Ok, so this is me – 30, female, and single. According to Lilly Allen I should give up on everything right now. Incidentally, this song made me feel particularly bad for three reasons:- 1. It was just before my 30th birthday: 2. I had not long split up from my then boyfriend: 3. My 12-year old niece when hearing the song said “Auntie Emma this song really reminds me of you” - I nearly cried.
To say that I have dated a fairly large cross-section of the male species would be pretty accurate – from tree surgeons to investment bankers, PE teachers to professional rugby players, and yet still I have not found my perfect match. Believe me, I have tried everything – friends of friends (he had just come out of a long term relationship and was not ready for anything serious). I then met a guy at the gym (too intense too quickly, and resulted in me leaving said gym, and subsequently hiding behind bushes whenever I saw him). I also tried dating a work colleague (well that is clearly a big no no and I really shouldn’t have even tiptoed on those boards, let alone jumped along them in the enthusiastic manner that I did). A similar option was a customer from one of the accounts that I managed at work - my manager encouraged us to build rapport with our clients, but I am sure she didn’t mean for me to interpret it quite so literally. As for meeting prospective partners in bars? Fine when you’re eighteen, but I am now into something a little more rewarding than a quick grope in the toilets. At this stage please don’t even get me started on internet dating, that is a whole different ball game!
As for me (I am sure you are wondering what is so horrifically wrong with me that I can’t hold down a boyfriend for longer than five minutes), I honestly don’t know. I’ve worked out that my average relationship length is 2 months, and to be honest, if it went over this I wouldn’t know what to do! I have listened to copious amounts of advice from friends, relatives, and work colleagues. People who are more experienced than me and less experienced than me. I’ve tried the 4 date rule, the 2 month rule, the don’t text unless he texts you rule; the feminist you-text-him-when-you-want rule; and The Regency Rules. In fact I have followed so many different rules I should get a medal for obedience!
To make matters worse, in the last 10 years or so there has been a major growth in technology. It wasn’t that long ago that the only methods of communication were through letters (now dubbed with that endearing title ‘snail mail’), and the mainline telephone in each house, so unless you sat by the phone all night and became a recluse, you could generally go out and enjoy yourself without having to endure the ‘will he/won’t he call’ scenario, or at the very least believe that he will have called whilst you were out, so the moment you opened the front door, you charged in, checked voicemail, and 1471. Now however, due to modern technology we can enjoy the ‘will he/won’t he’ on a 24/7 basis. He could e-mail you to your Blackberry, and then you may reply on Face Book. He will then text you to ask you out for a drink, you call him to say that would be great, only to get his voicemail. He then e-mails you again but this time from his work account, asking if you are on MSN or Skype! The pressure is certainly on for dating in the technology generation! If anyone out there knows a good solution to this, then please send your answers on a postcard .............
In fact that was me about twelve months ago. To coin a well-loved cliché, after years of kissing frogs (mine were more like toads!) I have finally found my prince who has literally whisked me off my feet and out of the country!
Last summer I decided to join Parship, based on the fact that I had tried a couple of other dating websites to no avail, and a close friend had met her boyfriend on Parship two years previously and were still together. I found other dating sites were a bit like shopping for shoes - basing your assessment on the way it looks and passing it by if it lacks your initial requirements; fine for shoes, not for a relationship.
Personally I do have to find someone physically attractive, but I believe character and compatibility are incredibly important as well. Parship has two key features that other dating sites lack: On joining members complete a personality profile which takes about 45 minutes. Members’ photos remained blurred until the individual feels comfortable to release them I have previously completed personality profiling in the work place and am a strong advocate. It also suggested that any man who was willing to spend nearly an hour completing a personality profile for a dating website must be fairly serious about wanting a relationship.
I dabbled on Parship in August, maintaining e-mail conversations with a couple of guys (one of whom had a compatibility of 84%), and made the mistake of having one date with someone whose compatibility was only 69% - that meeting really made me appreciate how important a percentage in the early 80’s would be as we had nothing in common!
By mid September I was still e-mailing chaps (including the 84% guy) but no-one asked to meet, so I went on a lunch date with someone I had met locally; the only problem was he didn’t show up!!! Being irate and female I went home arranged a girls night in with 3 single friends for wine and X-Factor, then grabbed my laptop and logged into Parship. Gavin had sent me an icebreaker the previous day and based on another 84% compatibility I decided it would be wise to complete it. He had since responded with an e-mail to which I replied, casually asking him if he was doing anything fun and exciting this weekend. I then logged out and went to my friend’s apartment for dinner.
Needless to say a glass or two of wine later and the conversation turned to men and internet dating (we had all tried it). I mentioned Parship and no-one had heard of it so I logged on . . . to find a reply from Gavin saying his weekend plans were cancelled and did I fancy a mini adventure?! I love spontaneity so with encouragement from my friends, composed a reply to say yes. Gavin replied instantly and said he would get back to me shortly. About 90 minutes later I received a long and detailed e-mail asking me to meet him by the tallest tree in St Paul’s churchyard at 3pm; clearly he had put a lot of thought into it!
I woke up on Sunday feeling absolutely horrendous, not alcohol induced however. A few days earlier I had completed an Olympic distance triathlon across 3 countries, starting with a swim in a canal in Paris at 07:30am. Clearly I had swallowed too much diesel-infused water and by Sunday I was pretty ill to the extent that getting out of bed was difficult! I did consider cancelling my date, but based on the e-mail Gavin had sent it was evident how much effort he had put into the arrangements; I figured I had nothing to lose – even with flu!
I arrived at St Pauls a little early so went and got a coffee then sat on a bench and read my book (ok, I was very early!). Naturally I didn’t even read a sentence as I was too busy peeking over the top keeping a look-out! Gavin appeared exactly at 3pm with a huge smile and these piercing blue eyes (none of his photos did them justice!). It was clear in a matter of moments we would get on! Although Gavin had the date planned (including tickets to the theatre), he gave me three options for the first activity; coffee and cake (already had the coffee), modern art (we were standing on Millennium Bridge so clearly he meant Tate Modern which I had been to on numerous occasions) or architecture (which naturally interests me, so I opted for this, which happened to be what Gavin wanted to do as well). Following a visit to the Blue Finn building for the architecture we went for a drink and then to Southwark Playhouse. I thought we were getting on famously, he had his hand on my knee during the play, leaned in for a kiss (I did the same), then he pulled away!!!!! I was so embarrassed! Discussing it later he had realised that the theatre lights were on us and there were only about 60 people in there so it could have been fairly embarrassing (no more than I was already though!). However he made up for it and we went for dinner and more drinks (despite the fact my nose was streaming, I was coughing lots and my voice was going). I was having an amazing time and clearly he fancied me despite looking like death warmed up!
We then arranged to meet the next day, then Tuesday, and on Thursday he cooked for me. From then onwards we were only apart if I had work commitments (I travelled a lot), we generally went together to social events (he even met my parents after two weeks - his suggestion!).
Although we met in London, Gavin had been in the yachting industry for 7 years and his last job was captain on a superyacht (clearly this sounded very exciting to me), so when he mentioned in passing the possibility of working together on a superyacht two weeks into our relationship I enthusiastically agreed (as previously mentioned I love spontaneity!). I think Gavin was marginally shocked as he spent the next 4 ½ months talking about the negatives of sailing (apart from about 3 days of dingy sailing as a child I had zero sailing experience). Despite this, in February, the boat owner contacted Gavin and asked if the pair of us would like to come and run the boat!!!
For me this was an exciting opportunity but a huge decision. Although I knew Gavin was the one, at this stage we had only been together 5 months. I had a great job in London which I loved, I would be leaving friends and family behind, and I didn’t have a ‘Scooby Doo’ about sailing!!! However I agreed to go, handed in my notice at work and started to do my sailing courses, ready to leave the country on 30th April. It was an incredibly tough 6 weeks as I was still working full time and travelling, completing 5 different sailing courses, packing up my UK life and training for the London marathon! I was slightly tired by the time we jumped in the car and drove to Italy.
We have now been living on ‘Holo Kai’ for nearly 2 months and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I have been given the rare opportunity to do a unique job and to do it with my boyfriend. One of the key things I hated about UK living was that I only saw him for a few snatched hours each evening and I was always shattered!
Due to our personality profiling (I had it done again in November through work using Myers Briggs) we rarely argue as we understand why the other is feeling that way. Gavin provides the research and planning and I provide the energy, enthusiasm and spontaneity (although I was a little too spontaneous two weeks ago as I jumped into the sea fully clothed to rescue his sunglasses before they sank, forgetting I had his iPhone in my pocket!!!). Again this didn’t result in an argument as fortunately he could see that it was an accident. As the guests on board at the time said for me to have jumped in fully clothed after a pair of sunglasses and for him to not shout at me when we realised his iPhone was on the bottom of the seabed “it must be love”!!!