Over the last few years, we’ve been given terms to really pin down awful dating behaviour. From Gatsbying, to cushioning, to the classic ghosting, there are loads of ways to describe when people ditch and disappear.
You’re probably not thrilled to hear that there’s yet another dating trend that we didn’t want, or need. It’s called scrooging.
As metro.co.uk reports, Eharmony have used the term to describe some particularly shitty dating etiquette with a festive twist.
So what is scrooging? It’s essentially when the person you’re dating dumps you so that they avoid having to buy you a Christmas present. Yeah, that happens.
According to Eharmony’s research, one in ten Brits are guilty of scrooging and apparently it’s particularly popular with those aged between 18 and 24. Men are more likely to do it, and the report suggests that anyone thinking of doing a festive ditch will start backing off in the lead up to Christmas so that when it finally rolls around they’ll be in the clear. Charming.
Relationship expert for EHarmony, Rachael Lloyd, told metro.co.uk: ‘We know that relationships can often become less of a priority in the run up to Christmas. It’s also a time when dating significantly slows down. In fact, a quarter (24%) of Brits agree that it’s a time to prioritise family and friends above romance.
‘However, it seems particularly miserly to end a relationship simply to avoid buying your partner a present and indicates that you weren’t ready for a romantic commitment in the first place.’
She continued: ‘Often people in relationships get anxious about what to buy their partner, particularly if they’re not given any clues.
‘If this is the case speak to your partner’s best friend or close relatives and get some advice… If you’ve been Scrooged this Christmas, take heart. That person was never right for you in the first place and you’re one step nearer to finding someone who is.’
An open letter by Lindsey Holland on how to combat the ‘heads down’ anxiety problem and care for the elderly at Christmas (and all year round)…
Words by Lindsey Holland
As we grow closer to Christmas, it’s important to think more about ways that we can support those who won’t have anyone to celebrate with, those who long for some company and those who will feel very much alone around this time of year in particular. I’m talking about our amazing elderly population.
My grandparents have always played a major role in my life, and still do. They taught me a hell of a lot. My nana’s soft attitude towards my stress levels surrounding friendships, or later on, boys, were exactly what I needed. She used to say “never mind little rose” and then stick the kettle on and shower me with fancy biscuits. I wear a ring engraved with that exact message. Sid, that’s granddad, was a tall man with the kindest, most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen, taught me about how to listen well. He asked lots of questions, and I loved that about him. I’d go as far as to say he was my best pal.
I worked as a physiotherapist in NHS hospitals across the country for years. There are many areas across a physiotherapy career, but I settled in an area I excelled in, and felt completed me a bit, and that was elderly care. What a rollercoaster working with the elderly is! I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Or maybe except the time that Doris drop kicked me in the chest for making her a brew- dementia is really tough. Or the time that Horace’s catheter exploded on my leg and I had to wear surgical scrubs for the rest of the day.
My love for the elderly, and for the NHS and the incredible teams I was a part of over the years aside, it got to be a lot. I was at breaking point. The lack of staff, the overload of patients in the winter months, the bed crisis. I was not fully willing to give up my job or my blog, which ran alongside my physio career as a hobby. As my role as a physiotherapist became more stress and less love, my blog became more demanding, and began to open up doors I never imagined. I was pushed to make a decision in favour of my mental and physical health, and in June 2017 I left my role as a physiotherapist.
As you can imagine, leaving my role in caring for the elderly left a gaping hole in my life and it wasn’t long before I started to search for something to fill said hole. I had a work meeting with a really inspiring woman, and it transpired that she was volunteering via Age UK as part of their befriending scheme and I left the meeting and got in touch with Age UK the very same afternoon. The befriending scheme is built to try and put a stop to loneliness amongst the elderly population by pairing volunteers (you!) up with a lonely elderly person in your area. GPs, social workers and families can refer the elderly person into the scheme. All that’s required of you, is a one hour training course to make you feel comfortable within your new role, and a visit to your new pal at least once per week for a couple of hours. They actually also offer telephone befriending services- so you can pick up the phone and catch up that way if the person would prefer it. It’s really quite an amazing service.
I recently began a new online series on my blog called ‘Ageless Ties’. I want to identify why, as a generation we have moved so far away from the crux of what makes us happy, and the things that makes us feel connected to one another. We’re living in a ‘head down’ generation filled with technology designed to help us to operate at our best, except that all it does is ensue anxiety and disconnection. Working in elderly care taught me about how beautiful and important a connection between generations really is. Not just for them, but for us, too. The way they see the world, our problems Vs. their problems and how they manage situations. It’s all about perspective, and they’ve got a tonne of it.
From the community I’ve built around the Ageless Ties platform, I’ve learnt that we have so much to offer each other and that a friend from an older generation and the perspective that they bring to you will be one of the most refreshing things you’ll ever experience. Through sitting with and interviewing countless women and men who have formed the most incredible relationships beyond any conventional ideas of age and background, I’ve been lucky enough to gain an insight into the deep and undying importance of bridging the gaps between ‘age ranges’.
I’m four months into my Age UK befriending scheme friendship with my elderly pal (click here to read more about the end loneliness scheme), and honestly, she’s a diamond. She has had the most incredible life, gives wonderful advice and is a joy to be around. We laugh a lot together and I leave feeling full and inspired, and I would like to think that the way she natters on to me, makes her feel similar.
More information about the ways you can get involved in helping to end loneliness can be found in the links above.
Dating in 2018 can be a bit tricky. Whether you’re looking for true love or someone to watch The Princess Switch with, do you Tinder? Bumble? Hinge? Try your luck at meeting people IRL? (Lol, no.)
But once you’ve met your match, shared a few dough balls at Pizza Express and confessed that your hobbies include watching Love Island re-runs, things get a bit more difficult. Why? Because you’re up against a hundred and one ‘dating trends’ – whether you’re a victim or a perpetrator.
It gets far more complicated than a bit of ghosting. Ah, the easy days when you were simply dumped without being told! A time when you question whether leaving 18 voicemails frantically asking where they’ve gone is a tad excessive (girlfriends say yes, brain says no).
Nowadays there’s zombieing (when the ghost in question reappears), there’s cushioning (when your new partner lines up another lover to soften the blow when they break up with you), and then there’s stashing (when your OH hides you from everyone in their life like a pair of dirty socks).
And it’s not just navigating your way through modern dating with a potential partner – you can be orbited by your ex, so even those ghost loves of the past aren’t leaving you to it.
Luckily, there’s ANOTHER ONE! And it’s called ‘Gatsbying’.
Coined by Matilda Dods in a piece on TomBoyBeauty.com, and it involves social media.
You know when you’re trying to get someone’s attention by living your best (ahem, carefully constructed) life on Instagram stories? Dancing at a swanky bar, filling up on porn star martinis, generally being all of the fun?
But you’ll probably miss out the bit where you fell asleep with kebab meat on your face.
That’s ‘Gatsbying’. Not the kebab bit. But the part where you show off on social media to get someone’s attention.
Matilda writes: ‘Why, instead of just sending a text to the boy that I like, am I throwing the equivalent of a champagne soaked, chandelier swinging, Charleston dancing party on my Instagram story? All for that ceaseless green light across the water that is the attention of a boy who, let’s be real, probably isn’t good enough for me anyway?’
Mr Grey probably won’t see you now, but you can still channel the spirit of Fifty Shades of Grey with one of the wildest advent calendars we’ve seen around. If you’ve ever wanted to live out your own IRL Fifty Shades fantasy, Lovehoney will give you 24 reasons to with their massive advent calendar which is packed with products from their E.L. James inspired line.
According to the site, it’s packed with ‘24 top-quality toys and bondage items that will set your sex life on fire.’ (Big words, Lovehoney.) The entire collection has toys that you can either use solo or with your partner for some ‘authentic Christian and Ana fun’, including a vibrating cock ring, silicone jiggle balls and a Greedy Girl rabbit vibrator for gals out here doing it for themselves.
The collection is priced at £200, but Lovehoney’s currently doing a pretty insane Christmas sale so you can snag it now for £80 – 60% off the original retail price. To put things into perspective, their Greedy Girl rabbit vibrator is usually priced at £69.99 alone so you’ll basically get 23 other treats for an extra £10 more. That’s a bargain if we’ve ever seen one.
This alternative advent calendar was specifically designed for couples according to the site and if you’re interested in what goes into Red Room arsenal, they’ve got you covered. On the bondage side, it includes handcuffs, ankle cuffs, a hogtie, bondage rope, bondage tape, spanking paddle, flogger and a feather tickler. On top of that, it’s vibrator galore as they’ll throw in the aforementioned Greedy Girl vibrator, vibrating nipple clamps, silicone jiggle balls, a finger vibrator, vibrating cock ring, nipple suckers, metal nipple clamps, a metal clit clamp and a silicone prostate massager. TBH, we’re sweating in the office thinking about it all: whether that’s in excitement or pure anxiety is anybody’s guess. We mean, just look at this beast:
Given that we’re six days in and it’ll take a day or two for this monster to get to your front door, you’ll have a lot of catching up to do. (You might want to block out the weekend, just saying.) The best part about it all? It comes with all the batteries you’ll ever need, so you won’t have to faff around ripping them out of the telly remote.
Just a quick note though: Christian Grey doesn’t come included
Attraction is all about playing to your sensory strengths…
When it comes to dating, the right chemistry is critical, but why do we feel an instant attraction to some people more than others?
Believe it or not, relationship experts are now encouraging those of us who are looking for love to disengage from the digital dating world, and tap into the powerful link between seduction and our senses for greater dating success.
This new ‘augmented sensuality’ is a key theme in the latest BOSS fragrance ad, starring Irish actor Jamie Doran and Dutch model Birgit Kos as would-be lovers sitting side-by-side in a grand concert hall.
The chemistry between them is palpable as they disappear behind the virtual reality glasses everyone is wearing for the piano performance. As Kos leaves the concert, Doran takes off his glasses to find her IRL. When he does, the magnetic attraction as they gaze into each other’s eyes is pretty intense – a perfect example of disconnecting to reconnect.
Of course, there’s more to falling in love than eyes meeting across a crowded room. Studies have revealed there are three key stages when it comes to falling in love – lust, attraction, and attachment. Each involves different chemical reactions within the body and brain, with feelings triggered by hormones during each stage.
What’s more, the five senses – sight, smell, touch, taste and sound – can heighten our powers of attraction if they’re stimulated the right way. Here’s what you need to know…
The allure of scent
Recent studies have suggested that a staggering 75% of our emotions are triggered by what we smell* – proof that scent is probably one of the most important factors to consider when it comes to dating.
The perfumiers behind BOSS The Scent know what they’re doing… Using feminine and seductive top notes of honeyed peach and freesia, with delicate heart notes of oriental osmanthus, and aphrodisiac base notes such as roasted cocoa, this scent is designed to arouse and stimulate the senses. And wearing a fragrance that makes you feel great is a surefire way to radiate inner confidence.
The beauty of sight
Whether you’re planning a night on the town, a spontaneous post-work tipple or a walk in the country, beautiful scenery and settings have a powerful effect on our brains that trigger all kinds of emotions (no wonder couples pop the question in beautiful landmark locations). Suggest a trip to a rooftop bar with a fabulous skyline view or a cosy pub with a roaring fire.
And don’t underestimate the importance of eye contact either. Studies have shown staring into each other’s eyes triggers the brain to release lovey-dovey hormones within just 0.2 seconds**.
The tease of touch
The smallest of tactile interactions can ignite a spark, and lightly touching your date’s arm is a great way to connect. If you’ve been dating for a while and feel at ease, suggest a massage – sensuous rather than sports-style obvs. Or step things up a gear by suggesting a spa break somewhere fabulous where you can both indulge in soothing massage treatments.
The sense of taste
It’s well known that oysters and chocolate have aphrodisiacal qualities, but it’s a little obvious. Suggest a dining in the dark experience to heighten your sense of taste… You’ll savour not just the food but every moment – just make sure you know where your wine glass is!
The power of sound
Music has the power to change our mood, to energise and lift us up or calm and soothe us, and studies show that listening to music can cause a release of dopamine, which creates feelings of pleasure and reward.
So book tickets for a romantic concert, cool jazz club or glitzy musical – and just wait for the right moment to exchange sweet nothings.
Now, if you want to high-five in the romance stakes, we say combine all five sensory experiences. First, take a leaf out of Brigit Kos’ book for style and spritz on a seductive fragrance like BOSS The Scent.
Next, choose a beautiful setting with plenty of soft candlelight, delicious food (in the dark if you’re dining at home), something sublime to listen to – whether that’s Nina Simone or Arvo Part depends on you – but make it lingering and sensuous, then maybe just slip off your shoe and run your toes softly around your date’s ankle…
Jenna is apparently seeing fellow actor Steve Kazee, and a source has suggested it’s all going veeeerrrry well.
“Jenna is having a lot of fun with Steve,” the source said.
“They’ve been dating for months out of the spotlight and it’s becoming more serious. They have a lot in common.”
So what do we know about Steve? Well, he’s a Tony-winning actor who has starred on stage in the musical Once, and he also starred in TV series Shameless.
Oh, and he’s also pretty easy on the eyes…
Jenna and Channing announced their separation in respective Instagram posts back in April 2018. They filed for divorce last week and are ensuring their separation is amicable for the sake of daughter Everly.
With Halloween on the horizon there have been more ghosts from my past coming back to haunt me this week than I will ever see on the 31st Oct. It started with an ex that decided now was a good time to exorcise his rights to a piece of art we bought together. Fuck off Kevin, the repro Banksy got thrown out with your cheating Calvin’s bruh.
Moving swiftly on. How many of you love the excitement of dressing up – role play, or fully exploring the world of fantasy? As adults there are so many ways of exploring, with a willing partner (Kevin was not one of those) or by yourself – which in my experience works every time.
What happens if you are in a relationship that requires more in the bedroom? OR what about all of us single people out there ready for more than just a scream on Halloween?
Let me shed some much needed light on the season of pumpkin spiced lattes and sexy costumes in my round up of making the most of out of this holiday in your own party of all parties!
Now there’s one thing I have to get straight, whether you are or not, self-exploration and understanding your body is not an indulgence, it’s a given right. I don’t beat around the bush – unless it’s my own – preferably with something of the 8 inch and above variety. I’m not into cocktail sausages.
I have explored the best vibrators and places to source costume and adult toys. So if you’re still reading, sit back, relax and get your wish list sorted with my top 5 to have in your bedroom, suitcase, cross bodybag or well, wherever you damn well please!
Discovering what you need should be your treat this autumn. What you like, what you love or that something you must try – it’s is all about getting to know yourself, your body is “yours” and no one should know that better than you. Here are a few of my favourite “ME” time treats. Trick or treat yo self!
Lubrication is key, whether it’s a latte, a martini or something more intimate try the CoCo de Mer Divine Glow Aqua Lubricant it is LUXE and you know I am all about that life at £24.99 it’s a luxury we should all Splash out on. It is a water based lube so you are safe to use with sex toys and condoms. It’s there to heighten sensation during sex and masturbation, can I get an Amen!
Explore the season completely in costume. There are so many options out there, go for something you’d never normally wear. If you are single it’s something you are less likely to explore and that’s wrong. Try experimenting with how you feel in costume and let’s face it; if you look good you’re going to feel good. Try Harmony online or in store. With so many costumes, sex toys and adult extras it may be hard to choose but you can’t wrong with a classic cat woman and whip, like this Dreamgirl Fetish Feline costume, £29.99. Just saying.
My two best October go to vibrators are a classic minx silky totally silent vibe, like this Silencer Totally silent, £8.99 one, because sometimes you just need to get off in places you don’t want anyone hearing (when the office work load is too much) slip it out your purse and access all areas.
And of course a classic rampant rabbit because nothing is going to stimulate you faster than this bad boy. If you want a quickie in your sex toy draw there are so many options for rabbits the list is endless; Dual, g.spot, clit, thrusting. Get busy ladies. Do you.
Oh and FYI. Life is TOO short for shitty sex and bad relationships, find someone who loves you right and treats you how you deserve to be treated! #WordsToLiveBy
What Would Dolly Pawton Do?
My husband and I have been together for 6 years. Our sex life in my opinion is the best it can be. It’s never stale and we always give each other what we need so I have no complaints.
Over a month ago now my husband and I were having sex when he called me “Kell”
I was in shock because he said someone else’s name totally oblivious and continued on.
I then had to get out of the situation pretty quickly and faked an orgasm but was left feeling hurt.
I can’t quite get over what happened. I haven’t spoken to any of my girlfriends about it as I’m too embarrassed. I don’t want them to know he maybe having an affair. They all say we have the perfect relationship.
Who is Kell? Could he really be cheating? I’ve found myself doing things I wouldn’t normally do like going through his phone and computer but I can’t find anything to suggest deceit.
Do I speak to him about it?
I mean we haven’t had sex since and it’s unheard of, I just keep putting it off and he keeps asking me what’s wrong and am I okay.
Dear definitely not Kell!
This is more common than you think and I chose your “Dear Dolly” as it fits so well with my Halloween and sex column this month of being open. Your friends shouldn’t be in anyway let down in you sharing your truth, the pedestal they have put your relationship on isn’t fair. Don’t apologise for your “REAL” relationship with adult issues that arise. You should be able to talk freely.
GURL…. everyone has problems and your friends will understand this. Adults have different ways of expressing themselves and I for one am up for them all, with participating adults, consent and fun! Where I am going with this.. well over half of adults during sex with their partner have fantasised about another.
Does this mean that half aren’t happy, they aren’t totally in love or even more attracted to their partner, NO. It’s discovery and while we can’t be sure why your husband had this outburst of another’s name, I also think you need to discuss this with him before jumping to conclusions. Of course he could be naming a lover…… but with every area in your relationship so healthy you have to question why he would risk it all with an affair.
I guess we will never know until you have that conversation. Second guessing and putting yourself through unneeded stress and pain is now affecting your intimacy and holding back would be a natural response.
Get it sorted! You both deserve the truth.
Don’t forget, you too can ask Dolly a question.
Nothing is off limits so consider me your Dollylama (spiritual guru) here for all the real talk. Write in at email@example.com
If you pop into Sainsbury’s for your weekly shop, you’ll be able to grab your frozen food, booze, cleaning products and now a couple of sex toys. Yes, you read that right. The massive grocery chain has just expanded their own-brand range to include a few affordable sex toys for women and TBH we stan a company that finds a niche business opportunity. If you’re rolling your eyes or think it’s ridiculous, hold your judgment – the range is priced between £8-12. We don’t know about you, but at that price we’d definitely toss them in our trolley.
The new line of sex toys includes three vibrators and TBH, they’ve really leaned into a millennial market as they’ve gone with a predominantly rose gold theme. Although they aren’t available online just yet, if you pop into your local Sainsbury’s you’re likely to find them tucked between the fruit and veg aisles. There’s a couple of bullets and a bigger silver vibrator that run at different speeds, so grab your seat belt and buckle in.
They’re being sold at most stores at the moment, with an eye to have the bullets across all 486 UK stores by November 4.
Here’s the products below:
RO-80mm Rose Gold Bullet, 7 Speed Bullet
Priced at £8
Available at Sainsbury’s
RO-90mm Rose Blush Bullet, 10 Speed Bullet
Priced at £12
Available at Sainsbury’s
Aura Silver Vibrator/Massager
Priced at £15
Available at Sainsbury’s
As for why Sainsbury’s has decided to jump in this direction? They actually conducted a survey called the Living Well Index where they partnered with oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research to take stock of the UK’s overall wellbeing. They found that there had been a “decline in the number of people reporting they’re satisfied or very satisfied with their sex lives”, so their little vibes and massagers were a way to help solve that problem.
Paul Mills-Hicks, the Food Commercial Director at Sainsbury’s, said, “We are always on the lookout for new opportunities to help our customers live well for less and they’ve told us that sexual wellbeing is an area they would like to see more choice in.”
He continued, “By introducing a new range at affordable prices, we hope to give customers the option to buy quickly and conveniently in an environment they feel comfortable with.”
TBH, we might just poke our heads in on our lunch break – for purely scientific reasons, of course. Would you buy a vibrator from Sainsbury’s?
In an effort to understand promiscuity, Wednesday Adams sought answers on a sexual adventure observing spider monkeys in the Maderas
For as long as I can remember, Spanish has for me been the language of freedom, thrills and sex. As a teenage exchange student in arid Castille, I fell for a dark-haired guy who wore Armani cologne and lisped his Zs. The following summer, at a lesbian cafe in Girona, I longed to put my hands on a chic local woman laughing with her friends. Years later, at Madrid’s famous Pacha nightclub, a handsome older man I had never seen before kissed me, then disappeared forever.
I went on to have a long relationship with a man whose family lived in Puerto Rico. It left me unsure whether it was him I loved, or the beautiful island where I first heard Trio Los Panchos. There was also a tryst with a Rimbaud-quoting taxi driver in his light-filled apartment near the Parque del Buen Retiro. Afterwards, I remember hopping on a plane home feeling at once sordid, guilty and alive with a secret. I was in my twenties and had done exactly what I wanted to my perpetually cheating boyfriend in the States.
‘I was sure something was wrong with me – women are supposed to want intimacy’
I struggled with monogamy throughout my entire twenties, falling into a familiar pattern: date a guy, have great sex, fall for him, get serious, get bored. Hypocritically, I wanted to have affairs, but I didn’t want my partner to do the same. I was sure something was wrong with me − women were supposed to want intimacy, closeness and commitment. So it was a relief when, in my mid-thirties, I found someone I could imagine settling down with. He was curious, open and adventurous. He was also solid and reliable, and wanted marriage and kids as much as I did. But several years into my marriage, my old pattern re-emerged with crushes on wholly inappropriate people – men who were married, or too young for me, or too old for me, as well as women. Looking for answers, I once again found myself in a country that spoke the language of sex.
Author, Wednesday Martin
In an effort to understand my non-monogamous tendencies, I travelled to Costa Rica to observe spider monkeys. Primatologists believe non-human female primates, who are frequently promiscuous, give us clues to the evolutionary origins of human female sexuality. Once there, I learned that for millennia, human women hunted and gathered, roaming far from men to find provisions for the group. This gave women both the clout and opportunity to have dalliances. What’s more, ‘promiscuity’ and mobility served us well: women who dared to travel away from the group to mate with numerous males reaped benefits monogamous women did not, including upping their odds of a healthy pregnancy and baby, and creating a far-flung network of male protectors.
‘I realised I pined for another body – my husband, a younger woman, that married work crush’
One morning on my trip in 2016, I woke at 4am with a start in my cabin in the Maderas Rainforest of north-eastern Costa Rica. Howler monkeys wailed eerily above me and I realised I pined for another body. I imagined myself entwined with my husband; a younger woman I had glimpsed weeks ago at a party and then a married work crush; my mind endlessly flitting from one fantasy to another, unable to settle on just one.
‘Monogamy is not the only romantic strategy for women’
On some level, lying there alone in the rainforest, I suddenly knew that I was destined to journey and to seek, in more than one language, the thrills of several as much as I was the comforts of the one. As a woman, I may have been socialised to think that females are somehow designed for monogamy and domesticity. But we evolved as flexible social and sexual strategists, and our sexuality is closer to promiscuity than it is to singular devotion. At that moment, I comforted myself with exploits past and perhaps to come that monogamy is not the only romantic strategy for women, and that’s fine.
In light of what I’ve learned, ‘commitment’ means being true to not just my husband, but also myself. Finding the balance can be the work of a lifetime.
Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., is author of Primates Of Park Avenue and Untrue, published by Scribe (£14.99)
In this week’s #TrueRomance column, husband and wife, Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson, talk about buddy systems
What’s the difference between a deep female friendship and a demanding one?
By Anna Whitehouse
When I was five my dad said, “I wouldn’t call anyone your ‘best’ friend because it might make someone else feel left out.”
He made it clear that you’ll naturally get on better with some people, but try not to articulate the hierarchy. No one wants to be seven down from a gold mate – not solid enough for a sleepover but kept in the loop in case you need an extra 20p for the vending machine. It’s a brutal world. Having been at the top and bottom of the friendship food chain, it’s a garen addled with pesticide and, occasionally, prize-winning fruit.
My first encounter of a female friendship outside the familial unit was when I was offered a Quaver in the playground by Gillian (her surname was ‘Cartwheel’ and it happened that she could do the full spin). I accepted the maize snack, we hung out by the water fountain and it was only when I cracked open a packet of Wotsits a week later that she made it clear that I owed her two – the equivalent of a single Quaver. This was a friendship bank where both parties were acutely aware of what’s been invested and the expected return.
‘I speak openly to my trusted few on everything from postnatal depression to whether to pierce my inner earlobe’
This is not the case with every friendship, but those I’ve radiated towards have tended to be of the adoring-silence variety. One of my closest friends asked me if my daughter wanted a light that spells out THREE. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that she was out by two years. But she had been there in the darkest of depths, when I’d called her to say I’d miscarried for the fifth time and had decided to give up on both my reproductive system and, perhaps, life for a bit. She was there – regardless of the tumbleweed that had gone over previous weeks and months – in a way that I don’t feel my husband’s friends were there for him in that period.
I don’t think his friends even knew. And that, perhaps, is the difference. While I won’t ever go into Stormy Daniels-esque detail on his bits, I will speak openly to my trusted few about everything: from feeling postnatally depressed, occasionally disillusioned, or just unsure whether to get a piercing in my inner earlobe.
For these are the big questions. For all the nasty PR that female friendships garner – ‘mean girls’, ‘bitchiness’ and the ‘you can’t sit with us’ rhetoric – it’s ultimately about support, communication and the knowledge that you’ll be there to offer up 20p to someone looking for a Twix.
By Matt Farquharson
Every time Anna introduces me to a new pal, I get a little bit afraid. What confidences will they share, I wonder. What plots might be hatched? How many more hours of our evenings will be lost to her smirking and tapping, her face glowing Avatar-blue above her mobile phone? Because female friendships, it seems to me, are a commitment.
Not on the scale of an ultra-marathon or a PhD, but at least as much effort as a weekly yoga class, and if you have too many of those, you’ll soon find yourself over-stretched.
I spent most of my formative years in a flat with my mum and sister. Amid the huffing and eye-rolling that was our main means of communication, I would hear a lot about my younger sibling’s friends: ‘X isn’t talking to anyone’, ‘Y’s parents are getting divorced’, ‘Z “dealt with” a boy in the year above’. (‘Dealt with’ was the term of the moment to describe an adolescent fumble).
I knew more about the lives of her friends than I knew about the lives of my own, our conversations rarely moving beyond football, music or most effective ways of getting drunk for under £2.50. Despite this, many of those same people remain my friends today. I might have 10 to 15 proper male buddies – not chums-of-geographical-convenince or colleagues-who-aren’t-too-annoying, but actual would-be-upset-if-you-suddenly-died friends.
‘I couldn’t tell you very much about what any of them do for a living’
Occasionally, I even get to see some of them in person and drink beer. But I couldn’t tell you very much about what any of them do for a living. I’d know the industry, but not much about their day-to-day job. I couldn’t tell you if their relationships were going well or poorly – if the married ones were closer to divorce or a renewal of vows; if the singles were happy to be single. I could tell you quite a bit about the one ‘player’, but that’s because he’s quite keen to tell anyone within earshot.
I know who has kids, and am pretty clear on their approximate ages and genders. But in most cases, the names would stump me. For Anna’s core group – those who will be there until we start getting packed off to nursing homes – she will know, often in intimate detail, there emotional condition at any given time. From relationship woes to work tussles and ongoing updates about the condition of their reproductive systems. It seems to me a daunting amount of detail to take on and extra emotional weight to carry.
But these aren’t things that they casually throw at each other, unbidden. They understand that each of them has their own weight to deal with. But they have a remarkable willngness to take on the weight of others too. It seems a terrifyingly demanding and yet superior form of friendship and I’m not sure how it’s all made to fit.
It makes me wonder if I should do more. Like actually make a phone call instead of parping light mockery into our WhatsApp group. Come to think of it, George had twins recently. Maybe I’ll give him a call.