Rumours and Reflection

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Whisper, whisper, lies are sinister…

A few years ago, when I was working in my current job the first time (which is to say, before I quit and subsequently returned a year later), I had a woman accuse me of wearing her shoes. She had dropped them in to have heels replaced, and have them stretched. When she returned to pick them up, she asked my boss if anyone had been wearing her shoes, and looked pointedly at me. She said they were stretched out, completely ignoring the fact that one of the things she had requested that we do to her shoes, was stretch them. Obviously the accusation was denied, because there was no truth to it, but the woman didn’t appear convinced.

A short time later, one of the shopping centre security guards approached the shop with a grin, and informed us that the very same woman who had made her accusation, had gone into the security office and demanded to be shown the security footage of me walking out of the shop with her shoes under my arm. Of course, no such footage existed, because I hadn’t taken her shoes home to wear them. Not least because they were hideous, but also, and more importantly, not something I would do. When she was refused this by the security guards, she went one step further and left an online review for the shop, claiming that she would never be returning, because “The girl there wears customer’s shoes”.

I think back on it now, as I reflected on it at the time, and can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of the whole situation. Some people, when they get an idea in their head, just run with it – regardless of how bizarre or outlandish the idea may be. And when someone is determined to drag your name through the mud, there is very little you can do about it. At the end of the day, people are going to believe what they want to believe, and you are not responsible for how people perceive you. What matters is that the people that are important to you know the truth.

I remember this story, because just recently I found myself in a similar situation, though this time it was considerably closer to home. A few months ago I met a girl through a mutual friend. We began seeing each other, and then began officially dating. Shortly after, I realised that it was not the right time for me to be in a relationship (based on certain things that I won’t go into detail about here), and I broke things off in what I thought was an amicable split. A few days later, I found out that she had changed the story of our breakup to the people she worked with, claiming that I had broken up with her because I “couldn’t handle the issues with [her] mental health”.

When I first heard it, I was angry. Here was someone I had hoped to remain friends with, lying about me to people I had no way of defending myself against. I was being made out to look like the insensitive jerk, the coward who couldn’t deal with the complexeties of mental illness. I am the last person in the world who would sit in judgement of someone suffering from mental health issues. Then, after a long conversation with my best friend, and a bit of personal reflection, I realised that getting angry was going to do nothing more than exhaust my energies on something that was entirely beyond my control.

I cannot control the actions and words of other people, but what I can control is whether or not those people have a place in my life. So, after some consideration, I decided that my ex was no longer someone that I wished to remain in contact with. Perhaps I am getting wise in my old age, or perhaps it is simply that I have no time or tolerance for petty, petulant high school drama. Regardless of the reason, I am no longer prepared to spend my time with people with whom I can find no genuine connection. At the very least, I am not going to waste any time on people who live for rumour and lies. And if nothing else, my recent dating experience had left me with no doubt that being single is highly underrated.

The Mystery of Online Dating

I’ve talked about this before, but I don’t date. Eternally confused as to how people meet people, I tend to give anything involving (potential) romance a rather wide berth. Two parts awkwardness, one part self sabotage, and a heavy dollop of social anxiety. But I spent this weekend sewing for a small start up business, and the owner mentioned in casual conversation how she and her boyfriend of nearly two years, met on Tinder. Shortly after that conversation, I got a text from my brother’s girlfriend, who he met on Tinder. And so I got to thinking; since finding love on the internet is just considered the norm these days, how does the whole thing work?

Without the physical person there, you essentially have to trust that the profile you’re looking at is a) legit and b) honest. I mean, let’s be real; that pretty blonde girl you’ve been chatting up could very well be a 70 year old dude. But that aside, the popularity of internet dating sites comes with a few questions. What is it about dating online that has such an appeal? Is it because trying to meet people without that common platform is hard? Is it because it’s convenient? Or is it because, in this modern age of technology, it’s the only way we know how?

When you meet someone in real life, you can have a conversation – or no conversation – and it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly, whether you and that person have what the movies call a ‘spark’. But again, without that personal interaction and physical response, you have to trust the profile. So what kind of information do people look for in a dating site profile? Do you put your interests and hobbies down, or is that, like, so ten years ago? Do you put down no information at all, and hope that your photos are enough to pique interest? If some of the profiles I’ve seen* are anything to go by, it would appear that the more obscene your bio, the more likely you are to have people ‘swipe right’ (and yes, I did just have to Google that to make sure I got the direction correct).

I suppose it comes down to what you’re looking for. If you just want kinky sex, the profile declaring “FIST ME” in bold letters might be more your thing than the profile that reads “I love kitties and Jesus and I just wanna cuddle”. I mean, I’m not saying that being sexually experimental and loving Jesus are mutually exclusive, but what you attract all depends on what you put out there.

In a way, internet dating reminds me of advertising. Dating sites are asking people to literally take you at face value, and with so many gazillions of products profiles out there, you have to have something that sets you apart from the rest. Whether you’re looking for love, or just someone to knock boots with, you have to make yourself seem appealing to potential bang buddies/your one true love. Because you’re not just competing with the other singles in this one shitty club; you’re competing with all the available people on an infinitely huge website.

I think the dating world, either online or in real life, will forever remain a mystery to me. I mean, my ideal date is a horror movie, munchies and a warm blanket on the couch. Entirely. By. Myself.

*I obviously don’t have a dating profile, but friends of mine do. And man, I’ve seen some shit.

Forgotten Friends

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking lately, about the people in my life, and the people who aren’t in it anymore. As a self confessed hater of people, it’s not unusual for me to quietly remove myself from the lives of people I once knew. People with whom I have not had a conversation in a year. People that I no longer share common interests with, or who I can safely say I don’t even know anymore. People with whom I have simply mutually agreed not to talk to anymore. There are a lot of reasons why people come into our lives, and a lot of reasons why they leave.

I was thinking first of my school friends. I don’t recall the last time I really saw or spoke to any of them. Where once we were as close as family, I see the occasional social media post from these girls and realise, I have no idea how they got to where they are, or what they are currently doing with their respective lives. Sure, there have been halfhearted attempts to stay in contact in the years following high school, but those attempts have long since stopped entirely. And there’s certainly no malice in it. It’s not that I’ve had any kind of falling out with them. It’s more that a distance has grown between us, as happens to school friends as you get older. I bear none of these girls any ill will, and would hope that they feel the same way about me.

Then I think about people I used to work with. Friends who, at the time, felt as close to me as any person I had known. But, as happens, jobs change and people change and all of a sudden you realise it’s been months, or years since you last saw those people. And in a way, I’m saddened by that. I have made friends through work that I thought I would have forever. I’ve shared great times with them, and now I think of the people I worked with and I feel separate from them, in a way I didn’t realise would effect me quite so much as it does.

People live their lives in different ways, ways that take them in different directions from friends and family. Sometimes it’s worth holding onto friendships, and sometimes it’s better to just let them fade away into acquaintances. Then, of course, there are those people who it’s better to just walk away from altogether. More than once, I’ve ended a relationship (in this case, both romantic and non romantic relationships) bluntly and with no possible hope for reconciliation. When something is done, it’s done. And I’m all about letting go of the things that hold you back or drag you down.

I think a lot of us buy into the idea that ‘friends for life’ are the only kind of friends worth having. And certainly, when we meet and become close with someone, it’s difficult to imagine that there may be a time when that closeness is gone. No one likes to consider the possibility that a relationship might end, especially one that both parties get a lot out of. I know myself that I have people in my life that I can’t imaging being without. But you can’t predict the future (or at least, I can’t), and nothing is set in stone. And anyone can be a friend, regardless of whether you know them your entire life, or just for a week. We need to let go of the idea that we have to maintain failing relationships. Of course I’m not saying you shouldn’t try, but there comes a point when trying is futile. Letting go of useless or toxic people, might hurt initially but it’s going to be better in the long run.

As I got older, I came to realise that it’s not about the number of friends you have, or even necessarily about the amount of time you spend with them. I have two best friends, both of whom I mostly see at work. I have a very close friend that I talk to at least weekly, and a handful of friends I see semi regularly, or whenever we’re able. I have very few close friends, but those I have I am extraordinarily fond of. And even if something happens and my friendships with these people disintegrates over time, at least I can say that the people I have in my life at any given time, are the people who are meant to be there.

Being Happy and Single Are Not Mutually Exclusive 

When I tell people that I’ll be single forever, most of them scoff or laugh. Others just put on their best pity face and say things like “oh don’t be like that, you’ll find someone one day.” as if being single were the worst thing in the world. Weird how that’s the general consensus, huh? I’m sure we all know that person that seems content on their own (*raises hand), and yet that person is judged, even if it’s only silently, by the people in relationships, and the ones who can’t comprehend being happy without someone else. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s where you’re at and it works for you, I think that’s fantastic. You do you, buddies! It’s just not necessarily for me.

What is it that scares people so much about being alone? Is it something inherent within them that tells them they need to be with another person? I’m sure there are studies on this, where medical professionals and scientists have delved into the human psyche and biology and worked out the reason we crave companionship. But I can’t help thinking that this is, at least in part, to do with society and expectation. If you can’t get a partner, there must be something wrong with you. Because it can’t possibly be an active decision, right? I mean, to think that you have control over your own romantic situation is just absurd.

I’ve always been happy on my own. No, really. I balk at the idea of being in a long term relationship with a single person for the rest of my life, and yet similarly don’t engage in casual sex because one night stands don’t appeal to me either. I’m pretty much the worst at commitment, get sick of other people very quickly, and I’ve never been happier than when I was living on my own. 

Bar maybe one complicated exception, my ultimate plan is to move somewhere, get a dog for companionship, and spend my life travelling, creating, and learning entirely on my own. I don’t mean I’m not going to have friends, or see my family or anything like that. I simply don’t envision myself spending much, or any time at all, being with another person in the romantic sense. And guys? Seriously, I’m happy with that.

On Customer Service, and Building a Rapport

I usually don’t bother trying to make friends, and as a general rule, I have no particular interest in making a super nice first impression. But there are, as with everything, exceptions to that rule. And my major exception is customer service people. It doesn’t matter how grumpy I am, how bad a day I am having, or how much I really want to punch people – as a whole – in the face. I will always make more of an effort to be friendly with my fellow sales assistants.

There is a reason for this, of course. I have worked in customer service for a very long time, and so I completely understand what it’s like to be having a bad day behind the counter and having to maintain a pleasant facade when all you want to do is scream. We customer service people can be incredibly good actors, at times. I must have given at least one or two Oscar worthy performances in my eight or nine odd years of customer service. And so I make it a personal goal to be polite and friendly to anyone that I require a service from. Now admittedly, I am a little less smiley to the ones that have no interest in being good at their jobs on purpose, but other than that, bam.

After working in various shopping plazas over the last five years in particular, I have discovered that being friendly with the surrounding shop workers can be beneficial. First of all, building a rapport with people who work around you is a good way to help pass the time. Once you establish a relationship with people around you, you will find that the conversations begin to come easily. Shopping plaza friendships are unique, in that these are people you see every day, and stop to chat to, without necessarily spending any time together outside your working hours. But they are part of an important working dynamic that can be both fun and helpful, and one that usually involves a kind of ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ relationship that can work for both parties.

But hoping to establish a give and take relationship with the people you work around is not the only, or the most important reason to be friendly to them. It just generally makes the working environment a more pleasant one. The people you see on a regular basis will get to know you, and you will get to know them, at the very least enough to ask how each others’ day is going. And yet another benefit to building healthy working relationships is that you will generally discover that you can rely on them. I distinctly remember the night a creepy guy was hanging around the shop I was working in a few months back, and the people around me that stuck around to make sure I was alright and safe. There’s a strange kind of camaraderie with shop assistants, especially those who all work in the same area. In my experience at least, even if you don’t often talk to them, they will have your back and watch out for your shop, and I will always do the same.

I am currently managing a new shop, and a couple of shops down from me there is a kiosk that I get my daily chai from. I think it is especially important to be friendly with the people that are handling your food/drink. Not least because they might spit in your cup if you’re an asshat! Ok, so I don’t know if that actually happens, but it’s a legitimate fear of mine, that I might unknowingly drink the bodily fluids of my barista while they laugh about it with their co workers. In the last few weeks, I have become quite friendly with two of the baristas that regularly run the kiosk in question, a delightful young woman named Emma, and a guy whose name I haven’t actually learned yet (and feel too awkward to just ask for after chatting with him for the last few weeks). With both people, I have developed the kind of relationship where we are all comfortable enough to make a joke, or complain about how dead the shop is, or drop the F bomb without fear of offending. It genuinely makes approaching the shop and ordering a beverage less stressful and awkward than it would be if I hadn’t established a kind of rapport with them.

So in short – and I can’t believe these words are about to spill from my fingertips –  sometimes being surrounded by people is not the worst thing in the world. Ugh…just typing it feels dirty.

On Casual Sex, Relationships, and Good Old Fashioned Masturbation

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I went to the gym last night. I’m not a gym person; in fact kind of hate the whole gym thing as a general rule, but I figured I’d go with a friend and check it out. But that’s not the point of this blog. When I went to work this morning, my friend suggested I go into the new sportswear shop that opened in the plaza. When I asked why, he said ‘to go chat to the girls in there. You can tell them you want to go to the gym but don’t have anyone to go with. Maybe they will invite you to go with them. Maybe you could meet someone.’

‘But I don’t want to meet someone!’

I can’t properly convey my emphatic exasperation that accompanied that sentence but believe me, it was there. You see, I grow increasingly tired of people expecting me to want to be in a relationship, or to want sex, or companionship or whatever it is most people want. My friend and I had, just the day before, discussed my unwillingness to engage in casual sex, and my contentment at being single. And yet he still pushed the idea of me meeting someone as a motivating factor for going to the gym. I know he meant nothing by it but it’s frustrating to explain your stance on something, and then have it totally disregarded.

I have never had casual sex. I’m not saying it’s bad, and I’m certainly not judging anyone who does. All power to you, my orgasm loving brethren! But for me personally, I have to have some kind of emotional connection with a person before I even consider sex. I don’t mean I necessarily have to be in a relationship with a person I choose to sleep with, but I’d like to at least know more than their name. Basically, I don’t want to just pick up a stranger at a nightclub, take them home and have meaningless and in all likelihood, unsatisfying sex. I love good sex. And for me, good sex comes from being with someone I know and like and am turned on by. And given how much I largely dislike humanity as a whole, it takes a bit more than casual flirtation to make me wanna jump in bed with someone. Hence, casual sex is off the table.

People have a tendency to judge my decision, or think it strange because it goes against the norm. I can think of very few women – or people in general actually – in their twenties who haven’t had at least one casual hook up. It’s the expected thing of people in my age group. We all enjoy sex, and a lot of people I know enjoy sex with anyone who they have a mutual attraction with; whether they’re friends, or partners, or a random fling with a random person they met on the town. And so my choice to not engage in casual sex seems strange. My friend said yesterday that it’s not that they are judging me, it’s because my choice is essentially a religious one, without the religion. He said it’s strange for a person with no religious beliefs or affiliations to have a view of sex that so closely ties in with certain aspects of religion. And while I’d never thought about it like that, I don’t wholeheartedly agree with him.

I’m not a virgin. And I do enjoy sex. If I met someone tomorrow, and we hit it off really well and decided mutually that we wanted to sleep together, I’d want to have all the sex all the time. Because if you can have it, why wouldn’t you want good sex? But here’s the other side of the coin; I don’t really care that much if I don’t have sex. I know, that sounds like a load of crap, but it’s true. The thing is, I don’t need people in the same way a lot of others do. The desire for companionship is pretty much non existent with me. I am totally content in my single life, and not just because I’m trying to convince myself that it’s true. Mostly, I find the idea of being in a relationship a bit constricting to be honest. I like being on my own, and while I’m not discounting any future relationships or intentionally cutting myself off from the possibility of having one, I’m not actively seeking it either. And even though I am well aware that it isn’t the same thing, I’d like to point out that I’m fucking great at getting myself off. If pleasure is what I want, I certainly don’t need someone else for that.

Sex is good. Good sex is better. But if you’re not comfortable and completely at ease, you’re not going to enjoy sex. Which is why I have not, and will not, partake in casual sex. I don’t feel I could be comfortable sleeping with someone I don’t know or have only just met. It’s not a religious thing. I’m not saving myself, I’m not keeping my bits under lock and key because I think they’re special, and I’m certainly not waiting for any Prince(ss) Charming. I’m happy to carry on as I have been. Despite what a lot of people think, I’m not missing out on anything and I’m not lacking. I suppose it’s difficult to understand because so many people think that being single and sexless is a completely negative thing, and that those of us in that position should act accordingly. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you all, but I’m good. I’m fact, I’m better than good. I have regular and satisfying orgasms, I don’t have to worry about anyone else but me, and I don’t have to fight for the covers in the middle of the night.

If you’re having the sex, you have my wholehearted congratulations. But if you’ll excuse me, after all this talk I think I’m going to go and indulge in some self sex. Many happy orgasms to you all!

Serial Singleness

Everyone seems to be falling in love lately. My social media newsfeeds are flooded with wedding photos and engagement announcements, loved up date night posts and kissing snaps. And me? I’m settling in with a big fuck off glass of wine, some peanut brittle and a blanket on the couch. My only company is the ghost, and dead guys just don’t do it for me.

I’m a bit of a singular entity. None of my relationships have ever lasted that long, and I am the kind of person that gets sick of other people quickly. So how do they do it? How is it that so many people I know seem to be happily settling into coupledom? Is it magic? Do you follow some scientific formula and end up in a relationship? Or do you just have to barrel on in and hope for the best?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to hop aboard the Tinder train or anything. But when everyone around you is getting into relationships and moving in together and making gooey eyes at each other until you feel vaguely ill, it kind of makes you ponder your serial singleness. And it occurs to me that being single has such a stigma attached to it. So much so that some people become afraid to be alone, and will subsequently stay in bad or toxic relationships because they think it’s the lesser of two evils. Now, I don’t know about you, but something in that scenario seems hugely wrong to me.

To be honest, dating has never been a big thing with me. I’ve never met someone I want to settle down with. I mean, my ex is great and we’re awesome friends now, but our short lived relationship was the result of a romantic incompatibility. And that was over three years ago and I’ve been single ever since. I’m not sure I’d know how to date anymore! The strange thing is that when you’re single, all the coupley people, whether they realise it or not, they kind of pity you a little. It’s like there’s this notion that if you’re single then you must be lonely, and pitiable. Because how could you possibly be content if you don’t get to curl up with someone at night, right?

I guess the point I’m driving at here, albeit confusingly, is that it’s such a socially accepted thing to be in a relationship. It usually follows the ‘date, get engaged, get married’ formula and no one questions it. And yet people question being single all the time. I’m forever being asked how my love life is, or of I’ve met anyone lately, or getting a condescending pat and a ‘don’t worry, you’ll find a nice girl one day’. Or if it’s not that, it’s the ‘oh my god, how are you single?’ I’m single the same way you’re an asshat. And excuse me, people in relationships, but I don’t need your pity and I don’t need a consolation sigh. Leave me alone with my wine and my couch and my ghost, I assure you I’m quite content!

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And then there's this...