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I wrote this post a couple of months ago, before Christmas. It’s sat in my drafts ever since. I didn’t know whether to post it, because it’s boring and it’s old news, but writing this was what made me feel like writing again. So I’m going to tweak it and put it up. Because writing is therapy and this is one thing I need to let go…

I really wish I didn’t feel this way, but Christmas changed for me four years ago. I really, really hate that this is still *a thing* in my life, but – sigh – it is.

The week before Christmas in 2013, my ‘One’* (ha) upped and left. I was stunned. I was bereft. Jeez, I’ve written about this loads. Way too much already. For 11 months of the year, he doesn’t even cross my mind. But for the 11 days leading up to Christmas Day, I can’t help but mark (with a lot of thinking and unfortunately also a lot of drinking) the anniversary of the time my heart smashed and my life changed course.

I’m not sad anymore. I know my life is a million times more interesting, exciting and diverse than it would have been if I were still with him. Born out of that shitty time were incredible female friendships that give me life. I love all of those women more than I ever loved him. But I do mourn for the way in which my attitude towards love and relationships has shifted irreparably ever since.

At that time of year, I always remember the bar we were in when the conversation started, the way we sat next to each other on the District line as the conversation progressed. The shouting and the sobbing. The going back home to Norfolk for Christmas, the not leaving my bedroom for several days, the devouring endless chick-lit (FYI: not a helpful coping strategy). He was the first man I’d ever managed to persuade to spend Christmas Day with me (which, of course, never happened). He was the first man I’d ever lived with. He was the first man I’d ever sacrificed real, important parts of myself for.

This year, I spent my fourth Christmas single, having resolutely not sacrificed anything for anyone during any of those four Christmases, or any of the time in between. Because why would I?

And that’s the reason the festive season always feels different now. It’s the time of the year I realise most how cynical and fiercely independent I have become. I realise how much it broke me because I spend so much time reminiscing (and a fair number of evenings drinking… did I mention the drinking?). I do my absolute best to be the opposite of what I was. I was settled and ‘normal’ and on the path to coupled up homemaking. Every December I prove how routine-less, how single, how much more fun I now am.

And then January comes around and without the cloud of forced festivity, I remember I don’t need to prove anything. I’m doing just fine on my own. I’m doing just fine with my family and friends and my sense of adventure.

Christmas might have lost it’s magic that Sunday afternoon, but it unleashed so much more.

*I don’t think I’ve ever actually believed in the notion of ‘The One’, but maybe I’ll save that for another post…

Earlier this month, this blog of mine turned six years old.

Even typing that sentence, as I just have, on my actual MacBook, feels weird. Blogging doesn’t exist anymore, not like it used to. We’ve gone from no one having a blog, to everyone having a blog, to now – where it seems as if we’re back at a nobody again.

I’ve managed to write at least a couple of posts every year that this site has been in existence, but I’ve come within seconds of deleting the whole damn thing on several occasions. If no one writes blogs or reads blogs anymore, then what is the point of owning one? But then I remembered, that has never been the point. I’ve never written a word in the hope that someone else would read it (okay okay, apart from a handful of thinly veiled passive aggressive rants aimed at my evil ex, but there’s at least one more of those to come…) – it’s always been for my own self-absorbed interest.

I’ve never hit ‘delete’ because I knew there’d always be a point when I feel like writing something again. And lucky for you (or just me, when I read this back in a few minutes), that time is now.

Whilst everyone has migrated elsewhere on the internet and are busy abusing their ‘friends’ on Facebook, trolling ‘celebrities’ on Twitter and slipping into each other’s DM’s left, right and centre on Instagram, I’m going to use the relative quiet of this space here in the corner, to get some of my thoughts straight. It’s nice to have somewhere where there’s not quite so much yelling. Oh man, there’s just so much yelling.

I don’t need facts or figures or graphs or studies to persuade me how to vote on 23 June. I don’t need TV debates or experts. And I’m getting pretty good at ignoring the utter crap that the tabloids publish on their front pages.

Whether Britain should remain in or leave the EU isn’t a matter of weighing up the arguments and pondering both sides, because it’s more than that. It’s emotional, it’s innate.

I’m an EU resident currently residing in an EU country and I want it to stay that way.

I live in London, which – as I’ve said before – is one of the greatest cities in the world. One of the reasons that I love London is the diversity. I don’t get annoyed hearing the many languages spoken here and seeing the many faces living here, I feel enriched by it. Yes, London is hard work sometimes, but it’s people make this baffling and beautiful place what it is.

London’s offices, homes, bars, shops, buses, trains, hotels, restaurants, hospitals and streets are filled by people from all over the world. And a heck of a lot of them from all over the EU. My life is made better by the many different people I live with, work with, run with and socialise with. I don’t want anyone of them to feel like they aren’t welcome in London or anywhere in Britain.

On the flip side, I also want to feel welcome across Europe. I have travelled to countries within the EU numerous times, and this has increased dramatically within the last few years. I think nothing of jumping on a flight and exploring a different city for the weekend. Or running a half marathon in one of our European neighbours. I’d spend a few days in Berlin, Paris or Barcelona as easily, probably more cheaply and definitely more frequently that I would Leeds, Liverpool or Manchester.

This makes me extremely privileged, but this is how I chose to spend my salary. Others may save for a place of their own, I go on little adventures that I am lucky enough to have within only a few hours of my doorstep.

But this isn’t just about the future of budget airlines or keeping millennials boredom-free at weekends. It’s about the fact that me, and many other people, have grown up in Britain but also feel European.

It’s in the books I read, the language lessons I take, the sports I watch, the dreams I have.

I will genuinely just feel very sad if we vote leave next week.

And if we do, I’m moving to Spain (whilst I still can).

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Most of the time, I like to think I’m a pretty sensible, level headed single person. I don’t freak out when spending long periods of time in my own company, I usually remember that soul mates don’t actually exist and I read articles like this one that make me realise that third wheeling can be really quite fun (and also funny). And more often than not, I feel bloody smug that I’m going home to nothing more than a green tea and my Miffy pyjamas.

But sometimes, weeks like last week happen. And last week, two things happened to not knock my balance right off.

Let’s talk about those things.

The first thing

The early part of the week marked the anniversary of the night I met the person I spent 97% of the last year madly in love with/perpetually confused by/crying over. Often I was all three at the same time. It was the most awesomely spontaneous, crazily passionate yet emotionally tumultuous relationship I’ve ever been in. And the great weekend that started it all was flashing all over my Facebook timeline, a reminder of that thing I used to have. In the words of Justin Bieber, FEELS.

The second thing

So, what else is a girl to do when moping over her ex, but to head into her iPhone for a string of disappointing and disjointed virtual conversations?

I matched with a guy on Tinder, totally my ‘type’ (y’know, the type that you think is your type, but in reality you have never dated anyone like that…) We started chatting; it’s all going well. He mentions the usual – where he lives, where he works, interests, his football team… and then the penny drops. I know that there is probably more than one Spurs season ticket holder within a 5 kilometre radius of my house, but in that moment I just knew. This guy had already been on a date with one of my friends.

I also know that the chances of this happening aren’t actually that slim – there are only so many men of a certain age, in a certain place, on a certain app at any one time. But these two things combined sent me into one of those OHMYHGOD-I’m-the-only-single-person-left-and-it’s-gong-to-be-this-way-forever panics.

In order to alleviate this panic – and also because I’m a maths-loving, curiously minded, highly analytical person (as well as a bit bored and being left to my own devices for a little bit too long), I decided to try and work out the actual chances of me and my bestie matching the same dude on Tinder.

Strap yourself in folks, stats are coming you way

Yes, I actually went on the Internet and looked up official government statistics. I’m not apologising, this was a really fun way to spend my Saturday afternoon (DORK).

Here goes.

• There are 8.2 million people in London – 4.2 million female, 4 million male

• Of these Londoners, 1.6 million people are aged 30-44 (this the closest age bracket to my own age that I could use)

• 804,000 of these people are male

• 314,000 of these men are single and have never been married

• When you add back in divorced and widowed (if you don’t mind the baggage), this goes back up a bit to 353,000

• BUT then, you have to take off people that aren’t married, but are co-habiting (SINNERS!) – this takes off quite a few, so the number drops again, leaving…

• 195,000 single men aged 30-44 living in London

• HOWEVER, this doesn’t account for men that are coupled, but not co-habiting, and also makes no assumption as to sexual orientation (both of which will drop the number further)

• Then of course, you have to take off: men that think that rugby is better than football, men that aren’t feminists, men that think that tying a jumper around their waist is okay (or whatever list of non-negotiables you’d personally like to apply to your pool of potential partners)

So, making some very, very rough estimations (this is where it turns from actual hard facts to just me guessing…) there are about 115,000 men of a certain age, in a certain place…

…but as for on a certain app? I tried to find some figures to suggest how many users of Tinder there were in London (yep, this thing went DEEP), but came up blank. Judging on my experience though, I’m going with ‘quite a lot’ of those 115,000.

So, my conclusion is this: although I have just proved to the internet that I am actually quite crazy, there is still a relatively good chance that there is at least one person that might find it at least a little bit endearing, maybe even something more.

Ahhh, thank you maths.

(For those that are interested, the number is ever so slightly lower when the same logic is applied to women. For those that are really interested, I have all the data in a spreadsheet. And I have data sources. Oh, and we should probably date.)

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Bought these for myself on vday, just FYI

Over the last few months, the exact same scenario has swept through my group of friends like some kind of love life epidemic. As the months have passed, it’s picked off each one of us (myself included) that have been (un)fortunate enough to embark on a new relationship.

We’ve all met and fallen for lovely, charming, funny boys, we’ve all been on dates that turned into sleepovers, and we’ve all eventually reached the point – a few months in – where we’ve all been smitten and ready enough to want to commit further to the blossoming relationship. Then it all goes a bit weird, the boys get a bit less keen, the messages get a lot less frequent and we hear the dreaded words “you deserve better”.

And do you know what, I’m SO sick of hearing those words. I’m sick of my gorgeous, smart, successful, witty friends being told they deserve better. I’m sick of spineless, commitment phobic boys in their late twenties freaking out and breaking our hearts, only to merely brush themselves down and do it again to the next woman.

The breakup cliché used to be “it’s not you, it’s me”. I used to hate that, I used to think it was a massive cop out. But on reflection, at least it recognises where the full blame lies. It acknowledges that it is nothing to do with the woman. It actually takes some guts for a man to admit that a relationship ending is entirely their fault.

“You deserve better” is the opposite. It is cowardly. It helps project some of that blame onto the woman, making them think that they asked for too much or that they had unrealistic expectations. It forces them to settle.

And they shouldn’t. All these women want is someone to be on their team. (Both myself and one of my close friends began to use this phrase completely independently of each other.) We don’t want or need a Prince Charming. We don’t want endless free dinners or to be whisked to the other side of the world. We want a partner. We want someone who’s going to be on our team through the amazing times and the shit stuff. We earn our own money and can pay our own way; we want someone to sit across from us at dinner or on the plane next to us and challenge us, inspire us, and to just be with us.

I know it can be done. For every amazing single friend I have, I have three more that are happily the girlfriend of or married to equally as brilliant, loyal, intelligent, supportive men. I know couples whose relationship I am deeply envious of, who have the team thing nailed.

So boys, instead of telling us we deserve better, how about just being better. Instead of making yourself feel okay about being a shitty boyfriend, look to your friends who manage to be great ones. We don’t deserve better, we just deserve what you promise us in the beginning. And if you can’t manage to do that yet, then just leave us all the hell alone until the day that you can.