Saturday, April 30, 2016

Tinder Social

A friend of mine met a man on the train a month or so ago and we browbeat her into bucking up the courage to speak to him. Now they've been together for some months and it's strong - they're like a fairytale come true. Enviable.

Ironically however the two of them sat across from me on the train and browbeat me about my poor love life and choices, advising that I should return to Tinder or a similar dating app. I can't express enough how repugnant that option is to me right now because I actually have things to do today. But let's just say it's not really my, as a huge tea lover, cup of tea. 

So to prove to myself I was right in my decision I check up on the app this morning. 

Now with Tinder just deleting the app doesn't really do much, you have to actually delete your whole account for otherwise it still register that you're on it. So when I checked on it it was virtually how I left it with some of my matches a little mixed around as some had come and others had gone. I also had about 3 who'd tried to contact me. Nothing dramatic.

I did some swiping but after about 2 minutes I actually felt sick of it and bad about myself so I stopped. It's just not for me at all and this only reconfirmed the way that I feel. 

What is interesting though is Tinder's controversial new feature, 'Tinder Social', which had to have been constructed by someone arguably a total idiot or complete genius. The way it works is that you can start groups with other Timder users connected to you via Facebook. It's aimed at making social situations easier but what it actually does is show you exactly who of your Facebook friends are on Tinder currently. It doesn't account for those like myself who have deleted the app and not their account or give you any idea how active they are, but nonetheless it is a huge invasion of privacy to those who wish to keep their Tinder activities to themselves. 

I know I blog about it here and I can talk about it now, but t wasn't always like that. A year ago I would have been humiliated and stressed to know that my Facebook friends could see that I was on Tinder. It's not a good feeling and suddenly your private business is kind of out there for anyone to see.

After this morning I know exactly which of my Facebook friends are registered on Tinder whether they actively use it or not. And keep in mind this includes two of the guys I fancy currently, family members and other friends. Fortunately, none of them were surprising to me but even so it's not my business and I should not be able to see if they are on Tinder or not. It's this massive invasion of privacy that makes me think whoever programmed it should probably be fired for being such a massive idiot. 

However how many people are Facebook friends with their significant other? Husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc? Well now you can check to see if they are for certain or not. Of course you have to be on Tinder first but since your account is set up through your Facebook profile anyway it could take a suspicious person maybe 10 minutes to go in, look and delete their account. If you are a cheating partner on Tinder I would either stop being a Pratt in general or at least get the hell off of Tinder because you are going to get caught out now. Maybe the programmer had this in mind because that would have been genius, albeit absolutely more subtle than the Ashley Madison leak.

What did surprise me about the list of my friends on Tinder (and I am not going to name any names) was how few of them were actually there. Of almost 400 Facebook friends there were only about 20-25 on Tinder. This is less than 10%. Of course removing those in active relationships (and not stupid enough to cheat via Tinder), those who have deleted Tinder and those who were never  on it in the first place the percentage is so low that I genuinely don't understand why my advice is to meet someone there. Let's assume that half my Facebook friends are in active relationships and that leaves 200 unattached, with only 20-25 of these on Tinder that leaves 150-175 either utilising other dating mediums or leaving it to chance the way I would prefer. Given this kind of statistic why is Tinder recommended medium by those in relationships to meet someone? There is no way in hell you can expect me to believe the attached 200 met their partners on Tinder.

In conclusion I am not trying to tell anyone else not to go on Tinder, just that it's illogical and statistically inaccurate to say that Tinder is the way to go to meet people to your single friends. I could go and find statistics of those looking for relationships on Tinder versus those looking for a hookup to show you, given that casual hookups (occasionally) can turn into something more, if that was what it took to prove my point but I won't. What I will leave you with is this:

Tinder is a catalyst, in my personal option, for the wrong impression. I can search for relationships there until kingdom come but I only ever meet guys interested in casual and not realise until they stop calling or texting like every experience I have had before now. It won't increase my chances of an actual partnership, it will only increase the number of times that I get hurt. 

Sam xox

Friday, April 29, 2016

Much Ado About Nothing

This year (2016) marks the 400th anniversary since William Shakespeare very poetically joined the underworld on his birthday. Considering his track record of tragedies, comedies and histories, it seems a rather morbidly fitting end for the eternally famous playwright. 

Just last Saturday, April 23rd, was the actual day itself although historians aren't 100% sure exactly how old Shakespeare was when he died as in those days (and the next 200 or so years to come) poor people didn't get to have their birth recorded properly. And if you were poor and couldn't go to church where it was generally recorded? You probably lived and died incognito - mostly. 

Shakespeare would have if he didn't reach such a level of infamy due to not only the nature of his plays, his audience (which included royalty like Elizabeth II and James I), and the myriad of conspiracy theories and studies constructed about him in the following centuries. 

This post however isn't going to go into too much depth of the life and times of the bard himself, because that would take years to write, and rather aims to focus on one of his plays in specific: Much Ado About Nothing.

You would think as it is my favourite of all his plays that I would know the year that it was first written and performed, but rather I don't. I don't know the general context of it, unusual for a history hipster such as myself, and oddly I don't really care. Much Ado About Nothing is as relevant today as it was when it was first written and makes very few references to the context of the time except for perhaps the language and evidence that a war seems to be going on somewhere. But then in 17th century Europe that could realistically been any war. Or any war since.

Much Ado About Nothing is a play not, for once, about mistaken identity which is such a common element to Shakespeare's comedies (although you could argue there is reference in the form of a masquerade party which takes place during the first Act). It is however a play about prejudice, jumping to conclusions and passionate banter with a little slapstick thrown in for good measure. 

The main players, Beatrice and Benedick, are arguably Shakespeare's strongest and most evenly matched romantic couple written as virtually every scene they appear in together is constructed as a battle of wills and wits, both parties aiming to outdo the other. From the very first time you see Beatrice in Act 1, Scene 1 there is evidence of a love-hate relationship between her and Benedick that you don't actually ever learn the real truth behind. Joss Whedon's rendition in 2012 (my honest least favourite of all) suggests that the verbal sparring is the result of a one night stand gone wrong, and though I'd argue that is definitely not the original source (listen to Beatrice and tell me she just fell into bed with a random) it does make for a modern twist. But what is important to note is that although they put up a front that they don't get on to each other and those around them at no point in the story is anyone actually fooled.

The play's main comedic element comes from the ensemble's desire to put Beatrice and Bendick's say so to the test by deliberately allowing each to over hear a conversation about how much one loves the other. For Benedick it is Claudio, Leonato and Don Pedro waxing poetic about Beatrice's affection for him, which absolutely perfectly comes less than two minutes after his grumpy soliloquy about his resolve to die a bachelor. By the time they leave he is so convinced by their trick that he assumes her forced nicety to him in telling him dinner is on has a double meaning and comes out with this absolute gem: "when I said that I would die a bachelor I did not think that I would live til I were married". 

Beatrice, on the other hand, takes even less convincing from the conversation between Margaret and Hero that she over hears. For such an impassioned will to remain single, and Beatrice is rarely played by any one all that young as hero is, insisting that she would rather "hear her dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves [her]" she very quickly clicks on to the idea that Benedick, the man she has told everyone she hates, should want to marry her.

When you think about it, the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick could be any of us. Maybe at one time one said something or heard something that has offended because they're sensitive to what the other says because they like them and in hurt has begun this seemingly hateful relationship that tricked no one else into thinking was real. Sound familiar? I can think of at least one other very famous couple that started off in exactly that way: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Just like Austen's two, Beatrice and Benedick's prejudice was tossed on its head with a little bit of prodding from those around them just in a much quicker and funnier way. They do after all say that there is a very fine line between love and hate.

The drama of Much Ado About Nothing, and arguably the reason for the play's title, comes from the wedding of Claudio and Hero who fall in love at first sight, a much happier circumstance than Romeo and Juliet. With everyone's approval, the two only stumble at the alter after Claudio (moron) is tricked by Don Pedro's brother, John (like Prince John), that Hero has been hitting it with other men. Claudio is quick to believe it, insecure and distrustful as he is, and waits until they are in front of everyone to shout accusations at her storm out. Now eventually Don John is caught out and Claudio apologises to Hero before they are married for real and live happily ever after, but not before the more serious damage is done. Of all of Shakespeare's characters from the evil hunchbacked fiction of Richard III to the playful Puck, i would argue that Claudio and Hero are among the weakest and stupidest and I'll tell you why. Hero, much like Desdemona, is a very unfortunate product of her time and is notably one of the most frustrating female characters ever written - when faced with Claudio's rejection she fakes death and sits by until everything is resolved. She only utters a weak 'that's not true' to his accusations then takes him back in a heartbeat after he has publicly shamed her and physically pushed her around in front of everyone she knows. If Hero was a 21st century woman she would be the girl you use as a cautionary tale for so many reasons. And don't even get me started on Claudio.

It's after the reality check of this situation though that Benedick and Beatrice actually come clean to each other and find a sort of common ground amongst the utter disappointment with Claudio's actions. But what really drives home how strong these two are is how equal they make themselves to each other; Beatrice in a superbly passionate speech about women's suffrage instructs Benedick to kill Claudio to which he replies more or less that he will not but he loves her and they will figure out a solution together. 

Benedick, I think, is a surprising equalist. Written in a time where women were at fault in infidelity cases and men were right to abuse them, at no time does Benedick ever talk down to a female character on stage. He waffles about his perfect woman like a true lad, but the only woman he spars with is Beatrice and this battle of wits is what ultimately draws them together. He appreciates that Beatrice is outspoken and intelligent, and neither condemns Hero or allows himself to be browbeaten by Beatrice despite his desire to please her. Even though the things he says in the height of his verbal battle with Beatrice are strong, there is no point in any of his scenes that he ever leaves the realm of someone worthy of introduction to your mother. Even Darcy who acts like a snob for half of his story doesn't reach this bar, and just think about the bevy of other cads that Shakespeare wrote (I'm looking at you Lysander, Othello, Hamlet and Bertram). Benedick, for all his faults, is a good guy at the root of it.

And by now I have barely touched on all the elements to this play. There is plenty more about Beatrice and Benedick, Claudio and Hero, and the terrible Don John that I haven't even mentioned. More about the play's hidden meanings and truth that I could ponder. I could go on for hours, and would given the chance, to analyse and unweave the utter genius written in to what on the surface is such a great Romantic Comedy but I will leave you to think about it for yourselves.

There are some fantastic renditions of Much Ado About Nothing that I do recommend to anyone keen for a laugh, some Shakespeare love or even if you are new to the whole thing. I promise it's one of the bard's easiest works to understand and it will definitely cheer you up if you give it a try. Notable adaptations include the 1993 film featuring Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson (who were married at the time), a 2005 BBC modern version with Damian Lewis and Billie Piper, and my personal favourite: the 2011 live performance featuring Catherine Tate and David Tennant set in the 1980's. 

The 400th anniversary is a big deal so please check out some Shakespeare if you haven't already. His plays are entertaining to say the least and as relevant now as they were four centuries ago - and just think how much has changed since then. You may even learn something you didn't know before.

Sam xox

Monday, April 18, 2016

All or Nothing

Roger's and Hammestein wrote a song for the musical Oklahoma decades ago that details the relationship dynamic between Will and Ado Annie. An interesting role reversal actually, Annie is a flighty girl who 'can't say no' when men ask her for kisses or similar requests amongst the straw and Will is the cowboy turned farmer who's worked so hard to scrape up the money to marry her. But it's the message of the song that has always sat so well with me: All or nothing. 

I mentioned last night that I was an all or nothing kind of girl and I don't like to take halves. And it is true, although I'm not sure in the modern world it's necessarily applicable anymore. 

Trust me when I say that I want it to be so, but just listen to me first of all:

I made a bad decision that I don't regret - my last post will tell you all about it - and and ever since I've received lectures strong words and disappointment from my nearest and dearest. I made a rash and wild decision, sure, but the only person who stood to get hurt was myself so I figured it was a fair enough price to pay at the time. I still do and I'll tell you why, but each time I try to explain I'm questioned as to why I don't hold enough respect for myself.

I respect myself plenty, but playing by the rules my whole life and doing the right thing can't carry me anymore. They are dissatisfying. 

If I ever meet someone who is actually the whole packages for me, I'm talking conversation, sexy times and an actual (gods preserve me) relationship then great. But it has to be all or nothing.

A problem with this plan though is just that I'm just not sure if I can settle for nothing anymore. It was all well and good when I was younger, and even now if given the choice between love and sex I will absolutely choose love, but the lack of adventure, excitement and experience is starting to really bother me. 

It's not that I need a man to complete me, not at all, but I am genuinely starting to lose a zest for life. I'm getting bored with existing. 

I've travelled so much, I've achieved so much on my own already and I definitely want to keep doing that, but that's worryingly sometimes all I think I live for. And that's scary.

I said yesterday the only thing that scares me is lack of experiences - there's only so much I feel like I can continue to achieve on my own. I don't need a man to complete me but I do need experiences. Memories. Something to take with me to the afterlife or to look back on when I get to my deathbed.

It is so easy for other people to say relationships aren't all they're cracked up to be, or that shagging someone just for the fun of it isn't a good idea, but if they make me feel alive? 

I want to experience the fun side of sex. I want to know what it feels like for someone to be in love with me and actually reciprocate it. I want to know what it's like to hang out and actually receive a call or text later. I want to experience all these things that for most people are no big deal. I don't want to die, and for all I know it could be tomorrow, having regret that I never have.

So I listened to the devil on my shoulder, and you know what? I felt alive. He'll never love me, heck he'll never even date me, but he can't take that memory away from me. I got exactly what I wanted.

The other things might come someday, and I'll be honest and say that I need to tick them off my list or I'll die incomplete, but they aren't coming anytime soon. So I'll take whatever moments I can get. 

I am an all or nothing kind of girl, but I take what I get. I've had too many wasted opportunities to not, and wasted opportunities may as well be nails in my coffin. 

If someone ever comes along I will give them my absolute all. I struggle with giving people nothing when they deserve nothing or give me nothing, but I won't settle when it matters. 

I am the most important person in my life, I love myself first and I save myself first. That means that I give myself my all because I am an all or nothing kind of girl. I want it all and I won't settle for nothing. No half and half romance will do.

Sam xox 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Chronicle of a Fling

This is perhaps going to be the raciest post I have ever written, so you'll forgive me that this was never linked to my Facebook account as usual. Why draw attention to it? I write for myself to muddle through my own musings (hence the name) and if people read this then good for them. But no need to signal certain adults. Mum, Dad, Aunty, Grandad - if you happened to stumble across this I suggest you turn back now!

What constitutes a 'fling'? The Google Dictionary refers to a fling as 'a short period of enjoyment or wild behaviour'. By that reasoning I suppose that you could call this a fling that I am in the middle of currently, but then how short is 'short'?

For a little bit of background, here is my story:

My first time wasn't all that long ago and it was for all intents and purposes a one night stand; not because I met him that night but because our relationship virtually lasted that long. We met up for 3 whirlwind dates, he met my friends, the thing happened, and then he ghosted out like he'd never been there in the first place. 

The second time I actually managed to keep them around for a couple of weeks before they ghosted out of my life. A solid couple of dates, a solid couple of slumber parties, and a stimulating conversation later I was back to square one. 

Adult romance isn't going so well for me, and by almost 26 years old I am yet to ever have a proper relationship except the time I was 'going out' with a now-gay friend of mine for a few weeks and the most we ever did was hold hands.

There's been guys that have come and gone, never staying for long, like the one's I've met travelling and the ones that have always been unattainable. One such I still know now and whether I would want it to be more or not we have never been in the same place for long enough to actually make it happen. I don't think that long distance is good for me given that I have no outlet.

I am an all or nothing kind of girl.

Then this 'fling' happened and I don't entirely know how to feel about it.

It's been a few months now, irregular to say the least, and in a way I think that in terms of looking at it as a prospective relationship goes I've already been through the five stages of grief.

When this started I was the same old Sam; I figured hey maybe this time he will hang around. We talked, we went on a date, and then I'm an adult now (well, sort of) so the inevitable happened. And it was great. I was dating like a grown up and I was really OK with that - no more chaste romance for me even though I'm still that same Disney girl I used to be on the inside.

Then we had a long break (travelling, of course) then resumed for round two. And it was genuinely just for fun - I like the conversation as much as I liked the other things. I was just as keen to watch Netflix and chill as I was to Netflix and Chill, if you catch my drift.

But then like always the reality of the contemporary dating scene started to sink in: he's just not that into me. He wasn't out for a relationship like I was, I was kidding myself to think he cared, and I couldn't deny it any more. I got angry. I bargained with him, offering trades and attempting to meet halfway. My fore-mothers would be so disappointed.

So then I got depressed; there were real tears for the premature death of what I thought could possibly be something more for the lonely girl that lives inside me. And he's the rub: girl's talk. If you cross me or do me wrong then rest assured that my nearest and dearest are going to know about it. That's just the way that most of us are, and as someone who needs to express things to get them off my chest I make no apologies for this. But you need to remember that even if I can forgive you it doesn't mean that they will.

So I sort of moved on, I got over it. Acceptance. And I was able to see the bright side easier with the help of masculine influences out of state; one I wish, ever still, I could have had the chance to spend more time with. One whom the crush on is rather strong even if I suppose I don't know him all that well. We could have been more perhaps if distance wasn't such a factor.

Then Friday came.

Every now and then a mood will overcome me. Sometimes its a black mood driven by fury, sometimes its depression, sometimes its incandescent happiness - it doesn't really matter, but the point is I feel strongly and sometimes one of those feelings overcome all others until whatever is driving them runs its course whether or not I can actually pin-point the cause.

What overcame me Friday night wasn't one of those three, it was rather for lack of a better term: a demon. Not an Exorcist, 360 degree and vomit all over the carpet kind of demon, but like a trickster devil on my shoulder kind of demon. I didn't even see one drop of red wine past my lips before I knew I was I going to be making some bad choices and that I didn't care one bit. I even warned people in advance.

I went out, I had a lot of wine, I danced, I flirted, I didn't kiss a stranger but I certainly found myself in the arms of more than one and even though I was at a gay bar I couldn't be sure who's team they bat for. Then my already decided mood was spurned on by two different admissions from two different men:

1. The man I want but can't have for distance admitted to me he'd met someone, though when I am due to meet him next month he wants to see me still. For between now an then anything could happen.

I won't lie, for that would be pointless, and say that this knowledge didn't affect me. Of course it did, but in that mood I wasn't about to let anything make me sad. It did however make the devil on my shoulder more bold. So I was honest: I wished him well, hoped he was happy and said we'd reassess in 6 weeks. What else could I have said?

2. The man from a little while ago I mentioned earlier I'd wanted to date properly said something to make me jealous, what exactly I don't remember, then when I owned up to the fact that I was (devil-run Sam does not pussy-foot around) told me if it made me jealous then he was talking to other girls.

I'm not sure if he was just winding me up or what but it worked a treat because I took that challenge and threw down the gauntlet. Oh I still didn't kiss (or anything else) a stranger, not me, I made that man meet me half way and proceeded to engage in a particular racy, energetic marathon of making the 'beast with two backs'. That's right, Othello fans, I went there.

And even though the majority of my friends think I've lost my mind, made a terrible decision, and am in for just another world of hurt like a few weeks ago I genuinely regret nothing except that my flatmate turned friend was pissed to have him wind up in our house. Needless to say I can't bring him past the threshold of my dwelling again, and will need to (if necessary) resort to more desperate measures. Kind of like the ones taken at the beginning of that engagement in the first place.

I do keep expecting, however, to rescind into the melancholy I am used to. At the end of the day yes I do want a proper relationship and I know that I am not going to have it with this man. My friends have moved him to the enemy zone, and I can't have him at my house any more, but I only feel bad that I don't feel bad. Perhaps that devil on my shoulder is still running the show more than I realise but I feel totally fine.

Sure I am wondering if he is speaking to other girls or if he said that to more so make me wild with jealousy, and I am also wondering if I actually care or if it is a derision of that primal need for possession. He told me he was his after I threw down, but what does that even mean without the emotional? I'm hardly a Neanderthal.

Maybe I'm never going to find someone on the same level and same page as I to actually have a relationship, but maybe, just maybe, I can have an extended fling with someone whom I can have a laugh with and get to play dirty. Because damn if that wasn't a lot of fun.

And maybe I am on the contrary going to live to regret this eventually. But for the life of me why does it have to be love or sex? Why can't I have both, even if they are unrelated?

So I still don't know what to think, or how to feel, about this fling. I'm not afraid of the future.

The only thing that scares me is living a life without experience which is what I will do if I always let the angel dictate my actions. People don't make history by always playing by the rules.

Sam xox

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ignored

Sometimes I think one of the things that drive me the most crazy is without a doubt being ignored. 

I hate it and half the time I feel like I can't take it. I get so little attention as it is that when I send a message to someone only to have it read and not responded to, especially if I have asked a question, I can't help but turn into a demon.

An angry, spiteful demon that will no doubt either curse your name or shower you with so much attention that I'll be gleeful if you're annoyed. 

Because no one likes to be ignored. They teach us as children that if you ignore bullies or worries they'll eventually go away and it is true, but it's also a common way to deal, or rather not deal, with something you don't want to have to acknowledge.

I find that that thing people don't want to acknowledge is me. Not always, but enough that I'm distrustful.

It's hurtful, you know, when I send a message to someone or ask a question only to see that it has been read and received but ignored. It makes me furious, it makes me cry, because most of the time I am actually expecting a response and it upsets me when I don't. 

Consider how it feels then on top of that when it is someone you really care about or fancy. Like, say, asking someone on a date. Or for an opinion. Or how they are. When you do such and receive no acknowledgement at all it doesn't make you feel fondly of them, rather to the contrary I would say. 

When it happens to me depending on who it is and what I've asked my reactions tend to range from 'I'll take that as a no' to 'well fuck you then', to being so furious I can't see straight or crying my heart out. 

It's the worst when it is a friend or a guy that I like; when the response is really important. 

For example I am a brave sort, I like to think I put myself out there and I take chances. I asked one person on a date? Seen. I asked someone to be a friend on Facebook? Seen. I asked someone how their day ways? Seen. 

Now I'm no advocate of perfection but I don't ever intentionally leave people hanging this way; it's borderline cruel and I know exactly how it feels to be ignored so much. It fucking hurts. Every time. Don't I deserve the dignity of at least a response to say 'no thank you' to the date? An 'I'd rather not be friends on Facebook'? Or even 'fine' when I ask how you are?

At the end of the day I can't control anyone else around me or figure out how to lower my high standards of other people but I do know where I stand with my values. I do know what I expect from people and what I don't accept. To be ignored is not one of them, to be rude is not one either, and above all honesty is the key to closure. Just tell me the truth for the love of god rather than ignoring me and just hoping it will go away.

Because it might for you, and that's fine, but it doesn't for me. It hurts me. It scares me. You just join the list of all the others that don't give a damn, and I don't get to have closure. I don't get to move on, and I don't get to prance off Scot-free like you do. It's selfish and one day karma is more than likely going to drop-kick you right in the face like I probably wanted to do.

Don't ignore people; chances are they are just trying to reach out to you. If you can't reach back then say so but don't ignore them; you never know what your silence is doing to them. 

Only sociopaths don't care that they leave people cold, hurt and alone.  

Sam xox