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 HURT

cc9b98bcb67ced3ed24e5fbd9d8cf0f8Every time I feel like a boy has been mean to me and I cry as though my world has come to a swift and somewhat brutal end, my mum asks me the same question: ‘Is it your heart that is broken, or is it your ego that is bruised?’

Megan from Wonderful You posted a piece about heartbreak recently. As I read it, I could feel the pain in every word that she had written and it made me think about my own bouts of heartache. Now, I have had pretty much everything possible happen to me in a relationship. I have been dumped, humiliated, lied to and now, cheated on but I don’t feel hard done by. I just feel experienced. And as a result of this, I am able to offer Megan some (potentially) quite good advice.

When you see someone you love move on with someone else, I think you’ll agree that it can hurt more than the break up itself. Even if you were the one to finish things once and for all, jealousy can still strike. But when it does, be sure to ask yourself: is my heart still broken or is it just my ego that’s a little bruised?

The way to work out the answer to this is to note down the thoughts that are popping into your head as you scroll through photos of them on Facebook or as you listen to tales about them from mutual friends. If you can’t believe that he bought her that super expensive Christmas present or you can’t fathom why he would be with someone so vanilla when you’re so god damn chocolate chip, then I think you’ll find that your ego is bruised. This can be cured with a night out or a spot of speed dating. Basically, distractions.

If, however, you’re wondering how he could cuddle her at night, whether he calls her that pet name and if he slots his foot into the crease of hers in the same way you did when you were spooning, then it’s most definitely your heart that’s broken, and I’m afraid, that one’s a lot harder to fix.

But what is some practical advice to get over it?

Talk. Talk to your girlfriends until you’re sure they’ve phased out and are now contemplating whether gorgeous Charlie will ever make a return to Girls. Talk to your mum until even she is wondering whether gorgeous Charlie will make a return to Girls. If you write, write it all down. If you don’t write, write it all down. It doesn’t have to sound like a best seller but the act of writing can be some form of therapy (which is why you sometimes probably think I overshare). Finally, don’t taunt yourself. As curious as you are about where they’re headed on their summer holiday together or what she does for a living, just don’t go there. Who cares what she does? If your heart is still aching, then his is too; men just tend to mend things a lot quicker than we do. Nothing will change the time you spent together, so allow yourself to bask in the happy memories but don’t get bogged down in them. Chances are, she’s probably feeling pretty insecure about what you both had too.

Figuring out whether it’s your heart or your ego, much like a diagnosis from your doctor, will allow you to work out how best to treat your injury. A broken arm takes around six weeks to heal in a cast, a bruise tends to fade by itself over a week; see what I’m getting at? If you’ve worked out that your heart is broken, then the only way to take action is to wrap it up in cotton wool and hold it together as tightly as you can. If this means that you have to lie in bed for a few days, or dance the night away every weekend for a month, then do just that. There’s no prescription for a broken heart I’m afraid, just sound advice from someone else who has experienced it.

I broke my wrist around ten years ago now, and whenever it gets a little bit cold outside or I sleep on it funny, I get a twinge of pain; a reminder of my broken arm. The same goes for your heart: even after it has been mended, and you are happy with someone else, you’ll always wonder what might have been and you might still even feel a momentary ache. But don’t worry, it’s just a little reminder of how you strong you are.

Just give your heart some time. But whatever you do in that time, be kind to yourself.

The Modern Man

The first picture you might paint of the modern man is some skinny-jean wearing, guy-liner-loving, heel tapper of a specimen, when in fact, this new breed of man is all around us, disguised as your average Joe.

Visually, they look like normal blokes. They maintain their rugged good looks, don’t know the meaning of the word moisturiser and grimace at the thought of wearing makeup. But inside, something has changed. All around me I’m seeing men carrying women’s jackets for them, on the tube, suits have started giving up their seats for women and doors have been held open for me on a daily basis. But the very fact that I have noticed these changes signifies to me that there has been a recent shift in dynamic, and men have not always been this chivalrous. As of late, they are in fact so charming that I feel as if I’m starring as an extra in Casablanca or something and I’m certainly not complaining about it.

Personally, I’m in love with this modern man. These guys will do the washing up, have a crack at the cooking and run you a bath after a long day spent in the highest of heels. These men understand women more than ever and I think the emancipation of this wonderful man-type stems from the fact that they, like women, are growing to understand themselves a little better. I’m not saying that men should be the domesticated hounds that women were back in the 1950s. We ask for equivalency rather than regression. But I enjoy the fact that men have become totally unafraid of picking up our magazines, flicking through the celebrity gossip and learning about the Top 20 ways to make a woman orgasm (thank you Cosmo). But are these men really what we want? Is there such a thing as a man being too in tune with a woman? I think men and women are attracted to each other for our differences and the capacity to learn from our differing habits, thoughts and views. So for better or for worse, dating the modern man is a little like dating your best mate.  And at the risk of sounding ungrateful, I wonder whether it has perhaps become somewhat predictable?

Nevertheless, this new acceptance of gender (or perhaps loss of it) has resulted in relationships becoming less about power and more about the person. For instance, I love a man who knows that by donning a pair of marigolds, he is simply being kind, not kept. And I love a woman who watches rugby on a Sunday afternoon to say thanks.

So here’s to the modern man! He looks, smells and listens better than ever: but don’t treat him too kindly. Do we want a man who suggests that we first take a look when there’s a spooky noise downstairs? Absolutely not. There are some gender rules that should never be messed with.