THE VENT

When I get home from work or dinner with friends and need to vent about something, I need my boyfriend to do the very opposite of what he does.

Instead of flying off the handle with me, spitting with exuberance and joining me in berating all and sundry for something no doubt trivial, he remains as cool, calm and collected as he would be on a sun lounger, sipping on an ice cold mojito in the med. He will kiss my head, laugh and tell me everything will be okay. That there’s a reason for everybody’s actions and that I’ll think differently in the morning.

All well and good, but where’s the fucking satisfaction in that?

I need him to agree with me and flail his arms in annoyance with whoever it is that has wound me up that day, if only for a minute or two. I need him to get as worked up as my friends do when I vent to them on Whatsapp – even through my phone, I can feel the hot air rising as I tell my best friend about the colleague who bought the same dress as me and wore it into the office. Instead, he behaves completely rationally and politely declines the offer to revel in my frustrations. Each and every time.

I thought this infuriating dynamic was one only we shared. We’re very different, so I assumed it was just another discrepancy between us, but the other day, my little cousin shared a hilarious meme about this very issue and I quickly came to realise it was a worldwide problem for women to add to their list.

Be them life-long mates, recent additions to my phone book or online acquaintances, this is one of the many reasons why I will always need my girlfriends. To frantically text at 2 am until my thumbs are sore and shout loudly with each other about someone we’ve never even heard of over too many beers, just to make each other feel better.

No, this doesn’t serve to facilitate the age-old assumption that women are hysterical and men are rational human beings. It’s basically just like the male version of a punch up. Do this, and we move on. Don’t do this, and we will accuse you of siding with them.

The choice is yours, fellas.

THE RELATIONSHIP

Recently, I wrote about not comparing myself to others as I get older, but on reflection, I’m not sure what I said is 100% true.

Sure, I might no longer care if I’m two dress sizes bigger than my best friend or that I can’t afford that Gucci t shirt anymore, but when it comes to my relationship? I can’t stop comparing mine to filtered versions of other people’s.

I mean, I’m fairly certain it’s an age thing. With weddings, christenings, baby showers and house keys littering my feeds, I’m sort of forced to compare myself in a way. To question whether I want what they have. To wonder why I don’t. Or at least think about why I have something different. Of course, it comes down to circumstance and even a desire to have those things at all, but even after years of preaching and listening to others preach about not being fooled by the falseness of people’s lives displayed on social media, I still get sucked into this behaviour, time and time again.

But why?

Every single morning I am kissed on the head and told to have a good day. Each evening, I sit down to eat with my flat mate and best friend. We laugh. We talk. And I am happy. Why, then, do I scroll through Instagram, through reams of people getting engaged, wondering why I haven’t been proposed to yet (somehow forgetting I’m not even sure how I feel about marriage). I hate that we don’t share a bottle of wine with dinner like other couples because he doesn’t like the taste of it (ignoring the fact I often prefer a beer anyway). And I wonder why we don’t own a home, knowing exactly the reasons why.

Of course, not comparing yourself to others on social media is all stuff you’ve heard before, but if you, like me, are 28 and wondering why your life doesn’t look like other people’s, question whether your themed grid on Instagram or perfectly crafted Facebook statuses are a true reflection of what’s going on in your life. I’m sure you haven’t shouted about that explosive (and completely unnecessary) row you had over socks being left by the wash bin or hair in the sink, and I’m almost certain you haven’t told all and sundry about those very real struggles, life choices or dips in the road you’ve experienced or been going through together.

Only when you realise you’re comparing yourself to something that doesn’t even exist, will you stop partaking in this very common losing battle. Just focus on doing what makes you and your other half happy, not what others are doing  to make them happy and you’ll start to feel about ten billion times more content with where you’re at right now.

THE PAST – AN ANONYMOUS GUEST POST

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I recently started seeing a wonderful boy.

I have know him for years and years and suddenly he asked me out. It’s been truly blissful and I may have accidentally fallen a bit, sort of, kind of… well, you know.

In an honest conversation, he remarked that I could ask him anything and he would never lie. I giggled that there was nothing I felt I needed to know that would bother me, unless he had done something hideous like slept with a prostitute (something I know a male friend has done on a trip to “the dam”).

With an expression that can only be described as a man about to commit harikari he blurted out he had.

Twice.

I took a few days to think about it and in the end we had a lengthy, upsetting, painful conversation-come-lecture where I expressed the deep level of horror I felt about what he had done. I chose to take the role of educator – figuring men just aren’t taught to see prostitution the way I and many other women have taught themselves to think about it.

I outlined for him:

  • the objectification of women.
  • the abuse of women in the sex industry.
  • consensual/non-consensual intercourse and the idea that prostitution is almost rape.
  • the actual women and their lives, histories, families, lack of opportunities and education that would lead them into doing it.
  • the crimes surrounding an industry he has now paid into: drugs, trafficking, etc.
  • what this means about his integrity. Saying no to his stupid mates when they suggest something as vile as that on a lad’s holiday.
  • the culture of the privileged: see, want, take.

Anyway, he cried, I cried, and in the end I decided I didn’t want to let his past ruin his or my future and we are trying to move on. He was 18 and then 24 (excuse me while I gag at how sick this makes me feel) and now at 30 he is devastated about it. Friends told me the only person who could ruin this relationship is me, because he didn’t know me when he did this, there’s nothing he can do to undo it and he hasn’t done anything TO ME.

I guess I am just not quite over it yet.

I am not sure the respect can come back.

He has since traveled the world and grown into a grounded, sensitive and incredible guy, but I somehow feel as though we aren’t moral equals anymore. A lot of my friends brush this off and say I am being OTT, but unfortunately this is something that makes me want to move to an island and live with Kirsty Young where it’s safe.

Obviously I don’t want to use my name here. And I don’t wish to paint my other half as a baddie because he is quite literally devastated about his decisions and I am really proud of him for telling me the truth – although he probably didn’t realise who he was messing with when he opened his mouth to confess.

I think there’s a lot more I could unpack re. lad culture, etc. but I honestly feel sick if I think about it too much, so I think I’ll leave it there instead.

Anon.