Relationships and dating 101
Relationships are hard work.
I've done marriage
I've done online dating
I've done old school dating.
I have learnt and reflected on what I have experienced. I hope I'm wiser for it.
I'm not going to go into detail and explain why it ended, as I have touched on this in my other blogs.
What I haven't expanded on is what I did wrong and what I can learn from this:
You can never change someone: I was fixated on trying to change my ex to become the husband I wanted. This included getting him to communicate better, be more ambitious and lose weight (he was obese at one point and I was worried about health implications). If there is a character trait that you're not happy with, either you have to accept and live with it, decide it is a 'red line' (ideally before getting marriage) and move on. My sister said to me I was probably became so fixated on changing him into the 'husband' I wanted as I wasn't happy or in love. She is probably right.
Prioritise the relationship: I put my career first. One day I woke up and decided 'eff it' if he's going to keep being physically abusive to me then I'm at least going to try achieve my ambitions (a career in paediatric oncology) and that will be my priority in life. I decided I was going to pursue my dream of working in Great Ormond Street Hospital, and applied for a paediatric training post in London whilst the ex-husband was studying in Liverpool. At the same time a funded academic training post (with protected research time and a funded MSc) was advertised in Yorkshire. I applied on a whim, not thinking I'd get it, but somehow got an offer (don't ask why). I ended up giving up on the GOSH dream as I would probably never get this opportunity again and sadly turned down my invitation to attend an interview for paediatric training in London. I ended up moving to Yorkshire and lived separately from my ex. When I got the offer, I decided straight away I was going to do it. I never factored in my marriage/ex into this decision and moved to Yorkshire to do start this post whilst he lived in Liverpool. Although I'm eternally grateful I prioritised my career as otherwise I would have walked away from an abusive 7 year marriage with nothing, I realised this is the wrong attitude to have for the right relationship. A marriage should be a partnership which involves mutual understanding, support and respect for each others goals. I think it is VERY difficult to live separately from your husband/wife. Long distance relationships add even more strain to a relationship which requires effort and hard work. I would be reluctant to live away from a spouse (even for a year) as I think you have to live together to maintain a strong relationship.
Patience and tolerance: You don't usually respond in a short/rude manner when your work colleagues annoy you, as it wouldn't be accepted and you want to be perceived in the best 'light'. However, we sometimes take our partners/families for granted. If anything, you should treat those closest to you the best whilst having understanding that your other half may be abrupt or annoyed with you because they had a bad day. Whilst it's not acceptable to be a 'punching bag', having some patience will go a long way. Usually a person is narky because of their problems rather than yourself being the cause of their annoyance. However, there should be a red line (e.g. swearing, insults, physical and emotional abuse) which is not tolerated and this should be clearly communicated.
You and hubby are batting for the same team: Your partner is on your side and you are not enemies. I used to feel my ex-husband didn't have my back and at times was defensive because of this. By this, I don't mean blindly supporting a partner if they've done something wrong (it would be your duty to identify and guide them in the right direction), but having someone to lean/rely on make things a little easier when you are going through a difficult/stressful time etc.
Ive used quite a few apps. I've concluded most guys online are:
Bad boys/players/shady characters
In my opinion the ideal guy would have the balance of attraction, being a bit 'cheeky' whilst being nice.The probability of meeting this person online is very slim. However, you only increase your chances of meeting the right person if you keep as many avenues open as possible.
I don't discourage online dating, especially if your social life is limited (e.g. colleagues/friends are all female/ in committed relationships etc). The bulk of my dating experience is from meeting guys using online dating apps.
Some girls like super nice guys and thats fine, they will always treat you well.
I am going to highlight the 'red flags' a guy may have. You should avoid and cut these guys as soon as you come across a red flag, and avoid like the plague:
The guy with no online profile: Most people have a digital trace. E.g. facebook, instagram, work profile, limited company etc. Guys who don't, are usually due to 1 of 2 reasons;
1) They have something to hide (e.g. in a relationship, date multiple girls etc)
2)They have made a conscious decision to avoid social media (and fair play- social media use has been linked to an increased risk of developing depression). However these guys, should not appear 'shady'. They shouldn't be hiding themselves. They should be open and receptive e.g. send normal pictures without heads being chopped off, reply at normal times etc.
Your gut is usually right: If something feels off, it's because something is off.
The guy who is 'about' to leave his partner: <5% of guys in relationships ever leave their spouses. RUN and AVOID like the plague. If someone is serious, they would do the right thing and withdraw until their relationship has finished and all the dust has settled. Guys using this line are usually just looking for a bit of fun, but taking advantage of 'gullible' nature.
The guy already in a relationship: These guys are very 'hot and cold'. One minute they're so into you, the next minute they are cold and ignoring your messages. They are only free to meet on certain days at certain times on their terms. They ignore your messages, but respond weeks later. They are only free to meet once every 6 weeks because they are busy. These guys 'hide you', don't introduce you to their friends and they're reluctant to talk to you openly in public. They always want to meet in different cities and have to be home by a certain time. These guys always pay in cash (to avoid leaving an electronic trail). They are AWOL for periods of time and 'ghost' you intermittently. AVOID like the plague- these guys are (non symbiotic ha ha) parasites.
The guy with actions that don't match their words: NB actions TRUMP words every time. If a guy is saying they are looking for a relationship but behaving like someone who wants a bit of fun, they are looking for fun. Signs of this include if a guy is fixated on your physical appearance, ask who you live with before asking your name. The guy who says they are getting to know you because they want a serious relationship, but don't message for days, never ask how you are, or enquire about your life.
The ego boost: These guys are serial chronic texters. Getting to know someone online/texting for a bit is fine for a few weeks, or at most a few months. However, if the guy hasn't suggested meeting in person by a month-6 weeks in or hasn't given a good enough reason to why they can't meet in person (busy isn't good enough), then they are not interested in you. They are communicating. They are messaging you because they're enjoying the attention, ego boost or you are making them feel better.
Old school dating
Perhaps less common (especially when most of your social circle are in committed relationships).
Finding the match of a person approaching you and actually being interested is tricky. Especially when people are comfortable with technology, social media and online dating. This is the type of dating I am least experienced with. However, learning points from online dating and the previous marriage can be applied here. There is the added bonus of actually seeing the person before getting to know them further. You don't need to worry about whether the 'chemistry' will be there. However, you do have to develop an 'intellectual connection' which can be tricky to establish if you don't have a prior friendship established.
Aside from meeting my ex-husband at university. I have actually only spoken to a few guys whom I met in 'real life'. Even though it was more satisfying to initially connect with someone face to face I found finding someone with the right personality difficult.
I decided sometimes that it is unlikely I would ever meet an ideal person on line.
I made a plan: eff all this crap. I thought about the things which made me happy: running, weightlifting, doctor-ing and Phd-ing (when Im not stressed). These will be my numero uno priorities in life as they make me the happiest. If anything is to happen it will happen around these priorities and if a guy was interested enough, they will show their interest and make effort.
I'm quite old school in the sense I prefer a guy to to make a move and be the 'driving force'. I want to meet someone who is mature and responsible enough to do/know what he wants. I had never approached a guy for their number.
However, after all the bad dating experiences I figured if there is someone who has potential then it would be worth making 'extra effort'.
There is a guy I have known for sometime. I got to know his personality in person and liked the banter we had. It grew organically. I liked what I saw and liked his character. Whilst he dropped flirty hints (so much so even I noticed), he never actually made a move. It started driving me bonkers so in the end I exasperatedly said "can I ask a question?""are you EVER going to bother asking me for my number?" we swapped numbers. It took him 3 weeks to message (he went down a couple of notches haha).
I was annoyed that I had to make a move (it was the first time in my life that I asked a guy for his number). I decided it is rare that I actually meet a guy who I like so took the risk (tbh I only did this because the flirting was blindingly obvious). We are currently messaging. Right now I'm not sure he is 'ego boosting texting' but I will give it a bit of time. I'm not expecting it go anywhere (I suspect it would have by now). However, I'm pleased I got over my mental hurdle and 'made the first move'. I would do it again.
Most girls are pleasers. They worry about what a guy is feeling or thinking and is scared that what they say or do may push them away. It is important to decide what are your deal breakers (or moral code) and DO NOT change them for anyone.
I used to 'tip toe' around guys as I worried about upsetting them, making them angry and scare them off. The only person who suffers from this behaviour is yourself. Whilst guys are innately visual creatures they are also fairly decent judges of character, can sniff a 'walkover' a mile off, and may take advantage of this. Whilst you may think you are being nice, they're just laughing as they are using you for what ever parasitic need they have. Without being controversial are the 'mean' girls ever single? No. They have their boundaries and don't take shit.
If a guy is really interested, he will respect your boundaries and moral compass. He will persist and go out of his way to prove himself.
Regarding anyone else-they may like you, but not be interested in taking it further. These are 'time wasters' try identify this early so you don't waste your emotional energy and resources on them.
If a guy doesn't reply to your message. He's not interested. Full STOP. None of this 'too busy' with family/work etc business. If he really is busy he'll send a brief message/ explain he is under stress/ respond at some point. Even if a person is abroad they can communicate. Lack of communication in the digital age indicates lack of interest.
Also, if a guy who you are interested in views your snap or instagram stories it really does mean nothing. Digital/social media 'addiction' is a thing (wait for future blog post) people just view stories out of habit, even if they're not following you, it is human nature to be curious.
If they're really interested they'll get intouch. End of.
A final comment- this post isn’t about those looking for ‘casual fun’.