THE PERFECT DATE

large (23)You know the one I’m talking about.

That guy your mum fell in love with before you did. The one who fits every bill known to womankind. The perfect date. The gentleman. The textbook boyfriend, if you will.

With them, doors will be opened, flowers will be delivered and your anniversary will never be forgotten. He’s quite simply, perfect.

For someone else, that is.

Despite all of his positive perks, he no longer makes you want to drop your pants, he doesn’t force your brain to function on higher planes and he doesn’t make you feel alive anymore. Fairy tales are telling you yes, but your gut is telling you no.

So what do you do?

Naturally, you carry on the stale relationship for a while longer because, well, half of your stuff is at his and it would be a huge effort to lug it back again. He knows that you take it with milk, no sugar and he doesn’t need to ask what you need when you’re hungover: happy meal complete with toy please, ta very much.

He’s like the job you’ve had for years, the dish you always order in Nando’s and that jumper you’ve had since 2006. He’s tried, he’s tested, he’s trustworthy. But is that enough?

I’m not saying that the only attractive men are those who don’t hold doors open, give you flowers and make you want to break into a rendition of God Only Knows. Far from it; these are prerequisites for any boyfriend I take on. I’m simply saying that if you’re with someone who does all of these things and you’re still not weak at the knees, then something’s up and it might be time to move on.

You have to ask yourself whether or not it would matter if their looks faded to that of our beloved Bruce Forsyth, whether his conversation would remain as interesting to you fifty long-haul flights later and whether you would be happy to hold his hand in a room full of hotties. Now, it’s highly likely that you will answer, “yes” to all of these questions, and that’s okay, you’ve been together for what feels like forever. But don’t be fooled. Here’s the real test…

Picture the perfect woman for him.

Match his likes and dislikes, think about how she’d look, smell and even sound. Would she enjoy sailing as much as him? Find his eating habits endearing as opposed to enraging? Would she be anything like… you?

If the person you’re picturing doesn’t have your name on them, then do him a favour and let him go and find her. You’re the only thing standing between him and his dream girl. And you and your dream fella.

It will be an ugly break up. You’ll be confused and will feel mostly guilty. It will be one of the hardest splits of your life and you’ll question yourself daily because – bizarrely – you’re tearing yourself away from something that is, on the surface, perfect. But stay strong dear friend; you’re doing the right thing.

I can promise you that once the tears have dried and you’re both finally free, you’ll feel like the luckiest girl in the world. You’ll see him with his new girlfriend and feel nothing but happiness and, most importantly, you’ll have the highest of standards because of what he’s taught you.

And for that, regardless of who you end up with, he will always be The Perfect Date.

The First Love

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In reality, my first love was a pink, holey leotard that I used to prance around the house in as a child. I was given it at five, grew out of it by seven, still wore it at eight and verged on camel toe by nine when mum decided to throw it out and I went into mourning.

Much like my tatty leotard, first high school romances generally don’t fit properly. Hence why it’s a romantic rarity for couples to remain together from the age of nineteen to ninety, or why most girls blub at The Notebook (myself not included).

Me and my first boyfriend went to the same school. We found ourselves in the same friendship group. I lost my virginity to him while his mum had popped out for a Chinese. We stuck The Streets on, fumbled around for a bit and soon enough it was time for dad to pick me up. There was no fuss and it probably sounds a lot like your first time. And, probably not too dissimilar to your version, we loved each other a little too much. I, for one, was infatuated. In fact, if I’m honest, I was bat shit crazy. My MySpace was pretty much homage to him, we spent days at a time in bed and a two week holiday away from him felt like a twenty year stint in Holloway.

Never mind how serious your current relationship (or marriage) is now, that ability to love too much is something that cannot be recycled. Much like that teddy you lost as a child, you always hope that they are sitting safely somewhere, undamaged, with someone to love them as much as you did.

But do we ever really let go? Of course we do. However, just like your old toys that are stowed away in the attic, gifts from him are probably dotted around your room. You might not wear that bracelet someone bought you for your christening any more but you still have it, just like those disposable photos you took by the sea on that weekend away together. There’s a naivety that surrounds that first love that you’ll always want to protect. It reminds you of a time where cheating was only committed by the most wretched of humans and marriage didn’t seem so ridiculous. You’re basically reminding yourself that cynicism didn’t always exist.

It would seem that first loves bridge the gap between childhood and adulthood; no matter what age it strikes. It teaches you your capacity to love, exposes you to terrible loss and, of course, what to do with someone else’s furry bits.

So what would you say to your very important person if you could talk to them now?

I’d probably say thanks for teaching me at a young age that not all men are idiots. Oh, and for introducing me to capers.

Still with your first? You might as well write a book it’s so rare.

Wish you were still with yours? You could always put your faith in that cliché about ending up wearing the first thing you tried on…

Or you could just get out there a little more. They might have been the first but that certainly doesn’t mean they’re the one.