I’d stayed at his flat plenty of times before. There had been the first night we spent together. The time two-days-accidentally-turned-into-a-whole-week. Days where he’d worked and I’d tidied, cooked and washed clothes and dishes in between playing The Sims.
But when I was offered some temporary work at his bar – and couldn’t say no to the idea of some extra cash – there was no question that I’d be spending more time there than normal.
After all, he lived a mere five minutes away from work. Now, with no car, my journey would take me between fourty minutes and an hour and a half, and with shifts starting early in the morning, the bus wasn’t always an option.

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So with this in mind, I packed an even heavier bag than normal. More clothes. Makeup. A couple of bits that would now stay at his permanently. 
I’d been meaning to do it for a long time really – gather some things like dry shampoo and makeup to keep here all the time. But I just didn’t get around to it.
That day, I kept his key so I could let myself in whilst he was at work. I took a hot shower, changed into my pajamas and sat down to write this post – on his computer, even though I had my laptop with me of course.
And something just felt weird – but not in a bad way.
Not just weird.
Good. Secure. Long term.
We’d already discussed moving in together later this year and although me staying whilst working isn’t permanent – I’ll still be popping home on my days off really – it felt weird that I didn’t know when I’d next spend a night in my own bedroom. It felt weird leaving things here and trying to find my own little area to keep them (I haven’t scoped out an area yet).
It felt like our future was turning into less of a fantasy and more of a reality.
And I really like that. 
Here’s to the beginning of the future – our future.

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A while back, I attended the launch party of Yuc – the Yelp community – and as I had a plus one, I invited my boyfriend. My boyfriend doesn’t really know much about blogging, apart from the fact that when he games I blog and I sometimes leave my blog open on his PC so he can read it, so I thought it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on what it was like being a plus one to a blogger event for the first time.
So I sat down and quizzed him and came up with these five things he learned from attending.
Also this isn’t the best photo of us – soz – but it’s the only high quality photo of us from the said event.

And yes, that is a unicorn horn I’m wearing. The party was wild animal themed and so of course I finally had an excuse to wear it.

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I’ve never been to a ‘blogger event’ so I wasn’t sure what to expect – I thought it would just include a visit to the ice bar. However, it was a lot more than that. The event was to publicize a launch so there were speeches, a competition for best dressed, and free food and drink. It was clear to see that it was a classy event and not just a mooch around an ice bar or a publicity stunt.
People were friendly and it was easy to make contacts – I mean, I chatted to the bar tender as I’m not a blogger myself, but I saw that Louise and other bloggers use these type of events to meet new people and network – it’s not just a party, you do have to put yourself out there and see it as an opportunity to learn about the company who hosted the launch and their products. It’s not just an excuse to go and make use of free drink.
I – along with everyone else – loved the fact that the food and drink was free. Free food at an event? Who knew. I couldn’t eat anything as I’m vegan, but I humoured my girlfriend stuffing her face with mini burgers and shrimp cocktails. I totally took advantage of the free bar though. And I’m still loving my free mug too!
…and a lot colder than I thought it would be. Also, although we were there on my girlfriend’s behalf, I did find the idea of the app interesting.
I had to take lots of photos and sort of get out of my comfort zone by talking to people too. I’m obviously being trained to be one of these blogger boyfriends who take outfit photos and the like. However, I’m looking forward to being a plus one to more cool events. It was interesting to see such a sociable event on behalf of learning about a new brand as opposed to something boring such as a sit down presentation; I didn’t really know that new products or brand launches could be presented that way and it worked well.
In answer to his last point – yes, I am training him to become a blogger boyfriend and will soon be enlisting his help for some outfit posts. I don’t know how successful I’ll be however as he already gets annoyed when we’re out eating and I take photos or I insist on adding random things to my Instagram story when out and about – oops!
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At just three years shy of 30, I like to think I have most of my shit together when it comes to relationships.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect – I still go batshit crazy when I’m PMSing – but there are some things I’ve learned from my early twenties.

Unfortunately, one of them things isn’t how to deal with the baggage that comes along with a new relationship, or, most notably, ‘ex girlfriend’ baggage.

Not all relationships are plain sailing. I’ve had my fair share of complicated relationships in the past, but up until recently, I never had the trouble of an ex girlfriend who just wouldn’t let go – at least not to this extent.

I don’t think many people do, nor do many people go into a relationship expecting to deal with that type of baggage or even knowing how to minimize it. Still, I learned that it can happen and I also learned how to deal with it, so hopefully, if you’re ever in a similar situation, this might help you.

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Similarly, don’t downplay your own feelings either. If something is really bothering you, voice your concern. I know it sucks to be *that* girl who doesn’t like who their boyfriend talks to or gets a say in who he should have in his life – but being uncomfortable with an overbearing ex doesn’t make you that girl at all. Drop the cool girl facade: you can’t always be happy and easygoing and if you don’t tell him/your other half that it bothers you, it’s only going to niggle away at you and make things worse. Don’t downplay it either. An ex messaging and trying to move in on your man is not okay, even if he rejects her or ignores her messages! Plus, what’s better in a new relationship than getting to the point where you can let your guard down a little and show your vulnerable side? It’s tough, but it’s a necessary step to take to really feel comfortable around each other.

Unfortunately, some ex’s just can’t let go, and often that’s all there is to it. There are always going to be people in this world who don’t have standards, who set their sights on something and try their hardest to get it – without caring about who they hurt on the way. But, sometimes, there’s a reason for this type of thing. Is your other half accidentally sending off the wrong vibes whilst trying to stay friends with an ex? Are they not quite as over the ex as they claim to be? Try and get to the bottom of the problem, as it’s always super easy to paint an ex as someone who can’t move on (and often, this is true), but sometimes they’re getting mixed signals or might even be entirely innocent with your other half leading them on (this has happened to me before, and it’s not unusual for guys to pair ‘psycho ex girlfriends’ against ‘current girlfriends’ when in reality they just want to have their cake and eat it too – unfortunately it’s a fail safe way to have an excuse for their actions should any issues arise).

I’d never condone anyone to try and choose who can and cannot be in their other halves life, but if it’s really bothering you, it can’t hurt to ask them to do the honours. This may be an unpopular opinion but at the end of the day, and ex is an ex for a reason. They might still have them on Facebook because they want to be friends or maybe they haven’t deleted their number because they don’t want things to be awkward if they bump into each other on a night out, but none of that is as important as how it’s affecting you. Any boyfriend would be more than happy to delete an ex (if they’re acting out of order) from their life to reassure you. And let’s face it, they probably have a lot of friends anyway. Why would they need another in the form of an ex?

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Likewise, block them yourselves, even if they’ve never made contact with you directly. It’ll stop them watching what you’re both up to and it’ll mean you don’t have to put up with vague-but-obviously-aimed-at-you Facebook statuses. My favourite was that I should learn the difference between being loved and being a rebound, even though my boyfriend had been single since before Christmas and had dated other girls between breaking up with his ex and meeting me. You just don’t need that in your life, especially if the ex is prone to playing games = don’t let stuff like that play on your mind and make the situation worse.

Trust is super important in a relationship, but it’s really only in times like these that you realize how important it is and how vital it is. Some ex’s will go as far as trying to get into your head; whether that’s claiming you can’t make your other half happy, insisting he’s not actually over his ex or even creating lies that he may have cheated on you. Even if it’s just one person’s word against the other’s, it’s really important to put your trust in your other half; no matter what.

This would also be a good way to get to the bottom of things, but generally, men are really crap with this type of thing. In their mind, they’re with you, not them, so that should be that. In your/a girls mind, you know that forthcoming behaviour from an ex isn’t right, the Facebook statuses are throwing shade and generally, until you know that they know what they’re doing isn’t right/they’ve been told to back off, it’s going to worry you. You don’t have to be a b*tch about it, but if things get really bad, there’s nothing wrong with just asking why they’re still chasing after your other half and if there is a particular reason, like him not making it obvious enough that he’s moved on or her still believing there’s a chance etc. 

Finally, don’t feel ashamed that it’s got to you; most of the time, they’re doing what they’re doing for the simple fact of getting to you so that the issues will arise in your relationship and you’ll break up and let them win. But just because it bothers you and plays on your mind, it doesn’t mean that your relationship isn’t strong or secure. I had my boyfriend’s ex messaging me things like ‘he’s only with you to fill the void I left’ and ‘I will always love him and put up with the fact that he’s with you because I understand him and he knows that’, which, of course, hurt and kind of tapped into my insecure side that every girl has. But when I thought about it further, I made the choice to not listen and not let her win. Sometimes it’s not when they harass your other half but more what they say to you; if they play on your insecurities, it’s very easy to cause arguments between you and cause a break up. If it gets to you, don’t be ashamed, but just speak to your boyfriend or other half about it and let him reassure you it’s not true.

I’d just like to add that despite what I’ve said above, it’s always important to be sure that what you’re fighting for is worth it. In my case, it was, because I genuinely see a future with my boyfriend, but sometimes, the drama can get too much. Your other half has to meet you halfway, but there’s always the possibility of it not going away completely. If your boyfriend isn’t taking the correct measures to remove the issue from his life, sometimes it’s just not worth staying for the drama = there’s only so much you can take.

In the wise words of a creepy porno director from the film The Girl Next Door, “Always know if the juice is worth the squeeze.”

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Online dating is both a weird and wonderful thing.

For some people, it’s an absolute godsend. If you’re skint and don’t have time to go out and meet people in bars, if you’re kind of shy in real life or even if you feel that everyone is on Tinder and POF anyway so it’s no use trying to meet people in ‘real life’ then, of course, online dating is your answer.
Online dating has led to some great things. I know friends that have met their serious other halves by logging online and we all know there are plenty of stories about people who have met and gone on to get married by forgoing the traditional way of looking for love.
Then there’s the bad, too. The weirdos. The horror stories. The fact that deep down you still wish you could meet someone offline in more ‘normal’ circumstances.
But what surprises me the most is just how socially acceptable it is to online date these days. Years and years ago, I’d be embarrassed at the thought. I wouldn’t tell my friends in the fear that they’d judge me and think I’m not good enough to find someone in real life. But with the rise of Tinder, it seems pretty much everyone has taken a dip into the online dating pool and shared their experiences.
Here are just a few things I’ve personally learned since giving it a go.

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Okay, ‘selling yourself’ sounds dodge, but when you write that little (or long) bio, you are essentially selling yourself and it’s so hard thinking of what to write. You want to share your best parts without giving too much away and with a bit of air and mystery, too. But you also want to stand out. I always feel tempted to put some sort of forewarning like ‘don’t message me if you’re going to waste my time, please’ but it always sounds rather rude. And it’s so hard to get your profile information to a genuinely acceptable length. I tend to start with the basics (age/personality type/what I’m addicted to currently – aka basically my Twitter headline) and then spend a couple of sentences listing my likes. Then I’ll vaguely write what I’m looking for on said website, aka dating-to-see-where-it-leads when really I mean dating-but-I-want-it-to-lead-to-a-relationship, and sometimes I throw in final line like often needing a plus one to snazzy blog/work events. Because yes, in all honesty, if I’ve been talking to someone cute but we haven’t been on a date yet, I have used that excuse more than once, insisting a friend has bailed on me and I need a last minute plus one.
Is my logic sound? Well, I don’t think I have the ideal bio, but I think it’s the right length and it’s the right balance of revealing without sharing too much.
God, trying to find the perfect pictures to upload ARE THE WORST. It’s so easy for guys. For them, it’s a photo of: them in a gym, pulling a stupid pose with about fifteen guy mates (and some guys have this as every single photo like mate, how am I supposed to know which one is you?!), standing on top of a mountain with hands on hips, overlooking some landscape and usually a photo with a puppy/baby thrown in. For girls, it’s a lot different. You want to use your prettiest photos, but also some realistic ones too because let’s face it, you don’t always look as amazing and as done up as that glam night out. I also include a photo with a friend, and at least one or two photos that are great for conversation starters. Cue photo of me and friend posing next to a giant c*ck in Amsterdam. I also try and have one full length smart photo, like me in a lovely dress from a wedding or something. I absolutely do not ever use a overly flirty or revealing photo but hey, each to their own. It may work for some people..!
This is a tough one and it took me so long to learn to start listening to my instincts. Even now I struggle. If you’re talking to a guy and something seems off then chances are, something is. I’ve spoken to guys that have been way too over friendly (who have turned out to be f*ckboys), or way, way too flirty for a first conversation (again, f*ckboys), and sometimes even guys that have just been so half-assed with their conversation. It took me ages to realize that yes, they’re good looking but no, they’re still not good for me. With the swipe-generation of online dating and the fact that it moves so quickly these days, trust me when I say there’s really no point making time for these guys. Delete and move on.

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My friend got me this book for Christmas as a joke..!
Yeah, I mean duh, right, but some guys really are just after one thing, even if they’ve stated otherwise. It’s alarming how many guys are actually after just some online fun (not even real life fun, jeez!) and will try to initiate it after a five minute conversation. No, I don’t want phone/cyber sex with a complete stranger thank you very much.
This one is a given but it’s really important to be more open minded when it comes to online dating. I know a lot of it is looks-based, but I tend to try and be as least shallow as possible. There are plenty of guys I’ve got talking to on these types of websites who, looks wise aren’t my type (as in not rocker etc) but have been ever so lovely to talk to. Much of the time, I’ve had amazing conversations with guys I wouldn’t even look twice at in the street (and I don’t mean that in an ugly/good looking sense, I’m very much the type of person who doesn’t care about looks anyway, but I mean in a sense that looks wise I definitely go for guys in skinny jeans with messy hair etc and a good looking guy who doesn’t look like this is probably less likely to catch my eye). In the past, I’ve gone on to date people for around six months, even though when we first started talking I had my doubts because they weren’t my type. So it just goes to show, its never worth logging on looking for a set thing with a set type.
As stated before, with the introduction of Tinder, online dating moves very quickly. It’s because there’s always someone else at your fingertips just one swipe away. If you’re talking to someone and it’s not going as well as you’d hoped, it’s very very easy for someone else to pop up and occupy your attention and for the other person to be forgotten about. Another thing about online dating is it’s obviously nice to speak to someone and click with them but it’s also easy to cover so much in just a matter of hours. If you progress to whatsapp, in just a day you could already learn about someone’s relationship history, their goals in life and what their family are like. Which means when it comes to actually meeting up in person, all the basics have already been covered and there’s little to talk about. So, if you can, always try and arrange a date as soon as possible, even if it is nerve wracking. Sometimes it’s best to just arrange a quick cup of coffee before going your separate ways and then arranging more dates after, because at least then you’ve got past the online stage and have already met.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Dating | 8 Things I've learned by online dating | online dating | modern dating

It’s also very easy to feel like things have gone a lot further than they actually have. When you speak for weeks on end, even if you’ve not met in person or have only been on one date, it’s so easy to feel like you’re already ‘dating’ or ‘seeing’ someone, which means everything that comes after happens quite quickly. If you have a five date rule before sex in general but you’ve been on two dates and have been speaking for five weeks, you’re probably going to want to break that. 
By all means do if it feels right, but keep in mind that things like meeting the parents/labelling yourselves as dating may or may not happen in a quicker timeframe as usual. I find it important to remember to slow things down a bit and just try and remind myself that even if I’ve been speaking to someone every single day for the past few weeks, it doesn’t mean we’re seeing each other. It’s still early days yet and there’s still plenty of chances for it to go wrong – don’t put all your eggs in one basket until, y’know, things get to that point in real life.
No matter what you’re looking for online, at the end of the day, just see it as a bit of fun. Don’t log on hoping to find the love of your life (even if you might in the end!) and take it with a pinch of salt. It took a while for my head to get around the fact that online dating is just a regular part of our generation now. Go on dates with people you wouldn’t normally. If you start speaking to an insanely good looking guy and click well but he’s not after a relationship – if you’re comfortable with it, say f*ck it and go on a date with him anyway. It might lead to more. It might not. 
At the end of the day, even the bad dates will give you a funny story and will help you learn what to avoid in future. And online dating is also a great way to get back to basics and check in with YOU. Spending time on your profile can help you evaluate what you do and don’t like in your life currently, and online dating will soon help you realize what you will and won’t tolerate in a relationship.
And, it’s fun. It’s always fun to go on a date with a cute boy who digs you and wants to kiss you.
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So Monday officially marked the end to my dating ban where I took a break from dating – for an entire month – for personal reasons.

To sum up briefly, the reasons were:

– I was feeling a little overwhelmed with Tinder and, admittedly, social media. It seemed I’d got to the point where if I wasn’t swiping right on Tinder, I was trying to arrange a date on What’sapp, flirting on Facebook or generally just chatting with boys. I couldn’t remember the last time I was genuinely 100% single and not interested in or flirting with someone.
– I was also feeling a bit fed up of not just the dating scene, but dating in general as a generation. I wrote about this in more detail in the original blog post, but let’s just say it was doing my head in a bit.
– And, finally, I wanted to take some time to myself to work out what I wanted. At the end of the day, taking a step back and a brief break from things can always be refreshing and eye opening.

My dating ban got off to a good start, partly because I was a few hundred miles away from home on the first day of my ban, enjoying the sights and wonders of Blackpool and far too busy to think about dating or lack thereof.

It’s Sunday that I started to feel it – and yes, I am aware that that was only the second day.
A guy I’d been chatting to for a long time popped up, and when he sent me a kiss emoji, I had to send a laughing one back. Oh the wonders of modern dating. It’s picky, but I wanted to do it right! I explained my ban to him, and we continued to talk, but as normal. It wasn’t so bad – we’d been talking for a good few months at this point with no intentions of things going further, so although the conversation often turned flirty, there were also many times where we just catch up like normal.
So far, no massive change there.
Sunday is the day that I actually properly deleted Tinder, though. I’d deleted it previously, but not my profile, and this is a scary thought – but it had to be done properly. Deleting my profile meant deleting all my matches and conversations, and I almost don’t want to. I’m one of those ‘what if’ people.
– What if that fit guy I matched with last month just deleted Tinder for a bit, too?
– What if that guy I was dating deleted my number and the only way he can get back into contact with me again is through Tinder, where we first started messaging?
– What if I’m just days away from swiping right on the future love of my life?!
These thoughts hindered in my mind for a moment, before I tell myself my nan’s famous motto ‘if it’s meant to be, it will be’. I hit delete, and told myself that if a boy has missed his chance in not initiating conversation with me already, then, well, it’s his own fault.
I felt a slight flush of satisfaction, knowing that deleting my Tinder profile – not just deleting the app or hiding my profile – was one of the biggest steps in taking a more permanent break.
I also started to feel a bit down on Sunday, mostly out of boredom. Sunday is such a couples night, isn’t it? No one wants to go out and see friends till late at night on a Sunday when they have work in the morning, so not having anyone to talk to constantly had me reaching for my phone, wanting to find someone hot to talk to on Tinder or wanting any sort of male attention.
On the Monday night, I had a very concerning dream about a guy I used to date. Before I went to bed, his name popped up on ‘people you may know’ on a social networking site, and I haven’t seen or heard from him in almost two years now. Once he got a new girlfriend, he dropped off the face of the earth – which was fine by me. We got on well enough, but never ever saw each other as relationship material. It was just a bit of on/off fun for three or so years when our situations allowed, although it did get to a point where I found myself wondering why we always ended up migrating back to each other.

Anyway, in this dream, not only were we ‘on’ again, but we were a couple! It was weird as I’d never seen him as boyfriend material, yet in my dream I was genuinely really happy.

How odd. I think this is mostly to do with seeing his name pop up so me thinking about him properly for the first time in years, but I also wondered if deep down it’s because I really am over the whole idea of casual dating and am perhaps ready for something a bit more serious.

Who knows, but it certainly was a blast from the past that made me feel quite weird when I woke up!

On Friday, I went out to dinner with some friends and mentioned how I had deleted my Tinder profile. On the way home, one friend asked me if I’d deleted it completely and was I talking to anyone. I paused and then admitted ‘no, not really’.

I can’t remember the last time my answer to that question hadn’t been something like ‘well yes, there’s this one guy’ or ‘this guy I used to date popped up’. It was just a simple answer of no and for once, I felt really happy about that.

The rest of the month went by without much to write home about, although I did end up kissing a friend, oops.

I also ended up having so many dreams about past flings and interests! Nothing really notable happened in them, usually just us reuniting, and it didn’t make me feel any different, but I just found it interesting. To me, it also seems like I must have been dating the ban really seriously if my subconscious picked up on it and decided to throw in a bunch of dreams about blasts from the past!

In the end, I was actually a little naughty, and gave in and re-installed Tinder two days early – oops. I’d been feeling glum over the past few days and I guess that’s just another example of what our generation is like – giving in and hoping to find some sort of comfort or at least being cheered up a bit with a little flirt with someone cute or some attention.

For the most part, yes. I completely deleted Tinder (well for 29 days, anyway), and I definitely didn’t sleep with anyone or go on dates. However, is this just because the opportunities never arose? I can’t say I was actually invited on a date during my ban, but there were chances I could have got laid, so to speak.

I did kiss someone, but this said someone promptly noted afterwards that they were just after something casual and I promptly mentioned I definitely was not. So that was entirely short lived, but I’m kind of glad it happened because it gave me a chance to not give in.

I didn’t last very long with the flirting or using no flirty emojis though – so sue me! Do you know how hard it is to actively avoid using a kiss or wink emoji? It’s impossible! Maybe I was a bit harsh on myself there with that rule. But I will say, for the most part, I didn’t initiate any flirting. So that’s something.

This month break has taught me what I want and how I should always stick to my guns. Many times in the past I’ve often ‘gone with the flow’ with guys who I knew deep down didn’t want relationships when deep down I wanted more.

But when presented with the idea this month, I knew as much as it would have been fun to see someone casually, it would only be a quick fix and that it wasn’t really what I wanted. I stuck to my guns because I knew deep down in the long run it wouldn’t work or would be harder on me, and I’m glad I did.

So I’ve definitely learned to turn around and stick to my guns about what I want, and to not feel so ashamed for being the one who wants more.

That’s not to say the next person I see is going to go on to become my future boyfriend, because despite what I’ve said above, I do still believe that you can meet some people who you simply don’t see as boyfriend material and can still feel content taking it casual and slow with. But if there is someone I meet (there may have been…) that I do see myself wanting a relationship with, I’m not going to forgo my own feelings to keep things casual because it’s what he wants.

I’m getting too old for those games!

I’ve also learned to be a bit more picky on Tinder and to not waste anyone’s time. When I used to use Tinder before, I used to someones swipe on guys who I didn’t find that attractive but liked their bios, but most of the time I’d find our conversations boring and never going anywhere. Now, I’m only going to swipe right on people I genuinely 100% believe I would go on a date with if they asked. This is tough because, of course, there’s only so much you can tell from a photo and a small bio, but I suppose that’s the whole point of Tinder really.

Finally, I also learned that I’ve definitely been neglecting my friends lately. My life is all over the place right now and I always seem to be skint, but I know in the past the reasons why I’ve enjoyed being single is because I’ve always been out and about doing things with friends. This I haven’t done so much lately, hence why some evenings I’ve just been sat at home feeling pretty, well, lonely if I’m honest.

I know first hand that you should never get in a relationship just because you’re lonely and that is not the answer to fixing that, so I know for sure it’s a case of me making a bit more effort with my friends again. Sometimes it is just life through, for example with the H&M girls, it’s always really hard to find a time where we’re all free and can all afford going out to dinner or for a few drinks and such.

I don’t think much will change. I’ve re-installed Tinder but I’m not bothering with any other dating apps. I just feel although it’s a bad thing for our generation, everyone is on it, so if you can’t beat them = join them. It is just a bit of fun at the end of the day though, however I won’t be expecting much from it.

I’m still taking a step back of sorts, and not actively looking (not that I did anyway) but I suppose with guys I’d been speaking to for a while before my ban – I’ll talk to them, if they pop up, but I likely won’t initiate things.

And I’m going to try and see my friends a bit more.

That’s about it, really. I am proud I managed the full month and even if there were a few slip ups here and there, I do genuinely feel it’s had a positive effect on me and given me some food for thought – which is the outcome I wanted.

Have you ever been on a dating ban? Do you think it can be refreshing to take a step back sometimes and take a break? Let me know!

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