Asking for advice from guys

Having male friends is the best thing. I always learn something new from them and they give great advice.  Also it is quite interesting to see how they think and how they react. I wouldn’t like to establish the difference between male and female mindsets, if anyone is interested just read “Man are from Mars, Women are from Venus” from John Gray. (I still need to finish that book..)

However what I like is asking a very simple question: How can I find a boyfriend? Let me remind you that we are in London. It is a massive city with full of lonely but also crazy people. You need a very strong filter and your gut feeling needs to be spot on. It is not as simple as it sounds. It depends on the expectations as well of course, how high that “magic bar” stands. Lowering the standard can be useful but it can be a disaster as well.

I bet you would like to know the answer. I am sorry to say this but they were quite boring: pub, club, work , tennis club, apps etc. You get a very long monologue  when you ask them what a girl can do right at the beginning. Or what puts you off the most. It is an endless list so better not to even ask! Don’t ask too much, don’t talk about yourself too much, don’t talk about the ex, don’t look desperate or too needy, don’t ask about their size, don’t talk about future or kids, don’t talk about money, don’t be a strong character but be funny, easy-going, smart but not too smart, pretty, fit, sexy, interesting, diverse, successful, play on instruments, be good at many things, have many hobbies, be confident but not too confident, do sports etc. And this the minimum!

Anyway, I am going to share one of the best answer I have ever got. My new colleague N. asked his mate for advice and this is the exact email chain they had. I did’t change a letter! He is an angel by the way, so lucky to work with him.

N. sent this email to his friend:
“A girl at work was saying she wouldn’t consider dating sites/speed dating etc. as she’s looking for a serious relationship, so I told her about you and how you’ve enjoyed a fair bit of success on them and she wants to know which services you used…”

Friend’s email:
“Haha, I’m kidding about the last email!! – (the email I have never seen… but makes me wonder)
To be honest, I’ve heard it’s more off a minefield for girls since there are lots of d1cks about (literally I guess too) – however, I basically used OK Cupid which is free and has the best interface and a much better population than Plenty of Fish which I think is geared more towards hookups.

Also, if she’s interested, there are the Lovestruck’s London events (just google this and she’ll find the page) which has free gathering for single people who aren’t even members that are fun – been to a few off these and they’re usually pretty packed and at a decent enough bar.

And finally there’s Speed Dating with Original Dating but to be honest, I think the above is better and free so makes it redundant.

However, in the end, I think I’d most recommend signing up on Meetup and doing some activities that are male oriented and meeting people naturally – snow boarding, climbing, mixed hockey, book clubs etc. If she’s feeling adventurous the board game meet ups are 8:1 male to female, and you might pick up a specimen like me!”

I just simply love it 🙂

(Author: An, not edited)

Next: Lost in translation….

advice

 

London is full of broken hearts

Living in London as a single person is the easiest. Why? Because this group is not the minority. Here being single is normal- almost expected. A buggy on the tube is not as common (except maybe at the weekend around the Natural History Museum). London very much exists on a different parallel to the rest of the country. The rest of the country is full of engaged women/ women expecting/women with all of it. But in London you can be free of any pressures. You can explore yourself and the city and grow with it. In fact you are sometimes forced to live with other single people (or couples) to be able to actually live. The good thing is that you have many choices to go out and learn, to experience and get to know people. However here is the difficult part. How to find that one girl who would go out with you to explore (something I used to struggle to achieve). All you can see and hear is the dating sites and how to get a guy. It’s everywhere but finding a friend is another story.

But luckily I was attracting single people like magnets. This is the force of nature. When you are in a relationship you go on double dates and trips and you love it! When you become single you fall out from this system and your social group changes. How to fit in and find your place again? Not as easy as it seems.

The more people I meet the more I realise that everybody has a story. And they are in different status e.g. happy to be alone or at least learnt how to be happy alone or, broken and in agony, lost, hurt and anywhere else in between. There is a common thing though regardless how bad or good they feel, usually their hearts were broken at some point and they all have a story. When you learn how to listen again you hear these stories and suddenly you feel better. Why? Because it makes you think. Human nature is tricky and we tend to feel better when someone has a worse story than ours, how bad is that?! But our empathy kicks in and we want to help. However we forget to feel sorry for ourselves. My nanny told me once that if everybody put their pain and problems in a bag and they put their bag in front of the door to swap, people would straight away take their own ones back. (She was old and wise and amazing.)

Time helps and you start to open up and see the bigger scheme and realise that the meaning of life is so much bigger and even though our story is huge and painful and it almost killed us, when you look at the bigger scheme you realise that you are really lucky with what you do have and you start to appreciate that. Your pain begins to shrink away. You appreciate everything you have. Your family, friends, job, any belongings you have but mainly the fact that you can still have someone to call…. Make sure you call though and you don’t close in. Open up and go out and concentrate on others a little bit. Then start to rethink your future. It is your life and you are the only one who can change it. You can waste it and you can make the most of it. You are in charge, you always have been. Now you have the time, power to shape it and direct it. This is your chance to be yourself. As a clever man once said: everybody else is taken.

(Author: An, edited by my lovely friend Sarah)

Next: Being a “yeti” –  don’t let it happen!

be yourself

 

Looking for a meditation class and finding something different…

One of the meet ups I went to was so exceptional I really feel the need to mention it. It would be such a shame to not. I made so many people laugh out loud that I shouldn’t keep this for myself. I was really into meditation. Not that I have succeeded so far but at least I wanted to try. Well, I managed to pick the most random one out of all.

Don’t ask how I didn’t click when I saw the title. “xxxx meditation London”, but I swear I didn’t. (I wasn’t myself ok?) I was just scanning it on my phone, checked the time and place and I (shamefully) paid for it.

I turned up only a couple of minutes early. Being absolutely naive and innocent I was standing there and waiting for a great meditation class. The lady who greeted me was very nice. And here is the thing, I asked her about the meditation and with a poker face she explained to me that with this meditation the guys are stroking the girls “most sensitive parts”. (Ahem, well she didn’t quite say “sensitive parts”.) She was very matter of fact, she said everything how it is. I guess I should put her link on this page so you can check it out. I wish I had seen my face from her point of view. The word shock doesn’t cover it.  Tried to keep my face straight and I thanked her for the info and explained that it was a big misunderstanding and that perhaps this kind of meditation is not for me.  Inside I was ready to run away. There is no way that I was allowing a stranger would come close to me. She quickly explained that the first part is just about sitting together in a room and playing games. They would ask funny questions and someone would sit in the hot seat and the others can ask any questions of you but it is all volunteering. She promised me that this whole session is very innocent and they just teach the “meditation” at the end. Embarrassingly I paid reasoning that I don’t like to be a coward and also I guess I should be more open to new experiences.

I recall that the first task was to compare your orgasm with food. 20 people sitting around in a room and one lady who got to ask the questions. Most of the answers were quite sensible- chocolate, strawberry and whatever, although I swear someone said calamari! Yuk! Gross. It was a guy. It made me wonder if I should ask this on a first date, it would probably help me to filter the weird ones. I can’t remember the other two questions but it was something similar.

Then my turn on the hot seat took place. I learnt a very important thing though, it is called a hot seat for a reason. When you receive all the attention, the hungry looks, all of that energy and even more you do feel the heat. The adrenaline goes up and all your senses get sharper. Also being there meant that straight after the session finished I had many people standing around me who wanted to talk to me. I couldn’t be fast enough to get out of there and what they did after I really don’t want to know.  By the way if you are into these things it is highly recommended by others, I just know that this is something I am personally not interested in. No judgment or anything and the leaders were lovely like I said.

I met with my friends afterwards. They couldn’t stop laughing….

ps: 18 months later one of the organiser lady turned up on our meet up and she is indeed an amazing, wonderful lady! I couldn’t believe it but she did remember me…. Crazy thing..

Next: Being deer

(Author: An, edited by my lovely friend Sarah)

the real meditation

the real meditation

Addicted to selfies – the power of feedback

Most of the people don’t realise how much feedback means to single people. Since I read a Dale Carnegie book* I understood the reasoning behind it. Before that, I just knew it. How do I know when a friend becomes single? Within days her Facebook is full of selfies. I have no problem with this by the way it is normal (I did the same). It is very easy to get addictive to this and count the likes. And at the beginning it does help a little bit but then again it is only a temporary fix.
When after many years of your daily feedback (as in somebody telling you how you look) suddenly stops it is very hard to find a new source to fill this gap. I used to be told how nice I looked or how good I am on a daily basis. Breaking up is not just a massive shock to the body but also massive shock to our confidence levels (in addition to
many other things). When you are lucky enough to be feeling stronger you realise it wasn’t your fault and there is nothing wrong with you. However you can still have confidence and self-esteem issues. Bye-bye self-esteem, see you later! The fear is palatable. All the paranoid thoughts are there. You think you were not good enough, you think there is something wrong with you. And how can a guy like someone like me, when I don’t have big boobs (just an example)?! We all have fears.

How to replace this nice feedback flood we used to get? You can’t really get it from outside as much anymore, you have to find it within yourself and just simply learn to know that you are amazing and no one should make you question that! I started shopping to get my confidence up- even though I literally only bought black clothes! However we soon realise that doesn’t help really either. So we start to work on our body, appearance and looks, which is a good thing actually (don’t stay at home and eat chocolate and get fat because you make your life even more difficult). Why do we always get bigger and lazier when we are in a relationship (well done if you are the exception)? We shouldn’t really but we do.

So ditch the shopping habit – old clothes are just as good, save your money! (Retail therapy does work, don’t get me wrong, just keep it minimal for now…)

So feeding our self-esteem will come from working inside/ out. We can work on our appearance as a good start, and taking photos of ourselves to post to social media will hopefully get you the comments and likes your confidence so needs. However especially important is to start doing things, which makes us proud of ourselves. It can be anything, charity, a course, exercise goals, or just learning to play a new instrument.

If you have a single friend be nice to her and compliment her, even if normally you don’t do it. It costs you nothing and you can make such a difference.

*(How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie – READ IT!)

(Author: An, edited by my lovely friend Sarah)

Next: Just shut the f*** up

Damn Rebound…

Can you believe that I had never heard of the term “rebound” before? Well, I learnt this fast enough and my rebound made sure I would never forget it.

He started as a fairy-tale… He was kind, seemingly had a massive heart, he was smart, patient, good looking and single. (The last part “being single” is what he told me anyway.) Chatting for months had given me the false feeling of him being interested in me… because honestly who would invest that much time for no reason…? So naïve. Ahem.

After 5 years of being off the market I was really out of practice. All the rules of being flirty, patient, not opening up etc… Let’s just say I wasn’t very good at it. I was an honest, open book – translate it to TARGET – and also my danger radar was a bit rusty too. So guess what? He was a good player and I bought it all. Sadly I believed that my heart and self-esteem couldn’t be broken even more than it was. I was wrong. You can always be hurt more.

The worst part was to forgive myself that I was such an idiot. My shield was down, my self-esteem was low – he had a really easy job! I still believe he had good intentions and he didn’t mean to hurt me. Even if it’s not true I believe this cos it makes it easier. Otherwise I have to admit I was wrong about him, and nobody likes to be wrong. I would even go as far to say that I have learnt many lessons from him so I can’t complain. For example, how not to believe a guy when he says “I am looking for something serious now”… OR “I don’t want to go out with anyone for long because I don’t want to hurt them”. My favourite one is the “All the girls went crazy after I was with them so I don’t want to hurt anyone”. Sentences like this, and empty compliments… It all drives me nuts! Now when someone says anything slightly similar I turn around and walk away. Words mean nothing! Actions talk louder and reading from them alone is much safer.

I still have a very long way in learning how to spot a player now that I am on the market again. How to judge what they do and not what they say (the problem starts when you want to believe what they say is true, so much, that you actually start to ignore your instincts). I have learnt that when they stop texting (no answer for ages, leaving the conversation in the middle of it etc…), they simply stopped being interested and there is absolutely NOTHING you can do because as the film says, he is just not that into you! Of course it always happens when it is the guy you do like. And when you do like him you more likely to make the biggest mistake: being too intense, too much, too needy. It is very hard to control, when you are so ready to love again and you scare them away. I needed at least a year to understand why they can’t stand the pressure and why they can’t imagine that they need to tell someone again where they are and what they are planning to do etc…

It took me longer to move on from my rebound than it should have and I hate to admit it but a part of me still misses him. He was great-at times but he was young (all about parties) and a good player. I guess I can’t blame him. Looking back I know I wasn’t myself at all.

In spite of my lessons in rebounds I am grateful that I met him and had this experience. I had to lift my head up again and it might have taken me slightly longer than it probably should have but I had a journey. A journey which changed me.

Everything happens for a reason and from this point I could only go, higher. Surely?!

PS: Do you think I have learnt after this how to spot a player? Noooooooo!!!! Many more lessons have followed this….

(Author: An, edited by my lovely friend Sarah)

Next: How to find friends in London? – by “accident”

Rebound - the lesson

Rebound – the lesson

The science behind “singles” shopping

Shopping when single, after having been in a long relationship, can be tricky. It’s all to do with habits and routines. We all know how hard it is to break them and bring in new ones. Shopping is an example of this.

After a long time I was slowly getting better at eating and food shopping again. Except I couldn’t break the habit of shopping for 2. Result: wasted food and wasted money. I kept telling myself I was alone now but I couldn’t stop myself and I reasoned I could easily eat what I bought. I couldn’t.

I have listed below my approach to shopping at that time.

STEP 1 – “POPPING” TO THE SHOPS…

I was starting to think about shopping a bit more and buying small amounts more often (when you live in London you have to anyway because it is really unlikely that you have a car). My fridge was looking good again. Yes, “popping to the shop” often can be seen as time-wasting (long queues and decision-making etc…) but expressing an interest in food and healthy-eating again, was positive.

STEP 2 – QUANTITY

I bought the same things each week, which is quite boring, but for the most part, I was using it all up. I did improve my project management skills by having to plan for the whole week ahead what I would eat though. This is because food packaging has never been designed for single people.  THIS IS THE TRUTH! Neither are the marketing offers. (Although thankfully it’s not as scary shopping for 1 here, as it is in America. As I’ve mentioned before- have you seen the size of the food over there?! It’s huge!)

Therefore I suggest you plan/write your list, head out and look hard for the smaller packages, the smaller offers… When you buy a box of peaches because it is cheaper, you will waste it (or eat peaches all week and get sick of them).  Instead stick to buying one lemon. It might not be fairly priced but at least you know you will definitely use up what you buy. Or if you buy 4 avocados and not individual ones because the singular avocados are more expensive, then make sure you eat avocado soup one day, an avocado sandwich on the second, avocado smoothie on the third and so on and so forth… I have just learnt a good trick with avocados from my super-smart Spanish friend. When you buy more, pick the harder ones and wrap one or two in newspaper and they will be ripped faster. However ultimately I recommend buying only one of what you need (same story when buying tomatoes, peppers or even cucumbers).

STEP 3 – 2-4-1

I had to organise my whole week ahead or at least know kind-of when I am at home so I could adjust the quantity of my shopping basket. When it was “just” for me and even if something was on sale 2-for-1, I resisted. My economist heart was bleeding (and my friends are laughing out loud because they know how true this is) but for the sake of my purse I had too, also hate wasting food.

I did love the fact that when I got to the till the assistant usually told me that I can get another pack as part of a deal, as I felt like they were looking out for me but I always explained that unfortunately I wouldn’t use it, not mentioning the reason was because I was SINGLE. (By the way now I do pick it up, if it is not too heavy, and simply give it to the neighbour but this is another story.)

STEP 4 – 21st CENTURY GIRL

And when I had enough of carrying heavy bags on the way home finally I caught up with the 21st century and discovered home delivery! No more heavy bags! Victory! Who needs a man? Buying fresh food online is risky a bit but most of the time it was ok. Also fresh food could be bought on the way home from work. My first online food shop took me hours and I had to/ have to, plan to be at home at some point for the delivery but it is worth it once in a month.

In spite of my new shopping habits now that I was single my fridge jumped between looking full and being empty due to my social life picking up. Having a social life is quite expensive however Boots was helping a lot to keep my costs down with their £3.79 offer. (I know all the prices in Tesco, Sainsbury, M&S, and Pret etc. for a quick sandwich meal deal.)

And finally the last thing is being prepared when unexpectedly you need some food at home (and you don’t do flat sharing and you can’t steal borrow). I have some items I always have at home just in-case: cheese and biscuits, rice crackers, long-lasting almond milk, porridge, chicken in the freezer, rice, and pesto. Job done! Of course cooking is a different story….it starts when you get bored of tin soups and sandwiches.

(Author: An, edited by my lovely friend Sarah)

Next: Getting over with going under …..

Single girl shopping

Single girl shopping

The new “Hole”!

The big day eventually arrived… I had found a flat or “the hole” as I would affectionately call it later, and I was moving in. Having a tiny studio all to myself, with the freedom to cook when I please and just be as I please (I could even walk naked if I wanted to…..), was rather brilliant at times. On the flip-side however, was having a tiny studio which was just for me- after sharing a lovely big house with the man I loved. It was a bit of an adjustment….. Continue reading