Is Confidence the Key to Dating Successfully?

Confidence

After yet another unsuccessful romantic encounter I’m sure I’m not the only one to have questioned myself as to the reasons for my failure in this all important area of life. Is it because I’m an ugly troll? Morbidly obese? Or maybe it’s the fact that I do not possess a PhD? Or am not the CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Whatever. This type of questioning really holds no value. All this tormenting of one’s mind shows is a lack of confidence. It’s understandable that knock backs, romantic or otherwise, are sure to dent a person’s confidence and over-analyzing things by going around in circles really does no good either.

They say confidence is sexy. And I don’t think I’m the first girl to ever be lured in by the witty banter of a not-all-that guy. Of course, we can’t all be those extroverts that always want to take centre stage and ooze confidence. But you see, real confidence is a bit more complicated than this basic superficiality. Building it up is certainly important and requires some soul-searching and lot of tireless work. So, if having confidence is more than just being loud and proud and being able to hold a conversation with someone of the opposite sex without acting like a bumbling buffoon, we need to start figuring out what exactly it entails. This is where all the trouble starts.

Confidence isn’t tangible. In high school, the ‘ugly’ chicks, would often sit around and admire the super-model-esque, popular types and assume that such people would be confident in the knowledge they could get whoever they wanted because they had the looks we’d kill for. But the truth is if it were all about such externalities, why were so many of these chicks having the same concerns, considering cosmetic surgery and pewking up their diet dinners in a hope of being skinnier and prettier? The same thing applies when it comes to intelligence. There are lots of people out there with superb academic records that pitch up to an interview without a clue about how to sell themselves as the best person for the job.

But we can all work on building our confidence, right? Well, yes to some extent but it depends on the way you go about it. ‘Morbidly obese’ people may believe that the solution to all their problems will be losing the puppy fat. And while it may certainly help lower the risk of them dying of a heart attack, if it still turns out that they are not sure of themselves after the transformation chances are they aren’t going to get all that lucky when it comes to meeting the right person (although they may attract more attention from some superficial ones!). In a similar vein, you’d think that those getting more sex would surely feel attractive but not necessarily. Deep down most people are looking for real intimacy and it seems the relationship people beat the players in that game!

You could say confidence is a state of mind. I’d sort of agree with that. Being sure of yourself and knowing your strengths are important. But it’s equally important to be realistic and acknowledge that we all have weaknesses (without dwelling on it too much). There are people out there that a ‘confident’ to the point that they are actually delusional (and probably belong in Valkenberg). Let’s be real. Getting straight As or having a tertiary education isn’t going to guarantee a person success in life. But every Tom, Dick or Harry that tells you he is an ‘entrepreneur’ really isn’t going to turn to be SA’s answer to Richard Branson. Similarly, while body positivity is all well and good, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to allow yourself to eat hot chips everyday because you know you are comfortable in your own skin blah blah blah.

Anyway to conclude this rant of mine, confidence is important (and sexy) when it comes to getting what you want in the world of dating and relationships. However, its not always just about the superficial things like looking good and being in possession of those desirable attributes such as money and academic accolades. I would say it’s more about understanding that we all lack certain things and learning to strike the balance of striving to get those things but also being OK with the the potential for failure in our endeavors.  There are still people out there that are unwilling to try their hand (or swiping finger) at online dating. Personally, I don’t blame them for running a mile after hearing my horror stories. That said, I do think getting out their and actively dating (instead of complaining and being lazy AF) gives you practice and despite the knock backs helps increase ones confidence so when the right person does come along you are able to present yourself in the best possible way. Sure, you’ll have to deal with rejection but as time goes on your learn to handle the negative aspects of these interactions and become less afraid about failure.

Alright Rinsers, how important do you think the role of confidence is when it comes to dating? What is confidence really? What do you think differentiates real confidence from the facade? Do you think actively getting out there, meeting people and facing the fear of rejection helps build confidence? Share your views in the comments below.

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The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

The_Art_of_HappinessThe Dalai Lama and his teachings may be far away from what you’d consider typical life and self-help advice in general but “The Art of Happiness” has been co-written with a psychiatrist Howard Cutler to suit the Western audience better. It may not be the most engaging read ever but it has a number of good tips on how to live well.

The Dalai Lama’s book will tell you one of the most important truths that so many people want to escape and/or ignore: life is suffering. It’s not suffering all the time but you must accept that suffer you will, seems to be a Master Yoda reading of the book. People can entirely escape suffering only by enlightenment, which comes from years and years of earthly pleasure deprivation and meditation. The Dalai Lama isn’t there yet so let’s agree that it may not be the way to go for all of us, regular mortals. However, with meditation and acceptance of feelings that comes with it, we can all learn to live more in the present moment and less in our heads. Meditation practice doesn’t make the pain of every day existence disappear but it helps us alleviate it. There’s plenty of modern research showing benefits of meditation. I’m a regular meditator myself and I can tell you that it has done wonders to my anxiety, stress levels and much more.

Apart from the meditation practice, the Dalai Lama encourages us to seek happiness and not pleasure in life. What we need is contentment and serenity, while pleasure brings us only short-term highs and lows. Happiness, on the other hand, is long-term. Think about the difference in this way: this slab of chocolate may make you feel better when you’re eating it and when the sugar rush hits you but soon you’ll feel low because of eating it. It’s an indulgence, it’s not particularly healthy and it doesn’t give you much nutrition. Eating healthy is, of course, better for your long-term well-being. We make similar choices between pleasure and happiness all the time in life. Do I want to have a one night stand? Do I want to get completely wasted? Impulsive choices may serve us as temporarily pain killers and distractions but pursuing them actually makes us less not more happy long-term. You want to be happy? Then choose happiness above pleasure in life as often as you can. And yeah, no one said it’ll be easy.

The love and dating advice from the Dalai Lama also goes with the pleasure vs happiness principle. If you get hooked on the drama in the relationship or just the sex, it’s not a good relationship. You should look for wholesome relationships that give you stability and at the same time you shouldn’t depend on your partner entirely. You may wonder what someone who has never had sex or a partner may know about these things but if you think about it, these are the same rules he preaches otherwise. Besides, you would agree his tips are apt, even if they completely dismiss how difficult it may be to find the wholesome relationship, right?

The Dalai Lama teaches us also how to connect to human beings in general. I think a lot of us may feel disconnected and somewhat lonely in this world. We look for people who are almost exactly like us and get upset when others don’t meet our expectations. The Dalai Lama has a solution to that! Instead of getting hanged up on the differences between you and other people, like for instance that you’re Team God and someone isn’t or the other way round, you can try to relate to them on a basic, interconnecting level. We’re all humans, we all want to avoid suffering and find happiness. By applying such thinking it’s easier to grow compassion and empathy towards others and therefore feel more connected.

The Dalai Lama discusses some meditations techniques and some Buddhist teachings in the book but doesn’t go into too much detail. Where his advice may seem unclear, Cutler uses Western examples to make it more understandable for a typical reader. All in all, it’s a good but somewhat unsubstantial read. It will make you maybe ponder on some issues and introduce some better life habits but I think “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” is doing a better job at selling unpopular yet crucial views to the modern audience. The Dalai Lama’s book will probably only be picked up by those who’ve been doing some soul searching for a while and to those people it’ll look very superficial and basic.

Are you actively searching for happiness, Dear Rinser? Any meditators hear? How do you try yourself to lead a happy life?

A Few Words on Giving Up on Love

giving_up_on_loveI’m sure you have encountered these people in life who have told you that they’ve given up on love. Some of them say they’re happy that way (often somewhat aggressively), others don’t think like trying anymore as it never worked out for them so what’s the point. To me the point is that we only have one life and we should try to make the best of it.

I don’t think that being single is a bad thing. Even prolonged singledom can teach you great things about yourself and you have to be able to be comfortable on your own to be capable of entering a healthy (=not clingy) relationship with another human being. I don’t think a relationship should be a goal, but a happy one should. Humans are social beings, we’re happy when we feel connected and we’re happier in a stable relationship than on our own. The people who decide to throw it out of the window just because it’s difficult are deciding to get rid of a very important part of their life. Sure, you can survive without a partner. In the same way you can survive without friends, job satisfaction, a family and all other things that make the life actually worth living. The question is: why would you?

I know that an unsuccessful search for a partner can be disheartening. The reason why a lot of us struggle is because we had these or other family issues. Maybe our household was in some way dysfunctional in the sense that it was missing out on love. Serial killers happen because their mothers treat them like shit, just watch “Mindhunter” to learn more about it. Listening to how emotionally abused one of the characters was by his mother and how he thought it was logical for him to kill her because of it, made me wonder why I myself have not become a serial killer. The point is, a lot of us are brought up by narcissists and mean people who make us feel worthless. That they don’t know any better doesn’t change the fact that it’s sad and horrible to start your life with emotional deficits. Have your moment now and curse the heavens for that, if that’s the case for you! Now, keep reading. The point is, this is a problem of so many people that you’re not unique. Most of us don’t become serial killers and have a chance at a happy relationship if we work on ourselves.

You must realize that the world isn’t conspiring against you. If you keep being attracted to the same kind of a person that ends up giving you a heartache, your choice of partners is a problem. Recognize the pattern, make a list of no nos, break the pattern. It sounds easy but it’s not at all. I remember meeting all these guys I was attracted to during my sex drought and telling myself not to go for them because it won’t lead anywhere good. It’s tough! When you do that there’s also seemingly no guarantees that it’ll pay off one day. All you can do is try! If you don’t break the pattern yourself, you’ll just keep doing the same thing over and over again. You’re the problem, you’re the one who chooses the wrong people, you have to force yourself to make better choices because you deserve better than more drama in your life.

One of the things that makes it difficult for people with unhealthy choice of partners to follow this piece of advice are romantic ideals that mainstream TV and movies  impose on us. In the movie, it’s often difficult at first but such difficulty serves a bigger purpose (=getting the loved one). In real life a bad start rarely leads to a good relationship. Once you make the right choice things should go smoothly. However, if you keep doing the same thing you’ve done all along it gives you the impression of being “easy” because you do something you know. You still feel somewhere deep in your heart it’s not right but it’s “easy” to follow the pattern or at least, much easier short term than to break it.

People get upset that others had better family backgrounds or that they find relationships easy for other reasons such as better looks. They get upset because they tried and things didn’t work out, so now they have the right to stop trying. Of course, everyone has the right to do so but don’t do it just because it’s difficult to change yourself. I need do be a bit crude hear but who the f*ck told you anything in life was going to be easy? Meaningful things in life often require effort. Do you want a happy relationship? A satisfying job? A bucket of money? Most good things for most people mean hard work in this respect or another. You can get hung up on the fact that the British royal family has money and they don’t work but how exactly is that going to help you in your own life? Life isn’t fair. It’s a fact. Think about all the kids with cancer, who will die before they even get a chance to find love. Don’t you think you’re better off? [Also, if that’s your attitude, I suggest you read “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson (no, he’s not dead, Richard Manson died, the serial killer, who perhaps just like you had mean parents).]

I find the giving up on love (or anything else) attitude childish. Not that I don’t have the moments of weakness and upset myself when, for instance, I need to work weekends now as I’ve started to work for myself. You can allow yourself to grieve, be angry and scream about the lack of success in an area. Then continue with your efforts. This is the only think you can logically do. Remember that if you give up on love apart from missing out on all great sex and other amazing moments of intimacy and connection, you can end up eaten by your cats when you die. The latter can also happen to you if you end up married but life is a lot about trying to improve your chances.

Perhaps the throwing the toys out of the cot attitude has to do with entitlement. People I know are usually comfortable in life in general: they have food, they have work, they have a roof above their head and they even have enough money for entertainment. This is already more than most of the world has. Material wealth aside, people in the so called Western world also have other freedoms like choosing your partner as a female or the fact that no one tells you it’s okay when your partner beats you up black and blue. They also have other choices they can make, such as the choice to work on one’s self (for instance, I’m sure it’s much more difficult to focus on the quest for love when you’re an uneducated teenage girl who’s married to an old man and a mother of three) or even to pay for professional help if they need help with working on themselves. They have all that but instead of finding opportunities, they choose to get upset with life because it’s somehow difficult in that they can’t find what they’re looking for fast enough. Consequently, they try for a bit, often still behaving against their better judgment in exactly the same way that didn’t bring them any positive results and then get upset it’s not working out. Then they’re like: Here, look, I’ve tried!

Last but not least, stop complaining and sort your shit out. There’s someone out there for you who’ll have to get married to their second best if you don’t show up in their life.

Do you know people who have given up on love (and often) sex? Do you think it’s a viable option? How do you think we can help such people get out of their cocoon? Should we even try?

 

Mismatched Couples : Dating Out of Your League

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Once upon a time I had my little heart smashed to pieces by a guy that no-one could deny was good looker. For a long time I convinced myself that the reason the relationship was doomed for failure from the get go (slight exaggeration here) was because I was shooting way way way our of my league. How the hell did a chubby book-ish girl with a crooked nose and wild hair ever think she could hold down a hottie with a six pack and eyes that could hypnotize any hot blooded female. Well, turns out she and did and that things can actually fall apart for more complex reasons. Regardless of the facts, reeling from the aftermath of an epic break-up I vowed never to date a pretty boy ever again, my weak mind’s strange logic told me that the only way to ever succeed in finding happily ever after was to play it safe – basically stick to the ugly ones! And you guessed it, this led to a whole host of other issues. Let’s put it this way , if love was really governed by such a simple formula well we’d see so many more people winning at it!

Whether or not you relate to my personal anecdote, we’ve probably all had some experience with this notion of ‘leagues’ in dating. How many times have you heard someone comment that a girl is only dating an old guy for his money? Or question why a clever chick with everything going for her is dating ( read:financially and emotionally supporting) a deadbeat mummy’s boy who considers himself an ‘artist’ (sure, an expert in the art of sitting on his fat ass more like) ? . To some extent, we are all part of this somewhat high-school-esque system that ranks people according to a bunch of random criteria such as looks, academic achievements, money, social status, etc. And despite this there are so many of us that end up smashing the hierarchy and dating out of our league anyway.

Much of the time these so-called ‘leagues’ that we choose to shoot out of are socially manufactured concepts that somehow manage to infiltrate our little heads from the moment we start to notice the opposite sex, or maybe even before that.  These dating/social leagues are very subjective and just like sports leagues they are open to change. At some point in time, those that were once at the top of their game are bound to get replaced by someone prettier/cleverer/richer or with bigger muscles. You may find that that sometimes a strange life event can force even the best of people to be relegated into lower division. Just like that the tables can turn. Overnight an ugly duckling can turn into a swan/flamingo or a pauper could win big on the lotto.

And as much as these ‘leagues’ that the world forces us to place ourselves and others in are artificially engineered, the fact that we choose to fixate on such superficial things probably says more about our own issues and insecurities than anything else. The thought of asking the stunning chick with the perfect hair out on a date may make that geeky guy pewk in his mouth a little, but the fact is you never know a persons back story. Maybe she’s had a hard time in life and only ever dated horrible men that have taken advantage of her and the only thing she wants is a nice guy who won’t screw around. Perhaps being approached by the dude with a six pack leaves Miss Piggy (who is usually pretty eloquent) lost for words and wondering whether all the steroids have made him lose his mind. But maybe the reality is that despite the beautiful exterior he is in fact not that much of a prized commodity and even if he is maybe all the women throwing themselves at him just didn’t offer him the right kind of sparkles. Remember Mr Darcy was beautiful, posh, over-achiever and he still went for Bridget Jones. So, go figure.

Different people value and want different things. You may be the brightest, most beautiful girl in the world and guy may not want you because you just can’t quote the bible on cue. Everyone has their own deal breakers. Sure, in many ways the dating scene is a bit of a market place and we do need to take certain steps to make ourselves a viable option for a person. I mean turning up to a date dressed in rags or having nothing to talk about probably won’t get you very far. But this idiotic thing that many of us do in boxing ourselves into leagues and determining people’s values according to certain criteria probably does our prospects of finding our Prince/Princess Charming much good either.

So it maybe easier said than done but don’t let society’s opinion (or worse, your own opinion) another person being out of your league stop you from taking a risk and smashing up those social barriers. Some of the most solid couples in the world are probably totally mismatched. And perhaps it is in fact that very mismatch that makes them such a formidable team. So yep, when it comes comes to dating out of your league as it were, I’d always say take the chance (honestly, sticking to the ‘ugly’ ones will only made me miserable!). Maybe fighting the system won’t always reap rewards but it’s guaranteed to provide you with an epic adventure, something that playing safe certainly won’t do. And just maybe that hottie or that brainiac that you are totally in awe of sees something in you that the fucktards that went before were too dense to realise. So, throw caution to the wind and always aim high.

Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

the_subtle_art_of_not_giving_a_fuckI occasionally read Mark Manson’s blog. He’s a rather smart guy with good, counter-intuitive and certainly not mainstream advice about how to live. Among others, he preaches certain pragmatism in dating which of course makes me his fan. This is why when I saw his book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” in a bookstore, I decided to give it a go.

Just like Buddha and other Buddhist folk, Mark tells us that suffering is a natural part of life. The problem with the modern society is that it doesn’t want to accept it as a fact. We try to find various ways of relieving the pain of life or entirely get rid of it, which just doesn’t make sense. The mainstream media promotes a happy clappy reality, which just isn’t, well, realistic. We’ll all suffer in this or other way and we should embrace it, says Manson. In his mind it means choosing the things we give a f*ck about. You know how people get bent out of shape every time something doesn’t go exactly like they expected it to? This is giving a f*ck about something they shouldn’t. Some things are beyond our control and there’s no point in excessive anger. There are other things, however, which are important and which are worth fighting for. In other words, we will suffer but we can choose what’s worth suffering for.

Of course, Mark tells the reader much more in his book and explains his ideas in more detail but the above summary should give you an idea about the tone. I like Manson’s no bullshit approach to life. Oh, boo hoo, it’s difficult to have the courage to change your job? Well, life is difficult. Is it important enough for you to try? Manson also analyses why humans act against their best interest and uses good examples to explain why things are the way we are. The book is a good read and certainly an eye opener particularly for those people who never encountered Buddhist teachings. However, it’s not free of flaws.

First of all, Mark gives you nothing in return for changing your life views. He pours a bucket of cold water on your head and then he leaves you out there, in the cold in, with no clothes on. Buddhism after doing the same gives you meditation as a way to improve your life. Therapy gives you tools to deal with new information such as practical exercises aimed at changing your habits. Hell, even other self-help books give you practical advice on what to do. Manson doesn’t and he claims he doesn’t have to, which is surprising for someone who claims to well know the human nature. Another weakness of the book is that even I, as an irregular reader of his blog, have recognized big chunks of the text as being copy pasted from his online work. This isn’t cool particularly for his faithful readers. There are different ways to say the same things and this device is just lazy. Last but not least, he digresses quite a bit and the book could have been structured in a better way.

Having said that, I still think that Manson is brilliant. He’s the only widely read person I know, who stands up to the harmful beliefs that the main culture is ingraining in us. He’s a free thinker and I have a lot of respect for him. I recommend this book to everyone, particularly to those who are comfortable with their illusions about how life should be nice and fluffy.

Do you read Manson’s blog, Dear Reader? What blog do you read (apart from this one, of course)? Can you recommend any books that opened your eyes? I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

The Things We Stop Talking About When We Grow Up

little_girlsDo you remember how you used to tell everything to your BFF when you were little? She knew all your secrets and you knew everything about her. Even when you were a teenager there were those girlfriends you told about how disappointing your first sexual encounters were. Then something happens around the time we get into a committed relationship and some things we used to talk openly about become taboos. What are those things, why does it happen and is it necessarily a negative process?

First of all, money becomes a thing. Sure, there are some people who were born with a silver spoon in their mouth but most of us lack money to some extent. As kids we dream about buying more bubble gum and sweets than our pocket money (and reason) allows us too. As teenagers we moan about not being able to buy cigarettes and booze. As students we never have enough money to experience everything we would like to and as young professionals we usually stand on our two feet for the first time and we learn that EVERYTHING costs money and more than we would like. As we have a common ground of complaining with our peers, there’s no shame in telling someone that we’re broke and we can’t do this or that. We also openly complain about how little we earn and we know exactly how much that “little” means for our friends.

As we grow in experience and our salaries get bigger, however, the money taboo appears. Somehow, it’s not okay anymore to ask your friend how much they earn and even if you do they may get cagey about the question. Sometimes some vague estimates are given publicly and you can see the other members of the party having fumes coming out of their ears, trying to count exactly how much does that mean and whether it’s more or less than themselves. Perhaps with age we become more competitive, jealous and full of ourselves? Who knows. The fact is that apart from my husband only my sister-in-law knows how much I earn and that’s because she has no boundaries. I honestly feel quite comfortable not knowing what people earn, as I know it’d eat me up to know that someone less educated and more importantly lazier than me earns more than I do.

Another thing that’s affected by the lost of sincerity is a sex life. I used to have girlfriends with whom I would share everything. We knew with whom, when and how many times. Especially those who didn’t have long-term boyfriends were open about their sexplorations. Even the more settled ones, however, would often tell me more than I wanted to know, which made it difficult for me to look at their partner in the same way. Generally, the rule seems to be: the more serious and committed the relationship, the less you will hear people commenting on their sexual lives. It makes sense then, why in our youth we are more sexually verbal. When we get older and we have more respectful relationships we naturally tend to keep certain things between ourselves and our partner.

As little as we talk about sex when we settle down, there is an exception to this rule, namely procreative sex. Especially when you’re married, everyone and their dog feels entitled to ask you whether you’re trying for a baby yet (=are you fucking without using contraception) and about your plans in this respect (=when are you planning to fuck without using contraception). People will share their news about being pregnant over a meal (gross guys, I’m eating and I don’t want to be thinking about you two fornicating!) and even tell you about their trouble with conceiving (I AM LITERALLY PUKING IN MY MOUTH HERE). The reason for that is that society (Team God, in particular) has been trying to separate the two issues of procreation and sex as if they were entirely unrelated. “You wouldn’t like your child to know you had too much fun making you, now, would you?” they seem to say. Well, I don’t know. Personally I hope my mom had a multiple orgasm in the process.

With age it becomes also more and more difficult to share both happiness and unhappiness with people. I have written about the latter here so I won’t repeat myself and focus in this post on the difficulty with sharing happiness. Perhaps this particular taboo has to do with similar reasons as the money one. The truth is, even if we like our friends we don’t like to see them more successful than we are. If ,on other hand, we are the successful ones we don’t want to rub our “better-offness” in. People both feel uncomfortable sharing their happiness (=showing off) as being on the receiving end of such behavior (=feeling inferior).

As kids we don’t really judge ourselves according to a strong superiority/inferiority metric. Perhaps, a kid gets mocked sometimes because it wears a cap on their head in – 20 degrees winter (true reason of mockery in cold countries – cool kids are always cold) but it takes a while before we develop our insecurity to the point that it really bothers us. Hell, I remember being proud that I had friends who were smarter/prettier/more fashionable or cooler in any other way than I was. Look at adults, though. Have you ever noticed what happens if one of your friends at work becomes a manager? All of a sudden, people stop being friendly with him or her (especially her!) and start gossiping about how they’re full of themselves or whatever else bullshit is being said about them. In reality their promotion is no mystery because they did just work so much harder than everyone else.  And yet, people prefer to label them as lucky because if the new manager is better at their job than they themselves are than they are worse. And that bloody hurts. Let me hold my horses, here, though. Our lovely #englishrosiee has written already about the difference between being lazy AF and unlucky in the context of love.

I do believe that we have the right to be happy about being happy and we shouldn’t stop ourselves in most cases. A good example of when we should stop ourselves is, for instance, when someone’s cat died. This is really not a good moment to tell them how happy you are about your new puppy or even a raise. Otherwise, we should grow our appreciation and gratitude for life rather than the skills of moaning and complaining.

To sum up, as we grow up we stop talking about certain things with our friends and basically anyone who isn’t our partner. Part of this tendency, is jealousy and insecurity and a part of it is just closeness to our partners. As much as our friends may do without the details of our marital coitus we should try being more open with them and allow the relationships to grow. Perhaps, learning that a friend earns much more than we do, will initially make us feel bad but then may inspire us to take some steps towards a career change.

Hello, Dear Rinsers! Do you talk about money with your friends? You sex life? Do you agree that the things we talk about with our friends change as we grow up or am I being a lunatic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open-Mindedness in Dating : Could it be a Bad Thing?

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It has been almost 3 years since I started the whole ‘modern dating thing’. When I say ‘modern dating’, I mean using tools like Tinder and OKC, which were previously reserved for the world’s biggest losers, to meet guys, rather than waiting around for your potential Prince Charming to appear organically you while you are sweating it out at the gym (well, yes they do say it’ll happen when you least expect it but they never warned you that you may look like a sweat infested troll). Anyway, so back to those 3 ish years; in that time I’d like to think I’ve kept an open mind about the type of people I dated (beggars can’t be choosers and all!). In fact, I’d go as far as to say, that I openly despise people that only date people who are in certain social circles, went to the right schools, practice a particular religion or belong to a certain ethnic/racial groupethnic/racial group (yes, I do pride myself on having dated the United Colours of Benetton).

Ha! But you see the truth is my judgement of these bigoted fools hasn’t got me very far. Sure, I’ve had some fantastic experiences but at the end of the day it seems like it’s those close-minded people that seem to be walking down the aisle while that nice chick who dates anything with a pulse is always the one twirling alone at the wedding (although she does have a 100% success rate at catching the bouquet!). So, for today’s post, I want to question whether having an open-mind about who you date is necessarily such a good thing? Or are you more likely to be successful in finding your happily-ever-after/settling down if you match with someone you share certain similarities with?

First things first, I’d definitely say that dating with an open-mind and giving everyone a fair shot provides for better experiences. Let’s be honest, the type of girl who sticks to what she knows would never have the experience of a lifetime moving across the world because she bumped someone she clicked with on a night out on Long Street. Nope, she’d probably avoid the risk and stay put in her happy little village in the sticks. And even when you don’t find an epic romance, the fact that you are willing to date weird and wonderful folk certainly provides good LOL stories. Remember, the Indian Prince. Dating people who are different to you means you are exposed to new cultures and ways of life. Keeping an open-mind will be a good learning experience if nothing else.

But not everyone in the world wants to try everything at the buffet. Some just prefer to stick to the Sweet and Sour chicken that they know and love. Come on, we all know this type. The girls that only date guys that studied at Ivy League universities or went to particular posh schools. I guess it has it advantages, the chances are you have a lot of mutual friends and you can pretty much guarantee he’ll know how to conduct himself around your social circles (unlike the fool without a Matric certificate who’ll have a phat brag about how he pee’d on someone because of the colour of their skin!). Then there are those that prefer to date people from the same ethnic background as them. I’d be tempted to call them out for being slightly racist but maybe they just don’t want to deal with the challenges of being in a inter-racial relationship. Life is full of obstacles, would removing one of those be such a crime?

I usually jump at any opportunity to hate of #teamgod. But actually I think religion is one area where it actually may make most sense to stick to your tribe. Unlike, race and the school you attended, religion isn’t completely arbitrary. Sure, your parents may have forced it on you as a child but there should come a point when you grow a brain and decide whether the mumbo jumbo truly resonates with you or it’s just complete nonsense. Our religious beliefs are like political views in that they are something we choose to subscribe to and it’s totally in our control to follow (or not) a certain system. So yes, if religion is going to shape every aspect of your life, then perhaps it makes sense to find a partner who buys into the same way of thinking.  I mean, you wouldn’t expect a marriage between a Lefty and a Tory Jerk very long would you? Wouldn’t the same apply to a union between a guy who loved Church and chick who would barricade the doors to stop her kids from going anywhere near a house of god because she thinks all priests are a bunch of dirty paedos?

So now I bet your wondering why #englishrosiee doesn’t just subscribe to the whole arranged marriage farce if she suddenly understands why some people prefer to stick to their own? Firstly, do you really want to see me palmed of onto the first guy that provides my Dad with a gelato and my Mother with a Louis Vuitton Handbag? Next, marrying the male version of myself would be nightmarish and they’d probably file for divorce within 24 hours. And finally, I’ve spend over three decades allowing Disney to pollute my fragile mind, the chances of me ever clicking with the match that’s right on paper are very slim. That said, in my old age, I get why matching with someone who shares a religion, social class or culture with you does work for some people. Also, I think people have the right (and duty) to be unapologeticunapologetic about what they want because it saves everyone time (and the heartache) in the long run. So being open minded obviously means that your dating pool is larger and chances are you are going to be exposed to a more diverse range of people, but diversity also means differences which can cause issues when it comes to dating. Tissues and issues though, who cares? There is nothing to say that the guy from your village, country or religious institution isn’t going to break your heart. So, I’ll keep chasing the interesting ones, the ones that give you stories and keep life interesting.

OK.What are your thoughts on open-mindedness in dating? Is it just for good experiences? Is there something to be said for the archaic way of doing things where people stuck to their own tribe/race/religion/village, etc? Share your experiences in the comments below.

The Deuce: Sex, Sex, Sex and James Franco

the deuceI haven’t seen such a sexed up series in a while. Game of Thrones or Spartacus are truly romance stories for teenage girls by comparison! In this review you’ll learn what #zlotybaby thinks about this series about prostitution and porn in New York of the fabulous 70s.

The first season of the series focuses on quite a number of main(ish) characters. Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a disillusioned prostitute who refuses to be pimped and aspires to direct sexy movies. Abby (Margarita Levieva) comes from a rich family but doesn’t feel like she belongs to the overly proper world so she tries to make ends meet as a bartender. There’s also James Franco in a double role of twins, Vincent and Frankie Martino. The former is the more level-headed business owner, the latter your typical trouble maker. The series also follows a number of secondary characters: the main pimps played by Gbenga Akinnagbe and Gary Carr and their protegees, Darlene (Dominique Fishback), Lori (Emily Maede) and Ruby (Pernell Walker). Let’s not forget about a nosy and beautiful journalist Sandra (Natalie Paul) who wants to write an article about it all with the help of a slightly corrupted police officer (Lawrence Gilliard Jr).

The big number of characters may be initially confusing but they’re all quite memorable. The cast is very well chosen and it also facilitates remembering who is who. There are some weak points in the choice of actors, though. Abby, a 20 year old girl, is played by a woman quite close to her 40s and it hinders the character’s credibility (and yes, I’d also be protesting if it was the case of a male character). Another weird choice was James Franco x 2. The characters of the twins are not different enough (or perhaps it’s Franco’s acting fault?) and I often felt confused about which one is which. I get that many women could watch Franco in all the roles but alternative movies like “Being John Malkovich” or “Adaptation” are a better fit for such questionable cast choices. Having said that, I was really impressed by great costumes, make-up and acting in the TV show in general and in particular on the side of the pimps and the prostitutes. You almost could forget that this isn’t what they do in their every day life!

Partially thanks to the actors, it’s very easy to get into the world presented on the screen. You feel for the girls and just like them you have a hate and love relationship with their pimps. Sex in this series is just a commodity that can be bought and in general is rather deprived of romanticism. What do you want? The world of prostitution and porn is cruel. The women are abused not only by their pimps who are supposed to be protecting them but also by their clients. The business is dangerous and it doesn’t pay that well after “your man” takes his cut. The idea that it’s easy money seems to be far from the truth.

The sad, depressing world of “The Deuce” is in some twisted way entertaining. I compulsively wanted to learn more about the characters, even if a lot of the time I wasn’t expecting anything good happening to them (GOT fans surely get it). There are no easy fixes in the depicted world. How to escape the business? Especially if there’s a video out there on which you’re having sex? Even if it’s possible, can you forget about all the penises you had to suck? I’ve never worked as a prostitute but as a teenager I made money sex texting in my first post matric job. I felt dirty for a long long time after I quit. I was also very doubtful about the nature of men in general for years to come. Of course, they’re not all the same but when you’re constantly exposed to one kind it does become your perception of the whole. Still, I’m quite interested to see what the future holds for the women of the night in this series.

“The Deuce”  is a bitter-sweet tale that shows us a world which doesn’t exist anymore. And yet, 50 years later just like 200 hundred years earlier, both prostitution and porn prosper. Perhaps it’s time to get off our high horse and recognise that interest in sex, including paid sex in reality and on the screen is a part of the human nature? Legalisation would bring safety to men and women involved in the industry but also to their clients. Brutal assaults, killings, spreading of STDs – all these issues could be avoided if only more governments had the balls to address the situation.

Last but not least, “The Deuce” really has a good soundtrack mostly suited for the presented period (I wouldn’t know any better but my husband did occasionally voice his doubts about the music truly being from the 70s). I really recommend this series to anyone who likes a TV show that takes them to a completely different place. I also can promise you that if you look at the problems of people on the screen, you will almost immediately feel so much better about your own.

What’s your opinion about legalisation of prostitution and pornography, Dear Reader? Any secrets to share? Have you already watched the series?

 

 

Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The_vegetarian_-_han_kangPerhaps the literary awards are political and biased but I’m a bit of a sucker and I always try to read the books and authors awarded with a Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize or anything else which has the name Prize in it, even if it’s awarded by the Kansas Board of Paper Manufacturers. This is how I ended up reading “The Vegetarian”, the winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize.

The book is divided in three parts which focus on different characters. The first one tells a story of the main trouble maker and the plot catalyst, Yeong-hye. She is a Korean stay-at-home wife, who one day decides to become a vegetarian due to disturbing dreams. The otherwise obedient wife and daughter is extremely stubborn in her new eating regime. Her surrounding will not accept her trying to redefine herself and find her true self (whatever it may turn out to be)…

The Han Kang’s novel is a great read. The author has created a compelling cross-genre narrative with elements of Grimms’ fairy tales, a dark poem and a manifesto of non-compliance. Yeong-hye, just like Bartleby from Melville’s short story, would prefer not do some things. What starts with a refusal to eat meat expands to other areas of her life. Is her stubbornness a sign of her finding a voice of her own or pure madness? And if it’s the latter does an individual have the right to explore it? Who is to decide what’s normal and what isn’t? And aren’t we all crazy by leading the lives we don’t really want, according to rules which aren’t our own? You may find answers to these questions in the novel…or not. It all depends on how you’re going to interpret it. If you’re keen on exploring such ambiguities I’d also recommend an excellent novella by Henry James “The Turn of the Screw”.

“The Vegetarian” will certainly make you think and this is what, in my opinion, literature should do. It also gives you a glimpse into a Korean society which is presented in the novel as highly patriarchal. This is why the novel isn’t just a story of non-conformism but has a clearly feminist flavor to it. If you’re wondering where’s the difference coming from I’ll reply with a quote from “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamands Ngozi Adichie: “Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general – but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human.” This novel isn’t just about the right of an individual to decide about himself or herself. If the protagonist was a man, his “eccentricity” would have probably been accepted and maybe only gossiped about behind his back. A disobedient woman, however, has to be put in her place.

If you end up reading the novel and thinking it’s…ummm… different just bear in mind that the Korean compatriots of the author also thought that it was weird. It takes some getting used to but the read is really worth it. It’s a literary feast and food for thought at the same time. “The Vegetarian” is a short read but it doesn’t mean it’s light. I will certainly read more by the author in Deborah Smith’s translation (the female translator has received the Man Booker International prize jointly with the author, in recognition of her efforts to preserve the original qualities of the novel).

Have you read the book, Dear Rinser? If yes, what did you think about it? Any favorite stories of non-compliance or more specifically female non-compliance, you’re willing to share?

 

 

Review: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

sweet toothI’m a huge Ian McEwan fan. Finishing this book means that I’ve read all his novels (and collections of short stories and plays and books for children and no, my name isn’t Misery). As you would assume, my expectations were high. Has the novel managed to meet them? Read the review to find out!

Serena Frome is into literature but she’s also good at maths. Pushed to study the latter by her mother, she graduates from Cambridge with no clue about what to do with her life. Fortunately, this beautiful girl meets a gentleman who moulds her into a perfect secret service candidate. Will Serena conquer the sexist world of spies and successfully infiltrate the literary world or will she fail miserably?

To encounter a female character who’s a spy in literature is exciting for most women. There aren’t many of them and if they exist, you mostly find them in children’s or teen fiction. Certainly not on the pages of books by serious writers like Ian McEwan. However, the author seems to have a liking for female protagonists. “Atonement”, “On Chesil Beach” or his second to last book, “The Children Act” are good examples of this tendency. I usually can relate to his characters but I did struggle with Serena. She reminds me of a child lost in the mist. Her actions are not well thought through, she falls for one wrong man after another as a twisted version of your typical femme fatale. Serena doesn’t seem to take fate into her own hands and things just happen to her. Perhaps that’s the reason why the novel ends where it ends…

“Sweet Tooth” does fail as a love story, mostly because Serena is more of a plastic doll than an actual character. The novel also fails as a spy novel. There were moments when I couldn’t stop myself from reading further but most of the time I was forcing myself not to skip parts of it. I’m not really interested in reading lengthy descriptions of secret service procedures and neither are other people who choose to read spy novels. A typical reader of this genre is looking for swift action, even if unrealistic. Ideally, it should be so fast, the reader doesn’t have time to stop and question what’s been happening. McEwan gives us instead a kind of lengthy semi-philosophical divagation on the topic of secret service. Can and should the government control artists? Well, no, hello, communism? I don’t need a whole novel to get that it’s morally questionable.

Do the ideas in the book have any merit? From my selfish point of view, yes. I was quite interested in McEwan descriptions of non-existent writings of his fictional character that are sometimes uncannily similar to his actual work. There’s also the beautiful manner in which McEwan puts sentences together. In other words, the plot isn’t captivating but his style as always is. Does it mean I’d recommend this book to anyone? I don’t think so. A McEwan fan won’t stop reading his novels because of this below average book. I could, however, see someone starting their adventure with the author with “Sweet Tooth” and getting discouraged from exploring his work any further. This would be such a shame! We all have bad days so someone who’s been writing for the last 50 years has the right to write a bad novel. McEwan virgins should rather have a go at “Atonement”, “Enduring Love” or his short stories.

Have you heard of Ian McEwan, Dear Rinser? Who’s your favorite writer?