Posted in dating, relationships

Cruel To Be Kind

I am not the type to play games. I consider myself to be a straightforward person in most aspects of my life, but especially when it comes to dating (or not dating, as the case may be).

The thing is, I’ve been on the other end of the equation far too many times to ever be cavalier about another person’s feelings. I’ve been strung along and lured into believing there’s something there when there isn’t; I’ve been on the receiving end of too many “non-rejections” because the other person was too afraid of hurting my feelings to be honest with me.

I think sometimes the hardest part is not knowing. Its like waiting for any test results, its the waiting itself that’s agonising; you really just want to know if you’ve passed or failed so that you can move on with your life one way or another. I think people, more than anything, just want certainty.

I get it though. Any conversation where there’s a chance of hurting the other person’s feelings is bound to be awkward. There is no kind way of saying, actually, I can’t see this working out between us. People, myself included, resort to tactics like simply ignoring texts (“ghosting” as one of my other dates called it), giving off “friend vibes” during dates (such as refusing to hold their hand during a long movie; note to self – do not ever watch any instalment of LOTR or The Hobbit unless you’re really sure of your bloody date) or just simply going off the other person’s radar.

I read a blog once that said that our generation, The Tinder Generation, tend to see dates as disposable. Its apparently so easy to get dates these days – as easy as swiping right with your index finger – that dating itself has lost much of its value. Just like everything else in the 21st century, we’ve found a way to make something that used to take so much work and effort into a fast, efficient and effective (for some anyway) machine.

While I disagree with the whole dating is easy thing (even with Tinder I struggle), I can’t deny that I’ve absorbed just a little the mentality of “oh if it doesn’t work out, you can always swipe right for the next guy“. I’d like to think I put in an effort for every date, but is it easier to date because you know there’s a safety net of an app that has already lined up a plethora of other choices for you?

I’m ashamed to say there was a time when I resorted to ghosting someone who had gotten too intense too soon. And then I read that article and I was filled with so much remorse because if I put myself in that other person’s shoes, that’s not how I want to be treated. So as painful as it was to have an honest conversation with the guy, I managed to get through it.

I was honest about having second thoughts and why I was having them; I was magnanimous enough to say I’m happy to try a second date but that I though our basic incompatibility was just too big a hurdle to overcome. I don’t think he was very pleased with that decision, but he appreciated the honesty and I slept better at night for having had the guts to just say ‘not interested’.

If I have one wish, its that we need not go through so much overanalyses when it comes to dating. I mean, maybe the uncertainty is part of the allure for some. But all the misconstruing just leads to unnecessary stress and heartache; a lot of our problems can be avoided if we just say what we mean and mean what we say. Its not rocket science people. You like someone, you say it. You don’t like someone, don’t date them.

I personally don’t subscribe to this whole giving-them-a-chance nonsense. I think you know straight out of the gate if there’s potential or not. And I’m now at that age where I don’t want to waste my time with someone (and potentially lead them on) all in the name of kindness. If I’ve been on a date, especially if its gone past the first date, its because I’ve wanted to be there.

I go with my gut instinct most of the time, and its never failed me. Yes I’m still single, but I’m also not stuck in an unhappy relationship just because I was in love with the idea of one (or just because I was pressured by society!). I think the worst thing to be is to find yourself in a hole of your own making just because you didn’t have the guts to be alone and hold out for the right guy.

I guess I’m just writing this to reaffirm some of my personal dating credo. I know scruples and principles don’t mean much anymore, but my conscience simply won’t allow me to date without them.

Don’t lead them on.

Say what you mean, mean what you say.

Don’t force yourself to feel what you don’t feel.

If its right, its easy.

Don’t think yourself shallow just because you need to be attracted to whoever you’re dating. If it works out, you’re potentially going to wake up seeing that mug every morning. That’s a huge decision to make!

A little sense of humour goes a long way.

If he doesn’t understand sarcasm, run the other way. Lol

And always, always, be honest.

Be honest about what you want and what you don’t want.Kindness is very subjective, but I think we can all agree that its kinder to reject than to string along; its kinder to rip off the band-aid with the truth, than to leave a wound to fester underneath. Its kinder to say no right now than to say no later down the road when you’ve already invested real emotions.

And really, you’re being kinder to yourself if you allow yourself to be happy in your own company while you wait for the right person, than to subject yourself to the agony of “settling”. And whatever lies you tell yourself, bowing to the dictates of others and making a decision you wouldn’t normally make just because you feel pressured and you want to be “kind” is settling.

Like the old saying goes, sometimes you just have to be cruel (even to yourself) in order to be kind.

Posted in dating, Feminism, Filipino, relationships, Self-Discovery

Where’s Your Boyfriend?

Every time I come for a visit to the Philippines – and especially as I reach that age where everyone you know is either a wife or a mother – there’s just that little bit of anxiety and a touch of resentment mixed in with the all the excitement.

You see, I come from a culture where its more or less expected, nay, required for a woman to be either in a serious relationship if not married by the age of 25. For a long long time I bought into the whole Stepford wife illusion of white picket fences, loving husband and 2.5 babies. That to me was THE goal.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, moving to London saved my life.

The Giving Tree

I once volunteered to help less fortunate children to read and one of the books we read was The Giving Tree. I must have been 27 at the time and I remember trying my best to keep it together and to keep my emotions in check so that I wouldn’t blubber like a nutter in front of all those kids who had so much more to worry about than my love life.

I was in a very self-destructive, unhealthy and pathetically one-sided relationship in college that gave new meaning to the word friend zone. I lost myself completely in my misguided quest to make another person love me. I was stupid enough to believe, just like that bloody giving tree, that if you give of yourself enough that other person will love you back.

It took me about 8 years to realise that love doesn’t work that way. You shouldn’t have to work so hard to make someone else love you. You don’t need to lose yourself in a relationship. Even as you become partners in all things, its still healthy to retain that sense of individuality, and the sense of who you are as a person outside of the relationship. In short, to be able to truly give yourself to someone, you have to be whole, and you have to know and love yourself first.

This was not an easy lesson for me to learn and in a way, I’m probably still in the process of learning it. Its hard for me not to be a giver (I probably always will be) and it was so hard for me to gain back my self-esteem and my self-respect.

That’s one of the main reasons why I’ve remained single for a long long time. I date, sure, but at the back of my mind I know that my head wasn’t in the right place for me to even think about starting anything serious. I had so much to discover about myself, so much lost time to make up for, so many things that I still need to do and a boyfriend would just get in the way.

I’ve probably been a bit self-absorbed for the last 6 years or so – about the length of time that I’ve lived and worked in London. It was all about what I want to do, what I need to learn, where I need to go. I enjoyed the freedom of having no one to think about apart from myself. If I make mistakes no one else needs to suffer from it.

And to be honest that was probably a good thing. My experimental forays into trying things that are outside my comfort zone have gained me new skills, new friends and new experiences that cannot be bought by any kind of money. I have a job I love even as it often gives me stress, a side job that pays me to do one of the things I enjoy most, a blog that keeps me sane, a comfortable flat, and the kind of life that if I really think about it, brings me happiness. I’m one application (and 2 thousand pounds) away from being British. I’m so damn proud of all my achievements and I’ve never had any reason to doubt myself and my life choices. Until I come home to the Philippines of course.

I’m Alone…But Not Lonely

Look, I date okay. Not that I need to explain myself to anyone, but I do in fact go on several dates a year. The quality of those dates are sometimes suspect and none of them have panned out yet, but I’ve yet to lose hope that I’ll meet that someone and I’ll just know it was worth waiting and holding out for something more meaningful than a one-night stand.

I know, I know, I turned 30 and I’m losing fertile eggs as we speak. But seriously, the notion that being a wife or a mother is the measure of how successful a woman is is really outdated. I came home this year and people start to look at me funny because I don’t have a man by my side or an infant in my arms. No one wants to hear about every thing else I’ve done or what I have achieved, they just want to look at my finger to see if anyone’s put a ring on it.

I admit, I had my moment of panic when I turned 30. For maybe a day. And then I gave myself a kick in the arse and reminded myself that first of all, its not a race to the finish and second of all, 30 isn’t exactly ancient. I’ve had dates that never would have taken me as seriously at 27 as they do now. My life isn’t over, its not quite time for me to think about adopting cats yet.

The Measure of Success

It drives me mad to think that there are people who think I’m somehow less just because I’m “still” single. I have all the admiration in the world for mothers and for women who have chosen to start a family even at the expense of having a career – I think those women should be celebrated (sainted, really). But equally, credit should be given to those women who chose the other fork in the road and have fought to build a career despite the challenges and yes, despite being alone for most of it.

And its not like motherhood is not part of the plan. I, for one, would like to see my genes propagated (is that the right word?), but I’m not sitting around twiddling my thumbs while waiting for the future Mr. Angela. Its part of my bigger plan, its not my only plan. So yes, I do want to get married eventually and this is the first time that I can honestly say I’m ready for it (cue Taylor Swift music) so the answer to that question is a “not yet” rather than a hard “no”.

I hate having to defend my life choices to other people, I promised myself that I would rise above the weight of society’s expectations (I absolutely knew this was coming). It sickens me to think that I can still be affected by other people’s small minds and narrow world-views. I sometimes want to scream in frustration that there is a world out there bigger than the very small circle in which your lives revolve, but I don’t want to seem like I’m belittling anyone’s life or the choices they have made. I just wish they’d exercise the same caution when they choose to judge mine.

Where’s Your Boyfriend?

I don’t know. I don’t know where my boyfriend is. Twice in the past 6 years I thought I’ve found him but it turned out I haven’t. I haven’t met him yet, but I can feel myself getting closer. I’m enjoying the roundabout journey I’m taking to find him. It might take me a little longer, but when I meet him he can be sure that I’m whole, I’m ready, and I’m excited to share my passions, my dreams, and my life with him and to have him share his with me in turn.

Like I said, there’s a great big world out there for me to see. Life is one very exciting adventure and it would sure be grand to be holding someone’s hand as I live through it.

So for all you women out there who get asked the same questions from well-meaning and sometimes not so well-meaning friends and family: DO NOT GIVE IN. DO NOT SETTLE. And absolutely DO NOT let it be a factor in your decisions. You will come to it in your own damn time, and in your own way. Be strong.

Posted in dating, Feminism, relationships

Of Retinal Detachments (Maybe!) and Late Night Realisations 

It was the middle of the night and I was caught in a rather strange dream about two of my workmates when my sister suddenly barged into my room, frightened, because she had a sudden blurring of vision on one eye. Being a nurse aaaaand somewhat of a hypochondriac my brain automatically goes to the worst case scenario. Some people would probably think its nothing, but I immediately think retinal detachment, macular degeneration and oh God, let’s go to the A and E.

It made me think about the other times that my sister would come barging into my room with one form of complaint or another, whether its the fact that we’ve suddenly lost the wifi or something more serious like when the time she had severe abdominal pain (and we really HAD to go to the A and E because her pain tolerance is minimal to the point of nonexistence). She comes in expecting me to be the mature adult when I really have no idea what I’m doing half the time. Its funny because really, between the two of us my sister would probably be considered more mature but when it comes to acting quickly in a crisis, I’m your girl. 

My brain doesn’t believe in wasting time. It will automatically go into problem solving mode and switch from ‘Houston we have a problem‘ to ‘okay, what can we do?’. That’s not to say I’m fearless; in fact, I’m probably scared shitless the whole time. But the way I deal with fear is to eliminate the source as quickly as possible and most of the time fear comes with the unknown. So no matter how bad it might be, I would always search for answers and the root cause of the problem so I can go about looking for solutions. I’ve never really thought about it, but I suppose this is one of my greatest strengths.

Its also incredibly exhausting.

And when Arlene came into my room that night, I found myself wishing there was someone else with me to support me for a change, someone I can rely on and count on, even if its just someone who will call an Uber whil I deal with my sister. I am usually the first person to bolster someone who’s feeling lonely and afraid because they’re single. I am probably the poster child for single adulthood because I can say with all honesty that I’ve never felt like there was something missing in my life just because I don’t have a boyfriend/partner/husband. It would certainly be nice, but its not something I would force or rush into just for the sake of it. Its too important a life decision to treat impulsively.

But that feeling of wanting someone as a partner came over me suddenly that night, I have to say. Not to use as a crutch, but like I said, it would be nice to have a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold as I face life’s many inevitable problems. Its the kind of feeling that probably means my online dating presence will be much more rampant in the coming days.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I’m generally a very strong person, it would be nice not to have to be strong all the time, to trust someone enough to let go of the reins and to be able to cede control of my life to another person for a few moments, trusting that they’ll act in my best interests and that when I’ve recharged they’ll hand it over to me, and I will be all the better for it. To me, that’s what being in a relationship means and if that’s what’s waiting for me at the end of all this dating palaver, I will gladly go on Tinder and whatever other online dating app there is. 

I talk to the universe and God less and less about my love life because I think they have other more important things to worry about but just in case they’re in the middle of a break and have 3 seconda to spare, this is me asking nicely for them to give a girl a break, enough is enough, maybe its my turn to win the relationship lottery huh? Its been a long time coming. 

Posted in dating, london, relationships

Seventeen Thoughts That Run Through Your (or MY) Head on A First Date

I have been called a serial first dater so many times. Dating for me is like one of those things that I need to tick off on my yearly to do list, like: travel ✔️try a new workout ✔️lose a few kilos ✔️ go on a date ✔️✔️

As I always explain when people ask me why I’m single, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m somehow less just because I’m not one half of a couple. I do my own thing and live my life the way I want it to, not as society expects me to. But every now and again I do feel like it would be nice to have someone to share these experiences with and so commences my annual dating bonanza, a series of first dates that never really lead anywhere.

I think bad dates are a universal experience. I certainly have my share of stories to tell but apart from the initial apprehension, I do enjoy meeting and getting to know someone. Here are some of the thoughts that inevitably run through my head on a first date:

  1. Oh God, what am I going to wear?
  2. Hair up or hair down? Hair up makes me look more chic but hair down hides the fact that my face is as big as the moon. What to do, what to do?
  3. Am I wearing too much perfume?
  4. God, let this case finish early so I can get out of the hospital with enough time to freshen up.
  5. Why why why did I schedule a date on a work night?!
  6. Damn, I should have taken the tube instead of the bus.
  7. Please Lord, let him look better than he does in the photos.
  8. Oh, and please don’t let him be a psycho.
  9. Okay, he’s attractive enough. I can work with this.
  10. Hmm, has a sense of humour. Great.
  11. Would it look bad if I get another glass of wine?
  12. Why do first dates in this country mean just drinks? I’m really hungry and could do with some food.
  13. Pace yourself, anj. You know you have to drink water in between liquor so that you don’t get too drunk.
  14. This date is going better than I thought it would.
  15. Yes, there is definite second date potential here.
  16. Ah, the goodnight kiss.

And depending on how well number 16 went….
17. Please let him text me. I really like this guy.
Hahahahahahaha

I don’t know why I constantly find myself on a first date situation. It would be nice to try a long-term thing for a change but I’ve come to accept that if its not in the cards for me, I’m gonna have to learn to deal with it. The one thing I don’t want is to feel pressured to settle just because society dictates that women have to be married at a certain age. Don’t ever settle, people. The kind of love we’re all looking for is worth the effort, the wait and the endless first dates.