i-saw-you-on-tinder

Snog, Marry, Avoid was a fairly trashy TV show which involved making over women who were deemed a bit trashy, and making them classy. The title hinted at the fact that dressing and wearing makeup in a certain way might get you a snog, but it wouldn’t get you a ring, and if you wanted him to put a ring on it you needed to shape up because the snap judgements men  made about the way you look could make you miss out.

I think I might have admitted this before, but in a moment of midnight madness and curiosity, I downloaded Tinder. It didn’t last very long, approximately 5 minutes. I don’t say this in a sneering way to belittle those of you who have used the app as an aid in your romantic (sexual?) endeavours. It just took all of 5 minutes for me understand that my particular demographic – black, female, born again Christian,waiting till marriage to have sex and looking for a man with similar values, was possibly NOT Tinder’s target demographic and that I was extremely unlikely to swipe and land on a 28 year old man who was currently deciding whether to read Revelation or Matthew next and investing his pent up sexual energy in 5 mile runs. It was swiftly deleted and I went to sleep.

I was watching a (fairly low brow) documentary this evening called Face Value, which explored how central our faces are to..well..life. Wars have been waged over faces. Millions of pounds have been earned from the simple genetic lot of facial features.Most importantly, in 2016 especially, potential life partners have been selected or discarded on the basis of their face.

I often hear people say that your twenties are the time for having fun when you’re dating. We get told not to get too tied down to one person, not to spend time being patient with someone who isn’t meeting our expectations, to ‘get it out our system’. The assumption is that once this period is over, we will be ready to settle down with a long term life partner. Once we’ve gone through a 10 year period of making snap judgements, impulse decisions and allowing ourselves slightly more superficiality that we would expect from a ‘proper’ adult, we can then go on to blossom into a a more mature connoisseur of  love and relationships.

Essentially, your twenties are your snog, marry, avoid years. Your Twenties are your Tinder years. You have the youth, the good looks amd the free time to swipe as you please. Your fertility can withstand your snap judgements and there is no receding hairline to force you into low expectations and settling. Some people are comfortable with moving from person to person because they have their whole life ahead of them to be boring and committed and tied down.

But what if you never get out of your Tinder habit? What if your brain becomes so accustomed to swiping, avoiding, hooking up, discarding and transactional sexual experiences, that come 35, no woman can hold your attention for long enough?  What if you find out too late that you haven’t learnt the steady, sometimes difficult uphill hike of learning to grapple with someones flaws and reflecting on your own?

Would it be worth it? Maybe we’re delusional in believing that our brains, marvellous in their ability to form habits and build neuronal pathways that reinforce these, can suddenly adjust when we and society decide that it’s time for us to grow up. I read a diary entry I’d written at age 14 – it  listed the things I liked about myself and the things that I didn’t like, things I wanted to change and work on. I’d scrawled in my notebook ‘I’m good at talking to people, I have a quick mind, I can be very loving…I can be selfish sometimes, I have a quick temper, I’m disorganised and messy’. I would like to say that I’ve changed dramatically, but apart from having a much slower temper (thank God) , I’m still a bit selfish and I’m still quite messy and disorganised at times. In fact, it’s frightening how many of both my good and bad qualities were solidified during my teenage years.

The fact that my temper has improved quite significantly gives me some hope – I prayed a lot about that and I’m thankful that I’ve changed. Change is possible. But the other things on my list serve as a warning to me that every day I’m making choices about who I will be in 10 years time. I’m fooling myself if I think that who I am today at 26 and who I am at 36 will be different just because I decide that it’s time for me to grow up. Life doesn’t woirk that way.

So next time you decide to swipe in real life, or on Tinder, ask yourself how swiping is changing the way you look at people. And remember that who you are in 10 years may be so similar to who you are now, it will surprise even you.

noy into you

I’m no authority on men or relationships having had fairly minimal experience with either, but I would say I’m a pretty good authority on unrequited love. I’ve had more than a couple crushes and ‘situationships’ which have ended with a lot of feelings on my side, and a couple ‘k cool’ text messages from their side.

My broken heart could have probably escaped with  a wee dent instead of being shattered with blunt force if only I had come to the realisation…he’s just not that into you.

Women especially, are professional love creators. We specialise in taking men with no love in their hearts for us, and using all the energy that could be spent on rock hard abs, a fantastic career and a relationship tighter with Jesus than all 12 of the disciples, on attempting to squeeze every ounce of non-affection from their souls.

The end result of this is wasted months, stress, a lot of kleenex and a complete rinsing of your thankfully, unlimited minutes on asking each of your friends in a million different ways why Jim-Bob just doesn’t seem to be giving you the attention you deserve.

My dear friend:Stop. Cease. Desist. Unhand the gentleman.

Shall I say it in patois for you? Him nuh want yuh

One thing men and woman both have in common though is that when we want someone, we show it.

Maybe not immediately. Sure, there’s the does -he-like-me, does-he-not stage  that can last varying amounts of time, but generally we’re pretty good at sending off signals. I could write an extensive list of signs that someone just isn’t into you, but there are two main signs:

  1. They don’t initiate contact. (Or in the case of many women, don’t accept contact)
  2. They don’t initiate commitment

That’s it. Simple. It all boils down to these two things – contact and commitment. Most men get to stage one and stop at stage two.

If he doesn’t text or call you and you’re always the one calling and texting – he’s not that into you. If he only calls or texts during unsavoury hours when Sam’s chicken and brothels are the only institutions open for business- he’s not that into you. If your phone calls last 10 minutes and the main point is clearly to warm you up enough so he can come over and get some sort of sexual intimacy – he’s not into you, he’s into getting into you. If she talks to you for 20 minutes and then ‘has to go’ Every.Single.Time – she’s just not that into you.If you disappear from the country, climb Everest, and 3 months later get a text saying ‘sup? you good?’. They’re just not that into you.If you’re in a relationship  and you have to beg him to check up on you once a week – no, it’s very unlikely that’s just his personality- he’s just not that into you. If he repeatedly cancels plans you make together to go out with friends/siblings/ his personal trainer and apologises profusely each time, but still cancels…guess what? He’s just not that into you. If she doesn’t pick up for 3 days at a time and doesn’t bother to  even text a ‘sorry I missed ya :-)’ text, then mate, she’s probably just not that into you.

Now on to commitment. Intimacy is the reward of commitment. And as intimacy grows so should commitment. Many of us have broken hearts because we give intimacy – be that emotional, sexual, mental without the appropriate level of commitment If you’ve been ‘talking’ for a year but there’s been no suggestion of a relationship, the odds are he’s just not that into you. If he/she says ‘I’m  focusing on my career right now’, then that may be a very true statement, but what’s also true is that they’re just not that into you. Because if they thought you were unmissable, they wouldn’t miss out on you. For my Christian folk – if you’ve been dating for 5 years, are both grown adults with a viable income and are ‘celibate’ but he still has not proposed, my friend, he’s just not that into you. Because no grown heterosexual man with a sex drive and a stable income needs 5 years to decide whether he wants to marry a woman and make attempts at procreating. Please be honest with yourself – if he wanted you to be his wife he would have asked by now.  If after 8 months of dating she doesn’t want to ‘tie herself down’ by actually having the title of girlfriend , she may fancy you , but really and truly, she’s just not THAT into you. If they break up with you, guess what? They’re just not that into you. Regardless of whether they tell you you’re perfect and amazing – they’ve broken up with you. Massive hint. Pretty huge.

Sure there are exceptions to all of these, but if you’re reading this and thinking your boyfriend/emotional booty call/person you fancy is the exception then you’re probably wrong. And they’re probably not that into you. And you should grab yourself by the shoulders, believe that you’re worth it and trust that God has someone for you who actually IS that into you.

So  pick up the phone and (with dignity) bury that relationship that is already dead.

What do you think? How can you tell when someone’s not into you?

bearded man.jpg

There are very few things that superficially warm my heart than the sight of a man with a good beard and a good shape up. There’s something about the clean line of a level one perfectly orchestrated, partnered with a full  chin of hair that makes my heart skip a little beat. I’ve convinced myself that not only are beards physically attractive, they’re actually a signifier of a higher level of being.

Disclaimer: Just because something isn’t logical, doesn’t mean it’s not true. Think about that. It’s deep. 

1) Men with beards are more spiritually enlightened.

According to every painting  I’ve ever seen, Jesus had a beard. In fact, every famous religious figure worth mentioning had a beard. Now, I’m team Jesus, but Mohammed, Buddha, Confuscious, and all the Egyptian Pharoahs (who they thought were also gods) had beards. Basically, despite my opinions on their varying theologies they all got one thing right – a good beard makes a man more at peace with himself and the world around him.

2) Men with beards have more time to spend with you

If it takes a man 5 minutes to shave in the morning, that’s 5 minutes every day he can’t spend giving you attention. That’s 5 minutes less breakfast in bed, foot rubs, phone conversations, asking  for the 10th time his opinion on whether you should go natural,  helping you choose hairstyles for when you go natural, arguing about George Osbourne’s budget (just me?), or telling you that you’re beautiful. Unless he has one of those beards that needs daily grroming. In which case, refer to point number 1. View Post

michelle o

As far back as I can remember, my dream life has included an old Edwardian house with a massive back garden, 2 very cute children, and a very tall husband with kind eyes. The recurring image is generally of us, in the garden, him making mud pies with the kids and me pouring glasses of homemade lemonade into tiny plastic cups for them. It’s all very idyllic and archaic. Nowhere in this image is me hurriedly pouring the lemonade with a pair of A and E scrubs on, kissing my husband on the cheek and grabbing a child in each arm to hug them as I rush out the house to work.

The probability is that my future life is far more likely to be similar  to the second image, than the first.

The working mum isn’t a really a ‘thing’ anymore, is it?
Not many people raise their eyebrows  at the idea of a working woman having a couple of little ones at home. In a lot of circles, it’s assumed that you will go back to work after pregnancy, possibly take a year or two at the most.
All except conservative Christian (or other religious) circles.

Recently my denomination voted against women being ordained as ministers. It was a controversial vote mostly split along cultural lines. Many of  those in the West tended to be more in favour, and non- Western countries tended to be opposed to it. I haven’t studied it enough to make any informed commentary and so maintained a fairly neutral position although my natural tendencies lean towards being pro-ordination.

Aside from discussions about ordination, I was interested in the conversations about the different roles of women and men in the home and society. I’ve found Christian men have much more of a tendency to be in favour of my 1950’s daydream than other men. In fact, one of the women who spoke against women’s ordination stated that despite her current leadership position in a church organisation, that (loosely quoting from our denomination’s most important female leader) ‘her highest calling will be when she is a wife or mother’. Although I agree with the quote she used in it’s correct context –  I found it firstly, dismissive of those women who will never be called to be a wife or mother, and secondly, rooted less in sound theology and more in Victorian idealism.

The idea that your most important life work is to love and influence your immediate family is one that I subscribe to – but this is equally true of men and women. Interestingly enough, this argument is never used to prevent married men from occupying positions of leadership or demanding jobs even though the Biblical imperative to take care of your home first is actually directed at men and not women.

The concept of men going out to work and women staying at home is fairly modern concept. In times past, especially the time period  in which the Bible was written, men, women and children often worked alongside each other in the family business, women sold their wares at the market, and the concept of a ‘stay at home mum’ vs ‘working mum’ was non-existent. Women often worked from home, or took their children with them as they worked outside the home. Everyone pitched in to make enough money or produce for the family to survive – the family was a working unit.

My Mum worked in a demanding and fairly high powered job  for most of my childhood and I don’t feel like I missed out because she wasn’t “there” as much as she would have been if she had stayed at home. Like most Mums she’d managed the art of being ever present even in her absences. Sometimes she would bring me into work with her during school holidays and seeing her as a black woman in a senior management position was extremely empowering for me. I would sit at her desk in her office, spin around in her big chair and pretend that I was the boss.  I have no doubt that a major part of my confidence and success came from seeing my Mum at work. Also, I was fortunate enough to have great nannies who looked after me and my brother and my experience of the world was enriched by my time with them – I consider them to be part my family.

If I’m honest, if  I ever do have children  I do want to be at home, at least when my children are young. I’m even warming to the idea of home schooling. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger spending more time with my children at a young age than me, even if my own childhood experience of that was great. But if I am called to work outside of the home, that does not make me less ‘virtuous’ than if I stay at home.

I refuse to believe that God wanted me to get a medical degree simply to pass time while I wait for the right man to whisk me off my feet and provide me with an expensive set of cooking utensils to facilitate his fabulous career. I’m also very confused as to why women who are significantly more intelligent, innovative and able than some men shouldn’t share this with the world but instead should feel some sort of moral burden to stay at home, concocted from a hodgepodge mixture of Victorian ethics and misused Bible texts, instead of discovering the cure for sickle cell. Lastly, the idea that being a stay at home Mum isn’t a job in itself, is insulting. If a woman stays at home both parents are working – one is working inside the home and one is working outside. Both are equally viable choices that families should make for themselves – without being made to feel guilty for either.

What do you guys think?

I didn’t grow up being the ‘pretty girl’. My awkward phase lasted quite well into my late/teens early 20’s, and when I did finally throw off the shackles of thick rimmed glasses and badly done natural hair, and stepped into the glorious freedom of decent skin, contacts and natural hair youtube, it took me a while to get used to the compliments. I still don’t think of ‘pretty’ as one of my primary identifiers, even when I get random people approaching me at to compliment me. I’m actually quite thankful that I didn’t think of myself as attractive as a teenager –  it meant that I always relied on my wit, smarts and generally trying to be a good person as my main selling point.

In fact, as I’ve grown into my looks, I’ve actually developed a weirder complex – I’m scared that being pretty and well dressed will mean that people will assume I’m not as intelligent. At work, I get uncomfortable when  my consultant calls me the ‘pretty junior doctor’ – not because I don’t want to be seen as pretty, but because I’m worried that if I don’t work hard enough it will translate as ‘ditzy and superficial’. View Post