Did you that domestic violence goes up when England lose a World Cup game? Here’s how a new campaign this weekend highlighted some uncomfortable truths about football and domestic abuse.
We were all delighted when England beat Tunisia yesterday in their first World Cup match. None more so then those affected by domestic violence.
This weekend, a campaign by regional domestic violence charity Pathway Project has gone viral, after it drew attention to the shocking link between the England results and domestic violence rates.
Marie Claire spoke to CEO Kathy Coe about the response to the campaign, which has reached over 3 million people so far. She said, ‘We really hadn’t anticipated that level of interest in the article, which has been national. However, as a result we have had calls asking for help and have been able to help people to find their local support service and get the help that they need. That makes it all worthwhile.’
Coe also responded to criticism that criticism the campaign has faced online, where some commentators have accused the campaign of ignoring domestic violence perpetrated by women on their male partners, or domestic violence that occurs in LGBTQ+ relationships.
She said, ‘We work with male and female victims but there are some issues where there is a definite gender bias and football is generally one of them… our experience as a provider of 27 years is that this type of event causes an increase in male to female violence.’
In the final part of a statement released yesterday, Pathway Project emphasised that they exist to protect victims of domestic abuse, no matter who they are. It’s simple: ‘Our aim is to protect all victims and to ensure that people get help when they need it.’ They went on to add, ‘Our message is that if you are struggling in an abusive relationship and need help, there are organisations such as Pathway all around the country, and they will be happy to help you and support you.’
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Freephone Helpline is on 0808 2000 247
So I would ask you what you’ve all been up to, but I already know as so many of you have written to me with your dramas to Dear Dolly.. well I can tell you one thing, I feel a lot better about my love life, fashion malfunctions and drinking habits now I’ve heard about yours! Not to mention the jokes. You filthy bunch!
Speaking of drinking… I attended the fabulous LGBT awards at the Marriott hotel, Mayfair in London and rubbed shoulder pads (yes they are making a come back) with Mel B, she gave us all what we really-really wanted! All the gossip on everything but couldn’t remember who she was wearing! She looked spicy as hell, but after having a root around in her dress where a tag should be! (That’s right I had my paws inside a spice girl) We were non the wiser! Phoenix her daughter is a super babe and her Mum wouldn’t take her eyes off – can’t blame her she was gorgeous in a fully transparent mini body-con dress with lace and beads to cover her best bits!
There were so many familiar faces at the event and is always one I go to as the red carpet is as long as my list of ex’s and the champagne flows, just like Cardi B’s lyrics.
All the love was flowing from google boxes Scarlett Moffat, not only was she the ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’ jungle winner she was the winner of love on the night. Wearing Vivienne Westwood and opted for a smart/casual look, teamed an over sized Westwood print shirt with skinnies and heels. With a red lip and loads of hugs her look was perfect for the event.
The much-awaited Sinitta arrived and to my disappointment not a leaf in sight to cover her modesty, but a muted silver chain top with satin black pants. She enjoyed the night with the likes of the only way is Essex Bobby Noris, Beverly knight and Rachel Shelly.
I drank my body weight in Champagne and spoke to everyone about how fabulous I was and asked the questions no one dared too.
This week I got an email asking a very common question.
This one came in anonymously and how can I blame them. It’s a difficult one and can only sympathise with the feels.
I don’t know if you can help me and I am sure you will get hundreds of questions but I am getting married in a few months and don’t think I can go through with it. I have been planning this wedding for over a year. I have had minimal to no help with the choice making and now feel exhausted and not sure I even want to be married? Please help. Was I just in love with the idea of the big day? Or is this normal pre wedding nerves?
Anonymous, Philadelphia US
This is a bloody hard one! I would off the cuff say RUN for the Hollywood hills, BUT pre wedding nerves are the most common feels and questions arise like “Do I even like them!?” Let alone love them. Saying “I do” for a lifetime is like me committing to pizza every night of the week. I mean, I love pizza but every night? I like to mix it up bit on a Thursday. I know we are not talking food but seriously this is the norm for pre wedding questions. I think the question should be could you see yourself without this person? Would you like to wake up without this person? If the answer is no it’s simply nerves. Wedding planning can take its toll don’t lose sight of your relationship and the love you have.
If the answer is “Hell no I can’t stand this person, Dolly, how could I be so wrong? I don’t see this person in my future” Then I will meet you at the top of the hill with tissues and a large bottle of something strong!
Either way, do what you feel in your heart and trust your gut. You can’t go wrong with that!!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatever your opinion of Love Island, a new book proves that it tells us a lot about real-life attraction. So, what does the latest research say about relationships, and does it stand up? Two writers talk to Charlotte Philby about the findings
With Love Island returning to our screens soon, the nation’s collective consciousness once again turns to the battle – and, ultimately, the hooking up – of the sexes.
If you thought TV’s hottest dating show was little more than low-brow titillation, think again. According to Tom Whipple, author of X And Why: The Naked Truth Behind Gender In The Modern World, the show offers a fascinating sociological window into key evolutionary paradigms.
In his book (which is being tipped as the Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus for the Tinder generation), Whipple presents the latest research on all things reproductive. He highlights the differences in gendered behaviour – including how men and women cheat.
Males tend to have affairs with females less attractive than their own partners, while with women it’s the reverse. Then there’s the debunking of myths – as Whipple points out, the law of mathematics means men cannot be more promiscuous than women. It’s most likely that women simply lie more about their sexual proclivities.
‘The truth is, we’re all apes in suits,’ says Whipple. ‘Throw together a bunch of aroused twentysomethings who are contractually obligated to be romantic with each other, as on Love Island, and this fact that we work hard to avoid in every day life is made very plain.’
When, last year, Zara Holland and Alex Bowen had sex on screen, Zara later emerged self-loathing and apologetic (and was unceremoniously stripped of her Miss GB title). Alex, in contrast, remained unbothered, unapologetic and largely absent during the fallout, as if he’d paid little part in the act at all.
‘Ultimately, for women, the stakes are a lot higher as they can get pregnant,’ explains Whipple. ‘For men, the transaction can’t go catastrophically wrong, so they have far less to lose.’
So, what can the latest findings about the sexes teach us about our own relationships? We asked two writers – one male and one female – to reflect on the book’s main themes.
‘Love Island reminds us that attraction comes down to individual personalities not a scientific formula’ says Daisy Buchanan
‘My first one-night stand was with a man, who I think was called Matt. It’s not a memory I revisit often because it makes my cheeks flame. Not due to any lingering sense of shame about the fact I slept with someone I never saw again, but because I behaved like such an idiot. I didn’t fancy him particularly. I didn’t not fancy him, but I slept with him because I thought it would make me seem like a wild woman of the world – the sort of woman who seduced men.
We had sex for hours! Terrible, boring, endless hours, which I punctuated by crying, “Yeah, baby, that feels so good”, because I was too young and stupid to say, “I’m sleepy, can you go home now?” Whipple’s point that men tend to regret the sex they haven’t had, while women regret a lot of the sex they had really hit home.
Although, as mooted in the book, there’s an argument that our differing attitudes stem from our polarised biological imperatives – the male needs to knock up someone, anyone, versus the fussier female, who looks for one good guy who will stick around for nine months, hopefully 18 years – I think the respective behaviour of both sexes is still defined by old-fashioned social values.
Whipple says that while some researchers believe female orgasms are an anomaly, which serve no scientific purpose, he adds that many believe they’re an important part of connecting with our partners. However, I don’t think we do women or men any favours by focusing on the differences between male and female orgasm. I’ve been in situations with men who haven’t been able to climax, and for them, it’s shameful and embarrassing.
In other words, we need to stop presuming sex has a specific purpose. We’re no longer doing it just to reproduce, or to consummate marriage. When it comes to sex, every single person has a slightly different agenda, but I don’t think that it’s as gendered as it once was.
Instead of defining sex for everyone by having an expected outcome, we need to make sure we’re having the sex we want by discussing it with the person we’re having it with. It’s useful to understand how our gender can impact our anxieties around sex, but I think focusing on those feelings can only hold us back.
This is why I adore Love Island, and why I’ll be tuning in this series. The contestants remind us that attraction comes down to individual personalities, not a scientific formula. Their various interactions remind us that sexual chemistry is complex. Our biology might control the way our bodies work, but when it comes to desire, what’s in our minds is what matters.’
‘In the age of #MeToo, men are beginning to think twice before crowing about their sexual conquests’ says Rob Crossan
‘When a female Scandinavian psychology undergrad approached a string of men on the streets of Copenhagen and asked if they fancied no-strings-attached sex, the response was largely unequivocal. The majority of respondents accepted with variations of “hell, yeah” or “yippee”. Those who declined largely did so reluctantly and on the basis that they already had partners.
To the surprise of no one ever, when male psychology students were deployed to ask the same question to women, according to Whipple’s book, not a single woman said “yes”. There really was no need for any of this effort. All the undergrad had to do was ask the average male. I’d have told them what we all know – that even in 2018, we still seem to be a lot hornier than women.
There’s something tragic about the idea of a bachelor watching Love Island on his own. Rather than viewing people on the TV dating, as I approach 40 I’m at the stage where I need to go out and do it.
As a single man, I often think I’d like to learn more about why we are like we are and why we do what we do. Yet, as soon as I start the psychological delving, I realise it’s an unpleasant task.
One big shift I’ve noticed since my teens is that back in my Britpop youth, when lad and ladette culture was rife, everyone, including myself, boasted and lied about their sexual conquests. But in the age of #MeToo, we’re now living in a society where men are beginning to think twice before crowing about them.
Single, promiscuous men are finally getting a taste of the conflicted notions of joy and shame that women have long-endured when it comes to dating apps and casual sex. Post-Weinstein, we seem to be on the cusp of a new era, where it’s no longer acceptable for me to brag about my sexual conquests, however exaggerated they might be.
Whether Whipple meant it to or not, X And Why does provide positive reinforcement for men like me, who continue to meander along the precarious dating nature trail. As he points out, the traditional end game (ie. marriage) isn’t quite the corpse of a concept that it’s often dismissed as. Despite Tinder and our diminishing attention spans, almost 300,000 of the half-million Brits who get married are still going the distance.
This book also provides evidence against the notion that the natural order for men is to be free-wheeling polygamists. And I agree, as I certainly aspire to a time in the not-too-distant future where I can cosy up on the sofa with my partner in front of Love Island and reminisce over our own courting. In the meantime, I’d be better off getting out there and actually meeting people IRL.’
Divorcee Sarah Ivens on why tying the knot for a second time is a very different ballgame
A second marriage is a big deal for Meghan Markle. I know this, because I too am a second-time bride and, as an obviously jubilant Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made their first appearance in public together after the announcement of their engagement in the gardens of Kensington Palace back in November last year, there were a number of reasons to rejoice. Here was a very successful 36-year-old mixed-race feminist with her own kick-ass career who had won the heart of a prince over the parade of privileged aristo-clones he’d dated in the decades before.
But it wasn’t just these things, or her humanitarian work, or even her wicked sense of humour, that had me excitedly poring over every snippet of news about the wedding as well as commending her achievements with my colleagues. Meghan’s engagement represented a watershed moment for women or, more pertinently, for divorced women like me. I know first-hand the journey she must have gone through to get to the place she was that day. Her inclusion into our stuffy monarchy highlights just how much times have now changed for female divorcees, who even a decade ago would be regarded as soiled goods to be left on the shelf.
The Royal couple on their first official visit together
Although second marriage after a divorce is common in the UK, and despite some statistics telling us that a second marriage is more likely to be successful, a second-time bride has always carried a stigma.
I remember meeting my second set of future in-laws for the first time. On top of the usual nerves, I was petrified about the judgment I might receive. My partner’s parents knew only a handful of things about me, one of which was that I’d been divorced four years earlier, having married in my twenties. At 34 years old, I felt like an imposter as I walked red-cheeked into a Hertfordshire pub to meet my future mother and father-in-law (who, incidentally, had been childhood sweethearts and married for decades). Would they think I was second-hand goods, ensnaring their innocent son Russell (who hadn’t even lived with a girlfriend) into a trap? Or did they presume that I was just no good at commitment, or that I was hiding some dark secrets about my past?
Ryan Reynold’s marriage to Blake Lively is his second
‘Like all divorcées, Meghan knows what she wants from a husband’
Desperate to address the elephant in the room, I decided to confront my insecurities head on with Russell’s mother and sister the second time we met. ‘Ask me anything you want,’ I pleaded with them, telling them no subject was off limits. They stared at me wide-eyed as I summed up five years of drama about my previous relationship, including how opening my decree nisi and seeing a thick rubber stamp invalidating the hopes I once held so dear, made me cry for three hours straight. Finally I told them why, having gone through the whole rigmarole of a big wedding before, like most second-time brides, I was now more focused on the marriage and the man than the trappings of the day. I remember his mother taking my hand in hers. ‘We’re just happy Russell is happy,’ she smiled. I was overwhelmed with emotion.
Only a divorced woman can truly appreciate the hours of self-reflection that will come with getting yourself ready for a second marriage. They know that delving into the psychology of relationships brings many positives to the next attempt, which far outweigh the social stigma and sniggers of observers. Like all divorcees, Meghan knows what she wants from a husband and, more importantly, what she doesn’t. Her experience makes her confident she’s making an informed decision this time. I can tell you that when you make a public mistake like marrying the wrong person in front of everyone you love, you’ll do everything in your power to make sure it never happens again.
‘I entered my second marriage knowing I never want to leave it’
Like most second-timers, I entered my second marriage knowing I never want to leave it, that I will fight for it with therapy, honesty and realism, till death do us part. I’m not expecting a fairy tale, and neither will Meghan – despite her new marriage beginning at Windsor Castle. To marry again; to reveal your feelings to the world again, after the failure and heartbreak of a divorce – means you really do believe in love. Making a mess of it the first time only made me more determined to find the right partner and give marriage a second chance.
‘The biggest benefit of marrying for a second time is the self-awareness that it brings,’ says couples therapist Katherine Loyd. ‘It means we are making the decision to love and trust again, choosing to appreciate the reality of being in a relationship, rather than pushing for things to be exactly the way we want them to be, as we may have done naively the first time. In choosing to appreciate what is actually available to us, we release ourselves from dwelling on fantasies of what should be, and see life as it really is.’
‘Make sure you’re truly over your ex’
Hannah, 35, remarried six months ago, after careful contemplation about what to change in her own behaviour and expectations. ‘There was deep self-analysis after my first marriage broke down,’ she says. ‘I realised I’d chosen my ex based on who I thought I ought to marry, who could give me what I wanted at that time. Going into my second marriage, I considered in much more depth whether we worked well as a team, with shared interests and ambitions that we both want to achieve together over the long term.’
Gabrielle, 41, is currently planning her second wedding, and agrees that failing the first time around makes you think more about the lifetime commitment you are making. ‘Second-time marriages are less about Beyoncé’s Crazy In Love and more about The Beatles’ When I’m 64. You are more mature, and understand that partnerships are about hard work, time and energy if you want them to last. Relationships feel more considered and communication improves, too.’
‘What can you change ahead of your second marriage?’
However, if you’ve been through a divorce and are considering marrying again, make sure you’re truly over your ex before committing, advises Trevor Silvester, author of Lovebirds: How To Live With The One You Love. ‘The key thing to watch out for is that you don’t bring your last relationship into the new one,’ he explains. ‘Resist your brain’s natural inclination to search for old, negative patterns in this new situation, and see your new partner for what they are – unique. And if you realise you’ve married – or are about to marry – the same person again (which is more common than you might think), then get some therapy to explore why that is. Change you first.’
As for going low-key with a second wedding, although many opt for it, it’s not obligatory. On my second wedding day, I wore white because I knew Russ wanted me to. I had to be mindful that this was his first nuptials and he wanted it to feel special, too. I also had eight bridesmaids – real women in their thirties, who’d stuck with me through the turbulence of my previous decade, rather than the pretty little cousins my mum had persuaded me to have for my first wedding. A few people made sarcastic remarks about my luxuriant choices, as if I didn’t deserve a second shot at a glorious day. But I had earned this celebration more than I had the first one. And so had my husband. I’m pretty sure Harry and Meghan have, too.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith got married in 1997. The marriage was Will’s second
The divorcee’s guide to a happy second marriage
Taking the plunge for a second time? Here are a few things to consider before you say ‘I do’.
Have you given yourself enough time to really get to know the person you’re about to marry?
Could you be rushing into a decision based on craving security, a fear of getting old, or missing out on children? Make sure you know everything you need to know about your partner, and that you’ve met their friends and family.
If it’s the second time around for both of you, mull over what your relationship is like with their ex and/or children.
Consider how everyone feels about you, and how you feel about them. If kids are involved, it’s vital to maintain a good relationship for happy families on both sides.
Take time to decide who is going to play a big part in your wedding day.
Be wary of asking the same people to be bridesmaid or maid of honour, in case any remarks about your first wedding are made.
If you’re using a wedding planner, tell them this is your second time to avoid any awkwardness.
They’ll need to be aware for paperwork purposes, and they can give a heads-up to anyone else involved on the day.
Avoid comparing this wedding to your last, especially in front of your partner.
Comments like, ‘we can’t have that cake because I had it the last time’ are a big no-no.
This article originally appeared in the February issue of Marie Claire
Growing up with undiagnosed autism, Laura James had no idea how to handle love, until she met and married her neurotypical partner, Tim.
There are 700,000 people in the UK living on the autism spectrum, according to the National Autistic Society, but as many as 42 per cent of women with autism spend decades of their lives struggling to get a diagnosis. Here, Laura James, now 47 and author of Odd Girl Out (Bluebird, £8.99) explains how it feels to love, date and marry when you have autism without realising it.
‘I struggle to name and understand my emotions, so from early on in life, I have always split them into two categories: There are the good ones that are pink and soft. Then there are the bad ones, which are sludgy green, and feel jagged and dangerous. Love is confusing as it often comes with both these feelings.
Like many teenage girls I was obsessed with love. From 15, I was enchanted by a boy who lived a few streets away and who seemed only intermittently to notice me. He had everything I thought a boy should have: Irish roots, blue eyes and a detachment that acted like catnip to my teen self.
I would spend hours getting ready to “casually” bump into him at the coffee shop where he worked or at various gigs I knew he’d go to. We’d often go back to his parents’ house, where we lay on his bed listening to Bob Dylan. We were together but not together, almost pretending the other wasn’t there. We were friends, but it was unlike any other friendship I had. It always hovered on the edge of being more, but had it have gone any further I would have bolted.
“My undiagnosed autism had informed this seven-year crush”
It turned into a seven-year crush and, looking back, I can see it was informed by my then-undiagnosed autism. Other girls would have flirted fiercely or got bored and moved on to another boy. In retrospect, I think I liked the security of this pseudo relationship, where I could project my romantic fantasies on to someone without having to deal with the confusing mess that is the reality of many true relationships.
I (like many other women and girls with autism I have spoken to) found teenage dating and romantic entanglements difficult to fathom. We can lack social imagination and there seemed to be so many unwritten rules. If you liked someone, you were meant to pretend that you didn’t. It was all so confusing.
Author Laura James, aged 25, when her autism remained undiagnosed
Many people with autism have intense interests and sometimes these can be focused on individuals. An autistic special interest can be all-consuming. Mine are usually relatively benign subjects, such as politics or fashion, but during the time I focused on this boy, he was literally all I could think about. If he had tried to kiss me though, I would have run a mile. Autistic girls often grow up more slowly than their neurotypical counterparts, and I simply wasn’t emotionally ready to have a relationship.
It’s often said that one of the main autistic emotions is fear and meeting someone new and knowing it could turn into a relationship is a terrifying concept for me. I would wait by the phone longing for it to ring and then, as soon as it did, I would be too scared to answer in case it was the object of my affection so I would just leave it ringing.
I felt this same sense of yearning and fear when I met my husband, Tim, ten years later. It was in rehab, a cold, bleak, scary place where I clung to the idea of him as if he were a life raft. He was suffering a vicious bout of depression. I had been admitted for a prescription drug addiction resulting from a misdiagnosis, something worryingly common for women with autism.
My husband says: “Its like being on the same first date for the past 20 years”
The stereotypes for autism are so strong and so based on the male model that medical professionals often fail to spot it in women, instead misdiagnosing them with mental health conditions such as Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder. If they are unlucky enough also to have physical health issues, such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (a connective tissue disorder, often seen in autistic women), they risk being written off as hypochondriacs or, in extreme cases, told they have Munchausen syndrome. I was misdiagnosed with Hyperventilation Syndrome and prescribed tranqulisers. That is one route to addiction, another is the alcohol and drugs that some autistic women use to ease social anxiety.
There is a forced intimacy in the cocoon of a psychiatric hospital, a soothing rhythm to the day and – somewhere between group therapy and a 12 steps meeting – I fell in love. I knew the feelings were different to what other people experienced. But again I was gripped by longing and terror.
I would wait for hours in the patients’ kitchen, hoping to get a glimpse of Tim, and then feel sick with fear as soon as I saw him. I would have imaginary conversations in my head, but struggle to engage with him when he was right there in front of me. The reality simply didn’t match the experiences of the heroines in the Jilly Cooper and Marian Keyes books I voraciously devoured at the time.
Somehow it worked and we dated and eventually married, although even today ours is a different kind of relationship. Tim has said it is like “being on the same first date for the past 20 years”. It is, he explains, the strange dichotomy of my need for structure and sameness and his failure ever to quite get into my head.
Laura James with her husband, Tim
I like to live in what Tim calls “the grey”. It’s where I feel neutral. Any extremes of emotion leave me feeling de-stabilised. Falling in love can be full of highs and lows, and early on it left me exhausted and out of sorts. I knew, though, that my relationship with Tim was worth pursuing. It was initially uncomfortable, but because we got on so well, had so many shared interests and because he was funny and clever and unlike anyone else I had ever met, we somehow just got each other. Eventually, at least.
Unaware of my autism and completely different to me in terms of personality, Tim was loud and excitable and constantly lusting after adventure. While I craved the neutral, he wanted excitement and volatility. It shouldn’t have worked as a relationship. We are opposites. He is driven by emotion and is fiery, passionate, creative. I need life to be lived at one volume. He thrives on the kind of peaks and troughs that leave me longing for a dark room.
“We are married and very happily so, but not in the traditional sense”
I once suggested going to Devon for a weekend and within 10 minutes Tim had gone from researching B&Bs in Salcombe to looking at trips to the Arctic Circle and trying to persuade me to take three weeks off work for “the trip of a lifetime”. He needs newness constantly and cannot much see the point in going to the same place twice. I love sameness and will always try to sit at the same table and order the same dish in the same restaurant.
The turning point came with a startling realisation: we don’t argue. Ever. Early on in our marriage I was terrified of any sign of anger on his part. Even mild irritation left me quaking. I would shut down and not respond. In the end, we found a way to be and we haven’t had a cross word for more than a decade.
Years ago, Tim would snap over something small and I would retreat upstairs and not come down until I knew he had either gone out or had calmed down. I simply didn’t engage. Now he no longer even considers getting cross; he knows nothing will come of it. Problems are discussed calmly and solutions negotiated. Anything else seems bizarre to me. Why would anyone want to scream and shout at the person they love?
Happily ever after: Laura James today
We are married and very happily so, but not in the traditional sense. We rarely go out with other couples. Instead, we spend time at home, together but separate. He makes music while I immerse myself in whatever special interest is enchanting my brain at any given time. I make no demands on him and bristle when he presses me to do something. But it works. There is a kindness in our relationship that is rare and precious.
A few weeks ago, we went shopping together for a sofa for our new house. Overwhelmed by the sensory overload of John Lewis on a busy Saturday afternoon, I turned to Tim and said, “please make it stop”. He knew what I meant. “I know,” he joked, “it’s awful – it’s just like being married.”
Odd Girl Out by Laura James is out now (Bluebird, £8.99)
Dating app Happii is aimed at the post-Tinder crowd looking for something more fulfilling than a random hook-up. Victoria Fell is on board.
Is anyone else getting dating app fatigue? Happn feels a bit creepy, we’ve basically ‘completed’ Bumble, and frankly, the course of true love ne’er did run smooth through Tinder.
On top of this, research from internet dating site eHarmony has found that British people are set to spend £2 billion and 96 million hours on bad dates in 2018. That’s alot of bad small talk and house red wine.
More of these kind of dates, please
Through this fug of love ennui, we’re very pleased to see new dating app Happii entering the market. Aimed at business professionals who are part of the post-Tinder generation, Happii is for those ‘now seeking more fulfilling dates and relationships with like-minded people that share similar values and outlooks on life.’
How does it differ? Founder and CEO Darren Newman says it’s all about individuality. Sick of ‘identikit profiles’, he designed Happii to allow users’ personalities to shine through the things they’re interested in, from their favourite music to travel experiences or the books they like to read.
Happii also ensures accurate matches by taking note of each users’ non-negotiables (including sex, location and smoking/drinking preferences) and showing five personality traits and five key interests of those matches.
Funfair dates are also acceptable
As usual, only mutual likes lead the way to conversation, and to avoid those totally inspired first move of ‘hi how r u’, your first message has to be at least 100 characters.
Our favourite feature of all? Happii has an algorithm that intercepts any unsolicited dick pics. There’s also a ‘date diary’ to log your dates for your peace of mind and another algorithm to ward off dating scams.
The app launches later this year with a £12.50 annual charge to access the full-site (sign-up is free), you know the potential dates you meet there are serious. Pre-registration is available now, and the first 5000 who sign up get a free membership for life.
What can you learn about happy relationships from working on the front line of break-ups? Marisa Bate investigates
Picking your way through other people’s marriages is all in a day’s work for Georgina Hamblin. As director of divorce and family law at Vardags, Hamblin is widely regarded as one of the best divorce lawyers in the country. ‘Growing up, I was always the mediator in my family, brokering deals across the kitchen table when I was eight. Now I do that for a living,’ she says. As BBC drama The Split – an exploration of modern marriage through the lens of a family of female divorce lawyers – arrives on BBC One, we asked Hamblin for her own love lessons and secrets to a successful marriage.
Make time for your dreams
‘One of my key love lessons it to do things independently that keep you satisfied in a healthy, productive way – that could be a hobby or something creative. When I was on maternity leave, I started feeling like the walls were closing in on me. Clearly, I needed to go back to work and find my own passions. We can’t expect our partners to cater to all of our needs. The couples that make it work are the ones who both have a life outside the home.’
Marry someone who supports your ambitions
‘Increasingly, more women are becoming the breadwinner in relationships. I had one client who couldn’t deal with his wife’s rocketing career – I call this the “superwoman spouse”. He said, “She can go off and do all the things that she wants to do”, and he interpreted this as somehow selfish. Make sure that the person you’re with understands your career aspirations and you understand theirs. Have honest conversations from the very start about how you see the relationship working around your career ambitions.’
Have faith in yourself
‘Getting a divorce is not an easy decision to make, but taking control of your own life is empowering. One client came to me terrified about her future without her powerful and successful husband. But since her divorce, she’s bought her own house, she has her own source of income and has managed to map out a new life for herself. It’s really exciting to see women start their lives over, particularly when the client has been in an abusive relationship.’
‘Time and time again, I see women who know their husbands are having affairs, but they brush it under the carpet.’
Invest in your relationship
‘One case I worked on echoed my own relationship and reminded me of my own love lessons – the wife was a breadwinner, working 12-hour days while her partner ran a small business. It’s good to remember that you shouldn’t make your partner feel unappreciated, no matter how vital you consider your job to be. I often think of that client and try to work on that in my own marriage. The bottom line is: your problems are not more important than theirs. Think about what’s on their mind too.’
Fix the roof while the sun shines
‘When I’m angry about something my husband has done, I say it immediately to knock it on the head. Having awkward conversations while you’re still in love is one of my key love lessons. There also needs to be a willingness to move past a mistake and not use it as a weapon in later arguments. Having said that, time and time again, I see women who know their husbands are having affairs, but they brush it under the carpet. Then it happens again, and the husband promises not to do it any more, but the crunch point comes when she discovers he is expecting a child with somebody else. Face the situation early before things spiral out of control.’
‘When a split occurs, spouses often cut off credit cards or empty the shared bank account. We see this happening to women more.’
Make difficult decisions carefully
‘It’s easy to go nuclear when emotions run high, but the happiest people are those who live up to their own high standards. One client chose to accept less – both in terms of child maintenance and housing needs – so she could feel confident that she had done the right thing by herself and her children. She had real integrity. Equally, I have had husbands who felt so much guilt about their decision to leave their spouse (or from having an affair) that, to compensate, they gave away more than they wanted to. You need to think of the consequence of every decision.’
Keep your finances in order
‘Some people think prenuptial agreements are unromantic, but if you do the financial planning while you’re in a happy, loving place, it will be easier to draw up a fair agreement. When a split occurs, spouses often cut off credit cards or empty the shared bank account. We see this happening to women more. Marriage is one of the most important contracts you’ll ever enter, so don’t go into it blindly. Have a ‘run fund’ tucked away just in case things don’t go to plan. It creates a much healthier power balance in the relationship.’
‘The little joker said bloop and floated right up on to the top of the water’
‘I still really don’t understand what’s so shocking about my delivery story’ wrote an American woman called Tia Freeman on Twitter, ‘[but I] might as well tell you now. Give me a little time though because it’s sort of a long story.’
On Tuesday Freeman decided to share the childbirth story in a series of tweets.
Tia found out she was pregnant very late
In denial, she decided to go on her pre-booked holiday to Germany anyway
The flight was a little eventful
But not as eventful as what happened after Tia landed
It was at this point she realised she could be in labour
The obvious next step? A YouTube tutorial of course
Then came the water birth
‘The little joker said bloop and floated right up on to the top of the water’
But that’s not all…
Among those to congratulate Tia on her story (and birth) was author J K Rowling. ‘Well, speaking personally, I’m not so much in shock as in awe’ she tweeted, ‘congratulations on the birth of your son, who’d better never disrespect a mother this cool, strong and fearless!’