Red Riding Hood with a net off to capture the beginning of the relationship

Some of our strongest ties to even the flimsiest of relationships, are based on what we experienced or even hoped for in the beginning. When we’re living in the past because the present has too many code red realities biting at us, we end up spending a great deal of our time trying to recapture the feelings we experienced at the beginning, or the person we believed or assumed them to be, or even what we thought was our best selves in those moments. It’s for these very reasons why we may find it hard to recover from a relationship that didn’t even happen – we struggle to get over the loss of our hopes and expectations.

We like how we felt and acted during those times and want to make that happen all of the time, even if the reality of the present doesn’t lend itself to this. This means that we can spend an overwhelming disproportionate amount of the entire relationship, trying to turn back time and also trying to turn the minority of the relationship into a full-time gig. Of course, we lose track of time because clearly, when we took up this vocation, the good times were in a different context.

As a very typical example, let’s imagine that we’re saying that the first three months were “fabulous”, “almost too good to be true”, “everything we’d hoped for” and like “the long-awaited reward for all of [our] trauma”.

In month four when things go off the boil, by the end of that month, we’ll forget that it’s a relatively new relationship and that contextually, alarm bells should be ringing if the relationship has gone into a rapid decline, or we feel as if the person we met has disappeared. Instead, when we’re ‘beginning’ and in fact ‘good points’ and ‘good times’ focused, we’ll reason that the relationship has been great for three-quarters of the entire duration. We might even at this point, reason that contextually, their three out of four month record is better than another relationship we’ve been in – we’re still focused on this idea that the beginning is the relationship and the happy ending.

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You’ve met someone, you’ve been on a date or few, and at some point, you start to think about exclusivity – knowing that the other party isn’t shopping around and dividing up their dating schedule between you and someone else. While the reason you may be broaching this subject is because things are going great and you just want to be doubly sure that you’re both on the same page, equally, in listening to people’s stories, it seems that many people use broaching the subject of exclusivity or even defining the relationship talks, to clarify that they are the only person who is getting crumbs. In my first video in absolutely ages, I explain what these discussions are really for and why it shouldn’t be about, ‘I know you’re treating me in a less than manner but I just want to confirm that it’s only me that’s getting this treatment. Reassure me that there isn’t somebody else getting a better version of you…’ Enjoy!


Always remember:

If you can't date with your self-esteem in tow, don't until you can

I regularly come across people who recognise that they’ve either been in similar types of relationship with same type of person, different package, or that regardless of who they’ve been involved with, they’ve had a pattern of seeing of seeing themselves as ‘less than’, people-pleasing, and accepting crumbs while having little to no boundaries. Each will express their frustrations and have a genuine desire to not go through the same pain again, and yet when I suggest that they take a temporary hiatus from dating and relationships, it’s crickets.

Let’s get clear on what a dating and relationship hiatus is: It’s basically putting your romantic activities on pause so that you can take time to not only break a pattern but to also get to know you, so that when you do re-open your romantic doors, that you are coming from a healthier place. The hiatus is to take time out for you and hopefully you’ll use it well and give you the opportunity to be and do the things that tend to take a backburner due to the latest relationship.

What it isn’t, is a prison sentence.

It should be a positive choice to take time out, not the equivalent of being put on the naughty step, because if you’re effectively sulking, stropping, and feeling hard done by, mindset affects actions so you’re not going to be behind your decision as you’ll be undermining it instead.

Now just so we’re clear, dating and relationship hiatuses tend to be 3-6 months, sometimes longer and they are an investment in your future.

Think of them as a detox. You can let go of all the bullshit, get a clear head and some perspective so you can own your own and let others own theirs instead of taking ownership of other people’s feelings and behaviour, plus you can be free of the burden that many people give themselves of either waiting to be chosen by someone or being a performing seal and trying to convince and convert.

  • Learn to listen to your feelings and if you’ve lost your way and are unsure of who you are, rebuild trust and faith in you.
  • Have a break from dating, or should I say introduction (and hookup) sites.
  • Give you permission to delete (or screen) nuisance exes that tap you up periodically for a shag, a favour, or just to fish around for an ego stroke.
  • Grieve your last breakup or even all of your breakups if you have a backlog of hurt.
  • Learn how to take care of you and also connect with the things that truly matter to you and make you you, so that you can ensure that you’re living your life in line with who you are (your values) , so that when you do start dating again, you are much clearer on what you need, want, and expect, instead of waking up knee-deep in a relationship and wondering why a person who you feel so intensely about isn’t actually making you happy or even why you’re pretty much suffering from malnutrition.

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Bunny in bed wondering why she spent 195 minutes and 23 minutes worrying when she only got 5 minutes of sex

If you can’t be casual about casual sex, then for you, it’s not casual sex. This doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you and it’s not something that you need to apologise for, but what it does mean is that you need to start listening to you instead of spending your time prioritising someone else’s sexual and even ego needs while deprioritising you.

It doesn’t matter if the person who wants to sleep with you casually is totally OK with it or has been with people who are totally OK with it (It begs the question of, where are they now?), you’re not, and you don’t need to feel bad about this or feel compelled to follow a trend. Once you start ignoring your own personal values and basically ‘following’, you stop being conscious and you start operating from a place of unhealthy habits of thinking and behaviour, or even compulsion. Just because someone wants to have sex and you haven’t had sex in a while or you happen to feel horny, it doesn’t mean that you have to oblige that person or follow your libido, especially if by doing either of these things, you end up negatively affecting your overall well-being.

Casual means relaxed and unconcerned.

If you can’t be casual about casual sex, it’s very possible that it’s the fact that the other party is so relaxed and unconcerned to the point of you feeling disrespected, that may be creating a great deal of anxiety and stress in the first place. It may also be that you want more than is on offer or that you are pretending to be relaxed and unconcerned now so that you can enjoy instant gratification, while ignoring the fact that based on how you typically respond to these types of situations or your current level of self-esteem, that you are in fact putting you in harms way. For sex.

Now granted, as grownups, it’s important to ensure that we’re being safe in the sense of contraception and ensuring that we’re not putting ourselves in danger, but this is different to having excessive emotional or even relationship concerns, and is certainly very different to experiencing anxiety about whether we’re going to be able to juggle having sex with a person at the same time as coping with what we may recognise as code amber and red issues including disinterest or disrespect.

Stressing out over casual sex not only suggests a great deal of thought, but also that in the quest to try and force you to be relaxed and unconcerned about something that you’re clearly not feeling that way about, you’re actually ignoring and compromising you in the process.

If the emotional and mental consequences of a casual sex encounter are going to linger for considerably longer than the duration of the encounter (from arranging to completion), it’s best to decline. If you tend to struggle with getting to know someone at the same time as also having to juggle potential emotional consequences from being sexually intimate, it’s best not to be sexually intimate until you can. If even in advance of having sex with the person, you’re expending a great deal of mental and emotional energy on whether or not to do it, that’s a sign that you shouldn’t and that you’re not listening to you in some way. Sure, there are times when we can all be guilty of overthinking something that in retrospect we realise wasn’t really that big a deal but more often than not, when it comes to mental and emotional expenditure on sex that hasn’t even happened yet or has and now we’re wondering where we stand, our responses tell us a lot about where we need to take care of ourselves better.

There’s such a thing as delayed gratification – being able to listen to yourself and recognise your own needs, values, expectations, opinions, and feelings, and postponing instant reward for a later one.

It’s the difference between acting as if this is the last chance sex saloon and that your penis/vagina is going to fall off or dry up and get covered in cobwebs if you don’t, and knowing that sure, it’s possible that you might enjoy it but knowing that it’s better to defer having sex until you’re either in a better place emotionally and trust you to handle the consequences irrespective of the outcome of the involvement, or waiting until you’re in a situation where you can experience emotional and sexual intimacy together. It’s about being conscious, present, and aware, ad recognising where you may be engaging in relationship or sexual insanity – carrying the same baggage, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours, engaging with the same or similar people, and then expecting different results and even being surprised when you don’t get it. Particularly if you’re considering sleeping with an ex who has done more than screw you in the sack, it’s time to ask where you’re trying to do a Cher and turn back time? Are you trying to right the wrongs of the past?

Let’s also remember that sexual intimacy is not the same as emotional intimacy and that sex drives have no judgement skills…. This is also a good time to remember not to scratch the loneliness itch (or stress, boredom, or even hunger itch), with the wrong scratcher. I’ve run a bit of an experiment with some BR readers and friends who keep getting hurt on the sexual disappointment cycle and most of them mistook various different types of stress, as well as the knock-on effect of feeling inadequate or bored, for horniness.

If you’re thinking, Will I, won’t I?, Can I keep my feelings in check [this time]?, I’m worried about getting hurt (again), I can handle this… I hope…, The sex is great but the person is awful, I’m worried about being used, guess what? This is not casual sex. For them it is but for you it isn’t and if it’s not mutual casual sex then it’s not casual sex.

Your thoughts?


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I've been in a monogamous relationship with myself for the past 9 years

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about life, is that despite how much we may want something and know in theory how good committing to that something might be for our lives and wellbeing, we can still end up backtracking on doing the necessaries to make it happen. We may recognise that we’ve been accepting crumbs, or that a situation is toxic, or that we’ve not been stepping up for and representing our own needs, expectations, wishes, feelings, and opinions, and then feel temporarily galvanised to do something about it. We make some decisions and initial changes with gusto, possibly make some big announcements, and then next thing you know, we’re back up to our old habits.

The reason why we undermine our own efforts is fear.

While fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat, that doesn’t mean that the fact that we feel afraid is representative of the existence of an actual danger or that what we’re being and doing is wrong. We feel afraid when we have to get out of our comfort zone, even though that comfort zone may actually be an uncomfortable ‘comfort’ zone and the unfamiliar that we’re stepping into could actually hold something so much more befitting of us.

Sometimes we are our own threat and we use the fact that we experience discomfort at having to break habits, at having to get closer to ourselves and learn and grow, as an indicator that there must be something ‘wrong’ with our choice.

Our feelings are instinctive responses, as in, they happen without reasoning and knowledge – it is up to us to listen to ourselves and to be willing to reflect, and to also get a sense of what is going on outside of us, so that the reasoning and knowledge can be provided. Feelings aren’t facts.

We must distinguish between real and imagined threats. It’s the whole internal versus external fear thang.

It’s also important to note that instincts rely heavily on intuition and instincts get out of whack when we habitually ignore ourselves and rely too much on external validation and dodgy assumptions. This is why it’s important to build a relationship with us before we devote a significant amount of energy to trying to build a relationship with someone else, because if we don’t, we will get into relationships for the wrong reasons and possibly with the wrong people, which will only take us even further away from our true selves and have the undesired side effect of pain, which will only exacerbate the fear.

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My Book - Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl

Stop believing that you did something to make them unavailable or that their inadequacies are down to your inadequacies - it is not about you; they are unavailable!