Big girl pants.

 

Some days you have to put your big girl pants on, even if you don’t feel like it. Some days are just a bit crappy and all you want to do is sit and moan about how shit and unjust things and PEOPLE are and wonder what they very hell is wrong with you. And wallow. Wallowing is allowed though, you know. Just maybe for not too long, it can be cathartic for a while, then it just turns into self pity which is no good to anyone.

Yes, there will be a silver lining, yes, things happen for a reason and all that jazz. And yes, one day you will look back and realise that actually, this is probably a good thing, this was meant to happen. But now? No, now is for feeling a bit sad and wanting to eat garlic bread and Maltesers and get a fat food baby bloaty tum. Which actually, works to make you feel better, until you realise that will not actually help the situation and mentally make a note to go on a 12 mile run as soon as possible. Until you realise you’ve not run 12 miles in months and that’s as likely to happen as the whole of August being sunny in the UK. <shoves another Malteser in mouth>

Luckily, the big girl pants are big enough to go over the fat bloaty tum and you know the 12 mile run will happen, just probably in 3 separate occasions. And you know that sometimes, it’s not you, it IS them. And it IS their loss, as much as you might feel like it’s yours right now. And that no, there isn’t something wrong with you (although you do wonder).

The pants have superpowers. For those people going through a shitty relationship time right now (you know who you are), pull them up and embrace the power. Remember that one day this WILL all be a memory. There IS a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is shining brighter and lighter than ever before. There’s a new life waiting for you that, yep, isn’t the one you imagined, but maybe, just maybe it’s actually a whole load better. How about that thought? You are doing amazingly, you have no idea how much. You, at some point – months, maybe even years down the line, you’ll look back at this time, and wonder how the very fuck you did it. Maybe even laugh at the absurdity of it all. But right now, doing it you are, and with the utmost dignity. There’s no rule book, there’s no guidelines, just Big Girl Pants and a pair of hypothetical balls to strap on and fill them with.

Mine are Batman ones.

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Tinder trouble.

So I was persuaded to do a Tinder experiment this week by some mates and to report back in a blog post. Because when you’re single, people tend to start saying stuff like “why don’t you try internet dating, ooh try Tinder” blah blah blah. Some because they think I should be in a relationship, some because they think it would be fun for me and some because it would be fun for them to live vicariously through me. So I’ll start with the caveat that I’m not looking for a relationship, or even to date really. I’m quite perfectly happy being single and already know internet dating wouldn’t be for me anyway, even if I was looking. I just want to make new friends.

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So this will be a pretty heavily biased review as I’m not really the target audience for it, but I thought I’d be open minded and give it a go and see what happened. If anything, I like chatting to people and might end up making a new friend or two out of it. IT COULD BE FUN. If anything, hopefully it will provide you a laugh reading this.

For anyone who doesn’t know, Tinder is a phone app where you upload a few photos and a bit of blurb about yourself then either swipe left (no) or swipe right (yes) if you like the look of someone. Then they do the same. And if both people swipe right, you’re a match can message each other. Really simple, if not totally superficial. I suspect it’s predominately used for no strings fun and doubt it’s designed to meet your soulmate if you subscribe to that kind of thing.

So, I stuck a profile with some blurb about how I was new to Cheltenham, liked the outdoors, travel and anything sporty and wasn’t looking for just a hook up. Thought that might ward away any weirdos at the offset just wanting to get in my pants. But here was the first hurdle. What photos to put on? A lot of mine are instagrammed to shit. So they look alright but probably give a false impression. What if I actually meet these people? Will they be hugely disappointed when they meet me and realise I don’t actually look like that? No one wants THAT, even if I don’t actually give a shit. I want to put nice pictures, of course. No one wants no matches. THE PRESSURE. In the end I figured that I probably wouldn’t meet any of these people, it was just an experiment so it didn’t really matter anyway. (Ha! Rookie mistake.) Decided on a mix of decent pictures and a couple where I’m in the middle of a run or hike which obviously show my ‘sporty’ side. That would do. Helpful tip: the app defaults to your last 3 or 4 facebook photos but you can change them. Handy if one of your last couple of profile pictures is you in your underwear, that’s not going to help the no hookup message. Even if it is sportswear.

Verdict: Felt like I was putting myself up for sale in a catalogue or a competition prize “ooh, look what you could win”. Hmmm.

So, personal advert to the men of Cheltenham done, I set my search criteria (you can choose to view people by age, proximity etc.). Ruled out any real youngsters and oldies. Let’s keep it real people.

Now the fun could begin. And it was fun. For about half an hour. Then I got a bit bored. If you are someone who judges people on their looks then you’ll be alright I think. Lots of people to scrutinise. There’s a lot of people that hadn’t put much thought into what photos they were going to post. Or maybe they had, and they were being ironic. So I DID had a real giggle at what I was having to work with to make my swiping dilemmas. They kind of fell into a few camps, I saw the same kind of patterns. Here’s the kind of things that made me swipe left (no way Jose):

  • Anyone with pictures that weren’t them (cartoon characters, animals, landscapes). So do you actually look like Bart Simpson? Obviously not. And I don’t actually care enough to find out otherwise.
  • Bed selfies/half naked selfies. Now, I’m aware how hypocritical this is, I’m partial to both of these. But not on Tinder.
  • Shower selfies. Nah.
  • People without much/any blurb. I need some info people. You might look hot but if you’re into dog fighting or something. No.
  • Pictures where you’re holding up knives and guns. (Yes, really). OK they might be toys but still.
  • People with more than one photo where they look different in each one. Do you have a non-identical twin? Or just hardly any photos?
  • People who just post group pictures. WHICH ONE ARE YOU?
  • Pictures of penis’s (penii?). When is that EVER attractive?
  • Pictures of muscles. There’s a LOT of these in Cheltenham. Just like fancy cars, these don’t do it for me. Being fit, healthy and lean, yep. Triangle muscle men? Nah, not for me thanks.
  • Pictures of your achievements in the newspaper. Tell me about it instead.
  • Onesie pictures. Pretty sure a picture of me in my pyjamas wouldn’t be that interesting to you either.
  • Pictures not of your face. Specifically, the back of your head. Am sure no one ever met up with someone because the back of their head is nice. Although, if you’ve got a shaved head the shape of your head is important, so…. anyway. I digress.
  • Photos in fancy dress. I can’t see what you look like with half the face paint counter on. Although, clearly this shows you are up for a laugh and fun. Apart from the fact that you’re dressed as a serial killer.
  • Marine’s or Marine wannabees. Been there, done that. You won’t match up.
  • One picture, no blurb, the picture being you in a suit of armour. You’re probably going for ‘hey I’m funny, swipe to see and find out more’. But frankly, I can’t be fucking arsed.
  • Just one picture. I need to see more to see whether that was just a good picture. Or a shit picture. Because, well, it’s amazing how different people can be in photos at a different angle….
  • Pictures of you doing lots of activities like bungy jumping and sky diving. It’s good because I’d probably like you but I also can’t see what you look like.
  • People with catalogue photos and blurb saying you’re not single but after a good time. Err, no thanks buddy. Try imboredinmymarriage.com
  • Clearly photoshopped images. That 6 pack isn’t yours, is it love?
  • No picture at all – not sure you’ve grasped the concept of this…
  • Really pixelated photos. You know you can preview no?
  • People not smiling. Come on!
  • ALL your pictures are of your six pack. One OK, more than 1? Obsessive.
  • Pictures of cars. ARE YOU A CAR?
  • Picture of a beach. ARE YOU THE OCEAN?
  • A picture of a sandwich. White bread? No, no, no.
  • Blurb that includes gems such as “ I don’t bite….unless you want me to” and “willing to lie about how we met” and “good luck” (WTF!) or “not on here much” (what’s the point then?)
  • People that look like they’re from TOWIE or Made in Chelsea. Just not my cup of tea.
  • People that look like they spend more time the bathroom than I do. To be fair though, this is not actually that difficult, I’m not a preener.
  • Posts like they’re written by someone’s pet. Cooky or just weird?
  • Anyone that looks or sounds like my ex husband. Sorry, can’t do it.
  • Pictures of your feet. With shoes or not, I don’t have a foot fetish.
  • Photos of you naked sat on the toilet. REALLY?
  • Anyone with the name Dopeboy. No.
  • Staring intently into the camera lens. Like a serial killer.
  • Putting your mobile number in your blurb.
  • Photos all from one side of your face. What’s wrong with the other side?
  • Pictures of you in womens clothing. Hmm, not sure.
  • Putting your snapchat name in your blurb. You just want to send pictures of your dick and see pictures of my tits, don’t you?
  • A selfie clearly taken in bed with a girlfriend (now chopped out). You couldn’t take another one? Surely you own a phone?
  • A picture of you with 1D when they were about 12. Is that a good claim to fame for a 30 year old man? Swiped right for this one though.
  • Excessive use of exclamation marks. Every! Word! Should! Not! End! In! An! Exclamation! Mark!
  • When I fancied their mates in their pictures more than the person. Made me wonder if their mates were on Tinder too….

So that kind of ruled out A LOT of people. I didn’t swipe right that much. Mainly just for people that looked happy, smiley and that seemed to do similar stuff to me. Running pictures generally got a thumbs up, as did cycling or bungee jumping, or anything sporty. I figured if I’m going to make any friends, it might as well be with people I’ve got stuff in common with.

I still didn’t like it though. I felt like I was being hugely judgemental. Does that mean I should swipe right for everyone? No, I don’t think so. It means for me that I shouldn’t use shit like this. I’m not a judgemental person at all, and will talk to anyone and everyone. Prefer to do that in person though and not have to make a decision by swiping left or right.

And this was before any bloody messaging was going on.

So, if both people swipe right, then that’s a match. A match. Which brings with it fear and dread. And anticipation. Who should message first? Is it gentlemanly for them to start? What should you say? Is there tindering etiquette? How long should you wait? I don’t bloody know. Is there game playing and rules? Meh, bollocks to that if there is. I settled for a cheery hello, if I’d not already been messaged first. That’d do eh?

So, next there is chit chat over messages. Now there are even more important things to think about. Like how many smileys are too many? Will I sound like an alcoholic if I share drinking stories? Are typos acceptable? How do I say I’m only really looking to make friends? How long do you message before you meet up? Should you meet up? How do you know if you want to meet up? How many times can I type lol without sounding like a teenager? Should messages be flirty? How can messages be flirty? I’m shit at flirting. Or knowing when people are flirting.

After at least 30 seconds pondering all that, I decided to just be myself. No point in being anything else. If people don’t like my excessive use of smileys or lols, then I don’t want to be their friend. Lol. 😛

I’ve been told it’s pretty normal for people on tinder/internet dating etc. to be ‘chatting’ to many people at once. So it’s also normal for people to know when you are active, leading to cries of “but they haven’t replied to my message but they were active 10 minutes ago”. ‘Last seen’ and ‘Read’ are inventions of evil, according to my online dating friends. But this also means that it’s quite easy to drop people. Just stop messaging them. Apparently, after discussing this with people, it’s a harsh world out there. When people are behind your computer screen it seems some manners go out the window, under the pretence of efficiency and getting on with it. “Why waste time?” seems to be a general thought. Seems a bit harsh to me but I guess a lot of people are on a relationship-gaining mission and Nothing Will Come In Their Way. Especially as you get older, because society tells us that we must be odd and weird if we are Still Single in our 30’s and so some people start panicking.

One of them asked me what I did for a living and I told him. Haven’t heard from him since. Nada, Maybe he’s had a bad experience with a HR consultant at some point. Should I be offended? No idea. I’m not.

A couple of them I will meet, whether I actually wanted to or not, as they’re members of the running club I will join (when I actually have time). Obviously potential for awkward turtle there. Don’t think it will be though. They seem quite nice and chatty and friendly, and I’m out to meet new friends, so all is good.

I’m not on it any more; I lasted an evening of swiping and then a day or so of messaging. Then I’ve kept in touch with a couple of people I’ve been messaging with, will be meeting up with them I think, but not for dates, just to make a new friend really and go from there.

I suspect most people are on it to get a bit of sex, and then maybe something more. Some might be after a relationship but as the app’s very nature is based on physical attraction it’s possibly the minority.

Tinder’s not for me, I knew that before I started but gave it a go, and nope, it’s still not. Subconsciously I know that I’m unlikely to find the kind of person I’d be after through something like Tinder. But, it was fun to give it a go. And after my little experiment I might at least make some new friends.

I find it really off putting that people are looking at my photos and judging me. Looking and rating me on basically whether they would want to sleep with me. Do people do that in real life? Well, yeah, course they do. I don’t. Not really. OK I guess I notice whether I find someone attractive or not, but that’s probably as far as I go. I don’t start thinking about what they’d look like naked. Oh, OK, maybe sometimes I do actually. I definitely DON’T think about whether they would be a good husband or father to any potential children. I know some people do that. And I find it really odd. But then I don’t even look at people (even after I’ve met them) and start thinking about potential relationships. To me, I meet people, become friends and if I like their company then I see them again. Romantic stuff doesn’t usually enter my head unless the other person has made a reference to it or I find them particularly attractive. And even if I am seeing them “romantically”, relationships don’t always enter my head as an option unless someone spells it out (cases in point: The Marine or the other one, and we all know how they ended).

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Personality makes people attractive. At least in my world. 

After all that, I definitely wouldn’t tell people not to go on Tinder. It CAN be quite fun. It just depends what you’re after. If you don’t expect anything serious, and fancy a bit of fun, then give it a go. And it also probably helps if you’re looking to meet/date people. But it does require a bit of effort and time. All that swiping and messaging and stuff. Jesus. Or I might just be a lazy bastard. Either way, perhaps you should give it a go yourself.

Oh, and if you’re the person telling someone they should try Tinder, all this is what you’d be letting loose on them. Do it at your peril.

Meeting people.

One of the nice things about moving to a new place was that I didn’t know anyone. Yes, even for a social bastard like me, I love my own company, so it was kind of nice to move somewhere and have a bit of anonymity after a few months of being almost manically sociable back in Lincoln. It’s kind of like travelling again; rocking up in a new place not knowing where anything is, not knowing anyone and having to explore and find stuff out. OK, I knew one person here before I moved but that’s not quite the same. It’s exciting to start from scratch.

I know a lot of people wondered why I wanted to move somewhere where I don’t know anyone. And I know a lot of people would hate it. But for me it’s all part of the adventure.

So how do you meet people?

Maybe you’d meet people at work; a lot of my friends are people I’ve worked with over the last couple of years at the Police and the Uni. But I don’t work in Cheltenham, so that’s out. I have got mates with my job now, but they’re based all over so it’s not quite the same.

So you kind of just have to go out there and talk to people. Yeah, you know, make an effort. Be chatty. You also need to be prepared for people to think you’re a weirdo, or to not like you. Or to get freaked out at someone being so forward. But that’s OK; you’ve got to cast a few nets to catch a few fish. As we all know, I do like to chat and have no problem with inviting myself along to stuff or being the person to make arrangements.

I know a few more people now, although to be honest, I’ve not made much of a proper effort. I’ve had a lot of visitors since I moved <which has been GREAT, of course> but it’s also meant that I haven’t had much time to get out and about and do stuff, or meet new people.

There’s a couple of clubs I’ve found that I want to join (running and cycling) and I’ve signed up for BMF (British Military Fitness), but I’ve just not had the chance to get along to any sessions yet. Am hoping to next weekend, so I should meet more people there.

There’s a few people I ‘know’ from an internet forum and twitter that I’m going to meet up with soon, when everyone can make the same date. I’ve joined a few groups on meetup.com (great site) and went out for drinks with a group of women last week which was much fun. Twitter is great for getting to know people – I’ve met many people in real life that I’ve known from Twitter, both here and abroad when I was travelling.

I’ve accosted most of my neighbours at one point or another and was out with the girl from the flat next door on Friday night, and have been out a couple of times with the guy from number 3, and often borrow milk off him or go round for a cup of tea. A bit like with Karl back in Lincoln, although I don’t really know him well enough yet to know whether he’d stop me falling face first into cat food or come let me in my house in the early hours of the morning. Still appreciate that Karl. Each and every time :D. I also realised that the guy from number 3 looks a lot like Big Andy from the Electric Bar from all those moons ago. Probably subconsciously why I asked him out for a beer.

I also met a girl in a whisky shop where we swapped numbers, and have been out a couple of times with her and her other half, and some of her friends. I did wonder whether she initially thought I might have been asking her out on a date when I suggested we should go out and swap numbers, but hey, if you don’t ask, you don’t get, right? That’s what I mean about making the effort. It’s also how I ended up having beers with the guy from number 3. You just ask people. It’s actually quite simple really.

Although, there’s always the possible confusion of whether something is a date or not, especially if it involves the opposite sex. As most people know, I’m mostly oblivious to this, mainly due to 1) having been in a relationship for so long, I have no idea of any dating etiquette and 2) I have lots of male friends so it’s normal for me to go for beers with men and it not mean anything. Which, as we know in the past has led to a few interesting/awkward/hilarious encounters. There’s always a story.

Oh, and for all the people that keep saying I should go on internet dating, the answer is still the same: NO. Or tinder. Although, I’ve got another blog and might have to do another tinder social experiment – although we all know how the New Zealand tinder experience worked out (interesting), but it will purely be an experiment and not for me. Because you see, internet dating to me is actively looking for a relationship. Which I’m not. Not at all. Still. If something happens or occurs naturally, then that’s fine. But I’m not looking, and I don’t want to go man shopping. I don’t want to read what is essentially a personality CV and shortlist potential applicants like some kind of job application. Seems a bit clinical and shallow. And tinder, well, I quite liked the swiping, that was fun, but I didn’t like it when people starting messaging me. Which is kind of the whole point. So yeah, it’s not going to happen. Oh, and I know it suits/works for some people, and there’s loads of success stories, so please don’t think I’m dissing it for other people AT ALL. It’s just not for me.

I guess in a way it’s not actually that dissimilar to meeting up with people I’ve met online in one form or another (twitter etc.), but the fundamental difference is that I’m meeting up with people on a non-romantic level, no awkward dating scenario where you’re checking each other out to see if you are anything like your profile, or whether you’d see a future with that person (yes, some people DO do that on a first date apparently, how you can tell I don’t know) or whether you want to sleep with them. Obviously that still happens in some cases, but it’s not the obvious primary objective, and certainly not mine. We all know much of a commitment-phobe I am now, haha.

My friend Sam is doing pretty similar stuff to me (maybe not the tinder experiment, ha) as she’s just emigrated to Brisbane with her other half, but I think she’s making a much better job at it and getting involved in so many more things. My effort is a bit piss poor compared to hers really, haha. But I’m doing it at my own pace. I keep reminding myself that I live here now and have plenty of time to do everything. When I first moved here I felt like I should do ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW. I forgot that I wasn’t here for just a short while, think I was still in a travelling mindset where everything is temporary and I’d be moving on sometime soon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still struggling with thinking long term, and still can’t plan anything too far in advance, and still don’t know how long I’ll be here, but I can relax a little bit. Just living in the moment. Just like my tattoo tells me.

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