JB1

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.

It’s exactly a year to the day that the man I loved well and truly broke my heart.

Most of the time it already feels like much longer, but then every so often the pain bites like it was yesterday.

I don’t think there’s much more I can say that I haven’t already overshared on here over the past twelve months.

But it’s safe to say that when the person you thought you were going to marry cheats on you, in the form of a holiday romance, then moves to the other side of the world to be with that person, your life will never quite be the same again.

And whilst I will never be able to forgive him for what he put me through, at least now I believe him when he said that I would be better off without him. Because I absolutely am.

I continue to move onwards and upwards. Always.

I was reading Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace a couple of weeks ago, and close to the end of the book, I came across this passage:
IMG_0420.JPGAnd boy, did it resonate.

Last weekend, it was my birthday. My twenty seventh year has probably been the biggest period of change I’ve experienced since I left home at 18, and certainly the biggest amount of change I have had such little control over.

Right now, I have purple hair, two relatively new piercings, a fair amount of credit debt and three housemates I met via the internet (although they are very lovely). I have friends who are married, friends who are engaged, friends who have children, friends who own their houses. There’s a gap here that’s only widening.

I would never have chosen to be in this position. Twelve months ago I thought I was moving away from impulsively dying my hair, spending recklessly and living with more than one other person. I thought I was becoming more of a grown up.

But then, I would never have guessed the trips I’ve taken, the job I now have, the odd but awesome little corner of East London I now live in.

I would have laughed at the prospect of running a marathon and getting my LiRF. Even the idea of cycling to work would have seemed crazy, something I would be too scared to do.

And I certainly wouldn’t have spent my birthday in the company of so many lovely, generous, brilliant friends (most of whom I’ve met through our shared love of running), without having the year I’d never have chosen.

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In my drafts folder, I have a post I’d been working on that speaks about how much can change in a year. It really can. I’d written how in the last year and a bit, I’ve been in four different jobs and lived in four different places. I had felt a bit lost, but I was writing about how now, at the end of 2013, I am finally in a proper, grown-up, progressive job that I am (or at least will be) good at and how I am living in the city I love with the man I adore, after 18 months of long distance. (It was all a bit smug really.)

Then, just over a week before Christmas, the man I adore decided he is no longer happy in our home, and left. And now, comparing my life to 12 months ago seems frankly ridiculous, as the biggest change has happened almost immediately. A lot can change in a year, but then even more can in just one moment. There’s a lot I don’t know now, including where I’ll end up living.

I  thought I had 2014 all sorted and settled. As if life is that simple. Last year, I tried to set new goals at the start of every month, and review them as I went along, as I thought this ‘bite size’ approach was better than leaving the same unattainable targets hanging for a whole year. Well that didn’t work either. If these last few weeks have taught me anything it’s that as much as I want to be an organised, super planned control freak, a lot of the time you just have to roll with the punches. So that’s what I’m trying, and will continue to try, to do. Change can happen at anytime, someone just needs to inflict it.

So, here’s to a year full of uncertainty. A year of being strong no matter what happens.