Should You Date More Than One Person at a Time?

This post originally appeared on 20somethingdating in February 2015.

If you’re asking yourself this question, first of all, congratulations, you’re probably very attractive. Okay, maybe not, but maybe you’ve thought about dabbling in a little something-something that isn’t strict monogamy. I myself have been known to be seeing 2 or 3 people at a time (in my wild youth), so here are a few things I’ve picked along the way:

  1. It’s time-consuming: With a full-time job and friends, making time to date more than one person at once will force you to cut somewhere else. Bye bye hobbies! More seriously though, having dates lined up pretty much every night of the week will leave you little time to join a sports team or develop a side business. Dating will be your second job, but it’ll make for more interesting memories than “She borrowed my stapler and never gave it back”.

  2. It’s not sustainable in the long-term: See above. Not only will you probably burn out from either a. too much drama, b. spending all your cash in dumb cocktail bars or c. getting emotionally attached. As surprising as it sounds, when you’re dating someone you might start to develop feelings and you’ll probably want to make a choice to either only see one person or none.

  3. Don’t lie: Maybe a little white lie for good measure, and you’ll certainly have to lie by omission, but when someone you’re seeing romantically is asking you if you’re seeing other people, they deserve the truth. And if they do want to become exclusive, don’t say yes just to please them. Trust is a precious thing.

  4. You can’t date people who know each other: Because real life isn’t Gossip Girl. Or is it? It’s one thing to be seeing different people for different things that they have to offer, but picking two people who know each other is downright mean. It’s recipe for drama! Don’t fool yourself into thinking they’ll fight for you, you’ll probably emerge as the baddie. A very lonely baddie.

  5. You’ll either have to keep it a secret or have to explain yourself constantly: Let’s not lie to ourselves, there’s a stigma attached to dating more than one person. Especially if you’re a girl. Sometimes it’s best to avoid the subject altogether with the biggest slut-shamers you know. It’ll give you street cred with your more progressive friends who will live vicariously through you though, so choose your audience wisely.

And with that, friends, run free and spread the love! (don’t forget to bring condoms)


What's Your Number?

This post originally appeared on 20somethingdating in February 2015.

Have you ever seen the movie What’s your number? It’s a rom-com so I understand you might not be down with it, but Anna Faris is in it and that’s enough of an argument, isn't it? Her character in the movie goes on a mission to find The One amongst her exes, because she’s read a study saying that women who’ve slept with over 20 dudes have less chances to get married. Kinda sad - but also hilarious because Anna Faris is in it.

Without going to such lengths, aren’t we all guilty of that particular sort of slut shaming? We’re not phrasing it in such words, but we buy into the belief that a woman loses her currency when she’s slept with a certain number of guys. The number varies depending on the size of the city - bigger city leaves you more leeway, but the feeling remains. After spending some time in London, my friend Louisa went back to her (overseas, smaller) hometown, and suddenly people cared about how many people she’d slept with. “Nothing above the average” was her reply. A white lie, but one that she knew would make her new boyfriend feel better. I’ve been in the same sort of situation myself, but wasn’t able to lie about it, because the guy I was dating had been my friend and a witness to my (allegedly) bad behaviour. What he found funny as my friend became threatening as my boyfriend.

At the end of the day, I agree with Colin, aka Captain America, the regulation hottie who’d been there all along in What’s your number?And what kind of guy cares about how many people you slept with anyway?” To which I wouldn’t reply “Decent guys” like Anna Faris does, but “Insecure guys who don’t deserve your time.”


Love Smarter in 2015

This post originally appeared on 20somethingdating in January 2015.

New year, same you. I’m not really one for resolutions, as I feel they can often set you up for failure. It’s sort of like thinking of starting a diet, and ending up eating even more than before because the very idea of deprivation is too much to bear.

That said, January can be an ideal time to take up some good habits. For example, trying not to get too caught up in the everyday grind. Here, escape with some good reads on the topic of love:

Venus in furs, Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Everyone knows the song, but did you know the song was inspired by a 19th century book? (I did, because they explain it in Please Kill Me) And that the word “masochism” comes from the author’s name? If you’re looking for something exciting to tuck you into bed, look no further. Here’s a quote to tease you: “A slap in the face is more effective than ten lectures. It makes you understand very quickly, especially when the instruction is by the way of a small woman's hand.”

Hot tip: it’s now in the public domain, so you can download it for free on your Kindle.

Sex and the Single Girl: the Unmarried Woman’s Guide to Men, Helen Gurley Brown

Written in 1962 by the woman who later became editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, this falls into the self help book category. I’m not into those, but if you take it with a massive grain of Maldon sea salt, it’s quite revolutionary in its own brand of feminism. It encourages single girls to become go-getters instead of waiting for a man to come and save them. Obviously, the advice is outdated but you should still read it because it’s hilarious, and I’ve highlighted about every other sentence.

“Flirting is as healthy as orange juice and just as sweet.”

“Nearly every woman is part-beauty? She has one good feature even if it’s just smooth elbows. You play up that feature. You draw a face on the elbow with little eyes and a mouth. (I’m kidding!)”

Karley Sciortino’s Breathless column in Vogue

I remember reading Karley’s blog Slutever in what feels like another life. She’s now playing in a chicer playground, as a column writer for Vogue US. Don’t compare her to Carrie Bradshaw, instead read my favourite ones: How to get what you want in bed, 10 Things I learned about love and sex in 2014, Can less sex make you more productive?, Why are straight men so bad at oral sex?.  

Everything related to Esther Perel

I discovered Esther Perel, a couples therapist and author, through this amazing TED talk about desire in a long term relationship. Beware before you click on the link: you WILL fall in love. Reading her New York Times profile left me wanting to read her book Mating in captivity. I haven’t yet, but I will. And you should probably, too.

The New York Times’ Modern Love column

Described by the NYT as “a series of weekly reader-submitted essays that explore the joys and tribulations of love,” Modern Love sometimes fulfills my need for a confessional long read. For a starter pack, I recommend what they curated as the 10 best Modern Love columns ever.


I've tried every single dating app ever so you don't have to

This post originally appeared on 20somethingdating in December 2014.

I probably have too much time on my hands, and an iPhone in them so I’ve tried them all. I’m basically the Hunter S. Thompson of dating, and I’ve rated each app out of five stars for your convenience (spoiler: none got *****).

Tinder

The classic. Left swipes for creeps, right swipes for hotties. I used to be on it when it started to get big and had a rule of only swiping right on guys I had mutual friends with (it connects with Facebook). I was then playing the field sans app, but I’ve re-downloaded it the other week, and a lot of guys I match with ask me if I’m a robot/a hooker. Now, I’m not model-pretty, so this comes a bit as a surprise but I’ve seen a lot of screenshots of girls offering their services on Tinder. To say it has changed a lot would be the understatement of the century. That said, I’ve gotten nice dates with decent guys, and I have a few friends who are in serious relationships with Tinder people (Tinple??), even though there’s an ongoing debate on whether Tinder is for dating or hooking up. I’ve also been on a date where I had to actually run away, so be careful, I guess?

****

Happn

Unlike Tinder where you sometimes get matched with someone who's in a certain radius of where you are, Happn will only match you with people you've literally crossed paths with.

There was this one dude who kept popping up in my feed, and because the app tells you exactly how far away you are from the person you're talking with, I could always see he was less than 250m away from me. A bit creepy. Turns out he lived 2 blocks away from me and I ran into him in the street. In the neighbourhood I live in, most guys my age are pretty attractive and the very fact that they live there means we have at least some interests in common, so it’s worth looking into.

****

Bumble

Marketed as the female-friendly Tinder, it works the same (left swipe=no, right swipe=yes), but as a girl, you have the privilege of being the only one who can start a conversation. You have 24 hours after a match to hit up a guy, after that he gets deleted into the Internet void. Gender role reversal! Feminism! The only catch: it’s not famous enough yet, or guys don’t seem down with the concept. Either way, you end up having to choose between the same 25 dudes. And they’re ugly. Sorry guys, that’s the truth.

**

Heavenly Sinful

This one is supposed to be Tinder without the “is this a date or not?” bullshit. You still swipe left for no, but you swipe up if you want a date or down if you’re just there to hook up. You can also state if you’re feeling in a Heavenly or Sinful mood. I’m assuming everyone goes on it because they feel sinful, which ultimately wasn’t for me. On that note, can we get rid of the catholic guilt thing?

***

Luxy

The tagline is ‘Connect with the Successful & Attractive’. It’s sort of like Tinder for rich people. Why did I join then? Just for lols. For the record, money doesn’t really account in my perception of attractiveness. If a guy is able to pay for 50% of our dates and has ambitions beyond renting a bedroom in a London flat, I’m in. On that app, you’re supposed to state your income, which starts at $200K and can go up to $1M+, and you get bonus points if you can verify this by uploading tax returns or bank statements. I don’t know if it’s the lack of verification or that I just don’t appeal to the Chelsea set, but I didn’t match with anyone. Too bad because compared to other apps, people are indeed more attractive! Then again, I saw my friend’s flatmate (just recognised him, as it doesn’t connect to Facebook and show your mutual friends) who definitely does not earn $200K. You can try and trick the system, but you could get tricked as well.

***

Bang With Friends (now Down)

Well, your Facebook friends are on it. You swipe down if you’re down to bang (seems pretty straightforward) and if you two want to bang each other you get matched. I got it when it first appeared and spent an excruciating 12 minutes realising I didn’t have any bangable friends. Before any of my friends get mad, I want to state that they’re all really hot and that’s the exact reason I befriended them. Just kidding, but if I wanted anything to happen with any of my friends it would probably happen anyway, no app needed.

**

OkCupid

The mobile version of the website, it feels very outdated compared to the new crop of more immediate apps. You are supposed to fill in a lengthy profile, which I find utterly boring, and you get unwanted messages from creeps, as anyone can contact you. I’m guessing it could work for some, but you need to be willing to spend the time and energy.

**

Guardian Soulmates

A byproduct of British newspaper the Guardian. It works pretty much like OkCupid, except only (supposedly) like-minded Guardian readers will join. The service isn't free; you can create a profile, browse guys' profiles and receive messages for free though. The rumours are true. All the guys on there fancy themselves left-wing alternative creative sporty foodies, and they're trying so hard it's fucking exhausting.

*


Halloween: A cautionary tale

This post originally appeared on 20somethingdating in November 2014.

Did you hook up on Halloween? I did, and last year too. Rest assured that I don't pick the most attractive outfits, actually quite the opposite. I don't know what it is about me pretending to be someone else and ingesting large quantities of alcohol that make it so easy for me on that night. Oh wait, never mind.

Last year I went as Michael Jackson, black fedora, silver glove, white socks in my loafers, the works. I even had black hairspray to cover my dark blond hair. I was going to a party where I knew only one person, and she was Dolly Parton so you know I was in good hands. There was a cute guy without a costume, so I took it upon myself to do his zombie makeup, because I'm selfless like that.

I knew almost no one, so I kept an open mind (and my drink topped up) and spent a while chatting with the Ice King from Adventure Time. His best friend was Finn, and Finn's girlfriend was another character I can't remember. The Ice King asked for my number, and I saved his under the ever helpful moniker "Noodles Adventure Time".

Fast forward an hour or two and I was fully making out with zombie guy, while his best friend was telling us "uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" (I later learned that by that he meant "Guys, you clearly like each other so you should hold off for a bit and go for a proper date another day").

The next day, as I was laying in bed with a TRICKY hangover (I had treated myself enough the day before), I received a text from the Ice King. Interesting, I thought, since me and zombie guy weren't exactly hiding at the party. He was telling me what a delight it had been to meet me, and maybe we could see each other again? That's when it dawned on me: the only thing I knew about this guy was his passion for a popular cartoon. If you need a reminder, an Ice King costume would (and did) require: blue face paint, a long wig, a fake beard, a crown and a large robe. I ignored the text.

The next day at work, as I was telling my colleagues about this dude whose face I didn't know, I received another text from him: "A mate just pointed out I may not have made the best impression in costume. Attached is what I actually look like. Albeit, drunk, surprised and in hosen." Indeed there was a picture. So cringe. But my work pals thought otherwise, pointed out he was cute (I would have said average) and actually making an effort. Ever the people pleaser, I replied and said I'd meet him whenever he was in London as I somehow remembered he lived in Cambridge. When he texted that he'd make the trip for me and/or be my guide around Cambridge, alarm bells rang but we somehow started talking about dinosaurs (flirting game strong) and he announced he'd be in town the following Saturday. Now too deep in to say no, I agreed to get drinks with his group of friends but refused to take him up on his offer to treat me like a princess.

Saturday came, hand in hand with its best friend the tequila hangover, aka the best state to be in for a sort-of-date. To add insult to injury, it rained. When I started chatting with a friend I ran into, a truck drove by and drenched us from head to toe, Bridget Jones-style. Spirits were high when I finally managed to get to the nondescript pub the Ice King had chosen. He met me inside whilst his friends were on the terrace, and that's when it all added up: I couldn't take it anymore. He slouched, his voice was nasal and he was just the opposite of my type. I assured him he should go back and sit with his friends, I could totally queue and get my drink myself! As soon as he was out of sight, I got out and gave a semi-believable explanation when he texted to ask why I had disappeared.

To make myself feel better, I went shopping and got the silver dress I wore to this year's Halloween party. I think I've gone full circle.


There's more to life than boyfriend jeans

Previously unpublished.

We all have this image in mind of a girl emerging after a night of x-rated activities, wearing the dude’s shirt and rocking perfectly tousled sex hair. Think you can’t pull that look off? Think again. I’m here to help.

  1. The perennial classic: the manfriend shirt: This one can be a hit or a miss when worn somewhere else than in his kitchen with a big mug of fresh coffee (accept no substitute). For starters, I would only borrow a classic blue oxford shirt, a blue and white stripy one, or a denim one. If you’re super flat chested and not heading to the office, tuck that shi(r)t into your high-waisted skirt/jeans and only button it at the navel. If you two are roughly wearing the same size, I’d suggest buttoning it up and finishing with a half-tuck. If it looks like it might explode around the boob area, wear it like a wrap top and either tuck the waist or fasten it with a belt. Voilà!

  2. The new classic: boyfriend jeans: These slightly baggy jeans have been marketed to women for a few years, along with their relatives the girlfriend jeans (slightly narrower) and the mom jeans (high-waisted and unflattering on purpose), but nothing beats the originals. AKA, the ones you actually steal from a guy. The non-negotiables: they need to be 100% cotton (stretch looks awful when it’s not super fitted) and basic (no embroideries, no whiskers). Wear with heels or platforms and ignore your bf when he tells you they don’t do anything for your bum.

  3. The trendy one: the one-night stand sweatshirt: If you’ve been out of your house in the last two years you probably know sweatshirts are having a moment. I couldn’t be happier about it because as much as I would like to make cashmere work for me, I usually just look pregnant in it. So when a guy happens to leave a sweatshirt in his trail, it’s a sign. If the print is lame, keep it for the commute to the gym (I do) - it’s comfy and you won’t mind sweat stains. If it’s solid or has a cool print, jackpot! Wear it with any separates, bonus points for a shirt collar peeking over the neckline (see 1. above). If it’s Givenchy, A.P.C. or Acne, call him back. He may have commitment issues but at least you’ll look good together.

  4. The traditional one: the grandpa cardi: If you date the same kind of dudes I do (get off my lawn! just kidding - or am I?), you’re attracted to guys whose style don’t scream fashion victim, but who still love a good traditional garment. Here’s a perk to dating these dudes, something to warm your heart in this season: his cardigans. Go for the ones made out of natural fibers - cashmere, alpaca, mohair, wool. Never give them back, they look better on you anyway (as long as you never button them up).

  5. The casual one: the bro tee: I’m not reinventing the wheel here (not that I ever did), we’ve all purchased t-shirts originally meant for guys because the print was cooler or the fit was better. As an independent woman, why would you need a guy in the t-shirt department? To break it in, duh! There’s nothing worse than a stiff tee. Hopefully he has put in the hours (and the sweat) to make this particularly cool looking t-shirt softer than a baby’s butt, or even better, paper thin. It’s only a t-shirt, so you probably won’t have to give it back! One caveat though: the bro is only suitable if the t-shirt is one of many things he shares with you. If that’s the only thing he has to offer, go look into someone else’s wardrobe.


How to score a date with a Brit

Previously unpublished

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an expert in the matter, but I’ve been living in London for more than 3 years now, and dating the locals is probably one of the best ways to really get to know a place. There have been some good dates, some hilariously bad ones and I’m still waiting for an offer to turn my life into reality tv.

  1. Be exotic: I don’t mean you should wear a pineapple on your head or anything, but it’s an easy conversation starter when they find you come from somewhere else. You can make them guess where you’re from, they’ll wonder about your accent (or lack thereof), and it lends you an air of mystery. Saying you’re from Paris will always seem sexier than coming from Slough.

  2. Start drinking like a fish: It’s common knowledge Brits LOVE a good drink. Or any drink for that matter. The UK is no place for lightweights, and you’ll have to start drinking very early without eating if you want to hang. And a date will always pretty much be the two of you drinking off the edge until you’re both hammered enough not to feel awkward. If you don’t want to start resembling a wrestler champion, I’d suggest staying away from beer and cider: I am myself partial to a glass or four of wine, but you’ll have to lower your expectations as to the quality of your red.

  3. Up your chips (‘crisps’) game: If you’re hailing from France, you’ll be surprised by the variety of flavours they come in. And stop saying chips already! They are called crisps here, as chips are what you know as French fries. I don’t really know what’s sexy about them, but a (British) friend I asked immediately mentioned this. Avoid the vinegar ones if you want to get some action later, though.

  4. Become a trivia queen: A big thing here is pub quizzes, where you team up, try to decipher what an MC is saying through the noise, and come up with facts that would normally be totally irrelevant to your life. As a foreigner I find it really hard, but it’s supposedly very impressive to be good at this.

  5. Self-deprecation is key: Remember we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. No need to be your own publicist and tout your achievements, you’ll only come across as super arrogant. It’s considered very attractive to laugh at yourself and make yourself look more ridiculous than you already are. Basically, become the female equivalent of Hugh Grant, and by that I don’t mean get caught with prostitutes. Just make your shortcomings into assets.

  6. Network is key: No, I don’t mean LinkedIn (has anyone found a job through LinkedIn, btw?). Remember at all times: you already know this guy as you met through friends or work. This is the only acceptable way to meet a British guy. Forget the club or any other meet-cute, you won’t be considered “serious”.

  7. Forget about dating: Even though they say they do it, dating isn’t actually a thing in the UK, at least not in the American sense. Seeing multiple people at the same time is kind of frowned upon (more on that in an other article!), and you don’t necessarily go for dinner and proper “dates” all the time. From my (British) friends’ experience, it goes like this: meet. Fancy him. Do nothing. Wait 6 months until you're drunk enough to smash your mouths together. After another 6 months of drunken sex and other alcohol related situations (pub crawls, house parties, brunch), you two are in a committed relationship! Bravo!