Bumbling My Way Through My First Dating Site

It is perhaps a sign of my increasing immaturity that one of the most exciting things I’ve done recently was to scroll through “Bumble” with my daughter. I still feel slightly miffed that I missed out on a way to date without having to leave the house.online-dating-570216_1920

 

For those of you unfamiliar with Bumble, it is one of the newer dating sites, for the older, more discerning millennial, not yet ready for RSVP, looking for something more holistic than casual sex or the best avocado on toast. It has been described as the “The Feminist Tinder,” a dating site that “gives women respect and autonomy”. (Kristin Magaldi)

 

As Bella Pope says, ‘It is unlike Tinder, which has become known more for its hooking up aspects than for its relationship matching. The truth is, many people on Tinder just want to get laid… Bumble puts women in charge, the guys on this app are looking for more than a one-night stand.’

 

And if this is how our youth date, who am I to judge? It certainly beats standing around at a disco in the community hall talking to some numbskull who can’t string a sentence together, for the sake of a free Cruiser.

 

At almost twenty-three, a staunch feminist and busy proving the twat-dom of Trump and Turnbull when it comes to climate change, NC has not fully decided if she needs a man in her life. Occasionally, however, she dips her toe into the Bumble site to test the IQ of her male peers, while I, like a dog in front of bacon, beg for a morsel. And finally, after the bribe of a week of gourmet vegetarian meals and the cleaning magic of the old man in her bedroom, she agreed that we could play together.

 

downloadThe way Bumble works is the girl gets to scroll through photos of men and swipe a certain way to make a match and then they contact the guy – which is, frankly, where it gets a bit awkward. In my opinion, the best part is scrolling through the sweetie shop – similar to when we used to browse through the Argos toy catalogue before Christmas as re kids, only this catalogue is essentially full of male models.

 

Let’s be honest here, at our age, any male under the age of forty-five looks attractive and these spunks were all between twenty-two and thirty. That’s right –, between the ages of twenty-two and thirty!

 

Obviously, you are meant to focus on the bio, and once I had reeled my tongue back in from off the floor at the sight of so many perfect abs and so little body hair – most of them *swoon* even had hair on their head as well – I did check out their personalities for someone for my daughter with that elusive combination of brawns and brain.

 

Anyway, for those of you with daughters poised to begin online dating for Mr or Mrs Right, here’s what you need to know about Bumble:

 

If men can’t write a bio, you have to ask yourself how easy it’s going to be for them to make conversation?

 

Men are not shy about objectifying themselves and obviously believe that their body shots – surf, gym, beach, ie. Muchos CHEST – are their biggest selling points. I kid you not, NC’s nerd filter threw up a bunch of biochemists and physicists that looked like they’d walked straight off the Milan catwalk.

 

Men are not as stupid as they look and have caught on that if they hold a puppy or a baby in their arms, ovaries burst – although one man had one of each and we decided that he was pushing his luck, AKA, desperado.

 

For some very strange reason, some men believe that posting a photo with their ex is a good idea. These silly boys should go back to Tinder or to playing football in the yard, and NC says that if the girl is ‘hotter’ than her, it’s a complete non-starter.

 

For some reason, men don’t think we realize that if they post a photo of them in a group photo, it is very likely that they are the ugly one. Likewise, if they wear sunglasses.

 

They also think that we don’t realize that if they put themselves in a group shot with women, they are probably short or gay.

 

Men in this age range who believe that photos of them in dress up or drag will attract women should probably go back to Tinder or a fetish site.

 

Men believe their height is a huge influence and many of them post this information within the very limited bio. You may have to go back to Tinder if you want dick size.

The Bachelor

Call me a sad, vacuous, half-wit but I’m glued to The Bachelor on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

The Bachelor
Photo courtesy of Russell Jenkins at http://www.flickr.com

 

But only for research purposes – OBVIOUSLY – for my thesis on women and modern-day dating practices.

 

I was a ‘Bachelor’ virgin before this series. I’d heard about the hype, of course, but being the staunch feminist that I am, I was appalled that women existed who would subjugate themselves to such a demeaning social experiment on television, and so I denied myself.

 

Then I remembered how much I used to enjoy Big Brother, and it also became harder to ignore the tweets that continually bombarded my twitter feed whenever #TheBachelor aired, and I kind of missed not being part of something which creates so much controversy.

 

So I lost my Bachelor V plates this series.

 

And I DO know that the bachelorettes have CHOSEN to do this show and feminism is about women having choices, but the premise of the show still sits uncomfortably with me, no matter how many times Blake gratuitously takes his shirt off.

 

But in spite of my feminist conscience I still watch it.

 

It might have something to do with this season’s Bachelor, Blake Garvey, who is undisputedly both the thinking and drinking woman’s crumpet. So far he seems perfect. Not only is he tall, dark, handsome and successful, he’s super hot even by my middle-aged standards, (and far from afraid to whip out his guns at every perfect camera angle), worships his mum and family and his biological clock must be ticking loudly because he’s told us on more than one occasion that he wants babies as soon as he finds his princess.

 

And HE WANTS MY BABIES!…I mean, he wants babies.

 

So obviously, he can’t possibly be ‘real’ – but who cares? That’s what entertainment is all about – being able to suspend belief and pretend for a few hours each week that such men might possible exist in another universe. Even I ovulate when he talks about wanting to procreate, and my ovaries were well past their use-by date years ago.

 

And visually the series is a real treat after a hard day at the office and having to stare at the man you’ve been married to for over twenty years. It’s set in some of Sydney’s most beautiful properties and landmarks and if romance is your thing, the producers must have hired the ghost of Walt Disney himself to invent the romantic dates. We’ve had ice-skating in a winter wonderland, extreme sports that test even action man Blake (who seems on occasion as vulnerable as the ladies, which makes us love him even more), buckets of Champagne and oodles of tear-jerking sentimentality.

 

Did I mention how much Blake wants babies?

Sleeping baby
Sleeping baby (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

But this is a reality show and no reality show is successful without a huge dollop of dirt, some serious sordidness and social antagonism to feed its viewers.

 

It’s those uncomfortable parts of the show we all love to hate (that make us cringe awkwardly on the sofa and force us to make polite exits to the kitchen to make excessive cups of tea) – yet secretly love. It’s several weeks into this series and the masks on Blake’s potential harem are beginning to crack – even Mr Perfect has expressed the odd perplexed look on occasion. We’re down to the final ten women now (roughly), although you don’t need a degree in psychology to pick the final line-up of lucky ladies from the start – it’s the mean girls from high school who do most of the bitchy thoughtful commentary about Blake and the other competitors, and without stereotyping, they’re the bigger personalities who no one would dare get into a cat fight with.

 

The humor is subtle in The Bachelor. It emanates from the frozen, bunny-boiler looks of the contestants, the ‘why did she wear that?’ moments and the looks of innate fear that sometimes pass over Blake’s face when his guard of perfection comes down and he inadvertently shows us some personality (or forgets that he’s on telly).

 

The programme is cleverly edited to mislead the public and to cultivate the suspense. Women who should have been ousted in week one, are ominously still there as catalysts and occasionally Blake makes a highly suspect decision at the rose ceremony, (that has obviously come directly from the director), when it comes to which women to save with his roses.

 

The obvious question is: why he is there at all and why are the bevy of beautiful women he is dating there too? If they can’t attract a partner, who the fuck can?

 

But who the fuck cares what their reasons are. This is entertainment, folks!

 

And this gorgeous man does want babies, which makes those of us with weeping ovaries ignore the rights and wrongs of the philosophy of the show.

 

I lie awake at night and worry about whether the women have considered the risk of cold sores. And even though Blake is obviously the perfect man, bigamist Blake doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong in playing the field to find his perfect woman, even though the Blake Harem cackles and plans his death, Games of Thrones style around the Champagne cauldron, as soon as the series ends.

 

I’m glad I don’t have to date anymore. It looks truly terrifying. Extreme sports aside, imagine having to wear false eyelashes, smile ALL the time and watch what you eat.

Teenage Relationships and Emotions

NC* is finally ‘seeing’ someone.

The World of Teen DatingRelationships have always been complex for NC.

You see she analyses every step of the dating process and usually comes to the conclusion that it’s not worth the effort.

In reality, relationships don’t involve cute little tweeting blue birds, hyperactive mice, pink ribbons and hearts, and for NC they are a challenge. Relationships involve tapping into emotions that don’t come naturally to her, to the point where she feels threatened by the intensity and helplessness created by ‘feelings’.

Obviously, because she is a teenager I am not allowed to pry ask questions about what’s going on and if I do, I get shut down quicker than an over-heated nuclear core. Instead I have to bide my time and wait like a dog for that precious morsel of food to be dropped under the table, to receive what paltry allowance of information I warrant as her mother.

She KNOWS I live vicariously through her, yet she still insists on ‘playing’ me.

I still don’t understand why she can’t just ‘share’ like I over-share with her?

But this ‘friendship’ is obviously more special than the others, so maybe it has the makings of a relationship. NC is trying to work out the ramifications of whether she can fit this boy into her in-depth rock studies, while I’ve secretly been perfecting my roast dinners and bread and butter pudding in preparation for long-awaited extended family dinners and Christmas with our new in-laws.

I have tried the tactic of feigning disinterest, but to be honest, I’m crap at it. I am as open as a book. She is a far better control freak than me – and why wouldn’t she be when she learnt from the master?

While I am the panting puppy, eager for over-stimulation, NC is Cruella de Ville.

But the poor kid is struggling not only with alien emotions that challenge her control but also with the concept of wasting sharing precious learning time with boy germs.

She is learning the strategy of ‘give and take’, something her father still struggles with.

The concept of a relationship is hard for a girl like her. No matter how scientifically she examines each stage and tries to salvage her emotions, like a science experiment she can’t actually control the outcome of her investment and that frustrates her. She detests weakness and the vulnerability these new emotions have brought to the surface.

NC thinks in black and white, she is a ‘cause and effect’ girl, who has managed to control her emotions from a young age.

When I tentatively asked her how she felt about ‘seeing someone special’, this was her response.

‘It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be,’ (sigh).

‘In what way?’ I asked (trying to appear nonchalant, praying that she won’t shut me down, lock me out or look at me in that superior ‘why so needy?’ way)

‘It’s just so time-consuming (sigh). I spend so much time preparing to see him. I have to shave my legs every day now AND take showers; I have to think about what to wear and what to say to sound interesting, and worst of all, I have to plan my workload around HIM. It was so easy before when I only had myself to think about.’

‘But what about the good stuff?’ I dared.

‘Well obviously it’s great that he can help me with my maths assignments and I do like the mini excavator he bought me for my birthday, but I find his theories on social coding in the modern relationship a little perplexing.’

Imagine a relationship with Spock.

*Nerd Child

Dating for Married People

Great Night For Date Night - Wind Down by Vanity Mirror at Flickr.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve decided to be uncharacteristically nice to the old man this week.

Firstly, because he’s just banked the equity from the sale of our house into an account in MY name, (which facilitates my options of doing a runner next time he criticizes anything I don’t do), and secondly, because after an embarrassing date night recently, I’ve realized that I’d be really rubbish if I had to date again.

Standards inevitably slip during a marriage. Dating isn’t for married people.

At this stage of my life, I can honestly say that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than go on a date. The idea of making small talk with a view to an intimate relationship with someone I barely know, is terrifying. Imagine having to pretend to be interesting ALL THE TIME again, or even worse, having to feign an interest in your date? As for exposing the middle-aged re-sculpting of my once trim physique to someone I barely know – that’s the stuff nightmares are made of.

The old man and I are quite comfortable about letting our marriage lapse into a state of flux. Dare I say that we might be dangerously ‘content’? We try not to over-analyse our marriage like we did when we could be bothered, we just get on with it. In my experience, too much scrutiny only serves to highlight weaknesses.

Our close friends have been concerned about the welfare of our relationship since the old man fucked up our vows on our wedding day. We’ve always been that bickering couple who are merciless in our condemnation of each other publicly, the couple that makes smug couples uncomfortable. Yet some invisible symbiotic need has held us together.

Just.

Sometimes though, peer pressure gets in the way and prompts us to make an overdue effort because we think we should. We worry that maybe being ‘comfortable’ in our marriage is not a secure space to be in, that we are tempting fate by being lethargic.

So the other night we went out on what the kids call a ‘date night’. Obviously, our preference would have been to stay in and watch the second series of Game of Thrones with a bag of Pods and a good bottle of red, but we could tell the kids were worried about us.

Pretending to be a grown up with the old man always makes me nervous. There’s too much water under the bridge to pretend – we know too much about each other now. We’re at the point of beginning each other’s sentences and sitting silently together in a cafe reading the papers.

So I fucked up any chance of us sharing a romantic rendez-vous as soon as I put my sunglasses on my nose instead of my reading glasses to read the menu, much to the amusement of the other diners. I then proceeded to knock over a glass of (very expensive) sparkling water onto our (very expensive) oysters as I clumsily tried to swap them over inconspicuously – an inadvertent attempt to dilute their aphrodisiac powers, perhaps? And finally in an effort to calm my nerves, I finished my free show by pulling a tampon out of my bag instead of my lipgloss, which I always apply when I’m anxious.

Dating etiquette has always eluded me.

The old man looked at me with incredulity; I can see that some might judge that to be an unfavorable reaction, yet it was nevertheless a reaction of sorts and a vast improvement on being ignored.

I can admit that there are certain things that you do miss out on when you’ve been married for an eternity – those frissons of excitement at the first touch from someone new, for example, the physical longing, conversation, long phone calls, and did I mention ‘effort’?

And sometimes every marriage does need a little help.

I was fortunate enough to find that The Cleveland Christian Fellowship has come up with some great ideas to turn stale marriages around in its article, ’50 Dating Ideas for Married Couples’.

Here are a few of their more interesting suggestions:

  1. List the best qualities of your partner in alphabetical order (more on this in a future post).
  2. Write the story of how you met. (WHY?)
  3. Remember to look in your spouse’s eyes as he tells you about his day.
  4. Take a tour of a local factory (WTF)
  5. Plant a tree together in honour of your marriage(WTF)

Personally, if I tried any of the above, the old man would sign up to RSVP quicker than I could say ‘divorce’.

I think that marriage gets a bad press and I imagine that dating when you are middle-aged is no bed of roses either. Imagine having to close your mouth when you eat, to choose food that doesn’t give you wind, to trim your bush all year around, to think before you speak, to pretend to be interested in things that bore the pants off you.

I had to play a lot of golf when I was dating the old man – nuff said!

There’s something quite comforting about the predictability of marriage in my opinion. Is it so wrong to assume that the old man will order hot chips in a restaurant for me to eat, and that when we order dessert, he will eat the ice cream leaving me to devour the pudding?

I can still surprise him. As I ran my finger hungrily around the rim of the crème brulee dish to dig out the final remnants of cholesterol, and then began to suck them noisily off my finger, the old man was definitely surprised.

Dating for married people? Not so much.

‘I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.’ (Rita Rudner)

Great Night For Date Night – Wind Down by Vanity Mirror at http://www.flickr.com

Is The Media Killing Teenage Relationships?

Teenagers of various backgrounds in Oslo, Norw...
Teenagers of various backgrounds in Oslo, Norway. The growing diversity of northern Europe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been trying to get a handle on the machinations of teenage relationships for a while now.

Normally I embrace ‘change’ and progress,  but the more I understand of the modern day ‘boy meets girl’ scenario, the more I worry for our kids.

Without wanting to sound generically middle-aged, it wasn’t like that in our day.

Who remembers their ‘first love?’ I’m reminded about mine on a daily basis as I ended up marrying him. For the lucky ones among us, that first experience of romantic love was a wondrous experience, our first emotional dip of the toe into the complicated ocean of adult relationships.

Teenage relationships have always been complex things.

In the old days, the teenage dating process was a much more compartmentalised process. Boy asked out girl, (or girl orchestrated for boy to ask her out, if boy proved a bit reticent), to be followed by a first date of sorts, which, (all being well) culminated in a coupling; leading to the prized ‘going out’ status (the same status change in a relationship, these days, is achieved by changing your Facebook status). That hatching of a new relationship was a fairly straightforward process in the old days.

They were precious, those first months, filled with wonder, physical yearning and exploration. We knew about and explored the American system of ‘bases’, the accepted physical step-by-step process of moving from a platonic to a sexual relationship, but this was tempered by an ingrained set of values towards the opposite sex, and our own self-respect.

Of course, the path to true love never runs completely smoothly but for teenagers today, it is even more hazardous.

For the dating parameters for teenagers today are very different. Although some changes can be explained through evolution and are more difficult to control, others, I believe, are symptomatic of media influence. But some of those changes, in the way that teenagers approach and manage their relationships today, have also served to highlight a serious, underlying concern, in the re-emergence of gender inequality.

Today’s teenagers rarely feel the need to commit fully to monogamous relationships; they don’t ‘go out’ together, like we did. They ‘hook up’.

‘Hooking up’ can be defined as anything from pashing to going ‘all the way’. It’s a kind of ‘friends with benefits’, ‘no strings attached’ arrangement, played out by kids whose emotional areas of the brain are far from fully matured.

‘The hook up culture casts men in the role of sexual beast and women as victims’ and a lot of young girls are voicing concern about a new regressive attitude lurking in the minds of teenage boys; while boys question how they can respect young girls who promote semi-pornographic ‘selfies’ of themselves as sex objects on Facebook.

I wonder if this gender devaluation is in part due to the fact that many teenagers now develop their life opinions based on what they witness on the tv or via social networking. Reality television being an obvious culprit.

Open relationships, partner swapping and adherence to the friendship group over the individual is nothing new. Think of the power of ‘Friends’ in the nineties and the sexual confidence that emanated from those characters, behaviours further cultivated by the personalities in modern series such as ‘Gossip Girl’, ‘The Kardashians and Big Brother, for example.

What worries me more is that our sons and daughters are given dumbed-down, over-emotional celebrities as their female role models.  The ridiculous antics of the beauties in Beauty and the Geek, the girls of the Playboy Mansion or Brynne Edelston, albeit entertaining as comedic value, are to be laughed at, not with. Whether the immature brain of a seventeen year old can decipher the difference between what is real and what is manufactured, is another question.

And what about the relationship model itself and how it is translated to teenagers. Think of the celebrity divorces that they have been exposed to, this year alone. The increase in the divorce rate, both domestically and in Hollywood, has to affect our teenagers’ attitudes towards long-term relationships. Is their approach to the sanctity of marriage  as committed now, with what appears to be a greater focus on the event than the depth of responsibility that goes with the commitment ?

And then there is the heightened exposure that our kids have towards sex and the way that they now communicate their sexual emotions. Does a greater exposure to sex increase the interest level and hence lower the age at which they start to indulge in sexual relationships? There’s no doubt that parents had more control over what their teenagers were exposed to in the past; less mothers worked and teenagers had less freedom. These days, many kids are learning the facts of life through on-line porn, Facebook and juvenile experimentation, and are actively participating in ‘sexting’ as a form of foreplay.

If the media does insist on stereotyping gender roles, if we don’t instil in our children an understanding of equality, there is a very real danger that we are going to step back into a ’50s type era, as feared by Elaine Goldsmith in her article about Governor Romney, Is The Clock Turning Back For Women’s Rights, where men regain power and repeal women’s choices?

There was uproar recently with Julia Gillard’s branding of Tony Abbott as a misogynist, (a harsh label maybe), but maybe a revision of the meaning of ‘misogyny’ is appropriate after all, because ‘an entrenched prejudice against women’ does appear to be simmering beneath the surface in terms of teenage relationships, endangering the fragile foundations of equality that women before us fought so hard to achieve. Maybe it’s time to look at the fundamental moral codes of our youth and the influence of the media in their decisions.