two you were behaving like a much more confident version of yourself? Early dating is a little bit like that. Putting your best foot forward is natural but it also can be quite deceptive.

First of all, you should make sure that the person you’re seeing is actually available to fully pursue a relationship with you. A friend of mine met a guy once. He lived in a different city and visited hers every second week for work. He was always at his best behavior when he was with her and kept in touch when he was away. One day on a weird hunch she Facebook stalked him and it turned out that he was friends with a married man and a father looking like his identical twin… Of course, it wasn’t a twin but her man was a cheating bastard. I’m not saying that you should ask people to provide you with a certificate of no impediment before you get involved but listen to your intuition. If he’s covering his phone, always having conversations away from you, blocking your access to his social media, something may be up. Another signs such as never meeting his friends or not being seen out with you, may be a sign of him being involved with someone else too. He doesn’t necessarily have to be married, it may be that he has a girlfriend, a number of back pocket girls waiting for him or is just a player and wants to keep his options open. Guys, times are changing, females can be sailors too!

The problem of unavailability isn’t limited to the marital status only. Commitment issues and other emotional issues can be a similar killer for your happily ever after. The bad signs for commitment issues are: making little to no effort, spending little time with you, making things about sex only, lack of affection, not communicating with you apart from when you’re meeting up, keeping you away from a personal life in all possible ways, openly flirting with other women, telling you about other women to make you jealous, talking a lot but not following up… The list is long but I think we’ve covered the basis. It is similarly problematic if someone is a walking disaster and doesn’t keep their shit together. If you’re just after a break-up and so is your love interest, chances are you’re bonding over a broken heart. You can have a rebound but emotional pain isn’t exactly a recommended recipe for mature, long-term love. Someone who’s telling you long teary stories about their ex-spouse or childhood traumas on the first few dates is oversharing. Think about it: doesn’t this person have friends to tell them about such issues? They don’t even know you yet! Don’t fool yourself, thinking that you have something special because of it. Clearly their problems are still very fresh and/or undealt with if they can’t stop themselves from talking about them when still trying to impress someone. Sharing builds intimacy, oversharing a dependency. Don’t forget about it.

You should keep your eyes open and follow-up also on the things that strike you as weird. One swallow doesn’t make a summer so don’t obsess about something that’s only been mentioned in passing. At the same time, if you hear about something repeatedly, it may be worth investigating. A good example is my ex mentioning his mother 21 times on date one that I conveniently ignored. The more someone mentions something, the more he or she is attached to it. People may be downplaying their tendencies to impress someone they like, especially if that person doesn’t share their views (pretending that someone is less religious than they are in reality is just one example). However, it’s usually easy to pick up on such things. In other words, it’s up to you to hear exactly what you hear, when someone tells you about how your Zodiac signs are compatible. On the receiving end, don’t minimize the issues you care about. Maybe your collection of healing crystals will freak someone out but isn’t it easier to deal with it early, rather than spend eternity hiding your treasures from your spouse? Instead just imagine how many crystals you could have with a partner who’s also into these things!

To sum up, in the early stages of dating you should look out for the signs of your partner not being able to commit to you, being an emotional mess and a needy person, as well as for any worrying anomalies in what they’re saying. Last tip: As sex can complicate things and cloud your judgment, rather keep your legs together/your pickle outside of the jar, till you make up your mind about someone.

What are the things you think people should watch out for in the early stages of dating? Any stories about how you ignored a worrying signal? The comments section is all yours!

 

 

The Mayim Bialik Op-Ed – Are There Some Perks To Being The ‘Ugly’ Kid ?

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In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and #Metoo campaign, stories about sexual assault and harassment have been dominating both the media and social media feeds.  Generally speaking, there has been a consensus condemning the men behaving badly and in support of the women who’ve been compelled to take a stand. And then there was Mayim Bialik’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times.

In her article, Bialik talked about her experiences in Hollywood as ‘a prominent-nosed, awkward Jewish 11-year old’ and how not matching up to the industry standards of beauty teamed with her ‘conservative decisions’ afforded her certain advantages. To cut to the chase of why the article caused so much drama here is a quote : ‘And yet I have also experienced the upside of not being a “perfect ten.” As a proud feminist with little desire to diet, get plastic surgery or hire a personal trainer, I have almost no personal experience with men asking me to meetings in their hotel rooms. Those of us in Hollywood who don’t represent an impossible standard of beauty have the “luxury” of being overlooked and, in many cases, ignored by men in power unless we can make them money.’

It’s easy to understand why people were enraged by what they saw as victim blaming and she was pretty much forced to apologise for her opinion. And as much as what she said wasn’t all that clever considering the current sentiment around the issues when I first read the article I did resonate with parts of what she said.  I certainly don’t think being ‘ugly’ or ‘awkward-looking’ is any sort of protection from being raped, assaulted or cat-called in the streets. Perverts don’t necessarily adhere to Hollywood beauty standards when it comes to finding victims.

On the flipside though, I think if you read between the lines there is perhaps some value in what she is saying. So let’s just move away from the heavy topic of sexual assault for a moment and towards something more light and fluffy…the perks of  being the ‘ugly friend’. For most girls, somewhere along the line when you’re growing you develop this idea that you need to look a certain way to get the boys to like you or show you even just a little bit of attention. Being ‘ugly’, having wild curly hair, looking horsey and generally being one of those socially-awkward kids is never much fun and at the time your only wish in the whole entire world is to look ‘normal’ like one of the popular girls. Yes, everything is a lot more dramatic  when you’re a teenager but looking back now maybe being chubby, brace-faced loser with a crooked nose and a lazy eye wasn’t all that bad and here is why:

1. You get to fall under the radar

So what if you are not part of the cool popular crowd? Well, nobody really cares what you get up to. If you are lucky enough to date someone and things come to an abrupt end it goes unnoticed. You are not worth gossiping about. And when you are the kind of person that rather hide that brace face behind a book than deal with people, maybe living your ‘ugly years’ away from the limelight wasn’t such a bad thing after all?

2. You are forced to develop other aspects of your personality

The world is a superficial place and as much as you may not agree with the system you can’t live in isolation forever. At some point you need to make friends. This is arguably easier if you look and dress a certain way (did you notice how groups of friends back in high school were almost carbon copies of another) but if you can’t attract people with sparkling good looks you’ve got to find alternatives. Perhaps by being super nice to people or by embracing your quirks and being the funny girl. Either way you had to work on it.

3. You learn to laugh things off more easily (and develop a thick skin)

Maybe self-deprecating humour is just a Brit thing? But when you are not a popular kid then being able to laugh at yourself every time you do something idiotic like walk into a glass door is key to social survival. I mean if you can’t laugh at this kind of thing, then you’ll end up crying (and that’s not good). Sometimes being awkward, ugly, fat, etc leaves you open to mean remarks but overtime you develop a thick skin and learn to bounce back. This type of resilience serves you well later in life.

4.You become friends with the weird and wonderful (and that exposes you to lots of new perspectives)

They say beggars can’t be choosers. When you aren’t ‘pretty’ and popular you have to be nice to the people that are nice to you. This makes you open to forming friendships with an eclectic bunch of people. Some of the best friendships I have today aren’t conventional (and sometimes I even struggle to understand why they exist) but at least they keep life interesting.

5. By default you are a late bloomer (and being a kid for a little longer isn’t the worst thing in the world)

It’s hard when you are 15 and it seems like everyone and their one-eyed dog has a boyfriend. But seriously, relationships are tough – so why the rush to get coupled up? Of course, there are some people who marry their high-school sweetheart but not having a high-school sweetheart/crush/fuck-buddy is OK as well. Being a late bloomer gives you some figure out what makes you tick – read lots of books, travel the world, etc. I’m not saying people should never bloom (you know my views on 30-something virgins) but eventually you do catch up and realise you weren’t really missing all that much.

So, let’s end by going back to the beginning. Sure, Mayim Bialik’s NY Time’s piece was pretty poorly timed but I think there are somethings (very much unrelated to serious issues like sexual harassment and assault) that many of us awkward kids who grew up watching Blossom can relate to. When you are there, being what society doesn’t regard as pretty, life can be pretty bleak but once the dust settles (maybe a few decades down the line) I think your realise the hardships of those formative years weren’t all that bad. Being pretty and popular comes with it’s own set of issues. I think that’s what Bialik was getting at was that being that unpopular, unattractive, geeky kid isn’t the end of the world.

Rinsers, what did you think of Mayim Bialik’s piece? Were you the ‘ugly’ girl back in the day? Do you look back and think not being part of the ‘popular’ crowd was actually a bit of a blessing in disguise? Comment below. Please and thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review : Table 19 – The Movie That Tried To Cover Everything and Failed Miserably

 

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Have you ever been to a wedding where you basically know you aren’t wanted? Maybe you are  the bride’s socially awkward cousin and although you haven’t seen each other since you were 12 she was just forced into inviting you because her Olds are footing the bill for this whole charade? Or perhaps you are the business contact of the groom’s father and he has just invited you along in attempt to hook up his broke-ass loser of a son with a job at your firm? You could be one of those singletons who really would have rather spent your Saturday night at home with a DVD, glass of wine and a tube of Ben and Jerry’s but your Mum insisted you go witness a random family friend’s nuptials in the hopes that you might meet an eligible bachelor? Just face it! You are a reject! Nothing more than a B-List loser! And this is what the movie Table 19 is all about.

It’s the story of those rejects – 6 people ‘invited’ to a wedding where the bride and groom only reluctantly sent out the invites in the hopes that these people would either RSVP no or the postman would somehow conveniently lose those all-important bits of expensive paper. First there is Eloise, the main character, who it turns out was actually first in line to be Maid of Honour but was then forced to ‘drop out’ after being dumped by the bride’s brother. Then there is a couple who were Facebook friends with the groom’s father – they only seem to have come along to air their own marital issues out in public. Then you have Jo, the bride’s childhood nanny, the random kid whose parents forced him to come along thinking that after a few drinks perhaps some cougar may help their son lose his v-card. Finally there is Walter, some distant relative who is out on parole and invited along because he did some dodgy dealings and took the flack for the bride’s father.

So from that little run down of the oddballs sharing the reject table you’d be inclined to think that this make’s for a great RomCom, right? Wrong! While it could have potentially been a great little story it failed because it tried to literally cover every relationship/life issue – everything from choosing whether or not to have a baby, contemplating life when you’ve been diagnosed with the Big C, married couples having affairs (and getting back together because better the devil you know and all) to advice on picking up girls and why people always end up hooking up at weddings.  There is a little side story about a very hot wedding crasher who turns out to be …. the groom from another wedding being held in the building (plot twist!).

There are some funny moments in the movie, one which involves a cake being smashed but in the end because it tries to cover so much the audience fails to connect with any of the characters and all in all it’s a bit of a disappointing movie. It’s a shame because if they’d kept things simple it could have been something that a lot of people related to. I mean everyone who’s organised a wedding will probably know all about the fine art of perfecting a guest list and table plan. And I’m sure most of us have been to at least one wedding where we’ve felt like we should have known better than to pitch. Anyway, don’t bother watching it. Honestly, there are better things to do with your life.

So Rinsers, have you ever been to a wedding where you should have known better than to attend? Were you able to make the best out of your time at the reject table or was the experience one you’d rather forget? Share your stories in the comments below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#MeToo: Sexual Harassment and Assault Awareness

quietYesterday I saw women all over my Facebook sharing #metoo. The idea was to raise awareness about sexual harassment and sexual assault in that way. Perhaps if all women in someone’s Facebook feed shared the hashtag, it would make people realize how widespread the problem is?

The problem is indeed massive. Of course, there are levels to which women are touched by it. However, the fact is that ALL women experienced some form of sexual harassment or assault. Rape, verbal or physical sexual coercion, unwanted touch, predatory looks, comments on your appearance, “jokes”, aggression because you rejected someone – all these are just elements of the world where women are objectified. When women aren’t treated like people but like sexual objects, men believe they can do whatever they want with them: comment on, evaluate, touch or use at will for their own sexual pleasure.

Most women experience a garden variety of sexual harassment. Catcalling is honestly just a daily experience to which I never know how to react. As I work from home for instance, I like to go for a cycle or a walk during lunch. The problem is that the nearby construction workers take their break then. I can’t go past one not to be catcalled and neither can any other woman who’s on her own. Why do men do it then? Probably because they can. It’s certainly not to actually get anything out of it:

Catcalling makes me a mixture of angry and ashamed. I want to react or do something but mostly I’m scared. Perhaps if I reacted to a guy who’s on his own I could get him to think about his behavior but a group would mock me or perhaps become aggressive towards me. I’ve gone out a few times preparing myself to say something next time I’m spoken to and I’ve always chickened out. Now, I try to go out before or after they’re gone. I’ve lost, I’ve altered my behavior. That’s just catcalling. Being a woman, however, means a lot of fear in general. You’re scared of being raped too. You may second guess a guy’s intentions when he invited you for a cup of coffee to his house. You walk faster when it’s late and men feel like a threat. Sometimes someone gives you a predatory look and you feel that if circumstances were different he would hurt you but after all it’s not like anything really bad has ever happened to you, right? Are we supposed to count ourselves lucky because we haven’t been raped, though? Men don’t count themselves lucky because no one chopped their arm off or they didn’t get murdered, do they? Of course, it’s much more probable for a woman to get raped than to any of this to happen to a man. The point is that every time a woman feels threatened, she feels like this not because she’s crazy but because something could happen.

Something should be done to make people understand the problem. Will #metoo do it? I doubt it. It feels like preaching to the choir. The women who shared the hashtag in my feed are all lefties and that’s who likes on my own status came from. I haven’t seen any negative reactions but I haven’t seen any positive reactions either from anyone outside of my circle of expectations. I’m sure some people thought about some women’s statuses “she should only be so lucky that someone harasses her” but in the age of social media finger pointing they knew better than to share such views on Facebook. Perhaps the hashtag is not so successful in achieving its goal but that doesn’t mean it has no use at all.

As much as people may not change their mind because of this social media campaign, it has become a voice of female solidarity. We are all ashamed of our experiences with sexual harassment and we often feel guilty. It’s something we don’t talk about because often if we looked for sympathy after we are harassed we just found more sexism, even in women. When I was slapped on my bum by a stranger in Paris a friend of mine who was walking with me replied to my outrage: “Chill, it’s not like he’s taken away your virginity or something”. When I was maybe 10 a drunk guest house manager stopped me on my way from the communal toilet back to my room. He started hugging me and making inappropriate advances. Then I saw a ray of hope walking down the stairs: a female friend. She ran away when she saw us, though. I eventually managed to escape and then was shaken and outraged that she didn’t help me. She just said it wouldn’t have happened if I was wearing long pajama pants like she did. These are of course just illustrative examples not the entirety of my experience. All women experience sexual harassment and certainly they all experiences negative reactions to trying to speak up. The bigger the trauma, the more shame there is associated with it and the more potential there is for a negative reaction for speaking up from both men and women. Yesterday, however, some women had the courage to talk about unimaginably horrible events such as rape when they were still children, gang rape or sexual abuse in family. It is sad and it is so depressing that such things happen but maybe by talking about it, we’re making even more people share their experiences. In taking the shame away from the victims, we can finally move to focus on the perpetrators. It’s NEVER the victim’s fault.

Today a new hashtag is trending: #iwill to express what will we do to help to improve the situation. Can we really do something? What do you do? Any thoughts on #metoo, Dear Reader? Do you think it can truly help spread awareness? Feel free to share your #metoo stories in the comments. 

The ‘Pull A Pig’ Prank – Why You Need a Thick Skin to Play the Dating Game

 

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We live in a cruel cruel world. It seems the Age of Tinder people are becoming more and more superficial by the day. Lets be honest…how much can you tell about a person a couple of profile pictures? What’s to say that smoking hot guy with the six pack isn’t a serial killer? Nothing. Yet, he’s more likely to be swiped right than the chubby dude with a pleasant smile, standing in front of a fancy BMW (that’s most likely not his!). See, superficial. I told you! None of us is above all this fakery. Who can honestly tell me that they haven’t spent considerable time perfecting their selfie face to get that angle just right to catch the attention of some computer geek trawling an internet dating site (or in the case of those no longer playing the dating game just a few more likes on Instagram).

All things considered, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise then when you hear sad stories about mean things that people do to one another under the guise of ‘dating’. The latest tale to hide the headlines and go viral  is that of the ‘pull a pig’ prank. For those of you don’t know this is the (MAJOR NATIONAL NEWS) story of 24 year old girl, Sophie Stevenson, who met a Dutch dude, Jesse Mateman, while on holiday in Barcelona. According to the chick, they had an intense holiday romance (he on the other hand describes it as a one night stand) and carried on communicating when they returned to their respective countries. After a bit of back and forth, they arranged for Sophie to travel to Amsterdam for a romantic reunion. But it wasn’t to be. When she arrived there was no sign of Jesse. Turns out she had been stood up and after a few hours received a text (displayed above) saying she’d ‘been pigged’. Basically, it was all an elaborate joke whereby guys challenge each other to get a date with a woman they see as overweight or unattractive simply to ridicule her and get some kudos from their mates.

Naturally, feeling humiliated by the whole stunt Sophie decided to take action and took to the media (well, one of those rubbish UK morning TV shows that only unemployed people without a life get to watch) to share her ordeal with the world  and hold Jesse accountable. Not taking these accusations lightly, the Dutchman sought legal assistance and plans to hold Sophie liable for any damages he suffers a result of her accusations. Furthermore, a crowd funding page has also been set up to help the girl recover the funds she’d spent travelling to Amsterdam. Oh my!

Dear god! Is it just me or have things just got totally out of hand? I mean, sure, I feel sorry for the girl. Being called a fat pig is never nice but seriously aren’t there bigger problems in the world. I was called morbidly obese but you don’t see me doing TV interviews about it! The truth is the world can be a mean and horrible place. People are ‘braver’ than ever before when it comes to telling you what they really think. People feel free to lose their filter when they are hiding behind a smartphone or computer screen. Believe me, I’ve had guys comment on my gummy smile, my wild curly hair and even accuse me of misleading them by putting up pretty pictures on dating profile which wasn’t a true representation of myself. Of course, it’s normal to feel offended by such comments but I don’t believe we need to dwell on it and blow things out of all proportion (the dude is no better here – getting lawyers involved, really?)

But this story is not unique and quite frankly didn’t need to go viral.  The world is a horrid place and while there is no doubt bullying and name calling is wrong but do we really need to go such lengths for ‘justice’ or in some cases is it better just to brush it off and carry on with our lives.  There is a time and place to stick up for yourself and times to look pitifully at the guy who called you names and remind yourself that he’ll probably never amount to much. Chalk it up to experience and move on. Alternatively, turn the scenario on its head and make the best out of a bad situation. She was left stranded in Amsterdam not a South African township surely you could take the opportunity to explore a great European city (or sample THOSE brownies!).

Either way, I don’t think there is any need to publicize what was essentially a private interaction between people. While calling people pigs is certainly not nice, it isn’t a criminal act either. If you ask me, this is just an example of the Jeremy Kyle effect (if you haven’t heard of the show it’s like a UK version of Jerry Springer – a reminder of everything bad about Britain and a big part of why I left my homeland). Why the hell do people need to shout about their divorce, cheating spouse or the fact that don’t know who their baby daddy is on TV? And what’s more why is the public so fascinated by this trash? It’s hardly news worthy (the BBC really need to up it’s game!).

Anyway, let me stop my middle class rant just there. Look, I’m not saying people shouldn’t stand up for themselves. But the truth is that anyone that interacts with other humans is bound to have their feelings hurt at one point or another. Whether it’s in the school play ground or while you are roaming the Tinderverse not everyone you cross paths with will be a sweetheart. You need to develop a thick skin and pick your battles (imagine taking action against every guy that ever offended you). Calling someone morbidly obese isn’t cool but maybe instead of feeling like a victim you should just ask the lad if they have what it takes (matric certificate would be a start) to become a professional dietitian and tell you such a thing legitimately. Not everything needs to go to court (or trash TV). Sometimes it really just a case of sticks and stones.  It is also important to be self-reflective and see what you could have done differently – perhaps next time get the guy to do the travelling or have him pay for half the ticket? I have limited sympathy for people who do silly things like send nudes and sexts and then start crying when those things are plastered all over the internet.  Yes, relationships are about trust but you shouldn’t need to drop your standards and be totally naive about human nature either. We’ve all been humiliated by mean guys/girls it’s part of the sad reality of life. And on the flipside, most of us have probably done some not-so-nice things in our day too (e.g. trying to prolong an encounter with a mummy’s boy just so you could potentially have a date for a wedding!) but we all live and learn. With time hopefully we all get more mature and stop with such childish activities.

Ugh maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh. I guess there are some realizations which just come with age and experience. So over to you dear Rinsers, do you think this chick was right to go on TV and shame the Dutch prankster? Or do you think this school yard mudslinging gone to far? Is she nothing more than a woman scorned? And are there times when we have to take accountability for being too naive and falling for the wrong people? Do you think you need to have a thick skin to date these days and has anything similar happened to you? Share in the comments below.

 

 

Review: Atypical

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Yes, yes, I know it seems that I’m obsessed with Netflix. I just can’t help myself! They have all these great series available…

“Atypical” is a story of an 18 year old Sam (Keir Gilchrist) who’s a teenager with autism (not an autistic teenager, as you’ll learn). The time comes for both him and his highly athletic sister, Casey to enter the world of dating. Their parents aren’t particularly happy about their children growing up, as it’s usually the case. The situation is particularly difficult for the stay-at-home mom, Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who all of a sudden after years of taking excessive care of her son has to redefine herself.

The show is a nice mixture of comedy and drama. The characters are relatable and we do feel for most of them. I’m not a specialist in autism but I think the series does a good job at explaining the disorder. It’s also interesting to see how a family deals with such a difficult situation. The parents aren’t overly idealised. They do struggle with the upbringing of a child with autism and they occasionally forget that they have two kids and not one. The story is very convincing but there’s something off with the mother character. That she’s overprotective is understandable but I was less empathic towards her crazy control issues (constantly asking her daughter to keep her door open?) and narcissism. I really wanted to throw something at the TV numerous times because of her but my husband told me not to and I’m an obedient wife.

Fortunately, the focus of the series is on Sam. He’s in a normal school and is seemingly copin. That doesn’t mean that other teenagers don’t make fun of him. It is horrible to laugh at someone just because the way they are but it’s also what people in high school do. The stuff he does is sometimes funny by “normal” standards and people will laugh. We allegedly live in the world of diversity and acceptance but it’s just appearances. Whenever something is different from our immediate comfort zone we ask other the question “Why?”. “Atypical” makes us see that for Sam the why is his disorder that neither him nor his family completely understands. He certainly should have a shot at things every human being wants such as a relationship, a job or friends. At the same time the world won’t change for someone who’s atypical. Like every one of us he’ll have to find his way to navigate his life in the imperfect world.

I’m looking forward to the season two of the series! I really would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a bit of lighter entertainment. The series is very short as it consists only of 8 half an hour long episodes. Giving it a try isn’t much of a commitment and it’s really worth your time!

 

The Balancing Act: Rethinking Romanticism

rethinking romanticismI’ve recently experienced horrible responses offline to me expressing somewhat pragmatic views on dating. Perhaps it’s because romanticism is not only strongly incorporated in our culture but also traditionally opposed to reason. In other words, for many, you can be either a romantic or a cold, calculating person. As humans, however, we can rarely make a successful decision based on our heart’s desires or on reason only. The balancing act requires that we make decisions taking both into account.

Do you know this feeling when you meet someone and you just immediately feel this special connection? When you feel drawn to them and start to behave like a little girl around them, trying to impress them? Romanticism would have you believe that this is a feeling you should follow and even if it will put you in difficult situations, eventually it’ll lead you to this beautiful place called happily ever after. Well, no. The feeling I’ve described is attraction and has to do with lust. There’s nothing romantic in the fact that your body is urging you to have sex with someone. Attraction doesn’t care for your self-worth or well-being. It wants you to make babies. Sometimes it chooses people who are good for you, sometimes it doesn’t. This is precisely while following the “connection” on its own isn’t a good idea.

Now, if you actually follow this feeling you may end up in an even bigger trap set by your body, called being in love. Perhaps, it’s another mechanism that’s aimed for partners to be together for the first crucial years of the baby’s existence or to make you guys have a few babies. Maybe the reason why the initial feeling  disappears after 1 or 2 years is because the more babies we have with more partners, the better from the evolutionary point of view? Who knows. I really think, however, that there are  evolutionary reasons behind falling in love and it’s not only my theory. The author of “The Roads Less Travelled” shares similar views in his excellent chapter about the difference between being in love and actual love. The whole point is that as humans we can make better choices than basing such a big decision as a choice of a partner on an initial liking only. In fact, we should make better choices because we want more than just butterflies for a little bit and then misery with a partner who doesn’t understands us, who bores us or with whom we constantly fight (or all of the above). Yes, it’s sometimes difficult to say “no” when you’re feeling attracted to someone but be honest with yourself and stop glorifying it.

Of course, the romantics came with other ridiculous ideas to protect their promotion of following your “heart” = your loins (probably because of the consequences that often follow such choices). They’ll try to tell you that suffering is a virtue. This, yet again, is a harmful belief. Suffering is just something that happens to human beings, but sometimes we can avoid it and when we can, we should. No one is better, because they suffered more. Yes, there is something to say about using suffering to build resilience and learn that you will survive no matter what but that happens naturally when we’re teenagers. Causing yourself unnecessary suffering is silly. Where do you think the glorification of women who went or want to got through childbirth without epidural (with the consequent shaming of those who opt for it or even worse for a Cesarean section) is coming from? From the same way of thinking, trying to teach us that suffering is noble. According to these beliefs if you’re having a difficult start of a relationship it’s just a trial and you must persist through the difficulties to find a happy ending. How many romantic comedies having this pattern you can enumerate? Fiction is just fiction, though. Among other things, it’s also meant to make these dreams come true on the screen, which wouldn’t in real life.

Romanticism in its praise of strong feelings also promotes an idealized vision of dysfunctional relationships. It isn’t only about fair maidens being conquered by seemingly bad boys, who change the moment they meet the One. Following your heart is also supposed to mean crazy passion, mixed with even crazier fights. Break-ups and make-ups, alcohol, drugs. All of those are romanticized in mainstream cinema and books. Misfits can also be perfect matches, as if two broken people could actually create anything healthy and lasting. Being sensitive and emotional is one thing and not having your shit together is another. Praise of the latter was a great excuse for the exuberant hedonism of romantics such as Lord Byron, who had one love affair after another with representatives of both sexes. Of course, he was only following his heart! 😉 Modern romanticism just incorporated the old ideas and started to make blockbusters by reusing them.

Does this mean that we should ignore completely what our heart tells us? Of course not. Being in love is a great thing but it doesn’t mean that we have to follow it blindly. After the initial butterflies fly away, love can replace them. It’s love, however, that should be treated as a romantic thing that is. Commitment to one another, mutual support and stability are the things that should be valued as they are the ones that will lead people to the place, when at the age of 80, they still hold hands. Blindly following the in-love high will maybe also get you there but chances are you’re rather end up staying with someone you don’t like that much for eternity just because you had kids and you don’t want to put them through the trauma of divorce. Trust, safety and intellectual understanding are things that many people need and there’s nothing wrong with wanting them. If we’re in lust, I mean in love, with someone who we can’t count on and who’s in general unpredictable, eventually it will wear us off.

The reason why I always underline the need for certain pragmatism at the initial stages of dating is because it’s much easier to say “no” to a stoner broke ass wanna be rockstar on date one than to turn around when our pink glasses of in-loveness are already glorifying everything our partner does, not allowing constructive criticism. Even though it’s never too late to break up, some people, if they’ve gone too far, will decide to keep going. If you know you have such tendencies, use your reason too. When it shouts that you should run for the hills, do it. Don’t believe the mainstream culture that’s telling you that you have to go with the initial feeling of “connection”. We’re humans not animals, we can stop ourselves. We have brains and we can make better choices to to be in not only lusting but also lasting relationships.

Any words of wisdom, Dear Reader? Do you always follow your “heart”? Or do you add a little bit of reason to your dating choices?

 

 

 

#EnglishRosiee and the Maasai Warriors – Some Food for Thought from Deepest Darkest Africa

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Let me start by offering my deepest to apologies for being a bit AWOL recently. In part this absence from the blogosphere was simply due to a severe case of writers block as a result of being removed from the Tinderverse and subsequently not having as much to bitch and moan about. In addition to this I was also away exploring other parts of deepest darkest Africa with limited internet connectivity. And this dear Rinsers leads me to the topic of today’s blog post …

Spending two weeks in Kenya where lions (and tigers and bears and of course the elusive Kenyan unicorn) really do roam free was certainly a magical experience and even though I’m heartbroken to be back in humdrum I am pleased to say that I managed to collect a lot of blog matter for all of y’all! On my travels I witnessed a lot of weird and wonderful things, the most exciting of which were lions having passionate sex while jeep loads of pervy safari junkies aka voyeurs looked on in awe. But enough from the animal kingdom for now (I shot some lion porn if any of our more animal inclined readers is interested!). Aside from the safari’ing, I also visited a Maasai village where we got to check out a bit of tribal life. Learning how these folks kill lions to demonstrate manhood (poor kitties!), start fires with nothing more than some sharp sticks and can jump higher than most of us could ever dream off (just to get a discounted price on a bride) was interesting and all but what I though was most relevant for the purposes of this blog was how the Maasai people view relationships,etc.

Forgive me for what may come across as a bit of reductionist account of what is a probably quite a complicated subject matter and something that people have slaved for years writing PhD theses on but my comments are based solely on my observations (and me just generally speaking out loud) and with really, really limited internet I don’t really have the chance do more detailed research/fact-checking. Anyway here are some things that my interactions with the Maasai warriors got me thinking about.

Monogamy vs Polygamy

So as is the case in quite a few cultures these Maasai guys tend to be polygamous. The one that was showing us around had two wives (neither of which was his favourite!) but he said he knew of cases where a Maasai had ten wives. Apparently, there really is no limit to how many wives they can have just as long as they are capable of providing for all of them (and subsequently the multiple kids that they are sure to produce) sufficiently.  (Guess it’s not that different from our beloved chavs back in my homeland except they just tend to knock up multiple women and get the state to foot the bill)

While polygamy is pretty much an alien concept to a girl who grew up reading too many fairy tales and since developed slight feminist leanings, there are people (even so-called progressive liberal types) who claim that such a system has it’s advantages over monogamy. Hmm…I’m not convinced. Perhaps it’s the only child in me that doesn’t like sharing my toys (read: boys) but I really don’t see how it can work on anything but a superficial level. Sure, for the Maasai people there are certain benefits such as a division of labour (one wife goes out to trade things while the another one stays home to take care of their collective kids!) but surely jealously and competition are common human emotions/behaviours that transcend cultures. I just can’t deal.

That said, it’s really probably not all that different than phenomena going on closer to home – threesomes? Open relationships? Philandering scumbags? At least the Maasai ladies know what they are in for, right?

A Woman’s Worth 

In Maasai culture before a man can get married, it is standard to for him to give his future wife’s family ten cows, essentially putting a price on her head. As I mentioned before, if a dude is particularly athletic and can jump really high then the number of cows he is required to exchange for his chick can be reduced down.

As a hopeless romantic (see even Tinder couldn’t take away my sparkle and turn me into a jaded old hag) who believes love makes the world go round this type of dowry system where even an elderly man can buy a girl young enough to be his great granddaughter as long as he can get his hands on those all important cows does make me pewk in my mouth A LOT !

But then again things could be worse, at least these women have some worth (calculated in cows), the dowry system still in operation in parts of the Indian sub-continent see the chick’s family literally paying men to take the daughters off their hands. Again, I just can’t deal.

Should we just keep our noses out of other people’s business?

Finally, as we are all well aware we live in an increasingly globalised world where we are all more likely to be exposed to different people and cultures (I mean, a few centuries ago I very much doubt that the heir to a Maasai empire would be chatting up a Brit girl and telling her that he’d like to be monogomous for her, now would he? True story!) Living in more connected world is great in many ways because it opens our minds to new perspectives/ideas. But on the other hand, it could also lead the erosion of different cultures as well and perhaps that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Our guide told us that there are something like 42 different tribes in Kenya but the Maasai are pretty much the only ones that have managed to keep their culture intact. But even with them as they become more educated (in the conventional sense) more of them end up leaving their tribes. It’s kinda of sad, I guess.

Then there we are (in many ways not so different from our colonial ancestors) wandering into their villages and getting all judgey about the way they do things. A younger, more idealistic/naive version of myself would have probably spent days ranting about women’s rights after my encounters but I’m starting to see things a little differently in my old age. Sure, I would like to think I’m worth more than 10 cows (although my Dad would probably trade me for a dog and a free gelato) but maybe other women are OK with being treated like a commodity? Maybe they have bigger problems to deal with? Perhaps they look at as mindlessly swiping away on Tinder and pity our existence? Either way, I don’t think any of us should be judging and commenting. Whichever perspective you look at things from things on both sides are going to change eventually but it should only happen when people are ready to make the changes themselves rather than because of external interference.

Anyway, enough from me lets in the comments below Rinsers. What are your thoughts of polygamy vs monogomy? Do you think dowry systems are archaic and should be abolished from this world? And do you think we should even be commenting on the way other people do things? Go wild like the lions in the comments below. 

This was #englishrosiee reporting for #rinsebeforeuse! Good night!