Dating and Me

It is nearly two months since I wrote my blog on asexuality and I have written drafts of a follow up entry but nothing felt right. However, I decided it was about time I put my fingers back on the keys and write.

Eighteen years ago today I went on a blind date, I will probably always remember it was St Patrick’s Day 2001 for the following reasons. My friend Dianne had decided to set me up on a blind date, which in my years at university nobody else had tried to do or do since then. I was living in Aberdeen in the final year of my degree and had only had my first kiss the previous autumn at almost twenty two with a guy that stalked me by text for around three months and other things I do not wish to write about. To say I was nervous was an understatement as did not have a clue what the etiquette was for such an event.

We had been texting for a couple of days and agreed to meet that evening for a meal. All I knew about him was that he was 23 and Dianne had known him for a couple of years…oh and like me had glasses! I looked at my clothes and thought what do I wear…I don’t want to give out the wrong signals and not sure I want anyone in my life in that way. In the end I went for a long black skirt, grey jumper, boots and black coat. Just as I put my jumper on Dianne text me – “please don’t kill me after you have met him”. As if my nerves were not already in a mess and what was she meaning by this cryptic code!? Where was the reassuring good luck message? If she was sending that to me…what was she sending him?

I remember meeting Irish guys on my way to our rendezvous point, and part of me just wanted to go out with them rather than face this unknown person. I arrived five-ten minutes early (I was OCD with time and numbers so couldn’t be late at all for things) to see a man fumbling on his phone – 6ft tall, short dark hair and glasses – I realised it was him. My instincts said ‘run’ as still not too late. However, before I could my phone went off, it was him texting was I there yet as our eyes met. This put me off further as I was early and I knew from Dianne he was shy but this felt like someone ready to pounce or stalk me.

After the formalities were over and done with we were trying to decide where to eat – I love Italian, Thai and Moroccan food but wasn’t fussy. He led me round the back streets of Aberdeen to the biggest dump of a pub I had ever seen. I asked as we arrived if they had a lady’s toilet to which I was told ‘er I’m not sure if they do or not’! Where was I…not the notorious Grill Bar but one its equally appalling siblings by that response. My heart sank, how could someone bring a woman here for a date. It did not get any better as I felt like all the other men were staring at me for being in their pub. I declined anything alcoholic and went with water, after what had happened with the stalker I did not want any repeats.

Conversation was very hard, we had almost zero things in common…only he had graduated from the university department I was at and our mutual friend! It is almost ironic that Mr PMS I mentioned in my previous blog had exactly the same personality and interests…I have learnt my lessons believe me and will not let history repeat! I agreed to go onto another bar but I was allowed to choose so went to one which a friend managed so I could feel safer and politely tell him it was going nowhere as clearly did not get that. We were opposites in many respects – I love music, he only really liked heavy metal at a push; he preferred to spend Saturdays playing Dungeons and Dragons, I liked visiting art galleries and museums or going for walks in the countryside, to concerts and plays…! In this case opposites would not be attracting each other and I would not be killing Dianne but more demanding why she thought we’d click at all!

In the eighteen years since I have hardly been on any dates, even Mr PMS only managed one proper date with me to the cinema to see his choice of movie! I was told around twenty years ago that I am ‘far too independent for my own good‘ by a male friend. Perhaps that is true but being hurt and asexual means I have never looked for love and find the idea of ever finding romantic love more and more meant for others but not me. I do not judge others or have attraction as I am asexual so the idea of meeting someone through online dating makes zero sense to me. Equally, through this experience would I really trust someone to set me up with another person? Other friends do not date and that has helped me come to terms with this aspect of my life as slowly accepted I am just a girl that loves but not in a romantic love kinda way.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

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Love is a mystery

Now and again I find curiosity gets the better of me and tune into television programs just to try understand being human and how others see life differently to me. This includes ones like ‘First Dates’ that set up people and film them have their first date together in a restaurant, which of course is heavily edited like any reality television program. The program makers decide how they are going to edit someone to be like to the narrative of what unfolded. As someone that love is very much that mystery I have all but left out of my life so far it is interesting to me what the participants are looking for and what love means to them. From ‘friend zone’ to ‘baggage’ it often leaves me more bewildered than anything on the ways they often justify reasons for saying ‘no’ or to why they are single and thus decided to do the show in the first place.

The concept of ‘friend zone’ stems from the 1990s television series according to the Oxford English Dictionary but seems to be very 21st century to meet someone and decide they’ll only ever be a friend so immediately that’s any chance of anything more developing as someone learns more about a person over time to be zero. I guess it may feed into this instant gratification we now seem to have as often see on First Dates some say ‘there was no instant spark’…which to me is silly as they’re in an artificial environment and unless there was good reason to avoid that person in future then why not see how that person is away from the camera? Equally, a ‘spark’ can develop over time as the other person’s little quirks make us smile and see that person as someone we like to be in the company of. How many relationships in the past started from a friendship that grew into something more? It is almost stunting something with a full stop before it could be a beautiful friendship that means far more than something romantic too.

Although I am openly asexual to my friends (“An asexual is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. This does not necessarily mean that they do not experience sexual arousal, or romantic or aesthetic attraction, or that they do not want intimacy from their relationships.”) it is sometimes left unsaid on why I am single. Equally, it is always someone’s personality for me that makes them attractive or not, although I have had horrific vibes off people that I have learnt meant to run and keep running from them too. I do not care about someone’s gender when it comes to love as I have had rarely had feelings for anyone (male, female or however someone wants to define their gender); of the people I have kissed two have been male and one is female. Who that person is as a package not the shell around their body is what speaks to me. As a teenager I questioned my sexuality as had no idea who I found sexy but did find any sexual talk a trigger as made me upset and uneasy, which it still remains to this day due to unresolved issues.

That last point brings me onto ‘baggage’ that any human being that has ever lived has got. Yes some of us seem to experience more things in life than others but does not mean we should be determined by it. First Dates seems to love its sob stories and tragic events or stories from its participants. It takes a lot to learn to love ones self as I have learnt and know it would take a lot for me to love another as to me that is absolutely terrifying at beginning to imagine it. I know to some my personal ‘baggage’ may seem a lot but by sharing the weight becomes lighter as it also does with the passing of time, something that the only person I sort of dated did not grasp. Nobody gets to the age I am at now without a few scars but equally they should not be defined by their past as makes them the person they are today and what happens today will influence the future. Baggage sounds like we have several suitcases we bring from relationship to relationship, but equally they can contain amazing experiences and things we have done. However, they also show to me how we should deal with things properly and not bottle them up so become dragged down by them.

My love of music and musicality is no secret but have rarely understood why we write so many songs about love when there are so many other human emotions. One album I am enjoying right now is exploring many themes from awakeness to not giving up on life so meaning a lot to me beyond the fact the singer/songwriter is a special friend. For me I feel romantic love is a mystery meant for others and not for me. If I am honest if someone said they fancied me or loved me in a romantic way I would be sure it was a joke and/or a bet such is my cynical view. Love comes in many forms and we should be embarrassing that not giving friend zones at the drop of a hat as the love of a good friend should not be ignored but treasured as far as I am concerned beyond that of romantic. I do not believe in fairy tale love but would like someone to challenge my suitcases and me to see beyond the love I have learnt through friends that I did not think was even possible. So don’t give up as you’re single, enjoy it and who cares…the spinster cat starter kit is only a phone call away from your local animal shelter!

© Fi S. J. Brown

I believe in a thing called love

I have always felt we do not pick who we fall in love as it is the person with their quirks and idiosyncrasies, their gender should not matter and we should not judge another for picking someone that is the same as their own. It took me until my mid-30s to accept I am asexual, i.e. I lack sexual attraction to anyone, with zero interest in or desire for sex. Yes, I’m a grey-A as they say, but as most of you know I dislike boxes or labels, they belong on food not people.

The hate some give to another if they say they are gay, lesbian or bi can be considerable, even in areas like the UK and America that are seen as more accepting than others. Some use religion as a reason for this hate, why put your beliefs on another? Believe what you like but when it comes to love does a god or book really define something we all feel and that every songwriter tries tell us afresh from their prospective and redefine for a new generation?

Opponents of gay marriage say it changes what marriage means; what it doesn’t mean that two people that love each other and want to show commitment to each other for the rest of their lives? It breaks down traditional family values is often argued too; how many married in the past as they were unable to be true to who they were and be with the one they loved? Or stuck in an abusive relationship that they could not escape from as would not let them leave them for another?

It is not natural is one that sometimes makes me giggle; have they seen how all animals behave in the wild and not in circuses or zoos? It maybe idealistic to have a child to be raised with their natural father and mother, but with relationships breaking up all the time, isn’t it better a child is loved by two people that love them than two people staying together for the sake of that child? Being a parent is more than being a sperm or an egg to a name on a birth certificate.

So Barry Manilow has admitted he’s gay and been in a relationship for 40 years, should we be shocked or say so what we already knew? It doesn’t matter, to me what is amazing is that he’s managed a relationship that lasted so long particularly one in the entertainment industry that are fake or typify how disposable love seems to be for some these days. Should it matter who our favourite entertainers, be they musicians or actors, have as their partner as it is their business and not ours.

What should it teach us, if anything? Be yourself, be happy, and those that complain it says more about themselves than it does you! This world preaches enough hate, envy, and jealousy these days, can we not have more love, acceptance, and appreciation for others? Love is a rainbow as we’re all different. Believe what you want to believe, but I believe in a thing called love…just listen to the rhythm of my heart!

© Fi S. J. Brown

Love

Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us, that commercial day of love sold to us by companies across the world, online or offline. Telling us to take someone special out for a candlelight meal at an expensive restaurant, buy a dozen red roses for the one our hearts desire or send a card anonymously to one we secretly adore in the hope that they love us much as we do them.

However, do we really need a day to say what our words, thoughts and actions do every day anyway, no matter how unspoken they may apparently be or hidden we try to keep them. Nobody has the right to say we cannot love another due to their gender, racism, beliefs, or ability, as it is their personality ultimately that matters and makes us fall in love with them. That love being like a parent, sibling, friend, or romantic, it is universal but one size does not fit all.

The way we view love now is has changed over the centuries, and is quite different to the our ancestors. In Ancient Greece for example romantic love was not held with the high regard and emphasis we put on it; to them love for friends was considered every bit as special as romantic love. The philosopher Aristotle regarded friendship as a lifetime commitment to mutual welfare, in which two people become “second selves” to each other.

The idea of unconditional love, which is a fairly modern concept. Love was been seen in different ways by philosophers until then: for example Plato saw it as conditional on the other person’s beauty; Aristotle emphasised another’s virtues; for St Augustine it was their goodness; and for Rousseau it was their moral authenticity. It was during 18th century Enlightenment philosophers suggested unconditional love on others rather than god.

We almost expect someone that said “I love you” to mean that they loved us unconditionally and accepted us for who we are. However, when someone says to us they love us but just as a friend we feel it is a second rate love as will never have that romantic love with them. To me for a friend to acknowledge their love for me is truly special as mean I matter to them and that is every bit as important as romance. Having a loyal and trustworthy friend counts for so much, and never know what it may blossom into.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The dance of love

Roses have thorns tasting of bitter sweet tears,

Painted grey with pains and sorrows over the years.

Yet they are also the colour of a truest romance,

As another teaches our heart and soul to dance.

 

Every dance has its own unique theme tune,

That makes fools of us all in the fullest moon.

Lyrics from collected from shared memories,

And a melody as sweet as from any bakeries.

 

It will soon be time to celebrate Valentine’s Day,

But remember the dance is not bought on eBay.

It is in the daily words, thoughts and actions,

This is the secret to endless satisfactions.

 

However, not all are fortunate to have a partner,

But everyone is appreciated and loved by another.

So keep wearing that smile and not the tears,

As tomorrow is a promise full of potential cheers.

 

© Fi S. J. Brown

Hollywood Love

Movies, who does not want to see the latest blockbuster at the cinema or curl up on the sofa with a loved one to watch one? Well I don’t and I have not been to the cinema in over six years. I do not subscribe to Amazon Instant, Netflix or I love Film as there is nothing that grabs my imagination or interest to say “oh I must make sure to see that” after hearing publicity or friends talk about movies they’ve seen. Certainly when it comes to Hollywood movies it feels like I have seen it all before with the amount of remakes, sequels, prequels and even the new ones have old themes that have been done before, often better, to the point of saturation. So where is the originality and/or creativity?

Is it because the big studios do not want to take risks, rather have a guaranteed income with star names people will go see? Take the current movie about the Suffragette movement in the United Kingdom, I have nothing against Meryl Streep, but why does she have to play yet another iconic Britain (having previously played former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) when there are many British actresses who could have played the role. The same thing echoed when Renne Zellweger first played Bridget Jones, when I thought of many comedic actresses in the United Kingdom that fitted the roll better. Have a Hollywood name and then can sell the movie not just within the United Kingdom but to America and beyond seems to be the order of the day, as providing the money to pay for the movie to be made and stakeholders want to have a large return on the costs.

However, this post is not about the creativity and/or actors of Hollywood, it is about the way movies portray love. In Ancient Greece romantic love was not held with the high regard and emphasis we put on it, instead love for friends was considered every bit as special as romantic love. The philosopher Aristotle regarded friendship as a lifetime commitment to mutual welfare, in which two people become “second selves” to each other. Where as today when someone says to us they love us BUT just as a friend we feel it is a second rate love as will never have that romantic love with them. So when did this switch begin and what role has Hollywood played in this?

The idea of unconditional love is a fairly modern concept. Love was been seen in different ways by philosophers until then: for example Plato saw it as conditional on the other person’s beauty; Aristotle emphasised another’s virtues; for St Augustine it was their goodness; and for Rousseau it was their moral authenticity. It was during 18th century Enlightenment philosophers suggested unconditional love on others rather than god. Today we would almost expect someone that said “I love you” to mean that they loved us unconditionally and accepted us for who we are. Yet what has influenced this and caused such a shift?

From almost the moment a child is born we read to them fairy tales of a princess and prince meeting after he’s rescued her from horrible existence and they live happily ever after. I should note if you have ever read the original Brothers Grimm versions you will know how sanitised these versions are of the tales, you will never read or see Sleeping Beauty the same way again. Little girls dream of being princesses, sometimes beyond, conditioned to believe one day their prince charming will come to free them the life that traps them. Despite the fact few of us look like the so-called princesses and even fewer are a real life one.

Many Hollywood movies made in the 1980s and 1990s were aimed at the growing teenage market, particularly the so called Brat Pack, depicting how life was in an often exaggerated form to be that age. Girl meets boy, they secretly fancy each other but cannot be together until something happens. However, even when they get together there is a sting that he’s done something she won’t like so they split up until he finds a way to prove to her he loves her unconditionally. Like the fairy tales it is implied that they both lived together happily ever after. Conditioning us further to believe that this is how love is meant to be for teenagers.

The so-called romantic comedies play up the fairy tale notion of love conquering all to be with the one we’re meant to be with against the odds. They are like the teenage movie but aimed at all ages, in particular women. As a woman I am suppose to enjoy these kinda of movies as appeal to my feminine side, where as in reality most movies I enjoy are driven by a good plot and idea(s), particularly those set in the dystopian worlds as feel more realistic than the unrealistic utopian ones the romcoms portray. To me they are saccharine sweet and far from funny but add to a perpetuation of how a female and male are. They also almost exclusively heterosexual.

Another way love is shown in movies is how they show the so-called TRUE LOVE, which is filled with passion, romance, drama, desire, sacrifice, electricity, devotion! This is to typify the unconditional or fairy tale love. They long for the person that completes them or is their soul mate. We are led to believe that this love is everlasting as after all they did live happily ever after at the end of the story/movie, right? When a relationship ends we some times find people say that it was never true love they felt for him or her, which is often false, as what you felt for that person was love, it is the feelings that have changed with time. So yes (s)he really loved us and was true love, but it does not mean it lasts a lifetime for everyone.

Many movies now also have sex scenes, which show us its so called importance within a relationship. Wait stop, why is sex seen as so important these days unless due to us watching movies, TV programs, music videos and the media that have made it such an issue? For some sex is the ultimate expression of love, but in reality it is far from that, a person’s thoughts and actions is what matters not how often they have sex with us. For some it has such an important part of a relationship, a partner that does not want it is seen as weird or frigid, or force them to have it even though they have said no. The partner then looks for it elsewhere, thus affairs behind the back of this person we’re meant to love unconditionally. Many now think nothing of having alcohol and having sex with a complete stranger, which may or may not become a partner/lover in the future.

Some like myself are asexual, we have no sexual desire, but that does not mean we do not enjoy the other aspects of being in a relationship. Even within asexuality there are many differences, it is not an one size fits all definition. Equally for me sex is a trigger, I cannot watch scenes with it on as my head says please stop and I do not want to see that, so I avoid it where I can. Sex is not a dirty thing to me so do not get me wrong, it is more I feel it is something to do with someone we trust and comfortable in the company of, not a throw away line at the end of a night out with friends and the next morning it is like yesterdays newspapers best for wrapping fish and chips.

From observing the relationships of friends and family with those they love it can be seen how it is very much an umbrella term to cover many different ways we can feel about another human being. My closest friends I love unconditionally and will do anything for until my dying day as they have such a special place within me that when I think of them individually and/or collectively that I feel blessed to have them in my life. My sister in law said when she first saw my brother she knew that was the man she wanted to marry, compared with a friend that kept meeting a girl at the school gates, a fellow single mother, neither of which would have called themselves gay or lesbians then but fell in love with the person.

I often feel like the odd one out as see people in relationships and at almost 37 never experienced what it is to be in love. I never had a childhood sweetheart or did the drunken rumble as a student, as not something I looked for or did it call at my door. The one relationship I have had was nine years ago, long distance for nine months, that should have been nipped in the bud; it was a false start from the start as they did not respect me as a person nor would support me back as I was to their needs and wants.

I have had attraction once in my life, but have never told him how I feel, as like the Ancient Greeks friendship to me is just as special as romantic love if not more so. As for Hollywood love vs. real life love, I feel we need to stop being sheep or robots believing that is the way for us all, life is not an one size fits all t-shirt but human sized. Therefore, love is full of different quirks, flaws and idiosyncrasies that are unique to the love we have for the other person and they bring out within us as play out the movie of our lives.

© Fi S. J. Brown

What’s in a kiss?

I have read today is National Kissing Day (who makes these things up)!? Just what is a kiss? How do we know they are Mr Brightside or Christian Grey to Mr Rochester or Fitzwilliam Darcy; Miss Moneypenny or Mrs Robinson to Lisbeth Salander and Karen Blixen, from their kiss alone?

Our lips are part of how we communicate with others, so perhaps a kiss is part of the secret language of love. The first kiss is the foundation stone and the language born as we entrust another with our vocabulary and grammar.

As we fall in love, these merge with another so that our language is an unique blend, which only we know. It is accepting the irregular verbs and learning we all make typos even in our language as nobody is perfect. This is why communication is key in a relationship as the language is this special one.

However, be careful who to kiss as not all want to create a lasting language, some only want taster sessions and others want to mute our words so only their ones are in our language. Trust instincts always, as if the language seems to good to be true, as may well be. Nevertheless be brave as they may just be the one that completes us.

© Fi S. J. Brown

What is love…?

It will soon be Valentine’s Day, is it a commercial celebration in the name of love or a day of romance and love? Aside from the usual questions of: do we need one day to celebrate our love for another when our words, thoughts and actions show it every day to can a monetary value and a gift really be bought that symbolises something so special and unique between two people. Personally, I do not think it ever can.

Instead I have been pondering, just what is love? One word, a hundred and one emotions and feelings. What it means to me maybe very different to you or another; for many it is how that person looks, e.g. their dark brown eyes or sense of humour, not how that person makes them feel when in their company, how their trust is unspoken instead and love them that person for who they are on the inside not outside.

When I say who they are on the inside it makes me think of pistachio nuts, no I am not being crazy. Think for a moment about the outside of pistachios, they can be uninviting or perhaps boring, but when opened reveal a brilliant green; just as when we look beyond the surface shell of another, tap that bit deeper, and we may discover others that if judged by their shells alone, we would never know the real them.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Friendship

For me one of the most powerful and beautiful things a human can do is offer the hand of friendship to another. Finding another person that accepts us for who we are and is there when we need them as we are in return. We are on this journey alone but having companions near and far in the form of friends makes the journey more fun, fulfilled and worthwhile.

As kids in the playground we found difference something to bully or tease another over but as adults we realise it is similarities that bring us together as friends with the differences where we learn more about the world we live in. We are part of a beautiful tapestry of many colours and it is the different friendships that make up the stitches and help tell our story.

True friendship is as great as any romance, as beautiful as an artwork in a gallery and unique as snowflakes, which together shine like the stars in the sky, give warmth to melt even the coldest of hearts and stronger than a rope of spider silk binding them together. Like all things of beauty, it can never be bought or sold, so let our actions and habits do the talking.

Whether a reason or a season, a ‘them’ shaped piece can be found in our hearts and soul to treasure, marking their presence in our lives and what makes us smile when we think of them. Everyone deserves to feel the love, hope and magic of friendship, so do not feel there is nobody out there caring as there is. So take a minute today and whisper our thanks.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Style over substance

Why is it is these days we judge by first impressions? The look or visual cues, rather then informational or intellectual content is lost. Instead it is the package or presentation of the messenger above the actual message.

Take modern music, the video, it is a representation or interpretation of a particular song that often overpowers the meaning of that song. However, 9 out of 10 times these days, if the song is mainstream it feels devolved of any creativity or soul. I feel, sense and see great works of art with music that the artist’s soul painted with their notes and rhythms.

With job hunting, companies want people to be part of their brand so have to look the part. Gone are the days of employing people due to their skills and intelligence, instead do they fit in with our company or can we mould them into being what we want and need. Style over substance. All sadly decided within the first fifteen seconds of meeting them.

Or take dating another human. How often is it the outer shell that judgement is based on, if they are “sexy” or not, it has become shallow. There is now no allowing time to get to know someone, perhaps as a friend first, and learning to accept them for who they are. Instead judge and jury on how they present themselves and not their actions.

Do designer clothing really say someone is more beautiful because they wear them? Saving up so can splash out to look like a princess at a ball. Even if catch Prince Charming’s eye, how to afford to keep up this new look presented if it is all about the outside and not what is inside? Clothing should show character and individuality, not identikit clones.

Winning some money on the lottery and buying a new house, not thinking of how to afford the monthly bills, but want to look the part with an expensive house as gives an impression to strangers, families and friends that this is what success means. Would paying off existing bills and living debt free not be far more a success and praiseworthy?

A first impression is just that. It is denying our instincts to judge someone on appearance alone, as their actions tell how they really are. Love does not have to blind. Even the greatest artworks need more than a glance to be truly appreciated.

© Fi S. J. Brown