Saturday, 21 August 2010

Around the World

As some of you may know, I was recently in Australia for a wedding. I had high hopes for this particular ceremony, not just for the couple tying the knot (they excelled my expectations in so many ways) but also for myself. Yes, after all the post-J trauma, I figured travelling to the other side of the world in search of a man would be a great anecdote to my broken heart. And excellent for blogging purposes!

I'm not going to lie, in the run up to my trip down under, I'd had visions of meeting a cool, bronzed, Aussie hunk who'd sweep me off my feet and teach me how to surf. But alas, it was clearly not meant to be. Instead, all of the Aussie guys I met seemed to have little direction in life... They were all in jobs that were practically handed to them, rather than having carved out career paths for themselves that they worked their toned tushies off for. Call me a snob, but I found it a little disappointing.

It's not that I wouldn't date a guy who wasn't a doctor, teacher or lawyer; I would. For example, I'd date a bartender, if he had bigger dreams and was working towards managing or owning a bar one day. I just can't date a guy with no passion for his career. I know that makes me susceptible to dating a workaholic, but I'm willing to take that chance.

The other thing I noticed about several Aussie men is that they hadn't ventured past Australian shores. Or if they had, it'd been to New Zealand when they were 10. If I met a guy in London who'd never left the UK, bar a French exchange trip in 1990, it's more than likely I put a strike through his name in my little black book.

Perhaps I'm spoilt in Dubai, where every eligible bachelor here has a career path and an ambition. And they're not afraid to travel to unknown terrioties to acheive their goals. Or is it that I'm just looking for someone on my wavelength? Someone who'll take the bull by the horns, a leap of faith or a risk?

The good thing about most Aussie men is their love for the outdoors; be it surfing, offroading or hunting. Whilst all these activities are great (no, I'm not ant anti-hunting activist so sue me) they all show brawn but not brains. And I need a balance between the two.

After all, they're just basic primal instincts, right? The intelligence to hold down a decent job to provide for our family, and the brute strength to be able to protect us, conduct basic DIY around the house etc.

I hate to think I'm fussy, and this is probably one of the reasons I've been single most of my adult life, but I want someone to inspire me. Someone to come home from work to where I think 'Fuck, you're amazing', after they've told me a story about how they dealt with something difficult at work or acheived something new in their personal life.

Guys who just plod along in life don't cut it for me. A relationship is about compromise, and having get-up-and-go is not something I'm willing to negotiate, which is why I need someone like-minded. I want to tell my kids I met their father in some random place, doing some crazy activity. And I want to tell them we were married on a Himalayan mountain with goats as guests. Or something along those lines...

I think of some of the stories my parents told me over the years about their travels, and I wonder if this is one of the elements that attracted them to one another, along with the fact they were both at university trying to acheive something when they met.

I don't want a repetition of my parents' love story, but I do want to find a similar synergy that they once shared, and perhaps still do. I guess I just need a little more patience and a plane ticket to somewhere more exotic than Oz.

Monday, 9 August 2010

The Unobtainables

When it comes to relationships, I have a terrible track record. In fact they're so bad, I'd barely call them relationships. Constantly falling for guys who are bad for me; it would seem that I love setting myself up for heartache.

My problem? Well, according to an article in the British edition of Cosmopolitan magazine, I'm attracted to unavailable men. At first, I laughed at the obscenity of it. Then I thought of past men I'd desired (and a couple of current ones too). Had I been in a serious relationship with any of them? No. The only guy I've ever been in a serious relationship with, I dumped. Probably because it was all just too easy to plod along with him and it didn't excite me enough.

The more I think about it, the more sure I am that unavailable men are absolutely who I'm attracted to. Sometimes, there are guys I don't even necessarily find that physically attractive that I just have to have. For example, I know it'd be wrong for me to get involved with a guy who is either married, expecting a child with another woman, someone I work with or treated me so badly in the past, but I just can't help myself. It's like I'm drawn to them.

It probably explains why I suddenly realised how much I wanted J - because he's having a child with someone else and I can't have him anymore. It also explains why I continued chatting to Billy the banker - he was married and so I knew it'd be more of a challenge.

Is that what makes unavailable men so attractive to me - the challenge? I don't think I've ever had a thing for a guy who has been interested in me in the long term. Is it because it's a challenge to try to win them over? I've never been a girl for the easy life and I've always enjoyed having dramas in my life; from break-ups with boyfriends to suddenly moving 3500 miles away from home. From sleeping with someone I shouldn't, to constantly being the one to be pulled over by the police for no apparent reason. Drama just seems to find me but, if I'm honest, I absolutely love it. After all, what's a high without a low, right?

Perhaps it's my age. I mean, right now, I have little interest in finding The One, being contractually bound to him and then popping out his offspring, once every year, for the next however many years. No, thanks. It's all just... too normal. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I consciously sniff out married men or guys with emotional issues, but for some reason I'm insanely attracted to them if they are. I don't want to be, but I just can't help myself.

Unobtainable men are also great to fantasise about... It's all so exciting and you're constantly on a high, thinking about the next time you'll see them. They're a woman's version of the schoolgirl crush, and thinking about that first kiss or the first time you strip them off is just so hot!

But what if it isn't my age? Cosmopolitan magazine seemed to think it could be something to do with self-esteem and/or past relationships, but I honestly don't think that's the reason. I've never been one to really care what others think of me and I had a very healthy, balanced upbringing. Sure, my past relationships with men have been rollercoasters, but only because I let them.

Another point the article made was that women who go after unavailable men are usually big discussers or over-thinkers, or even both. Apparently women attracted to unavailable men are so caught up in discussing, thinking and daydreaming that we don't realise that we're trapped in inaction. Does that mean this blog is a tell-tale sign of my relationship tendencies towards unobtainables?

Why is it always the woman that's attracted to unavailable men? It could be that I'm actually the emotionally unavailable one and the guys I go for reflect that. It's not like every woman that goes for unavailable men has deep emotional issues. In fact, I'm surprised a magazine, that's supposedly meant to encourage women to be empowered when it comes to sex and relationships, is so quick to point the finger at the women.

This article is bad journalism anyway; not one of the twenty points was backed up by a study or psychologists opinion, they were all obvious, and mindless, assumptions. Not that I really should have expected anything more from Cosmopolitan magazine.

I guess the most worrying part about being attracted to unobtainable men, is acting on it. Not because how it affects me, but because of the ripple effect - the wife, the mother of the child, colleagues or my friends. Let's be clear, I've only ever slept with one married man (as far as I know) and I didn't even find out he was married until a few days later. And I'd only strike up romantic liaisons with a guy I work with if he assured me he wouldn't make it an issue. But I do worry that, one day, it might cause issues.

Maybe there's nothing I can do about it. Maybe unavailable men give out a pheromone that I'm irresistibly attracted to and, until my chemistry changes, I just have to accept that living dangerously is part of my DNA.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

The big, bad World Wide Web of dating

When I lived in London, much of my social life was consumed by online dating. I signed up to all sorts of different matchmaking websites, and I used to meet two or three guys a week. I had a great time, met some lovely guys, some of whom I'm still friends with today. Yes, there were one or two horror stories, but on the whole, it was a lot of fun.

In Dubai, I've been heavily reliant on friends to set me up with eligible bachelors that they know. This is partially because most dating websites are blocked. Yes, in a country where an arranged marriage to your cousin is the norm, dating is still somewhat a taboo, despite the fact that the 90% of the city's population is made up of expats. But hey, that's their rules and I've learnt to live with it for the last five years.

However, recently, a friend of mine introduced me to a dating application available on Facebook that has not yet been blocked. I was excited at the prospect of being cast back to my ways of dating, circa 2003, and eagerly set up an account. In anticipation as to whom I might find on one of the only available dating sites in the country, I immediately went through the site's list of eligible bachelors... except they weren't so eligible.

I'm not quite sure what it is about online dating in Dubai, but it just doesn't produce the goods like it does in London. I must have trudged through almost a hundred profiles to find only one or two guys who weren't either sex-obsessed maniacs, passport grabbers or just complete weirdos. Within minutes, I'd received a number of messages saying 'Txt 050 76X XXXX plz', 'Hi Babie' and 'You want meet for sex'. Obviously, none of these gentlemen particularly appealed to me.

Now, without coming across as a complete snob, I'm looking for someone who is articulate, can spell and can hold a decent conversation. After all, I work in communications and if you can not communicate properly, then, quite frankly, I'm just not interested. Sorry, but first impressions count, boys!

Now, I'm going to move on to onscreen names... If your onscreen name is something such as HeArTbrEakKiD, Sexy4U or Russian Mafia, then I'm probably going to skip right past your profile. Why? Because I don't want to date a kid that's going to break my heart, a guy who is sexy for all women on the web and beyond, or someone who might shoot me in my sleep. Just your name will do. If you really don't wish to reveal your identity on a dating website, why not just use your initials instead of making up some teenage chat room-esque name?

Bearing all that in mind, I'm left with very few guys on this website, and I haven't even taken into account physical features yet! I disregard all profiles without a picture. I'm sorry, but in this day and age, there is absolutely no excuse for not putting up at least one semi-decent photo, unless you're a total minger or have something sinister to hide. But not being one to give up, I persevere through the profiles. There are two or three guys that catch my eye, and so I drop them a line.

The first message is important, so I always make sure I refer to at least one or two points in their profile. Generic "Hi, how are you?" messages just won't cut it. The fist message needs to be flirty but not filthy, witty but not ridiculous and most of all, it needs to be intriguing. It needs to let my personality shine through without giving away too much away. You don't want to repeat what's already been said in your profile, but you also don't want to divulge your life story so, that when you do eventually go out on a date, they can find out more about you.

Once the perfect message has been crafted, all that's left to do is sit and wait for a reply. Quite often, this can be agonising - have they been online yet? Have they read the message? Have they just not had time to reply? Does my profile picture make me look too fat? Did they not get my sense of humour? Is it because I'm a smoker?

Not receiving a reply can feel like being dumped after a second date with a guy you quite like. You imagine what could have been with the cute man in the photo and wonder why he didn't even give you the chance to show him how wonderful you are by taking you on a date. But when you do receive a reply, all the hassle of scouring through all those profiles seems worthwhile, and you're reminded that you're still a catch, no matter how many dating disasters you've endured over the past few weeks.

I've not yet met any of the guys I've been having email conversations with, but I'm hoping they'll restore my faith in online dating in this city. I'm giving it two weeks for at least one date to materialise, otherwise I'm casting myself out of the dating world in Dubai because dating shouldn't be this difficult. Some girls have the patience for it, but I guess I just don't want it that badly anymore...

In the meantime, if any of my friends have real eligible bachelors to set me up with, they will be gratefully received!