Review : The Break by Marian Keyes

 

breakThere are times when your mind is filled with traumatic life issues and you need to find a trashy novel that doesn’t require too much mental capacity (maybe just a Matric certificate though!) to escape your reality and make you feel better about your sad little existence. This was one of those times.

The Break is the tale of Amy, a 40-something PR executive whose husband Hugh has decided to take ‘a break’ from their marriage (hence the title). Hugh emphasises that they are not breaking up and this is just a break. The parameters are set for a defined – he is taking 6 months to travel around South East Asia and after this time he’ll return a fixed man so they can pick up where they left off (oh, and he’ll possibly sleep with other women if he gets the chance). There is no room for negotiation. He is leaving – bags packed, tickets booked and those all-important announcements made of social media. Poor Amy doesn’t have much choice in the matter.  Although the feminazi types may demand she stand up for herself and refuse to let him dictate the rules, the truth is they are old(er), have 3 kids and financial assets together so throwing your toys out of the cot isn’t much of an option.

As much as she left with no other option but to accept the situation. There is a silver lining (kind of).  She is also free to do what she pleases during the 6 month break. Although to be fair it really isn’t a level playing field as he swans off to sow his wild oats in Thailand she has to schedule sexy time around balancing a job, her old parents and her three daughters. On top of that, the story reminds us as much as we may call for a break in a relationship it’s something that’s easier said than done especially in the age of social media where your life is no longer just your own but a form of entertainment for everyone around.

Ultimately, behind all the funny bits, the story supports the idea that in reality relationships don’t always conform to a given model. There is a lot of pressure for people of all ages to keep up appearances for the sake of those around them whether that means kids, parents, friends or just general society. But sometimes as unconventional as things are you have to just go with it and let life take it’s natural course. People are sure to judge you no matter what you do but the truth is as much as people may think they know your life as it is portrayed on social media nobody really sees what goes on behind closed doors. The elements that could be described as possibly the more mundane parts of a relationship – the friendship, understandings, familiarity, day to day division of labour and the in-jokes.

So, if your looking for an easy read and a little bit of reassurance that not everything has to fit into those parameters that society wants human relationships to conform to then this  is just what. It’s not highly intellectual reading but a pretty good reality check with some great LOL moments thrown in.

Rinsers, Have you read the book? What are your thoughts? Are you someone who’ll try different things in order to make a relationship work? Or do you think there is a set formula for relationship success? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

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Defining Success in Relationships – Is a Break Up/Divorce Necessarily a Sign of Failure?

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“Marriage is about two things: sexual satisfaction and building generations. Nothing more. Only useless people are thinking about love. The result of a love marriage is never satisfactory. Divorce, arguments, affairs. These things don’t happen in arranged marriage. Arranged marriage is always successful. Love is for useless people. But if you’re going to feel love, at the very least, make sure it’s someone of a similar income level.” (Jaipur, India)

– Source : Humans of New York

So a few days ago the picture/quote above from Humans of New York (why the hell it features people from Jaipur now, I’ll never know) popped on my Facebook feed. I shared it for comedy value and it seems it got people thinking about our approach to marriage and relationships. Although I have become a little more realistic (read:cynical) as I’ve got older/had more horrific dating experiences, I think I am still, and probably always will a bit of a hopeless romantic aka USELESS PERSON (you can blame Disney!). So I basically took what these elders said as a bit of a giggle but is their any truth to their wisdom? Does arranged marriage have any benefits? Is the pursuit of love necessarily such a good thing? And most importantly how do we define success in terms of a relationship/marriage? Lets break it down in today’s post.

The importance of sexual satisfaction

You’ve got to give it to the oldies. I like that they’ve got their priorities in order. Regardless of whether you marry the person you love or its a set up sex is hugely (wink wink) important. The fact that people stay in loveless relationships because the sex is mind-blowing and that prostitution and porn are still such big business – speaks for itself. The oldies are right sexual satisfaction in a marriage/relationship is important (unless you are one of those strange religious nuts that believes you only have sex for procreation and not for pleasure! – Gawwwwd they don’t know what they are missing out on!).

Look, I don’t know the intricacies of arranged marriage systems so feel free to correct me here. But I was under the impression that the couple meet, decide that the the other person isn’t a complete troll and is a viable husband/wife and BOOM the wedding preparations begin. Now where does the sex factor in that? After the I Dos? If that’s the case then arranged marriage is a risky business if you ask me. Imagine marrying a guy and only learning on wedding night that he is in desperate need of the little blue pill. Ugh. Also, while the media may portray sexual satisfaction as something that happens just like that, I hate to break it to all the virgins in the room but it doesn’t quite work like that…as with a lot of things in life you have to be willing to work at it. Again, if you marry someone without having a clue about their sexual prowess how are you to know whether they are willing to make the effort to keep you happy in bed or if it’ll just be a case of wham ban thank you mam… and sleep!

Building generations 

Ugh the most talked about issue amongst the Baby Mafia. Making screaming little bundles of joy (read: stress!).  Is creating a mini-me really that important when it comes to who you marry/date? Yes and no. If your life-long dream has been to be a mother then sure you need to find someone who wants to be your baby daddy (and perhaps arranged marriage can assist you in making the correct decision – do fertility tests come as standard in these matters? #just saying!).

That said, it may come as a shock to some people but nowadays there are actually folk out there that don’t intend on making babies. I mean can you blame them? Imagine bringing a child into a world dominated by war, stupidity and water scarcity issues! Then there are also those that for whatever reason (pragmatic or philanthropic) don’t feel the need to have a biological child but instead plan to adopt one of the millions of babies that are in need of a good home.

Finally, this may also come as a surprise too but you don’t need to be in a relationship/marriage to get knocked up. For some it’s a case of spreading their legs one drunken night after the club and 9 months down the line – there is bubba with no baby daddy in sight. Or alternative paths such as – IVF, sperm donors, surrogates….thanks to advances in medical science we no longer really need a piece of paper/another person to make babies.

Oh, so a question for the arranged marriage supporters? What happens when you marry someone you don’t know all that well and it turns out they are firing blanks? Can you get your money back/file for divorce?

Arranged marriages vs. pragmatic dating choices – is it all that different?

From what I gather about arranged marriages is that it is first and foremost about finding someone who looks good on paper. Comes from a good family. TICK. Educated. TICK. Good genes. TICK. Can provide you with 10 cows. TICK. The list goes on.

Is it all that different to what we do these days when it comes to online dating. Think about all the filters you can set on OKCupid for instance. Ethnicity. Religion. Education Level. Political allegiance. Income level. Food preferences. I have to say I think the modern day system maybe more sophisticated here when it comes to getting rid of the deadwood.

Even if you think in terms of organic dating subconsciously we probably have our own little filters we use to reject those we have no real desire to end up with. I mean simply by looking at a guy with his wonky teeth and crooked nose one can write him off even before he speaks. Learning that a person has no matric certificate is enough to make someone run a mile without even considering that he may be street smart.

The Finances

Related to the point above. If you do pursue love how important is it that your partner is your financial equal? Hmmm….tricky one.  Of course in the fairytale world, they never discuss the cost of getting a bond, running a car, raising children, etc. But in real life those things do come into play. Having dated my fair share of broke asses I’ll be the first to tell you that money does matter. And you know what? Saying that doesn’t make me a gold digger. While money certainly makes life easier it won’t solve problems or fix  a relationship that is destined to fail. Even if your parents set you up with a millionaire whats to say he’ll be willing to share his fortune with you ? No such thing as a free lunch remember.

More important than cash money itself is a persons attitude towards it. I think for a relationship to succeed two people need to be on the same page when it comes to their finances. You have to understand the way your partner thinks when it comes to spending/saving. It’s no use having a guy who wants to splurge all your hard earned cash on holidays while you want to put something by to purchase your dream home.

Defining successful relationship

Finally, how do you even begin to define a successful relationship/marriage? The result of a love marriage is never satisfactory. Divorce, arguments, affairs. These things don’t happen in arranged marriage. Arranged marriage is always successful.

I beg to differ here. You think people in arranged marriages never argue or have affairs? Really? Things happen behind close doors and just because people are able to put on a front about being happy doesn’t mean that they actually are.  Just because a marriage doesn’t end in divorce doesn’t make it a success. Staying put and crying yourself to sleep every night isn’t success. It’s misery.  If divorce/breaking up means walking away from a situation that doesn’t serve you or positively enhance your life that isn’t failure. Remaining in an unhappy marriage for the sake or your children or because you fear being ostracized by society may be noble but it can’t really be considered a success.

All in all, depending on how you look at things arranged marriage may not be all that different from our modern dating practices. As much as people may deny it, most relationships these days are based on pragmatic decisions not necessarily just some abstract concept called love. That said, having babies and being sexually satisfied aren’t really the best basis for a solid relationship if you ask me. And finally whatever the case, the success of a relationship shouldn’t be defined by whether it ends in divorce/break up or has blips along the way. Its better to have a ‘failed’ relationship/marriage that you have somewhat fond memories of rather than end up dying stuck in a relationship where you despise your other half.

And breathe. OK Rinsers. Over to you. Do you think there are some advantages to arranged marriages? Do you think people who believe in love are USELESS? What elements do you think it is necessary to have a solid partnership? How would you define a successful relationships?

Movie Review : The Power Of The Heart

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A friend of mine invited me to watch a non-mainstream movie called Power of the Heart on Sunday. The synopsis described it as an ‘unparalleled and life changing film about the astonishing power and intelligence of your heart’.  With a description like that you can’t blame a girl for expecting great things. Sadly being somewhat of a cynic, I just thought it may provide some good matter for my rinsers (and I know I haven’t reviewed anything much in a long while).

So let my start by telling you a bit about the demographic of the audience. The movie was sold out…not an empty seat in the whole place (well maybe one cos someone spilled ice cream on the it so nobody wanted to sit there and get an ice cream butt!). Yeah, so the audience was predominantly made up of middle aged, middle class soccer mom types. There were a handful of guys (probably been dragged there by their WaGs) and one young boy who was there was his parents (probably trying to provide him with some inspiration to find a chick and settle down). The demographic made me quite sad.

The movie was introduced by a lady who basically preached a little about her theory on following our hearts rather than our heads when it comes to all sorts of life decisions. She was a hater of the school system claiming that it teaches kids all the wrong things (ugh, can’t deal. I’ve dated enough uneducated fools (and lived in Observatory long enough) to realise that while the school system may need to be worked on people should certainly not be encouraged to turn their backs on formal education. Anyway now onto the main feature….

So the film is a documentary which features interviews and stories from famous icons such as Paulo Coelho, Maya Angelou and Deepak Chopra all of whom give their take on why the heart is more than a simply organ that pumps blood around our body. It also features the experiences of some normal people including a lady who survived the Rwandan genocide and a family who lost their daughter in a car accident but were still somehow able to connect with her through the recipient of her heart through a transplant operation.

The idea being promoted here is that the heart has the ability to know what is best for us and listening to it will help people transform their lives and experience success  in areas such as their relationships, health and business. They also say as result of people being forced to conform to certain socially engineered systems we somehow manage to lose this connection to our heart and it gets silenced.

There were parts of this theory which were backed by evidence from scientific experiments which proved that our hearts often know about something before it happens. In terms of relationships, one interesting thing the movie brought up was that people needed to stop actively looking for love but rather focus on figuring out their identity and then letting love come to them. This is a nice idea and all but I’m not sure it holds true in the age of internet dating.

All in all, I thought The Power of The Heart was an interesting movie. The ideas were certainly somewhat thought provoking. However while I think listening to your intuition/gut/heart is important it isn’t always the best. Perhaps it’s because I’m an overthinker but in real life  there are times when as adults we need to weigh up the facts and analyse the reality of something working out before jumping in head first. I also guess it depends on the area of our lives we are dealing with.

For instance, when it comes to love if you try to find fault in every potential relationship then I’m sure of one thing, you’ll die a virgin. It’s OK to follow your heart, especially when you are young, because even if it turns out to be a mistake you can learn from it. However, when it comes to our careers, I think at some point we need to get real. I know a lot of people that have/had dreams of becoming successful writers, life has forced most of them to downgrade this dream to a side project (read: blog!) while pursuing another (possibly related) career path that helps them pay their bills. I thought the movie was a little selective in that it only chose to focus on people that had experienced real life material success . I mean it’s easy for Paulo Coelho to preach to budding writers about pursuing the dream of writing novels but I think the perspective of thousands of authors who died without seeing their work published or earning those millions would paint a totally different picture.

Honestly, if I look around me I can think of lots of examples of writers, poets and musicians, etc who have chosen to work on their craft/follow their dreams and at the age of 50 something haven’t actually amounted to much and rely on others (people who did jobs that the economy demanded) for handouts. The reality is that having dreams and following your heart is great in theory but as we grow up we also have responsibilities which may mean our dreams have to be sidelined on occasion. Sometimes you may want to do/be something but its also important not to delude oneself (honestly there isn’t enough space in the world for us all to be the next J.K.Rowling). So yeah, the movie was interesting and provided food for thought but I also think that the ideas it was promoting was somewhat irresponsible. Still, go see it as it’ll give you something to talk/rage about.

OK Rinsers. Have you seen Power of the Heart? What your thoughts on these topics? Do you think we don’t listen to our hearts enough? Does society make us fear uncertainty and always opt for the safe route? Should we always do what makes us happy or is there sometimes a need to do something boring/responsible? Answers below.

Flirting, Secret Signs and Making Something Out of Nothing

fliritngSome people are great with the matters of the heart since they’re teenagers and they can always see through people’s intentions. Most of us, however, need some experience to learn to recognise whether the person we’re interested in is also interested in us. Others seem to never learn.

Secret Signs or Wishful Thinking?

When I was young I used to develop crushes. I’d observe the person I liked and convince myself that he was also interested in me. He smiled, he said “hi”, he replied to something I said – anything really could be interpreted by me as a sign of him liking me too. I could go on for weeks on one secret sign making up a whole story of our future together in my head. I was probably the biggest dreamer in my friends group but other girls weren’t much different.  We would talk and talk and talk. Nothing would really happen with the boys, though, regardless of our overblown expectations.

Most of us once we gain some experience with people who are actually interested in us, realize that these people don’t send secret signs. The behavior of a person fancying someone is rather obvious, often to other people too. Of course, you have people who are more shy than others but even they manage to send a subtle yet direct message. The lesson here is that if you have to look for secret signs in someone’s behavior, seeing them is most probably just wishful thinking. Realizing that will make you save a lot of your precious time. He/she may be amazing but you need two to tango.

Meaningless Flirting

In some parts of the world, making eye contact with someone of opposite sex is pretty much expressing that you want to marry them. This isn’t the case in the Western world. Looking at someone may mean that you appreciate their physical beauty, that you find them repulsive or that you like their pants. On its own it’s truly meaningless and so is flirting. Whether someone is making small talk or actually flirting with you, it means that he or she is potentially interested in you in some way. However, even someone who flirts with you every time he sees you isn’t making you a promise. Being interested is one thing, being interested enough to actually make a move is another. Unless the person makes a move or reacts positively to you making a move and you two end up on a date, there’s nothing to write home about. Sure, it’s irritating if someone you fancy is not truly following up but you should take such behaviors at face value. You guys are flirting and that’s it. Enjoy it for what it is. There’s no promise than anything else will come out of it so don’t get hang up on it.

Making Something Out of Nothing

There’s this saying in Polish that translates into “When there’s no fish, a crab is a fish”. It applies perfectly here. Part of the reason why my female friends and I, as teenagers, would make something out of nothing was that we didn’t know many boys. We went to a predominantly female school and even if we increased our chances of meeting men by attending karate classes, after eliminating all the guys who were our fathers’ age and/or married, guys our age with girlfriends, the undatable ones and the crushes of our friends there still weren’t many men left! In other words, if you liked a boy and there were some chances that he would like you back, fantasising about him actually didn’t seem like a terrible idea. The difference between this situation and an adult woman describing to everyone a guy at the gym who smiles at her as dating potential, is massive. We had not much choice! Adult men and women have so many opportunities to meet other people in our modern world. There’s work, there’s social life, there are limitless activities no one will judge you for taking up on your own, clubs related to your hobbies, let alone online ways to make friends such as MeetUp or regular Internet dating. There’s honestly no excuse these days not to give oneself enough possibilities to stay cool as a cucumber till something is really happening (as opposed to: in our heads)!

To sum up, secret signs are good for teenage crushes and not for adults. Flirting is just flirting so hold on with telling everyone and their dog about your new potential relationship because it’s far-fetched and embarrassing. Last but not least, make sure your social life is busy enough to give you enough opportunities not to turn into a crazy stalker just because someone smiled at you.

Do you know people who as adults still can’t see clearly in terms of opposite sex? Are you guilty of too much wishful thinking?

What If You Don’t End Up With The Love of Your Life?

Dear Abby

‘You’re not my ex, You’re the love of my life’ 

What would you do if you heard such words? Would you :

a) slap the fool and burst into tears

b) throw yourself into his arms, say all is forgiven and sail away into the sunset

OR

c) Say ‘Well, sadly for you those two things aren’t always mutually exclusive’, have a bit ponder, write a blog post about it (then swiftly move onto bigger and better things!)

Fairy tales and Hollywood movies have us all hooked on the concept of ‘Big Love’. You know, the kind of story where your eyes meet across a crowded room, a twist of fate results you both walking down the same street and the same time or he sweeps you off your feet and takes you on a magic carpet ride. Of course, these stories contain a few hiccups and miscommunications along the way, a village full of provincial fools that has decided your guy doesn’t look quite like a Prince so they try to slay him or some ho-bag that tries to get in between you and your man. Whatever the case, because this is ‘The Love of Your Life’, everything falls into place, you iron out the issues, punch the bad people in the face and subsequently live happily ever after. THE END.

But the thing is in real life, love doesn’t always work out that way. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a total cynic (yet!). Probably because I’ve been there and done that, I still believe in (elements of) Big Love. I still believe there are real life stories that are worth telling your grand-kids (although I honestly doubt they can ever involve Tinder).  However, as we all know things don’t always go plan and there maybe some alternatives to that happily ever after bit. Yes, if you are lucky, you may only ever fall in love once in a lifetime and  marry that person, move to the burbs, adopt a puppy (because happily ever after MUST ALWAYS involve puppies) and perhaps pop out a few of those crying things.

Sadly though, the world isn’t fair and we don’t all get dealt the same hand. So here’s what those fairytales don’t tell you. Sometimes we do meet the ‘Love of Our Lives’ but we don’t necessarily get to stay with them forever and live happily ever after. Ugh, surely this makes that little girl inside of you wanted to stomp the feet and burn all the Disney memorabilia she ever owned! I’m sorry!

The truth of the matter is that in the real world, love doesn’t conquer all. Sometimes the people we love do unforgivable things. Love may not resolve every conflict. It certainly can’t cure Cancer. Love doesn’t always bridge religious or cultural differences either. There are also times where love can’t fix a person who is totally off the rails, unhinged and  determined to self-destruct. And what about when life pulls you in different directions? You want to pursue a career that takes you around the world and they are happier living in a small town close to their family (mummy’s boy! Jokes!). It is possible to have ambitions that are bigger than a relationship. And sometimes you are forced to let go of someone you love because it’s best for them or for the both of you. And there are other instances where you have no choice in the matter whatsoever.

But none of this means that the love wasn’t there in the first place. The fact that you don’t end up together doesn’t mean that the whole thing was nothing more than some stupid farce. While the end goal may (or may not be) happily ever after, just because you didn’t get the result everyone is after doesn’t mean it was all for nothing. If it was even partially a good experience that you can look back somewhat fondly well then it’s probably better some of those seemingly solid marriages out there.

So, yeah you don’t always marry the ‘Love of Your Life’ but it’s not the end of the world. Who knows what the future holds for any of us? Maybe that particular chapter was intended to help us grow up and know how to act when a more pragmatic match came along? Perhaps it was a pretty important stepping stone on the yellow brick road to happily ever after?  Or what’s to say there can’t be another ‘Love of Your Life’ around the next corner. Because those fools who wrote the fairy tales may have just forgotten to add the plot twists. And even if you don’t get the white dress and the dream wedding, at least having an epic story to tell is better than dying a virgin!

So Rinsers…Do you think it’s possible to have a the ‘Love of Your Life’ but not end up with them? Or do you believe that if it really is love it will conquer all? And is it possible to have more than one epic love story in a lifetime? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

“Hi. Do you want to be my friend?” and Other Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Woman

doucheThis post is going to be slightly ranty in nature. Perhaps I will express in it, however, some struggles that women deal with daily.

Last year, I decided to start a writing group. I’m a part of an expat community and at the time it seemed like a good idea to start it there. A part of starting such a group is introducing yourself to the community, which obviously makes sense. How otherwise would people find the group? When I created my spammy introductory message and sent it to the members I expected to be mostly ignored. After all, most people are not writers. Surprisingly, a lot of those who received the message did reply in a very polite way refusing or accepting the invitation. I felt for a bit like the world was a nice, welcoming place.

After the initial wave of nice replies from both genders, I started to be contacted by various men, who clearly didn’t think the message was sent to everyone. In their opinion, it seems, I have sent this personal message to them specifically. Must be, because they’re so hot and I’m lonely and confused as ladies often are. “Hi there. Thanks for the message. I’m not a writer but how about you give me a call on XXXX-YYY-ZZZ?”, “Hi! Don’t do much writing but I’d love to meet up for a coffee”, “Hi! Not a writer but do you have plans for New Year’s?” and my favorite of all, “Hi! Thanks for the message. Do you want to be my friend?”. Eventually to protect my privacy and prevent these people from reaching me on other channels, I changed my surname to initials only. Then I realized that I made a terrible mistake and I didn’t wear a potato sack on my profile picture nor had I  focused on demonstrating a clearly visible sign of belonging to another man. I updated my profile picture to one in which you can see me, my husband and my wedding ring (hint for the more determined types: this man next to me is not my brother). The messages stopped. I never wanted to be this person who defines herself by being married or in a relationship. As I have written before, merely being in a relationship isn’t an achievement.  At the same time, my life is just easier on different networks if I have a profile picture with my husband.

Men are so disrespectful, treating women like commodities they find in a shop. Oh, what a nice pair of shoes! I’ll just touch it and try it on to see whether I like it. WHAT? This pair of shoes isn’t looking for an owner? What a ridiculous pair of shoes! It needs one! Oh, I see they have one. Nah, that’s okay then! I’ll just keep looking. Many men think about women in such terms. She can be approached at any time if she’s not taken and any opportunity can be used for it. Whether a woman is single or not this is very annoying.

Dear men, the list of ways in which a woman shouldn’t be approached include:

  • Hi.
  • Hi, you’re hot.
  • Hi, you’re pretty.
  • Hi, do you want to be my friend?
  • Hi, wana do coffee?
  • Hi, wana move to my country? I pay for everything (true story)

There are very few women who like to be approached in this way. Sure, being complemented on beauty is nice but it’s also nice to be treated like a human being. There are millions silly ways in which a man can strike up a conversation with a woman, which have nothing to do with her looks. She’ll still know you mostly just thought you like how she looks like and had a good feeling about her but will feel nicer that you put some effort into a conversation starter. If she doesn’t seem interested, just let it go. Also think twice whether you should hit on anyone at all. Are they sending you a message that they’re potentially interested? Perhaps she really just wants to have a glass of wine on her own in a bar. A woman isn’t a child that cannot be left on her own. Last but not least, if someone is being friendly or invites you to join their writing group, they may be actually doing what they say they’re doing. At least try to take this possibility into account.

I’m done for today, Dear Rinsers. Any thoughts welcome!

 

 

 

 

Is It Ever Too Late To Settle Down?

watchChances are that you, just like me, live in a big city and you see the tendency of people to settle down later and later in life (if at all). Is it ever too late for that? One would be tempted to say “no” but I do think it gets more and more difficult with age.

Not long before I met my husband, a friend of mine who was in her thirties and who listened to me complaining about men told me I was being unrealistic. She said that at 28 I should only be counting on the so-called second market, meaning guys who have already been married and possibly have kids. I actually did follow her advise for a bit in my choice of who to swipe right and went for the daddies. They would send me too many picture of their kids about whom I always said they were pretty because, well, what do you say? This short experiment taught me quickly that I don’t really want to take on a whole family and I became unapologetic about children being my deal breaker. The older guys, however, seemed more mature, usually secure in their jobs (rather than living with their moms and lying about having their own companies) and interested in younger women (surprise, surprise). For a bit there I thought I found my niche.

I went on quite a few dates with first market gentlemen in the age bracket of 35-40 and chatted with a few even above the 40 mark. The trick was there was always something they said on the first date, which made me understand why they haven’t settled down. A lot of them had serious vibes of a commitment phoebes, telling me about how there’s something wrong with women in general (like for instance, their dislike for nice guys) or how monogamy is a bad concept. Some mentioned their mom way too much (one even said he hasn’t met the woman being as good as his mom yet). Others were fine with a relationship but not with living with someone. Yet another group was still hang up on their last long relationship and was clearly not over it, regardless of whether it finished a year or 10 years ago. Last group were people who just lacked social skills/women skills. The group I haven’t encountered during this round were constant travelers but I know they exist. Most of these men weren’t actually interested in a serious relationship. This made me wonder: have these guys missed their time to enter a serious relation and lost flexibility to the point that wouldn’t risk their lifestyle even to accommodate someone very special? Also, there’s a reason why they’re not everyone’s favorite group to date and why their dating market value drops with age.

The truth is that we do get more and more stuck in our ways as we get older. Many people get their own place rather than stay with flat mates in their mid to late twenties. They prefer independence but they could still could mould themselves easily to live happily with a partner, even if that was their first exprience of this sort. It does seem, though that there’s an age when such flexibility as the one required to learn to live with someone happily disappears. Just think about it. If you live on your own you can be as messy or clean as you want to. You don’t have to let anyone know what time you’ll be home or move your schedule around to suit your partner. Even living with flat mates is a different dynamic and gives us way more independence than a serious relationship. Now imagine having such independence for 5, 10, even 15 years. One gets used to it and with age it becomes more and more difficult to see that the perks of a happy relationship are bigger than the ultimate freedom. Especially men are likely to skip settling down altogether, in my opinion, due to the preferential upbringing that still teaches them that as men they can do pretty much whatever they want.

Reaserch seems to support me in my thinking. This article in Time analyses a study according to which the perfect age to get married and not end up divorced is between 28-32. Makes sense to me: not too late to lose flexibility and not too early not to know what you want. I don’t think that people above (or below) the mark should despair, it’s just a study, after all. It’s more an indication that perhaps there’s something to my thinking. I know some people (mostly men) above the mentioned mark, for instance, who have already given up on love because they feel dating is too much effort and they don’t want to compromise their lifestyle for anyone. You can also see a similar tendency among people who are married or in a stable partnership and want to have kids. They also keep pushing the boundaries of when to have kids because they like their lives and are used to them. After years of building a life you want in terms of education and professional sacrifices, it’s difficult to decide to change it just like that for something which may or may not make it better. You know why there are no similar stats for “lasting parenthood” as they are for the best age for a lasting marriage? Because you can never divorce your children. I think when we’re younger we’re more willing to try new things, knowing we may fail. It’s just easier to pick oneself up.

Last but not least, some people have serious relationship issues that prevent them from having their happily ever after. They may be trying to to fix the issues they had as children in the relationship. For instance, if someone has an unappreciative mother and keeps dating people with similar traits hoping they’ll eventually appreciate them. Patterns are difficult to break and sometimes require help from someone objective, you pay a lot of money to, to help you break them. Science agrees, however, that due to our flexibility disappearing, such issues are easier to work on in our twenties than in our thirties or later. Of course, not settling down isn’t the only risk. An even bigger one is attempting to settle down with a wrong person. You can learn more about it in an excellent Ted talk “Why 30 isn’t the new 20”:

To sum up, I don’t think it’s ever too late to settle down but I think the older you get, the more difficult it is to do so. It’s also probably much easier if you had some previous experience with serious relationship than if you don’t. The flexibility disappearing with age, men being used to having their way and last but not least, the lowering dating market value connected to age make settling down above 35 a challenge.

The Importance of Being on the Same Page

heartsicknessIf you observe humans, you may notice that among all the other problems they are facing in their relationships there is the issue of not being on the same page. Let me share a few thoughts about it in my post today.

When you like someone it is somehow tough to suspend your wishful thinking about  this person’s feelings about you. However, as convenient as it may be for the time being to delude yourself about the nature of your relationship, it doesn’t benefit you long term. A girlfriend of mine complained to me once about men behaving like they’re in a relationship and yet not really believing they’re in one. She said that their behavior often reminds her of someone who moves like a runner, behaves like one, even wears the appropriate clothing and yet claims he’s not a runner. This is not a good analogy, however, to why people are less invested in a relationship than what we would like them to be, because unlike the runner such people don’t behave like runners, we just imagine they do. I mean honestly, it’s more like they put their running shoes on every six months.

I recently saw a typical example of this at a party. It was an interaction between a man and a woman, who are some kind of an item. The woman kept touching the guy and he remained entirely non-reactive to her touch. She kept using the terms such as “dating” and “seeing one another” and he didn’t use any of these terms, nor react to what she was saying in any way. She said that he’ll be meeting her family very soon to yet again, no reaction from his side. You’d assume that if he was truly a “runner”, he’d react to any of these cues, instead of looking around as if he didn’t hear them. I mean, does someone really have to always say things for people to get an idea that they’re not agreeing or liking something? Why do we tend to assume that someone not reacting to what we say is agreeing with what we say? Wouldn’t life be easier if we made sure that, for instance, we are in a serious relationship with someone who’s worth presenting to our parents and not just someone we can have fun with and that’s it?

Perhaps we are often so comfortable in our delusions that we would ignore even clearer messages about where we’re at. What makes me think about that is that I have seen people expressing themselves very clearly, like for instance saying they won’t get married or they won’t have children and other side just ignoring it and still hoping for these things to happen. A male friend of mine kept mentioning an upcoming proposal from his side, with his girlfriend replying every time he did something to the extent “Do you think it’s a good idea at this point?”. She wasn’t opposed to the idea of marriage in general but their relationship reached the point in which she was really unhappy. EVERYONE knew that. He kept ignoring her complaints and doubts about the future which she kept voicing both publicly (only if prompted by him) and privately. Eventually, while he was busy ignoring her and planning the perfect proposal, she broke up with him. He seemed to be the only person who was surprised by it. Surely, it’s easier to read between the lines (or in this case, just read) and decide that something won’t work on one’s own terms and try again? Why do we keep ignoring the signs of an upcoming catastrophe, especially if avoiding it is possible (like for instance, my friend could have focused on making his relationship better rather than keep fantasizing about the future)?

Last but not least, there are the pity party people. They know they’re not on the same page with someone because after all, no one would like to be on the same page with them. They choose their pattern of pity: someone always choosing someone else over them, someone always cheating on them, someone always marrying the next person they date after them. Life is a tragedy, there’s no hope. Such people leave notes in books they give for birthday to their boyfriends of two months saying that they’ll never have to be alone, if only the boyfriend will have them (true story). I mean even if the person wanted to one day be on the same page with you, how could they if you’re setting yourself for a disappointment religiously believing your pattern must repeat itself?

I don’t really know the answers. I’m just putting the questions out there, hoping that maybe you have something interesting to tell me Coming back to my initial topic: it is very important to be at the same page, if we want to achieve our romantic goals. People looking for fun should be having fun and people wanting babies should be making babies. Why instead of that, do so many people keep kissing the frog hoping it’ll turn into a prince, even if they have a lifelong experience of knowing that it’s not true? Frogs are frogs, princes are princes and you can’t make a whip out of shit (a Polish saying). Please tell me, why are you still trying?

Comment, Dear Rinsers, please.

Review: The Big Sick

the big sick“The Big Sick” is a love story about a cross-cultural relationship in the modern USA. It took me by surprise as I was expecting more of a “Notting Hill” sugarcoated and occasional chuckle type of story rather than an extremely funny and yet very moving film about family and cultural issues.

Pakistan-born Kumail meets Emily and they quickly, yet somehow reluctantly fall in love. They seem to be a real match: they have a similar sense of humor, way of thinking, they’re supportive towards one another. Unfortunately Kumail comes from a very traditional family. They don’t want him to pursue his interest in comedy and more importantly they want him to enter an arranged marriage with someone from their culture. When Emily contracts a mysterious disease, he’s forced to make a choice about his future… What will he do?

I cannot stress enough how much I liked the movie. It has a very strong drama element in it and I felt deeply moved numerous times but the comedic aspect of it was equally important. I don’t remember ever watching a movie that had such a perfect balance of both. I could really relate to the main character and his struggles. He knows what he wants but feels like he should rather want what his family wants for him. It’s also difficult to think that you owe nothing to your parents, if they moved countries to give you a better future.

The main couple has a very good chemistry on the screen. Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) is cute in a dad kind of way and his acting skills are really impressive. He almost always jokes, even if a situation doesn’t call for it. Emily (Zoe Kazan) is also very convincing in her role of a slightly crazy girl with a great sense of humor. They form a couple you really cheer for when watching the movie. The drama element is so strong, however, that you have no idea what’s going to happen towards the end of the movie.

The film has a lot of un-PC humor about race and culture. Watching it is a very refreshing experience in the world of movies these days which are obsessed with appropriateness. The main actor is also the co-writer of the script and, I have a feeling, a major source of jokes in the film. The story line and comments on culture’s clashing bring to mind Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None”, even if it’s much more comedic and light in nature than “The Big Sick”.

Last but not least, do yourself a favor and don’t read too much about the movie before you go to watch it. The Internet is full of spoilers and particularly with this movie, knowing too many details will not serve you. Try to trust me if you can and just go for it!

Do you think that parents have a say in a choice of their children’s partner and career when the child is financially independent? Is it acceptable for parents to bully and blackmail their children to make they do what they want? Have your say!