Things Single People Want You to Stop Saying to Them

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I’m single. I’ve been single for over two years now, following nearly 9 years of steady not-singleness.

I enjoy my life. I am having more fun now than I’ve ever had. I’m satisfied with how things are but I’m still open to possibilities and change. I don’t feel like I need a relationship, but I’d be open to one with the right person. So people gotta stop hitting me up with questions and statements like these…

(Note: Not a fan of sarcasm? Stop reading.)

1. How come you’re still single?

Ummm… I’m not sure. I’m fundamentally unloveable, I guess. That and I have really ugly feet. Seriously, how am I meant to answer that? The implication is, of course, that I should be in a relationship. Well, let me get right on that by steadily dating the next guy I meet for eight and a half years, all the while reminding myself that my complete lack of joy is ‘normal’ and that ‘this is what people do.’ Cause that worked out so well the first time.

2. You’re so lucky. You can sleep with whoever you want!

Ok, firstly it’s whomever I want. And secondly, OMG WHO TOLD YOU?! You’ve stumbled across the biggest secret of the universe. Yes, simply by being single I have inherited a magic power that enables me to bed all of the handsome and otherwise desirable men who cross my path. One bat of the eyes and they succumb to my will. My only problem is deciding which male model to go home with. “A single woman who wants to sleep with me?” they all think. “Well, there’s just no way of knowing if I’ll ever find one of those again! Better go home with this one just in case.” This is why I’ve slept with so many successful businessmen-slash-humanitarians who look like Hugh Jackman, play cello and spend every other weekend in a log cabin that they built themselves with their strong yet tender hands, and have never hooked up with a chubby, chinos-wearing hobbit in a bunk bed.

3. I wish I was single.

BREAK UP. Problem solved. Oh, what was that? You don’t really want to be single because you love your partner and they love you, it’s just sometimes you wish that your life had fewer responsibilities and more freedom and you want to have your cake and eat it too? Well fuck you. I wish I was shorter. But I don’t really want to stop standing out in crowds and being able to reach stuff on the highest shelf in the pantry without a step-ladder, I just want my pants to fit better. We all got our wishes.

4. Have you tried online dating?

What even is that? I’ve been living in an Amish community for the past ten years and had no idea that people were now using social media as well as specifically designed websites to communicate with one another for the purposes of dating! What a revolution. It must be so easy to find your lifelong love these days – he’s only one click away! That is, if you don’t mind sifting through thousands of boring, stupid or inappropriate messages and requests from guys who pose with their cars and take shirtless bathroom selfies (the mirror kind, where you can see their phone) for their profile pics only to convince yourself that it’s not a compromise to date a guy who wears sneakers with jeans even though he is a lot heavier than he appeared in his picture, and that the relationship that he has with his mother is super normal and you’re so glad she’s joining you at the drive-in cinema tonight and no, of course you don’t mind sitting in the back because mother needs the lumbar support of the passenger seat for her bad back. *sigh* Yes. I’ve tried online dating.

5. Are you putting yourself out there?

What the hell does this mean? Do I go out to places where other single people will be? Yes. (It’s called “the world.” I live there.) Do I brush my teeth before I go out to these places? Usually. Am I ‘approachable’? …Huh? Lost me there. Am I a horse now? Are the men afraid that if they come towards me from the wrong angle or make a sudden move I’ll get skittish and kick them? I’m a girl in a bar wearing makeup and smiling who’s not standing with a guy. Pretty sure that makes me ‘approachable’.

6. Don’t worry. You’ll meet someone.

Oh, good! I’m so glad you said that. For a moment there I thought I’d never meet anyone! You’ve obviously worked out that the main cause of worry in my life is the fact that I am single, and that I am super obsessed with the idea of meeting someone, because, lets face it, no one who is single could actually be happy in themselves or feel like a complete person. You’ve taken a real weight off my shoulders. I no longer have any reason to feel worried. You are the best.

7. Maybe you’re too picky.

Yes, you’re right. An unintelligent, slovenly uggo like me should really start casting my net a little bit wider if I’ll have any hope of finding a man who will be willing to love me despite my many and obvious flaws. I absolutely should stop valuing myself and ignoring any obvious absence of chemistry or common ground in favour of just getting me a gosh-dang boyfriend already. From now on it’s rooster time, boys: any-cock’ll-do.

8. It will happen when you least expect it.

So will the backhander you’re eventually going to force me to give you. Hope you’re not too attached to your teeth.

First Date

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Tonight I went on my first first date. Some of you might be surprised by the fact that a magnificent specimen of womanhood such as myself managed to get to the age of 27 without embarking on a single first date. (If you’re wondering, yes, I have kissed boys and yes, I have been touched under the clothes before. Several times, in fact.) The things that made this unbelievable and highly improbable fact possible were as follows: All of my high school “relationships” were of two distinct breeds – the frigid, non-contact variety that existed before I had my first pash at the end of Year 10 (late bloomer), and the awkward aftermath of drunken hook-ups that occurred after that, when the hungry she-beast had been stirred within me. Then, of course, as the old broken record goes, I was in a serious long-term relationship from the age of 18 to 26 as a result of deciding to make out with one of my housemates. And so, here I am, 27 and home from my very first first date.

The Selection Process

It was with some trepidation that I actually finally selected a suitor from my online dating site and agreed to go for coffee, after having cast aside the vast majority of men who had expressed any interest for a multitude of reasons – too old, too beardy, too young, too bung-eyed, too bad at spelling, too serious, too immature, to dumb to crop ex-girlfriend out of profile picture et cetera. I settled on my choice for the following three reasons:

1. His height, which according to his profile was 6’3″. I am 181cm tall. This makes me taller than the average height for an Australian male, and while I’m not at all bothered by my height, I cannot help but feel that some men are bothered by it. It makes things awkward. As I am already awkward, I decided my first first date should be with someone taller than me.

2. His age. At 31, I figured he was more likely to pick up the bill (of course, I would kindly offer and be gallantly declined) and I thought I would appear to him, as a younger woman, charming, youthful and fun.

3. His spelling, grammar and punctuation. I could not bring myself to go on a date with someone who has not mastered the use of capital letters.

The Preparation

As the afternoon ticked by and evening approached I felt a sense of dread. Although I knew that it was only coffee, and coffee never leads to sex, no matter what George Costanza would have us believe, I still felt like I had an enormous amount of grooming to do before I would feel like I was presenting the best possible version of myself. This made me feel overwhelmed, so I had a little nap. When my alarm went off at 6pm, I began performing in one of those idiotic half-asleep pageants where you’ve somehow managed to convince yourself that it is a whole 12 hours later than it actually is and begin getting ready for work before realising that it’s night-time and you’re a complete tit. I remained in a confused, groggy state until I was forced to turn off the hot water in the shower in order to shock some life back into me.

After the shaving, plucking, blow-drying and straightening there was scarce-little time to try on everything in my wardrobe, reject it and toss it onto the bed in an increasing state of panic and ill-temper. Eventually I settled on a slightly quirky, retro and feminine look and, after a final last-minute lipstick decision and shoe-change I was running only 15 minutes behind schedule. (Of course, I know that men do not notice things like shoes, or earrings, or whether the outfit in question calls for a pale pink or rosy shade of lip gloss. But I was hoping my attention to detail would present a complete package that had some kind of undefinable wow-factor.) And so, I made my way to the cafe where my date would no doubt be waiting.

The Greeting

As I drove to meet my date, I wondered what appropriate first date greeting etiquette entailed. A handshake? A hug? A kiss on the cheek? As I have mentioned several times before, I am what I like to call ‘awkward’ at times. I am not naturally a cheek-peck person and I always have an anxious moment when someone leans in, wondering if they are going for a hug or a kiss, not wanting to do the wrong thing. I once kissed my ex-boss on the earlobe because I realised too late that she was going for the cheek-peck, and I’d already overshot the mark. As you can imagine, that was incredibly awkward.

I decided that I would confidently and breezily go in for a peck, like this was my millionth first date and I was oh-so comfortable with the whole thing. But when I got to the cafe I realised I had another problem. I had only seen one photo of my date, and I wasn’t sure if the guy standing out the front was him or not. Luckily, he was engrossed in his smart phone (thank you, technology gods!) and I managed to sneak past him and immediately sent a text asking where he was sitting as I was inside and couldn’t see him. Turns out the phone guy was my date, but when he approached I hesitated on the cheek-peck and he went for the hug, then I changed my mind and went for the peck. It wasn’t great.

The Date

The date itself was surprisingly easy. I talked, he talked, I pretended to listen while adding up the pros and cons about his attributes and characteristics and deciding whether I wanted to see him naked. I presume he did some similar pondering of his own. I asked him about his work, he asked me about my family, we compared tastes in music and movies, we shared anecdotes about our friends – it wasn’t ground breaking, but it was simple and painless. I couldn’t believe I had been so resistant to dating during high school. It turns out it’s a piece of piss. Talk, listen, talk more, smile, laugh etc. All fairly natural patterns of human behaviour. And I didn’t snort-laugh, or do an accidental chair-fart, or spill coffee on myself, or any of the other hundred things I imagined going wrong according to my recent comedy-of-errors type existence. It was just a pleasant evening with a nice guy.

The Conclusion

Of course, a date that begins awkwardly is bound to end awkwardly too. We did the cheque-dance as anticipated, which I graciously let him win, and he offered to walk me to my car. During the walk, as my mouth babbled something about Bruce Willis playing harmonica, my mind poured over the possible end points to our evening. Would there be a kiss? I was certainly not going to initiate anything. Surely a kiss would be a bit presumptuous after a very civilised coffee date in a brightly lit cafe. But, how else does one say goodbye and end a date? We were at my car. We stood grinning at each other like fools, saying things like “well, this was fun…” and “yeah, we should catch up again.” Then it ended with the same awkward hug-cheek-peck-hug thing that it began with. My signature move.

As far as first first dates go, I’m assuming I did ok. While I kind of had the faintest feeling that if all my future dates were like this I’d never have sex again, I also quite liked the thought of another human person taking enough interest in me to bother spending time talking about things like why I gave up learning piano and why Step Brothers is a better Will Ferrell movie than Anchorman.

So that was my first first date. For the sake of this blog, I kind of wish it had gone terribly – but for the sake of my future dating confidence, I’m glad it didn’t. I think it would be hard to put myself back out there if, like my friend Billie’s first date, he had taken me to the park to throw apples at ducks, taken a tab of acid and stolen my bike, then turned up at my house 6 hours later asking if I wanted to go ice skating. Ok, so that didn’t really happen – but you get my point.

Dating on the Interwebs – A Review

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My single friend Tina signed me up for an internet dating site. She insisted that if I was going to fill my little black book with potential roots and get some free dinners in the process (not kidding, her exact words), then this was the way to do it. I’m not sure how I feel about this. After my sexting encounter a few weeks back I’ve become suspicious of technology. (When I say this, I picture an adorable, crotchety old man ranting about “kids these days, with their darn pogo sticks, and Facepage, and the Interwebs…”)

So I’m out there, in the land of profile pictures and compatibility matching. And I’m not at all comfortable with it. I don’t like the idea of turning dating into a consumer item, lining prospective suitors up and comparing them like different brands of toilet paper. My second issue with the whole online dating thing is that I’m a people person. I’m at my best in a room full of people, talking, laughing, making jokes, and I’m afraid that my attempts at breezy, funny conversation in the online dating world come across as awkward or offensive.

The next problem faced is, of course, the suitors themselves. Thus far, they have all been either ridiculously polite and insipid, or disgustingly forward. I actually had one guy start our first conversation with the words “just woke up, I’m horny,” while I tried to recover the situation with awkward small talk. It didn’t go well. Then there are the moments when you realise the guy you’ve accepted contact from doesn’t really speak much English (hello, i am happy you talk with me, and very pretty and nice i think from your pic, i like to go club and gym sometime), or that they are looking for a very serious relationship (I’m really looking for a genuine, sweet woman who I can share my life with), or that they are just too socially inept for real dating (I usually start by asking a girl her bra size. Hahaha no just kidding. But you can tell me if you want hahaha). The pie chart below demonstrates my findings and helps to illustrate my point.

What gets me is the perception by some of my friends that I need this tool in order to find men who will a) talk to me, and b) have sex with me. I don’t know where this perception came from. Just because I’m single does not mean I’m desperate! As a twenty-something, employed, reasonably attractive (not in an Angelina way, but I’m no minga) and sociable woman I think I’m entitled to have some standards. And while it’s fair to say that I don’t attract flocks of dudes like some kind of babelicious shepherd, I do ok. I am certainly not ready to resort to ‘notspeakenglish_81’ or ‘Donkey69’ as a means to an end.

All I want is to have a bit of conversation, a few laughs, maybe a sneaky pash and then see where things go. Can’t I just do that in a bar, the old-fashioned way? At least then there’s a clear sense between both parties of what the other one is in for, and I’d feel less like I was selecting from the reject stock in that trolley near the milk fridge in Woolworth’s.