Double standards

So I reactivated my online profile for what feels like the millionth time in my 3 year journey. Everytime I do it it is with heavy fingers and a dramatic Victorianesque sigh. This isn’t romance right? Trawling through profiles like I’m reading labels off a supermarket shelf? It should be wham, bam, no thought, no effort, but this is the way of modern day love, hard work, effort, investment and above all else patience.

Our society ties have broken down so much that you have to fend for yourself these days in the realm of ‘mature’ love. Thinking back to my Mother at Christmas and the Magnificent Seven who spawned one glistening (but ultimately doomed) bauble of a gentleman I awoke at 6 am unable to sleep and impulsively sent 7 love messengers out into the wide world, 7 mini cyber cupids. OK, OK I’m being overly poetic here, really I sent 7 smiles at guys I liked the look of and this time I didn’t trawl through their profiles for hours weighing up the pros and cons, I just looked for the fresh meat and smiled at them like you would someone across a crowded room, I just looked and hit the button – kinda like poker!

And what do ya know one guy came back within 45 minutes (please bear in mind it was only 7am by now, an ungodly hour for romance) – he said he was pleased to have a smile from me, but obviously a newbie to the whole internet dating thing – he said and I quote he found the whole medium ‘discomfiting’ and I thought yeah mate who doesn’t? No-one wants to be on this site, not a single person on this site would choose meeting a complete, anonymous stranger by this totally synthetic and unnaturally forced method, none of us here are actually enjoying this process, it’s tiring, depressing and energy sapping. Everytime I go back online it’s like returning to some sad old memory of a washed up youth club of misfits, failures and loners “Oh yeah there’s him again, oh and him, and him, oh yeah and I recognise you, and oh I haven’t seen you for a while, back again eh?” Same faces, same places, on and on, over and over, for several years and these people aren’t ugly or weird they are normal, good looking, probably kind and lovely people and yet here they still are. Just like me. Still sitting on the shelf waiting for the next buyer to come through the door, till they get returned again for being faulty or not to standard or even voluntarily send themselves back to the point of dispatch. So yeah, wait a minute Miss Kitty… take a look in the mirror aren’t you back again too? Bruised and sore from you latest disappointment? Aren’t you just as sad and sorry as these poor buggers? Going round and round in the same washing machine?

Pat Benatar said ‘Love is a Battlefield’ no better words for it in my opinion. I’ve been knocked about so much in the last few years. But I take a breather and eventually I drag myself up, I dust myself down and I walk on, well what else you gonna do? Really? Don’t let it break your heart. If I’m lucky one of the seven will lift me up and galvanise me to keep on struttin’ my sexy stuff! Because odds are one day my husband is going to just turn up, just like that out of the blue and say “Hey you! Miss Kitty, where the bloody hell have you been all my life?” and will I then just say “Erm, I’ve been here all along just waiting for you?” Will I bloody hell as like! I’ll turn round and say “Hey you yourself, I’ve been hanging out and having some fun with these dudes, you shoulda turned up earlier!”.

Marilyn

Pride and prejudice

A select dinner party in a middle class West London suburb.

Husband: “Seriously though, offices full of single girls in their early 30s. Fine, physical specimens… but they just can’t seem to hold down a chap.”

Wife: “Yes, why is it there are so many unmarried women in their 30s these days Bridget?”

Awkward pause

Bridget: “Oh I don’t know.. ‘spose it doesn’t help that underneath our clothes our entire bodies are covered in scales.”

‘Life’ so Oscar Wilde once said ‘imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life’, I watched that scene from the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary 13 years ago in a cinema in Ealing Broadway and I laughed my socks off, I was young, ambitious and living in the same London as Bridget but without her dating traumas, I was happily ensconced in a relationship.

Fast forward to Christchurch, New Zealand over a decade later and I am the modern day equivalent of Bridget (with the alcohol units, but without the cigarettes) and instead of a diary I have this blog. Personally I believe Helen Fielding’s observations are still a valid and truthful commentary on thirty or fortysomething single women today as they try to make sense of life, love and the way society reacts to solo females.

Point in case a recent Friday night out with three married couples or as Bridge would call them ‘Smug Marrieds’. Of the three I only knew one couple. Within minutes of sitting down they had established I was single and that I would like to one day be in a relationship. For married people who hold all the so called keys to getting life right this is like a red rag to a bull, the wives pounced first with one slurrily advising me to never give up and be ready to receive love and how it would crop up when I least expected it before telling me a long winded version of her love story. The other wife fuelled on Sauvignon, took it upon herself to fix my ‘situation’ by determinedly marching around the bar, interviewing potential suitors and dragging them back to the table for an awkward and downright humiliating chat with me, while his friends would take photos of the moment on their iPhones.

And their husbands…. well first they dribbled all over the table excitedly asking me among other things if I was bumping up my age, was I wearing stockings, did I have sex a lot and could they have their photo taken with me to show their mates on Monday? Then they began accosting any circling, young barman to ask if they liked Cougars and did they want a slice of this action – pointing at me.

I am not sure at what point it became acceptable to treat comparative strangers to an unrequested life intervention or why they thought they had all the answers to fix everything? And this I might add was a group of parents who were all buzzing out of their brains and behaving like a bunch of drunk teenagers. Yeah real mature!

All I know is my pride took a big knock that night and their prejudice about my ‘singledom’ was offensive and rude. Spending time in their company has made me embrace and cherish my status even more. I am not a side show or a loser, but a woman who chooses to wait for the right combination of magic to happen and not just settle for any passing barman.

And yet there are marrieds out there who’ve recognised their prejudice – I salute you Rebecca Sparrow, and I am proud and thankful to say I also have a lot of lovely, sane, healthy marrieds who are extremely supportive and love me, like Bridget, just as I am.

Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary

Nature or nurture?

I have a very good friend who worries about me, let’s call her Mrs Gyrate (for reasons best not pointed out here!) but suffice to say she worries about me a lot.

Mrs Gyrate is a living a romantic comedy lover’s dream, happily married with a bonny wee baby. She met her husband in a wonderful ‘meet-cute’ moment waiting for a delayed plane at the airport. Fast forward to a surprise proposal on top of the Eiffel Tower in the world’s most romantic capital and a baby that arrived with perfect timing and you pretty much have the synopsis for a classic Hollywood romance.

Am I happy for her? Of course! Am I a teensy bit jealous? Of course! So cutting to the chase hot on the heels of the latest disappointment Mrs Gyrate advises I take a no date, no-man zone approach for the next 6 months.

My lovely friend says I don’t love myself enough, haven’t learned to enjoy being alone and will be stuck in this rut if I continue to ‘chase men’. She believes once I’m ready that nature will eventually take it’s course and my Mr.Darcy/Bradley Cooper/Shining armour Knight will either a) charge up to my door or b) our paths will cross.

Whilst I love the optimism, I disagree. Nature has had plenty of ops with me. In the past 18 months I’ve dated real world and cyber world as well as not dating at all for 6 months on and off last year. And yeah OK I secretly waited wastefully for a certain someone for most of it, but how much of a window does nature need to intervene?

I prefer to take the nurture route because I like to spread the risk and maximize the chances. I like to get out and meet new people, go to new places, do new things, dating after all is only meeting them for a drink and seeing if there’s a faint trace of firelight there? And having an active online profile is a shop window for opportunity should it pass by, no need to chase them down? But I’m the first to admit that often nurturing love can be more like a Sci-Fi, Horror crossover than a Rom-Com, it’s clinical, takes determination and an enormous sense of humour.

Still I’m not comfortable leaving it all up to Mother Nature because her odds are stacked against me. It’s a double whammy of lack of quantity and quality. It’s not like school days or even in our 20s when you could trip over piles of potential suitors just waiting at the bus stop. Finding fellow singletons is like looking for the proverbial needle – sometimes I wish we had invisible New York style cab lights over our heads that lit up when another singleton walked past. And then there’s the men themselves who are are either happily married (no thank you no home wreckers here) or unhappily separated or divorced (great!) or those men who’ve not yet been touched by the hand of marriage but are in Jack-the-Lad mode and still ‘sowing their wild oats’ .

And Mrs Gyrate is right – I don’t particularly enjoy my own company day in day out (Miss Kitty can be a real bore in 24 hour solo surround sound) but I have to get on with it and so I do.

If my dating genie appeared and granted me one wish I guess that it would be to leave it up to Mrs Gyrate’s nature book and have my own serendipitous meet-cute, perhaps at the supermarket when I drop my groceries on the floor, or on the road side while I’m puzzling over a tyre puncture, when my stiletto heel conveniently gets stuck in a manhole on the pavement or when I’m caught short in the rain and have to shelter under an awning… I would love the bells and whistles, harps and unicorns.

But the reality is it only happens in the movies or to a lucky few like my gorgeous, wonderful friend. Of course I could force a Pretty Woman style meet-cute and pull on my brand new thigh high black suede boots (hold up people it’s legit – they are in right now!) and totter downtown looking for Richard Gere but erm… somehow I don’t think that will get me the same fairytale ending?

Pretty woman

Loving by numbers

No one said that finding The One would be easy. let’s face it we know there are multiple possible ones, but by deed or inaction we sometimes miss them in the final mix. I have a good friend who always calls this dating malarkey a numbers game. When I say good friend, he’s actually my ex-partner of 11 years and nearly 3 years on from our parting of the ways he’s just as stuck as I am. He often says to me it’s just a case of try, try and try again.

I think he has a point. A recent study from the UK specialised in crunching the romantic numbers to make some sense of this nonsensical thing called love, and believe it or not they found a pattern. The average woman will kiss 15 men, enjoy two long-term relationships and have her heartbroken twice, not only that but she will also suffer through four disaster dates, be in love twice, live with one ex-partner, have four one night stands and be stood up once before she finally meets ‘The One’.

Phew! It makes me dizzy just thinking about it but when I take a long hard look at it turns out that I am that average woman! I sat down and did some math and so here’s my summary: Kissed: 21 / Long term relationships: 2 / Heartbroken: 2 / Disaster dates: 2 / In love: 2 / Lived with one ex-partner: 1 / One night stands: 3 / Stood up: 1

The study was commissioned for the launch of a new romantic novel called The Rosie Project it’s about one man’s search for love and about love not prescribing to a formula – about it finding us, not us finding it. The author Graeme Simsion said “It’s a reminder that the path to finding a life partner can be a long and rocky one – and indeed is for most of us. All of the disaster dates, mismatched relationships and awkward one night stands can leave many feeling like they are never going to meet their soul mate. But there’s an annoying yet wonderful randomness about it. All those calamities, false starts and heartbreaks never knowing when or if or how “The One” is going to appear in your life.”

Hear that homeboy! And that my dear readers is the single most important reason why I have the Dating Kitty site, it’s my personal chronicle of my weird and wonderful, bittersweet journey through the dating maze to find The One. Like Alice in Wonderland I threw caution to the wind and jumped out of my sad and restrictive relationship down the rabbit hole. It is most certainly not how I expected it to be – not at all. I thought it might take a year tops to meet someone…and yet here I still am three years on.

Some days it is exhilarating and ecstatic but mostly it is depressing, frustrating, scary, hilarious and lonely. I really do hope my life won’t be like this forever, I actually like being in a partnership and I hate being alone. But at the same time I also realise and appreciate that this painful process is all growing and learning and I hope that one day I can look back on it all and marvel at the uncertainty and promise and all the interesting and eccentric characters I met along the way.

Right now though I don’t have a choice except to keep on going and keep on hoping that my number comes up. On a really bad day when I have the mean blues there’s a quote that pretty much sums it up, it’s cheesy but I love it! From Tom Hanks in Castaway upon discovering his one true love and lucky talisman has moved on with her life, remarried and had a baby while he was stuck on his island:

“I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?”

tide

The Pinnocio Syndrome

Some of you dear readers may remember that I fell head over heels in love last year with a man who could not commit because he still loved and longed for his ex-wife who he said treated him like dirt, cheated on him and left him. But that aside at some point this man had decided he was ready to date and that he liked me, or so I thought, because he even told me he loved me. And I fell hook, line and sinker and waited, and waited, and waited. But he lied. He wasn’t ready and he didn’t love me at all, otherwise why would he have put me through such torturous agony waiting for him on the whiff of vague promises? He promised to seek help, promised to sort his head and his heart out, promised to be decisive, promised to take me out on his bike for a ride. Promises, promises.

Earlier this year this same lovelorn soul told me that his ‘best friend’ had fallen pregnant and that he was now – for want of a better word stuck. He was adamant that the child wasn’t his. Couldn’t possibly be his he said. He lied. It is his baby. He’s been friends-with-benefitting. Now they are staying together to bring the child up. So much for still loving the ex-wife. So much for keeping me waiting. So much for love and bike rides.

Some of you may also have followed the story that I’ve been seeing a dapper, charmingly old fashioned guy that my mother picked online for me at Christmas. His profile said he was recently separated, naturally I was cautious because I now have an aversion to men with ex-wives (twice bitten, yes there was one before that too, three times shy). I enquired several times if he was ‘over’ the ex gone since 10 months? He said she treated him like dirt, cheated on him and left him. Yes, he said ready to move on, ready for a new chapter, but the key was to go slow. I agreed going slow and courting was not a bad thing, after all I was badly burnt last year and needed some protection. How quaint and charming I thought that 5 weeks in we were still holding hands, kissing and having a cheeky fumble.

But last week we passed date 11 and the 8 week mark and we are still no further along than at the very beginning. We average a date a week and he plays cool, doesn’t call, just texts and even they are intermittent. He makes me work hard. We weren’t just slow, we had stalled and I was having a cup of tea at the side of the road while he went off to find a mechanic! When I challenged him about it this week he admitted (by text only of course) that we were in different places and that he still thinks about his wife. He lied. So much for slow, so much for new starts. This time we mutually agreed to leave it, but still by text! He half heartedly offered to come and see me at the weekend to talk about it. What an insult, I said not to bother as there’s nothing to talk about. We’ve gone our separate ways just like that after all that effort again. Except for this. I didn’t love him, I just liked him, I did learn that one lesson from my useless, lovelorn beardie and that’s not to trust ’em until you can see the whites of their eyes. Difficult in this cyber world.

My point is – why do these guys lie? They lie to themselves and they lie bare faced to us. And for what purpose? It only ruins everything. And I hate lying. Honesty is the trait I value most of all in a person let alone a man, no matter how much the truth hurts. In future I will ask them first if they have an ex-wife and second who their favourite Disney character is… maybe then I’ll get an inkling? pinnocio

Mother Knows Best

So here’s the funny thing, I’m back home in the New Year and my mother looks at me and says ‘come on you gotta get back on the horse’. She means the dating horse or more specifically the online dating horse. She obviously is unaware that it is actually a Trojan box of terrors. But since I haven’t been online since September, there are normally 12,000 miles between us and she’s frustrated at not being able to box my ears or give me a hug when I make stupid male-oriented decisions, I decide to humour her, after all ’tis the season of new beginnings right?  So I say OK and one night over a bottle of wine we reactivate and load up my dating profile for laughs and tweaks.

The first thing she and her partner say (‘because now it’s a group intervention right?) is “Oh, don’t say you like Opera, no, no, no, no ,no….. that’s far too high brow” and “Don’t say you like to read Pride and Prejudice – just be normal”. When I protest that I do like Opera they counter in stereo “when was the last time you went?” pause “Exactly! Do you know any men that read Jane Austin? No? Exactly! And men don’t like women who are too posh or superior” so I sigh, grit my teeth and hit the backspace button on my profile. After all what have I got to lose? Seriously, my track record with men is appalling, I have a magnetic appeal it seems for the wrong polar, I attract the weird, heartbroken, lovelorn, obsessed and lost. So maybe it is me that’s the problem and I am putting out the wrong vibes in the first place? Like attracts like right? Maybe I’m a twisted narcissist?

Mum is onto glass three when she really starts letting loose and playing Bingo with prospective mens’ profiles…”Oh now he’s cute, send him a smile go on, go on, oh and he’s an investment banker quick, quick send him a smile!” as she leans over and strikes the mouse! Bing! One cyber smile sent by my mother. “Oh I don’t understand why you’re moaning kid this is fun!” She says perching her glasses on the bridge of her nose to get a better look at ‘ScubaDave’. Before demanding that her partner come in and check his credentials and give us the male thumbs up or down. It is the gladiatorial equivalent of ‘meet the parents’ online.

Upshot is my Mum pinged 7 blokes over the Christmas period (in cahoots with myself of course) but then inevitably and sometimes even begrudgingly I started chatting to them online (see investment banker in my book always rhymes with wanker, but hey ho my mother didn’t go to the same school of life as me). I told them all I was on the other side of the world and that they’d have to wait for a date. As I boarded the plane my Mum looked at me – all worn out by loving a guy who won’t love me back and she shook me by the shoulders (as only a Mother can do) and said “Forget him, he’s waste of space, think about these lovely guys and promise me that you will go for at least one drink with all of them? Promise me? Even if you’re not really that keen? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket love, go and have some fun, distract yourself and have a nice time. Promise?” Oh the blackmail.

The Christmas Batch or The Magnificent Seven – you choose the moniker, have honestly been my salvation. I was a good, diligent girl and I did exactly as my Mummy told me. After all it gets to a point in your life when you are full of blanks and misses and you think maybe my Mum is actually onto something? Maybe I just can’t see it? It took me 6 whole weeks to get through all of them, juggling correspondence and dates, times and venues, well all bar one that is… ‘ScubaDave’ who after rearranging me several times, stood me up for a date on Valentine’s Day (oh the irony). His loss.

And every single one of my Mother’s Picks wanted a repeat date. For the second date; one wanted to go running, one wanted to go salsa, one wanted a casual pizza, one wanted a movie, one wanted an ‘exciting’ dinner and one sent me an enormous bouquet of flowers at work by way of invitation to a second date.

Of this only two made it through the initial steeplechase and one in particular only by calling me on the phone and pleading with me to reconsider and be ‘less harsh’? Huh? Harsh who me? This is me the doormat, remember, the one that gets stomped on?

And one went the distance all the way and we are on date 9. It’s a one horse race now, I shut down my profile 2 weeks ago because actually I’m not interested or looking at anybody else. This man makes me laugh and hours dissolve happily in his company. He is a true gentleman who is courting me (much to my Mother’s delight), old fashioned style, no rush, no seeing each other everyday or hopping into bed. This is slow dating… and actually after all the flakey men with empty promises I kinda like it! It’s nice to be treated like a lady and respected. It’s nice to know a date is a date and he’ll turn up. To be picked up and driven to a quiet little place and romanced slowly. A compliment about my outfit, a touch on the arm, a kiss on the cheek. How nice. So yes, I gotta admit that maybe Mother does know best, just please don’t tell her, she’ll be unbearable x

mother-daughter-shrug

Love signs

Hi honey I’m home… and I’m feeling more buoyant than ever!

What is it about 2014? I don’t know but I’ve got a feeling it will be a vintage year and not before time. Out with the old and in with the new? Really I’m a dog woman but even I’m feeling lucky in this Year of the Horse. Maybe I am a true Saggitarian after all – the gambler of the zodiac?

A very wonderful woman came into my life recently – a laid back, spiritual Californian with a bent for Feng Shui. Yes darling I’ve been feng’d – or more appropriately my life and house have been tuned and tweaked to find the right ‘happy’ vibrations. She pointed out that my entire decor and interior feel was channeling situations that have been occuring in my life “did you know your house is full of single women and groups of women in threes?”. She shoots from the hip this lovely American… and blow me down if she isn’t hitting the proverbial on the head. My artwork, objet d’art, magazines are all clusters of threesomes or instead solemn looking lonely women. No wonder I’ve been miserable, lonely and trapped in a non moving, love triangle with a guy who has three women in his life.

Three’s a crowd but two’s company, so I’ve done my homework and turfed out all my trios and singles and brought in the cavalry – the ‘twos’. Everywhere you look now I have cosy, comforting, canoodling pairs. Lovebirds and hearts rule at my gaff! And that’s not all this spiritual angel did she also took the time, care and love to prescribe me a room by room remedy for last year’s malaise and I am taking my medicine!

Strangely somehow things are getting lighter and brighter. I’ve been noticing odd, little things too, small signs and indications. They appear randomly but have a common strand. Roses are a big theme – how delightful of all the possible signs – the symbol of first love, romantic love, eternal love. I’m seeing, uncovering or receiving them everywhere! I got two red roses in one week followed by a bouquet with pure, white roses the following week (all from different people) then rose scented gifts, rose inspired artwork, rose tattoos, rose signage and rose names all around. Strange but true. It seems a rose by any other name is actually an incurable romantic!

How weird and yet how fitting? So thank you to my own lovely Californian rose for opening my eyes again to what’s around and tuning me into the universe’s telepathy! Dare I say that if the love signs are to be believed I think that something this way comes?

Miss K x

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