RAPE CULTURE

Recently an associate of mine disclosed to me she was almost raped. In a situation where things were getting hot and heavy physically, she asked her date to stop and pull the breaks. However, he kept going.  After repeating “stop” several times and having him dismiss her request, she managed to push him off her. Distraught and upset, she confronted him about his actions, only to have him laugh the entire thing off.

As she told me this story I began to cry.  I was devastated by the thought of not only another woman, but someone close to me, being violated in such a way.  However, she was quite surprised by my reaction, telling me that other people she had mentioned this incident to had made comments like “What did you expect getting yourself in that situation?” and “It’s like taking a horse to a lake to drink water, but then not letting it”.

Those responses to her experience are a part of the everyday cultural practices that excuse and tolerate sexual violence. By subtly saying that “girls allow themselves to be raped”, society not only further victimises women and their experience with rape and sexual assault, it also legitimises the entitlement and ownership men have to women and their bodies.  And this is just one of the many forms of how gender oppression works.

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WOMEN OF COLOUR WILL NOT R.I.P COSMOPOLITAN MAGAZINE

Dear Cosmopolitan Magazine,

I am writing this out of complete and utter disdain and frustration for your recent article ‘21 Beauty Trends That Need to Die in 2015’ where nearly a fifth of the “R.I.P.” column features women of colour (WOC).

I am a WOC, my social circle involves WOC and I am an advocate for WOC professionally. That means, when it comes to the discrimination WOC face, my experience and knowledge is valid.

When some Westerners find out I am from Bangladesh, they make comments like “Oh, you’re pretty for a Bangladeshi”, as if to say that I come from a country where the women are inherently ugly. I’ve also experienced someone telling me that I couldn’t be fully Bangladeshi, that I must have white in me, because Bangladeshi women aren’t attractive otherwise. Do you know where those ideologies and perceptions stem from? It stems from magazines like you who print features reaffirming the notion that in order for a woman to be ‘gorgeous’ she must be white.

In a world where white beauty is perceived as the supreme form of beauty, WOC are told by society they are not beautiful, that they are not good enough and that they are not deserving enough. Don’t believe me? They did an experiment where African American children were given two Barbies, one black and one white. They were then asked to choose the Barbie they thought was beautiful. Guess which Barbie they chose? The white one. These children will grow up, and that sense of not being beautiful because of their skin colour will internalise and grow with them. And then magazines like you will print features like the above advocating further self-hate within WOC. Also, like all beauty and fashion enterprises, you will go on to profit from the insecurities of marginalised WOC.

While I considered that this feature might be an oversight on your part, I highly doubt it. I have a suspicion that it is most likely a publicity stunt because you need to create hype around your magazine, I mean who in their right mind would read such filth?!? While public relation specialists will give you a round of applause for your seemingly ‘cleaver’ marketing ploys, I am here to tell you that women of colour are not here to be exploited. We are not puppets to raise media controversy or revenue for an industry built on making WOC feel shit about themselves. We are made up of the exact same genetic chromosomes of white women and we are no less beautiful then them.

Cosmopolitan magazine should be ashamed of this feature and everything it subtly hints about outdated beauty standards. Additionally, a public apology should be made regarding this matter because we women of colour are not here to ‘REST IN PEACE’, we are here to be fearlessly exotic and unique in our beauty. And while you’re at it, why don’t you write something worthy of reading, like, ‘How not to write a racist beauty feature column’.

Not sincerely yours,

Nabila (A woman of colour who is too god darn fabulous to ‘RIP’)

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I AM NOT FOR MALE CONSUMPTION

As a feminist, I often get asked by men what my views are on a woman’s preference for make-up, gym clothing and sexual partners.

Just to make it clear, as a woman, I believe women are entitled to do whatever they feel comfortable doing or whatever makes them feel great about themselves. My job isn’t to sit here and judge the next woman on her personal preferences. I am here to understand the insecurities women have, what factors contribute to them and to empower women to overcome them, just as I try to do for myself. And frankly, I do not have time to prioritise your issues with ‘skimmpy gym clothing’ or ‘cake-faced chicks’ over the 28 women have been killed due to violence against women in Australia since January 2015.

Either way, women are not here to succumb to male ideals and as Janelle Monáe put it, “I am not for male consumption”.

THE PROBLEM OF PAIN: DEPRESSION

Emotional fluctuations are anticipated and normal within the human lifespan. Depression, however, is different; it is a persistent feeling of sadness, lasting more than two weeks in duration, which is detrimental to one’s behavioural, emotional, mental and physical well-being.  Depression is caused by a combination of factors such as biochemical imbalances within the brain, environmental factors, genetic make-up and personal experiences. An article published by the Stanford School of Medicine utilized twin studies to highlight the role of genes in depression, demonstrating heritability as a major risk factor for depression. While another article published by Harvard Health asserts that depression is caused by imbalances within chemical receptors which are responsible for perception and temperament.  Putting aside medical explanations of depression, environmental and personal experiences are also strong triggers for depressive illnesses.  Distressing events such as the death of loved one, loss of a job and termination of a relationship increase an individual’s vulnerability to depression.  However, the societal stigma associated with depression prevents individuals from acknowledging and accepting their illness, in turn affecting a practitioner’s ability to correctly diagnose and treat the symptomologies of depression.   This stigmatization forces sufferers to isolate themselves from social support which is an important protective and preventative factor against depression.  In turn, possibly increasing the risk of suicidal behaviour and ideation.

A week ago television personality Charlotte Dawson lost her fight to depression, committing suicide in her apartment.  Upon hearing of her death I was overcome with grief that she felt that the only escape from her depression was to take her own life, that in order to cope she had to result to such an extreme and permanent measure.  Her death had become a social media frenzy with people updating their statuses sending their condolences to her family and friends, yet, very a few people wanted to address the cause of her death, depression.  As a society we tip toe around an illness that affects 350 million people worldwide, that is one in four women and one in five men. However, as a society we need to open the conversation about depression, to lessen the judgement, the stigma and to make it easier for people to say “I am sad and my sadness is unendurable”.

I am one of those one in four women that have experienced depression.  There is no sugar-coating how it made me feel: SIMPLY SHIT.  You wake up and you do not want to get out of bed, nothing seems worse than the idea of having to engage with people, little things irritate you and you find yourself lacking patience at the simplest things, a good night’s sleep does not fix the tiredness and emotional lows become so frequent that you cry at the drop of a hat.  Depression overrides clarity, hope and optimism, leaving you feeling burdened and heavy.  The lack of control you have over yourself, your emotions and your life during depression is incredibly difficult to deal with.  From every angle of your life your feelings of sorrow are exacerbated, emotionally debilitating and exhausting you.  The experience is further intensified when you feel like you cannot share your emotions and thoughts with anyone as you do not wish to burden others and when you realise that majority of people do not have the patience to deal with your sadness.  It is essentially a solitary experience which slowly erodes the self, which is not surprising considering it is metaphorically referred to as the black dog.

My knowledge of depression was not enough to assist me in apprehending what was happening to me psychologically.  As a friend of mine said “I consider myself to be very privileged in the life that I have. That’s one of the main reasons I don’t talk about my depression, I don’t believe I have the right to feel the way I do.”  Openly discussing my experience in the privacy of my GP’s room was stressful in itself.  I sensed her judgement peering over my answers to questions like “On a scale of one to ten how anxious are you?”, as if it were absurd that someone as fortunate as myself would feel anything but gladness and gratefulness. It was not until I sat across from a trained therapist, pouring out my heart and soul, that I started putting the pieces of the puzzles together.  What I realised in those sessions was that when you deny yourself the right to deal with your problems by repressing them; you also deny yourself the ability to recover.  

An essential part in recovering was communicating. Communication does not have to entail talking, it can be a written email, letter or text, as long as it verbalises your emotional experiences. People can and will help you, however, you must search for them and be open and receptive to the support and strength they have to offer. Reaching out, verbalising that you need help and being honest with yourself is the beginning of a better day, a better week, a better month, a better year and a better life. 

When your body becomes sick, your immune system fights for its right to function; when you hold your breath, your body fights for its right to breathe; and when you break a bone, your body fights for the right to heal.    It’s the same with when you feel distressed, disheartened or depressed: you must fight to get your groove back, to live a life that is a little happier, and to find the ability to laugh and smile again.

If the most minuscule cells and parts within you haven’t given up yet, why should you?

You’re meant to fight.

If you know anyone experiencing depression please reach out to them and offer them a helping hand, in the words of Stephen Fry: “Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”

If you are experiencing depression please seek help through these avenues:

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

http://www.kidshelp.com.au/

https://www.lifeline.org.au/

http://www.beyondblue.org.au/

THE METAMORPHOSIS OF A FORMER ROMANTIC

 My punch line when my girlfriends tell me about men treating them poorly: “You deserve better”.
             I am the guru of self-empowerment when it comes to giving other women advice on how they should be treated by the men in their lives.Literally, I can hear myself say “Gurl, you need to give him the flip because he ain’t good for you”.  But you know what they say, right? Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. Well, I am the embodiment of that saying when it comes to a particular man in my life. You know that initial moment in romantic comedies where girl meets boy? Like when Matthew McConaughey rescues Jennifer Lopez from being hit by a wayward bin in The Wedding Planner. I thought I had one of those magical moments at the start of last year.
            This is why being an eternal romantic sucks, because a simple hello becomes a sign of ‘Oh, it’s meant to be’, when in actuality, it really is just a‘hello’. I don’t know what it was he did or said but I tripped and fell, dare I say, head over heels. Normally, being captivated by a seriously handsome guy isn’t something I would complain about.  However, my captor did not know how to treat me with the respect that I deserved: dates were planned an hour in advance, cancellations occurred last minute, there was no appreciation of my efforts and having a conversation was like solving a riddle. Regardless, I put up with it.  I was convinced that underneath this ‘asshole’ façade was a good man with a good heart. Needless to say, I eventually came to the realisation that even doormats were treated better than I was, and that tears were frequently spilled for a guy who, at every opportunity, made me feel pathetic.
            Dating him took a toll on me psychologically. Being someone who is semi-confident in myself I started travelling backwards, with his behaviour defeating and diminishing my self-worth. Obviously, he was treating me poorly because I wasn’t good enough, right?
            Here I was, an attractive, kind and successful 24 year old aspiring for greatness, allowing someone to make me feel exactly the opposite: small and insignificantHis inability to see my worth did not mean that I had none. I wasn’t the problem. But I had a solution.  And the solution involved me walking away.
            The end of that experience allowed me to regain my sense of my self-confidence and self-worth.  But it wouldn’t be exciting if he didn’t reappear again would it?
            Six months later he was back wanting see me because “it had been too long…”.  I was a sucker for giving people second chances and it just so happened I had a soft spot for him…so we went out for dinner.  That date was so convincingly good that it easily fell in my top three (yes, I do keep records). I was hopeful, PRAYING, that this time around things would be different, that he wouldn’t be fickle and reckless with my heart. Truth is, most people don’t change.  They make small adjustments. That was what had happened in this situation; he had made minor adjustments thinking that it was going to be enough to get me across the finish line.  But, when you care about someone, when you sincerely harbor feelings for them, minor just doesn’t cut it.
            We dismiss men who behave like him as being stereotypical ‘assholes’.  In such situations it’s only fair to assume such sentiments, however, if you were to dig beyond the surface you would learn there is more than meets the eye. Upon reflection what I observed was that, behind the last minute cancellations, the inability to communicate and the constant use of “maybe” and “hopefully” was a man imbedded with fear and insecurity. His insecurities were so ingrained within his sense of self that he feared being vulnerable to someone else.  By abusing my sincere feelings towards him, it allowed him to feel temporarily dominant, powerful.  In reality, it seems that what he struggled with most was power within himself.
            Louise Hay wrote “I love myself, therefore, I behave in a loving way to all people”.  What I took from this quote was that when one does not cherish, love and respect themselves they simply cannot reciprocate these feelings to others. Often, these individuals are absorbed by the negativity of their past and caged by regret.  Their inability to let go of the past keeps them from moving forward.
            As a woman, I believed it was a demonstration of commitment and love to tolerate his disparaging behaviour and to give him the opportunity to redeem himself by forgiving and forgetting his prior faults.  In the course of this relationship, I neglected the fact that caring for someone else did not mean that I should also stop caring for myself, and that if I wanted to care for myself, I needed remove myself from future harm or hurt.
            Although it is ingrained in me to do good and help others, what this experience has taught me is that I cannot help those that do not want to be helped. I cannot fix someone or teach them to love themselves. And I most certainly cannot fall victim to their emotional release when they’re going through their own process of self-discovery OR self-destruction.
            I am a person and I too deserve to be treated with love and respect. Just like everyone else I am worthy of that and if not more.

HAPPINESS

When you’re younger you have an idea of what a happy life looks like.  For me it was a white picket fence, flowers and a fireplace surrounded by the love of my life, my kids and a cute dog you could fit into your handbag by the age of 25. Yes, I was a romance novel visionary. But unlike Jane Austin I didn’t quite have a hit on my hands and there was no Mr Darcy to have a spirited courtship with. Evidently, that idea of happiness stayed just that, a notion.

Three months ago I made a friend through Tumblr who uses his blog to bring happiness to strangers.  After sometime he asked me write an article about happiness, I was flattered by the request and agreed to write the piece. Two months later and I am still sitting at my laptop fumbling over the right words to encapsulate this idea of happiness.  The truth is growing up I was never a happy kid.  I remember a lot of anger and sadness because I couldn’t get my head out of thoughts of how life had dealt me cards that I didn’t want, instead of getting the King or Queen I got the Joker repetitively.  And maybe I am still growing up because some days I still feel angrier and sadder than ever.  Only now those emotions aren’t internalised and selfish.  Instead those emotions relate more to how the world is rather than how MY world is. And those emotions no longer override my happiness.

The change in my attitude to happiness wasn’t as simple as clicking my fingers and having a bunny magically pop out of a top hat. It was gradual, slow and at times unnoticeable. It started when a 13 year friendship died like a withering plant. While it wasn’t an ideal life experience, it forced me to re-evaluate life, to lose the parts of me that failed as a friend and person and to implement changes for present and future circumstances. I enrolled into a kickboxing gym (I still punch like a ‘girl’), befriended, maybe even stalked, a stranger on Facebook (now one of my closest friends and inspirations), found a new job that has taught me discipline (also that love/hate relationships last) and enrolled myself back into university for another 10038 years of postgraduate study.  Initially, each of these things were out of my comfort zone and they required me to work my ass off. That’s when the complaining began.  I complained when I couldn’t get a kick right at the gym, I complained when I had to stay back at uni to finish an assignment, I complained that my job was too stressful and I complained that life sucked. It made sense though.  I was the girl whose ambition was handicapped by her laziness.  Notice how I used the word was.  As in past tense.

In training to become a Deakin University ambassador I was asked why I wanted to be a psychologist and my reply was “Much of life is mind over matter”.  That answer changed everything.  I stopped seeing and thinking of aspects of my life as chores and I began to see them as choices I made for a better life.

Happiness is much like that.

Happiness is a choice, a conscious decision you make every day.

Elizabeth Gilbert quotes “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort.  You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it and sometimes even travel the world looking for it”.  This notion of personal responsibility towards happiness isn’t something that you read in fiction books like Eat, Pray, Love, it is also a notion that has been identified by great philosophers such as Aristotle, Dalai Lama and Immanuel Kant.  Our actions, attitude and aspirations are essential ingredients for happiness. But, happiness, like all emotions, is not consistent. Emotions are fluid, they change with life situations and fluctuate over the lifespan.  Maybe I speak for myself, but a large part of happiness comes from accepting that happiness coexists with sadness, that a Ying must have a Yang.

Positive psychologist and author of Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman, utilizes scientific methodologies in his view of happiness. He compartmentalises happiness into three components, pleasure, engagement and meaning, with the latter two baring more importance. His studies found that the happiest people were those who discovered and mastered their signature strengths such as courage, humanity and persistence. This individualistic approach highlights the importance of nurturing ourselves; emphasising the use of a mental toolbox filled with tools such as forgiveness for the past, gratitude for the present and optimism for future to enable us to create a satisfactory life.  For me this year was about mastering my strengths, which was incredibly difficult because I had engaged in self-doubt for so long, becoming comfortable with the idea of being small. Breaking the pattern of low self-confidence and self-worth wasn’t easy, it required me to flush out maladaptive thoughts of myself, to understand the power words had when I spoke to myself negatively (no more I should haves), to repeatedly tell myself “I am the shit” (don’t judge me, it works) and to focus on my strengths rather than dwell on my weaknesses.  I am betting all of those tools in my toolbox had something to do with 2013 being one of the happiest years of my life.

Studies have also looked at what aspects of life brought people the greatest happiness, all observing similar results.  Altruism, exercise, relationships and spirituality rank highly as habits of happy people. Surprisingly education and money do not increase satisfaction of life, with one research study showing that once basic life needs are met, additional income does not attribute further happiness.  From personal experience I am inclined to agree with the research.  No amount of materialistic possessions can amount to happiness I feel when I laugh with my closest friends over a shared meal, when I volunteer with the underprivileged or when endorphins are released into my body after an intense boxing session.  While tangible things provide temporary happiness, what I am really looking for is long term satisfaction, to be able to extend my personal happiness to others too.

Without getting too sentimental, life doesn’t have be a big black hole filled with the downfalls of the past, the people who betrayed and hurt you, the numerous times you failed at a task or how things used to be. Life has the possibility to be beautiful and you can be the artist that creates a masterpiece by turning a yellow dot into a sun.  The blank canvas is your life, you’re the painter holding the brush and you’re in control of the strokes you paint.

What colours are you going to recommit to painting with every day of your life?

DATING DON’TS

The upside of being single is that I get to go on a lot of first dates and often a first date is where I leave it.  It isn’t because I am picky and I have a list of 57 things I am looking for in a guy. Okay, I may have lied, I have a list but it’s only like 35 qualities long, GGEEZZ.  It’s because majority of these guys tend to engage in a lot of dating don’t behaviours. Now I don’t have a degree in dating, but I do have a lot of girlfriends who have discussed their dating disasters with me and a lot of on the field experience.  This obviously qualifies me to write an article about dating don’ts, DUH!

Disclaimer: These are the experiences and opinions of myself and my friends. These experiences and suggestions do not speak for all women and are all within the context of the situation.

  1. Don’t text me, don’t Facebook me, don’t email me, don’t write me a letter, don’t Kiki messenger me and don’t Snapchat me. JUST CALL ME.

I get it, you’re nervous and you’re worried about the possibility of your voice breaking when my angelic voice says hello. It makes sense, because like in the movies, I could have you at hello.  But you’re not Jerry Maguire and I am not Dorothy.    I get that we live in a technologically advanced society, but there is no reason for you to be so advance that you can creep on my Facebook and Instagram account, spend 20 minutes to articulate the wittiest message of your life and not call me.  Don’t be the effortless and lazy guy.  Be the cool guy, the guy that defies all odds, gets my number and actually calls it.  When you call, the chances are you’ll make a better impression and get an even better response.

  1. Don’t wait for me to contact you about where we’re meeting 20 minutes before the date and then cancel.

It was date number two for my girlfriend and she had been looking forward to taking time out from university and work to enjoy some flirting and footsies over dinner.  With half an hour to go until their scheduled meeting, she messages him to confirm the location.  She got a response saying “Yeh, gotta bail”. Um, but you’re not in jail?  When you leave your manners behind, we reciprocate by leaving you behind too.  Even though your schedule is as busy as President Obama’s, if you’re going to ‘bail’, then at least have the courtesy to let us know a day in advance.

  1. Don’t take me McDonalds or TGI Friday’s.

You know what my favourite part of a date is? The food.  Therefore, my disappointment is understandable when I met my date and he tells me he is taking me to TGI Fridays.  I once went to TGI Fridays, do you know what happened? Food poisoning and taste aversion.  If you’re going to take a girl out on a date it’s only polite to ask her if she has any allergies or intolerances to food or venues.  If that isn’t a part of your repertoire, at least take her somewhere that isn’t going to be a hazard to her health.

I have to be honest, it isn’t just about the food, it’s about the effort and thought that you’ve given to organise that date. I once had someone who organised a date that made me feel like I was in my own version of Nicholas Sparks ‘A walk to remember’.  The date consisted of a delicious lunch at a hidden restaurant overlooking a lake with violins playing in the background followed being taken to watch my first tennis game.  It’s just a shame that at the time I had no idea it was a date. Dates like that that set the bench mark because you know he cares about making you happy and happiness is why we pursue relationships in the first place.

  1. Don’t be silent.

I was working at a university open day when I was approached by a guy who I instantly hit it off with.  His blue eyes and his ability to engage in witty banter made it impossible to deny his request for a date. However, at dinner he sat in silence, the quirky guy I had met a week ago had disappeared and been replaced with a mute. I accepted his personality been abducted by aliens and went into date survival mode.  To revive the situation I engaged in CPR by playing ‘21 questions’, a genius idea, until he decided to answer every question with “I don’t know…”.

Most men are not born entertainers like Kanye West and Usher but if you’re lacking conversation skills I am going to get tired, tune out and think of weird shit like ‘Who came up with the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’.

  1. Don’t compliment me by insulting my nationality or the girls sitting at the next table.

As my date and I had sat down at our table for coffee, he stared at me, smirked and said “I can’t believe you’re Indian, I mean you’re really pretty for an Indian!”  I was so shocked by his passive racist remarks that I just sat there with my mouth open scrimmaging for words.  He must have taken my silence as his queue to continue with his culturally ignorant ideologies because he then asked, “Are you sure you don’t have some white ancestry in you?”.  Compliments where you need to insult a woman’s nationality are not compliments.  They do not make you seem sweet, they make you need like an asshole who conforms to negative stereotypes about minority ethnic groups.

While we’re on the topic of compliments, please don’t feel the need to say“You’re so hot” 107 times.  The fact that you’re attracted to me was obvious when you asked me out on a date, no need to reiterate the fact several times because it’ll make you sound annoyingly superficial.  Also, please don’t make comments like “You’re like so much better looking than the girls sitting next to us at dinner”.  You admitting to checking out other women at dinner is not a turn on and neither is you feeling the need to compare me to other girls.

  1. Don’t turn up looking like you’ve just got out of bed and don’t smell like you’ve just left the gym.

It takes me approximately an hour and half to get ready for a date because I believe in stepping my best foot forward. I wish this was the case with one of the guys I had a date with. I was sitting at a bench on Chapel St when I saw him walking towards me.  His hair looked like birds had made a nest out of it and his clothes looked like they needed to be washed twice.  I was mortified and deciphering how I was going to suddenly feel sick and need to go home. So there we were, walking along Chapel St, me looking like I stepped out of a fashion advertisement and him looking like he stepped out of a horror film.  If you don’t want me to fake an emergency to get out of the date please make sure you that you shower, put a hairbrush through your hair and wear clean ironed clothes.  The only exception to this rule is if you’re Channing Tatum, in that case, you can do no wrong.

Research shows that the most important sensory organ is our sense of smell and that this dictates our mating behaviour.  When it comes to dating I tend to follow my nose as odours have the ability to alter my mood and influence my attraction levels. If you smell like you’ve just left the gym after an intense training session or like you’ve just climbed out a garbage truck, that’s a deal breaker, tough I know.  Odours are the spice of my pheromones and I want your odour to smell like that of a tall, dark and handsome Calvin Klein model.

  1. Don’t show me a picture of your ex-girlfriend, talk about how hot she is or cry about how much you loved her.

So you apparently dated Gisele Bundchen, good for you!  Do you want fries with that? I don’t care if your ex-girlfriend walked the catwalk for Victoria Secret, although I may want her phone number to get some discounts on their lingerie.  The hotness of your ex-partner neither impresses me nor does it say anything about you except for that you’re on the vain side. Moreover, I get that it may have been really hard breaking up with someone that was so hot but please do not feel the need to use our date as talk therapy.  Being a psychology student I know I should be sympathetic to your deep seeded regrets about your break-up, but I am not, especially because dinner is not an adequate charge for a therapy session.

  1. Don’t sit there and use your phone incessantly.

Don’t kill the mood by pulling out your phone and tweeting and texting.

7.05:“Omg I just got here”

7.11:“Omg I just sat down”

7.45:“Omg I am just eating now”

8.30:“Omg she’s so hot”

8.56: “Omg she just smile at me”

9.14:“Omg I think I am gonna get laid tonight”

Don’t do that. Put your fucking phone away.

  1. Don’t get freaked out by eye contact

A great thing is to make eye contact with women. It’ll allow us to connect with you and peer deep into your soul.  It’ll also test if you get freaked out by looking into my big chocolate coloured eyes. But don’t look into my eyes for more than 2.3 minutes because I know what a prolonged look-at-me means.  It means you’re trying to see if I am in love with you. And the answer is no.

  1. Use proper English.

My friend went out on a date with a 43 year old, who initially lied about his age and claimed he was 32.  While the lying was already a deal breaker, the shit storm didn’t hit until he asked her if she wanted to stay over and have ‘breakfasty’ in the morning. Yes, he said breakfasty.  As in pronounced break-fast-ee. Baby talk is for babies, not 43 year old grown men. And no, she isn’t going to stay over for breakfasty.

  1. Don’t invite us out, order everything on the menu, eat it and then make us pay for it.

A girlfriend of mine was invited out for sushi by a guy she wasn’t really all that into. After a month of deliberation, she gave him a chance. On the date, he ordered half the menu and ate everything that came to the table, with my girlfriend only eating one sushi from the platter.  One. Upon the bill arriving, the owner of a ‘prosperous’ business split the bill with my girlfriend, who at the time was a student, and kept her change.  If you invite me out on a date, it is only fair you get the bill because I would have much rather stayed in bed watching a rerun of Mean Girls. And I bet that sounds pretty entitled and hypocritical coming from a feminist, but considering you earn more than me you don’t have an excuse to be a cheapo.

  1. Don’t get drunk and hit on the waitress

So I am sitting at Chin Chin’s and this guy has already had three beers. Three beers were all it took for him to unwind and start checking out our waitress.  Although I was feeling uncomfortable, I ignored it because eating my favourite soft shell crab curry was more important.  As the waitress returned with his fourth drink he complimented her on her pretty hair.  The waitress awkwardly thanked him, but he continued to compliment her about pretty she looked and how her hair framed her face perfectly. At this stage I wasn’t alone in feeling uncomfortable, I could tell the waitress was feeling a little overwhelmed by his flirtatious niceties.  This was my cue to call him out on his behaviour, something which he denied, as little boys do. That was the first and the last time I saw him.  Being attracted to the opposite sex is natural but it does not have to be flaunted in front of your date, unless you’re trying to give them a reason to never see you again.