What is it they say – opinions are like assholes, everyone has one? I’ve always felt like there should be a second part to that though – and like assholes they should be kept to ourselves. Unless you’re into that with your partner(s).

Dating is one of those things that everyone has an opinion on and is happy to share. In part because most people have experience of dating and, so often, even a sliver of experience can all of a sudden make someone an expert on something, even if it was 10 years ago and the landscape of said subject matter has changed beyond recognition.

Starting to date again after my divorce can only be described in one way – a minefield. I hadn’t dated for 12 years. I’d been with my ex for almost 10 years and then took a good few years to figure my shit out after the end of my marriage that by the time it got round to me being properly ready to date I was in the “decade plus since my last date” category. So in some ways I definitely needed some direction, some assistance and some support from those around me. And, mostly, I got that.

What I also got was a tonne of sass, shade, judgement and unhelpful comments. FUN! Here are some of my favourites…

“Oh tindering is such a fun game!”

I’m glad my search for a relationship is just that to you – a game. Long sigh… I get it, Tinder and dating apps in that genre can feel pretty gamified when all you need to do is look at the pretty ladies or men and swipe left or right. It hardly feels important and potentially life changing. But in a city where it can be tough to start conversations in an organic, in-real-life way the dating apps are a necessary evil so I’d appreciate if you didn’t take my phone and start swiping right (to match) on people you think it would be “funny” if I dated. Also, and possibly more importantly, there is (hopefully) a real person at the other end of that profile and “playing” with them is not a game. So why don’t you download Candy Crush, Tina, and play with that instead of my life?

“Don’t go for that [insert age / nationality / career here] – they’re the worst.”

As much as stereotypes are certainly built upon some truth, sweeping generalisations which effectively render entire groups of the population as off limits to me isn’t going to help in my quest to find someone and to remain open minded while I do so. Maybe your friend Sarah did have a really bad experience with a doctor, and I don’t doubt that some 40 year old men can be stuck in their ways but am I about to completely discount all doctors and every 40 year old? I’m gonna say probably not. FYI, Christine, a 40 year old doctor would be perfect right about now.

“Maybe you should stop dating around if you want a relationship?”

Holy shit you’re right, I’ve been so busy “dating around” that I’ve been ignoring all those men beating down my door to get into a long term relationship with me. Fun fact, there aren’t any men beating down my door to get into a long term relationship with me. Now, I understand you have to put out what you’re looking for and so if what I’m looking for is a long term relationship but what I’m getting is short term, meaningless dates/sex then, sure, maybe it could be something to do with my approach. But do you not think I’m already doing that?! And it really doesn’t land well when you’re essentially suggesting I’m getting in my own way when it comes to finding what I’m looking for so keep it to yourself, David.

“You need to stop dating muscles”

I’ll admit it, what I look for aesthetically in a man has changed a lot over the last couple of years. It’s been changing in the right direction with a huge part of that to do with their physical health and fitness. And while it’s true I do have a weakness for great arms, my actual incentive to date someone who maybe happens to have abs or thighs of steel is, as I’ve said before on here, because I know that we’re likely to be aligned on our fitness goals and our daily motivation to be healthy. I’m attracted to someone who takes care of themselves, who pushes themselves in their given fitness/sport/exercise regime and who can appreciate my need/want to work out 6 days a week. I don’t want someone coming in and trying to sabotage that. And as it so happens with that type of person, yes often they have a washboard stomach and let’s face it, I’m not complaining, but this comment suggests that I let the muscles completely take over my rational thought. Even with Asian weightlifting firefighter, the muscles may have kept me there a little longer than was necessary but they weren’t what got me there in the first place. Don’t get me wrong I make some poor choices but no thanks Susan, I’ll probably still stay away from the flabby, couch potato types.

“I don’t know how you can have casual sex”

I’ll tell you how, Juliana, because I’m not in a relationship, casual sex isn’t bad and I HAVE NEEDS!

“Tell him to fuck off / delete him”

My friends all come from a well meaning place and I know that most of their advice is because they think I deserve better and they want the best for me. However! It is so much easier to sit and say this as we chat about my most recent dating disappointment over cocktails, than it is for me to just ‘delete’ feelings that have developed for someone and cut off what is a fairly complex situation. Also, my good friends know me better than that, they know I don’t cut and run. My apparent need to always be nice renders me completely unable to tell someone to fuck off. At least in the cold, sober light of day… Drunk I’ll happily tell them they’ve been my biggest dating disappointment thus far (this story is still to come). What was I saying about poor choices?

“I don’t know how you’re still single”

First off, saying it like that gives ‘being single’ massively negative connotations. As if everyone’s want is or should be to get into a relationship. Granted the human need for connection is undeniable and yes right now I am looking for someone to share my life with. But people used to say this to me when I wasn’t even looking to date and it made me really paranoid, like somehow I was weird for wanting to stay single while I sorted my shit out, god forbid. Secondly, it’s not as fucking simple as deciding to date and poof! – relationship in session. Trust me. And thirdly, I always think this phrase comes with a second silent part to it, which is “I don’t know how you’re still single, THERE MUST BE SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH YOU”. Cheers, Karen, that makes me feel real good.

There are many, many, many other phrases I could add to this and I might do a part two in the future but two things I want to end on: 1) I know my friends want nothing but the best for me and, outside of some of them being guilty of saying some of the above, they are incredibly generous with their support and encouragement of my endeavours to find my person. For that I am always grateful, this is not a rag on them. 2) If you do know someone who’s dating and dealing with the stresses of modern day hunger games for love, be kind, buy them wine.

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