It sounds absurd to say now, but I thought my ex was the one. I was no holds barred crazy in love with my ex boyfriend and I can honestly say I’d never felt that way before. The relationship was unstable at times and we drove each other crazy, but even when he bailed on our future oh so many times, I still had a feeling deep down inside telling me that we had a future together. It was almost like I couldn’t ‘see’ that future, but had that ‘just knowing’ feeling that people talk about when they meet the one.

As it goes, my so called ‘one’ decided to break my heart and, possibly, leave me for another girl (not confirmed but assumed from the evidence I have seen online. Hey, social media stalking is totally normal after a break up). But this break up hit me hard. So hard that I cried in the toliets at a blog event just at the thought of my ex being on dating websites. So hard that one of my oldest friends proclaimed she was worried about me as she’d never seen me this cut up over a guy before (and she’d seen me get over a relationship that was even more unstable/up and down than this one!). So hard that I very nearly sold/gave up my expensive Boomtown Fair ticket just because I was scared I’d see him there with his new girlfriend.

Let’s look at the facts here though to really drive this home.

Formidable Joy | Personal | How a music festival helped me get over my break up | Love | Relationships

  • Boomtown Fair has an estimated 60,000 people attend/camp every year, so you can imagine how slim the chances of me bumping into him would have been. But I do have the worst luck with stuff like that and always bump into people I know/ex’s at music festivals.
  • My Boomtown ticket was something like nearly £300 altogether. I was willing to not only sell this but possibly even just give it up and not go and lose all that money.
  • I am a girl that says yes to everything! I love random adventures and quirky music festivals so the fact that I almost said no to this just because of bumping into him made me so sad.

It sounds silly now, but I couldn’t even comprehend what I would do if I saw him with the girl he supposedly left me for. Or any girl. Or even just him alone. I was petrified it would ruin my whole experience, that I’d run back to the tent and cry for hours on end or get horribly, horribly drunk and do god knows what.

As it goes, I manned up and just went in the end, only with the belief that I probably wouldn’t even see him. And, the promise from my friend that if she saw him, she’d simply march me away with no explanation. I actually thought I saw him in the distance at one time and I panicked so much that I ducked behind a chair! But it wasn’t him, luckily, haha.

It was probably the second night when I was however many drinks in, dancing like a loony to a random band with my best friend beside me when I realized, ‘oh, hold on, I can’t actually remember the last time I cried over him’. And then thought, actually I’m kind of okay. Actually, if he was here, I doubt he’d be doing the same thing as me and that I was having a really bloody good time and that suddenly I’d come to realize that our lives had gone into completely different directions..and I was kind of okay with that.

It took a few more instances to help that feeling stick. It took me kissing a cute boy (who I probably shouldn’t have kissed) and donning a mermaid crown. It involved me doing so many insane and crazy things that weekend. My ex would never have done those things with me; he wasn’t a fan of trying new things. And when it poured down with rain and we were stuck in our tent for a few hours, I still couldn’t be sad. I thought about how my ex was probably hating this festival right now because it was just so out there so for it to rain and be cold would have been horrible for him. He hated to travel too and deep down I want someone who likes to travel and likes to say yes to adventure and crazy out there things.

So even though the hurt of how he left me and how happy he is is yet to go away (not that I don’t want him to be happy, I just think its a little unfair how he can leave me for someone else in a horrible, horrible way and be happy in a new relationship with no remorse), I am okay.

Boomtown would have been fun with him. He didn’t like to try new things, but, with a push, he’d give things a go with my encouragement. It meant I would have had warm snuggles when sheltering from the rain and an endless supply of butterfly kisses when waiting in line. It meant I would have had someone to carry me over all the mud and someone to look after me when I drunk too much. It meant I could have added more amazing memories to our once amazing relationship and honestly? It meant he probably would have had a more amazing time with me then what he probably did in reality (I assume just getting drunk the whole time and partying, from what I’ve been told about the people he went with – I can’t imagine he took the time to explore or experience all the crazy and fun things that I did.)

Oh, and this isn’t a dig at him. Even though he hurt me, he was the most amazing person I ever met. I loved him so, so much and I’m so, so thankful for everything he did for me and all the great times we had together. I’ll probably always love him on some level, just, due to the way everything played out, I just don’t like him very much as a person right now. Love him still in someway, yes, probably. But not like. And I know you all know what I mean by that.

I am enjoying being single and the prospect of adventures when I like with whoever I like. I am okay with making my favourite vegan pizza for myself now and I think I am finally okay with accepting that I’ll never see my amazing extended Romanian family again (who I still miss so much). I am okay with accepting he is the type of person to jump from relationship to relationship when I simply am not and cannot. I am okay with the possibility that I may just bump into him one day in the future and that I can be civil and nice..although luckily I can’t see this ever happening..!

But hey. I had an even more amazing time without him and that’s why this festival helped me get over this break up. So if you’re ever struggling to get over a break up, spend an obscene amount of money on a festival ticket without even doubting how much money you’re spending. Get your best friends together, make yourself a pretty floral crown, go to that music festival and say yes to as many goddamn crazy, unique and out there things you can.

Because after that, you’ll never look back.

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I don’t know about you but I’m a little bit weird when it comes to dipping my toe into the world pool of dating again after a break up. I like to sit and mope for ages and, because I tend to fight for things to the end and struggle to let things go, I’m definitely not the type of person to just go out and date/have fun right away (so to speak).

I spend a long time worrying about whether or not dating and sex has changed since the last time I tried it (haha) and, when the time feels right, I’ll generally try a half assed attempt at dating again before getting bored and giving up.

Whilst most people tend to jump into bed with someone the moment they become single (because it apparently helps with the moving on process) I do the complete opposite. I know, for me, that when that time comes for me or said ex, it’s all over for good. Once you sleep with someone else, you cannot take that back. That’s the cut off point for me so that’s perhaps why I don’t do this.

Still, whether you take your time like me or you jump straight into it, it can still be tough to start actually dating again. Whether you’re scared, worried it’s all changed, have lost all confidence or simply don’t know where to begin, there are some small steps you can take to ease yourself in.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Dating | 5 ways to get back on the dating horse | Love | Relationships

GET A MAKEOVER
First and foremost, take care of you. After any break up, I always focus on self improvement – not that I think I need a makeover, but because I crave change and because any break up leaves you feeling a little low in confidence. If a full on makeover is too much, try a new haircut, getting your eyebrows waxed and tinted or booking in for a massage. The most important person in your life is you again, so make sure you really look after yourself before doing anything else. This also counts for emotional self care too – write down your feelings, learn a new language or start bullet journaling.

START GOING TO GIGS ALONE
Ever missed out on seeing a great band live because none of your friends like them? The key is to start going alone. You can get there as early (or as late as you like), you can get to the front easier and it’s another great confidence boost. No one cares or even notices if you’re at a gig alone. And there’s plenty of opportunities to start chatting to cute guys, whether that’s at the bar or in between sets in the mosh pit. Plus, there are tons of chances to flirt using body language; you’re constantly standing close to one another.

ASK YOUR FRIENDS TO SET YOU UP WITH SOMEONE
Yes, it may be a disaster. But it also might be a lot of fun too. If you’ve never tried this, now is the time. No matter what the outcome is, you’ll also soon realize what your friend thinks of you when you discover who they pick!

GET ON THOSE DATING WEBSITES
If you can’t beat em, join them. 50% of people suffer at the thought of online dating whereas the other 50% have taken it in their stride. It’s the absolute norm now. I know no one likes to say they met their significant other online, but remember, at this point in time, you’re not looking for a significant other. If you’re just looking for fun, for company or looking simply out of curiosity, logging onto some dating sites will, at the very least, give you a confidence boost as you indulge in some flirty fun.

DON’T PUSH IT
Finally, some of the best advice I can give you is to just not push it. You may want to go out and sleep with everyone or you may want to hold on tight and lock down the next person that gives you attention but don’t do this just for the sake of it or just to fill a hole. Yes, this might be how your ex moves on and they might act and seem happy and make you feel like crap. But is it really healthy to jump from relationship to relationship or sleep around? No. Just remember, deep down, they’re probably feeling as sh*t as you are but are going one step further by either sleeping around and creating a reputation for themselves or jumping into a new relationship and inevitably hurting someone else.

You are better than that. If it feels right to sleep with someone, go for it. But don’t do it just because you think it’ll help because in actual fact you’ll just feel worse the next morning and regret it. You might meet someone who sweeps you off your feet, but be sure to separate your feelings of lust and being wanted again before you make a commitment. They may only be filling a temporary hole your ex left behind and you’ll only hurt yourself and them when you come to this realisation.

Do you have any tips for dating again after a long term relationship? Let me know..

*Please note, this is a sponsored post but all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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I love a good date. Whether it’s the first date with someone special (complete with first date butterflies!) or the first date night in a long time with your other half, a date is such a wonderful thing. You get dressed up, you flirt, you try and impress…and after all, there really is nothing better than going out with someone lovely who thinks the world of you.

I also love a quirky date. Though for first dates I tend to stick to drinks or the cinema (meals out are a terrible idea because if you don’t click it can be super awkward, whereas the cinema is usually debatable. I like it because although you can’t talk, you can still discreetly hold their hand in the dark without them seeing you blush…!), there’s been a few dates that stand out as quite memorable in my mind. One guy took me to Southend beach front and we spent the day riding roller coasters, whereas the first date with my ex was spent mooching around town (coffee, to Tesco’s for avocado and ice cream, to food, to drinks…) because we didn’t want it to end.

Although I wouldn’t suggest something really out there for a first date (unless you know they’re super special!), it’s always good to have some ideas for third or fifth dates (perhaps when things go from dates to ‘seeing’ each other or boyfriend-and-girlfriend), anniversaries or special times.

So I’ve put together a list of my favourite wacky/unique/uber-fun/out there date ideas in the UK…

REGENT’S OPEN AIR THEATRE
Even if you’re not a huge fan of theatre, seeing a play at this open air theatre in the middle of Regent’s Park just oozes romance. The setting is beautiful – think rustic stage surrounded by greenery and twinkling fairy lights when night falls – and there’s dining options on site too. The most romantic choice is a picnic or luxury hamper you can order in advance though. The picnic costs £49.95 and includes a mouthwatering menu of quiche, pork pies, freshly prepared sandwiches, chef’s ‘world famous’ sausage roll, crisps, dessert and even wine. Can you imagine scoffing this on the grass before the show on a warm summer day? So romantic.
Perfect for summer dates when you’re a few dates in but still looking for a date to impress.

ZED EVENTS
Horror and adrenaline fans; this one’s for you. Zed Events boast the coolest zombie apocalypse experiences – and they’re not for the faint hearted. Their last venture (still running until the end of February) saw groups undertake realistic training before being let loose to explore an abandoned mall, following a storyline to avoid getting bitten by zombies. The event even included realistic weapons which could be used to shoot at the ‘zombies’. This experience is just finishing up as the team put their newest venture, due to be launched very soon. We know little about it – except it’s based in a Wasteland (in Reading) and if it’s anything like the The Mall, you can be assured that it’s going to be a totally immersive and heart pounding experience. Stay tuned and keep your eyes on Zed Events to discover more.
Perfect for special events and group dates.

THE FORBIDDEN CORNER
The Forbidden Corner in North Yorkshire has been on my bucket list for years now. Annoyingly, I discovered it not long after I left uni, which is a shame because I was studying somewhat nearby for three years and would have had plenty of chances to visit! This wonderfully weird outdoor attraction is hard to explain but an exploration of the grounds will find you discovering bizarre statues and sculpted grottos, braving subterranean chambers and finding secret gardens. It’s kind of like a huge oddball real life fairytale, but more like a Tim Burton version. It’s best visited to really discover the place as words don’t do it justice.
Best for long term couples that want to mix it up a bit.

SOLENT FORTS
Solent Forts have been on my radar for a long time now. The three island resorts – off the coast of Portsmouth – have a lot to offer despite floating in the middle of the sea! Horse Sand Fort is great for history lovers – a visit includes the chance to explore the ‘living museum’ on the underdeveloped fort. No Man’s Fort is like a party hotel and is ideal for events and weddings with seven function rooms, a cabaret bar, games room, lazer battle area, a sauna and spa, rooftop hot tubs and a fire pit. Plush indeed. Spitbank Fort is the best of both worlds – it’s smaller and slightly cheaper than No Man’s Fort but offers just as much luxury. It boasts eight luxury bedroom suites, a function room, wine cellar, games room, a sauna and fire pit, a rooftop pool and a beyond beautiful lighthouse. If an overnight stay is too pricey, you can also visit the forts for just lunch or afternoon tea.
Perfect for special anniversaries or proposals. 

DRIVE IN FILM CLUB WITH EXPERIENCE CINEMA
Another London based date, but one that oozes old school romance. Drive In Film Club is just like those amazing American drive ins – you park up, you can order food direct to your car (hot dogs, popcorn etc) and channel the movie’s audio through your speakers. It’s so much fun and takes place in really stunning locations like Alexandra Palace. The added benefit is that it doesn’t matter about the weather because you’re inside your car and it’s super cheap – entry is based on per car as opposed to per person. Experience Cinema are the company behind Rooftop Film club and other cool movie experiences too, so you know you’re in good hands.
Perfect for first dates and mate dates.

These are just five of many, many quirky date ideas that will never fail to impress – may I suggest bookmarking this post for future reference? And if you don’t have a special someone to take you to these places, why not look online for potential dates? You could try Dorset dating sites, Wiltshire dating sites, West Yorkshire dating sitessingle women in Lancashire and date Surrey singles.

Do you have any go-to quirky date ideas? Let me know!

*Please note, this is a sponsored post but all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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Relationships are a beautiful thing. There really is nothing better then falling head over heels for someone who you want to spend the rest of your life with. Relationships give you memories you’ll never forget, whether that’s romantic holidays or jokes that make you both laugh so hard that you snort. Unfortunately though, sometimes things have to end and sometimes you have to go through the gut-wrenching pain of trying to mend a broken heart.

Accepting that a relationship is over or is no longer working sucks big time. But it’s important to remember that you need to look after yourself as well, so here are some ways to help mend a broken heart when the inevitable happens.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Relationships | 7 ways to mend a broken heart | Dating | Love | Relationships |

ALLOW YOURSELF TO WALLOW IN SELF PITY
It’s entirely natural and healthy to mourn a relationship, no matter what way feels best for you. Hole yourself up in your room for a weekend and binge-watch Friends with a tub of ice cream, or go out drinking with your friends for however many nights straight. Neither way is more healthy than the other but you need to wallow and do what you do. It seems tempting to put on a brave face and look ahead, but it’s important to feel your emotions too because if you don’t, how are you ever going to heal?

FOCUS ON YOUR FUTURE
Although it might seem that your whole future has gone down the drain in a matter of weeks, it’s important to remember that there is still a future there, even if it’s not as you imagined anymore. You might not have motivation to do much or look ahead, but there should be at least one thing to focus on whether that’s blogging, getting to the gym for a workout or writing in general. If you’ve ever wanted to pick up a new hobby or research a side business, now is the time when you actually, y’know, have time.

BLOCK YOUR EX
No questions asked. Yes it’ll hurt and yes it may seem extreme but still talking to them so soon after the break up will not help one bit because you’ll either feel like you’re getting on really well and want to get back together or you’ll spend the whole time convinced they’ve met someone which will hurt like hell. Blocking them is the best thing to do because you’ll both have space away from each other to move on.

UNDERSTAND WHY IT DIDN’T WORK 
Relationships don’t just end for no reason. You always learn something from a relationship – good or bad – and you should take this away from the relationship. Maybe you weren’t understanding enough. Maybe they didn’t communicate very well. At the end of the day, if it’s meant to be, it will be – as my nan always says. So if it was meant to work, it would have done.

MOVE ON
You’re probably nowhere near ready for a new relationship yet but that doesn’t mean you have to be entirely alone. Your confidence is probably at an all time low right now so talking to some good looking guys online or going on one or two dates could probably be really helpful when the time comes. Try heading online for websites like an Essex dating site, Cumbria dating sites, dating in Birmingham, to date Dorset singles or even single women in Gwent if that’s your thing (and there’s nothing wrong with moving on from men completely and experimenting a bit this time around either!). The important thing to remember is not to rush things: my cut off point for the end of a relationship is always when either one of you does the deed and sleeps with someone else. In my mind, there’s no going back from that. So if you want to move on for the sake of yourself but still want things to work out, by all means, go out and date but hold off on jumping into bed with someone until you’re entirely ready because once you do, there’s no taking that back!

TREAT YO’ SELF
Always, always take time to treat yourself. Go out and splurge money on some pretty lingerie from Boux Avenue or get yourself a stunning new hair cut. You deserve it.

A NEUTRAL MEETING WITH YOUR EX
Finally, after all the tears or once you feel like you’ve accepted things, I believe it’s also important to meet up with your ex on neutral grounds, especially if you still have things to give back to each other. This could be months after the break up, but you’re always going to have to see them again one day anyway, so why not get it over and done with? A quick coffee will be the perfect opportunity to show them you’ve moved on and you’re okay and is also the ideal way to say goodbye for a final time on good terms. You could also use this time to discuss once more why things went wrong; after so much time has passed and you’ve had some space away from each other, it will be a lot easier to talk about things without feelings involved. Plus, who knows, you might find yourself both understanding what went wrong and might want to give things another go..!

The important thing to remember though is that when you break up with someone, you must always focus on yourself first. Even if you do want to try to fight for things and get back together, there’s no use waiting around and putting yourself down waiting for a chance that might never happen. It’s always best to focus on making yourself feel better because, if anything, this is more likely to encourage your ex to see you being mature about the whole thing. If you’ve both had time apart to work on yourselves and realize what went wrong, you’re more than likely to eventually rebuild things if there are still feelings there months down the line.

What do you think? What’s your fail-safe way of dealing with heartbreak? Let me know!

*Please note, this is a sponsored post but all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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I may not be an expert when it comes to love and relationships but with fresh heartbreak under my belt (more on that later..maybe!), I can safely say I have learned a lot during my 11 years of dating the opposite sex.

I wholeheartedly believe that that’s the beauty of love though. Each relationship – even the bad ones that you look back on with regret – teach you something. And these things you learn stay with you as you go through life and meet the right person! So even the bad relationships are good for you in a way.

Here’s some things I’ve learned in my 11 years of dating.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Dating | 6 things I've learned in my 11 years of dating | Love | Relationships | Advice

BEWARE OF ‘PSYCHO EX’S’
Let me be entirely clear about this, I have learned time and time again that if a man uses the words ‘my ex is/was a psycho’ when you first meet, chances are HE IS THE PSYCHO or it’s just an excuse to cover his past, present and future tracks. Ah yes. It’s so easy to see through rose-tinted glasses to believe that an ex that is being ‘too friendly’ and ‘just won’t get the hint’ despite him apparently insisting to her multiple times that it’s over. You’ll believe him until evidently months or years down the line you’ve unwillingly become ‘that’ ex, sending him perfectly understandable messages about why he has suddenly started seeing someone else after dumping you to be single and why he won’t answer you when you deserve an explanation. Yep, I’m sorry to say this ladies, but if a guy tells you his ex is psycho, it’s probably because he’s leading her on whilst moving in on you and wants an excuse to cover up the fact that he’s clearly breaking her heart and her messages are just a repercussion of that. Stay well clear, else soon enough you’ll be labelled that ‘psycho ex’.

YOU CAN’T FORCE SOMEONE TO CARE
You just can’t. Yes, life would be easier if they loved you as much as you love them. You can be the perfect partner by being romantic and supportive but people can’t help how they feel. Much like when you friendzone someone, you don’t want to hurt them and you wish they didn’t feel that way or you felt the same way but sometimes you just can’t force things.

LISTEN TO YOUR INSTINCTS
I was about three weeks into my uni relationship when I realized that my boyfriend at the time was a) a player and b) would never fully commit to me. But lo and behold, he was hot, he showed no signs of straying and I thought maybe I’d finally tamed him. I was wrong. If I’d listened to my instincts, I would have avoided nearly two years of stress. I mean I don’t regret the relationship but it taught me that I should have listened to that gut feeling from the get go.

…BUT KNOW WHAT’S WORTH FIGHTING FOR
If you’re like me, you may find it hard to walk away and want to fight for everything. This rarely has good outcomes for me but I’m proud of this part of me. I’m proud to be the one in the relationship who will always stand up and fight for it to keep going. That said, when it gets to the point when I know it’s no longer worth fighting for, I then walk away. My point is that relationships aren’t black and white: someone may do something to hurt you but if you know they/the relationship is worth working through, then screw what everyone else says and give it your all.

DON’T LOSE YOURSELF
It’s very easy to consume yourself entirely in a relationship. Partners often become best friends too, so it’s no surprise when relationships with your other friends get put on the back burner for a bit. I’m very guilty of giving my all – in fact, often too much – to a relationship and this is definitely a bad habit. Of course it’s good to want to put your other half first sometimes, especially if they make you happy, but you should always remember to take time for yourself too. Don’t let your own goals suffer for their priorities – compromise is such an important word in a relationship for example. Don’t give up your hobbies – I gave up my pole dancing classes when I met Vincent because travelling back to Luton every Thursday just wasn’t convenient for me at the time, but now I regret it and wished that I’d kept that regular weekly thing for just me. So, to conclude, go with the flow and definitely fall head over heels for someone and spend as much time as you like with them if it feels right. But remember to keep something for yourself too.

RELATIONSHIPS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS UNEXPECTED
They tend to happen when you least expect it so if you’re single and looking for a relationship, try taking the back burner and not looking for one. Concentrate on yourself for a bit first and you’ll hopefully soon find that someone will come along when you’re not looking. That said, it’s never fun to be lonely either and if you want to not-look-for-the-relationship-you-actually-want, dating is always a good shout. Why not try online dating with Cambridge dating sitesdating in Manchester, and Aberdeen dating sites in search of single men in Nottinghamshire or to date Hertfordshire singles? Whether you’re after just dating, a bit of fun or something more, you’re bound to find someone looking for the same thing online. And, who knows, maybe one of those dates will turn into an unexpected relationship..!

However, whether or not I learn from these mistakes and lessons is a whole other kettle of fish…!

Do you have any fail-safe advice or knowledge you’ve picked up on since dating? Let me know!

*Please note, this is a sponsored post but all views and opinions are entirely my own.
*Images taken using Dom&Ink‘s Map My Heart.
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