The Anti Valentines

For those of you who know me, you will know how this article is going to go.  As Valentines draws closer and closer I can see the glint in my friend’s eyes.  The hopes and dreams they excite of, candlelit dinners, red roses, marks and spencer’s dine in for 2, followed by a piece of jewellery if their very lucky.  For weeks before it’s the advertising, the pre-ordering of roses and booking of tables.  Valentines is there to apparently show couples how in love they are with each and other and how much they can show it, at a price of course.  If you’re single on the other hand, you can forget it.  It’s a night in with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and Bridget Jones (again).

Couples are subjected to a so called whirlwind of romance and flurries of flowers from their partners.  For that one day the social scene stops and all takes a look at couples and who can outdo each other in the romance stakes.  From dinner and a movie to a weekend away in Paris with Girardeau.  A classic valentine’s move is a romantic dinner for two at your favourite restaurant.  I mean I love a romantic meal with my beloved as much as the next person.  I just don’t want to be enjoying it with the whole restaurant enjoying it for all the same reasons.  Everyone eating from the same set menu and drinking the cheap prosecco that they couldn’t shift at Christmas is not what I deem romantic.  I mean you don’t even get a day off of work for it!  You have to spend 8 hours with your boss compiling a spread sheet on the most romantic day of the year.


The idea of Valentines actually fills me with dread and exaggerated eye rolling, perish the thought.    For the first 3 years of my relationship by boyfriend was so confused thinking it was a trick, that he booked a table for us the first year, (post eye rolling and cringe).  Instead of being a good and gracious girlfriend and accepting the invitation of a free dinner; I swiftly told him to go and unbook the table, as I was not going to be sat in a room of other ‘nauseating’ couples’.  Poor bloke they probably thought he’d been dumped when unbooking said table.  He was left confused and on edge for the remainder of the evening.

Being in a couple on 14th February I try and just dodge the limelight of the whole one up man ship on who has the ‘best’ boyfriend for one night only.  Luckily my boyfriend works away so I shall remain alone on Valentine’s Day.  The only thing I have to look forward to on Valentines is pity looks and people feeling sorry for me.  (Which I’m fine with by the way).

Now there are the uber romantics who choose to get married on Valentine’s Day.  It may sound romantic for some; it’s a day for hearts and flowers.  However having to share your anniversary with the rest of the world kind of loses it individuality for the star crossed lovers in mind.  Never again will you be able to enjoy a meal out on your anniversary, without there being a tirade of Italian waiters in cheap suits trying to romance you with £5 roses.


As much as I am the Anti-Valentines of February doom, there isn’t anything more exciting and ego pumping than getting a bunch of flowers from a secret admirer.  I can safely say for that year and that year only I embraced Valentines.  Receiving a phone call from my mum to say a bunch of red roses had been delivered to my house, was the single most ego lifting moment of my life.  A stranger delivering roses to my house, he must have been totally in love with me of course.  However I was much younger and much more easily impressed back then.  Turns out it was an ex-boyfriend trying to rekindle my heart.  Needless to say it didn’t work but top marks for effort.

If you want to impress me or any other Anti-Valentine’s Day girls, (because I know there’s more of us out there).  Then don’t follow the crowd and copy the other 6 million men out there.  Book a table sporadically, get us some flowers on a whim and cook dinner for us one day.  Just leave the 14th out of it.

Images reproduced from and

The Thin Line Between Love and Lust

In this era of technology, flashy phones and social networking, instant friendships have come to form an important part of the fabric of our youth. Many young people, at one time or another, believe they are truly in love even if with someone they hardly know. Can young adults really find true love this young? Or do they just see the love side of the coin while the lust side lurks in the dark?

Although we surround ourselves with advancing robotics as the age of technology progresses, the traditional image of love is something which has managed to stay true; however with the internet literally at our finger tips, publicising relationship has become a norm amongst our generation of young lovers. Receiving ‘likes’, ‘comments’ and ‘retweets’ in return for the intimacy shared with our ‘true loves’ has made the concept of ‘puppy love’ more and more tedious and with the number of social networks that bombard the internet now days the it’s not hard to see why.

Social networks in particular have become a foundation for most relationships young and old, making the façade of love claims easier. The quick transition in and out of relationships that occur with young people today examples how easy it can be for us to mistake a lustful relationship for the real deal. Pressures of media and peers add up to more than few of us avidly claiming that he/she were THE ONE… of many. (2673th time lucky)

All in all, as fashionable as being in love or shall I say lust is, heartbreak is on a popular rise. It’s not hard to come across numerous post, tweets and blogs dedicated to a broken heart. Is this just ironic proof that true love is something that the youth of today just can’t find, and with the constant involvement of technology, is this to blame?

Some may say at such a temperamental age where our hormones run wild is it even possible to feel heartbreak when we can barely feel love. Victims of a heartbreak at a young age may protest this notion; however as we move on and realise that what we had was far from love and nothing more than a burst of hormones, we’re left thinking the same way.

It seems as though the capability of loving and finding your true love is something that comes with an older age, experience and even an era perhaps? ‘You’re too young to know what love is’ but it’s not the same feeling we have for our cats and dogs … so what do we feel… lust?

The thin line between love and lust is a thin as we interpret it surely. You can’t explain how you feel but you know how to feel it, which is what love is… right? BUT is it ever possible for young adults of today to really connect with each other and find true love in the same ways of our parents meeting at such tender ages, or just passionately crave our naive counterparts. In a generation where publicity is the new private, finding a true love is something that won’t come as easy to us as it did our seniors.

Adverts for dating sites, advertise love at first sight. Boy meets girl and they interact… IN PERSON. So long story short potential consumers, go ONLINE and find your perfect match. It’s a double standard!

Perhaps the ability to meet people so much easier through the power of the internet is what blurs and distorts the young image of love/lust, most won’t know till it’s over but how can you blame us!

Love sees no age but it is something that lies beyond the depth of a mushy text or ‘changed relationship status’ on the book of faces. As young adults we owe ourselves more privacy, understanding and maturity to find a balance between love and lust in order to find our true loves.

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Love Labour’s Lost

Remember when Aristotle claimed that ‘Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies’? Well no, of course not, but we have all heard the quote, we have all dreamed and desired to love someone as passionately and ferociously as that, but have we all lost faith in relationships and worse still, irrevocable love?

More and more I am hearing of people maintaining that ‘relationships are temporary’ and that ‘monogamous relationships don’t exist’ Admittedly, I am a 21 year old girl, with 21 year old friends, but that once was the age were dreams were at the highest. Visions of white dresses, platinum rings and an eternity of interweaved hearts have now been replaced by the here and now and fear of divorce papers, custody battles and heart ache.

Can we even recall a time where love didn’t involve signing contracts? When loving someone was enough? When falling in love meant being safe and secure and above all else, happy?

Before the 1700’s there was effectively no divorce in England, a time when people fought to make their relationships work. And obviously, there has and always will be, casualties of love, but I strongly believe we should never stop fighting for it. Despite my parents’ divorce over 10 years ago, I am a love enthusiast as; after all, what would we be without love? We’d be empty, useless gaps in the planet. We’d be functional but no more. Hearts beating just to pump blood, minds racing just to find answers, just to remember figures and bank details and postcodes, not birthdays and anniversaries and favourite foods. We’d be shells, worn down by the sea and washed up on a beach. And we’d be waiting for some bikini-clad bombshell or a tight-shorts Mr Right to pick us up, polish us off and take us home to put on the mantle or in a shoebox in the loft.

If that is life without love well, that is where I’d rather be. Sitting in a shoebox. In a loft.

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The Single’s Guide to Valentines Day – Duck vs. Swan

Another Valentine’s day has come and gone. Being single, it’s always interesting to note what such a day brings up for me and my single friends. For many, they will get to consider whether they are the ugly duckling or a swan, just like in the story. Which are you?

For me, it’s a great way to work on the most important relationship in my life – the one with myself.

This year I thought that I’d make a day of it and spoil myself!

Step 1 – an extra half an hour in bed to read – and feeling good about it.

Step 2 – off for breakfast and a note pad to write out my to do list, taking time to slow down and really taste my food.

Step 3 – a walk in the park, on what was a lovely, sunny day for mid- February. Use this opportunity to phone some friends who I haven’t been in touch with for a while (always an uplifting experience.)

Step 4 – go home and do all of the tasks that I had been putting off for ages (I know that incomplete tasks drain energy but do no always use this information wisely. Today I did.)

Step 5 – notice how much more energised I feel by completing those draining tasks that I had been putting off and by catching up with positive people who always energise my day.

Step 6 – off for another walk and more of the same.

Step 7 – off to the gym, noticing that everything seems easier today. Add an extended period for the sauna, where I get chatting to new people and have a laugh.

Step 8 – back home to sing (I use this term in its broadest context!) and dance to music as I make my dinner.

Step 9 – sit back and relax to a few episodes of the West Wing.

Step 10 – meditation, reflecting on a good day, where I am grateful for my health, my family, my friends and the magic life brings when I really love myself.

Step 11 – fall asleep giving myself an energetic massage.

I am not always as kind to myself as I was yesterday but it has made me realise that for anyone who is single, indeed also for anyone who is not – the best relationship that anyone can work on is the one with themselves.

Ultimately, if I don’t love myself, how could I possibly love someone else in a way that accepts that EVERYONE has their imperfections. When the rose tinted glasses finally come off in a relationship, this is when the ability to love oneself is integral to being able to live with, and love, anyone else. I have been tough on myself on many occasions – not yesterday and not today.

When I master this on a daily basis, I will have found the perfect relationship.

I may not be a swan everyday, but I am today.

What can you do to love yourself better?

How Far Would You Go For The One You Love?

How far is too far?  Is there such a thing?  It’s one thing following your man to the pub when he wants to watch football and you want to be seen as the ‘supportive girlfriend’.  It’s another thing perhaps when he wants you to follow him to the other ends of the earth.  To another country for work, for a year or maybe longer.  He’s been offered a job in south East Asia, his company will pay for him and you to leave and start a new life there.  It’s his dream job, its great money and you will get a nice apartment to live in.  The perfect set up, so what’s stopping you?


Your job for one, you have a job that you love and you have spent the last 3 years trying to build up a sound career for the company you work for.  All your friends and family of course are here.  You see your mum every week for a catch up.  Aunties, uncles and cousins all within driving distance and those impromptu Saturdays with the girls will seem like a distance memory.  You won’t know the language and will spend the majority of your days pointing at things and talking very loudly into your dim sum.  What happens if you can’t find a job for months?  No job and having to make new friends as an adult is always going to be difficult if not detrimental to your self-esteem (especially if you’re not working).  How do you make friends when you’re on the other side of the world with possibly no job for a good few months?  You make friends with his friends wives and become ‘that’ girl for a while until you find your feet.

So is swapping Sambuca for Saki as scary as it sounds?

There are so many plus points of living abroad (especially if your airfare is paid for).  You get to experience a completely different way of life.  People will be interested in you as a foreigner and will take an interest in your accent and your mannerisms.  It’s always a good talking point as a newbie.  You get to learn a new language as you go.  Most people say that living in a country for 3 months you pick up the basics in that time.  Your boyfriend will be forever in debt to you.  ‘What do you mean I can’t have those earrings?’  ‘I moved to Asia for you!’  You could only have some fun with this for so many months though I’d imagine.


You get to stay with the one that you love and you don’t have to go through the wretched turmoil that is long distances break up.  (Eventually a break up is inevitable for most I’m afraid if you become long distance lovers).  You always get to come back to your home town whenever the airfare will allow it.  There’s the wonders of Skype now which is a really good substitute when contacting the girls and family.  Finding out about a whole other part of the world and being privileged enough to live there.  Not many people get given an opportunity to move to another country and start a fresh.  You can draw a clean slate where nobody knows you.  Plus your friends get a free hotel for a few weeks when they come to visit.

I’m always secretly hoping that my boyfriend gets offered a job to other than Hull one of these days.

Do you do it purely for the one you love though?  The answer to that is always going to be down to the couple themselves.  What may work for one won’t work for another and hey there’s always Skype?!

Personally I would like to think I would relish the chance to move to another place if my partner was shipped over somewhere else.  Even if it was Hull, now that’s love for you.

Is There Such a Thing as Love at First Sight?

Can you really fall in love with someone as soon as you meet them?  Or do people all too often confuse love with lust?

We regularly make up our mind within 3 minutes of meeting someone to see if that person is suited to us and if we are attracted to them.  But it takes a mere one second to decide if this person is physically attractive to us or not.  Hair, face, clothes, height, shoes.

Young couple drinking wine and flirtingYou can like someone an awful lot when you meet them.  You can instantly feel attracted to someone, by the way they look or a look they give you.  A certain smell can get your juices flowing and it can make you want to do lurid things to that person right there and then.  Meeting someone and have everything in common with them too.  Does this mean that you are in love with them?  No it certainly does not, it just means you’ve got very lucky and met someone with the same interests as you.  You’ve met someone with brains and beauty who you would like to bed immediately, this does not correlate to being in love with someone.  Outside of giving birth to your child, the mere notion of falling in love with someone as soon as you meet them is a concept which has always fascinated and astounded me.

I have had a number of boyfriends; I haven’t been in love with all of them.  I have felt an attraction to all of them and have either fancied or lusted after them shortly after meeting them all.  Not once however did I realise that after looking into their eyes did I decide that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with them.  Nor did I realise that after 10 minutes of their scintillation conversation about the latest Matt Damon movie or, the latest venture on YouTube did I realise that my life would never be complete without them.  After 10 minutes I would sometimes be wondering why I hadn’t been offered a drink; but never wondered why I hadn’t been offered a hand in marriage.  If this was the case I would have so far spend a large proportion of my adult life disappointed (sigh).

I have been left wondering how some people can claim that they have conjured up feelings of actual love after a meeting their mate after such a brief encounter.  I blame childhood fairy-tales and the Cinderella stories of our childhood.  It’s the feelings of wanting and desire that some people instantly feel on a first date or meeting.   Some people know that as soon as they have met this person they know they are going to marry them.  I however have never encountered such ‘luck’.

For me love is something which needs to be a gradual process of emotions and feeling about someone and something which has to be felt deep inside you once you actually know the person.  Not something which can be felt on the spot as soon as you meet them.    Those butterfly feelings you get in your stomach and anywhere else you may feel this is a sexually attractive spark which can make you feel giddy with pleasure.  It’s not love.  How can you love someone that you know nothing about?  Ok so you know he likes Opera and is a vegetarian like you too.  Brilliant.  Hitler also enjoyed Opera and vegetarianism; does it mean you would have loved him too?  No it does not.

The feelings of lust are very similar to that of being in love, it’s warm and fuzzy and it makes you do crazy things for that person.  Being in love is such a wonderful feeling, it makes you feel like the two of you are in your own bubble and as long as you are together then nothing can get through you or tear you apart.  It makes you feel like a stronger person, knowing that as long as you have that person by your side you can achieve anything.  Being in love allows you to share everything with that person.  Now how can anyone feel that after a rum and coke and a meet and greet?  Either that or I am a crazy cynic who’s never been that lucky!

First Date Fashion Tips

Valentine’s Day has been and gone but what happens if you’re still single after February 14? The prospect of first dates and meeting Mr Right is still very much on the single girl’s agenda. Personal Stylist Katie Bowen has some top fashion tips for first date outfits…

When you’re single, deciding what to wear for a first date can equal major fashion pressure. There is so much expectation. A romantic date can also be a time when some women feel the need to shift into overdrive, opting for cutesy heart prints in shades of red and pink.

Sorry, ladies, that’s “definitely cliché”. You should definitely show your personal style by adhering to your own rules instead of what you think you should be wearing. ‘Happy, confident, chic and sexy’ is about the right level you should be aiming for.

So for some advice on how to go about choosing your outfit…

What’s a great dinner date outfit?

Nothing is better than a little dress. I think you want to be seductive but also, you don’t want to scare the person. Wearing a mini-dress with heels can display confidence. Make sure you keep warm by wearing thick tights and a statement necklace – with bright-red matte lipstick to remind those looking of your lips.

What about a casual date?

For a casual affair, I would recommend dark jeans paired with a tiered top and heels. While creating a slimming effect, dark denim offers a chic versatility. A tiered shirt is both flirty and feminine and can really polish off your look.


Show off your style with your shoes. A great clutch is also a lovely finishing touch.

Can you paint the town red in red?

Red has always been a trademark colour of love, but I think it should be used in moderation. Too much red can be distracting. Instead, use as an accent colour to brighten up an outfit, like a black dress with a pair of red heels.

What should I avoid?

Avoid anything you don’t feel comfortable and confident in. A date is time to show your best self. Don’t try and pull off that trend you saw in the magazine earlier in the day if it doesn’t feel right. Stick with what you know.

For further style advice, contact Personal Stylist, Katie Bowen –

Film Review: Love and Other Drugs

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams reviews “Love And Other Drugs”. Follow Sloan Life Coach on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s Life Coaching website

Love and Other Drugs came out on DVD today and, although had mixed reviews in the cinema, is what I would call a beautiful adult romance. Adorning our DVD shelves at the moment, love stories tend to be targeted at the teenage demographic so it was a pleasant surprise to find a story written in such an honest raw way depicting a complicated relationship where love is not always enough.

Released in late 2010, Love and Other Drugs has an amazing cast led by Jake Gyllenhaal who plays Jamie Randall, a womanising yet lovable rogue who works as a drug rep spreading his business and his person amongst hospitals over the country. His leading lady Anne Hathaway plays Maggie Murdock - a charming whimsical free spirit who sees right through Jamie. At the young age of 26, for reasons that will become evident throughout the film, she has dissociated herself from meaningful relationships and it is this very action that draws Jamie in to get beyond Maggie’s boundaries. This proves harder for Jamie than his normal conquests and leads to an interesting and moving drama.

Both Gyllenhaal and Hathaway perform well in Love and Other Drugs, repeating the successful performances of their past movie roles by providing strong acting and believeable characters which nicely complement the intriguing yet moving story. This was reflected in Golden Globe Award nominations in January 2011 for Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway as Best Actor and Best Actress respectively. In terms of the supporting cast, Gyllenhall and Hathaway are accompanied by Hank Azaria, who plays Maggie’s doctor; Oliver Platt, who plays Jamie’s business partner; and the likes of Josh Gad, Gabriel Macht and Judy Greer.

The screenplay was based on the non-fiction book “Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman” by Jamie Reidy. There is an attempt at a statement about the ethics of the pharmaceutical industry and it’s influence on doctors and patients alike and given that the movie is set between the years 1996 and 1999 (when Pfizer released Viagra) I can see why they attempted this approach. In my opinion, the greater aspect of the movie is the human interaction between Jamie and Maggie and the tonal shifts between happiness, tension, closeness, comedy, insight and confusion are all displayed expertly and never seem awkward.

The director and co-writer of this movie - Edward Zwick - is better known for his television work. He was involved behind both thirtySomething and Once and Again – both of which I personally enjoyed. His move to the big screen has paid off as he has brought the more adult relationship drama mixed with comedy to a wider audience.

All in all I would give this film four stars and for me Gyllenhaal and Hathaway had a good balance of flirtation, chemistry and passion to believe that they were a well-suited couple. It is the second time this pair has been brought together since Brokeback Mountain in 2005 and hopefully their performances, which show the breadth and depth of their abilities, will enable them to seek even great heights and adorn our screens again in even more moving dramas and/or romantic comedies.

Love and Other Drugs is out on DVD on Monday 23 May. For those of you who didn’t think it was worth seeing at the cinema I do urge you to rent it as it brings forth a lot of questions about how some things are worth fighting for and circumstances should not deter the passionate – be it about love or life in general.

Image reproduced from 20th Century Fox
Video reproduced from YouTube / TheTubeTrailers