Saturday, March 26, 2016

Body Clock

I do seem to have a theme happening this past few weeks in regards to my posts and I don't have any one reason for you except that I've developed a different, more adult approach to relationships. Realism vs romanticism. 

You've heard it said more than once that a woman has a body clock. Not the one that wakes you up in the morning or helps you fall asleep, but the one that tells us when we are ready to reproduce. Biological clock.

It is true that in 2016 people are living longer and women in particular are delaying the process of getting married, having children and starting families. 'Adulting' to use the vernacular of the people; a process we consider to be something we have to do rather than something we actually are already. I hate having to adult a lot of days 

Our elongated life spans now mean that yes we have more time to enjoy life so we went from our 20's being the best times of our lives to 30's and now 40's because that's still not that old. Rather by the time we hit our 40's there's no end to the party since we can't even retire for another 20-25 years. If we still have to work then we can certainly still enjoy all the benefits of travel, social life and youth. This is also part of the reason that those of us in our 20's struggle to consider ourselves adults; think of it as a reclamation of the youth that was stolen from us previously when our life spans were shorter, such as when children worked in factories during the Victorian Age and died in our 30's and 40's. 

It's perfectly great to be in our 20's during the 2010's because its like being adults on training wheels - we are adults when we want and need to be but for all other intents and purposes we are just big kids. More or less. 

That being said the pressure is definitely not off, especially for women. Whilst we are younger for longer and have the ability to have children, marry, start families and buy houses when we are older, one thing that has not changed much at all is our biological clock. It is still there and just because we live longer now doesn't, unfortunately, mean that for a lot of women this clock slows the hell down. 

Rather I would argue that the situation is made even worse, harder on some women since we do live longer. For example, one reason is the effect this longer life span has had on men. For men in a lot of ways it has been great - they can mess around for longer before settling down if they ever do. Being a young adult for all of us means responsibility can come a little later and settling down in our 30's or 40's is vast becoming a social norm - I argue that for men more so than women this is much easier to relax and wait this long. 

Let's talk purely about reproduction and settling down for a moment. Women will be born with all the eggs they can have in their lifetime, and from 12-16 when we first become active right up until we go through menopause in our late 40's or 50's when it's stop time. At this stage it becomes not only medically dangerous but nigh impossible naturally - before we even tackle social issues. It does happen that women become mothers at older ages, but it isn't necessarily healthy and it does cause significant problems. 

So it is often recommended and expected by most that for women if they are intending to have children the best time will be between the ages of 18 and 45. Seems like a long time, right? Well, in some instances yes it is, but when you throw the extended life span and feeling of a more infinite time in youth you get a collection of younger people who think they have all the time in the world until they realise they don't. It is very common in the modern era for men and women to hit their 30's or 40's and suddenly feel the pressure of that biological clock starting to tick - in some cases even a lot younger. 

Aside from those men and women who flat out are not interested in having children (good for you if that is your view), the problem for a lot of us is finding the happy medium in being carefree and not ready, and feeling the tick of that biological clock. The reason I argue that this is harder for women than men is because for men there is no end of fertility except in the case of medical misfortune. The majority of men are fertile their entire lives, and can therefore father children up until they depart the land of the living. So whilst when it comes to producing a dynasty men quite literally have all the time in the world, women don't. 

For women both social issues and medical issues meet in the middle on the topic of the biological clock. Many of us want to meet someone, settle down and start a family eventually. We don't always mean right now or tomorrow, but someday sooner or later. The problem is when you consider, usually after a relationship gone wrong or bad date, the length of time you have to do this in. I reiterate of course that all women will approach the issue of the body clock a little differently or not at all, but for myself I am in two minds:

1. I am only 25, I have time.

2. I am 25, I am running out of time. 

Personally I do not, like some women, have the desire to freeze my eggs and I don't know how I would feel about sperm donation. I am old fashioned and I love the idea of meeting someone, falling in love, settling down and starting a family together. The problem for me is that at 25 I have never been in a relationship, and not only that but it never seems like one is on the horizon. Being single in itself is fine - I do pretty much all the things that I want to do and most of the time I don't feel like I miss out. What isn't fine is that the closer I get to 30 the more the pressure of my biological clock starts to creep up on me, and that is not a good feeling. 

I have a lot of excess love to give that never gets to go anywhere besides my pets, and romance aside I would love to have a child one day. Ideally I'd love to have a child of my own but failing that since all the men I seem to meet are not keen to spend time with me let alone to settle down what options does that leave me? 

In 2016 women do not need a consistent man in their live to have a child, true, if it is by IVF. Adoption is in itself another matter that still holds to the mantra of requiring two parents; fortunately now we don't always discriminate against same-sex parents (I know plenty and they are fabulous!) but what is odd is that there is only a very low success rate of single mothers who adopt. Ironic when you can be impregnated by man you've never met, or in some cases after a night with someone you didn't catch the name of. 

So in another 20 years if I am still yet to have a child I have three options:

1. Adopt or Foster - but unless I have a consistent man in my life, or move in with friends like its Full House, my success rate may very well be low or I could wait for years to find a child. The age gap between us would then be very high and lead to a bevy of social issues and me potentially being out of touch. 

2. IVF - Assuming I'd have frozen my eggs already, I can find a perfect sperm donor and go at it on my own. However being that in this scenario I am 45 I could struggle for years, suffer medically or potentially not even be able to afford the cost of the treatments that may not even take. And even if I am successful  age gap between us would then be very high and lead to a bevy of social issues and me potentially being out of touch.

3. Give up - This seems like an choice from here that I do not want to have to make. I won't be strapped for love of course with friends around and the multitude of dogs that I will no doubt adopt, but I know that I would regret not having had a child. 

In 2016 I am turning 26 and whilst all these options seem so far away and yes right now I am just enjoying being single, having a good time and meeting new people, the hard truth is that someday sooner than I would like I will have to accept that my biological clock is ticking. There's no help for it.

So men of the world I am not coming gunning for you, but try to remember that sometimes the girls you are just having fun with won't feel like it forever. Some of us are really out there to meet someone with an endgame in mind if you are the right person, and denial of that fact will not just ensure your carefree life. Men's denial of women's body clock's or refusal or acknowledge it will only end in tears and a harsh wake up call for all involved. 

For men and women its all well and good to mess around just for the fun of it but not all of us can out run that body clock forever.

Not even if we live to 100. 

Sam xox

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Happn/Tinder Experience

Let me start by saying that not everyone not will agree with what I have to say here, as always, and in some way you may think that not only am I wrong but you could find it makes your angry. Let me refrain by reiterating even before we start, that this is my experience and interpretation only.

I, like many Generation X and Y kids, have bitten the bullet and tested out Tinder. To my brother's hilarity and my friends' looks of pity, I figured I would give it a go since I didn't have much else to lose. This was also back in 2013 when it had yet to garner the reputation of being an app designed for a quick hook-up. I, an ever-dying romantic, had been recommended to try it after deciding that OK Cupid and Oasis made me feel more inclined to shrivel up and die of boredom.

So I tried Tinder for the first time.

I'm not going to lie but in that first initial swipe streak it was fun; suddenly there was all this opportunity that I - eternally single - had never noticed before. But it got boring fast and after a few weeks I deleted it like the others and moved on with my life.

That's around the time that the reputation started to become a lot better known and in hindsight, I became ashamed to think that that was where I was at. Even lonely sometimes I couldn't bring myself to bring it back and try again for another 2 years.

By 2015 it was common knowledge that the majority of people on Tinder were just out for a quick shag or a late night booty call, although I am hesitant to actually say that that was what the creators had intended in the beginning.

Let's break for a second and explain Tinder for those out there who are reading and are not familiar with how it works. Basically it can be whittled down to an app that calculates people within a certain age range, distance and sexuality (you can edit these) and by linking with your Facebook profile, allows you to make matches. What is notorious about Tinder is that the way you make matches is by swiping left (for no) or right (for yes) - its popular culture now, you are probably familiar with this concept already. However you can only match with someone who swipes right on you as well, and can only contact matches. Relatively simple, quick, easy and takes a lot of the back work of some of the major online dating websites out of the mix. There are no formulas here, no questionnaires, just men and women swiping left or right depending on whether or not they find each other attractive. Attraction based.

Makes sense how it turned into an app known for hook ups and casual sex.

Almost ironically that has almost been starting to change now as more and more actual couples are starting to filter to the surface after having met on Tinder. I can think of at least three couples amongst my friends that have started this way. I'm not going to rattle off statistics but that is quite an achievement when the general consensus seems to be that you don't meet boyfriends or girlfriends on Tinder.

I will however offer that if Tinder is a hookup app as a rule, then those lucky few who do happen to make actual romantic connections are in fact the exceptions. Good for them but they are still the minority.

Happn is a relatively newer app that hit the scene far more recently in the past 12 months and works on a slightly similar basis; you don't swipe left or right, but the app does run through Facebook and calculates people based on age, distance and sexuality as well. What makes Happn unique, is that it deigns to help you meet people you have crossed paths with in real life such as the cute guy who smiled at you on the train or the girl at Starbuck's. And in a sense it does work, you will have those opportunities, but since it is based on distance it seems to be going down the rabbit hole like Tinder did and becoming about hook ups as well.

Now my experience has been relatively varied; I've met great guys, interesting guys, guys only interested in the one thing, and guys that I would have loved to hold hands with at the movies. I have not to this day, on any online dating forum, met someone who liked me enough to hang around, but I don't disregard that they are certainly out there. I just don't necessarily, from experience, believe that they are on Tinder.

But I did try.

Last week in an effort to really give it a chance, I spent some quality time on both Tinder and Happn to in all effect maximise my chances. All in all, I must have swiped close to 150 matches across both apps and made a conscious effort to contact every single one of them. It is a common grumble of men on Tinder especially that women don't speak first, which I disagree, so I set out my social experiment to not only roll with my chances but to try my hand at changing some other ideas. Did it work? No.

I must have had about 20 replies. Out of 150 or so. Not very flattering and certainly not much to go on or encourage any good karma by staying.

Tinder was the first to go, and minutes later it was Happn, with a pressure lifted off immediately.

The thing is if you are not out for a hookup then being on an app that encourages it is only a sure-fire way to a world of disappointment. I spoke a few weeks ago about the line 'I'm not looking for a relationship', and I would recommend you get used to hearing it because whilst the more mature online dating sites will almost always consist of people who are open to relationships those on the likes of Tinder and Happn make no such promises. They don't have to, so they don't.

Admittedly a lot of those utilising the hook up aspect will be at a time in their lives where it is acceptable and desired, but if you aren't aware of what you are up against then you could very well be into some real hurt later on.

As a woman who has been through that ringer I can tell you that when you enter into an arrangement without being on the same page it can only end in tears; apps used for hook ups are far too easily the cause of misunderstanding. For example, myself on more than one occasion have met someone I liked and come to the unfortunate realisation that no they aren't interested in my personality, or me, after all. Crushing, really.

And I am not putting down the world of the casual hook ups or sex without strings attached, it works well for many, but it doesn't work for me. It is not in my nature and in fact it makes me feel horrible about myself, used even, because I have never been under the impression that this was what I was in for and therein lies the problem. Being open, as I have written before in my Adult Female Truths article, would end so many relationship troubles before they start. This misunderstanding, hurt and often crushing disappointment is why I have recognised that well no Tinder is just not going to work for me.

Real life romance does happen, even in this modern world when so much of what we do or say happens via social media or generally online. There is no reason to even think that you can't meet someone out and about like out parents and grandparents did.

A friend of mine only very recently had the experience one would think happens only on screen: she caught the eye of a man on the train, worked up the courage to speak to him after a few sightings, and found that in so many aspects there were on the same page. In no time at all their relationship went from zero to fifty and still climbing. Chance encounters do happen, they happen all the time. I have had plenty even if not a single one has resulted in the kind of romantic relationship that my friend is now experiencing. It could happen still.

I feel better having made the exit.

I will not be joining any internet dating website either as I have never been a fan of it, which I say having tried multiple different kinds, and rather controversially have decided that if I don't ever meet someone the old fashioned way then perhaps that is not in my destiny. I don't believe in coincidences, God or that the universe is fair, but I do believe that everything happens for a reason -- karma and that even though I make things happen for myself I am following the right path of a grand design. Internet dating is not my style, it doesn't make me feel good about myself and it sort of makes me feel like I am trying to force something that isn't there, so certainly for right now I am glad to be free of it and feel I have made the right choice.

I just really hope that who or whatever out there doesn't make me eat my words later. They always punish hubris.

Sam xox