Shit Email 1: Ball-tampering

You don’t need me to tell you that internet dating is shit. Absolute crap. Case in point- a recent message exchange I had. The gentleman in question was no Adonis but he had a username that sounded inviting, if a little desperate, encouraging people to “ChooseMe.” With his short, shaved hair I couldn’t help but think of Ralph Wiggum and his choo, choo choose Valentine’s card. Okay fine, I’ll play along…

 

Mr ChooseMe had written that he was friendly and down-to-earth. Sounds ok. He also said he enjoyed to cook and travel as well as watch films, sports and TV. Suffice to say, he didn’t seem like a serial killer and ticked some boxes… That was, until some bright red flags appeared on the horizon.

 

Mr ChooseMe kicked off the email exchange with some random facts about himself. It was rather cute if a little narcissistic given that I had a whole profile of his at my disposal to read. He talked about his favourite colour (blue), favourite season (winter) and that The Swedish Chef was his favourite Muppet.

 

But then things got weird. He revealed that he had a phobia of birds. Hmmmmmm. And that one of his testicles hung lower than the other. Really? This is apparently what constitutes a good conversation starter? How come I’ve never seen that as an ice-breaker activity in the training books?

 

I decided to play-along, though in hindsight I seriously question why. I wrote that I’d had a good giggle reading what he’d written (surely he didn’t expect me to take any of it seriously?) I too wrote about my own penchants- for spring weather and dark and/or milk chocolate (no white for me, that stuff is vile!) I also mentioned that my hobby is writing reviews in my spare time.

 

I decided to gloss over any reference to his testicles. I figured that if things went well then down the line I could discover this all for myself in my own good time. I needn’t have worried.

 

He responded with an incredulity of sorts. He was concerned I was laughing at his uneven balls (errrrrr no and why do you keep bringing this up?) He said he never liked Miss Piggy because she sounded like she was having 30-minute orgasms despite not getting any from Kermit the Frog. All I’d said was that I too liked the Swedish Chef and those old guys from the Muppets. Was someone implying that he was rubbish in the sack? Hmmmmmm.

 

In reference to my hobby as a reviewer Mr ChooseMe decided that he wanted me to rate his emails. How does one respond to this graciously given the circumstances? I decide to give him a generous seven in my reply and figure that Yazz were right and that the only way is up.

 

I also acknowledge his second reference to his uneven manhood by mentioning the Ignoble Awards and the useless analysis of scrotal asymmetry in ancient sculpture. Thank you Dr Karl! I figured I was quite clever to mention this and that it was proof that I can keep a conversation going with anyone, no matter how stupid the material was that I had to work with.

 

But guess what? I got ghosted! No response. Or reply. Nothing.

 

And in case you’re wondering, one month on and this guys is still available… I wonder how that could be!

 

If I can give any advice it would be to not bring a ruler on your first date if you get one. Mr ChooseMe might get tetchy and start banging on about his uneven balls. He might even accuse you of ball tampering. And that will no doubt implicate you in the recent activities of the Australian men’s cricket team.

 

It also gives a whole new meaning to the term blue balls!

 

I went to a workshop on “How to Make Love Last” three weeks after a break-up

I went to a workshop on “How to Make Love Last” three weeks after a break-up. But this was certainly not how I had planned it. When I expressed my interest in writing about a course at The School of Life (TSOL) in Sydney – an institution that was set up by a group of philosophers including Alain de Botton – I was in the throes of a long-term relationship. But suddenly, after some important realisations, soul-searching and reasons of my own choosing, I wasn’t. Which left me thinking, what on earth was I going to do about this class?

 

On Sunday afternoon I received an email from the classroom manager at TSOL. It was a pre-class task. Gulp. A single PDF that included a series of questions designed to get us thinking about a couple who had made love last. Double gulp. And it wanted us to reflect on how this couple had managed to achieve this. Arrrrggggghhhhhhh! I stare at the screen and my mind draws a complete blank. Nothing. Nada. I know plenty of couples in long-term relationships and marriages but I cannot think of a single one I can put up on a pedestal because they’ve “made their love last.” I feel disheartened. I have failed my homework assignment, just as I have failed at my own relationship.

 

The next day it’s Valentine’s Day Eve. I know this because Coles have erected a large, temporary marquee selling beautiful flowers. I hate Valentine’s Day and I know I’m not the only one. I really don’t want to go to this class. I have visions of being Sydney’s answer to Bridget Jones, sitting among the smug married couples or at least a group of loved-up hippies who are going to preach peace, love and brown rice while looking down their noses at me and my recently acquired single status.

 

I am pleasantly surprised. The class is run by Dr Elisabeth Shaw, a clinical psychologist who has specialised in family and relationships for several decades. There was no judgement, just some thought-provoking talk and exercises, which made you consider different things and increase your self-awareness. I am immediately put at ease in the class warm-up when a fellow student (married) also confesses at struggling to find an appropriate couple to psychoanalyse, sorry consider as part of the homework. I could kiss this woman and then I remember, she’s married.

 

Over the course of the next three hours Dr Shaw poses a lot of questions about relationships and their many facets. We do a group exercise where a Venn diagram is presented. In one circle there’s the word “love,” in another “sex” and in the final one “friendship.” Dr Shaw asks us to think about how much emphasis we put on these things in our relationships. I ignore the gnawing feeling in my head that my relationship has just been reduced to a fate worse than a broken Venn diagram but actually a cul-de-sac.

 

The general consensus is that love, sex and friendship are all important and that over time these things may grow and diminish due to outside pressures that exist. There is also an understanding that while some individuals can accept the absence of one or more of these things, it is really down to whether there is a major disconnect in the expectations of the two people in the couple, as this will determine whether the relationship succeeds or fails.

 

Another task we are set is to draw a large house. In the rooms we are to list our loveable qualities (and practically perfect in every way will not suffice.) In the attic and basement we are to place symbols or words that represent our negative traits. These can be selfish qualities, relationship scars or even disturbing secrets. Sounds fun. As we do this, we need to consider whether this is all ultimately in balance and to imagine walking our partner (current or future) through this scary gingerbread house and to decide how comfortable we are about revealing these hidden, negative things in the attic and basement. The question is posed, “Does everything have to be known in a relationship?” The answer was not a simple one but many shades of grey (and no, not 50!)

 

“How To Make Love Last” proved to be a well-timed class in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. It was not at all that dissimilar to Alain de Botton’s previous talk on the “Course of Love” at the Opera House. It was also wonderful to be able to check-in with yourself and learn some things that you can hopefully take into your relationships. So I’m really glad I put myself out there and attended. I can highly recommend it and the others in their schedule because it can be freeing to learn more about yourself. And really, who doesn’t like talking about themselves? Where is my soap box? Just kidding, I have this website after all!