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.
Daisy Buchanan remembers a one-night stand in the City of Light that helped mend her broken heart – and sparked a desire for sexual self-discovery
It’s thought that Mae West once said, ‘The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.’ And so, aged 21 and in the depths of heartbreak when my university boyfriend told me he was in love with his housemate, I tried to cure myself with a series of one-night stands, in an attempt to feel powerful and desirable. Unsurprisingly, this did not work. So when I went to see my friend Demi, who was studying in Paris, I tried to blind myself to the romantic potential of the City of Light. I wrapped my vulnerability in a layer of brittle cynicism, rolling my eyes at couples feeding each other macarons in Ladurée. And then I met Sebastian.
‘He talked to me, he teased me and then we were kissing up against a wall’
Demi had taken me out with her friends, who were all dressed in heels, with hair and cleavage teased and manipulated out of all proportion. A month earlier I would have been in an outfit practically cut to my crotch, but a bud of self-respect had burst through my brain in the Champs-Elysée branch of Zara. I rediscovered my sexiest, most confident self in a simple blue shirt. When I noticed Sebastian noticing me, I registered his beauty as you might spot the Mona Lisa’s, deciding to admire him from afar. I’d only come to dance, and I assumed he’d stop staring to go after a babe in bodycon. But he kept looking, and captivated me with his easy confidence. He talked to me, he teased me, and then we were kissing up against a wall – he touched me as though he might pass out if he stopped.
Writer, Daisy Buchanan in Paris
All I remember is his mouth on mine in a taxi, then in a hotel room – and suddenly I felt myself withering under the lights, conscious of my pale body, my bad bra, my lack of preparedness. ‘Don’t be shy! You’re gorgeous,’ he said, unbuttoning my shirt. ‘I’m not shy!’ I protested, and in that moment my anxiety dissolved. I stopped trying to float out of my body to witness how I was being seen. I focused on feelings – feeling his tongue touch my inner thigh, or his teeth on my nipple, and let go of myself completely. We both wanted exactly the same thing. A single night together. A one-night stand. Instead of worrying about how to make him desire me more, I simply submitted to every sensation. Being in Paris was gloriously disinhibiting – I could just enjoy the adventure.
‘You can’t have sex with someone who thinks you’re a mirror – especially when they will never be satisfied by their own reflection’
Sebastian became an anecdote, a story I kept as a treasured souvenir from my single-girl days – until I found myself thinking about him five years later, in LA, while another man was on top of me. Andy was nearly twice my age, dazzlingly successful, with a phone full of famous friends. I was in California ostensibly to interview a pop star, but actually because I had a grown-up lover who was keen to seduce me in his suite at the Four Seasons. Unfortunately, Andy was bad in bed.
Hollywood had made a B-list performer out of him, and his conversation was full of Mary-Kates and Leos. He couldn’t manage pillow talk as he wasn’t interested in words that he couldn’t sell the movie rights to. While I was working out how to tell him that my clitoris was a full inch from where he thought it was, I realised I was a woman watching a man watching himself. You can’t have sex with someone who thinks you’re a mirror – especially when they will never be satisfied by their own reflection, or even convinced by it. It’s a cliché to go to LA and complain that everything is artificial, but our connection was as two dimensional as a plywood spaceship or a polystyrene moon. I was part of the problem. I’d allowed myself to be dazzled by the man Andy thought he was and hoped to absorb some of his status. I’m not even sure what Sebastian did for a living, but the sex had been amazing because he made me feel seen, and his tenderness and generosity gave me the space to look straight back.
All great sex is a form of travel. It’s getting away from it all – ‘all’ being whatever is in your head – and feeling completely connected with your body. I could travel 5,000 miles for sex with an Andy, while mentally remaining exactly where I was. But sex with someone as secure as Sebastian has the power to transform and transport you, no matter where you are.
Emma Watson is known for her feminist campaigning, and the star’s latest demonstration of activism comes through her open letter to Dr. Savita Halappanavar, a woman who died in 2012 after being denied an abortion in Ireland.
Savita died after experiencing a septic miscarriage at 17 weeks into her pregnancy and – despite requesting one early on and needing one to potentially save her life – was denied an abortion as doctors could already detect a heartbeat (meaning abortion was illegal).
Working with Porter, Emma shared a letter to Dr Savita, making it clear that Savita’s tragic death was one of the main catalysts for the Irish abortion referendum this year.
The letter begins:
“You didn’t want to become the face of a movement; you wanted a procedure that would have saved your life. When news of your death broke in 2012, the urgent call to action from Irish activists reverberated around the world – repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution.”
It then continues:
“A promise to the departed and a rallying call to society, we chant: never again. But it is rare that justice truly prevails for those whose deaths come to symbolize structural inequality. Rarer still is a historic feminist victory that emboldens the fight for reproductive justice everywhere…”
“That the eighth amendment enabled valuing the life of an unborn fetus over a living woman was a wake-up call to a nation. For you, and those forced to travel to the UK to access safe, legal abortion, justice was hard-won.”
Emma finished the letter on a positive note, suggesting more work needs to be done but that we must look to the future:
“In your memory, and towards our liberation, we continue the fight for reproductive justice.”
A new study has revealed which cities women are apparently least satisfied with their sex lives.
The research, conducted by feminine hygiene products Woo Woo, revealed that Oxford is the city where women are least satisfied with the sex they are having with their partners; a colossal 58% of women who took part said so.
This was closely followed by 56% in Bristol, 55% in Brighton and 53% in Glasgow.
The lowest ten are as follows:
Oxford – 58 percent
Bristol – 56 percent
Brighton – 55 percent
Glasgow – 53 percent
Cardiff – 52 percent
Newcastle- 52 percent
Nottingham – 50 percent
Edinburgh – 49 percent
Liverpool – 47 percent
Manchester – 45 percent
The study also revealed a number of things about women and their sex lives. The average female apparently has sex twice a week on average – but actually would like to be having it FIVE times a week. Woah.
In fact, three-quarters of the women interviewed said they wished they were having more sex and as many as 60% of the women polled wanted ‘better’ sex than they are currently experiencing.
Lucy Anderson, founder of Woo Woo said of the results:
“We wanted to find out how much fun modern women are actually having between the sheets, and whether they are getting the pleasure and excitement they deserve. It’s great to see women admitting to wanting more sex, women like sex just as much as men and shouldn’t be afraid to admit it or be shamed for doing so.”
Well, according to dating app Badoo, it’s all about your bio.
After looking in the most popular bios for men and women, the site has compiled the most attractive terms to write on our profiles.
Most popular terms on women’s dating bios:
7. Blue eyes
Most popular terms on men’s dating bios:
How to be single
What makes a good online dating bio?
Well, according to Badoo, humour is a key part, finding that 87% of its users swiped right if a person’s bio was funny.
‘A good bio needs to be positive and give a flavour of what you are about, so it is no surprise that our most popular users are doing just that,’ explained Badoo’s in house dating-expert, Claire Scott. ‘When creating a profile, it can feel overwhelming at first deciding what content to include. But do not fear – our data tells us that a popular bio is one that is short and snappy, around only 20 words!’
She continued: ‘I would encourage you not to be afraid to write about something that is specific to you, such as your favourite film director or least favourite pasta dish. These sorts of things will help you to stand out and can often add a touch of humour. Even if your preferences turn off a few people, those that do appreciate them will probably be better matches in the long run. Plus, you’re making it easier for them to initiate the conversation with something meaningful.’
Any other tips? ‘It is also a good idea to include what you are looking for and any potential deal breakers – such as height – to prevent awkwardness later on. Though unsurprisingly we find that mentioning height is more common in men, who are at least 6ft!”’
If you’ll excuse us, we’re off to update our profiles!
As London fashion week fast approaches the hysteria of many doing practically anything for a golden ticket is in full swing. Because let’s face it there is nothing quite like the feeling of a show. The excitement of seeing the looks for the first time, the lights, the FROW drama and the celebrity spotting is a must for anyone who loves fashion, networking or just wants to feel the vibes of live performance.
With NYFW wetting our whistle we are now into operation LFW and with it approaching faster than hate mail to president Dump, it’s time to get my wardrobe in order and make sure that I’m ready when I am walking around the London Streets.
The buzz of street style in Soho, Covent Garden or anywhere near the fashion show hubs is electric! Where photographers, bloggers and Vloggers flock to taste a slice of the fashion week creativity. People who can’t gain access or even those who can, line the pre show lines to catch all the latest trends laced with personal styling ready to go through those doors, elbows out ready for FROW action.
If you have never been, you’re a fashion virgin. Now that’s a word you didn’t think you’d hear again! The burning question usually is “How do I get in?” I am so not about restrictions, unless we’re talking bondage, but that’s another column!
Hierarchy can be ugly and those who have more money to buy their way in is so last season. So I am here to say you can all be part of a show that is fully inclusive and one where you are getting more than you may expect from a London based show.
LQFS. 21st September 2018 a show like no other will be launching at the V&M (Museum of childhood). A show where you can simply buy an affordable ticket with multiple designers and an evening of fashion, people and entertainment. The London Queer fashion show is a new way of showing fashion.
It’s a get in there quick policy for this one. I will be there! A fully stocked bar of Instagrammable cocktails and a hundred models swayed me! Whether it’s eye candy (yes, you can come alone) cocktail candy or a girls/boys night out make it all about you! You are all invited, included and you are encouraged to come as you are. Express yourself and enjoy fashion in your own way. You may well want to be in the VIP area, Frowin’ it up, or a tiered seat may suit you best, what ever you desire, if you love fashion, want to make new friends or take your existing ones and don’t give a fuck about not being able to get your toe in the door of LFW get yourself to LQFS and enjoy your shot of Fashion week. Because everyone deserves to have their fashion virginity taken in style.
I don’t expect you to answer this one and I think it’s pretty personal but I am at my wits end with my best friend.
Now I say my best friend but I am starting to wonder. We have been friends since primary school and although we went off to college in different directions we would still be in daily contact and meet up when ever I was back in town. We went into different areas of work but recently have started working for the same company. We were so excited. Being able to have lunch everyday and drinks after work. Not once did I think it would all be too much. But lately I feel like I can’t move. I feel guilty for saying that. But all my friends at work are now more her friends. I now have to include her in everything, in fact I feel like she competes with me for their attention. She has cut her hair exactly like mine. People around the office are calling us twins and she really seems to get getting off on it. The other day she brought up an embarrassing story about me in front of my colleagues. I was shocked and hurt. Why would she do that? I feel like she is changing or using me. Is it just me? She knows me better than anyone and it feels odd.
Darling you are not alone! We have all had that “friend” Now there are levels of imitation that is complete flattery and that feeling of admiration. Then there is the single white female moment when you feel scared to tell her where your driving too, or who you bloody fancy! Because you can’t be sure if she will turn up at a location, unannounced or invited but she will make a beeline for your sex/love interest and let’s face it, that’s not okay!
I think your work environment is a separate space to a social one and your bestie sharing personal stories is a step too far.
Haircuts and copying, well if you feel it’s all too weird tell her! She was a friend before a colleague. I think boundaries need to be set for both of you. You are not ten anymore and sharing crushes and candy is no longer fun. Step off bitch! My interests, my hair, my embarrassing story. She has no right to open up your personal life at work without your permission.
I can see where the lines have been blurred, she is now not only a bestie but legally someone at work. Can you tell her to back off or will she run to work and tell them all?
I think a coffee away from work (yes I know it means seeing her again on a Saturday) but I think for you being honest is the best policy on this one. You love your friend and you should give her the chance to know how her actions are affecting you. If she ignores you, then that would be the time to realise that besties in a playground and besties in adulthood are sometimes simply not the same. Nostalgia can get in the way. We all loved Jelly shoes and stirrup jodhpurs but it doesn’t mean we were right!
Good luck as losing a “friend” is never easy. But as I always say…. it’s better to know the truth than live with a fantasy that’s a lie.
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
We’ve hand-picked the best online dating sites for you to try right now – and there really is something for everyone.
With half of all single people now using some of the best online dating sites to find love (or at least quick, no strings sex – hello, Tinder), long gone are the days when Internet dating was seen as embarrassing or cringe-worthy. Now its about as normal (but way more fun) as Internet banking.
There are literally hundreds of dating sites out there. So, to make it a little less overwhelming, we’ve trawled the Internet for you and sought the advice of online dating expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams to find the 11 best online dating sites on the web. You can thank us later.
How does it work? If you are serious about looking for that special thing called love, then this is the site for you. eHarmony take this match-making lark very seriously, making them one of the best online dating sites around. They’ve even patented The eHarmony Compatibility Matching System. That’s right. They’ve taken 35 years of research to come up with a Relationship Questionnaire and pride themselves on matching users with people who are actually compatible with them.
How much does it cost? £9.95 per month.
The experts say: This is a great site for those who are looking for personality matching. eHarmony takes the hard work out of trolling through 100s of photos and delivers compatible dates directly to your inbox. This site provides quality over quantity and is great for those looking for a long term relationship.
How does it work? match is the most widely-used dating site in the world and has nearly 1.8 million subscribers. It works in the most traditional way: Simply create a profile, check out your potential matches, send them a few messages and then arrange to meet for a date. There are also various off-shoots of match.com with microsites for gay and lesbian dating, Asian dating, Christian dating and Polish dating. The love-gods at match also arrange singles events and provide online dating advice, so it’s easy to see what makes them one of our best online dating sites.
How much does it cost? £12.99 per month for a 6-month membership.
The experts say: For those nervous about dating, this site puts the control in your fingertips allowing you access to thousands of profiles and the ability to chat to potential dates at the rate which works for you. It is well known and therefore attracts a wide demographic, allowing you to widen your dating pool or limit it with their advanced matching facility.
How does it work? Lovestruck helps you target potential partners according to location and it covers many of the major cities across the world. It’s aimed at time-starved professionals, who due to busy work and social lives simply don’t have the time to date. Lovestruck helps put you in touch with people who are near you – be it where you work or live – to save you precious minutes or hours travelling to and from a date. The site also hosts regular events which are a fun, relaxed way to meet people.
How much does it cost? A minimum of £16 per month.
The experts say: Perfect if you are looking for love in the city and want to approach dating with an informal first meet in your lunch break or after work. It takes the travel out of dating especially with its tube station search parameter.
How does it work? There are no gimmicks or USPs with DatingDirect. In fact, it’s fairly similar to our old friends Match, mentioned above. You can start looking at potential dates for free, then when you like the look of someone and fancy striking up a conversation, you need to subscribe. Like a lot of the best online dating sites, it also has a handy instant messenger service which makes chatting to your matches easy and breezy.
How much does it cost? £12.99 per month for a 6 month membership.
The experts say: This site is owned by the dating giant MEETIC and gives you access to 20 million members across Europe and it also merged with Match.com in 2009. A daily email suggests six members you might be interested in, which is a useful feature that doesn’t feel like you’re being bombarded but provides you enough choice to find a compatible date.
How does it work? This is sold as a serious online dating site for ‘discerning singles.’ A bit like eHarmony, PARSHIP uses a patented test, this time called The PARSHIP principle®, which analyses 32 personality traits and is based on an algorithm of 136 rules. It sounds complicated, but that’s not for you to worry about. Just sign up, do the test and get chatting to all those love-compatible people out there.
How much does it cost? Minimum of £14.90 per month.
The experts say: One of the best online dating sites for those looking for long-term relationships with professional people, users complete a personality test to measure compatibility with potential dates using psychometric analysis. Functionality is limited as the site is more geared up to helping you find a long term partner rather than flirting randomly with people you like the look of. Members have similar incomes and education. There is also a specific gay version of the site for those looking for a serious committed relationship with a same sex partner.
How does it work? Plenty of Fish works by asking users to take a special POF Relationship Chemistry Predictor test, which measures self-confidence, family-orientation, self-control, social dependency and easygoingness. You’re then matched to those most compatible to you.
How much does it cost? It’s free!
The experts say: This is great if you want free access to a large database of single people. It has a compatibility matching system that includes areas such as self-confidence, openness and family. A great starting point for people who have not tried online dating before and want to try it for free.
How does it work? Mysinglefriend.com is the brainchild of TV presenter Sarah Beeny and it works by each member on the site being put forward and described by a friend. The site aims to get rid of the ‘cringe factor’ associated with having to big yourself up through your online profile and makes it more of a fun community, where like-minded people can chat, meet and potentially fall in lurve.
How much does it cost? £13 per month.
The experts say: For those who are at a loss as how to sell themselves in 500 words or less, this site offers the opportunity to be described by your friend. It works on the premise your friend can sell you better than you can but they can also embarrass you too. MSF has a more chatty style in the profile and gives you a greater insight into your potential date’s world.
How does it work? This online dating site does exactly what it says on the tin and only people deemed beautiful enough will be allowed to join. To become a member, applicants are required to be voted in by existing members of the opposite sex. Members rate new applicants over a 48-hour period based on whether or not they find the applicant ‘beautiful’. It sounds harsh, but the site claims that by admitting people based on their looks they’re removing the first hurdle of dating, saying that because everyone on the site is a fitty, members can concentrate on getting to know people’s character and personalities. Beautiful People also promises access to exclusive parties and top guest lists around the globe. Now for that brutal 48-hour wait…
How much does cost? If you buy a 6-month membership, you’ll get a reduced price of £7.50 per month.
The experts say: This infamous dating site claims to have no unattractive members and is known for deleting members who gained weight. Aspiring members have to pass a 48-hour peer vote to be accepted as one of the ‘beautiful people’. They regularly host members’ events where allegedly you have to look as attractive as your profile photo otherwise entry to the venue is refused. This is the ideal site for those who want to bypass the usual filtering of profiles based on looks and focus on getting to know people they know they will be attracted to.
How does it work? Let’s face it, meeting up with a complete stranger for a first date can be awkward and hideously cringeworthy. But it’s less so when the date itself is a total riot. This is where Doingsomething.co.uk comes in. The site is all about the actual dating experience and let’s you pick a match based on the date idea they’ve suggested. And the more fun and unique the date the better. So, rather than nervously meeting someone for a luke warm coffee in a crowded chain, you could be trying out your culinary skills at a sushi-making masterclass or bonding over super-strong cocktails at a hipster speakeasy. It’s basically about finding someone who wants to do the same things as you at the end of the day, isn’t it?
How much does it cost? £10 per month.
The experts say: It’s a simple and unique approach to online dating which is great for those looking for fun and interesting ideas for first dates. Sign up is quick and easy without the usual numerous questions and sections to fill in, the hardest part is thinking what you would like to do on a date that might attract like-minded people.
How does it work? A similar taste in music can be a great indicator as to whether you’re compatible with someone, so the fine folks behind Tastebuds have struck gold with their music-based online datingsite. Getting started is dead simple: pick three artists or bands that you’re interested in, the gender you’re looking to date and press ‘go’. It’s a fun and relaxed site, which can introduce you to new music, concert buddies and potentially even your own real-life Caleb Followill.
How much does it cost? It’s free for exisiting members, but £8 per month for new members.
The experts say: This is one of the best online dating sites for those looking for love who also love music. It makes sense that if a potential partner shares your taste in music then you’re off to a good start and a favourite artist/band is a great ice breaker when approaching someone online for the first time.
How does it work? Lumen is a modern dating app specifically designed for adventurous over 50s to meet genuine like-minded singles. Every profile includes at least three photos and a detailed bio, designed to spark interesting and meaningful conversation with your matches.
How much does it cost? It’s free!
The experts say: If you want good conversation with likeminded individuals in the age bracket, there’s no place better. There is a focus on good conversation and common interests so for people who want to chat away without the awkwardness, this is the app to download.
We spoke to eHarmony UK’s resident relationship expert, Verity Hogan, on how to date online safely.
Be cautious with your personal information
‘When dating online or in person, be wary of anyone who seems to be asking for a lot of your personal informal early on. Don’t share any details such as your address, birth date or financial information. If a match is asking a lot of questions of this type, let them know that you’re not comfortable sharing that information and report them if you have any suspicions about their true motives.’
Arrange to meet in a public place
‘Even if they claim to make the best pasta in town, never meet someone for the first time at their home and don’t invite them to yours. Arrange to meet somewhere that’s busy and in public such as a restaurant or coffee shop that you’re comfortable in.’
Tell a friend
‘If you’re planning to meet an online date for the first time, be sure to tell a friend or family member who you’re meeting, when and where. If you have an iPhone you could also share you location on the app Find My Friends. Check in with a friend during the date or ask them to call you at a specific time to check on you.’
Don’t be afraid to leave
‘If your date is making you feel uncomfortable, leave. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve just sat down or enjoyed a three-course dinner with them. If they do or say anything which makes you feel uneasy, walk away. This person is a stranger and you need to protect yourself, first and foremost.’
Travel there and back by yourself
‘If your date offers to pick you up at home, politely decline. Plan your own route to and from your date so that you remain completely in control at all times. This also means you’re not relying on someone else to dictate how long the date lasts if you need to make an early escape’
How to have a successful first date – dating tips from the expert
Yes, much of it comes down to chemistry, but there are a few fail-safe tricks to navigating a first date that you should know about, according to Verity Hogan, eHarmony UK’s relationship expert.
Avoid social media stalking
‘It’s always tempting to ‘accidentally’ check out a date’s social media accounts before meeting up. In fact, our research shows that over a third (38%) of us admit to a pre-date Google. Try to avoid it, if possible. In-depth social media stalking will make you form judgments before you’ve even sat down together so prioritise getting to know the real person, rather than their online persona.’
‘A first date is your opportunity to get to know your date – and for them to get to know you. While we all want to present the best version of ourselves, dressing in a way that feels unnatural is guaranteed to make you feel uncomfortable and is likely to put a damper on your date. Wear something that you’re comfortable in and that reflects the real you.’
Try a confidence exercise
‘First date nerves are natural, but you can tackle them by employing a few confidence tricks. Visualise a great date – one where the conversation flows easily – and hold on to the positive feelings that the thought encourages. Affirmations are a useful tool too. Stand in front of the mirror, put your shoulders back, and say out loud ‘I can do this’. It may sound strange but it really works.’
Have a laugh
‘When we laugh we release endorphins, which can help us to relax. Sharing a laugh on a first date is a great way to break the ice as well as an effective bonding tool. You don’t need to start telling knock-knock jokes, but if you have a funny anecdote or two in your arsenal, don’t be afraid to share.’
Use open body language
‘Most of what we communicate is through our body language rather than words. Folded arms and legs creates a physical barrier that implies you’re closed off. Try to adopt open body language instead. And don’t be afraid to make eye contact – it’s a great way to show your date that you’re interested.’
‘There are few things more attractive than someone who gives us their undivided attention. And there’s nothing worse than spending time with someone who’s constantly looking over our shoulder at something or someone else. Make an effort to be engaged and present on your date and save checking your phone until they go to the bathroom!’
‘Asking your date questions not only shows that you’re interested in what they have to say but it also allows you to get to know them, which is what a first date is all about! Don’t stick to small talk. More intimate questions about your date’s hopes, dreams and passions will help you forge a closer connection – and it’s a lot more interesting than talking about the weather.’
‘Nothing is as reassuring as a genuine smile. If you go into your date with a positive attitude, you’re much more likely to have a good time – and make your date feel good too.’
Split the bill
‘Who should pay the bill is one the most hotly debated aspects of first date etiquette. Traditionally, whoever initiated the date would pick up the bill but, these days, it’s much more common to split the bill. But if your date does insist on paying, it’s more polite to graciously accept than argue about it!’
‘If you’ve had a great date, let them know. Trying to act aloof by waiting three days after a date to get in touch doesn’t work in today’s age of instant communication. In fact, only 4% of people think you should purposely wait before replying to a message from a date. If you enjoyed the date, don’t be afraid to send them a quick message and let them know that you’d like to see them again.’
We’ve spoken to the experts to get their top tips on making your dating profile work for you.
Creating a dating profile can be scary. After all, it’s not always easy to big yourself up without sounding conceited or (even worse) desperate. But did you know that one in three couples now find love online?
In this fast-paced, social media-dependent world, we rely on the Internet for everything – from keeping in touch with old school friends and career networking to ordering takeaways and finding a cat-sitter for that weekend away. So it only seems logical you would use the good old Internet for finding that special someone, too.
That said, the world of online dating can be daunting if you’ve never tried it before, so here are our top tips for making the most of your dating profile and spotting a great potential partner.
We also got the help of Charly Lester, Co-Founder of Lumen, the newest dating app on the scene, specifically designed for cool and adventurous over 50s. Her advice however, can help you no matter your age!
How to make the most of your online dating profile
1. Ask your friends for help
Get a friend to help you write your profile. Sometimes they know you better than you know yourself.
2. Avoid clichés
Even if you do like “walking on the beach” or “drinking wine in front of a roaring fire” leave it out – everyone says that. Think of something interesting that could be a conversation starter.
3. Look at other profiles
‘If you struggle for inspiration, why not look at other profiles to see what other people are saying?’ suggests Charly Lester, co-founder of new over 50s dating app Lumen. ‘Reading other peoples’ profiles might give you ideas for things to include in your own one.’
4. Choose action shots
Wouldn’t you know, profile photos that demonstrate you playing your guitar or downhill skiing – even if your face isn’t showing – get more messages.
5. Stay positive
Avoid negative tones and always be positive about yourself. Your profile is essentially your dating CV. You wouldn’t want a future employer to read anything negative, so why would you want a potential partner to read anything that isn’t positive?
6. Be honest
Lying doesn’t get you anywhere in the dating world. Honesty is the best policy!
7. Be specific
Talk in specifics to give a full flavour of who you are. If you love travelling, say where your favourite place is and why. Anything concrete like this brings you alive to anyone reading.
8. Update regularly
Keep your profile up to date. Make the effort to renew your profile on a regular basis with relevant information about yourself.
9. Check your grammar
Many people find poor grammar and spelling a turn off, and the best of us can make mistakes, so be careful on this point. Put your profile into Word and use your computer spell check for peace of mind.
10. Say cheese
In a recent poll, we found that 96 per cent of people would rather see a big, happy grin in a profile photo than a sexy pout.
11. Choose recent photos
If they are more than a year old, don’t use them. One of the most frequent complaints about online dating profiles is “they may have looked like that once but they certainly don’t look like that now”. Looking better in the flesh is better than the reverse.
12. Show them the real you
‘It’s been proven that the more photos you have on your profile, the more attention it will get,’ says Charly. ‘So make the most of that. Include at least a couple of clear head shots, where you’re not wearing sunglasses and you can clearly see your face. I always include at least one full length photo too, so there are no surprises when we meet up in real life.’
13. Have fun
Most people want to find someone who can make them laugh, so show people you have a sense of humour. If you can make someone laugh, it’s a great icebreaker and could get your conversation off to a great start.
14. Be the focus
Don’t choose a picture where you are not the main focal point.
15. Think out of the box
‘If a dating profile asks what you’re looking for, don’t give too much detail. Tell them about the type of relationship you’re looking for, and if you have set deal-breakers like “must like dogs”. But when it comes to things like height, weight, income, hair colour etc – there is no point listing these things,’ explains Charly. ‘Firstly, it can make you look too unapproachable, even to someone who ticks all the right boxes. And secondly, you’ll be surprised how often people fall for someone who doesn’t tick any of their original boxes!’
How to spot a good date
1. No negativity
If someone mentions anything cynical about relationships or comments about their “annoying” ex, move along. You don’t need a date with Mr Angry.
2. No arrogance
Avoid Mr ‘It’s All About Me’. It’s good to love yourself but there is a line that should not be crossed.
3. Check their photos
Are they in a bar or nightclub in every shot? If so, don’t contact them if you’re someone who likes to be in bed by 9pm.
4. No waffling
A long and very detailed profile could be an indication of what’s in store when you meet them in person. Nobody likes a waffler.
5. Kindness is key
Look for people with a good character. A profile that mentions family and friends, volunteering, and enjoying spending time with kids is a good sign.
Now you know how to make your dating profile stand out amongst the crowd, why not check out our round-up of the best online dating websites to sign up to? Looking for something a little less serious? These are the best apps for no strings sex – hello Tinder! Already a dating a pro? Then chances are you’ll related to these 12 soul destroying things you only know if you sign up for internet dating.
Whatever you choose, just follow the advice above and chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for.
In this week’s #TrueRomance column, Anna Whitehouse and Matt Farquharson are celebrating another year of marriage. Or are they?
Does every anniversary come with existential angst?
By Matt Farquharson
When we picked wedding rings, our (male) jeweller asked if I wanted the date etched on the inside of the band, ‘in case you forget’. Anna was by my side, and I gave an indignant huff. It was a huff that said, ‘forget? Forget the greatest day of my life? The day I became bonded in an ever-lasting union of souls? Impossible. And also: she’s right here, dude!’
But before I could form these words, he said, ‘most people forget. It’s normal’. And so he etched it on, and ever since, I haven’t been able to give a convincing answer to, ‘when did you get married?’ without removing it. I know it’s in ‘late August’, but official documents do not normally accept such vagueness.
Anna is no better, and were it not for the cartoonish cards my mum sends us every year, I think we’d usually get to mid autumn before realising we’d missed something.
We’re not alone, either. Four years ago, Norwegian University of Science and Technology released the results of a study of 48,000 people. In it, they found that, while men forget more than women, most of us are as forgetful at 30 as we are at 60. Names and dates tend to cause the biggest blank spots.
‘Every anniversary seems to mark time running away’
And I think I know the reason why. Past the age of about 21, every anniversary – be it wedding, birthday, or something else – seems to mark time running away, rather than an imagined peak that you’re running towards. I might be more content now, more certain of who I am, but I am much less carefree.
Our eight years of marriage has been good, but seeing that number laid bare forces a mental totting up of achievements, and they mostly seem to be grown-up things – mortgage re-payments, job moves, ownership of two children that don’t smell like old dishcloths. I’m happy to be married, but troubled by the marker of time, just like those Facebook reminders that pop up to clarify how much more fun you were having that time your face was a bit thinner and your eyebags less full.
By Anna Whitehouse
Our anniversary is usually marked by a Forever Friends card – complete with amorous poem – from my mother-in-law. This year there was a call from my mum, who said, ‘shall we take the kids for your anniversary weekend?’ I had to ask her what date that might be because it’s not something that has been etched in my mind (despite it having actually been quite fun). I simply said, ‘yes’ because being burden-free for two nights is worth pinning to anything – wedding anniversary or bunion removal.
But why are celebrations edging further down the list? Date of vaccinations for the kids? Done. Date of school term? In the diary. Anything relating to Matt or I seems to get a quick, ‘shall we leave it this year?’ Before ploughing on with the life admin and looking into each other’s slightly sunken eyes for any hint of the person we signed up for.
‘Do we have to career across the Mediterranean Sea in pursuit of celebration?’
And we’re happy. It’s not a case of simply having given up and resigned ourselves to trudging towards the bitter end like a knackered cart horse all too aware of its destination. It’s just, perhaps, we’re all or nothing. For our first anniversary I flew Matt to Milan (via Moscow because flights were so much cheaper) and made him a love cake with his face centre-stage. Anything after felt like he was getting short changed.
That’s possibly where our celebratory plans are scuppered – expectation versus reality. My happiest moments with Matt have not involved careering across the Mediterranean Sea in pursuit of celebration. As saccharine as it sounds, they’re in the small, everyday gestures of appreciation. His delivery of a cup of tea every morning even though it will most likely remain undrunk; offering up a cheeky bum squeeze in the glow of an open fridge. A deep hug when I’ve lost something, someone (possibly myself) and his willingness to sit next to me while I find that thing, person and sense of self again. That is something to be celebrated – and who would say no to a child-free weekend, anyhow?