THE SECOND WIND

large (11)

Whenever someone asks me whether they should get back with their ex, I, and most likely you will too, dish out the same, woeful, clichéd advice: exes are exes for a reason; if things didn’t work out the first time, then they definitely won’t this time; don’t look back, you’re not going that way, or, my personal favourite: there’s plenty more fish in the sea.

But what about when the person contemplating getting back with their ex is you? What happens when you’re the one nervously muttering to your friends that you’ve been seeing him again and that it might be worth a shot? You once said that you would never talk to him again and now you’re holding his hand. Everyone shifts awkwardly in their seats and you order another round.

It’s at this point that you need to follow your heart and not the eye rolls from those around you. Mainly because they aren’t there and despite the fact that you’re convinced that the world and his wife are judging you and your other half, they aren’t. Unless you’re on Made In Chelsea, in which case yes, they are in fact watching and judging you every Monday at 9.

But it’s fair to say that those around us rarely know what to say in these situations. They’ve dragged us from the depths of break up hell – from nights in with all the food to nights out with all the gin – to being okay again. They want to protect you and are fearful of giving the wrong advice. So they end up not giving you any.

And understandably so.

However, as I perch nervously upon the very first few weeks into a second attempt at a relationship, I can tell you that all I want is advice. Advice on how to navigate a new old relationship. How to act, behave and cope. How to know when enough is enough and how to know if you’ve made the right decision. Each relationship is a personal journey and I most certainly do not have all the answers. But I can talk to you about what I’ve learnt so far.

So here goes.

Firstly, tread carefully. You have both been through a bad break up (more importantly, the same break up) and although you would like to tell yourselves that you are completely over the trials of yesteryear, it is only natural to have clung onto some of the nasties that lurked at the end of your time together.

But turn this into a positive.

Talk, listen and figure out whatever it was that led to your demise. Returning to the scene of the crime means that forgiveness becomes a part of your language and you begin to learn from your mistakes. You will gain a lot from letting things go and even more from working (hard) through others. Do not ignore the issues from before; deal with them head on and then – more importantly – move on.

Secondly, you do not need to know if they have touched another human since you broke up. Unless they’ve bumped uglies with your bestie, you are both here now and that is all that matters.

Thirdly, you can’t un-know each other. If you’re looking for butterflies and awkward kisses, then quit now. You know he picks his nose when your back is turned and he knows you secretly love Zoella. If you’re not okay with certain aspects of each other’s personality, you never will be. Behaving like someone other than yourself might fix things in the short term, but if things are going better now that you’re not being yourself, then it might be time to actually just… find someone else.

And finally, because break ups are so shit, you will inevitably have seen each other at your absolute worst. There are some splits  – I’m sure we have all experienced them – that can make even the coldest of humans feel as though their heart might fall out of their arse holes. And what is likely to happen when we feel like there’s a high chance that one of our vital organs might vacate our rectums? We act crazy. At times a little frenzied. Always a little out of character.

So pull right back.

The throes of a break up can normalise screaming, shouting and name calling. They can endorse bad behaviour, shocking decisions and a great deal of tears and snot, but you need to remember that this is not how humans should behave. Particularly not two humans who are supposed to be in love. So touch base with what you were like before the end and go back to a time when you were respectful, honest and kind to each other. Things might have got bad towards the end, but they were once really good, right? Hark back to the good times and shake off the bad. You’re back together for a reason, so set boundaries for how loud you’re allowed to shout, put coping mechanisms in place for when times are tough and be really honest about what bothers you. Then just sit back and enjoy the ride.

I don’t know the stats on how many couples have been successful at a second wind, but what I do know is that if you feel as though something is worth a shot, then it probably is. Even if it’s just to hammer home that you are actually better suited to someone else.

Who cares if it takes you a couple of goes to get it just right? After all, practise really does make perfect.

Good luck.

THE HALFWAY HOUSE

large (4)

Moving in with a boy is scary, as Helen pointed out. It can be a wonderful, joyous and not so huge event at all, as Helen also pointed out.

Having lived with three, pretty blokey blokes at uni, I swore I would never do it again. Dirty bath tubs, awkward run-ins with their one night stands and a constant lack of toilet paper meant that, for me, women were the perfect housemates.

Until I met a different sort of boy.

The sort of boy who can’t go to bed without putting the dishwasher on, who notices if you’ve switched around the cutlery drawer and gets frustrated if you forget to water the plants. Although this might sound like a nightmare to you, to me it is a thing of beauty; living with him is a pleasure.

Except we don’t live together.

The thought of committing to a home has always terrified me (good luck getting a ring on it) and we both very much need our own space. But the reality is, as with most long term relationships, we spend every night together anyway, rotating between each other’s places depending on what part of town we’re in.

This, of course, means nothing at all for a man. Pulling on yesterday’s t shirt and a pair of skinnies after a quick rinse, their life is simple, whereas living between two places for a girl is a different – and much more inconvenient – story. We shave our legs. We fake tan. We blow dry our hair. We can’t wear the same thing two days in a row and we need access to an endless supply of make up wipes. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking care of myself, but these rituals make staying over (and trying to look your best at the same time) really rather difficult.

In the early days, it was a nightmare. Dodging the shower head in an attempt to keep my hair dry and leaving make up on two days in a row so he wouldn’t see my – God forbid it – ACTUAL FACE. I used to keep a razor in my bag in case I stayed more than one night in a row and became a pro at looking decent in pyjamas. I was rarely seen without a rucksack. Or a toothbrush for that matter.

A year on, I am still rarely seen without a rucksack. But now, a bit like a child of divorce, I enjoy the perks of having two homes. I’ve stashed a million beauty products in his bathroom cabinet and have an endless supply of pants in the drawer. I am prepared for anything. Even an impromptu period.

We cook together and build sofas together, but I also have mum’s food and a room of my own five stops away on the District Line. The truth is, it couldn’t be more perfect.

I’ll keep you posted on further developments, but for now, I will continue to live contently – and oh so conveniently – in my wonderful halfway house.

THE FEMALE

Emma Watson

My most memorable International Women’s Day to date was the year I saw Florence + The Machine at Ally Pally. Granted, I didn’t buy the tickets in celebration of womankind, but it was a nice coincidence all the same.

I went there with a secret hope that she would acknowledge the day, and Florence being Florence, she did. In the best way ever.

After howling her way through hundreds of hits, she asked the men in the audience to lift the women nearest to them onto their shoulders. My brother is 6ft2 and frequents the gym daily, but I assumed he’d still tell me and my thunder thighs to jog on. Much to my surprise however, I felt myself being lifted into the air, along with hundreds of other women, desperately clinging onto my pint of wine and high-fiving everyone within reach.

I felt like a rock star.

And that’s how I think women should be made to feel every day.

Forget the princess crap – although a tiara would be nice – we would instead simply love to live on the edge with you, to be believed in like you, to be as bold and brave as you’ve been allowed to be, to run across stages barefoot; screaming and howling like Florence herself because it makes us feel good. Chuck us in the air, challenge us, swear at us (we’ll swear back) and let us be wild and free and live like the creatures we were made to be. We’re resilient you know, all it takes is for you to give us a chance to be.

Asking the men to lift women onto their shoulders in celebration was so symbolic of our fight for equal rights, because without men lending us a helping hand, we’re fighting a losing battle. You, dear gentleman, are crucial. Despite this, there are still so many who will do anything to avoid being deemed a feminist, mainly because they’re unsure of what the word even means. So if Emma (Goddess) Watson wasn’t clear enough, then I’ll try to be: a feminist is someone who wants equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. That’s it. No frills, no fancies, no shouting, no screaming; just a world where you, your mum, your niece and your brother, all have the same chance to be the best human they can be.

So although we are a long way from our end goal, I think it’s important to acknowledge the advances that we have made so far because, well, glass half full and all that. We now live in a time where The Oscars are less about manicures and more about Lopez, Streep and Arquette coming together in raptures for equal pay. A place where Amal Alamuddin is no longer referred to as George Clooney’s wife. And a world where being called a slut on the street is being challenged (finally).

Believe it or not people, times, although slowly, are a-changing. And I’m excited.

So lift up the women in your life, high onto your shoulders and celebrate them this Sunday. I don’t need to list the reasons why you should.

Have a good one.