Searching for satisfaction…

VANESSA SMEETS

A look on the 5 type of guys to avoid and how to enjoy singledom…

singleness

LIVING COLOUR: Your colourful past, certainly makes way for a brighter future. PIC: Online

You’re in your late twenties or early thirties, everyone around you is either getting married or having kids.

The best thing about being single? Less questions on where you were.
The worst? More questions on where you’re going…

There’s a lot of pressure on women of today to, as well as having a fulfilling career, be romantically fulfilled as well. No matter how independent or well she’s been doing.

This leads to her falling desperately for the wrong type of men, starting with…

The Ex

Things ended because he moved away and you had to pursue a career or studies. You both still like each other and still secretly have virtual sex. Big mistake. The truth hits you when pictures of his new girlfriend show up on Facebook. Delete that chapter. Delete him. For good, this time…

This new chapter leads you to…

The Rebound

Why I'm single

The honest truth… PIC: Online

You meet him at a bar, share a few beers. The attraction is pretty insane. The sex turns out to be mind-blowing, but you have absolutely nothing else in common. Stop having sex, it’s preventing you from meeting someone more worthwhile.

However, your loneliness leads you to that elusive…

The One-Night Stand

Out of the blue, you meet someone incredibly smart and attractive. Problem is, you’re still not emotionally ready, so you come across as desperate and smothering. You end up liking him too soon, not knowing this is the type of guy to lose interest when things become too sexual. In a moment of passion, you end up sleeping together. The sex turns out to be average, but you’re kind of determined to find out where this could lead. He, however, is not:

“Listen, I’m not blown away by you. That was fun, but that’s all it’ll remain. Have a nice life.”

You feel like a dirty tramp and turn to…

single dilemma

The flying solo dilemma… PIC: Online

The Best Friend

He’s liked you for years, but you’ve kept your distance. After all, could there not just be one platonic male presence in your life, for goodness sake? After hours of crying on his shoulder for the umpteenth time, you look into his kind, genuine eyes and end up making out. The next time you see him, it’s really awkward, so you end up flirting with…

The Colleague

He’s the guy kind enough to offer you a lift to work or leave post-its while you’re out on a smoke break. Mixing business with pleasure has as many perks as risks. You two soon become office talk.

It’s time to break the vicious cycle many women find themselves in and rather embrace singledom.
In the words of Sex and the City:

“Some people are settling down, some people are settling for less and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies.”

Things to embrace while you’re single:

men to avoid

  • Flirt shamelessly with strangers. It’s okay to practice… Practice makes perfect. Just avoid taking them home.
  • Explore the world. Finally you can go on that Contiki tour with your best friend! Do it!
  • Take up new and strange hobbies. Start pole-dancing, hip-hopping, silk painting… You’ll certainly be more interesting to the next lucky fish.
  • Become adventurous without inhibitions. Take up that job offer in South Korea! Go become a photographer on a cruise ship! Au pair while you still can! So many more stories to tell…
  • Focus on what you want, not what you need. Neediness is unattractive. Want is ambitious. Not keen on divorce? Don’t marry that average guy from the dentist’s office.
  • “Water” your friendships. The Sims illustrated this part of social life perfectly. Remember that girlfriend you stopped hearing about once she got hitched? You’ve become her, without the ring. Catch up with a cocktail party or ladies’ night. Liking their Facebook status is simply not enough, by the way.
  • Realize that marriage is more than just a piece of paper, it’s for life. Could you really marry that rebound guy that litters your place with dirty dishes?
  • Play safe. So your heart is broken, wait till you’re emotionally ready to take up something physical. Getting physical too soon means the next guy won’t have time to get to know you on an emotional scale.
  • Keep a diary of your weaknesses, as well as your achievements. Some guys are mean to girls in order to move on more easily, don’t take all their insults to heart. However, if all relationships ended because you were obsessed with your girlfriends or cat, it may be time to overthink some things.
  • Stop complaining, start living. Remember Carrie’s addiction…nagging on and on about Mr Big? So unattractive, even to your closest friends.
  • Find your inner child. He used to steal your lunch, now he’s stolen your dreams. He used to flirt with the teacher, now he flirts with your best friend. Move on. Mr Nice (yet Good-looking) Guy exists… Someone wise once wrote: “Nice guys always finish last, but isn’t that what women want in the end?”

Happily Divorced?

VANESSA SMEETS

 

Divorce

TORN APART: Divorce continues to have repercussions on children, even in adulthood. PIC: online

Emma was just eight years old when she realised her parents’ marriage had ended.
At first, it was through subtle signs: constant arguing over new toys, the silent treatment, lack of time and increasing lack of temper. She even found herself counting the number of times they would fight a day: once, twice or at every meal. The last sign hurt the deepest: she placed their hands together at church and they pulled them apart.


From an early age, she had realised it wasn’t an easy marriage. She sometimes felt like her birth and the birth of her brother had been ways for them to stay together.
Little did she know her 8th birthday would remain the most significant birthday of her life:

“It was the happiest day of my life. Mom and Dad had gone out of their way to make me happy. Maybe they knew it would be my last birthday with both of them present.”

Family divorce

GAME OVER: Children often find themselves as the pawns in their parents' failed marriage. GRAPHIC: Vanessa Smeets

All of her friends from school were invited to the first pool party of the year. It was finally spring in South Africa! Her dad looked after everyone swimming, while her mom made sure everyone had enough fun games in the garden: playing catchers, throwing each other with flour and eating a lot of cake.

Six months later, Emma was in a new house.


“When is Daddy joining us?”
“He’s not coming, sweetheart. We’re now divorced.”
Divorced? What’s that?”

Divorce: she had heard about it at school: Teacher Sarah can’t come to school. She got divorced.
It sounded like a horrid contagious disease.

“Mommy, is it a disease? Are you sick?”
“No, not really. The marriage is sick. It’s when a marriage doesn’t work anymore.”
“If it’s broken, it can always be fixed.”

“No, darling. This time we can’t fix it. It’s when two people who once loved each other go their separate ways.”

Loved. Separate. The words spun around in her head.
“You and Daddy don’t love each other anymore?”
“It’s complicated. We still love you and your brother. That will never change. We are doing this because we love you both.”

For a child, this was extremely hard to comprehend. How could taking away the love between two parents be love in the end?
It took years for Emma to understand. She asked her father about it. For the first time in her life, she saw tears in his eyes:

“It’s complicated. You’ll understand when you’re older.”

Family divorce

KIDREAM: Children often believe their parents will get back together, no matter the circumstances. GRAPHIC: Vanessa Smeets

“DON’T DO THIS TO ME!” she screamed in her head, but didn’t dare tell him.

Those words haunted her for the next few years. It hurt that her parents saw her too little to understand. She was old enough to understand the silence was painful and that she and her sibling were caught somewhere in between a silent war.
They never really spoke of how it fell apart, so in her mind Emma believed it was her fault:
Maybe I should have never kept that dog that made Daddy so angry.
Maybe if I had been a top swimmer like he wanted me to be, he would’ve stayed.
Maybe I shouldn’t have teased my brother so much. Mommy wouldn’t have had to protect him so much from Dad’s harsh words.
Maybe we shouldn’t have been so spoilt; maybe he would have made more time for us.

It took almost a decade for Emma to stop waiting at the phone or door-step for her dad’s visit, or to stop visiting her old house which was only two blocks away. She had to let go of those memories, because they became increasingly bitter.
The shared custody was the worst. She dreaded each weekend in her old house. The walls were cold and the memories were stale. Even running around the garden was a constant struggle of juggling new memories with old ones.
It made it easier when her father moved away. Although she missed him everyday, she could create new memories each time they saw each other.

Ten years later, she asked her father for that chat he promised her years ago. She slowly made peace with all of it and realised it was indeed love in the end. Although it took years for her parents to make peace, it finally happened. Being friends was more loving than a tense and uncomfortable marriage. They were there at her 21st, at her graduation and even when she fell extremely ill.
Emma also finally made peace with the lost little girl inside of her, explaining:

“Two people you love dearly don’t necessarily have to be together. They remain great parents, separately. Once upon a time, they were deeply and passionately in love, but changing lifestyles and conflicting personalities pulled them apart. Not you.”

She continued: “Look at them now, talking and laughing. Those present memories are just as precious. Maybe one day, you and I will be brave enough to love too…again.

Advice to divorced parents:

  • Do not keep it a secret or wait until the last minute.
  • Tell your child together with your spouse.
  • Keep things simple and straight-forward.
  • Tell them the divorce is not their fault.
  • Admit that this will be sad and upsetting for everyone.
  • Reassure your child that you both still love them and will always be their parents.
  • Do not discuss each other’s faults or problems with the child.
    Source: the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/children_and_divorce

Through the ages

How children react to divorce depends on their ages:
Infants
lack the cognitive development to understand what is happening, but they sense and react to changes in emotions and energy levels of their parents.
Preschool children may fear abandonment and often feel they are the reason for the divorce, by misbehaving in some way.
Preadolescent children have a better understanding of the divorce, but also greater self-awareness of their own pain.
Teens can feel overwhelmed with the stress, anxiousness and loss of parental support in coping with becoming an adult.

family divorce

WHOSE FAULT IS IT ANYWAY? Graphic: Vanessa Smeets

Divorce Facts:

  • Divorce can be either fault-based or no-fault. Fault-based means that you will have to prove your spouse is to blame, through: adultery, abuse or addiction. No-fault means that no one is to blame, claiming “irreconcilable differences.”
  • Couples who live together before getting married are more likely to divorce.
  • Children living with only one parent are more likely to suffer from poor health.
  • Divorced people are more likely to suffer from mental illness, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic conditions. This is caused in part by the stress and long lasting trauma of divorce and the fact that married couples tend to have better health habits and thus live a cleaner and healthier lifestyle. Source: http://www.divorceadviceformentoday.com/divorce-facts

Bad bad boys

VANESSA SMEETS

James Dean bad boy

SMOKING HOT: Yip, the ultimate "bad boy" makes you feel smoking hot, only to burn you in the end. PIC: online

At 25, I’ve witnessed dozens of heartbreaks: some my own, some my friends. It all begins in childhood with your “first love:”
At age 10, you suddenly realize you really like your best friend. You hang out all the time. You laugh at all his jokes, even the corny ones.
At age 13, you start wearing make-up in hope he’ll notice you.
At age 16, you have your first drink in hope you’ll lose all inhibitions and finally tell him how you feel. Too late. He ends up making out with one of your good friends and they date till varsity.
In the years apart, he hardly talks to you, as she feels threatened by your friendship. One day, he calls you in the middle of the night: “I made a mistake… I cheated on her.”
You give him the usual advice on honesty and love: “Don’t worry, be honest. Tell her what happened.” She breaks it off before he gets the chance. He calls you now, night after night, in a drunken stupor:

“You’re the only one that truly knows me. I…. I….”

gaspard Ulliel naked truth

NAKED TRUTH: Could you ever be happy with a bad boy as hot as Gaspard Ulliel? Maybe it's time to rethink the long-term effects of living on the edge: unnecessary stress, hassle and heartbreak. PIC: Online

The phone suddenly hangs up. He’s been in a terrible car accident. Luckily, he survives and for days you visit him relentlessly. Your heart breaks to see him so vulnerable and in so much pain.
His eyes open but he has no idea who you are anymore. Maybe he heard your crying or gentle words of love and comfort while he was in a coma.
Okay, this story seems a little over-the-top, yet isn’t this what most girls go through? For years, we try getting the attention of the one guy that made us feel special (even just once). You dote on his achievements, his girlfriends, and his mistakes, only to be told years later that it was all in vain.

At age 18, it’s your Matric Dance/ Prom and you sadly realize he’s going with “her” despite the promise you guys made to each other years ago… Instead, you go on a blind date with your dentist’s son or, God forbid, your distant cousin.
All night, you watch him in the arms of that other girl. That other girl who has no idea why he has a scar above his left eye or what music makes him laugh or tick. They kiss at midnight. You watch and lose yourself in the infatuation that one day it will be you.
At varsity, you finally let go and fall for the bad boy who never comes to class, but always asks for your notes.

“I really need a private tutor,” he tells you with a charming smile.

One guyYou stay late to help him out. Alone in the library, he tries to kiss you. What the hell… You go for it. The next time he finally turns up in class, but completely ignores you.
You go out with your girlfriends and swear you’ll never fall for someone again, yet you end up reminiscing on your childhood sweethearts most of the night. Some have gone bald. Some are fathers. Some have escaped the country in hope of something better.
“Escape,” such a beautiful word. Just as you wonder what happened to your childhood friend, he appears out of nowhere: “Hey beautiful! Remember me? Remember us?”
There’s a slight teasing in his voice that makes you feel uncomfortable. His friends join your friends, happily chatting away; but you two have absolutely nothing to say to each other.

In fact, all you want and need to say is FORBIDDEN TERRITORY:

“I loved you for years and never said a word. I watched you break a dozen hearts, including my own. And now all I have to say is I HATE YOU for wanting my heart, getting it and throwing it away over and over again.”

It’s a question that has bedazzled scientists, psychologists and Sex & the City junkies for years:

Why do women fall for the wrong type?

  • He’s exciting. Fantasizing about someone unattainable is as hot as a night out with a complete stranger. The fantasy out-does the reality no matter what.
  • He’s a natural high. You know you can’t have him, yet watching him and even slightly touching him gets you high.
  • He’s the perfect escape. You’ll always have something to talk about with your girlfriends: how cute he is, who’s his new flame, do you still have a chance…

Cartoon bad boysSorry, ladies, but this guy you claim to love and talk about is a complete waste of time. In the words of Marilyn Monroe: if he didn’t appreciate you in the worst of times, he certainly won’t appreciate you in the best of times.
You’ll just be that girl he can booty-call, have virtual sex with whenever he feels like it or turns to for obvious advice, but completely ignores in real life. Really now? What about that guy you’ve been teasing for years, always turn to and yet ignore when he gets too close? It sucks to be in his place, doesn’t it? Time to break your fantasy and finally unbreak your heart.

There’s no place for you when it comes to you and the bad bad boy’s ego.

The other woman

other woman

WHO IS SHE? Pic: online

VANESSA SMEETS

You’ve been dating Jeremy for nine months. He’s kind and caring. He sleeps over at your place every second weekend. He even cleans your dishes. When he runs his fingers through your hair as you kiss or serves you breakfast in bed, nothing else matters.

Yip, he seems perfect. But, somehow, you just don’t trust him. He hides his phone when you’re around. It’s almost always on silent. He often comes home late or tells you he’ll call you back. If you do call, he’s often cold or treats you like an acquaintance rather than a lover.

You start making excuses. He’s speaking to me like that because he’s busy or around his colleagues. He can’t come this weekend because his mother is sick again. You haven’t met his parents yet, because they live far away. Wow, another expensive gift to say sorry.

You love him and brush it off. This too shall pass. But, things become more worrying when you decide to surprise him one weekend. He isn’t home. His door his locked and the spare key he gave you doesn’t work. You look through the kitchen window. The dishes are neatly packed away. There are no breadcrumbs or spilt milk. He obviously hasn’t lived there in weeks.

He calls you that evening. As much as you want to answer and confront him, you decide not to. You let it ring over and over again. Your emotions are all over the place. Well, he has an obsession with clean dishes, so maybe that’s why they were neatly packed away.

silhouette kissing

Are you... Is she... Is he...? Pic: online

“Hi Jeremy,” you say after the third missed call.

“Jeremy? Since when do you call me by my name? What happened to ‘sweetheart’?” he asks, worried, “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah…yeah,” you say, softly, “How was your weekend?”

“Fine. Dan and I went on an impulsive fishing trip.”

Your heart speeds up. He wasn’t home after all.

The next time you see each other, you subconsciously begin to question his every action and word. He kisses you briskly on the cheek, not softly on the lips as he used to. He doesn’t run his fingers through your hair when you kiss anymore. All the books you’ve read have stated the obvious: he’s cheating on you.

“Jeremy…” you say as he takes you out for lunch at your favourite restaurant. You’re not sure how to start the rest of the sentence: “Am I… Are you… Is she…”

What if he’s not? What if it’s all in your imagination?

His phone rings. He has to leave. He doesn’t call or even send an sms that night. The worrying has now turned to paranoia. It eats you up inside. You don’t want to accuse him falsely. It may be your fault, you decide. Out of the six guys you’ve dated before him, four cheated on you and the other two cheated on you after you accused them falsely. If he isn’t cheating, will he start cheating now that I’ve asked?

That night, he surprises you with flowers. He looks exhausted and asks for a massage. He’s just been fired from his job. As he lies passed out on your bed after making love, you spot his phone lying on the floor next to his pants. It’s your chance to see the truth for yourself. A part of you knows it’s completely unethical. What is a relationship without trust?

You take the phone to the bathroom. You look through the messages first. They’re just from you, Dan and his mother. Relief. You scroll down to one week back, then two weeks back, till the weekend of the ‘fishing trip.’

The message from Dan is strange: “Hey J! I know we decided to go fishing later, but I completely forgot I have to hand in a business proposal tomorrow! Sorry dude!”

Oh my, he’s lied. Where was he that weekend? The rest of the phone is clean. Oddly clean. Even the phone register has been wiped clean. You look through the photos now. There are beautiful photos of sunsets, cocktails and bikini models, all his favourite things.

You place the phone exactly where it was. You lie next to him and the tears slowly pour out from your eyes. His hands reach for your waist.

“Why did you have to go and do that?” he asks softly, his lips pressed against your ear.

You don’t know what to say. You turn around to look at him. His eyes are glistening.

“I love you and you don’t trust me?”

“I’m sorry… You’re just different. You talk to me weird. Your mother comes first. You see me less and less and you go on non-existent fishing trips!”

“Slow down!” he shouts back, “I talk to you weird because it wasn’t going well at work. The boss complained I was taking your calls too much. I love hearing your voice. It’s what kept me going, so I talked to you differently so he wouldn’t suspect it was my girlfriend. My mother is sick. She raised me alone and I’m petrified of losing her! I see you less because you don’t run your fingers through my hair when we kiss anymore either. I stopped doing it too, because I thought you were getting bored of me. I needed you to touch me like before.”

He pauses to catch his breath: “I did go on that fishing trip! Dan cancelled, so I went alone. If I told you I went alone, you wouldn’t have believed me.”

Your heart aches now with guilt. The other woman ruining your relationship is you… The jealous, needy, emotional you who can’t trust men. You almost lost the one who could be trusted, because you were too afraid to ask the right questions.

 

Ask yourself:

  • Do you question everything he says or does?
  • Are you suspicious when he compliments you or buys you an expensive gift?
  • Do you check his Facebook profile, emails or phone?
  • Are you blaming the “past you” for your current paranoia?

If you answered “yes” to two or more questions, you have serious trust issues and need to deal with them as quickly as possible.

Some tips:

  • Analyse your past first. Who hurt you and how have you dealt with it?
  • Give yourselves a break. If you start assuming he’s cheating, it’s often because the relationship has become monotonous.
  • Have faith in him and yourself. You can’t sustain a relationship on half-truths or empty suspicions.