Waking up with a full day off ahead of you and the endless possibilities contained therein. Nothing is too ridiculous or too indulgent to be a viable way to spend the day. Going to an exhibition. Changing your hair ribbon three times. Watching 5 episodes of Bojack. Re-reading your old diaries for half an hour and then finishing a box of Easter eggs in bed. Talking to your housemates about Domhnall Gleeson vs James Franco for 2 hours in the garden.
LEIA #3: How To Be Single
A couple of weeks ago I blogged about why I love being single. It was a weird one to write, because like so many of my blogs, I am completely oblivious to the fact that not everybody feels the same way. I assumed that everybody reaches the same conclusions after a while and it was only last year I realised actually, no, a lot of friends of mine are not single through choice and really struggle with being single. They analyse obsessively over how dates have gone, if they’ll ever find somebody, when they’ll get a message back or when they’ll find “the one”.
LEIA #2: The Death Of Dating
Growing up in the late 90’s and early 00’s, Dating was A Thing. Through a varied diet of chick-lit books, American sitcoms and Hugh Grant films, I watched men and women in their 20’s and 30’s navigate an endlessly confusing Dating landscape. Key figures in the Dating world included: friends of friends, guys in bars, ingenue secretaries at work, earnest Ethan Hawke-sque boys, confusing fuckwits, psychotic commitment-phobes, and Mr Big. Forays into the world of Dating routinely ended in heartbreak, confusion and pain. Dating was a pursuit with only one goal; Coupledom. Only once in a while was that goal attained; that most rare and elusive of statuses: The Relationship.
Dating involved elaborate codes of conduct and lengthy rules: don’t have sex until Date 3, don’t order pasta, don’t wear Granny pants (as famously cocked up by Bridget Jones), and so on. Teen magazines of the time prepped youngsters like myself on what to wear, how to eat, what conversational topics to avoid. Agony aunts answered questions such as “We’ve been dating for 4 months but he hasn’t asked me to be his girlfriend yet?”. Dating was never fun, but rather a daunting, exhausting and unfortunately necessary obstacle course.
Cut forward to “My Single Life” in London in 2016 and I can only conclude that “Dating”, at least as it was so elaborately presented to me in my youth, is dead. None of those rules apply. “Dating” is no longer an oft-used term, and as evidenced by my WhatsApp screenshots, we’re all a bit confused about it (some more than others AHEM). Being single is a vast world of varied terrain and unidentified fauna: one night stands, “going for a drink”, hanging out, days out, “cuddles on the sofa”, sexting, hook-ups, friends with benefits and flings. You’re likely to have a few of these situations on the go at any one time, and whilst many involve going on A Date, I don’t think any can be accurately referred to as the long-ball Dating game of old.
Problems occur when we try to attain to the Dating code of conduct we all diligently memorised aged 14, only to find that The Rules don’t fit in with our lives. (See the above screenshot). We need to fuck the rules off and accept we can do anything, in any order, at any time. THAT’S FINE GUYS.
It’s hard to know what killed Dating. I’m pretty sure that despite all the well-intended advice, my generation just don’t know how to date – we can’t. There’s a recession, we’re broke, and nothing is certain. We don’t have time to spend a whole evening with everybody we like the look of. We work weird hours; a movie at 7 isn’t an option when we’re in the office until 9. It’s impossible to plan long-term when we might be made redundant, forced to move home or deported at any time.
We can’t afford to spend our hard-earned cash wining and dining a complete stranger we might not even fancy, we have no idea how to socialise without alcohol (sober hook-up isn’t a phrase) and if we do manage to find someone we like, we lock their shit down IMMEDIATELY. We’ll likely move in together after 3 months because we can’t afford £750 a month plus bills each, and it’s just as easy to get to know somebody when you live with them as it is spending 4 months hanging out at Pizza Express.
Don’t worry if things don’t seem to be following some sort of normal pattern; maybe you’ll text for 6 months straight and then get married, maybe you’ll have a one-night stand which turns into a FWB situation, maybe you’ll have a vaguely flirty friendship and in 5 years have a kid together. Whatever. ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE FINE. Just don’t get too panicked about dating and trying to fit into some outdated narrative – as long as you’re happy, safe and getting enough, we’re all good. RIP Dating.
This is part of my “LEIA: Laila Explains It All” series on dating, life, advice and relationships which quite a lot of you have asked about! I hope you’re enjoying it so far. x
LEIA: Why I Love Being Single
This is part of a new series I’m calling LEIA: Laila Explains It All. I’ll explain at the end!!!
Today on the blog I’m going to get a bit more personal. I’m going to talk frankly about a side of my life that I rarely discuss in public: my love life. I often find myself in conversations with friends who are unhappy being single. They feel that being single is a struggle, a stigma, something to obsess over or something scary. I’ve kind of assumed the role of “advisor” in my friendship group because I have been single for a very long time and navigated a lot of scenarios that being single tends to throw up; dating, flings, one night stands and the like. They miss being in a relationship, they can’t find “the one”, they imagine they’re unlovable, or they’re anxious about joining the dating “game”.
I have genuinely never felt like that. People don’t believe me but it’s true, really! I LOVE being single. I am probably the archetypal single girl – I’m a ‘Samantha’ in that I love dating. I love the chase, the guessing games, the first dates, the planning, the getting-ready, the gossiping with your friends after, the updates, the late-night chats, the mutual discoveries, the working out how you feel. I love moving on and finding something new and dashing off to the next prospect.
As a teenager, there was a lot of pressure to be in a relationship, but these days, I have a great life in which I devote myself wholeheartedly to things I love. I have the absolute best friends in the world, my dream job, a wonderful house and housemates in North London. I’ve never bothered to think too much about finding anybody to share it with, because I already do share everything with my wonderful friends (who are basically family to me). I’ve never defined myself by my relationship status; and therefore, nobody else has either.
I care deeply about my life and getting the most out of it. I want a life that’s brimming with anecdotes, filled with adventures, and never-ending nights out. Dating and relationships are a fun hobby. A sport alongside a life filled with things I actually care about and want to devote my time too: my friends, my career, my beliefs. Who knows if there’s a Mr Right or a soulmate out there somewhere? I never, ever ponder these things – there’s any number of people I could get on with in the meantime and if somebody turns up, great, if nobody does, who cares? I can’t imagine anything more boring or alarming than by defining myself by my relationship status. I won’t be pranging out on a Friday night in sobbing into my Netflix account – I’ll be down the pub with my mates, or at the back writing songs about my idols, or planning my next holiday abroad.
In fact, I struggle to think about what a relationship could provide that I do not have already. I have self-worth, I have value, I have companionship, I have excitement, I have a life filled with happiness and days out and nice things and there’s not a lot else I really want. I have a lot, basically. I don’t need anybody to provide me with those things, because I found them for myself. Being single gives me a life where I put myself first, where I can spend all my time and energy making this little patch of the world exactly where I want to be – and that’s why I love being single.
This is part of a new series I’m calling LEIA: Laila Explains It All. I seem to have a fairly unique view amongst my pals on this kind of personal stuff – which I’d quite like to share, if it’s not too egotistical! Let me know what you’d like to see – stories of dating, advice, relationship probs or whatever :)