“Pretend you’re going to the toilet, then leave”.
A friend is live-texting me his date. Apparently this is one of the perks that comes with writing a column on relationships, I am the lighthouse in the foggy night of every awkward date ship (I could have used relation ship, that would have been too much right?).
He’s currently sat opposite a snoozefest, and although my advice is fairly tongue-in-cheek, beyond the shock factor what I really mean is he shouldn’t be sat there out of politeness.
“What are you crazy?” he texts back, “I can’t do that!”
So fine, he doesn’t even make a polite excuse. How many times have we done the old “my will you look at the time?” trick. It’s the moment you both come to the understanding that yes, this date is very much over. He sits there for a couple more hours I am sure, plotting his escape at the time best suited to not bruise an ego.
Is there such a thing as second chances? I’m sure there are, and maybe I have been guilty of hastily judging first dates. I just fully believe there needs to be some sort of spark, some kind of click. It doesn’t have to be all sorts of fireworks up in there (although when that happens, well…people have spent their entire lives trying to put that feeling into words and failing) but there needs to be something.
But that’s me, that’s my life and my experience and the things I know all wrapped up into myself. I don’t profess to be right (shut up), it’s just a summary of what I have encountered. That’s pretty much advice isn’t it?
There’s nothing worse. Your friend moans day and night about his insufferable boyfriend. Then you utter the most controversial and triggering sentence known to man, but let’s be honest by this point in your objective mind it feels totally logical. If only to get them to shut up.
“Maybe you should dump him”.
You’ll be greeted with outright horror. Or you’ll be greeted with a “maybe I should”, and three months in they’re still at it, and you lose a tiny bit of respect for them. Or they do actually break up, then you sit through the aftermath, the whining about being single, the new boyfriend, and you’re back in the room. People aren’t going to change their ways because of one sentence, there’s a journey there they have to undertake on their own, and the best thing you can be to them is a listener.
Or someone who puts a book in their hands. This is even better, because it isn’t you that gives them the advice, it’s the book. Sometimes this can go very well, thank you Eat Pray Love for my holiday in Rome. Sometimes it goes well for a while, and then you change, and realise it might be a little more complex than that (I’m looking at you, He’s Just Not That Into You. What do you know, sometimes he is fucking busy!). Then there’s the ones where you have to politely hand it back, “oh, it was erm…interesting. Just not for me.” (Thanks for nothing, The Secret).
You know what’s worse than man advice? When you have a baby. My sister gave birth three weeks ago. I swear every woman who’s ever given birth has approached her to tell her how to hold her daughter, how to feed her, to use coal soap on her face, to make her sleep in her own cot, to not let her sleep in her own cot, to hold her upside down and sing Edith Piaf to her (Okay that one might not be true) and my personal favourite, I kid you not, that if my sister eats meat off the bone and throws the bones in the rubbish, that if any cats eat the bones they will steal her breast milk.
Cats. Steal breast milk. By eating bones.
When I’ve had boy trouble, everyone’s offered an opinion. From hanging in there to dumping him, to throwing his stuff out the window, peeing on it then setting it alight (which believe me has been oh so tempting). Ultimately, you look at your friends and realise what they want is for you to be happy and confident in your decisions, and ultimately your life.
Take my advice, nod, smile, thank them for their love and then do whatever the hell you were planning on doing anyway. Or maybe don’t take my advice. Pretend you’re going to the toilet, then leave.