Monday, 18 June 2012

Married friend: I am not going to be your temptress

I fancy an ex-colleague – who is recently married. Having a certain degree of morals, I found it disconcerting to admit this to myself. Lacking further morals, I continue to maintain a friendship with this man.

To do him credit, he never makes "my wife doesn't understand me" type comments. And he has never made a pass at me.


He has a tendency to make comments such as: "I sometimes just want a temptress to make me do naughty things" (ok I'm paraphrasing here, but you get the picture).

I am certainly not going to be this temptress. A child of divorce myself, I don't fancy running even the slightest risk of making a contribution to another child's pain. So thankfully, we are safe – because he clearly does not want to be the one to be in the wrong.

Absolve yourself of any responsibility

I remember having a fling with a man who was not married but did have a girlfriend. I remember sexting him over a long period of time, and he would hint that he would like our fantasies to become a reality. Like my married friend, he was determined to be seduced, rather than be the seducer.

He said:

"I would love to meet up with you. It would have to be an accident though, like we just happen to bump in to each other somewhere, and one thing leads to another..."

It is as though these men forward think the scenario to when they are justifying themselves to others. "She came on to me, what was I to do? I'm only a weak man!" or "It just happened – we were drunk – it was a mistake".

They are covering their backs so that their lives can carry on as normal when they've decided they've had enough of me - their throwaway plaything.

Selfish selflessness

I do have a conscience, and the angel on my shoulder gently whispers admonitions whenever I entertain fantasies involving my married friend. But there is another reason for keeping my barriers up: self preservation.

By entering in to an affair with a married (or otherwise attached) man, I am not only opening myself up to the censure of those around me, but I am also making myself vulnerable to heartache.

He would never leave her. (And when my conscience is engaged I wouldn't want him to.) But he would take my heart.

He would be able to have all the security and stability of a family, but also drink up a Peter-Pan-style elixir of youth by entering in to a butterfly-inducing romance in the guise of a young, single man.

In the moments when we are together, we would forget the other reality – the wife, the home, the job and the family. We would be caught in our reality: the sexy, carefree, refreshing allure of something new and exciting. Amidst this forgetfulness, I would imagine that what we felt for each other was true love.

It could only ever end in tears.

As Nina Simone sings in "The Other Woman":

The other woman is perfect where her rival fails...

But the other woman will always cry herself to sleep
The other woman will never have his love to keep
And as the years go by,
The other woman will spend her life alone

When he goes back to his wife and carries on with his real life, I will be left daydreaming of when I will next see him again; the more time I have alone, the more my fantasies will consume me. My life would become about him, and then I would be neither free to enter in to a different relationship with more potential, nor able to move our own pitiful excuse for a relationship forward.

A resolve

So I must rejoice in this man's lack of conviction; the power of my own happiness – as well as that of others - is in my hands. Perhaps I too had been hoping to be seduced, to be able to have the excitement but deny responsibility for taking it. But I do have a responsibility – to walk away from our friendship. Because this isn't friendship at all – it's foreplay.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Dating Geeks (Or: The Shallow Tastes of Henrietta Canary)

I think I must be emotionally immature: I have a tendency to focus on the physical appearance of a man and my physical feelings towards him, and then feebly attempt to build up a relationship from there.

I have recently joined a dating site, and find myself browsing through the men as though they are a list of products in a catalogue. I flick through impatiently until something pretty catches my eye. My internal monologue as I accept or reject "matches" goes something like this:

Bald... No.
Glasses... No.
Old... No.
Buck teeth... No.
Ginger... No.
Black and white posed photo of a good looking man... He looks like he could be the one...

I'm obviously punching above my weight

Because when I add these last category of guys to my "favourites", or whatever it is one does as a cyber equivalent to smiling, I get "viewed" but never selected as a favourite in return. And when I look at who does like me, the list includes: the bald one, the bespectacled one, the old one, the buck teeth one and the ginger.

So, reluctantly, I check them out. As I click through the photos, I cringe more and more. How could I be attracted to any of these men when there are so many hot guys out there?

But what if....

I read a profile and imagine that a good looking man has written it – my heart starts fluttering with feelings of innate compatibility. But then I take another glance at the photo and the butterflies turn to lead. I do not feel excited looking at this man.

When I get a text from a Geek who is interested in me, I huff with impatience at his neediness, feeling stifled and pressured. In general, this sort of reaction has led to a belief that women like me want a Bad Boy – someone who will "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen".

But again, I close my eyes and I use my imagination: the man who has just text me is that really hot guy from the pub the other night... I read the text again as though my fantasy is true – and suddenly I don't feel so stifled anymore. In fact, I feel tremblingly excited – I can even feel my cheeks glowing.

So it's not that I don't want to be doted on. It's that I want to be doted on by someone who excites me.


I have never particularly considered myself to have a "type", rather a set of (what is increasingly looking impossible) criteria: incredibly good looking, intelligent, deep, fun, masculine, sensitive, happy, independent, doting....

In her book, The Surrendered Single, Laura Doyle argues that this kind of criteria prevents a woman from really being open to love. She suggests accepting dates from anyone, on the basis that until you fall in love you can't possibly know if someone is right for you.

Deciding to follow this advice, I went on a date with a Geek. I determined on seeing all the positives and dismissing the negatives. I enjoyed the conversation, he was a gentleman, and I had a nice time.

But between that date and our second date, the negatives kept niggling away at my mind. I didn't fancy him. It wasn't just that he wasn't as impossibly good-looking as my unrealistic ideal; he almost repulsed me. He was boy-like in many ways: inexperienced, unconfident, frequently talked about his mother... I couldn't envisage enjoying his touch or laughing with abandon while we do something crazy.

So I went to our second date feeling completely uptight, but trying my best to be all smiles and pleasant conversation. Having once decided he repulsed me, I began to really dislike his company. His nervous laugh grated on me, his awkwardness stressed me out. I could not wait to get away.

I'm ashamed of myself for these feelings. I feel cruel. There is nothing wrong with this man's heart; he is honest, sincere, warm, friendly and generous. But I felt in my gut that dating him was like giving in to desperation.

Onwards and...?

Having said that, going out with GeekBoy1978 has done me a big favour; I am now looking through the other online profiles with a more positive view:

Bald... but has similar taste in music.
Glasses... but that comment he made about grapes is hilarious!
Old... but check out those manly arms...
Buck teeth... but so intelligent.
Ginger... but otherwise very very cool.

If I knew who the right man for me was, the chances are I'd be with him already. So if I can open my mind just a little, then maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised. GeekBoy1978 wasn't the one, but maybe OldManBigGuns will be...

Friday, 25 May 2012

It is a truth universally acknowledged that men don't like a strong come-on*

I have a male friend – more an acquaintance - who delights in telling me, with scathing glee, the shameful details of women's pitiful come-ons. Now, before I continue I want to make it clear that these judgements are what I perceive his to be, and definitely are not my own.

One instance went something like this:

"Oh that Hayley, she's a bit full-on! She was pressing herself up against me, grinding against my crotch."

Another time, he spoke of a girl who came on to his friend:

"She was like, 'your place or mine', and we were like, 'neither!'" [sniggerguffawchortle nudgewink]

Putting aside the actions of these women, (and trying my absolute hardest not to get drawn in to wondering what these men say about me behind my back...) I would like to analyse this man's motivation a little. I can think of several possible reasons for so publicly shaming these women (and I'm sure there are more that I haven't even thought of):

Would it be too much of a bold declaration to say that anyone would be flattered by such come-ons? Maybe these comments were made to me – and perhaps others – as a way of saying: "I am desirable. I am attractive." They certainly were said with a strutting aura, chest puffed proudly out in a thoroughly cock-a-hoop manner.

To inspire competitiveness
Perhaps this particular man gets kicks out of turning women on each other, so that they each give him their positive attention. Perhaps he was trying to imply – imply but not declare mind you – that the attentions of other women were unsolicited, beyond his control, whereas his attentions to me were of his choosing. I don't mean to say that he favoured me over these other women – more that he meant to highlight to me my 'rival' and set me a challenge to better her.

There is a chance, of course, that my friend simply felt uncomfortable with the behaviour of these women, and needed some way of releasing this discomfort - in the same way that girls sometimes bitch about their friends when they are feeling insecure themselves. Perhaps being in receipt of overtly sexual behaviour was intimidating, and injured his sense of decency. Maybe he wanted to disassociate himself – not only with the women in question – but also with behaviour that he felt did not represent his own values.

Perhaps he is one of those men who – whatever he might say publicly – secretly feels that women who come on to men are somehow defying their nature, and transgressing from acceptable behaviour. Perhaps he subconsicouly feels emasculated: it is for him to act, to move, to enter.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't got a fucking clue.

And does anyone?

I see in so many magazines, blogs, TV shows, sweeping generalisations about "what men (or women) really want". On his website - – dating guru Matthew Hussey says: "when you’re out with your friends do not laugh excessively at every joke men make, dance too sexily or get too drunk!" (Well that's me fucked then – and not in the literal sense.)

Personally, I think these generalisations are a load of bullcrap.

When I was growing up, reading teen magazines, I was convinced that "boys don't like girls who wear too much make-up". Now, while I am certain that this is true of some/many men, I know others that definitely prefer a woman who "takes care of herself".

Similarly, there must be some men out there who would love it for a woman to go up to them and grind against their crotch, and when Hayley meets one of these men it might be happy-ever-after for her. In the meantime, I hope she remains blissfully unaware of the dishonourable judgements that are made of her.

Having said that, in my own mission to be more aware of the perceptions of others, I am going to be guarded about my approach to men - by, well, not actually approaching them - and then I'll see if any of them really do have the balls they supposedly wish women didn't have.


Sunday, 13 May 2012

Snogging a friend doesn't make me a prick-tease

It was only a kiss!

So, I kissed a male friend a few weeks ago. We were drunk. We were out with our bunch of friends. We were sat next to each other, affectionately leaning on one another, we looked at each other... smiled... kissed. Just a little snog. It was nice.

Now, I can be truthful, because I am open and agenda free. I like this guy, I think he's hot. I would snog him again if I thought he wanted to. But I can also very comfortably (in other words, without feeling rejection or heartache) maintain a completely non-sexual friendship with him.

But something somewhere has gone wrong. I'm not sure exactly what, but I think one of the following phrases might have been triggered in his mind:

Bunny Boiler

I didn't sleep with him. I didn't invite him home with me when I left shortly afterwards. Was there an expectation that I would? Does a woman these days need to have a pre-snog agreement stating clearly what might and might not happen? Was I considered under an obligation to make him come? I certainly got this impression from a muttered (inaudible) comment in a contemptous tone.

Now here I must confess that two weeks later, seeing no prospect of further affection/romance/sexiness with my friend, I snogged a friend of his. Was this an insult to Snoggee Number One? Was I too free with my tongue? Did I cheapen myself? Is it sluttish to snog two men within a month of each other? Perhaps more sluttish if they are friends...

Bunny Boiler
I made every conscious effort to continue my friendship with Snoggee Number One as "normal" – to be no more or less flirty than I normally would be. I did text to say that I liked the snog (without receiving any response at all), but I didn't ask for anything more. And yet when I saw him in a group of friends and gave him attention (a chat, a cuddle), I got a feeling that he was trying to brush me off.

The rant begins...
Read those three terms again. What nasty, shitty little phrases to describe women! And how impossible for a single woman to avoid all three! It was only a kiss! Why does it have to mean anything? If I had managed to avoid the label of 'prick-tease' by sleeping with him, then I would automatically have gained the accolade of 'easy'. And simply by trying to maintain a friendship I have opened myself up to the charge of being a needy Bunny Boiler.

If a man can casually snog a woman without being a fanny-tease, easy or needy, why can't the same nonchalance be attributed to the woman?

And yet I felt whispers and sniggers behind my back when I was out with my group of friends last. WTF? It feels like I am 15 again, rather than being a little over twice that age. Sure, I realise that I can, could have (should have?) controlled my own actions, and having failed to do so must reap the consequences. But it's pretty fucking frustrating first of all to not be able to just shrug it off and for everyone to get over it, and second to not even know which particular brand of contempt Snoggee holds me in – the prick-tease brand, the easy brand or the bunny-boiler brand.

Yes, I am a grown woman, and I ought to just bite the bullet and ask. But you see my coffin is made – and my headstone is inscribed – and whatever my words or actions now, they will be interpreted with that inscription as an explanation.

Whatever happened to romance?

In her blog "the problem with slut-bashing" Justine Musk writes about an American term 'dinner whore', which is basically a woman who goes out for dinner with a guy then doesn't sleep with him. Er... as Justine says: "I think we used to call that a date."

What happened to just going with the flow? Why does a woman have to make a commitment; to sex, a relationship, whatever, before anything has even happened? I'm scared even to admit to fancying someone because I know the people around me will react with certain expectations.

I almost feel like writing on my forehead: "If I kiss you, it is because I find you attractive. However, I will not have sex until I feel it is right. Should you decide before this time that you are not interested, your rabbit will be quite safe."

I will check my own behaviour. I will be more careful how I come across to others (perhaps snogs are for private, not to be undertaken in a room full of people).

But I will also hold my head up high when I am poorly judged, knowing that I am:

romantic – rather than a prick-tease
open to possibilities – rather than easy
affectionate – rather than a bunny boiler.