A Web of Romance: The Truth About Dating in the Digital Age

Let’s be honest, we all dream of meeting our perfect guy in a coffee shop.

I’d be reading a novel like Ulysses, or something equally as impressive. He’d come over and ask for my opinion and, despite my nonsensical response about it being ‘still very relevant today’, he’d sit on the stool next to mine and look at me as though I were queen of the classics. 

Sounds like a scene out of one of your favourite rom-coms, doesn’t it? If only real life could be so dreamy.

In reality, I’d probably be reading a trashy magazine that had been left at the table or scrolling through my phone for the twelve-hundredth time that day. The man who approached me? He’d be the antithesis of Tom Hardy, with added personal space issues. I’d, of course, immediately catch The Ick, and get the hell out of there.

The fact is, people don’t meet in the way filmmakers or authors suggest they do. I certainly didn’t meet my match in a bar. I met him hungover, in bed, as I swiped through Tinder. But that’s a story for another day.

You don’t need to be a genius to work out that dating has changed over recent years, but just how much is the question.

Way back when, women spent their lives with a man their family had chosen for them. Money was the aim of the game, and their parents would pick out the most suitable match. With a bit of luck, the woman thought he was a catch. If not… well, it really didn’t matter. Then came the age of free-dating, when we could finally pick our partners. Most couples during this period met at work, or through friends of friends. The trouble being, of course, that even when you were free to pick, you didn’t get much choice. Nowadays, choice is all around as the internet comes into play and a whole new world of dating is born. 

Dating has changed drastically through the years, and while those in ‘the not so distant past’ thought their luck was in, we’re now in an age of free-pickings, most of which are found via dating apps, like Plenty of Fish or Tinder. In the early days of the net, dating sites were deemed fit for only the loneliest of people. They certainly weren’t common currency and you’d keep schtum if you’d signed up to one. But, with 50 million monthly users on Tinder alone, there’s been a noticeable shift in our thinking. It wouldn’t be unreasonable, however, to wonder what this different dating style means to those looking for love in the modern age. After all, it’s the biggest leap the dating world has ever seen and you’d be right to have some doubts. To help dispel those worries, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of these modern methods.

Yay!

  • You can find matches based on your interests
  • You don’t have to meet anyone you don’t want to
  • You can chat with potential interests without committing
  • You’re in complete control of the situation

Nay…

  • Obvious safety issues
  • Many people are only after one thing
  • You may get sent pictures you’d rather not see
  • Matches aren’t guaranteed to be local

As you can see, it’s a relatively even playing field, and most of those cons are easy to overcome. Meeting someone off the internet doesn’t have to be a safety risk. You could talk to them on the phone beforehand to make sure they are who they say. You should also tell someone where you’re going, and arrange to meet in a public place. And, if you state that you’re looking for more than sex, you can at least reduce the number of inappropriate pictures. Sadly, there’s no real cure for the possibility of long-distance, but hey; anything for love, right?  

Of course, it’s too early to say what long-term implications these changes will have on the dating world. But, so far, so good. In recent years, for example, we’ve seen the first drop in divorce rates for 40 years, and although there’s no way to confirm whether this is all thanks to online dating, it seems a safe bet. After all, we’re now in a position where we can meet like-minded partners at every turn, and as this Telegraph article suggests, online love is proven to be more likely to last.

Could divorce once again become a dirty word for the next generation?

I’m up for a Love Revolution if you are. 

With that being said, some things will never change. Though the way we meet is different, we still opt for the same old dating haunts, with dinner and a film still a winning combination. The end goal also hasn’t changed much, either, with the majority of couples still dreaming of living together and getting married, turning to hand-crafted wedding invitations and big blowouts for the big day.

So, ladies; it might be time to let go of your coffee shop fantasy and go out there to make it happen. You could make sure he sees you reading Ulysses by popping it in your profile picture, and ensure he doesn’t have The Ick factor by simply swiping the bad choices away.

Happy dating, kiddos.

*THIS IS A CONTRIBUTED POST

THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A SIDE HUSTLE WHEN LIVING IN A CITY

Living in a busy city is the best. No doubt about it. There is one downside that millions of people can relate to, though, and that’s the sky-high living costs.

City life, particularly within a capital city, doesn’t come cheap. From housing prices and travel to food and entertainment, almost every aspect of city life is more expensive than it is in other parts of the country. Even after taking the increased salaries into account, it’s still pretty steep, so finding ways to make some money on the side is highly desirable (if you have the time, of course).

Thankfully, living in a busy place with a strong economy, means you can do just that. Regardless of your situation, there are plenty of ways to generate side sources of income, making all the difference to your standing of living.

Given the ease of international travel, most popular cities are now blessed with high volumes of tourism from both domestic and foreign visitors. Using Airbnb management services allows you to generate money from renting out your property. Useful when you take your own vacations, but also to rent out rooms while you’re still living there. The days of taking on a lodger are long gone, I guess. 

Utilising assets by renting them out on a temporary basis can also extend beyond the home. There are companies that allow you to lend out filming equipment or other useful possessions you might have. You can also rent out your time, with Uber making it very easy to earn a little extra income as a private taxi driver. One of the best things about taking this route is that you can set a schedule to suit your needs. Essentially, you can earn money while curing your boredom without sacrificing your down time. 

Another one to note is that businesses are always looking for skilled people to work on short-term deals. These roles can range from film extras to leaflet distributors and everything in between. Social media can be a great way to find out about those positions, or you could even go a little old school and take the initiative by phoning around smaller businesses or agencies you think might need a hand.

Of course, you can always start a blog, just as I did back in 2011.

Living in the city gives you the opportunity to provide first-hand insight into it’s really like to live there. Whether it be reviewing entertainment and books or helping new people settle into the area, write about what you love with authenticity and doors you might not have been invited through will open. Communication and networking are crucial to success in this city.

City life can be expensive, and money is (unfortunately) essential to making the most of it. While a good career should always be the priority, being aware of the external earning endeavours could unlock a far happier future.

If that doesn’t inspire you to take those activities on board, nothing will.

*This is a contributed post

THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF FREELANCE LIFE

For those of you thinking about taking the plunge

If you are one of the many who are quitting their conventional 9 to 5s to work for themselves as a freelancer, then you might want to know what you’re getting yourself in for. Of course, setting your own hours and dictating workloads are the biggest selling points for most, but don’t get it twisted; working as a freelancer takes a lot of dedication and determination.

Here are just a few of the many highs and lows for you, just in case you wanted to weigh up your options ahead of handing in your notice.

The Good Stuff

  • You can work anywhere. No, literally. I’ve learnt that as long as you have your laptop and (decent) wifi, you can do just as good a job, if not better, working from a space you find productive. As a result, travel is made much easier, and you can work your deadlines to suit your plans, instead of the other way around.
  • You’ll get to know your local coffee shops well, which can only be a good thing. Best wifi, best latte art, best barista, you’ll know it all. Plus, repeat appearances almost always result in freebies.
  • You’ll be classed as self-employed, which means enjoying extras you wouldn’t get when working for someone else. Need a new computer or set of notebooks for work? All tax deductible.
  • You can choose the hours that you work, which makes it easier to earn around other commitments or family life. Fancy taking the morning off and having a lie in? Just work late into the evening instead.
  • You don’t have to answer to anyone and won’t have to do anything you’re not happy to do. Of course, you’ll have clients and contracts, but you can set your own boundaries and negotiate to suit you. Bye, bye demanding bosses. 
  • There is the opportunity to expand and have it become a business. So, if you’re really ambitious, it could turn out to be a great stepping stone to even larger success.

Now, onto the negative. But just remember: no job is perfect, right?

The Bad Stuff

  • Waiting to be paid an invoice has got to be one of the worst things about freelance life. It can be very frustrating when you know you’ll have money coming in, but you haven’t been paid yet. This is where a secured loans company might come in handy. Be careful with your cash and it shouldn’t be a problem, though.
  • You wear all of the hats when it comes to working for yourself. You’re the accountant, admin person, receptionist, and marketing manager all rolled into one. So be prepared to always have a hefty ‘to do’ list and learn new skills. 
  • There’s no such thing as paid holiday or sick pay when you’re self-employed, so it’s a good idea to get into savings mode and put money aside, just in case. 
  • It can be hard to switch off from work when you work from home. There will always be another email to check or piece of content to write, so being disciplined with your time is key. Set (and stick to!) working hours and create a space in the home that you only go to to work. Of course, living in London can make this nigh on impossible, but if you can, then do it. 

It might take some time to get the balance right, but freelance life really is bliss – if you put the hard work in, that is.

*THIS IS A CONTRIBUTED POST

THE BEST INDEPENDENT BOOK SHOPS IN LONDON

Because rainy summer days are best spent indoors with a blanket and a good read

There’s nothing quite so romantic as a rainy afternoon spent cosied up on a reading chair, fresh coffee in hand, about to tuck into a good book. But what if you’ve just finished a whopper, keen to dive into the next, and don’t have a new one to hand? Or what if you’re a tourist in the big city and have underestimated how many pages you’d get through of the ones you’d packed?

Instead of solving the problem by opening up that oh so convenient Amazon app, pop down to your local independent bookstore (the city is full of them) and purchase from them instead. The best part about independents is that they tend to have quaint little coffee shops you can hang out in, great events where you don’t have to fight for tickets and they almost always sell semi-pretentious tote bags you can wear as a handy little nod in support of small businesses.

If you’re on the lookout for some cool and quirky little bookshops in London, but don’t know where to start, here are some of my favourites for you to enjoy the next time you’re in need.

Word on the Water

Nestled in the newly renovated King’s Cross, you’ll find Word on the Water, which is basically a big barge that sells second-hand books. Started by a guy called Paddy Screech, who worked with homeless people all his life, he decided to take his own advice and simply do what made him happy – which was clearly to sell literature on the water. Although there’s not much space to sit and enjoy whichever title takes your fancy, you can perch along the canal or take your title home and curl up with it there.

Pages of Hackney

Just along Lower Clapton road lies Pages of Hackney, an independent bookshop that will satisfy all your hipster needs. Its vibrant sky blue exterior is entirely “instagrammable” (if that’s your bag) and they sell a good combination of brand new contemporary and classic fiction and non-fiction, in addition to lots of second-hand numbers. Pages also host lots of really interesting events, so keep your eyes peeled and head down when these are on to meet your neighbours and buy some new books.

Persephone Books

Selling out of print titles by twentieth-century female authors, Persephone Books couldn’t be more up my street if it tried. If you’re keen to delve into the female voices of days gone by and tuck into something that might have long been forgotten, then this one is definitely for you. With shorts, diaries, memoirs and novels, each sold in a gorgeous grey jacket with a bookmark to keep, this is an extra special bookshop and a lesser-known haven for all you feminists out there.

Of course, there are plenty more independent bookshops scattered around the city, but these are just 3 of my favourites. If you have any recommendations, do send them over as I’m always on the lookout for a new favourite haunt. And if you are heading to London for an exciting city break, why not live like a local and make the most of this wonderful city? Rent an apartment or vacation rental from Home From Home and enjoy your book in the comfort of your… sort of… home.

*This is a sponsored post

ROAD TRIP, ANYONE?

Living in London, Ryan and I didn’t have a car, but as soon as a move to Bristol was on the cards, that all changed and Carla the little Corsa came into our lives.

And thank god she did.

As the summer months roll in and the weather grows warm, my favourite thing to do after work is to convince my boyfriend to jump in the car and whisk me off (I can’t drive) to the nearest beach to unwind. Only thirty minutes from our flat, we spend long evenings eating chips while staring out to sea, and even when it’s raining, we sit inside the cosy car dissecting our days.

At the weekend, however, we tend to venture a little further afield. Having family in all four corners of the UK, we spend a lot of time traveling to Cornwall, Whitby, and York – not to mention ferrying between our two lives in Bristol and London on an almost weekly basis. Ignoring petrol prices and fighting over what radio station we should tune into, we aren’t so good at taking care of the car, and probably don’t pay enough attention to driving safely during the summer.

If you’re guilty of doing the same, here are some tips to make sure you are driving safely on your next road trip.

Keep Hydrated

In the same way you wouldn’t run a marathon without a bottle of water to hand, your car can’t travel long distances without any H2o, so be sure to top up your radiator with water mixed with coolant. Although water is technically all that is required, a mixture of the two will prevent the water from boiling and causing the engine to overheat. When it comes to hydration, you mustn’t forget your humans, either. Both the driver and passengers of the vehicle should have a bottle of water to hand each in order to keep hydrated throughout the journey.

Stay Cool

As mentioned, it’s important to make sure your car’s cooling system is in good working order during the warmer months. Older cars should be inspected regularly by a professional (especially if you’re heading off on a long journey) as the coolant can leak.

It’s important the driver avoids overheating too, so if you’re lucky enough to have air con installed in your vehicle, don’t be shy and turn it on. Alternatively, roll those windows down and enjoy the breeze.

Check Your Tyres

Car tyres are the legs of your vehicle and are one of the most important parts, so make sure you are keeping tabs on how they’re holding up. You can start by checking tread depths with a 20p piece, and if the outer band of the coin disappears from view, the tyre is safe. You should also check the pressure of your tyres by following the manufacturer’s guidelines to prolong their life and maximise fuel consumption.

If you need a little guidance on tyre safety, find out more and book your car tyres conveniently at Point S.

Throw Some Shade

Sounds obvious, but make sure to keep the sun out of your eyes while driving. Make sure you always have a pair of good sunglasses to hand and use your sun shield whenever you need to.

Whether you drive on a daily basis or are heading out on the open road this summer, make sure to take care of your car as much as you do yourself.

Happy Road Trippin’!

*this is a sponsored post*